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Book Review: Bend the Rules (Part Four)

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

Want to read the earlier parts of this review? Find Part 3 here! Go here for the full roundup!

This is the last ranty part, I swear!

When we’d left off, the heroes – and I use that term lightly – had separated to pursue their own leads.

Mary joins forces with Minnie to go check out the lead that she got from a witness who used a tanning bed and that’s where he was robbed by the Assassin. The author goes into loving detail of each business in the strip mall which might as well be flashing a big giant sign of “THIS IS IMPORTANT PAY ATTENTION TO THIS!!!”

And if you’ve watched The Accountant you know why… A car wash, a tanning bed business, and a strip club are all cash heavy businesses. And this is where the connection to that movie becomes even more pronounced… do I think it’s deliberate, no. But I’m pretty sure that the author was influenced.

Anyway this scene was filled with more of our favorite thing ever… body shaming!

And remember, it’s not just one character who does it -- it’s all of them!!! Let’s count how many in this one scene alone…

Mary and the dead assassin.


Random car wash cashier.

Yep so much body shaming.

So while the body shame train is going on, Crash has managed to track down the guy they refer to as Mr. Turtleneck.

While he studies the family (and fat shames a little girl), he waxes poetic about his life…

Badly. So... I want to know where the streetlights are out in the desert and on boats. I mean there are some right around the exits/towns/harbors which you can see from miles away. But most of the time there isn’t much out there.

He beats up Mr. Turtleneck in front of his daughter and dislocates his arm… because that’s what good guys do.

Or they do if they’re named Jack Bauer.

Pretty much.

But thanks to it, we get some info.

Now while the detail is good, it highlights another quibble, “white” shouldn’t be capitalized when referring to Caucasians. There is no universal White life experience. No shared background. Whereas Black has a distinctive culture, shared experiences, and challenges. Most white people if you ask them “Where do you come from? Or where did your family traditions come from?” will answer with a European country. They identify with the country of origin. Most Black people can’t do that because of Slavery. So their shared experience comes out of Slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and Black Lives Matter. This article explains it better than I can.

And I’ll get off of this soapbox now. And it’s a quibble. The style guides and dictionaries are on the fence about this. But here’s another good reason not to… White Supremacist websites capitalize White. So it depends on if you want to be counted among racists or not.

So while I ranted but ultimately gave the author a pass for racist language/connotations for the “White” thing. I can’t for this.

Yep… the G-word strikes again.

Please. Please. Romancelandia… stop using G*psy to describe your characters or style of dress. The Roma community have asked people to stop. I’ve ranted about this before. This is a harmful stereotype and it is not okay to use anywhere.

But this is just the beginning…

Brace yourselves. This is going to get bad. Like Really Bad.

They go back to the strip club. So of course, there’s more body shaming…

It’s almost expected at this point.

Then we get this description for a Black man.

Which is so problematic I can’t even…

They find the first hijack victim and beat him up… again. Because they haven’t done that enough. And because they think he’s the boss.

Spoiler Alert… he isn’t.

Mary has a flash of insight and realizes what’s been staring them in the face the whole time.


Oh but it gets worse…

So we have four super problematic tropes in play right now and I kind of feel I need to break down why they are so bad.

1. The Good Guys are white. The Bad Guys aren’t.

Even though the ultimate big bad is white. Every other evil or bad character in this story has been a Person of Color. This feeds into a racist narrative that the only good people are white people. This is how a Black man got killed when trying to stop a white shooter.

2. Homosexuals are Evil and Depraved.

By making both the Assassin and the Big Bad gay. It’s feeding into the narrative that gays are bad. That homosexual people don’t have morals. That they don’t have a conscience. That they are wrong. This leads to so many hate crimes, but it also leads to suicide by gay people who feel that being their true self is shameful and wrong.

3. Bury your Gays.

Aka the only good gay person is a dead gay person. Every single homosexual person is murdered. It doesn’t matter that they’re the villain. They’re killed. And the supposed Hero gets away with it.

4. Fridging.

Fridging is when a love interest is killed to cause a man pain. That’s what happened with Conte (the Assassin) -- the only reason he existed was to die to cause the Big Bad pain and make him want to take revenge on Crash and Mary. In most cases, it’s a woman. But it can happen other places. It turned Conte into an object. And objectifying is bad. It is always bad.

So yeah.

I bet you want to know who the big bad is now…

Remember the super neat Lawyer from before? The one who had a Pergola and Mary wanted to father her children? Yep… him. (Hi all Lawyers are Evil trope)

Mary and Crash rush to confront the big bad and then we get this lovely bit…

Mary has the worst case of Plot Convenient Clumsiness I have ever seen… and I’m including Bella Swan in this.

Her bout of clumsiness means that the Villain can capture her and threaten her. It also means that the hero is given permission to kill him “because he didn’t have another choice…” yeah.

But no hospital. No cops. And no consequences.

There’s a half-hearted attempt to reform Crash. And it is magical. As in it takes place entirely off the page.

The story ends as it began… with more fat shaming.

So good to see that Mary hasn’t changed any. Even though her character was set up from the beginning to have a redemption arc. She never does.

And now that I’m done with this book. I just need to write the actual review review. And then I will be able to purge this book from my life.

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