The Fictional Hockey League

Critiquing hockey romance novels, of which there are many. Overthinking it is the point.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Play the Man: Post 19

Chapter Twelve: Anti-climax

Last post, and last chapter, we left Nick and Jenna staring at the ceiling, pondering what they’d just done, when suddenly they hear the front door open and know that it’s Ryan. So naturally we start chapter 12 with Ryan drinking beer.

I imagine you’re confused. I know I was. The entire rest of the book up until this point (77 pages in out of 165) has been completely linear. Perspectives have jumped awkwardly, but other than the occasional flashback (in chapter 1), scenes have always followed chronologically. However, this time the narrative takes us back to when Nick and Jenna have just left for the Art Institute and Ryan has gone out drinking and eating with Alex.

As per usual, they’re complaining about Jenna. Ryan points out that Jenna is still angry at him because of Alex’s calling her “Gollum.” Alex argues that that’s insane since Jenna should be mad at him for the comment, not Ryan. Both of them completely miss the point.

But it does mean that Ryan has started actually contemplating the situation, since Jenna has barely spoken to him in the four days since the “Gollum Incident” and he wants the relationship to be the way it used to be (77). Sure, who doesn’t want a relationship where the other partner takes care of you, never insists on anything, and everything is comfortable? At any rate, Ryan declares that this distance between them makes him want to fix whatever the problem is. However, he’s still a jerk.

He was willing to overlook how he felt Jenna needed to apologize for trying to guilt him into appeasing her… (77).

Gee. How magnanimous. It takes him a few more pages to decide that he needs to head back home and figure out what’s actually wrong and make it right. I’d tell you more about those pages but they’re repetitious. And besides, we all want to see what happens when Ryan gets home and discovers his fiancé with his teammate, right?

When they hear Ryan, Jenna and Nick burst into action, with Nick running to the guest room and Jenna putting on a robe. That’s the most amount of action we’ll see, however, since then Jenna spends many paragraphs contemplating how she could have made such a choice as to sleep with Nick, how Nick makes her feel wanted and connected, how much she hates herself for cheating on Ryan, and how weak she must be.

So, Ryan doesn’t catch them in the act. However, apparently he can smell sex in the air. Jenna assumes, at first, that he knows she’s slept with Nick, but it turns out that Ryan just assumes that Jenna pleasured herself. This leads to a rather convoluted twist of logic for him.

But she was obviously feeling lonely and horny, and she took matters into her own hands, literally, and got herself off instead of caving and giving into [sic] him. Instead of letting their fight slide, she tried to pretend that she didn’t need Ryan and keep up the appearance that she was okay without him. But she wasn’t; she had needs that she needed him to fulfill. That meant that Jenna’s anger was wavering and faltering, and this frustrating battle of wills was going to end (80).

Ryan has quite a few mistakes here, in my opinion. First, even if he’s right that Jenna is just horny, why would she “need” him to satisfy her? He’s assuming that she masturbated—intercourse and masturbation aren’t the same thing, of course, but Ryan’s the one who assumes she’s taken care of matters, which indicates she doesn’t, in fact, need him. From this assumption that Jenna needs sex, specifically from him, he jumps to concluding that she needs sex (from him) so badly that she’ll forgive him now. But this doesn’t really follow.

Jenna wavers back and forth about whether to confess to him once she realizes that he doesn’t know what happened.

She was afraid of what he was going to do, to her or to Nick (80).

This sounds violent. Does Jenna think that Ryan will hurt her or Nick if he finds out what happened? Sure, he’d have every right to be incredibly angry, but in my opinion, if you fear for your safety from your partner, even under unusual circumstances, there’s something wrong.

Nick’s reasoning isn’t much better than that of the unhappy couple. First, he worries that Jenna might think he’d taken advantage of her. Then, a page later, he compares Jenna to a drug addict, because she “repeatedly hurt herself by making the wrong choices” and knowing that she’d be better off without Ryan. In fact, he declares that having sex with her “was Nick’s intervention,” that he was showing her an alternative (81).

Oh Nick, you disappoint me. Really? REALLY? Intervention? Do you even like Jenna?

Nick finally decides that he needs to tell Ryan what happened and face him “like a man”, in order to prove that he’s the man Jenna deserves, no matter what reaction (81).

With one deep breath he grabbed the doorknob and opened the portal into his unknown and uncertain future (82).

Apparently Nick has been visiting the Department of Redundancy Department. Unknown AND uncertain?

He runs into Jenna who convinces him not to tell Ryan, at least for now. Then the point of view changes again and Ryan returns and gives Jenna his guest list. Because apparently that’s what he’s taken to be the big problem. Methinks Ryan is missing the forest for the trees and also, what have I said multiple times? Oh right, too little, too late. And for once, Jenna seems to agree. She doesn’t fall into his arms gratefully. Instead, the chapter ends with her still confused as to whether she wants to tell him the truth, whether she wants to marry him, and what the guilt of her actions might mean. (Which means 90 more pages of wibbling before she and Nick get together, I assume.)

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