The Fictional Hockey League

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Virgin’s Secret Marriage: Post 10

Chapter 6: Two Minutes for Terrible Use of Hockey Terminology

(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.)

Chapter six covers about 24 hours, so let’s find out if I can do it justice in just one post… Given my tendency toward verbosity, I’m not holding my breath.

When we left off (in chapter 5), Joe had picked Emma up and carried her into her bedroom for their wedding night. Chapter six begins when he discards her at the foot of the bed, then strips to his boxers and climbs in.

Emma is disappointed, “as she realized this was as far as the romantic gesture was going to go” (71). Geez, Emma. Make up your damn mind. Two minutes ago you were telling him to get out of your house because sleeping beside each other would be too intimate. Now you want… what, precisely?

She snarks at him some more, telling him to sleep on the couch He says refuses.

“I earn my living with my physical agility, Emma. No way am I going to mess up perfectly conditioned muscles trying to curve my body like a slithering snake to fit on that trendy red sofa you’ve got out there, just so you’re feminine sensibilities are appeased” (71).

Great. Joe has begun monologuing. What is he, a Grade B villain? Wouldn’t a simple “No, it’ll hurt my back” have sufficed?

Eventually Emma gives up, changes into pajamas, and climbs into bed. They lie there for a bit, uncomfortable, before Joe asks what Emma had told her father the day that they married (and didn’t get it annulled) since clearly she hadn’t told him about the (original) marriage. I dunno, Joe. If you two wanted to get some sleep (both having cited early mornings), I’m not sure that’s the small talk route you wanted to go.

The answer is really just a rehash of what we already know. Emma didn’t tell her father because it was clear it didn’t matter. Said father was pissed off enough at Joe because he’d dare come near Emma at all, and he assumes all hockey players are “about the groupies and the easy sex and the egos and the tunnel vision on the game” (73).

This offends Joe who declares that he’s not promiscuous, and to prove it (??) snuggles up to Emma and informs her that she’s never gotten over him, just as he’s never gotten over her. They both deny this announcement out loud but both begin to realize it might be true. They eventually fall asleep, then it’s morning and Emma gets ready to leave to placate the Demanding Wedding Mama. Joe announces that he’ll take care of breaking her lease and getting everything moved out of her apartment and she again complains about this but caves.

Joe shows up while she’s with her clients later in the day, to give her the key to his house. Emma is annoyed by how much everyone seems to like Joe, which doesn’t make me think very highly of her. While Joe is at the wedding venue, his mom pulls him aside to lecture him

She informs him that if he “married Emma without loving her with all [his] heart,” he’d committed a crime (79). I’d say that I don’t know what she wants from him at this point, since that’s a pretty useless comment post-wedding, but she announces that love is something you decide to do every day. I don’t think she means you can just decide to love someone, randomly, but that is totally how it reads. She also says that she and Emma’s mom let the two of them get married the day before because she can see their chemistry. Yeahhh, okay. They’re over 18, as we’ve covered before (because they were over 18 seven years ago already) so there’s not much they could have done besides made a spectacle in front of the media. Also, chemistry does not equal love. She goes on to demand that Joe be a good husband to Emma, which includes not just providing for her (which Joe points out that he’ll absolutely do but that Emma doesn’t exactly need him to) but also being her “partner” (80)

She spoke as if underlining every word. “Her soul mate. For real” (80).

Is everyone in this novel absolutely insane? Or perhaps they’re actually aware that they’re living in a romance novel? Who declares that? Of anyone? Let alone of their son? Knowing that said son married for convenience (of a sort)? I… just… I got nothing here.

Eventually, the day ends for both members of the couple and Emma goes to her new home, which is lovely and well maintained on the outside and an absolute disaster of boxes on the inside. She asks him to turn on the air conditioner, he refuses and then goes to watch recordings of his games from the previous season (specifically against Vancouver, in case you’re curious.) Emma decides to join him and watches as the on-tape Joe gets into a fight. When she asks what the two players were chirping at each other, he refuses to tell her.

“Nothing your ladylike ears should hear” (83).

I … guess this is supposed to be either gentlemanly or cute? I can’t really tell. She asks again. He refuses again. She gets irritated that she’s still being “sheltered unnecessarily” by men (83) so she grabs the VCR remote (which tells us, I guess, when this book was written. Or perhaps not. I mean, it was published in 2010… But I know I’ve seen shots of hockey players watching games and plays and stuff on laptops, meaning it’s gotta be all digitized by now. So why would Joe be watching on actual tape? Harrumph.

