January 2nd, 2015

Two Maya Banks novels: _Tempted By Her Innocent Kiss_, _Wanted by Her Lost Love_ SPOILERS

My sister and I share books, and we have somewhat overlapping tastes. So when I noticed she had bought some Mills & Boon/Harlequin categories written by Maya Banks, my interest was piqued, albeit only mildly.

These are two entries in a longer series, Pregnancy and Passion (#3 and #2, respectively) and the overlapping characters are more the men than the women. Maya Banks doesn't seem to write strong female relationships (hey, I don't even mean hot and heavy ones -- as near as I can tell, the female protagonists in Maya Banks novels are like Smurfette or the Highlander: there can be only one).

The arc that ties the group together is a hotel/resort development business run by a group of men, who all wind up in in relationships, married and reproducing, definitely NOT in that order, and with a lot of Big Miss drama to go with. Either the man or the woman or both have horrible family backgrounds. You know, all the things I don't love.

Nevertheless, Banks writing, while full of word-os (rung for wrung, type of thing) and not overly sophisticated, has huge narrative momentum. When one of these things got annoying, I just read faster so I would get to the end quicker, I didn't abandon it. And I did read two in a row, because they were there, altho I did have the presence of mind to not buy any more. In a fit of morbid curiosity, I checked to see if my sister had bought more, but she apparently tired of these as well (or possibly had them in paperback from the thrift store or library), so I'm probably safe. For now.

I can't recommend them, but if you like hormonally driven, Big Misunderstanding Crazy out of order relationship with baby on the way, these might do it for you.

ETA: Oh, you came here for spoilers? Here you go.

_Wanted_ has a backstory. College woman swept off her feet by a rich man whose fam does not like her. Future mum-in-law convinced much younger future bro-in-law to assault/attempt rape her, and then go to the rich man and tell a Potiphar's Wife story. Rich man believes bro, rather than fiance (seriously? He's this age and hasn't figured out the toxic wasteland that is his family? Not sure I'd want to ever be around him ever again), writes her a check and tells her to git. By the time the story proper begins (we get all this in backwards looks), he's hired an investigator to track her down and find out why the check wasn't cashed, finds out she's pregnant with pre-eclampsia and hijacks her out of her new life of poverty (her mom is, if anything, marginally worse than his) and drops her back into the old one. Antics ensue. And boy, they are not fun. This is a weird one, in that nominally everyone has all the information, but Rich Dude is an idiot and in denial. Really hard core denial. I'm a little confused with the woman didn't go to the cops since she had a couple weeks worth of bruises, and a police report on bro might have changed the dynamic. *shrug*

_Innocent_ is even sillier. Merger facilitated by old guy's desire to marry off his Manic Pixie Dream Girl daughter to someone who will Take Care Of Her. She finds out on the wedding night, demands to know if her new hubs loves her, and he chokes. Because, idiot. Then she does something even more ridiculous ("I'll change myself into someone he can love!" Seriously. He loves you. He just has a massive communication problem.) that triggers a longstanding migraine issue. Antics ensue. *sigh* Payoff for her is funding for the animal shelter and a farmhouse in Greenwich to raise the kiddies in. Oy.

There's really nothing like ripping one of these plots from a historical novel and pasting it into a contemporary to make you really pause and go, Jayzus these are a bunch of foolishness.

Two Mari Carr novels: _The Back-Up Plan_ and _Never Been Kissed_ (Second Chances) SPOILERS

Alas, after reading those Maya Banks categories, I really felt like I needed a palate cleanser, so I caught up in the Second Chances series.

Series summary: a bunch of women who have Thursday night Wine Nights at the townhome complex they all live in set New Year's Resolutions.

HEY SPOILERS!

In _The Back-Up Plan_, 39 year old Kristen shares a small but successful law practice with Jason. He's a bit of a playboy. She has a drawer full of sex toys. Neither ever wants to have kids and one drunken night 4 years earlier, they made a deal that if they weren't married by 40, they'd marry each other (hence the title). Kristen and Jason then made a deal at 39 to help each other find candidate alternatives. Jason finds Matthew, who matches Kristen's criteria to a T (but not her friends', which include Hot Sex) and then realizes he's super jealous. Kristen finds Monica for Jason, and Monica notices that Jason has it bad for Kristen and bows out (hope we see Monica again. Monica seems way cool). Antics ensue, mostly Jason makes a couple of impulsive moves and they get a real sense of each other outside of the law practice. They realistically are somewhat leery of risking the work relationship.

Ordinarily, I don't care for books where the woman has way, way, way less sexual experience than the man AND is portrayed as having this incredibly high libido. Because that does not actually make a ton of sense to me. However, by consistently portraying Kristen has having a highly rewarding relationship with herself, and being open about it with her friends, Mari Carr makes Kristen at least somewhat believable.

Fun, especially if Lawyers In Love who don't want kids and who do love the banter does it for you.

