Book Review

DocTurtle Goes All the Way Past 11

Book Cover It’s Monday, and it’s a joyous one, for DocTurtle has read and blogged Chapters 11 and 12 of Sex Straight Up.


The continuing adventures of a scornful mathematician’s journey through a category romance novel: DocTurtle reads Kathleen O’Reilly’s Sex, Straight Up, Part Four!

Chapter 11: A Literary Device Goes Off in Chinatown, Wounding Three

As this chapter opens our hero sifts through the photos of his wife he’d locked away in a storage unit in Queens. Balance is restored to his life as he painstakingly builds two piles of pictures, one for his mother-in-law, one for himself.

Meanwhile, Catherine joins her mother and her friend Sybil for a “pre-birthday birthday” run on a Canal Street back-room vendor of knock-off handbags.

It was in this scene I was first aware of Kathleen O’Reilly’s “imitation” motif, a theme which will be even more explicitly (but still subtly) expressed in a later chapter (yes, if you must know, I’ve finished reading the book at this point, and the fact that I’ve done so without heretofore releasing a torrent of snark must mean that I felt sufficiently intrigued by the story as to see it uninterruptedly to its end…happy?…happy?!?]):

“Her hands stroked the buttery imitation leather, fondled the gold-plated trim and caressed the lopsided double CC logo. When you grew up in an auction house, forgery was one of the seven mortal sins. In Catherine’s world handling a fake was like watching an R-rated movie when she was thirteen, scarfing an extra three cookies from the cabinet or being so gullible as to believe that if it looked like a Gainsborough, it might actually be a Gainsborough.”

Clever literary devices aside, this chapter still delivers some corkers, most notably the following: “Is it so wrong to have a blood-pumping, bedpost-shaking, hoo-haw busting sexual experience and not be emotionally involved?”

Hoo-haw.

Hoo-haw hoo-haw hoo-haw.

I could say that a thousand times over and not get tired of it. It comes in as a close second to “v-jay-jay” (a term I first heard from my friend Laura).

From the Oh, And Department we have this report: on page 135 Andrea Montefiore and Sybil Unsurnamed discover Catherine’s crush, on page 140 Daniel realizes the downside of game-playing.

Chapter 12: Sex!

“She heard the rasp of his zipper, heard the deafening rip of her panties, and then…”

Should I feel left out that, I’ve managed to reach the age of thirty-three without having had a sexual encounter in which clothing was destroyed, whether intentionally or inadvertently? Am I to believe this happens a lot?

This chapter begins with our heroes’ first fully-consummated sexual encounter since…Chapter 4. Wow. Talk about dry spells.

Then there’s more game-playing. Sayeth Daniel: “I know you think this is about the sex, and that’s great, but when I’m with you I want things that I never thought I’d be able to want again.” By now he’s clearly coming around, but he’s got the turning radius of the QE2.

Catherine’s inner thoughts reveal the recurrence of the “imitation” motif: “she didn’t want to hope, because hope was a Gainsborough landscape that was still fake no matter how badly she wanted it to be real.”

Libidinal impulses satisfied, the two dive into the auction house’s records in an attempt to unearth evidence that Charles “Grandpa” Montefiore is indeed innocent. The going is slow, and their sluggish progress makes for good plot exposition as it becomes more and more obvious that someone is (gasp!) setting Grandpa up for a fall.

I have to hand it to Kathleen O’Reilly for being able to weave together deftly several narrative strands, including both characters’ inner voices, the growing sexual tension of the two’s more and more frequent and open encounters, and the integumentary material of the auction house plotline. The writing is solid if not soaring, though every now and then an ambitious metaphor peters out (“Her eyes were starting to blue as if she’d been staring at a Vasarely for too long”).

Random extra-textual musings. I’m certain that the readers will notice that my comments on these last two chapters have taken a less scornful tone. I believe this is in part because, not surprisingly, the book’s protagonists have become less comical and more real and therefore more sympathetic as the text has progressed. I still maintain that they’re a couple of game-playing dingbats, but they’re likable game-playing dingbats nonetheless. I think many commenters were right on the money in indicating that this genre’s greatest shortcoming is its brevity, leaving the author insufficient space to develop deep characters and intricate plot while delivering requisite amounts of hoo-haw busting.

