Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: A YA of Some Epicness

Easy Connections - Liz Berry. The rock star is wearing a fluffly ruffly blouse! I received this email from Coco, who is hoping to find a book that was memorable in a not-entirely-good-way so she can read it again. Trouble is, I didn't believe her the first time I read her email as to how 0_o this book might be: 

Kind of a HABO but I know the title. You know how some romance books in the
past often were rapey? I remember reading Liz Berry's Easy Connections when
I was still in junior high in the mid-80s and being enraged at the wtfery.

This was a ya novel that had a young girl get raped by a rock star, discover
she was pregnant, then have the rock star engage in some serious
stalkeresque behaviors. Of course it's a love story! So I know the title,
but I can't track down a copy at any library in my state. Anyone have a copy
I could buy for less than the ridiculous prices listed on Amazon? Or could
someone re-read and post a review?

I really want to track this down as this book has been stuck in my head for over 25 years. It made me so upset back then and when I even think of this book I still get mad. Probably not the emotions the author intended.Thanks!

NO WAY. There is no way that's right, is it? 

Oh, yes way. 

I read that email and was like, 'No way was that the plot.' How could I doubt Coco? I was convinced that I was reading that wrong. So I went to look it up. 

HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS. This book is many piles of dollars in used condition! And the people who read it are extremely effusive in how much they loved it. Like with Coco, this book left an impression.

On Alibris, the lowest price is $37.95. On Amazon, the used copies start at $69.99 (of course they do).

And yet NONE of the book descriptions reveal or hint at the rape or pregnancy reported by Coco:

A famous English rock star falls in love with a brilliant, seventeen-year-old artist who has wandered onto his property to paint, but after their first encounter, she wants nothing more to do with him.

or

One afternoon, Cathy trespasses on the country estate of Paul Devlin, singer of the rock group Easy Connection. Dev is determined to have her for his own. Cathy, who's just starting art college, knows that her art is the most important thing in her life, and struggles to maintain her independence.

“After their first encounter?” “Maintain her independence?” Wow.

As for tracking this book down, I looked it up on the WorldCat of libraries and if you search by location (enter zip mid-page) there might be a library that can do an inter-library loan to your nearest library. ILL is a great program, and if a library has a copy of this possible epic WTFery with crazysauce, it's worth the trouble. I Think.

Easy Freedom There is also a sequel, Easy Freedomwhich continues the story ten years later, but, judging from the reviews, also ends ambiguously. The resale copies of that book start at $81.00 on Alibris. The author also hosts several fanfic versions of book 3 on her website.

The fan response sounds very familiar, as do the elements of the plot: wealthy, overwhelmingly attractive, elusive and authoritative hero; a young, inexperienced heroine. Secrets, chaos, and sex? Sounds very familiar. And it seems this book developed a portion of the same absorbed and enthusiastic fanbase as did 50 Shades, Twilight, and the rest.  

Did you read this book? Got a copy? You're sitting on a pretty serious cache of resale value apparently. I'm almost too scared to read it, for fear of what the damage to my walls will be like. Yet, I am hideously curious. Do you remember this book? 

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  1. 1
    Bibliophile says:

    I read this, in Icelandic translation, many, many years ago. Didn’t love it, can’t remember there having been rape, but it may have been lost in the translation.

    The Icelandic title, BTW, translates back to English as “Is this love?”.

  2. 2
    Salt Water says:

    That’s interesting, the similarity between this book and the 50 shades of twilight.

    Mainly commenting to say thanks for the WorldCat link; I’d never seen it before and I’m so glad I know about it now. Very helpful, thanks for that.

  3. 3
    Ankaret Wells says:

    I have a copy of this! I read it in the early 80s and then saw it again in a charity shop for 60p a few years ago and bought it to see whether it was as weird as I remembered, and it was.  Unfortunately I can’t find my copy – I think I must have lent it to someone – but maybe someone who has can share some of the descriptions of the hero and his band’s clothing, because I remember them being epic.

    The orphaned heroine is at art college, or might still be at sixth form college intending to go to art college, I can’t remember.  She sets up her easel on what turns out to be private ground rented by the band Easy Connection, who have open shirts and are generally unearthly-attractive and menacing in a way that these days you only get with elves.  They insist she’s trespassing and haul her back to their holiday cottage so that they can call her guardians, but then she bonds with them, and the lead singer walks her home over the fields.

    On the way he rapes her.  The first time she fights him, the second time he takes it slow and her *body betrays her*, which is my least favourite romance cliche ever.  Either at this point or slightly earlier, I can’t remember, she breaks a necklace he’s wearing, and he tells her that it’s a very old magic necklace and that a bride who wears it will have a child and a bride who breaks it will have a son, or something similar.

