Book Review

Player’s Ultimatum by Koko Brown

I received a pitch for this book from the author, and was intrigued by the mix of elements she highlighted in her email: the multi-cultural characters, the use of European soccer clubs as a setting, and the interesting conflict with the heroine posing as the fiancée of her gay best friend while being attracted to his nemesis. I not only bought it but sent a message to Jane at DearAuthor, since she and I both enjoy sports-focused romances.

Alas, this book is poorly edited, suffers from an outright fear of commas, is confused as to how the characters names are spelled, and is published with a lack of formatting that neglected to mark changes in scene or point of view, which made reading downright confusing.

Most bothersome to me, the plot relies on stereotypes to a degree I found offensive. The portrayal of the gay characters turned me off entirely.

Honestly, when a book is this confusing and this awkwardly written, it’s often best to let the book excerpts speak for themselves. So this is a quote-heavy review. Be ye warned.

Yvonne is the childhood best friend of Robbie, who is a superstar soccer player on an Italian football team. Robbie has been dogged by gossip that he’s gay, and so he asks Yvonne to give up her job and her apartment and come to Rome to pose as his fiancée. His nemesis on the team, Paolo Saito, is suspicious, but also very attracted to Yvonne, and Yvonne finds herself equally attracted to Paolo. Hijinks and a lot of very strange sex ensue.

The good parts: I had high hopes about the characters before they retreated behind a stereotypical portrayal, and the potential of a story that took place in a unique setting was tempting. I was curious about the hero’s Japanese Brazilian heritage, and had no idea that Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.

Further, the descriptions of play on the soccer field were sharp and vivid, and demonstrated a real understanding of soccer. The sports scenes were some of my favorites and I wish there were more of them. I wish that the same vitality had been present in the characterization.

But beyond that, My reaction to the narrative was either confusion or disbelief. First, Paolo’s name changes spelling frequently, sometimes even on the same page. I wasn’t sure if he was Paolo or Paulo, so for the purposes of this review, he’s Pauolo (sp?).

All of the characters are perfect – model perfect. Here is the description of Robbie, the Sassy Gay Best Friend of the heroine, Yvonne.

If he hadn’t followed his dream to be a professional athlete, Robbie could’ve easily graced the cover of any male magazine.

Robbie smothers her with gifts, picks out her makeup, finds the perfect outfits, does her hair, and is the Best Sassy Gay Best Friend Ever.

A somewhat scurrilous reporter, Joaquin Malfi, who plays a tangential role to the plot, describes the hero, Pauolo (sp?) Saito:

Joaquin tried not to gawk at his host as he entered the room. An exotic blend of Brazilian and Japanese, Paolo Saito was what all the women magazines he free-lanced for called the total package.

Blessed with a commanding height, a lean muscular frame and perfect symmetrical features Joaquin had to agree. Paolo Saito had a face that could sell thousands of magazines and he did on a consistent basis.

“Women magazines?”

Malfi, for his part, is described multiple times as having oily hair slicked over a bald spot, but each time he appears, Yvonne has trouble recognizing him, despite using the exact same terms to describe him.

And here’s Yvonne, described by the narrator, with help from Robbie:

Although cut at a modest length, grazing the tops of her knees, the dress hugged her like a second skin, reminding Yvonne of something a femme fatale would wear on some daring act of espionage. All she needed was a martini, shaken not stirred.

Thanks to years of gymnastic lessons, she wore a pair of stiletto sandals, held up by satin ribbons wrapped around her ankles, with ease.

To complete her look, Robbie had styled her shoulder-length hair into an abundance of loose waves and played up the boudoir effect by applying smoky eye shadow on her lids and slicking her lips with a deep burgundy lip gloss.

“You still have that killer bod the neighborhood guys drooled after,” Robbie joked, pulling Yvonne out of her thoughts. “Without it I don’t think we would have been able to pull this farce off as successfully as I thought.”

She’s a total hottie. Understood.

By far the most bothersome element to the story, aside from the abject fear of commas and the lack of editing and consistent spelling, was the simplistic portayal of homosexuality.

Walking toward her with a slow, yet confident swagger, Robbie gifted her with a dazzling white smile. Despite their charade, her heart did an unconscious pitter patter.

So, this is what being gay did to a man? Amazing how being in touch with one’s feminine side, could make a man seem inordinately more handsome. Yvonne, like everyone within ear shot, couldn’t take her eyes off him.

In touch with one’s feminine side? That’s what being gay is? I had no idea!

Also: why would everyone within ear shot be unable to take their eyes off him? Is he both auditorily and optically fascinating?

Brown’s portrayal of Robbie, the Gay Best Friend, bothered me a great deal.

