Avon Impulse, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-06-236910-9
Contemporary Romance, 2015
What do you think of the whole concept of “friendzone”? Under normal circumstances, it can be an amusing word, especially when used playfully to describe how you are treated by someone whom you really like to shag, but that person just treats you like a BFF. In this story, however, hero Russell Hart and his friends use that word as a shortcut for “you ain’t getting my wang because this is the conflict, baby”. Lots of unfortunate implication follow, although these implications should be popular tropes if you like reading those books that fall under the new adult label. Which is what this book is, despite the fact that the characters claim to be adults, and hence, I feel like I need a bath after finishing it.
Russell Hart wants Abby Sullivan bad. He wants to do graphic sexual things to her with his hairy tattooed I-am-a-meathead-cliché body. But he claims that he is “friendzoned” – even if he refuses to make his interest in her known by wagging his pee-pee at her like the tail of a happy puppy or something. Can one be friendzoned if one doesn’t want to get out of that zone? Later on, when he refuses to give Abby any more of that meathead dong of his, he would claim that he has “friendzoned” her, so I suspect that the word here is used like a Facebook relationship status to let all his buddies know whether he’s still inside or it’s complicated.
Why is he withholding god’s gift from Abby? You see, Abby is loaded – trust fund baby – and is a virgin. That virgin part is important because it’s repeated quite a few times here, apparently because that thin membrane is all that separates a woman from being worthy of a meathead’s love and being doomed to be sexually frustrated forever. Fortunately, Abby has lots of virginity here. According to Russell, Abby is like a mis-delivered parcel to his doorstep; she’s not for him, and one day, the rightful owner (don’t barf, it’s a new adult thing) would show up to claim her, but until then, he would do his best to stalk her and hover over her, growling at men who want to unwrap her box, all in the name of “protecting” the goods. Abby claims that Russell is so sexist because of his behavior, but she likes him all the same, so all is still right in the world. Then again, she tends to do all kinds of stupid things so Russell stalking her is actually a good thing.
This story rubs me off wrongly, from the author having the heroines from the previous books sitting on the laps of their husbands while their husbands smirk at Russell for not getting any honey – gross – to Russell’s entire creepy fixation on Abby’s virginity and supposedly unattainable status in a yucky “other women are all unworthy – this virginal pristine pure girl-child, however, is worthy of my penis” way. To be fair, Abby doesn’t see Russell as a person either. If Russell sees her only as a quivering warm honeypot with a neon light that says “Virgin – come take me, if you dare!”, she sees him as very little more than a hairy-chested, tattooed meathead with a fifty-inch erection.
So, eventually these two have sex. There is still some way to go, so the author does the must stupid thing imaginable – create a situation in which the hero assumes that the heroine wants him gone, so he ditches her and hurts her bad. Or, in his own words, he “friendzones” her. This situation is so, so stupid, as it’s so obvious that someone is lying to Russell. But Russell spends the entire story chanting that he is not worthy even as he sticks it to every part of Abby without breaking the law, so I suppose this stupid ploy works because he’s so determined to still play that “I’m not worthy” card even if he’s already “worthy”-ed every part of Abby to the point that there is no point in whining anymore. Dude, he’s already boinked her all the ways to Alaska and back. What is he still not worthy of? Nostril sex?
All the unpleasant misogynist and sexist tropes of new adult stories are present here, so I’d personally recommend Make Me to people who devour those stories and warn others to approach this with caution. But, frankly, the entire premise is dumb, and the Short Bus from Bollywood-style conflict late in the story is even dumber. Reading this story makes me feel dirty and stupid, and the only saving grace that keeps this one from getting only one oogie is that the author, at least, can string sentences together in a way that resembles the English language, unlike some of those bestselling new adult authors out there.