Sunday, April 12, 2009

Price of Passion by Susan Napier

I decided to read the free Harlequin Presents ebook (out of 16 total all on this page here) offered as part of their 60th anniversary. Since so many books have the feminist criticism, I'm trying to do it from the pick-up artistry criticism angle. This is difficult because I'm a) not male b) not a pick-up artist (PUA). But, what the heck, I'll have a go.

Ch 1 & 2

Terms like 'neg', 'kino', 'SWPL' and 'bitch lawyer' have been floating through my consciousness. He's already been spotted with a hot half-naked redhead. It's not even page 28. The hero's already been a total angry man (aka Drake) and our heroine (aka Kate) is lying to the man's face, criticising him for suspecting her lies. It's all full of brilliant sexual tension, but a bit heavy on the infodumpage.

There's already a teeny twist not suggested by the way this thing began (but by other things such as blurbs. You don't read those, do you, you just skip straight to chapter 1!): these guys have history, which explains their wierdness to each other.

I like this Drake-delivered line: 'Don't tell me you're on one of those new faddy diets your mother is always suggesting you take. What is it this time -- South Pacific Colony? Kidney-cleansing Vegan?'

So far, Drake has been a bit heavy with the presumed 'negative' in 'neg'. Although he seems to have some basis for this. After accusing our Kate of being a consummate actress, he says:

‘So you just went ahead and trotted out your cheerful little spiel as blandly as if I was someone you’d never met before rather than the man you’ve been sleeping with for the past two years.’
Yeah, girl, what's up with that? She gives as good as she gets, implying he's paranoid and needs to be taken away by the men in white coats he threatened her with for her stalkery ways.

Her inner femininity is fighting off the bitch-ed her mother has given her, including such gems as 'Don't get mad, get even.' Ice cool sophistication is what she's fighting for, with Kate trying to speak about their history in business-like relationship terms. The man's not letting her have any of it, gets under her skin, confusing her about how he wants her to act and pissing her off.

One thing that romance novel heroes tend to have is a deep voice. I have an acquaintance who is nicknamed after a certain animal known for its high squeaks. He does not attract the women. Men, deepen your voice.

Ah, Drake has just used his eyes to caress without a touch. PUAs have probably talked about this. It's creepy if you don't establish attraction first. It really is. Please don't use admiring female anatomy as an opener.

Drake now negs her choice in clothing (well known by PUAs):
‘Bright, splashy colours suit you rather well in this setting. That dress makes you look very much the part…’ he trailed off suggestively and she obligingly snapped at the bait.
‘What part?’
‘The young, frivolous holiday-maker out looking for trouble.’
‘I’ve never been frivolous in my life,’ said Kate, offended.
He compounded the offence with a mocking grin that creased the sunfolds at the outer corners of his eyes. ‘Sorry, perhaps I should have said “carefree”…’
A lot he knew! ‘And I’m not “looking for trouble”, either,’ she added, far less sincerely.
Beautifully carried out if I say so myself. He's not outright insulting her and the long top-down look he gave her showed appreciation, but he's not really complimenting her either. He adjusts his language if she got offended by it, not acutally retracting what he said. The man's clearly not sorry. Now he takes her through a 'rollercoaster of emotion' (should be well-discussed between PUAs):

‘No? What about your handsome young fisherman?’
‘What?’ She took a moment to trace the origins of his non sequitur. ‘That was a joke.’
‘Was it?’
His cynical response make her hackles rise. ‘You know it was!’
‘Do I? ’He lowered his chair with a thud and leaned forward on the table, the amusement wiped from his face.‘Because it’s not as if there’s anything to hold you back from experimenting.We never promised each other total fidelity, did we, Kate?’

The man does not miss one verbal beat. Did I mention he's an author by trade in this novel? Unfortunately, Drake won the little verbal battles but not the match. Kate sensed what he was fishing for: her to go crazy and go madly jealous. She ended up with exaggerated calm, telling him that he could have his women and do his 'experimenting -- offshore'; this made poor Drake slip a little and lose his cool. She got control of her hormones long enough to point out how he was losing his cool and had just been causing a scene. Sorry, Drake. No sugar for you.

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