“I better get cleaned up for the press conference. You know how much I like to make a good impression.” Robbie might be a lion on the soccer field, off it he was a hundred percent metro sexual.

The contrast between Robbie’s masculine prowess on the field vs. his effeminate metrosexuality off the field made me twitchy.

Yvonne also struggles with Robbie’s feminine side when she discovers he’s told his teammates she put herself through graduate school through exotic dancing:

Robbie reached over to pat her knee, Yvonne swatted his hand away. “I told them you used to be an exotic dancer,” he corrected. “And you only did it to support your way through graduate school.”

Yvonne moaned. “Not the old Player’s Club excuse. That’s the oldest and lamest excuse in the book.”

Appalled, Yvonne turned her back to him. She couldn’t believe Robbie’s spinelessness. How could a man who supposedly was gay and in touch with his feminine side, be such a chauvinist.

Again, gay and feminine side, nestled snugly within a few words of one another. I was twitching every time it happened.

As I said earlier, Robbie has asked Yvonne to pose as his fiancee because the press was becoming too intrusive into his private life, and his secret boyfriend was not so secret. There’s not much that’s “supposed” about Robbie’s homosexuality.

Now, I have not been to Italy, so I have to ask, is this true?

“But you’ve never been ashamed of your relationships.”

“You know I know that, but Rome is still stuck in the nineteenth century. They might have women exercising in the nude on television, but if you’re openly gay you’re committing blasphemy. And it doesn’t help I live and work right on the Pope’s front door step,” Robbie snorted, finally finding the humor in his predicament.

Also:

“Come on, Yvonne. You’re in Rome, the city of love. Enjoy the opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”

Rome is the city of love? I thought that was Paris. Rome, you have some explaining to do here.

But back to the simplicity of being gay. Yvonne is very protective of her Sassy Gay Best Friend, but the way he interprets her protectiveness in the following scene nearly raised my eyebrows clear off my forehead:

“This is the twenty-first century. People are more accepting than they were just twenty years ago.”

“Yeah, but this is the home of the Italian stallion. And according to the general populace, the stallion shouldn’t be mounting another stallion.”

“I still say you should have let me open a can of whoop ass rather than pretend to be your fiancée until you ink what we hope will be a seven figure contract.”

A smirk lifted Robbie’s lips. “Are you sure you aren’t gay? You’ve always had masculine tendencies.”

So lesbians are women who have masculine tendencies, and gay men are those who are in touch with their feminine side.

My notes for that scene are nothing but WTF and question marks and spluttering incoherent confusion. In other words, the reliance on over-simplified gay stereotypes and trite portrayals really, really bothered me.

The portrayal of Yvonne confused me, too. Sometimes a streetwise confident woman, sometimes clueless ingenue, and sometimes mixture of the both depending on the moment, Yvonne made no sense to me. When she realizes the level of wealth and opulence Robbie enjoys as part of his life as a soccer star, she is conflicted about her role in his life.

When Robbie gives her a Mercedes to use while she’s in Rome, her reaction was so strange, I had to re-read twice to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood:

Yvonne blinked then blinked again. The Mercedes was still there! Unable to resist a peek, she jumped out, ran over to the car and cupped her hands over the window.

She inhaled so hard, she almost swooned. She could smell the newness of the interior even through the separation in the glass. Yvonne’s smile slowly faded.

Would I be to give up this lavish lifestyle once Robbie inked his contract? She hoped so or she would be applying for a sex change operation as soon as possible!

A sex change operation?!

I know this was meant as a joke, and usually I have a pretty well-functioning sense of humor, but paired with all the feminine and masculine sides, this struck me as so shallow [and] offensive  and lame. She would turn herself in to a guy so she could stay with Robbie and enjoy a Mercedes? Nice. Because all it would take to appeal to Robbie, since he’s gay, would be for her to sport a peen of her own. Then the Mercedes is hers, all hersssss! Way to be awesome, Yvonne.

Also: there was no marker or italics to signal the change between third person narration and first person rumination. That was consistent throughout the book, and was very distracting.

As the plot thickens, the reader discovers that Paulo (not Paolo, as spelled earlier) has a vendetta against Robbie, because of the death of Pauolo’s (sp?) best friend, Joao. Pauolo (sp?) is very conflicted about his attraction to Yvonne, but that doesn’t stop him from looking at her:

Like an exotic bird in a sea of pale swans, her almond shaped eyes and round face topped off with a pert button nose, high cheek bones and a wide mouth intrigued him.

