Book Review

Book Rant: Makeovers? Come On Now.

Cartoon angry woman yelling into phone, with This Book Rant is from Sarah (no, not me, a more different Sarah) who read a book with A Makeover Scene. One that was so preposterous she had to email me about it. She wrote me this a few months ago, but it’s never too late to discuss absurd makeovers, right? Right.


I just finished a book and I have a rant. I’ve never posted on here before, though I lurk all the time, so I hope you don’t mind. I’m sure people have commented on this problem before – but this was such an egregious case that I needed to vent to someone, somewhere. I hope it’s not an imposition.

Nevertheless: what’s up with romance heroes doing makeovers for their heroines? Is this supposed to show their sensitive side? I’ve seen this before (quite a bit) in regencies and westerns, and I guess I kind of bought it – or at least past over it without too much thought – in those settings (it’s potentially a lot more believable in times/places where a) there’s not much variety in available clothing anyway and/or b) women had serious sewing skills and could have re-sized and reworked the dresses for themselves off-screen or something) but I just encountered an extremely ridiculous variation on this theme in a contemporary. It completely soured me on a book that was pretty good up until that point.

Lori Foster's Jude's Law - The cover has a single cherry on it. The book is Lori Foster’s Jude’s Law. Here’s the gist: May is living with Jude for protection until stuff with the bad guy gets sorted out. She came to his house in a borrowed outfit that doesn’t fit, because she was on the run, and Jude won’t go get her stuff from her house because a) it might be dangerous and b) he doesn’t like her usual wardrobe.

Oh, and May is very pointedly a “larger” heroine, with boobs and a butt. She usually wears business suits to try to hide all that, but we’re told from the very beginning that Jude isn’t sold on her fashion sense. So, over May’s protests, Jude does some online shopping and has a whole new wardrobe shipped to his place overnight (while she’s asleep). In the morning, when the stuff arrives, May – reasonably enough, in my opinion – is dubious and thinks the clothes won’t fit.

Jude shoves a pair of jeans and a cami at her and tells her to change. May takes the clothes into the bathroom, falls in love with the fabric, and… you already knew that the clothes fit her to a tee, right? May is delighted, because of course SHE’S never been able to find clothing that fits properly, and proceeds to model everything Jude bought – which is a lot – for him.

Now, there are so very many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin. For one thing, Jude doesn’t know May’s size. There’s no way he could even have sneaked away and checked it or something at night, since she comes to his house in an outfit borrowed from a (skinnier) friend and had previously refused his offer of buying her clothing, so obviously she hadn’t told him that info. Heck, Jude makes a point of being nervous about it before she comes out of the bathroom, since he knows that if he screwed it up then May won’t give him another chance to dress her (is she a doll, or something?). Ok, so Jude’s a famous actor, so maybe he knows style, and he’s been with a lot of women (though skinner ones), so maybe he knows women’s sizing?

Or maybe he’s been hanging out with Clinton Kelly? EXCEPT THAT HE CAN’T, BECAUSE AS CLINTON KELLY WOULD TELL YOU NOT EVERY BRAND’S SIZING IS THE SAME.

Heck, even within the same store, you don’t have a guarantee that everything that’s the same size will fit! That’s the awesomeness (and endless frustration) of women’s clothing! So how could Jude possibly pick out clothing that would fit a woman – a curvy woman, mind you – whose size he doesn’t know? And then, to get them ON THE INTERNET? I wouldn’t get clothes for *myself* on the internet, not unless I could get a guaranteed return, and even then I’d call it more of a longshot than its worth. I *certainly* wouldn’t trust my husband anywhere near a store (I highly doubt he knows my size… hm, does that mean he’s not sensitive?), much less the internet, to buy me clothes!

Second of all, there’s no way that Jude’s picks actually worked. Because we’re told – repeatedly – that May is busty. And the first thing he asks her to try on is a cami. As in, a cami SANS BRA. This, people, does not work. Not on any planet, not with any kind of planetary gravity. Physics is against you. If you have big boobs – or even moderately sized boobs – you need a bra with that cami. Period, full stop. Or hey, maybe Jude’s mansion is in a specially gravitated zone where boobs don’t droop without special help? Can I have one of those???