_Never Been Kissed_ has a substantially younger heroine, at 28. Shelly's dad died when she was young and her mom sort of spent their subsequent life together cooking and eating. The result is two women on blood pressure and other meds and mum has type 2 diabetes. Shelly has decided to do something about it, but mum is resisting (hey, you get comfortable, and when someone unilaterally changes a relationship it is scary). Shelly's shyness has faded somewhat with Wine Night and a friendly colleague at work, fellow IT nerd Christian, but she's still a virgin with huge self-loathing.

Christian is determined to have a relationship with her, but he's not making much progress until he runs into Shelly at Blue Moon, who has been dancing with Lance, Christian's friend from high school who is now running the exercise studio Shelly goes to. There are some funny stories told between the high school buddies and Shelly misunderstands one of the stories to mean that Lance is gay, then her self-loathing reinterprets (incorrectly) all of their behavior towards her. Once that is straightened out, the three of them become fast friends, and there is some kissing. Shelly fesses to her virginity, Christian and Lance and Shelly work out that there doesn't seem to be any toxic jealousy. Other than Lance wanting to bail out to leave Christian and Shelly to be the couple they might have eventually become if he'd never entered the picture, everyone is having a gloriously fun time ... hanging out. But the sexual tension ratchets up, and Lance pushes a bit, and the next thing you know they all head back to Christian's place. You know what dancing leads to.

The relationship stays a V. There is no "boy touching" (which is at least mildly disappointing to Shelly and at least this reader, but I'm not going to complain and neither does she). But they come out to the Wine Girls, then Lance becomes a roommate of Christian's as Shelly spends more and more time at his place (the biggest bed wins. It is ever thus.). One of the most fun things about Mari Carr is her ability to normalize kink -- you sort of almost believe that even in Harrisburg, a threesome could be accepted by friends and family. Maybe. And that means the reader never has to deal with the wrenching sadness of the V dwindling down to a two-some.

Fun, altho again, high libido, low experience woman.

I Guess What They Say About Philosophers Is True

I often (seriously, at least once a week) get misdirected email at my secondary email address. I usually just send a reply asking to be removed from the list. I rarely get further responses, occasionally an apology. Very, very, very rarely, someone argues with me.

Somebody argued with me. Let's have some fun with him!

The person can be found on this faculty list:

http://www.rawmarsh.org/index.php/school-contact-information/

Looks like this sports college (probably doesn't mean college the way we mean college) [ETA: looks like a sports college is roughly equivalent to a sports magnet school at the high school level] is located about 50 miles from where my cousin R. lives. But that is as closely connected as I could possibly make us.

Anyway. Here's the first email:

> Afternoon folks
>
> Please find attached the PPT for your assessment.
>
> Remember- read the success criteria carefully.
>
>
>
> Use up to date research, including the recent Taleban attacks in Pakistan. Did killing bin Laden prevent these attacks? So, evaluate whether it was justified killing him.
>
>
>
> Any problems, email me. Good luck and have a nice Christmas break.

To which I replied my usual:

"Please remove me from your list. I do not know you."

This is the point where these exchanges usually end. But no! He's a philosopher! So he MUST be right. It is unimaginable that he might be wrong.

"[My first name], it's [Mr. last name], your Philosophy teacher. I emailed you with the PPT for your Social Studies assessment as requested."

I sat back when I read this, because I'm telling you, THIS NEVER HAPPENS. I think this is in fact the very first time this has ever happened, and I've been getting misdirected email for YEARS.

So I sent him:

"[Mr. last name] either your intelligence or your assessment of your student's intelligence is not what it could be. I DO NOT KNOW YOU. I am not in your class. You are not my teacher. In all likelihood, we don't live in the same state and we might not live in the same country or even on the same continent. Someone gave you my email address incorrectly OR you transcribed it incorrectly. Please remove me from your list.

FWIW, I get incorrectly directed email fairly often, and it is rare for anyone to argue with me when I request to be removed from a list. I actually get apologies for the error more often than arguments. I guess what people say about philosophers is really true."

I enjoyed this immensely. I am sort of hoping that he is pissed off enough to send me another reply. If he does, I'm going to call the headmaster. Because FUN! Think about that -- philosophy teacher in South Yorkshire bugging some middle-aged American mother of two special needs in Massachusetts accusing her of being his student. THAT IS HILARIOUS!

He'll probably acquire some discretion and quit. *sigh*

ETA: Altho honestly, anyone who assigns a topic like that -- judge whether killing bin Laden was justified -- is pretty unlikely to acquire discretion any time soon. We can hope!

ETAYA: Damn. My subtle attempt to goad him into further foolishness has failed. He still needed to have the last word, tho, so I stand by my assertion about philosophers. I feel sorry for his students, but can't really justify contacting his administration.

"Many apologies for the error.


Sent from Samsung Mobile"