Despite his better judgment, Paolo stepped closer. He couldn’t tell her eye color from this distance, but who cared with breasts like hers. They strained against the low décolletage of her form-fitting dress and emphasized the sexy nip in her slender waist.

Oh, Pauolo (sp?), tell me more.

(Don’t worry, he does.)

An avowed butt man his perusal shifted lower, settling on her derriere. Paolo let out a low whistle. She had the kind of ass that would fill out the tiny bathing suits Brazilian women made world famous.

The more he looked, the more Paolo wanted to drag her into the nearest bathroom and bend her over the sink. He wondered if her ass cheeks would jiggle as he rammed his cock between her healthy mounds.

Ok, Pauolo (sp?), that’s enough. Thanks.

Pauolo (sp?) has many women in his past, but “He hated scenes especially with women. Paolo might be selfish, but he wasn’t an asshole.”

You sure about that, Pauolo (sp?)?

Yvonne’s conflict over her own attraction to Pauolo (sp?) is explored in several scenes. In one, at a function for the football club, and Yvonne decides to dance. She thinks Robbie is behind her:

She barely rose to her feet when Robbie’s hands slid up over her hips to rest on her waist, his thumbs brushing the underside of her breasts. Yvonne shuddered. Her girls were her most erogenous zone.

Robbie pressed his body closer to hers and kissed the side of her neck. His cologne tickled her senses and she melted into him. A smile played on Yvonne’s lips as several heads turned to watch them. Good! By the end of the night, no one would doubt Robbie was straight.

You can see where this is going – it’s not Robbie. It’s (gasp) Pauolo (sp?) grinding his boner away behind her.

Before she could step back, he raked a finger across a hardened nipple, causing it to peak the fabric of her dress. Yvonne smacked his hand again. “I thought you were Robbie,” she gushed as heat rushed to her very core.

Paolo’s eyes dropped to her décolletage and he licked his lips. “How I wish I were your noivo, Yvonne. I so want to take you home, put you in my bed, crawl inside of you and never leave.”

Holy crap, does he wish he were her tampon? Prince Charles is going to be SO pissed off.

Pauolo (sp?) has many focus points when it comes to the female body. Earlier he admits to being a butt man, but when he later sees Yvonne floating in a Roman bath, topless and unaware of her presence, he checks her out again. You’d think he’d be looking at her “girls,” but no:

Her feet were tiny and topped off with pale nail polish. Not seeing any visible corns or bunions, Paulo mentally checked that off his list. An admitted foot man, her feet were definitely lickable.

Alrighty then. An avowed butt man, and also an admitted foot man. No corns and bunions with the jiggly ass. Pauolo (sp?) is a well-rounded connoisseur of women. Pity he doesn’t notice much about about their personalities.

In another scene, they go to a costume party. Yvonne is dressed as Little Bo Peep, and Robbie is an “international male” version of a sheep, “in a pair of buttery suede pants which laced up the front and shamefully emphasized his manhood. The custom-fitted pants were so tight he needed to jump from a roof to get into them.”

This is, of course, a perfect opportunity for Pauolo (sp?) and Yvonne to go to some secluded room (like you do) hidden from the party guests so that they can act on the attraction. Except Pauolo (sp?) is dressed as a wolf (of course he is) and Yvonne doesn’t know who he is, only that she’s ready to jump his bones and rock him like a hurricane. Literally.

Hurricane preparedness could put you in right frame of mind, but no amount of plans or preparation could ever diminish the impact. And on the Saffir-Simpson scale, her orgasm slammed into her with the force of a category five!

Excuse me, but 0_o?

Their sex scene is a collective of strange metaphors and over usage of exclamation points:

“Do you have any condoms?” Paolo blinked, like he’d suddenly landed on earth and had no clue where he was. Throwing back the counterpane, he yanked open the bureau beside the bed. Always the perfect host, Nico always supplied a box of condoms in each guest room.

Before she could change her mind or even think about saying stop, Paolo rolled the latex over his cock.

Damn! His dick was hard as a metal pipe!

Not wasting another minute, he rolled onto her, eagerly drawing her into his arms. He slid a thigh between her legs and positioned himself against her core.

At the very last second, he hesitated. She was so warm and slippery wet he was no longer sure of his staying power. The minute he entered her, he’d probably blow both of his heads.

Not wanting to go down in any woman’s diary as a minute man, Paolo willed himself to slow down, regain control of the situation. His strategy seemed to work.

The ball of tension at the base of his spine started to untangle and his cock had stopped screaming at him.

Alas, Yvonne didn’t get the same memo. She reached between them, grabbed a hold of the one-eye bastard and guided him between her legs. She lubed his cock with her pussy juices then fit the head against her wet slit.