I don’t read many contemporaries – in fact, I generally avoid them – but this one particularly pained me because I was feeling great about it. And then… well, Jude bought May clothes and not only did the jeans miraculously fit (seriously?) but a cami defied gravity. Maybe now at least I’ve figured out what the book’s title is all about. Jude’s Law: the law that says that if a romance hero buys you clothes, BY GOLLY BUT THEY WILL FIT, COME HELL OR HEFTY BOOBS.

I could go on. I ranted at my husband, but he (like any proper male) laughed but obviously didn’t quite get why a cami is so ridiculous in this situation. Why on earth would a female romance novel author write such a silly scene???


Oh, girl, sing it, sing it loud. As I wrote to Sarah, isn’t that the BEST, when the hero can magically outfit the heroine in clothing that magically fits and flatters and is something she’d never have thought to try herself but is effortlessly chic? COME ON NOW.

This has happened in so many books, historical, contemporary, you name it. It’s hilarious. I think my husband would be horrified if he were charged with the task of buying me an entire wardrobe of clothing. Women’s clothing sizes don’t make any sense to me, much less him.

I think this is one of the ultimate women’s fantasyland elements of romance: a man who can shop for us without fear and who buys us things we’d never think to try ourselves. Amazing.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Alex says:

    So, the Hero’s a famous actor named Jude, and the book’s called Jude’s Law? Are you SURE this isn’t a celebrity fanfic?

  2. 2
    Tina says:

    “Second of all, there’s no way that Jude’s picks actually worked. Because we’re told – repeatedly – that May is busty. And the first thing he asks her to try on is a cami. As in, a cami SANS BRA. This, people, does not work. Not on any planet, not with any kind of planetary gravity. Physics is against you. If you have big boobs – or even moderately sized boobs – you need a bra with that cami. Period, full stop. Or hey, maybe Jude’s mansion is in a specially gravitated zone where boobs don’t droop without special help? Can I have one of those???”

    I want one of those, too.  The other day, I was trying to think of the last time I willingly went without a bra in an article of clothing.  The last time I can think of, it was in one of those then-popular tank dresses, circa 1987.  In that long ago time, due to youth and size, gravity wasn’t quite the bitch that it is now.  These days?  No way would I even consider wearing clothes without my dear friend, underwire.

  3. 3
    FairyKat says:

    What I want to know is, who the hell never thought to try to buy jeans?  I mean, totally failed to buy jeans because you went all over town and tried all the shops and all the denims and it made you feel like seven kinds of sausage, so you gave up and bought a dress?  Absolutely. (Some of my favourite dresses were bought at the end of a fruitless hunt for jeans). I might, in a couple of years, give up on trying to buy jeans for this reason.

    But I am NOT waiting for someone to come along and say, ‘Hey, how about jeans and a cami? I got them off the internetz!’

  4. 4
    Ankaret Wells says:

    Jude spent a lot of time creepily measuring her in her sleep, and then contacted an internet friend whose hobby is tinkering with 3D printers to get them to produce high-end denim?

    Also, if she’s on the run, why is she living with a famous actor who probably has paparazzi on his case all the time? One snap of ‘Jude Not-Law-In-Any-Way Shops With Mystery Female’ and the bad guys will have a good idea where she is.

  5. 5
    LG says:

    I’m amused that a book I can barely remember has the power to inspire a rant from someone else, and I’m kind of embarrassed that, only the other day, I recommended this book to someone in a comment (because I remembered that the hero was a MMA fighter, but still). I totally did not remember the “hey, I know your size AND can find clothes that magically work for you on the Internet!” moment.

  6. 6

    This is a hero that needs kicked in the balls. Repeatedly. I hate this trope. I really, really hate it.

  7. 7

    First – I hope Sarah will read more contemporaries because a lot of ‘em are awesome to the max. 

    Second – can someone get me the GPS coordinates to that specially gravitated happy boobage zone?  I can have a bra-free bag packed in nothing flat:D

  8. 8
    Ankaret Wells says:

    I want the coordinates to the specially gravitated happy boobage zone too.  I’m just thinking about how much I spend a year on bras, and what kind of a book-buying splurge that would translate to.

  9. 9
    Isabel C. says:

    Ha!

    I confess to loving makeover scenes, a bit, but they have to be done right: I’m fond of the historical trope where the hero takes her to his sister’s/friend’s/mistress’s favorite dressmaker and gives her an unlimited budget, myself. Of course, there the heroine’s problem is typically that her budget was previously *very* limited, or that her evil Puritan uncle would only let her wear high-necked dresses, or whatever.