    Anyway, she becomes pregnant, he proposes to her, she doesn’t want to marry him, and from then on in there are hints of a threesome between her, the lead singer and the bassist, massively described rock concerts, batshit fans sending her hatemail, and I think it ends with her falling into his arms but knowing it’s a bad idea.  On the way there are the most overblown Eighties descriptions of hair and clothing possible.

    Now I need to go see if I can find my copy or track down whoever I lent it to…

  4. 4
    Jessie says:

    I’ve never heard of this book, but a really great Liz Berry book is THE CHINA GARDEN, with no hint of rape at all.  Maybe a little bit of cousins-somewhat-removed-but-not-really incest, but no rape!  These two teenagers are linked to some sort of magical destiny that has been their family’s heritage for generations.  The previous generations, though, have screwed it up, so it’s up these two kids to get things back on track.

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    “generally unearthly-attractive and menacing in a way that these days you only get with elves.”

    Coffee. ALL OVER the screen. HA!

  6. 6
    katherinelynn_04 says:

    THAT’S where I know her name from! I was trying to pin it down (without bothering to look). That book is really good up until the end, if I recall correctly. I think I own it, and it’s a weirdly shaped paperback that refuses to sit well on the shelf. The two main characters are somehow tied to the land and keep it alive in this yearly ritual, which I found super weird at the time. There is a lot of pagan worship or something at the end when they complete their task.
    Now that I reflect upon it, that book was pretty crazypants too.

  7. 7
    Catherine says:

    A quick librarian’s note on ILL — given tight budgets, some libraries are more limited than usual in their ability to get materials from other systems BUT there can be more options available if you are able to chip in for postage. Talk to your local librarians and see what possibilities exist for getting the book from another state.

  8. 8
    Renee K says:

    My library has The China Garden!  I am so in.  I’d also like to get my hands on a copy of Easy Connections because it sounds like an epic cup of WTF.

    Very glad I didn’t encounter this one during my formative years, I was warped enough by all the VC Andrews I glommed in the mid-late eighties.

  9. 9
    Ankaret Wells says:

    There was a lot of stuff about how he and she and the bassist belonged together because they were so beautiful.  (I think the drummer was a bit plainer, I can’t remember) If it had been written today I’d definitely have expected them to turn out not to be human.

  10. 10
    Renee K says:

    The first chapter of Easy Connections is available on Liz Berry’s website…and look ELVES:

    “She thought, confused, that you couldn’t call men beautiful. Handsome. But the two faces that looked at her silently and intently across the stream were beautiful. Coldly beautiful, with perfect bone structure, slightly tilted eyes, clear tanned skin and wide, clear-cut full mouths. For a crazy moment she thought they must have walked out of the deeper woods behind. Tolkien. Elvish Lords! Then the one with the long hair spoke, and her reason righted itself. He was very angry.”

  11. 11
    LG says:

    If they really had been elves, I probably would have found and read this book when I was a teen. Coldly beautiful elf-men were one of my loves.

  12. 12
    Bnbsrose says:

    “who have open shirts and are generally unearthly-attractive and menacing in a way that these days you only get with elves. ”
    Bwahahahahahhahahahhaha! I too, have coffee all over the screen, the keyboard, & under my nose from whence it snorted out. Thank you.

  13. 13

    While it’s probably not much help, it looks like it might still be in print in the UK. It’s certainly more reasonably priced at 11.99. (No idea what the current exchange rate is.)

  14. 14
    Heather Crews says:

    I didn’t even make the Liz Berry connection! So now I have to get this because I loved The China Garden.

  15. 15
    Renee K says:

    Have you read Tinker by Wen Spencer?  It’s been a few years but I seem to remember falling in love with Windwolf despite myself…

  16. 16
    LG says:

    I have one of Wen Spencer’s books on my TBR pile, but I don’t think it’s that one. And darn, my library doesn’t have a copy. Oh well, ILL to the rescue. I just read the description and it sounds like it could be fun.

    The first things that came to my mind were books like Cold Iron by Melisa Michaels (elven rock stars), Mercedes Lackey’s SERRAted Edge and Eric Banyon books, and possibly Emma Bull.

  17. 17
    Tatty says:

    I have copies of Easy Connections (Puffin Plus paperback) and Easy Freedom (Harback but without dust cover) on the bookshelves at home. Read more than once during my teenage years, not certain what this says about me.

  18. 18
    Renee K says:

    Elven Rock Stars!!! That sounds like cracktastic goodness to me. I just requested Cold Iron with ILL.

    More coldly beautiful:  I have a deep & disturbing love for Trent Kalamack from Kim Harrison’s Hollows series.  I also adore Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fae books.

  19. 19
    LG says:

    My vague memories of Cold Iron say you’re right about it being cracktastic goodness. I remember there being drug use (or something similar, specifically for elves), and possibly gorgeous, screwed up elven twins and some kind of big twist at the end. Or something. Eh. Now I’m wondering whether I should potentially ruin squealing fangirl teen memories and reread this.

