The Fictional Hockey League

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

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Virgin’s Secret Marriage: Post 16

Chapter 12: Twisted Logic

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

WhatisthisIdon’teven… ::takes a deep breath:: Let me try this again.

In many ways, almost nothing happens in this chapter, and yet it’s almost 20 pages and this post is (probably) going to be long.

Actual actions that occur in this chapter:

  •  Joe asks Emma why she’s calling his brother
  • Emma eventually explains
  • Sex
  • Tiffany Lamour inexplicably shows up at the house
  • Joe’s interview with Tiffany happens off stage
  • Emma oversees the rehearsal dinner cleanup
  • Tiffany shows up to give a tape of the interview to Emma and Joe
  • Sex
  • Emma’s mother worries about the interview and hints that Joe might have slept with Tiffany
  • Joe helps his sister bring wedding cakes to the Inn

Okay, that’s actually quite a few actions, but none of them are what you’d call particularly exiting in and of themselves. And that’s actually how the whole chapter feels… mundane tasks take more time than they ought and an awful lot of (digital) ink is spilled attempting what I’m pretty sure is just misdirection.

Let’s take it step by step, shall we? (Oh, we shall. We shall.)

  • Joe asks Emma why she’s calling his brother
  • Emma eventually explains 

Joe decides that Emma is guilty, regarding this phone call. She explains that she was calling Mac in a professional capacity since she had an idea about who might be behind the thefts.

“And you didn’t tell me?” Joe groused, aware this would have been good news had he not had to drag it out of her, and then only after catching her confiding in someone else. Who, by the way, was not her husband! (158).

First, if you’re her husband and she’s not confiding in you, then that whole last bit up there, Mr Joe Hart, hockey player extraordinaire, is redundant.

Second, and more importantly, this book seems to suggest that while the two of them (re)married for convenience, to let gossip die down, that it’s magically a marriage where all Traditional Beliefs have to stand—and these two haven’t even discussed what those beliefs would be for them. I see far less reason for Emma to confide in Joe than for her to not confide in Joe.

Emma eventually admits that she thinks the Thieving Mastermind is the Subplot Groom. Joe thinks her logic is sound, but is far less interested in getting his priceless and sentimental hockey memorabilia returned than he is hurt that Emma didn’t tell him any of this of her own volition. Emma tries to explain that since she could be wrong, she didn’t want to raise Joe’s hopes, and that she wanted to protect him.

Joe frowned, not sure where to start, she was so out of line here. “Emma—” (159).

Seriously? What year is this book written in? VCRs notwithstanding, I feel like Joe is trying to be a dad from a 1950s sitcom. (In which case he needs to get a haircut like Keith Yandle… said the FHL Commissioner in a joke that no one who reads this blog is likely to get.) 

We miss you, Yandle, and your tic of pulling up your pants
 before every faceoff. (Photo by the FHL Commissioner, 2013) 
  • Sex 
Emma points out that she actually knows the rest of Joe’s family better than she knows him, at this point, what with practically all of them working at the Wedding Inn, or stopping by constantly. It creeps me out, however, that during this conversation when Emma is enumerating each of Joe’s siblings and whether she knows them well, Joe is getting turned on. I wish I were kidding, but by the time they get to referencing Joe’s veterinarian brother (who I forgot existed), Joe is aroused and Emma is undressing.

I’m an only child, but I still think that talking about my siblings would be very much passion destroying.

To assuage Joe’s temper-tantrum*, Emma tells him he’s the one in her heart. Later in the chapter, twice in fact, the text will tell us that Joe doesn’t know if Emma loves him, because she’s never said it. But it seems to me that she did just say it, right there, even without the “three little words.” Eejit.

The next morning (after more sex), Emma leaves for the rehearsal day of the Subplot Wedding after being reminded that that evening is also Joe’s interview with Tiffany Lamour, or, as Emma has starting thinking about her, “the female piranha” (161). 

Tell me you wouldn't watch a show with this guy for an interviewer?

  • Tiffany Lamour inexplicably shows up at the house 

Think of the devil female piranha and she shows up, apparently, but only after Emma has left for the day.

Tiffany’s behavior is (presumably, deliberately) inexplicable. She starts out wheedling, in order to get into the house. When Joe says he won’t answer any personal questions while on her show that night, she gets aggressive and rude. Then she tries to seduce him by letting “her knees fall open a tad too far” but Joe doesn’t care about her panties.  (Seriously. He says so.)

She remains aggressive and says she’ll ask whatever she damn well pleases during the show and that she can cut the film to make it look like anything she wants. Joe threatens her, saying he’ll just ask her questions, too, like apparently that she was involved in some other, never-before-mentioned athlete’s divorce and almost had to go to court (for unspecified reasons) over it. Last, Tiffany seems to deflate when Joe tells her that he’s bringing his attorney with him to the interview.

“Fine,” Tiffany said grudgingly at last… “We’ll do it your way, Joe, as always” (164).

When has there ever been a previous for this to be an always? Dammit, book, get it together.

Tiffany gives up and asks to use the restroom. Joe doesn’t want to let her (rude, but understandable) but allows it, then she disappears.