I also have to admit to being in a decidedly less-snarky-then-usual mood overall. As I’ve said to my colleagues and students (many of whom have been going about their daily doings soporifically for the past several weeks), I feel as though the world is holding its breath. Tuesday will bring us all something big, and I’m sure I’ll be a lot less weary once it’s out of the way.

Finally, I’d like to say thank you to all of the readers on Smart Bitches and Judge a Book who have commented on my posts. I’m having a blast reading the book and writing about it, and I’m truly gratified by the posts’ popularity, particularly over on Sarah’s blog.

Coming soon: Chapters 13 through 16, and the must-read Epilogue. Then it’s on to An Infamous Army!

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Marsha says:

    Should I feel left out that, I’ve managed to reach the age of thirty-three without having had a sexual encounter in which clothing was destroyed, whether intentionally or inadvertently? Am I to believe this happens a lot?

    Yes and, while I can’t know for sure if it happens a lot, it does happen.  Under the right circumstances it can be a nice enhancement to the experience.  Can’t be planned, though, it just kind of has to happen.

    I haven’t read this particular book yet but I understand it’s enjoyable, and I look forward to the next.  Would anyone think me perverse if next I wanted DocTurtle to read a bad example from the genre? 

    asked57 – if I asked 57 times nicely?

  2. 2
    Venus Vaughn says:

    By now he’s clearly coming around, but he’s got the turning radius of the QE2.

    Bwah ha ha!!  I’d love him to meet a few TSTL heroines. 
    Oh, oh!  And those heroes of the past who are like, “you’re a slut!  even though you were a virgin when I shagged you.  But now you’re pregnant, who’s is it you whore?!”

  3. 3

    By now he’s clearly coming around, but he’s got the turning radius of the QE2.

    LOL!!!

  4. 4
    ev says:

    Would anyone think me perverse if next I wanted DocTurtle to read a bad example from the genre?

    Oh god no! I would enjoy it even more.

    Can we think of a really good, I mean bad, example to send him??

    asked12- I will throw in my 12 requests

  5. 5
    Terry Odell says:

    Ah, at last.  I have been SO waiting for more.

  6. 6
    babz says:

    What I would give to have Doc Turtle to read one of Lora Leigh’s books.

  7. 7
    Silver James says:

    (yes, if you must know, I’ve finished reading the book at this point, and the fact that I’ve done so without heretofore releasing a torrent of snark must mean that I felt sufficiently intrigued by the story as to see it uninterruptedly to its end…happy?…happy?!?])

    Wait? Do you think he might have enjoyed this book? And like others, the QE2 quip had me laughing so hard I scared the Newfoundland puppy. Luckily, he’s housebroken now!

    Bad examples of the genre for him to unleash snark upon: Anything by Cassie Edwards?

    Read on, DocTurtle!

  8. 8
    joykenn says:

    NO,NO, Silver James!  Don’t you dare inflict innocent newbie romance readers with Cassie Edwards!  Even a good sport like DocTurtle has his limits.  I cringe at some of her meanderings and have never been able to get through one of her books!  Yes, I know it rocks some folks boats but, please.  Just like I can only stand so much plavering, inarticulate sports figures—we was there and dey was there and we had us a good game but we was more prepared than they was—that my husband insists on listening too at 6:00am recap of the weekend sports, I wouldn’t inflict some of my guilty pleasures on others, especially of the male persuasion.  Cassie Edwards is too much to expect!

  9. 9
    Lizzy says:

    I’m certain that the readers will notice that my comments on these last two chapters have taken a less scornful tone. I believe this is in part because, not surprisingly, the book’s protagonists have become less comical and more real and therefore more sympathetic as the text has progressed.

    Listen, Doc, we’ve all been where you are. You read a trashy book and you liked it. There’s no need to justify these strange new feelings.

    You’re among friends here. No schadenfreude from us.

  10. 10
    darlynne says:

    DocTurtle, long may you wave. I’ve enjoyed your comments thoroughly, a great way to start my morning.