Paolo gripped the bed sheets and clenched his teeth. He prayed it would be a tight fit. He didn’t want to think about any other man being privy to her sweet honey pot.

You still with me? I had to go lie down after reading that scene. This is honestly the first time I’ve seen one sex scene with “one-eye [sic] bastard,” “honey pot” and “pussy juices” all in the same page.

Once Yvonne realizes the one-eye bastard is connected to Pauolo (sp?) and that she wants more of said one-eye bastard, she begins to lie to Robbie, and try to cover her tracks – despite falling asleep in the sexcapade room, missing most of the party, and going out for hours to be with Pauolo (sp?).

She hangs up the phone in one scene, and Robbie asks who she was talking to. She lies and says she was just gossiping with a friend:

Robbie stared at her for a moment, and then went back to reading the paper. “Gossip hungh?”

I have no idea what a “hungh” is.

Soon Yvonne is having clandestine (yet hours long) visits with Pauolo (sp?) at his estate:

She’d come dressed like a librarian or a school teacher in a camel-colored sweater set, matching skirt, dark brown boots and a high ponytail.

Paolo almost nutted on himself. Her scent, a combination of crisp wool, brand new leather and vanilla scented lotion, aroused him more than any one hundred dollar perfume.

Sure she’d chosen the outfit to appear unappealing, Paolo smiled. Her plan had backfired. Big time. She was his biggest fantasy come to life. With a certified I.Q. of one hundred and forty-seven, he’d spent just as much time in the reference section as he did on the pitch.

So he also has a big…. brain.

The sex scenes continued to use far too many exclamation points, unless the cumulative total was an indication of the strength of Pauolo’s (sp?) erection.

Paulo reached inside her skirt and latched his thumbs around the band of her panties. He pulled them down her thighs and over her booted feet. They were black and silky to the touch!

Bringing them to his nose, he inhaled. Paolo’s eyes fluttered to half-mast. Her pussy smelled better than he’d imagined!

 

OK! Terrific!

There were times I was worried about Yvonne’s physical health:

In a matter of seconds, the sensitive button hardened, doubled in size and her sex leaked a milky white fluid.

 

Good to know! Thanks!

But the fluidity of her milky parts was no deterrent to Pauolo (sp?):

“Just like the first time,” he groaned, see-sawing his hips back and forth. She fit him better than his custom-made cleats.

 

It’s like the soccer version of R. Kelly’s You Remind me of my Jeep!

Clearly in the throes of passion, she tossed her head from side to side and met him thrust for thrust. A shudder ran down Paolo’s spine and his balls tightened.

There was nothing like an active participant! Most beautiful women tended to lie there like blow up dolls. Not his Yvonne. She milked his cock like a woman who enjoyed sex!

 

That’s a lot of milkiness for one sex scene, is what I’m thinking.

Sex has a number of odd effects on both Yvonne and Pauolo (sp?):

Yvonne blew out a long breath. Her mind was starting to become fuzzy, the simple act of breathing an almost insurmountable feat. The man had a diamond dick that was quickly becoming her best friend….

 

I’m still trying to parse that sentence.

And then comes the opportunity to bang one another where condoms are not close by. Yvonne, in a moment that left me with unexpected respect for her character,  asks him if he has any condoms:

For the first time in his adult life, Paolo objected to using the barrier between them. “Have you and he been intimate since—” Paolo found he couldn’t complete his sentence. The thought of her with another man made his blood boil.

“No,” she said then bit her lip as if she’d said too much.

The sense of elation that fluttered in the vicinity of his heart like the wings of a caged bird made him smile.

“Then why do we need it? We’ve both been monogamous.”

YEAH. FOR A MONTH OR SO.

Her brown eyes widened in surprise.

Heck, he was shocked too. Even though he’d used condoms ever since he’d lost his virginity at the age of sixteen, he’d never practiced monogamy. No single woman had moved him enough not to desire another.

Until now.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but the point of condoms isn’t the partners he doesn’t have right now while he’s with her. Condom use would be needed because of all the partners he’s had BEFORE her. So how would their present monogamy make condoms any less necessary, especially since Pauolo (sp?) has been described by several characters as having lots and lots of women?

“I-I’m not on the pill.” She moved to put back on her panties and barely had them up past her ankles when he snatched up his training pants and rifled through the pockets. He found the handful of condoms he’d stuck in there earlier, and threw all of them except for one on the bed next to him.

“Come here,” he said after slamming the condom on with a loud pop.

OW!

