The Fictional Hockey League

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Virgin’s Secret Marriage: Post 15

Chapter 11: The Sanctity of (an unknown) Marriage (of convenience)

(Posts for the foreseeable future may be a bit brief and slapdash. Sincere apologies—it’s been a heck of a few months and the Commissioner is digging her way out of them.)

“Saul and Margaret want to see me—and my new wife—at their estate at seven-thirty this evening for dinner. Because I am now an employee under contract with the Storm, the option of no does not exist” (141).

I dunno, dude. The very fact that you were summoned like that makes me wonder. Sure, if you were only an employee, I’d agree. But you are also now their son in law, and they invited you two through the coach and via you (instead of Emma) and the whole thing smacks of ickiness.

Emma says he has to go (as employee) but she doesn’t. Joe, however, does not agree. He puts a “possessive” arm around her.

“If I have to go, you have to go. That’s what being my wife means” (141).

Suddenly my choice to remain single has been validated and clarified. It’s 2015 (or within a few years of that, since this book isn’t exactly hot off the presses.) Being married does not make you chattel and does not mean you have to go where you’re told by your spouse!

Emma does not argue, however, because she needs to put her Detecting Plan into action. So instead she tells Joe that his mother needs him (she doesn’t) in order to get rid of him. Hannah-the-Mechanic is outside, in her prearranged place, looking at the engine of Emma’s car and shaking her head sadly. The Subplot Groom does not hesitate for an instant when Emma asks if she can borrow his BMW, but alas, all the planning is for naught when Emma whips open the trunk expecting to find all the stolen hockey memorabilia but instead discovering only a single, forlorn, unidentifiable, plain black puck.

That better not be a clue. I haven’t played hockey in almost a year (with one exception) due to health and then landing in the Appalachian-Land-of-No-Freakin’-Rinks, but I would not in the least bit be surprised if there were a puck still in my car’s trunk. And probably a water bottle and some stick tape, too.

When Emma gets home, Joe questions her and threatens to “kiss it out of” her if she doesn’t confess as to why she’d sent him to his mother and why she’d borrowed the Subplot Groom’s car (142). Emma manages to evade answering him, despite the fact that they’re both wearing only towels as they prepare to go to her parents’ house and he’s being all demanding and apparently sexy.

“And do you know… that when you’re at your bossiest and most demanding—like right now—that I…”

Joe’s sexy grin widened.  “You what?”

I want to give you everything you want. And more (144).

Oh Emma. If you have a BDSM fetish, that’s totally fine. Go find yourself a proper dominant. But stop finding Joe’s every-day ordinary browbeating to be sexy and romantic.

The newlyweds—are they? They’ve technically been married for seven years… They should be at the “Seven year itch” at this point, right? At any rate, the two of them show up at the home of Emma’s parents where everything is very “civil” and very “tense” (145). After the hor d’oeuvres, Saul starts insisting that Joe go on Tiffany Lamour’s show.

Oh FFS, novel, seriously?

Joe’s response is that he doesn’t want to talk about his personal life on tv, in order to spare Emma. Margaret’s response is sort of horrifying, in my opinion.

Margaret shrugged… “Emma’s reputation as a proper young woman went out the window the moment the two of you were caught on camera, sans clothing” (146).

On one hand, yeah, I get it. On the other, this seems so dismissive, as though Emma doesn’t get to have a private life because she was caught on camera in a bizarre accidental nudity moment. Does her own mother not care about Emma’s desire now because she has lost her reputation?

Margaret goes on in a vein that I suppose is meant to characterize her as caring, but frankly the whole thing seems very self-interested to me.

“For you to get yourself in the predicaments you have with Joe tells me that there is something special between the two of you. All your father and I are asking is for the two of you to accept the fact that like it or not you both are very much in the public eye. … That means you are role models to a lot of young people” (147).

Ummm. Well, Joe might be, as, you know, an NHL player. And sure, hockey players’ wives and girlfriends typically do a lot of charity work and such, but I wouldn’t say that any of them are role models, let alone role models because they married a hockey player. (Yes, little Susie and little Jane, you two can grow up and marry an NHL player and be just like Emma!) I mean, how many hockey wives can you name besides Carrie Underwood? And Candace Cameron (Bure)? And, um, Ovechkin was (is?) dating a Russian tennis player, right? But these—even if I could think of more—actually prove my point because all of those women were famous before dating their hockey players and for reasons completely separate from dating hockey players.

Emma is a wedding planner. I don’t think they have to worry.

Did it mean now that the sanctity of her marriage had to be sacrificed for the benefit of the darn hockey team? (147).

Well, I wouldn’t go that far, Emma. Because your marriage doesn’t have any sanctity. You (re)married because of the ‘darn hockey team’, remember? Geez.

