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?


  1. I am glad I stuck this book out, not because the book is getting better, but because the reviews are getting more hilarious. This romance is validating your decision to be single, which is probably the opposite of its intention, but LOL-inducing. And sex is better than "throwing the puck in the net?" I stopped laughing long enough to disallow that goal.

    In better/worse news, a really bad hockey romance was free yesterday. I'm hoping it lives up to its terrible reviews. It has been criticized for its verb tense!!! My hockey romance reading has gotten to the point where I enjoy crappy books more than the boring and repetitive middle ground.

    1. My main goal is to be amusing, so I'm delighted that you're finding my posts to be funny. (I'm never certain if my sense of humor is shared...)

      I keep picturing "throwing the puck in the net" as not just a comparison but also a metaphor, and that makes it *worse*.

      Will you be reviewing the free really bad hockey romance? Oh please say you will be!!

      I definitely prefer the BAD ones over the mediocre ones. I used to proofread for a niche, online publishing company. And the manuscripts that were hysterically *bad* kept me reading (train-wreck style) faster than the boring ones, and that's completely separate from whether either version had more/less grammar problems. (I can't go into some of the doozies I saw during that job, since I do respect the publishers, but trust me, there were some Truly Awful Books, which I would spend a great deal of time mocking to my friends...)

      I have actually not read any further in this book yet, so who knows what Friday's post will hold...?

    2. I wanted to add that I can name an alarming number of hockey wives, but role model is not the first name that comes to mind. Also, the free book turned out to be fairly meh, and probably not worthy of a review. As Tolstoy said, all traditionally-publlished hockey romances are alike, but every self-published hockey romances is bad in its own way. I may be misquoting him, but Russians love hockey, right?

    3. I cannot think of any other hockey wives (by name-- I mean, I know most of my favorite hockey players ARE married, I just don't care about them much off-ice, y'know? As long as they aren't beating up taxi drivers, or beating their significant others, etc.) But I'm glad that the point that "role model" isn't the first thing one thinks about them (at least in their positions as wives) still stands. Because... yeahhh, no.

      I'm sorry that the free book was meh. And yeah, I think you just possibly might be misquoting Tolstoy, but as you say, Russians love hockey, so I doubt he'd mind. ;)