But the condom conversation appears again. Robbie and Yvonne go to a group dinner at a restaurant, and Pauolo (sp?) brings a date, presumably to make Yvonne jealous. But it doesn’t work, and in a fit of frustration, Pauolo (sp?) follows her in to the bathroom so he can satisfy his desires with his diamond one-eyed bastard.

“You forgetting something,” Yvonne panted against his ear as he continued to batter her senses with long, sure strokes. “You forgot to put on protection.”

Paolo bit down on her shoulder. “I didn’t forget. I want nothing between us.”

When Yvonne tried to move back, he held her against him. “I have a clean bill of health.”

Yvonne had no doubts. He along with Robbie and some of their teammates publicly revealed their AIDS test results during their annual youth HIV Day for young fans a little less than a month ago.

Right. Because no one ever lies to the media. Or children. Or to the media and children at the same time.

Still, she tried pushing him away. “I’m not on the pill.”

“I promise,” he said not losing his rhythm, “I’ll pull out.”

(My note at this time: “Dude. She is saying, ‘No.’“)

“What about the blonde?”

“I haven’t been with her in over a year. Even then, I used a condom. Like every woman since I turned sixteen.”

Surprised he’d never slipped up, she had to ask. “Why?”

“I was scouted heavily before I even turned twelve,” he grunted. “I didn’t want children or a disease to derail my future. Come on, Yvonne, just this once. I want to feel your hot flesh against my cock.”

Oh, now that’s a compelling argument. So he promises to pull out and he swears he’s clean.

Does he pull out?

Making good on his promise, Paulo made a move to withdraw from her. “I−” he breathed against her neck, but he did not finish.

As if possessed, he plunged his cock deep into her and let go, shooting stream after stream of his hot seed into her womb.

Of course not.

So of course Yvonne ends up pregnant and there’s much to untangle – I won’t spoil the ending, though, sorry. Even though Yvonne is beyond gullible and the cliches stack up like diamond weenies, Pauolo (sp?) and Robbie’s solution to their problem is funny and clever – and takes place on the soccer field, which means it’s entertaining and confidently written.

But the final scene is another sex scene, and contains this odd description:

Her orgasm bubbled in the pit of her stomach along with the soul-stirring heat between her thighs.

The bubbling orgasm pretty much identifies everything I found peculiar and unappealing about this book. The writing was nonsensical at times and undecipherable at others. Commas were eschewed as was consistent spelling, and the characters relied so often on cliche and stereotypes which I found bothersome and offensive. I had trouble liking or even caring about any of them. By the time the story got to the masquerade and the Bo Peep and the Pauolo (sp?) Wolf mystery sex, I was reading just to see where the crazy would go next, and not because I wanted to know what happened.

What fascinates me is how many positive reviews this book has. I have to ask myself, did I read the same book? Did they get one with commas? Did I miss something obvious? What was it that was so appealing to them that at the same time was so unappealing to me?

Regardless, this book did not work for me on a number of levels. There were far too many things described as “milky.” The same phrases were repeated to describe ancillary characters, while the spelling of the hero’s name was not consistent at all.

But beyond the techinical flaws, the characters themselves weren’t admirable. The hero’s behavior was repulsive, and the heroine’s treatment of her supposed best friend wasn’t much better. And most especially, the trite and offensive portrayal and explanation of homosexuality absolutely turned me off.


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Player’s Ultimatum by Koko Brown

November 27, 2011

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    This is a great line: “Also: why would everyone within ear shot be unable to take their eyes off him? Is he both auditorily and optically fascinating?”

    There’s been much ranting over at DA regarding their review of this novel.  One negative review may be an anomaly, but two in a row says something.

  2. 2
    Sasha says:

    For all the WTF-ery of this review, for some reason it was :

    Robbie was a an “international male version” of a sheep” that got me into the hysterics. 

    My visuals just went so many bizarre places!  Also, ‘cause you know so many straight athlete types I know would go for just that kind of costume- especially to throw people off the scent!

  3. 3

    Authors such as Brown have a lot of readers.  They read majority romance too, so these readers know what well-written stories are, but accept these stories with grammatical errors. 

    They are definitely not stupid. My theory is they want these sort of authentic stories (by BW) and there are few traditional pubs supplying them along with decent editing.

    I was told this was the case with romantic erotica before it got big.  But I’m thinking there are not enough readers for these sort of stories for trad publishing to pick up on them.

    These readers will continue to be served by indie authors and online e-pubs, and tolerate cliches and poor editing in return for the characters in the situations they want to read. This will change and more and better authors enter the subgenre, which they will…I do think authenticity is also valued by these readers, and while grammatical errors abound, if the voice is authentic, they are tolerated, if at all possible.

