We ended part 1 of You Don’t Know Me by Faleena Hopkins with the first mention of the Stone Brothers’ BFF, as well as the novel’s supposed love interest, Alec. I have my doubts. Considering that most romances don’t wait until the 20% mark to even name the love interest, I’m pretty sure that what we really have here is a shoddily written soap opera with some sex thrown in. I mean, it’s not like I write, edit, or read romance on a regular basis. So what do I know?
Let’s jump right back in. And fair warning, there are triggers for dubious consent, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, domestic violence, possessiveness.
Jack texts his friend, Alec, to have him seduce his newfound little sister and then break her heart. Because that’s what men do to get even with their little sisters for existing. I mean it’s not like he could hire a lawyer and sue to get the inheritance that she didn’t want back. Considering that dear old Dad broke the law to embezzle the funds from his company (which BTW Hopkins never actually comes out and says that’s what he did, but as it’s described, that’s totally what he did) the family has a pretty strong case to challenge the inheritance. The fact that no one does also tells me that Hopkins didn’t do the research.
It’s also damned clear who the villain in this story is – Jack…
(BTW Goodreads is the one shoving paragraphs together. It’s not like that in the book - that’s one thing Hopkins mostly did right. But not totally… She doesn’t have the right action tag with the right speaker on multiple occasions but I didn’t bother pointing them out because with everything else wrong what’s a bit of missing spacing between friends?)
You know there are ways to make people assholes without making them sexist. I had hoped that maybe Hopkins would get that. But considering the internalized sexism from before, I have a strong suspicion that she doesn’t hold women in high regard.
A suspicion that’s confirmed with the next bit. It makes me wonder why she chose to write in a genre where a woman’s happiness and a woman’s pleasure is so important.
Yep… This is your love interest, people. He hasn’t even shown up in person yet and already I hate him and want nothing to do with him. If you’re counting, there’s exactly one character I like - Sean. One I tolerate - Jenna. And everyone else can go hang. Including Rue.
So here’s a tip as an editor to all you writers out there. If you want to show that your character is a good person, have them treat people in service jobs well. Don’t draw attention to it, don’t hang a lampshade on it, just have them be polite, kind, and cognizant of the person’s time. Conversely, if you want to imply that the person is an asshole, have them treat people in service jobs like crap. If you want a good example of this in action, go watch Leverage. Nine times out of ten the mark will treat people beneath them and in service jobs poorly while the team, even when undercover, will treat them well. It’s a little thing you can do to show character. And in this case, Jack is an ass and since no one else says anything they’re complicit in his assholery. It tells you a lot about them and the author.
Look at the amount read and then scroll up to the Jack check comment (yes we’ve switched POVs); this should tell you how long the chapters are. We hop between characters so much, I’m getting whiplash just remembering it. This is why you don’t have 4 POV characters in first person present tense. It’s exhausting to read.
If you want to know how I know that this book never ever saw an editor of any kind, let me show you.
Now they’re supposed to be having super duper high-end alcohol. And the booze snob in me is going… Bombay Sapphire isn’t high end. Neither is Grey Goose. If I can walk into my local grocery store and buy it, it’s not high end. It’s not even top shelf in my grocery store. And I live in Grand Rapids, not Beverly Hills. I’m not going to ding her too hard, but I will rant about it. This is poor research, again.
Finally Alec shows up in the flesh… and we get this gem of a description.
Most musicians don’t have sexy, finger-combed hair. They have carefully coiffed hair that takes hours and several cans of hairspray/mousse to do. I know. I’ve read the riders. (My volunteer work is in Guest Relations at large fandom events - Think SDCC and you aren’t far off.)
In addition, Alec’s job is never really explored. He could have been anything and it would have had equal bearing on the story. I hate that. If the career is important, then FFS have it be important. He’s just a random celebrity and it would make more sense for him to be the long time BFF if he was in the same business as Jack and Sean… which JSYK is also handwaved away. There’s a mention of them working in Film. But that’s pretty much it.
Kill me now…
This is also a common theme. Magically appearing and disappearing props. It’s like the continuity person was on vacation or just didn’t care. Considering the continuity person was the author well…
Also good whisky doesn’t burn. I’ve tasted 50 year old single malt when I was in Scotland and that shit is as smooth as silk. It warms you from the inside in the best possible way.
Excuse me while I go get myself a glass of the good stuff.
Okay… I’m back.
So at some point, Rue has a crying jag and runs off to the bathroom where she meets this woman Desiree who has the hots for Alec. They get into a knock down drag out fight complete with drink throwing. And for whatever reason, she doesn’t look in the mirror or do anything that the rest of womankind does while they’re in a bathroom, especially after drink throwing. She then gets into the car so they can go clubbing and again doesn’t check her make up. I don’t know about you, but I check mine constantly, especially if I’ve done anything that might dislodge it like eat, drink, cry, breathe…
This is our heroine, people… She is Cassandra Dee levels of stupid and bad. If I wasn’t damned sure Faleena Hopkins was a woman and if there weren’t enough ego strokes to things she likes in this book I would have guessed that the author was a man. Rue’s literally known this guy for less than 5 minutes and already she’s ready to have his babies.