The conversation continues, with her parents pushing that the scandal won’t die until Joe answers questions and it’s Emma who doesn’t want him to, because that would put him in the claws of Tiffany Lamour, “in a position where he was vulnerable to the whims of a vindictive, scandal-hungry heiress” and “her interest in Joe seems a lot more than simply professional…. “(147 emphasis and ellipsis original).

The lady doth protest too much. (I get paid to teach Shakespeare; I’m allowed to quote Hamlet). Emma’s concern over the “sanctity of her marriage” and Joe being “vulnerable” to Tiffany are both smokescreens as far as I’m concerned. She’s really just jealous. This is the female-version of the romance novel trope that has men wanting to pee in circles around the heroines when another male character so much as looks at them.

“All we are asking is that you let the world in on a little of the excitement or happiness or whatever it is you find with each other,” Margaret said softly (148).

That line makes me laugh. Earlier Margaret declares how the two of them must have something special, and here it’s “excitement or happiness or whatever it is…” I don’t think the author meant to write Margaret as so dismissive, since she’s not described that way when Emma thinks about her, but her actions and words seem awfully shallow and disinterested in Emma as a person, let alone as her daughter.

Joe and Emma go home after Joe agrees to do Tiffany’s show. He tells Emma that he’ll do it because it’s the only way to protect Emma and as her husband that’s his job. Everyone clear? According to this chapter, wives go where their husbands say, and husbands protect wives by going on sports & gossip television programs.

Emma asks that she go on the show, too, since the situation is at least half or more her fault. (I imagine it’s also because of her jealousy.) But Joe declares that she cannot because that’s not what’s done and anyway he refuses to hide behind her.

Then there’s sex in the kitchen, during which Emma is afraid that that when everything has been smoothed over and they’ve been together for a time, after she’s lost her heart, Joe will leave her. If you’re thinking that makes for a less than sexy sex scene, you’d be right. Also less than sexy is Joe’s celly when Emma climaxes.

I totally picture Joe doing this, post-coitus.
A satisfaction that was even better than throwing the puck into the net flowing through him, Joe held her until her shudders stopped (152).

You know what, Book? How about a moratorium on hockey terminology when you’re in a sex scene? Because while I’m sure there’s a way to do it well, this isn’t it.

Then there’s more sex and apparently it is so wildly amazing that Joe is now convinced that their marriage will work forever. Then they have more sex 5 minutes later. This second bout exhausts Joe, but Emma is too worried about Joe’s hockey memorabilia to sleep. So she calls his brother (the sheriff, not the doctor).

Because OF COURSE HE DOES, Joe wakes up while Emma is on the phone, being all furtive. He figures out it’s his brother, Joe, and when she hangs up, she spots him and Joe decides she looks guilty.

Well, so much for that marriage working forever, eh?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bonus post!

Yesterday I pointed out that The Virgin's Secret Marriage, the current book, has tried its hand, about 2/3rds of the way through the book, at being a mystery, in addition to being a romance novel. (And that goes about as well as you'd expect from the previous posts about this book.) And in doing so, I inserted an image from the children's book series, The Boxcar Children. (This is a series I used to read, in fact, although I do not remember getting to #80. But I do vaguely recall reading a bout a hockey mystery. So who knows?)

The boxcar plays not important role in these books after the first one.
What I failed to do, however, was actually look closely at this cover. I could comment on the creepy smile on the guy in the middle. Considering these four kids are siblings, his look at the girl beside him is Not Okay. And his rakishly angled hat is weirding me out. And he's supposed to be 14.

I could also point out that none of them look like they have a freakin' clue as to what they're doing.  I mean, look at the kid in the back (Benny). That is not how you hold a hockey stick. And the girl towards the back (Violet), looks like she's just walking on the ice, not skating, lackadaisically gesturing vaguely towards the puck.

But what caught my eye when rereading the post from yesterday is that they're very clearly in an indoor rink (given the boards behind them.)* But none of them are wearing gear-- not even helmets. I don't know any indoor rink in the US (and I'm guessing the same goes for Canada, although those rinks are clearly not going to operate under USAHockey rules). No one is allowed on the ice when there is hockey playing of any kind without at least a helmet! (And I don't think I've ever seen anyone in a rink without wearing gloves, too, even if they aren't in full gear.)

Someone across the ice is going to take a shot on the net behind those kids and a puck is going to hit Benny in the head and the next book will be The Concussion Mystery. Or a puck will hit Henry (the oldest guy) in the crotch and will wipe that smile right off of him. (The 'Can Henry Still Have Children?' Mystery, Boxcar Children #217).

*I will however congratulate this cover for putting the boards and the glass above said boards instead of how most of these romance novels seem to forget the glass and have their heroines resting their folded arms on the boards to watch their hockey heroes.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Virgin’s Secret Marriage: Post 14

Chapter 10: Emma Hart, Girl Detective

(Posts for the foreseeable future may be a bit brief and slapdash. Sincere apologies—it’s been a heck of a few months and the Commissioner is digging her way out of them.)

