This bit of romantic fiction has a lot going on with slut shaming, body shaming and nice guy hero worship that I had a hard time picking one trope to focus on. I think that is true of a lot of romance novels. I read a fuck ton of them, so I should know.
The MC is young and ‘curvy’. Curvy is a level of fat that isn’t fat at all. Curvy women have big boobs and nice asses. We know it’s ok to be fat if you are hourglass shaped. This is supposed to be body positive, but falls short. She goes to great lengths to hide those curves the author spends so much page space telling us about.
The ‘thug’ in this story is a rich white dude who has the privilege to chose to slum it to avoid is jerk family. Nice twist on Cinderella. Not.
She is ashamed of her body. She does her best to hide and keep covered up all in a fat shame/ slut shame way. Her body only becomes ok after a man approves of it and takes ownership of it.
The slut shaming is a little less obvious. She is a virgin (nothing wrong with that). Until you get to the sex=marriage. Good girls do not sleep around. They get married and only have sex with one man. To be clear, I don’t have any problem with having sex with one person. I do have a problem with the slut shaming and stupid ass rules for women’s sex lives.
This story is about a girl who has some bad shit happen to her, but she grows up to be independent and takes care of herself. Hell, she has a ‘dangerous man job’ and goes into seedy parts of town all on her own.
Badass right? Not too badass. She still needs a man.
It’s not safe for women to be out alone. The story is quick to remind us women the world isn’t safe for us. She shouldn’t be wandering around without a man to protect her no matter how not slutty she is dressed. To prove this point she is attacked.
Violence against women is an overplayed trope used to give men the chance to prove they are good and to remind us that we need them to keep us safe.
She doesn’t recognize her savior as the man she is looking for, because of beards. Beards work like Wonder Woman/Supergirl/Superman glasses. You put a beard on and no one knows who the fuck you are.
He recognizes her as a girl from school, because she doesn’t have a beard. Just a trench coat, that she’s stuffed her secret hotness into like a brown paper bag.
He tells her has info on the guy she is looking for and she should come back to his place. I don’t know why he can’t simply introduce himself. She’s smart. She hesitates. Then gets over it. It’s totally ok to go home with the stranger who just saved your ass, even if he looks like he has bodies hidden in his beard.
Whenever a man rescues you, you must instantly trust him 100%. Plus have sex with him.
They go to his creepy dumpy apartment where she realizes this is the man she’s been hired to find, one she knew in high school. Oh the embarrassment of being a fatty in front of your high school crush! (Another reminder that she isn’t a slut. She’s been jonesing for one dude.)
He doesn’t care though. She’s got a cute face. Thank the gods for pretty faces or us fatties would never get laid!
She is still nervous. Maybe she should leave. Nope it’s fucking raining. When it is raining you have to stay where you are, even if you could be in mortal danger. Women can’t get rained on. We’ll melt like witches or multiply like Gremlins. Bad business all around.
He starts undressing for no reason other than to continue to be creepy, even though the author keeps telling us he is a nice guy. It’s ok for dudes to do creepy shady shit if they are Nice Guys.
She doesn’t watch. She is a lady. Not a whore.
It turns out, he needed to change his clothes so she could be totally certain it’s highschool jock boy or some shit. Men all look the same with their clothes on. Or something. I don’t even know at this point.
Now that she knows for sure who he is, everything is totally cool. She kicks her shoes off and sits on the bed with him (bachelor’s don’t have chairs). Everything is totally not sexual and totally safe. It’s made obvious because he is leaning back, stretching out and relaxing. Not tensely perched ready to pounce on her. Not that she’d mind, heh heh the plump little minx.
Anyway, they can’t have sex yet. He needs to save her again so she knows he is a real man and she can keep not being slutty. Que bad guys!
Then there is more rescuing, but she is unconscious to she misses it all. Her state of unconsciousness gives us all another chance to see what a good person he is though, because while he really wants to take her bra off so she can breath better, he doesn’t touch her.
Mr. Beardy is a gentleman, because girls are weird about having their clothes fucked with when they are passed out. He piles a bunch of coats on her so they are both safe from the temptation. Really?
How hard is it not to sexually assault someone when they are unconscious? If the standard for male goodness is not sexually assaulting unconscious women, we need to raise our standards.
He takes her to a luxury hotel. Not assaulting her once along the way.
She wakes up happy to find herself safe and not raped. She is so glad he saved her. He is so glad her face is pretty and she’s got big boobs, but he has a past. He’s done bad things. Will he still get to see her boobs after she’s learned that he really is bad?
The suspense of this was totally killing me while I was reading. No. No it wasn’t. The shit I suffer through for this blog.
He confesses his sins. He’s killed. It was a righteous killing, so totally forgivable. Just in case she still wasn’t sure she should have sex with him, his evil twin breaks into their room and points a gun at them. Mr. Beardy handles it like a pro, because he is. He’s trained with some Asian dude he met in the streets. He promptly calls the police, because you can do that when you are a rich white guy.
The police come. She has to explain why Evil Twin is handcuffed, because heaven forbid it is implied anywhere that she might be a little kinky. She is a badass P.I. one of the few acceptable reasons for a unwed woman to be carrying handcuffs. She is innocent and pure like all single women should be.
They finally get to sexy time.
She is nervous. It’s understandable. So she hides in the bathroom, freshening up, ditching her yucky wet panties (heavy petting has consequences like reminding you not to be a such a slut), and giving herself a pep talk. She showers, puts her clothes back on, minus the sin panties, and finally comes out of the bathroom.
They finally get to sexy time.
She lets her big girls out. Which is a polite way of saying fat lady lumps. He drops trow. She nearly faints over the size of his junk. This always makes me imagine dudes modeling whale penises. She is a virgin and giant penises are scary.
She won’t let him take her pants of, because there is no way a guy can know how pants work on fat girls. Removing tight jeans from your fat ass takes practice and skill. So she flops around on the bed like some sort of insane worm.
They finally get to the sexy time.
It’s a quick slam. Wham bam. I love you ma’am. Merry me. I’m sticking a baby in you right fucking now. Have this ethically sourced diamond I’ve been hiding in my shoe or where ever rich dudes that have been slumming it hid their diamonds.
Her body shame is instantly forgotten because a man has just validated her. He proposed so she is safe from the slut shaming she’s been working so hard to avoid. He is rich so she can stay home and be a good proper baby machine.
Lady life goals: Check!
This post feels like some rambling rant, but I had such a hard time with this story. I feel it is important that when we read romances or smut or fairy tales, we can be critical of them and recognise the sexist nonsence they (not all, but most) promote.