  • Joe’s interview with Tiffany happens off stage
  • Emma oversees the rehearsal dinner cleanup 

The only notable thing that happens here is that because Emma remains uncertain if the Subplot Groom is the hockey memorabilia theft culprit, she likens being the wedding planner for that day’s rehearsal and next day’s ceremony to “presiding over a wedding on the deck of the Titanic” (165). I know the Titanic disaster happened 100+ years ago, but that still seems a little callous in comparison. I mean, the worst thing that could happen at this Carolina wedding (using the book’s plot suggestion) is that it turns out that the Subplot Groom is broke and turned to a life of Really Stupid Crime, potentially in league with Tiffany Lamour, and perhaps he gets arrested during the ceremony. On the Titanic, 1500 people drowned or died of exposure. It’s just a bit different. Plus, Emma is describing a feeling of uncertainty and dread—feelings that the passengers of the Titanic, including any (nonexistent) wedding planners, wouldn’t have had since most of them were convinced that the ship was unsinkable and also they weren’t supposed to be so far north that there would still be icebergs in their path in April.

(Weirdly, I’m currently listening to an audiobook about the Lusitania. Which has nothing to do with anything other than also being a giant passenger ship that sank a few years after the Titanic. And actually, the Lusitania would have made a better metaphor here, since it was sailing during war time and the Germans actually published warnings in the newspapers saying, “Hey, watch out Americans, ‘cause if we can, we’re going to torpedo the Lusitania, with our nifty new-fangled submarines!” which could have engendered a sense of dread, unlike on the Titanic. Icebergs weren’t polite enough to take out advertisements.)

  • Tiffany shows up to give a tape of the interview to Emma and Joe 

Yes, I do mean tape, by the way. They use a VCR.

The couple takes the tape home and Emma wants to watch it, but Joe wants sex. Emma worries that the tape contains something other than the interview, like perhaps a sex tape or something.

They compromise in that they start to watch it but get distracted into sex before the tape is over. They don’t see anything to worry them (during the tape. I mean, I presume also not during the sex, but that part isn’t explicitly in the text.)

  • Sex 

Also a boring conversation about the fact that Joe isn’t shaving because he thinks the beard is bringing him luck with Emma.

·         Emma’s mother worries about the interview and hints that Joe might have slept with Tiffany

Emma’s mother shows up at the Wedding Inn purely to ask Emma what’s going on; Tiffany gave Emma’s parents a copy of the tape as well and they watched all of it. It contains absolutely nothing about Joe’s private life, which worries Emma’s mother. First, she’s concerned (and hints at) that Joe either paid off Tiffany or slept with her in order to keep her from asking personal questions. Of course this makes Emma worry about this possibility, too, as well as accuse her mother of sending Joe to Tiffany as a kind of morality test.

I don’t like any of the relationships in this book. They’re not healthy.

 Second, Emma’s mother is miffed that this interview won’t put to rest any of the gossip. Which, fair enough, but I also have to believe that the gossip just frankly isn’t that big of a deal. It’s a fluff piece at best. I mean, there are athletes (NHL included) who have been accused (or proven) to have beaten people who are still playing and are still popular. Somehow I think one semi-illicit-but-not-really relationship and secret-accidental marriage is a blip on the radar. But this is apparently an important moment for Emma, because she stands up to her mother and says that she and Joe are going to (from now on, I suppose) keep their private lives private.

So much for that whole Hockey Wife = Role Model = Tell All thing that these two had going on last chapter.

  •  Joe helps his sister bring wedding cakes to the Inn

And there’s some conversation about how his sister doesn’t support her son’s desire to play hockey, which makes Joe feel sad because… I’m not sure. Possibly because he feels bad for the kid, but more likely it’s because he feels it demeans his own career choices and reminds him that his own mother didn’t support him the way he’d have liked her to. It’s not spelled out, but that’s the subtext I get, and it’s actually slightly more interesting than just about anything else going on in this book. Joe also asks his sister how he should seduce Emma that night, which I can’t decide if it’s creepy (that’s his sister he’s asking) or sweet (at least he’s not just insisting Emma do things this time.)

Then the wedding starts and the chapter ends. Only 25 pages left in this novel. I sure hope we find out who the thief is and what Tiffany’s fiendish plan might be…

*DIGRESSION TIME! I keep wanting to write that Joe is “butthurt” over this stupidity, because as a term it conveys such petulance and childishness. But I don’t like the term because of its references to sodomy and thus the suggestion that gay penetrative sex is somehow ‘bad’ and thus worthy of being used as a pejorative. Then I considered “panties in a bunch” and “hissyfit”, but of course both of those have feminine conotations. The humor in the former in partly about the gendered term ‘panties’ and thus suggests that only women, or worse, men being called feminine, would have the emotional response in question. The latter, hissyfit, is from the term “hysterical” which was a very specifically female gendered term used by medical practitioners who thought that only women could have specific kinds of emotional, “nervous” complaints, at one point thought to be caused by the uterus wandering about the woman’s body and at various times in history “treated” by stimulating a woman to orgasm.

Language is hard, you guys. And if you’re asking why connotations or language matter, you might be hanging out in the wrong blog.


  1. So many things, but the most compelling to me is that talking about his siblings turns our hero on. Is there a twisted logic that she knows his family and therefore cares about him? Frankly, it's too icky to think about.

    I do like the piranha photo though. Although a little internet research reveals that male and female piranhas are difficult to distinguish, so the analogy doesn't make sense. Tiff could be a plain old piranha.

    Also, I'm not sure if you know this, but commenting on the blog now requires a test which involves picking out delicious photos of food. So I have to finish commenting and then eat.

    1. But if we don't add a gender to the piranha tag, how will we know just how truly bad the Evil Other Woman is?! (I actually first google searched for a "female piranha" but then decided I just liked this photo. Only later did I realize that the mouth open pose was sort of like the mouth open post of Yandle in the other photo...)

      I did NOT know that. That's seriously weird. You can join the piranhas, I suppose, in eating delicious food? :D