    When it’s just “…you don’t know how to dress yourself, honey,” I’m less enthused.

  10. 10
    Shelly Ellis says:

    I can believe a well-meaning (and slightly deluded) guy would do a gesture like that, but agreed… I wouldn’t believe that all the clothes would magically fit. It probably would have been more realistic and funnier scene in the book if some or most of his picks were horrific. Personally, i’ll buy clothes online occasionally (if I know the designer) but speaking as a curvy girl I would never EVER buy jeans online. That might require alot of holding in of breath and a can of Crisco to get me into those. Definitely a no-no.

  11. 11
    Hydecat says:

    I’m not bothered by make-over suggestion scenes, but the “I bought a whole closet of clothes for you while you were sleeping” thing is kind of creepy. My favorite example of it is actually in a mystery novel with romantic elements (Aunt Dimity’s Death). The hero buys the down-on-her-luck heroine a closet of fancy clothes the day that he meets her and she chews him out for it because it’s condescending and embarrassing to her, and makes him take them back. Then she talks to the hero’s dad, who basically says “Yeah, that was a terrible idea on his part. I hope he apologized.” And then she gets to pick out her own new stuff, which is exactly how it should be.

  12. 12
    Ren says:

    Good jeans require exhaustive evaluation, diagnosis, and a prescription. If you accept jeans dispensed by any random idiot off the street, you may experience muffintop, cameltoe, saddlebags, thass (a malignant condition caused by rear-pocket placement that makes one’s ass appear to start at mid thigh), fugliness, public humiliation, and death. You should not use jeans dispensed by any random idiot off the street if you have a functioning brain and/or a shred of self-awareness.

    If you or a loved one has been the victim of jeans dispensed by any random idiot off the street, you may be entitled to compensation. Call 1-800-SUEHISASS to see if you qualify for participation in a class action lawsuit.

  13. 13
    SB Sarah says:

    “thass (a malignant condition caused by rear-pocket placement that makes one’s ass appear to start at mid thigh)”

    Choked on my water, thanks. HA!

  14. 14
    Ses822 says:

    I think if someone suggested to my husband to randomly buy clothes, one time out of 20 I might end up with something that fits. Every woman (and clinton) knows sizing varies and fit within the sizing varies. Some stores I am an 8, a 6 or even a 4(I love you New York and Co.) depending on the cut of the thighs. On top I am small (but not small enough to go bra less in a cami) so it’s an entirely different sizing issue based on waist and neckline style (I completely fall out of low plunge/ cowl styles).

    The we take the age old issue I have been fighting with. I’m back to running and tried one of my “skinny” pairs of jeans on… no go. But my boobs shrank. Sigh

  15. 15
    Sam says:

    The sizing thing is silly, yeah, but I’m hung up on the whole…idea. I find the thought of a guy going “I don’t like how you dress…so now you will become MY DOLL! MUAHAHAHAHA!” totally creepy. Sounds more like something a serial killer would do when he’s got you trapped in the basement than the behavior of the “hero.”
    At the very least I find it jerkish to tell someone, unless they ask, that you dislike how they dress. But I guess that’s just me.

  16. 16
    Liz Talley says:

    My husband is allowed to buy me cute pajamas…and that’s it. Okay, accessories are fine, too, as long as they are from approved stores and aided by a knowledgable sales person. Otherwise, a gift card is expected.

    Honestly, I think what my husband might pick out for me would be navy blue, buttoned up to my chin and very tailored. I suspect he has secret service fantasies. It takes me a good month to prepare for jean shopping because as mentioned earlier, it’s traumatizing. No way my husband (who is uber familiar with my body) would know my size or style best suited, and if he did, I’d be a little worried.

    That being said, I love make over stories :)

  17. 17
    Throwmearope says:

    My husband buys clothes for a much thinner woman than I.  Alas.  I can’t decide whether to be flattered or look for evidence of a girlfriend.

  18. 18
    Julieinduvall says:

    I can barely dress myself without professional assistance. (Thanks to the nice salesperson at Nordstrom who saves me from myself on a regular basis.) My husband has bought clothes for me before, but he’s smart enough to go to the aforementioned store, ask for the same salesperson, and let her choose whatever it is he’s buying.

    An alpha male romance hero that dabbles in women’s fashion? Uh, no.