Anyway, Emma rewinds the tape in an attempt to lip read, but Joe has the TV remote and turns off the screen. Emma goes to get the second remote from him and the weirdness starts.

…he put two fingers in his mouth and let out a startlingly loud whistle. Fists closed, he crossed his arms in front of his chest and held them there. “Two minutes for interference!” he declared, grabbing her wrist and pulling her over onto his lap (84).

This continues. Emma tries to escape. He pulls her back into his lap and declares “Into the penalty box you go” (84). There’s more wriggling and trying to escape.

“Ah-ah-ah!” Still holding on to her with one arm, he made yet another “call”—via punching motion to the side, his arm extending downward from the shoulder. “Another two for roughing!” (85).

I … this … This is not what I meant when I started tagging this book’s posts with “where’s the hockey.” This is not the hockey I seek! What the hell?!

I might even prefer the traditional sex in the locker room to this weirdness.

“You don’t want to add unsportsmanlike conduct to the mix,” he told her gravely, bending his head to kiss the nape of her neck, as one hand slid beneath the hem of her cotton blouse to caress the skin just above her waist. “That might get you sent to the locker room for the rest of the game.”

If the penalty box was his lap, Emma didn’t want to even think where the locker room might be (85).

Emma really, really wants to kiss Joe at this point, so instead she stomps on his instep and elbows him.

“Fisticuffs are not tolerated in this game”

“It wasn’t fisticuffs,” Emma argued, even as she tried unsuccessfully to bring her knee up. Rookie or not, she was not going down without a fight (86).

This isn’t how we hockey! This isn’t how anyone should hockey! Stop this madness!

Joe pins her to the couch at this point, and the chapter ends with the following…

“Joe, you are not going to kiss me,” she stated plainly. Not this way. Not without love.

But his sexy grin only widened.  “Want to bet?” (86-87).

Fine, you two, go have the sex. Have ALL the sex if you want, just stop trying to base it on hockey metaphors and penalties.

(A friend of mine, the one who I was visiting in Vancouver, actually, one wrote a hockey penalties explained piece specifically for dirty minds. That was brilliant and I shall ask her if I can get it posted here on the FHL. This scene, however, is just awkward, like the author suddenly remembered she should put in more hockey and this is where she shoehorned it in.)


  1. Good Lord! Hockey terminology in one hand, and sex manual in the other. Off we go to the keyboard. In a properly run world, writers who know nothing of hockey would not be allowed to write about it. But obviously writers who know nothing of sex get to write about it.

    And did he fake the ref motions for roughing? I can't even. So ridiculous. And I want to read your friend's penalty article way more than this book.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I'd say that the author should be sent to the penalty box but I suspect that would only make things worse.

      Yep, he made the ref motions for roughing. And all the other "penalties" he called on Emma. It is the *weirdest* scene. I do not approve.

      I haven't actually read past this scene yet (plan to tonight, with more posts to be written during the intermissions of the Canucks game) because this scene just stopped me flat out. I needed time to recover.

  2. 1. OH MY GOD. Yeah, I might prefer locker room sex. I mean, this is entertaining to read *about* but I am horrified that it exists.

    2. What is the ref motion for roughing? (Worst hockey fan. But refs are still alien to me. I don't watch enough hockey.)

    3. One can do better with the hockey sex metaphors. Much better. (If one is willing to be crass. Which one assumes one is.)

    4. Aaaaaaand YES get us the hockey penalties explained for dirty minds I require it.

    5. Also, romance novels are weird. This is a particularly egregious example, but wow. Wow.

    1. 1. I hate to say it, but I agree. I prefer the idea of locker room sex, as unsanitary as that is. Because people DO get swept up in passion and have sex in stupid places. But pretending to be a referee is a very specific kink that doesn't do it for me. Bad role play...

      2. Here's a reference:

      3. I can see using hockey penalties as sex metaphors, I guess. Or I could, before I read this scene. I mean, sin bin and all, right? But ugh.

      4. I have asked VancouverHockeyWoman if I may. I'll let you know.

      5. Yeahhhh. I'm hoping the next novel is a different kind of weird/bad. ;)

    2. 1. And some locker rooms are ... I mean, if that's my option, I can kind of deal with it? Not in a "this is a thing I would do" but in a "I could suspend disbelief for a while" way.

      2. Thank you!

      3. You can get a pretty good one if you're a goalie, too. If you're willing to be crass. But this was just ... no. Too much. (Or possibly too little.)

      4. Excellent!

      5. Me too! As much as I enjoy your take, I'd prefer novels you could actually enjoy ;)