I've also finished two thirds of the next Exiles book. Ivory Scars, Iron Bars is the working title. It's been interesting for me to work on. Probably the hardest part of it has been to write an unhealthy relationship on purpose. One of the things I want to say in this series is that you are not the romantic choices that you make. Choosing an abusive partner in no way implies that you are broken, that you will always do this, that you can never really escape it. In many ways choosing an abusive partner just means that you are choosing what you know--and if you've never known a good relationship, how are you supposed to understand what a good one looks like? Well, the down side to this is having to actually write the damn thing. It's a lot easier, I suppose, to write an unhealthy relationship when you've got no idea you're doing it (...paging Stephenie Meyer. Come in Stephenie Meyer). But I also do not want to write ONLY about healthy relationships, because presenting a solution without first addressing its question only makes someone feel inadequate.
The other thing, of course, is addressing that I've made a pastor a pretty dominant negative character, and that I'm continuing to write about spiritual abuse while being an active, and fairly devout, Christian. But this weekend kind of reminded me why I've made that choice in writing.
As I was telling one of y'all the other night, I've been doing some reading about a family I worked for that I've been calling the "Matthews." They were very, very, VERY big names in the homeschooling world, and working for them was a little like working for a rock star. And while working for them was also surreal as hell, it was actually one of the very few positives in a VERY fucked up time in my life. Well, fast forward to today, and I discover that a great many of the things I was told about the "Matthews" is either flat out bullshit or a nasty little half truth. None of it was why I liked and respected the Matthews when I worked for them. There's still a part of me that's grateful their business was there, because it was the only haven I had at the time. But they're active members of a culture that shames basically everything that doesn't fit a very, very tight model--and they in no way, shape or form ever conformed to that model. They've damaged the faith, lifestyle and upbringing of a large number of people, and the foundation of their so called ministry is the outright lie that their lives were perfect from the beginning. Rather than admit to it and truck along, they've apparently done some really nasty things trying to cover it all up (I am still trying to confirm this). What's really weird is realizing that I was there for part of one of the bigger scandals they've had, something they've tried really, REALLY hard to erase from the internet. And this account isn't as easy to dismiss as some of the other stories about other figures in that world, because I was fucking there for it. I'm reading this account going--Yeah, those were neat people. Hey, I remember that episode. Oh, so that's what that was about, I'd wondered. And the thing that gets to me the most, I think, was that the real Matthews' story is as good a foundation for a ministry as this creation of false perfection they've been slinging around the 'net, if not better. Certainly some of the things in their early history, if true, would have helped me a great deal during my time with them, and certainly an atmosphere and culture of honesty, rather than false purity, would have probably prevented several of the things that happened next.
In my opinion, there is no greater evil than someone who would lie and take advantage of someone else's faith, for the sole purpose of raising themselves up in the eyes of those around them.
But that's enough of my rambling. On with Seduced by Moonlight
Chapter one opens with this charming sentence:
- A lot of people lounge by pools in LA, but few of them are truly immortal, no matter how they try to pretend with plastic surgery and exercise.
It turns out that Merry and Doyle are lounging around beside the pool. I wonder how long it's going to take for this book to hit fail?
- He wasn't black the way a human is black, but more the way a dog is black.
Look, I'm pretty much a straight line bingo on the privelage card--white, straight, American, able-bodied--and I'm probably the LAST person who has any right to comment on this...but there's something awful, awful iffy about a dark skinned character being compared to a dog. Even with the "not like a human" qualifier, that's just ick.
Merry then goes on to talk about the highlights in Doyle's dark skin, and how they're all shades of blue, and it makes me remember how, when I first got a 3d program and understood what the specular slider did, I'd give my poser figures auras in every shade of rainbow. In other words, unless Doyle's being hit by a bright blue spot light and he's got glitter every-fucking-where, SKIN DOES NOT AND SHOULD NOT WORK THAT WAY.
Look, if you want to describe skin, go get a 3d program (DAZ|Studio. It's free, it comes with a couple models) and screw with the settings until you get something that looks right. Bonus points if you spend the twenty bucks for the subsurface scattering plugin and shader.
We are not four fucking paragraphs into this book.
So what are they doing by the pool? Are they fucking? Are they having fun? No, they're waiting for a helicopter of tabloid journalists to fly over so they can take photographs of Merry in a bikini and Doyle in a speedo. See, they're dealing with the nastier versions of the American press, because Princess Merry is more famous than Elvis, and Merry has decided that the best way to handle them is to make appointments for fly-bys. The tabloids get their risqué money-shots and, so the theory goes, Merry will be left alone in the meantime.
Someone, probably Anadais, leaked to the press that Merry and Cel were in a race for pregnancy. Whoever got someone preggers first got a kid. AND Merry arranged for Cel to be tied up and celebate for the first six months of it. That's one hell of a lead, you know? But the tabloids have realized that--GASP--Merry has a sex life, and they want to get it on film.
And there's ANOTHER problem with that: The goal of the contest is to see who is more fertile, Cel or Merry. The fae are dying out, they need fertile people on the throne(s) to have fertile matches. Merry has six months, and doesn't get preggers until damn near the ass end of her grace period. Cel, therefore, never gets a chance to see how many blanks he's actually firing, so to speak. In a race whose entire purpose is to prove fertility, CEL NEVER GETS A CHANCE TO PROVE HIS EITHER WAY.
Also-also: Is there a reason IVF won't work for these people? That's how we got the Octomom. You really expect me to believe that, in the era of modern medicine, NOBODY hit up a doctor on the sly and said "Hey, can you check our sperm counts for us?" No Fae couple snuck off to the nearest Family Planning clinic and asked for a reference to a good petri dish so they could get married? If all you need to do to get married is get pregnant first, there should have been a MASSIVE fucking boom in the sales of glass pipettes, is all I'm saying.
LKH recycles all the descriptive paragraphs from the last few books. Merry has "Moonlight skin", as "white as Doyle was black" (again: NOT A GOOD COMPARSION LAUREL) tri-colored mood ring eyes and garnet colored hair. Oh, I'm sorry, hair that's like good red garnets that were spun out into hair. Also, Merry is short, curvy, and rejected by the Fae for being mortal.
Merry's family is dysfunctional. Merry's mom taught her that she was "less". The word "Less" is repeated about eight times in a sentence. Merry's Dad taught her that she was "enough", which, again, is repeated about eight times in a sentence. Apparently nobody taught Merry that she was excellent. "You're enough" isn't much of an improvement over "You're less".
Rhys comes out. He's naked. He and Doyle discuss their plans for the photo op while they hear the approach of the helicopter. Finally Rhys says this:
- "You take one end, I'll take the other."
So apparently Merry is now a piece of furniture. Nice. Also note: Nobody asks Merry at any point in time if she WANTS her make-out sessions to be posted on every gossip blog and magazine stand in existence. Nope, it's just "We have to make this good, otherwise the press will come around more often."
You're showing them that you make out IN FULL VIEW IN THE BACK YARD. WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN, NUMBNUTS.
So Rhys goes down on Merry, using his hands to hide her bikini bottom, and Doyle kisses her right when the helicopter flies over. Pictures are taken. Doyle carries Merry into the house. Rhys follows, first retrieving the gun wrapped in a towel near their fake-real makeout session. Frost was standing just inside, just in case somebody in the helicopter wanted to kill Merry.
End of chapter.
Guys. Guys. Guys. This is going to HURT.