  11. 11
    kalafudra says:

    Would anyone think me perverse if next I wanted DocTurtle to read a bad example from the genre?

    Actually, I’ve been doing that for quite a while on Bitching about Bad Books.

    Feel free to drop by. In fact, I’d love it if you did!

  12. 12
    Lucinda Betts says:

    Doc T is such funny guy. We should get him as a regular reviewer of romances.

  13. 13

    Man, I love this guy…more, more, more!

  14. 14
    Tracy Wolff says:

    The QE2 coment had me laughing so loudly that I woke the baby!  Thank you, Doc Tuttle for making this day before the election (my students, too, have been wandering around in soporific splendor—even as most of them prepare to vote in their first presidential election) pass just a little more quickly.

  15. 15
    PK says:

    Doc T rocks!

    Have we offered him a bottle of scotch, brownies, someone’s firstborn child or whatever it is that mathematician’s desire so that he’ll guest review forever??

  16. 16
    rebyj says:

    The US Marines have ” OOOH RAH” ! and we have HOO HAW! Works for me!

  17. 17
    Lynn says:

    This is great!  I, too, spit liquid upon reading the QE2 line!

    How about having Doc T review some M/M romance?  You secure enough in your masculinity to read some yummy hawt man love, Doc?

  18. 18
    Bev Stephans says:

    Doc Turtle’s QE2 comment was great, but I liked his title for chapter 11 even better, “A literary device goes off in Chinatown, wounding 3.”  I spit coffee across the room!

    More Doc, more Doc!

  19. 19
    Jinni says:

    blood-pumping, bedpost-shaking, hoo-haw busting sexual experience

    This line used three or four times in the book was my least favorite part.  Ohh, can we get Doc Turtle to read a historical – especially if he likes clothes ripping.

    And I’ve made it to 36 without clothes ripping either in our out of bed.

  20. 20
    Jessa Slade says:

    Do snagged nylons count?

    Hoo haw, QE2 and the lit device in Chinatown. I agree with all above that this has been a wonderful experiment. I can’t wait to read his wrap-up at the end.

  21. 21
    Jan says:

    Oh guys, how do we keep him reviewing???? His snark is just great – and he was holding it under wraps? What must it be like in its full technicolor glory? More, more…. can we in addition to the Smart Bitches have a Smart Dog? Love it.

  22. 22
    Chanel19 says:

    I second the request to get him to review Lora Leigh.  Give him one of the Seal sagas.

  23. 23
    Chantel says:

    Love the review! Can’t wait to see his wrap up of the book.

    I would love to read DocTurtle’s take on a Jennifer Crusie novel (maybe Bet Me?) as he seems to be all about the dialogue, something I think romance – and Crusie particularly – do really well.

  24. 24
    Hilcia Suarez says:

    Doc Turtle has the best snark around! More, more!  QE2?  I’ll remember that one forever, lol!  A historical, he MUST read a historical!  (I don’t know if he can survive a Lora Leigh) Muahaha

  25. 25
    Annmarie says:

    I love the term ‘hoo haw’.  Much better than ‘monkey’.  Another Southern term for the hoo haw is ‘poo’.  And ‘lu lu’. 

    I also love that Doc Turtle had some like for these two characters.  It makes the snark so much more enjoyable.  Can’t wait for more!

  26. 26
    clessiesgirl says:

    Bitches always need a Stud – you’re elected Doc!!

  27. 27
    EJ McKenna says:

    Good on you Doc!
    Love the reference to the turning circle of the QE2 as well.

    What a gorgeous social experiment.

  28. 28
    Kathleen O'Reilly says:

    I’m taking what I get, election’s tomorrow, Bond is out in 11 days, life is good.

  29. 29
    shaunee says:

    We could always have the Doc review Decadent by Shayla Black.  I mean Candy certainly did a fantastic job, but I wouldn’t mind hearing the Doc Fizzle remix.

  30. 30
    Grace says:

    I have, in my time, been a penniless student, but I never had undergarments so thin and worn that they could be ripped off.  Just once, I’d like to see a hero struggle to perform the lust-inducing panty-rip with some oh-so-sexy, but sturdily-made Victoria’s Secret “scraps od cloth”.- Grace

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