The Fictional Hockey League

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

Friday, January 23, 2015

Offside: Post 5

Chapters 7 & 8: More Enormous Genitalia. (Also, half-naked men and addled-men with shotguns)

The questions of where and how Billie spent the night are dismissed in favor of Logan saying he’d try to find out who damaged her car and Billie responding badly when he says, “I’m just trying to look out for you, kid,” (122). She goes into a tirade of how she hadn’t expected this mess and also that she’s not a kid, she’s been taking care of herself for a long time, now. Then, while they’re standing in the yard of her family’s house, she kisses him.

Kid? No effing way. Billie withdrew her tongue and suckled on his bottom lip, her eyes open once more so she could watch him. So he would know she was playing with him.

So he would know that she was in control (126, emphasis original).

The text continuously reminds us that she’s attracted to Logan. (And vice versa. In fact, any time these two are in a scene together, assume that the narrative is describing the point-of-view character’s favorable opinion of the other’s ass, because it happens all the damn time.) But here she’s not kissing him because of the attraction; she’s doing it because she wants him to see her as an adult and, it seems to me, because so much of the rest of her life is out of her hands that she’s taking control here. For that matter, she had to back him into his truck to get him to stay still for this kiss.

But after his initial hesitation, he reciprocates. In fact, he takes control. …Logan’s hands moved to her hips and he took over (126).

This makes me sigh over its cliché-ness. (Cliché-ity?) It’s so standard for a male character’s attraction to be signaled by his dominating a physical, intimate encounter. I’m not saying that finding that appealing is a bad thing or in any way abnormal. (And the market’s current flood of Fifty Shades knock-offs and read-alikes certainly suggests that it’s popular.) However, male dominance is by no means the only way for a heterosexual couple to interact, and not every man is dominant. Also, it seems lazy to me that this is how so many writers signal a male character’s strength and the strength of his attraction. And I find it particularly unfortunate here, with a character like Billie who is seen to be strong and capable and would probably have better appreciated being in control in this moment.

He pulled her flush against his body so that not only were her breasts crushed to his chest, her hips were held in place, there where he was hard and heavy, and really, really big.* … Warning bells rang in her head and she tried to wriggle away, suddenly okay with the fact that she’d make a mistake. A huge freaking mistake….

“Where do you think you’re going?” he asked silkily, though there was a hint of rasp beneath his words.

“I…” was all she managed to get out. “This… I shouldn’t—”

“No,” he replied, a dangerous glint in his eyes. “You shouldn’t have started this, but I sure as hell don’t have a problem finishing it” (128).
The warning bells are a problem for me. What kind of warning bells? Does she not want to be in this position? Billie doesn’t manage to say “No” or “Stop” but “I shouldn’t—“ doesn’t sound like enthusiastic consent, either. And yes, she started it, but either partner is always allowed to stop it at any time. Does she want to stop? That’s unclear to the reader—although romance novel tropes tell us that she doesn’t—and it’s unclear to Logan. Ergo, he ought to stop and clarify.

Logan now controlled the kiss, and each lazy draw on her tongue made her head spin. Slowly, he delved deeper, his taste and feel making her weak. He held her in place so she couldn’t move, but really, did she want to? (129).

Billie is a physically strong woman. She’d have to be, to have played professional hockey for any amount of time, even in Sweden. She’d have to be even ‘just’ playing college women’s hockey. But Logan also plays hockey and apparently very well, even if it’s just men’s league. And he’s a man, and statistically men are physically stronger than women. So when Billie/the narrative tells us that she cannot move, I suppose we should believe it. Yeah, there’s a good chance that Billie could knee him in the balls and get him to stop, but this is one of those unfortunate places where clearly not everyone is in communication. And I know that romance novels would likely be very boring if, like the jokes about political correctness, the characters had to okay every single sexual action with each other, but all I’m asking for is a little less norming of men in control and women being swept away by what the men make them feel.