  4. 4
    Jane says:

    How is this book an authentic portayal of AA person?  Other than her physical description, she read like any other romance heroine.  The trope she represented (the good girl with the banging body hiding under her tomboy weeds) has been done a thousand times before in white romances.  Was it because she didn’t have corns and bunions on her feet? Or that she wore stilettos? Or that she used the word “bangin’” a couple of times?

  5. 5

    I’m not touching the “authentic portrayal of an AA person” bit.  Personally, I don’t think there is such a thing.

    I’m saying it’s authentic because it is written by a black author.

  6. 6
    Ruthie Knox says:

    Interesting comment, Monica. I’ve wondered about this. I’m a white woman, and I read a Kimani romance once that used a number of words in the sex scenes and some of the character banter that I found off-putting. But in the end, I decided that could probably be chalked up to cultural differences—that I wasn’t the target audience for the book, and it was entirely possible that the targeted reader would find some of the chosen language sexier than I did. To some extent, that may also shape how people Brown’s target readers feel about some of this language that Sarah found repulsive (and I, reading through the review, also wrinkled my nose at). It doesn’t excuse shoddy characterization or offensive portrayals of homosexuality, but I think it is worth considering.

  7. 7
    Lena says:

    I think Paris is the city of light, not love. But I haven’t heard Rome described as the city of love either, the most common description is the eternal city.

  8. 8
    guest says:

    Paris is the city of light (la ville-lumière).
    Venice is the city of love.

  9. 9
    Lisa Savignano says:

    “I’ll pull out, baby, I promise!” Second biggest lie in the world, after, “Of course I love you- just sleep with me so I can prove it!”

  10. 10
    Serenachan says:

    “Now, I have not been to Italy, so I have to ask, is this true?”

    Not really? I mean, it’s not perfect. And to be fair, there are NO out soccer players right now, so I can’t say how people would react. But if he’s really this super talented player, I don’t think people would really care that much.
    I mean, if the Pope didn’t protest when a gay governor was elected, would he really care if some club hired a gay soccer player? I think he has bigger problems to worry about.

  11. 11
    cleo says:

    Thanks for this Monica.  For me, your comment helps answer Sarah’s question about the positive reviews – “I have to ask myself, did I read the same book?… What was it that was so appealing to them that at the same time was so unappealing to me?”

    Your answer makes sense to me.  I know that I’m willing to put up with quite a bit of crap in a book if I connect to it in some way (and if I don’t have that connection, I can’t tolerate the crap at all).

  12. 12
    Mo says:

    “She hoped so or she would be applying for a sex change operation as soon as possible!”

    FUCK YOU. One, there is no magical “sex-change operation.” Two, I can promise you that most trans folks don’t have people lined up to give us fancy cars.
    I was offended enough by the creepy “gay people are essentially feminine men/masculine women” stereotype, but that pushed me over the edge. Ugh.

  13. 13
    Kim in Hawaii says:

    At least you brought attention to those of Japanese heritage living in Brazil!  The migration began in 1908 when Brazil needed workers for the coffee crop (after slavery had been abolished) and Japanese need work (when their feudal system broke down).  At that point, Hawaii had been flooded with workers across Asia and the US implemented limits on its new territory.

    Perhaps one of the most “famous” Japanese immigrants was Hiroo Onoda – a WWII Japanese intelligence officer who remained hidden on the Philippines for 30 years.  He finally surrendered when his retired commander relied him of duty.  After returning to Japan, he followed his older brother to Brazil to raise cattle. 

  14. 14
    Ealmeidarodrigues says:

    In an attempt to clear up the Paoulo (sp) mess, I would say that the Portuguese spelling of Paul is Paulo while the italian way is Paolo and he’s a Brazilian playing in Italy so maybe that accounts for the confusion in the spelling – or she was trying to appease both nationalities.

    “Brown’s portrayal of Robbie, the Gay Best Friend, bothered me a great deal.

      “I better get cleaned up for the press conference. You know how much I like to make a good impression.” Robbie might be a lion on the soccer field, off it he was a hundred percent metro sexual.

    The contrast between Robbie’s masculine prowess on the field vs. his effeminate metrosexuality off the field made me twitchy.”

    This is especially hilarious considering that European soccer thrives on its’ metrosexuality at the moment – Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres, most of them are better known to women for their underwear ads and Armani/Versace/Gucci campaigns than their outstanding sporting capabilities. 
    A couple of years ago during one of the FIFA world cups or UEFA european cups the Italian team was in the news because along with the usual retinue of doctors, nutritionists and chefs that they were flying to the competition, they had included a hairstylist.