  20. 20
    Scrin says:

    You know, some elf legends say they call iron “death metal”.

    Just sayin’.

    And now I have an image of elf counter-culture. Called Death Metal. And it’s just like some of the weirder metal scenes, And barbed wire necklaces. And then they get older and have to worry about covering up the iron scars. Or they grow up and become the Dark Eldar from Warhammer, which make even the craziest of self-destructive lifestyles look tame. http://warhammer40k.wikia.com/

  21. 21
    Sally says:

    Yes, I read this when I was a teenager – I got it from the library. I remembered being a bit disturbed by the rapey sex and was completely expecting the story arc to pair the heroine off with the nice guy from the band who would get her away from rapey-stalker guy. I was hugely thrown when rapey-stalker got the girl. 

    Liz Berry also wrote a book called ‘Mel’ which I also got from the library and which I remember enjoying (I probably read that before Easy Connections) although I think it also had a rockstar in it.

  22. 22
    PamG says:

    Kalamack for the win!

  23. 23
    Renee K says:

    I love that obnoxious cookie maker!

  24. 24
    katherinelynn_04 says:

    YES TRENT KALAMACK! Sad and lonely elf, misunderstood drug lord! I have a tendre for him as well.

  25. 25
    Honeychurch says:

    YES! The book that starts “The sky was apricot gold” and goes downhill from there. It was SRSLY epic wtfckery before I knew that literary term existed. I read it as a teenager because I had read Berry’s “Mel” earlier and quite liked it (young girl Mel, mum goes nuts, girl decides to revamp home in prep for mum coming home from mental institution, befriends local junk shop assistant who turns out to be A ROCKSTAR and loves her because Mel is short for MELODY (geddit?). Anyway, Mel’s sassy friend gives Mel a totes makeover and ROCKSTAR and Mel get together but ROCKSTAR’s ex-gf WHO IS ALSO A ROCKSTAR & TOTALLY modelled on 80s pop synth popstar Toyah comes between them. Then there is some carpentry involved (iirc), Mel thinks she’s pregnant and ..HAPPY TIMES EVER AFTER) but Easy Connections is a trainwreck of a book. Which is why I still have it despite moving overseas and having to get rid of 80% of all my books. It’s that special.

  26. 26
    Honeychurch says:

    Also, if I remember correctly (because i am too lazy to get the book out), Easy Connections has a secondary male character who is SUPER-NICE and totally right for Cathy, but the rockstar CAN. NOT. let anybody else have Cathy and wrecks his hitherto best friend’s life. Who is in his band.

  27. 27
    Suzanne says:

    *gasp* I totally remember these books…. and re-reading them over and over.

    I know feel ashamed that I have pooh-poohed girls reading Twilight when I read similar blechness when I was a teen.. or maybe I just learned *shrugs*

  28. 28
    BethSmash says:

    Reading about this book, made me think of THIS article
    http://bookshop.livejournal.co…
    on YA books and rape culture.  It sounds like these books hit all the points she makes in her article… except the predominance of this phenomena in paranormal romance.  What do you guys think?

  29. 29
    Ankaret Wells says:

    I FOUND MY COPY.

    Here’s the magic stone:

    ‘Chris said, laughing, “A baby for a bride wishing on the stone on her wedding night.  A son if the cord that binds is broken.”

    There was a strange silence.  Cathy’s mouth was dry with fear, and this other terrible emotion, which she could not identify.  She tried to laugh, hearing the nervous shaking of her voice.

    “It’s a good thing it’s not my wedding night!”

    Dev’s eyes looked down into hers.  Strange, glittering.  His voice was soft, stranger still.  “Perhaps it is.”’

    And here’s some of their stagewear:

    ‘Dev and Chris had come late from a concert.  Dev was wearing silver trousers, the Atlantis stone and a shirt embroidered with silver peacock feathers, and Chris had on skin tight leather trousers and a long, sleeveless black robe with the signs of the zodiac glittering all over it.  A thick iron chain hung down his bare chest.  Fancey dress, but they wore it unselfconsciously.

    Cathy stood between them in her long skirt and see-through sea-green blouse. [..]

    “Visitors from another galaxy,” said Julie, trying to laugh.

    “Making a psi connection,” added Bernard.  “He’s got her.”

    “They’ve both got her,” said Alun.  “She won’t get away now. They belong together.  Look at them – beautiful they are.”

    “The baby’s beginning to show,” said Julie.

    Alun took a deep drink from his can.  “The faery lords have stolen her away…”’

  30. 30
    Renee K says:

    Peacock feathers, magical stones, signs of the ZODIAC, and a pseudo-fae HAIR band…I am consumed by wanting.

    I do so love a good train wreck.

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