The Fictional Hockey League

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Virgin's Secret Marriage: Post 5

Chapter 4: Villainy!

Chapter four picks up where three left off, with the press conference rapidly descending into chaos. Tiffany Lamour keeps explaining what she’s learned—how the couple married at “Ye Olde Wedding Chapel in Nooseneck, Rhode Island” (47).  Do I even need to go into how “Ye” isn’t a word, and that it’s actually a corruption of an Old English “The” where the “Th” sound was made by a letter called a thorn which no longer is used and looked a little like a Y? No? Okay.

At any rate, the two of them, aged 19 had been married in the middle of the night at Ye Olde Wedding Chapel and Tiffany Lamour has found out. In order to salvage the situation—which is to say in order to escape the press conference—Joe says he guesses they’ve been found out and he grabs Emma, saying he’d like some time alone with her, and they dash out the back way.

Then something interesting happens. Emma and Joe drive off to Joe’s lawyer’s office (no, that’s not the interesting part) and along the way, Emma asks Joe what he’d done to Tiffany Lamour to make her angry enough to come after him like that. (That’s also not the interesting part. In fact, as bitchy as Tiffany is written to seem, acting all smug in her findings and such, she was actually doing her job. Whether you respect a gossip reporter with a “Bad Boy of the Week” segment is another thing, but it is her job and people clearly enjoy watching news like that. The narrative tries to convince that Tiffany had taken “personal satisfaction in publically embarrassing Joe and Emma” as a “personal-feminine-vendetta sort of thing” (49) and maybe she had but I don’t know how Emma, particularly, could have decided that.)

The interesting part is Joe’s answer.

See, Tiffany works for a news network owned by her father, meaning that she can do no wrong, or rather she can do All the Wrong but not get fired. And evidently, Tiffany enjoys sex with her interviewees. When Emma learns this, she asks if Joe has been on her show. His negative answer has her asking if he’s afraid she’ll sexually harass him. He explains that if he goes on her show and doesn’t sleep with her, she’ll trash him on TV and within the NHL. Emma is surprised that no one has stopped Tiffany from this behavior and here’s where it (finally) gets (particularly) interesting

“First off, no self-respecting jock is going to go to the media claiming he can’t fend off the passes of some woman. He’d be laughed out of the country. And probably off his team” (51).

(The secondly is that Tiffany is subtle so it’s impossible to prove.) Joe’s answer seems to me dead on. Men (in general) have their masculinity policed. There’s zero question that what Tiffany is doing is wrong. (And I’m so glad that the book acknowledges that; that so far at least no one is being all “Oh poor you, someone wants to have sex with you, you pussy” at Joe.) But because there’s an expectation about how men act, the athletes who don’t want to sleep with Tiffany—who in this particularly dynamic has all the power—can’t complain without causing a stir and facing gender-based repercussions. This is exactly why men who have been raped by women don’t come forward. (I’m not quite calling Tiffany’s actions rape, but it is sexual harassment.)

This is why men need feminism, too, since true equality would mean that no one would be trapped within society’s gendered expectations.

Tiffany’s villainy is further exemplified when Joe tells Emma of a time when a producer actually tried to blow the whistle on Tiffany’s behavior. Instead, Tiffany got the producer fired and trashed her reputation.

Well this is kind of exciting. Other than Sociopathic-Seth in Offside, we haven’t really had a villain before. (Oh, unless you count “Rejoice: A Burden”, but… I try to forget that story…) Granted, there’s still no real reason given for Tiffany’s behavior. Joe says she’s never hit on him directly because he’s never let her get close enough to do so. Thus there hasn’t been an out-right rejections; ergo there’s (as of yet at least) no motivation for her villainy. But still! Villainy!


  1. One issue I have with certain romances is how ridiculous they are. One hockey romance I read combined elements of erotica, mystery, and action adventure, and failed on all counts. Of course there is a villain here. How could there not be one, and she's an attractive, predatory woman. I buy your arguments on male victimhood, but I also hate to see the tired device of pitting the good woman against the bad one to show how sweet the heroine is. Tiffany Lamour too, that name is beyond ridiculous. The only way it could be worse would be if she spelled it Tiffanee or Tiphani.

    Escapism shouldn't mean completely losing your common sense. The more I read this review, the more I really hate this book.

    1. You make an *excellent* point about the Evil Woman as Foil for Heroine Trope.

      I don't know if this makes you feel better or worse, but the next book (I think) is not a Harlequin and involves knitting (along with hockey, of course).

  2. I can't knit, but I do like crafts. Having cats around interferes with knitting. And you did two HQ books before, but they weren't this bad. I remain grumpy but optimistic.

    1. Two out of my three cats really aren't impressed by yarn. The youngest/newest cat, though (the vampire one I posted a photo of) likes to get between me and my knitting. Or eat chase my yarn around. I haven't spun any yarn since adopting him, but that could be interesting, too...

      To be fair to these books, I do pick at the worst parts of them. And the Helsinki Biker Gang Harlequin (Her Man Advantage) was almost as unbelievable. We shall see where this book goes (I've only read slightly ahead of what I've written for tomorrow) and Harlequins are short, so soon it'll be time for the next book.