Also, remember that they’re still in her driveway when Logan pulls down her shirt, and pushes aside her bra, and starts with the licking/sucking. Billie finally remembers this as well and says that they can’t and to his credit, Logan accepts that and helps put her back together. Billie says she doesn’t know why she started what she did; Logan says he’s glad she did.

“But I don’t play games, Billie… Were you with Shane last night?” (133).

I suppose this is supposed to seem less like policing Billie’s sexuality and more like Logan caring for her, but I don’t know that it comes across that way. Nor do I understand the question, since Billie isn’t saying “we can’t do this now” she says “we can’t do this,” ergo the question is none of Logan’s business.

Alas, no answer is forthcoming because Billie’s father comes into the yard with a shotgun, thinking Billie is his late wife (Chantal) and that she’s being attacked by someone. (In)conveniently, Bobbi and Gerald also return from their weekend trip, early, just at that moment.

This is where chapter seven ends, with Billie comparing her life to a reality tv show as her grandfather also appears, dressed in slippers shaped as beavers and too-big boxers that are precariously slipping down.

I, however, am a kind and generous Commissioner of the FHL, and thus I am going to continue on into chapter eight for you.

Billie gets her father to recognize her (although he’s off in timing) and her grandfather takes him back inside, crisis with him averted. This, however, still leaves Bobbi to deal with.

The next book in this trilogy is Bobbi and Shane’s book, but an awful lot of their story is entwined in this book. Recall from previous posts that Bobbi is the put-together triplet, the one who stayed at home and held the family together and who now always looks perfectly made up and kind of plastic.

For once Bobbi didn’t look put together. Her hair was clipped haphazardly on top of her head, with day old makeup smeared beneath her eyes—eyes that were bloodshot. Her yellow track suit was top of the line, the label, Lulu Lemon—an import from Canada—but she’d pulled on slippers instead of running shoes. One of her earrings was missing, and was that dried toothpaste in the corner of her mouth? (140).

Lulu lemon is ludicrously expensive and seems a bit out of place here. Also, how would Billie know it’s Lulu Lemon? (They don’t seem to be one of those brands that splatter their name over everything.) Also-also, they don’t (at least currently on their website) make yellow track suits.  Also, given the emotional trauma that Billie is currently embroiled in (the make-out session with Logan, which she hasn’t processed yet; her father’s dementia; her grandfather’s sadness over said deterioration of her father; the entire town against her desire to play hockey, the only thing that makes her feel good; her car’s destruction and its subsequent bill for fixing), I’m shocked that she can notice these things about her sister in such detail and so quickly. On the other hand, they are identical, so maybe that makes it easier to spot the differences?

On the other hand, I suppose she could notice all these things while she’s being yelled at for not taking care of their dad, since Bobbi doesn’t let Billie get a word in edgewise.

“You were practically having sex in the freaking driveway and Dad was on a rampage with a fucking rifle in his hands” (144).

Well, geez, how long were you there, Bobbi? The text has you pulling up when Billie and Logan had already stopped.

When Billie finally can speak, she uses the chance to suggest that Bobbi is home early because Gerald-her-boyfriend can’t get it up and also because Bobbi can’t stop obsessing over Shane. She then insinuates that she had sex with Shane last night (by saying she “spent last night with” him (146)). Unfortunately, Logan is still standing right there during all of this, which is bizarre in itself, and the chapter ends with Bobbi storming into the house, and Billie awkwardly thanking Logan for the ride then following her sister.

*At this point, do I even have to point out that Trope of the Humongous Genitalia?


  1. " On the other hand, they are identical, so maybe that makes it easier to spot the differences?"

    Hilarious! I look forward to this blog when I open up the laptop in the morning.

    1. I feel the same way about your comments. :D Between you and one other reader (who texts me comments), I'm delighted to know that I'm not just sending these blog posts out into the void. (I'd probably write them anyway because they amuse me, but still!)