The Fictional Hockey League

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

Friday, November 7, 2014

Play the Man: Post 24

Chapter Sixteen & Seventeen: More Dithering! Also, Can We Get an Editor Up in Here?

I wonder if Jaymee Jacobs had to hit a certain page limit. Sometimes the meandering musings of the characters in this novel read like the padding my students add to their papers. And I’m not exactly one who has ever been accused of being succinct.

When Jenna leaves Nick’s place, she considers options on where to go to think things through and who she can talk to. Like Ryan, she doesn’t have many options. She dismisses her friend Katie as an option because Jenna’s too ashamed to admit to what she’s done. That leaves… nothing. So she goes home and sees all the things that Ryan has done around the house.

His bag was picked up from its spot on the floor, presumably emptied and taken care of instead of stashed away in the closet somewhere. He was supposed to do stuff like that as a grown man; it was his stuff, and he was supposed to be responsible and put his things away. But he’d also washed the dishes that Jenna had been too tired to worry about doing last night after dinner. … This had not been Ryan’s responsibility, but he’d done it (106 emphasis original).

So apparently this couple has a division of labor, and that’s fair; many do, right? But it seems like Ryan’s only responsibilities are to put away his own stuff (which apparently he usually doesn’t do) and to take care of the lawn (it gets mentioned later). Jenna does the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery shopping, and the laundry, on top of her charity duties and grad school requirements. This division seems rather unequal if you ask me, and for that matter, with the money that Ryan makes, they could hire a cook and/or someone to clean.

Even if you have divvied up the chores between a couple, it seems to me that occasionally chipping in to help the other person is, frankly, to be expected. But we know that Ryan doesn’t do so without being asked.

This was the second time he had stepped up to the plate without having to be asked—even though yes, he shouldn’t have been asked and nagged about it. She couldn’t remember the last time Ryan had put away his bag. He had done it on the occasions when she wasn’t around to do it… (106).

The first (few) times I read the above passage, my mind filled in “he shouldn’t have had to have been asked and nagged about it” which tells you more about my expectations than about the novel, I fear. It’s possible that’s what the author actually meant. However, what she wrote, what was published, is “he shouldn’t have been asked and nagged about it” which means that what’s really going on is that Jenna ought not to have asked Ryan to put his bag away. Why not? Might it upset the big important hockey player? Ugh.

Also, this is the “second time”? They have been together for eight years. Eight. Years. And this is the second time he’s done housework without having been asked? He’s even vacuumed and Jenna’s reaction is surprise that he so much as knows where she keeps the vacuum cleaner. I get that this is supposed to show us that he’s making an effort, but when the effort is so small (oooh, a morning of housework) compared to what’s gone before (eight years of having Jenna mother him), it’s unimpressive.

Jenna decides to basically not deal with Ryan until she can figure out what she wants and until she can figure out what his angle is. (I think his angle is pretty clear, even if it weren’t for all the perspective jumping. She’s acting odd, so he did something nice for her.)

If there was one thing that she had learned about hockey while watching Ryan play at Dartmouth, it was that she shouldn’t play the puck. She had to play the man (107).

Way to shoehorn that title in there. I… so don’t see the relevance. There’s no puck for her to play. (Wait, is housework the puck? I don’t get it.)

There’s some awkwardness where Ryan asks where she’s been and she says she has to think. According to Ryan, Jenna thinking is a bad thing somehow, which often involves spa days or couples’ retreats. Jenna asks why he wants to marry her and he says it’s because he loves her. That’s not enough for Jenna, and we then get a bunch of navel gazing from Ryan about how he feels love from his heart but Jenna uses her brain and blah blah blah manufactured drama.

Still, this makes Jenna think about how she and Ryan are opposites and that’s why they work, but that maybe she hasn’t given enough credit to his perspective on the future, where as long as they’re together that’s what matters (as opposed to being actually married.) She thinks that Ryan proposing, even though it isn’t important to him, was his way of doing whatever it takes to make Jenna happy. (Except, I’d point out, go see a single freaking piece of art work.) On the other hand, she’s concerned that she and Nick are too similar and they’d be too serious as a couple. And she worries that if she breaks up with Ryan and Nick turns out to only be a fling, it would have been a terrible decision.

I can actually solve that latter dilemma for her—break up with Ryan because he’s an asshat. Then it won’t matter what happens with Nick, Jenna will already have made one good choice.

The next chapter opens with Ryan moping because Jenna is still upset. This is not particularly interesting, nor is it news. I mention this because in this chapter the author seems to have forgotten how to tell time. Otherwise, she has just begun jumping calendar days the way she jumps perspectives.

The guys finally had an off day. For one, there was no game, no practice, and not even an optional skate. … Since it was a Wednesday, he knew Jenna had class… (110)

So he wants to spend the morning together being lazy, then when Jenna goes to class, he’ll reluctantly do the yardwork. Fair enough.

But Jenna had spent the entire previous day isolated in the den (110).
So that would be Tuesday, then? Okay. That would make this still Wednesday.

Ryan goes to bed alone and wakes up early realizing he’s still alone. So he looks for Jenna and finds her asleep in the den, scoops her up, and takes her to bed.

He changed quietly in the dark before he left for practice (111).

Okay, so actually this must be Thursday, since there’s a practice. So Jenna locked herself in the den on Wednesday, possibly to the point of not going to class.

…but he figured he needed to get his head ready for the game extra early today (111).

So, not only a practice, but a game (against the Nashville Predators, apparently.) So definitely not the day off, then. So this really must be Thursday.

Except, Jenna then goes to class and Katie specifies that Jenna missed Friday and Monday’s classes. So … it’s Wednesday. Wednesday! A magical day of no practice, no game, a practice, and a game!

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