Oh. Yeah. That.
Remember consent is important. And if a person is too drunk to drive then they’re also too drunk to consent to have sex. It’s a thing,
Thankfully she’s got a brother who cares.
So while I’m glad we didn’t get a rape scene wrapped up in the bow of consensual sex. I also don’t like the man-must-save-the-woman thing that happens in a lot of romance. It removes a woman’s agency. I wish Rue had the common sense to save herself, but barring that I would have loved it if a waitress or even another woman stepped in and said, “Hey, things are a looking a little intense, is everything okay?” Because women looking out for women is awesome. Big brothers looking out for little sisters? That’s overdone. I have opinions.
At this point I checked to see how many chapters were in this monstrosity. The answer… too many… or over 50. Yeah.
So Sean takes Rue home as a good brother should. Forgetting his cell phone in the process.
Let me say it again for the people in the back. Stalking is not sexy. I’ve been stalked. My stalker tried to rape me. My stalker escaped a mental hospital to try to come and get me. Stalking is not sexy. Going through someone else’s phone to get info on a girl is not sexy. It’s an invasion of privacy and violation of Sean’s trust. And Alec clearly knows better. Alec is irredeemable at this point.
So Alec shows up at Rue’s house when she’s in a towel and does some more of his mojo that quite frankly I skimmed.
Then Rue who up until this point was “Imma gonna give this money to charity” decides “Fuck it! I do what I want, and what I want is to go to NYC!”
So she calls up Jenna, her BFF, and together they fly to New York. And this is where I start going “That’s not now it works.” You don’t just hop on a plane in LA at 10am and end up in NYC at 3pm. Yes, it’s a five and a half hour flight, but you have to account for time zones. She doesn’t. And unless she’s leaving at 6am there’s no way she’s getting there before 3pm. There just isn’t.
She flies to NYC coach… without a coat… in November… in flip flops. And I want to strangle her.
My issue is that it’s made very clear that Rue hasn’t traveled much. That she’s naive. But she’s reaching “Too Stupid To Live” levels.
Nope, she’s reached them. I didn’t end up skimming. But I did take a long break. Mostly so I didn’t end up throwing my iPad off of a bridge.
Yeah, like that.
After buying rounds of drinks, she takes advice from a few prostitutes about how to manage her love life. And that she can hook up with a gigolo who’s just hanging around.
Alec, of course, walks in on this and flips his lid. And Rue of course, gets horribly sick and embarrassed.
They leave the party and Jenna loses all of the cred she built up with this.
I don’t care if Pope Francis says that he’s got this. If your BFF is drunk and getting into a car with a dude you still double check with HER to make sure she’s okay with you not being there. Oh and Susan is a shop girl who Rue and Jenna invite out on the town. She disappears shortly after this, never to be seen again. That’s also a common theme (but a forgivable one.)
Yep. Buying drinks for everyone like this is how you end up with no money. People take advantage.
They buy bottles of the good stuff. I’ve seen it happen. She was an idiot. She should not be praised for stupidity.
This is something that stalkers do. Alec is not a good guy here. He’s just not.
Not to mention assault. Alec is a stalker. Alec is an abuser. Alec is showing all the signs of a domestic abuser and I’m just flabbergasted that Hopkins thought this was sexy. It’s really not. This isn’t even alpha male. This is Charles Manson.
The guy reads like he’s in his thirties. So do Jack and Sean. It just shocked me.
This is the kind of sex Hopkins writes. Granted we don’t get an actual penetrative sex scene for a while yet, just lots of “Almost” sex. But it’s all animalistic and porny. Which is fine, erotica is a thing. But this is supposed to be romance, and there isn’t any actual romance. Just wet panties and controlling asses.
Thankfully we get another cock block, this time from Jack.
Yes, Jack is trying to catch a glimpse of his naked sister. I’m not sure there is a redemption arc long enough to get this guy out of hell.
They’ve literally never talked. They’ve only tried to have sex three times, each time with coitus interruptus. There’s been no banter. No build-up. No longing. No pining. There’ve been no dates. Nothing. They’ve barely spoken to each other and the conversation wasn’t intriguing or fun.
Rue is an Alec fangirl. She is. She’s made that clear in her thoughts and what little convo they’ve had. Alec is a controlling bastard who wants to have a pretty woman to fuck and show off. This isn’t a romance.
It’s a tragedy.
And I’m going to stop here before my scotch runs out and Tumblr loses my post.
If you want to contribute to my Irish Coffee fund you can do so here!