Emma is greeting at the Wedding Inn by Joe’s mother telling her that she has that “honeymoon glow” (127), which, I don’t know about you, but I find kind of creepy coming from her mother-in-law. On the other hand, Emma and Joe apparently have had All the Sex during the night and that morning. I imagine Emma must be pretty sore, geez.

Then the Subplot Bride shows up in tears and Emma hurries away to in quire what’s wrong. Turns out that the Subplot Groom has been having “secret conversations on the phone” and “sneaking out around two this morning, only to sneak back in around four” (128). I sincerely hope you all see what’s going on here because the book is broadcasting it loud and clear. Emma, however, only sees that she needs to get the Subplot Bride & Groom back together, or else her reputation as a wedding planner will suffer.

Then Joe shows up at the Wedding Inn, because apparently he has nothing better to do between workouts, and they bother the Inn’s cook long enough to steal some lunch. Then Mac the Sheriff arrives to tell Joe and Emma that there’d been another break in the night before (around four am, ::cough, cough:: ) and they’d been caught, and they’d had a list of homes that had been broken into on them, including Joe’s house. On the other hand, they did not have any of Joe’s hockey memorabilia on them.

Mac (finally) asks Joe if anyone knew how much the memorabilia meant to him or how much it was worth, since the hockey stuff is the only stuff that doesn’t fit the pattern of break-ins… which is odd since the book never bothered to tell us that there was a pattern before. 

Ooooh, mystery.
Joe thinks really hard and (finally) comes up with Tiffany Lamour.

Then, because apparently the Wedding Inn is also the Hart Family Grand Central Station, Joe’s other brother, Cal the doctor, shows up just in time to inform everyone that Tiffany Lamour has been at the hospital asking questions about Joe. Gee, that’s not suspicious at all. Thank you, convenient other brother, for that well timed information!

Mac decides that Tiffany must have some connection to the thieves and had them steal Joe’s stuff, but that there’s someone else actually masterminding the whole situation. Everyone splits up, and Emma decides to play Girl Detective. I guess since Emma no longer has “virgin” as an identity, she’s trying on new ones. She realizes that the Subplot Groom was

·         Acting suspicious
·         Needs money, due to the wedding demands
·         Is the manager of the golf club and thus knows when people are out of town

But she needs proof! (dunh, dunh, dunh, duunnnhhhh)

The Virgin Girl Detective's Secret Marriage & the Hockey Mystery ... of DOOM was probably too long a title
Conveniently, she already has plans for the Subplot Bride and Groom to have tea at the Wedding Inn that day in order to rekindle their romance. (Now, I love tea as much as the next girl. I’m drinking a mug right now in fact. And I firmly believe in the healing powers of tea, and the soothing powers of tea, and the caffeinating powers of tea. But I don’t think tea is going to be enough to bring a fighting, suspicious couple under stress back to their old romance.)

But as I said, conveniently. So Emma gets Hannah, the mechanic, to stand in the parking lot and pretend that Emma’s car is dead so she can trick the Subplot Groom into lending her his car, so she can snoop. I’m not sure why Hannah even has to be there, frankly. I mean, sure, having the town’s mechanic declare Emma’s car to be dead lends an air of authority, but was the Groom really going to ask?

“Excuse me, my car is dead, and since I’m your wedding planner and need to pick up your tux, may I borrow your car? Especially since you’re scheduled to be here having Romantic Tea with your fiancée?”

“Is your car really dead?”

I mean, that’s just not the answer one gives in this situation.

But before Emma can put her plan into action, Joe shows up again. I know it’s the off season, but damn dude, don’t you have things to do? Geez. Then he badgers her, in my opinion. He asks if she’s busy, and when she says yes, he says she doesn’t look busy. When Emma insists that he is, he demands to know what she’s doing. She says she’s waiting for someone and he says he’ll join her. When she says she’d rather he didn’t, he demands to know what he missed because he doesn’t recall them having a fight.

If you’re going to continue being so irritating, Joe, we’re going to have a fight. Oh wait, you’re fictional and Emma isn’t going to stand up to you… There’s some canoodling and Emma finally pushes him away. She doesn’t want to tell him her plan because he’s a “straight shooter” (140) and wouldn’t go along with it.

Joe still won’t leave her alone and he drops a bomb, that he’s agreed for the both of them to have dinner with Emma’s parents that evening, and that’s where the chapter ends.

Man, if I were Emma I’d be so pissed off at this guy, from him showing up all the random time, to him getting her all hot and bothered the night before but then disappearing to go freakin’ grocery shopping, to now accepting an invitation for the two of them without asking her first.

I suppose there’s a reason I’m not a romance novel heroine. Well... okay, more than one reason. Kind of a lot of reasons, actually.