  15. 15
    Laura says:

    @Mo: I couldn’t agree with you more.  I teach composition, so bad grammar is a major problem for me when I’m reading—it takes me right out of the story.  However, I can accept that other people don’t find it as upsetting.  I’m willing to concede that point (maybe my years of teaching have worn me down to the point that I’m just not willing to fight the good fight anymore.  *sigh*).  That’s all I’m willing to concede though.  There is no excuse for the content of this novel.  It’s interesting, because we’ve already touched on what is “authenticity” in this thread.  Maybe Brown’s text is authentic because she’s an AA author, but I doubt LGBT readers would give her the same title.  I’m guessing she’d be pretty angry if a white author did something similar with a black character.

    And now I’m wondering if there’s any point to me going there in this post.  Am I just turning this discussion into politically correct finger pointing? 

    How about this: instead of basing authenticity on what color/religion/sexual orientation/shoe size/righty or lefty/democrat or republican/earthling or martian/etc group the AUTHOR belongs to, we judge authenticity on whether or not CHARACTERS seem real.  Or, you know, authentic.

    Anyway, don’t even get me started on how much Paouloulou squicks me out as a “hero.”

  16. 16
    Josie says:

    I found this so painful, I actually had to stop reading halfway through and come back to it later (after I steeled myself with the help of some M&Ms-‘cause it’s too early for vodka). Where do I even start?

    1) One-eyed bastard? Really? Really?
    2) Maybe the commas were originally there, but ran away after being terribly offended.
    3)Uh, first of all, you don’t make the decision to forgo a condom because you want nothing between you. It’s a decision to be made by both parties, hopefully after a good length of time, a serious conversation, and some STD testing. Second of all, you don’t agree to it because he promises to pull out. He’s arrogant and she’s a moron.
    4) “She inhaled so hard she almost swooned”? Over a car?
    5) One-eyed bastard? Is there some way we can ban this phrase from ever being used again, unless we are actually referring to an illegitimate child who is sightless in one eye?

    I think I need more M&Ms.

  17. 17
    Lynne Connolly says:

    I think an opportunity was missed here. The issue of homosexuality in football (soccer) is very current right now, together with the issue of racist abuse from fans. I would accept the idea of a beard for that reason, and there are rumours that a few footie players do have WAGS for beards (WAG – Wife And Girlfriend – Top WAG used to be Victoria Beckham, now it’s probably Colleen Rooney). It would have been interesting to read a book which deals with that issue realistically.
    The anti-gay culture led to the suicide of one player, years ago (Justin Fashanu – the first footie player to come out, but it didn’t do him any good, and very, very few have come out since then).
    In Europe, football is akin to a religion for some, so the cultural references are bound up with that. The hatred is sickening and puts a lot of people off following the game, something managers and coaches are well aware of, but the staid FIFA and FA officials won’t make a ruling, except that there should be tolerance. Overt abuse isn’t tolerated, but the fact remains – very few footballers have come out as gay.

    Rome – it is a Catholic city, however, the Vatican and Rome are two different places, very close together. However, it has that macho Latin vibe thing going. Very busy places, like most capital cities, very vibrant, exciting. Some of the best shopping in Europe. Unsurpassable for art. But the city of love? Not really. True, it’s romantic, but so are Venice and Florence. I’d pick Florence, because it’s more intimate and quieter, but that’s relative in Italy. And Paris. It’s everything you think it is, and then some.

  18. 18
    Sam says:

    I could not even finish reading this review, the level of offensiveness (in the book, of course) was so high. I want to joke about the fail, it’s just too depressingly fail-y.

    (BTW, while we’re on the subject of fail, “lame” is considered by many to be ableist/offensive because it equates physical disability (actual lameness) with something bad, wrong, and sub par. I don’t want to derail things, but it gave me a bit of a start to see someone so bothered by this horribly offensive book using a word that people I know find so hurtful and offensive. I know most people don’t know it’s offensive (I didn’t until about a year ago) so don’t think I’m under the impression you meant anything offensive by it.)

  19. 19
    Kate4queen says:

    Well, I dunno, I almost swooned when I saw my ‘soon to be mine’ BMW M3 convertible…. :)

  20. 20
    Andrea says:

    @Lynne Connolly: I absolutely agree with you there!
    Soccer here (Germany) is THE sport and there is a discussion going on about gay players. But sadly I don’t think that a gay player would be accepted, no matter how good he is.  Gay marriage is legal here but soccer is so bound up with outdated ideas of masculinity and all that that even players on the national team publically admit that it would not be a good idea to out oneself. There are rumors about well-known players being gay from time to time and all of them are always denied and they have girlfriends/wives. One would think that in a country where gay marriage is allowed, soccer is the national sport, and religion does not play a big role that it wouldn’t matter, but sadly we are far from that. And I don’t believe that the situation is different in other European countries.
    So yes, this sounds like an interesting premise (hey, it’s about soccer!) and I have thought briefly about getting it but always shied away. Now I am glad because it doesn’t sound as if I would like it – although now I am really curious about the resolution! Couldn’t you add it hidden so if someone doesn’t want to read it, they can skip it? Please?