  19. 19
    TMS says:

    My husband would not even know where to start as far as sizing goes! All he knows is that because of my boobs, I wear an XL top. No matter how much weight I loose, those stay an XL, so yeah, the cami without a bra? hahahahahahahahahahahaha

    I don’t mind the trope where the heroine is a larger gal and wears baggy/unflattering clothes to hide that fact and the hero encourages her to wear better fitting clothes b/c he thinks she’s hot even if the “world” doesn’t. That I like. Buying her a whole wardrobe while she sleeps? Nope.

  20. 20

    Look at the bright side—the scene spared us the “Sassy Gay Friend” trope.

  21. 21
    Mirandaflynn says:

    Given that he thinks short pink frilly sundresses would look awesome on me, my husband thinks that I’m still the 17-year-old that he met 30 years ago. Which is terribly sweet, but it means I buy my own clothes.

    Miranda

  22. 22
    cleo says:

    That reminds me of The Reasons for Marriage – an early Stephanie Laurens.  The (intentionally unfashionable) heroine discovers that the hero, and her fiance, ordered her a whole new wardrobe without her input, doesn’t care for his high handedness, and orders a second (fashionable) wardrobe in her own style, with his money.  I loved that scene.  Especially because once he saw her, he realized that her taste looked better on her than his. 

  23. 23
    cleo says:

    I do get the fantasy of someone looking at me and really “knowing” me well enough to buy flattering clothing, but the whole buy-a-new-wardrobe-overnight thing is beyond creepy. 

    A friend of mine did once announce that she was wearing jeans her husband bought for her (and they were cute).  The rest of us just stared at her in shock and launched into stories of “things my husband bought for me that I had to return”.  My husband does know me and my body very well, but he can’t shop for me at all (with the exception of one rockin’ pair of loose pink silk jammies).  I think part of the problem is that when I try to explain my figure and what looks good on it, I sound neurotic instead of realistic.

  24. 24
    Heather says:

    The “Sassy Gay Friend” would have been more fun. And really, ordering the clothes that night and them arriving first thing in the morning? Nope. You place the order, then the company has to ship it—given post office hours, those things wouldn’t have arrived for over 24 hours.

  25. 25
    DesLivres says:

    Ah. Sarah clearly missed the bit in the earlier paragraphs where it was revealed that Jude was a master pattern-maker, and could thus extrapolate her precise dimensions from just looking at her, and due to his intimate knowledge of the entire garment/fashion industry, he could intuit the perfect fitting collection of garments including a camisole with a perfectly shaped shelf bra.

  26. 26
    Janelovering says:

    Solution is easy – he *is* the gay best friend. Watch out, May…

  27. 27
    Hannah E. says:

    My husband used to critique my fashion sense all the time, and he would suggest that I try styles that were wildly inappropriate for my curvy figure.  I eventually figured out that “I don’t like your style” was actually code for “I don’t like your body type.”  Needless to say, I’m sensitive to novels in which the hero tries to make over the heroine.  But when it’s the heroine herself who decides to make a change, maybe with the assistance of some of her gal friends, I don’t mind it.

  28. 28
    Beccah W. says:

    I’d be really creeped out if a guy bought be a whole new wardrobe this that…and especially creeped out if it fit perfectly! The author could have gone more believable and had him buy say one wrap dress.

    I agree that this is a very annoying trope. I mostly read historicals, so what always bothers me is when the hero gives the heroine a dress that was his sisters say, and it fits perfectly because he could just size her up with his eyeballs. I know the hero has been with a lot of women, but I don’t believe that he was looking too closely at their clothing. Whenever a man cares too much about clothing in these books I ALWAYS picture him as a dandy, and it’s not terribly attractive to me.

  29. 29
    jmv says:

    I would be creeped out by a guy who could buy me a new perfect fitting wardrobe.  Heck – i would be creeped out if one of my bff’s could buy me perfect fitting jeans.

  30. 30
    kkw says:

    Maybe she wore a bra with the cami, and had never previously thought to do so because a lot of women don’t like to show their bra straps, and she’d always assumed the style would be too revealing?  Best I can do.  The jeans thing I can’t even work with.  My guy *has* bought me jeans that fit – because he got the same brand, style, and size I always do.

    The bit I object to is not that the hero knows better than she does what would suit her, although I’m not crazy about that.  It’s this myth that clothes off the rack are going to fit anyone without tailoring.  You know how milk, and cotton, and pork have all had ad campaigns to boost their public image?  Tailors need to get on that.  It’s like people don’t even know.

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