  21. 21
    SB Sarah says:

    @Sam: That was totally thoughtless and boneheaded on my part, and I apologize. I will not use the term again. Thank you for the explanation. I’d change it to something else in the review but I don’t want to make it worse by implying that ‘lame’ is equal to whatever adjective I’d replace it with.

    Thank you for the explanation and my apologies.

  22. 22
    SB Sarah says:

    @Monica:

    I’ve been pondering your comment for a few hours now, and I agree with you up to a point. I think there is an audience that is very tolerant of spelling, grammar and editing inconsistencies but that audience isn’t necessarily based within cultural or racial lines. I agree with you that if readers want a particular type of romance, they will avidly seek it and buy it even with errors like the ones displayed by this book.

    That said, I’m not in the audience who would tolerate the errors. I found them distracting at best. I read error-filled ARCs and manuscripts but expect those errors to be corrected by the finished product, and, for me as a reader, that same standard applies to self published and indie published finished books.

  23. 23
    Beggar1015 says:

    Good grief, was just over at Dear Author’s website and reading some of the back-and-forth comments that have been posted. Hope the creeping crud doesn’t come over this way. If you don’t agree with someone’s opinion, it’s okay to simply say, “I don’t agree” without getting your panties all in a wad.

  24. 24
    ValdVin says:

    I too couldn’t finish the review for laughing.

    —-She could smell the newness of the interior even through the separation in the glass.—-

    If I paid that much for a luxury car I’d hope I was buying glass I couldn’t smell through.

    And it probably goes without saying that a footballer with that much mass is carrying a lot of dead weight on the pitch.

  25. 25
    Nichole says:

    This review was so hilarious! I almost want to read the book now, but I’m not that much of a masochist. I do want to know how it ends, though.

    I know exactly what you mean when you said you couldn’t understand what those positive reviewers saw in the book that you couldn’t see. I’ve read a couple of books that had tons of positive reviews and I was so excited read, but turned out to be really badly written. On was by a big name writer and the other was by a popular self-published writer who was selling a ton of books. I think they were early works that got each writer recognized so I’d hope their writing improved since then. But both books had been REVISED since the initial publication. So there really was no excuse. They were also both in the erotica genre and one was published by a small press. I think in these two cases, what Monica said may have applied – people were willing to settle for lower quality work because they were finally getting the kind of books they wanted, in this case erotica. The authors became successful and popular, but I don’t know how much their writing improved. I’m not willing to take another chance on them right now.

    Also on what Monica said, I’d love to read more romance by black women with black heroines, but how much I tolerate would really depend on the book itself. Different people have different things that set them off. In this case I don’t think I would have been able to take the gay stereotyping, but maybe if that hadn’t been there I would have been able to deal with the lack of commas and bad formatting. Who knows? The premise did have a lot of promise.

    I’m excited for more romance stories with minority characters. :)

  26. 26
    Olivia Waite says:

    I scratched my head a little at seeing “honey pot” and “pussy juices” so close together—but where she really lost me in that paragraph was “privy.”

    A shame—when I saw this was an interracial romance I had very high hopes. I’ve been looking for more of those lately.

  27. 27
    LG says:

    As far as “badly written” goes, there are some thing that are a bigger issue for some readers than others. A friend and I were discussing Hungers Games vs. Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies books. I loved Uglies and enjoyed The Hunger Games up to a certain point, when it got to be such a slog for me that I almost couldn’t finish it. For me, the reason it became a slog was because I couldn’t stand some of the things Katniss was doing. My friend loved The Hunger Games but could only get a few pages into Uglies before she had to quit. I asked her why, and she said she thought the writing in Uglies was awful by comparison. I’m still not quite sure what she meant, but I do know that there are some things in writing that I don’t even notice that are total red flags for her.

    That said, the quotes in this review and in the review at Dear Author are enough for me to see that I wouldn’t be able to make it through this book. I’d have to skim or skip the sex scenes, the inconsistent spelling of a main character’s name would drive me crazy, and I need words to make sense and be used correctly. I can and have overlooked or mostly overlooked a few mispellings and inconsistent spelling of a minor character’s name before, but this book would have me bemoaning my wasted money.

  28. 28
    Quizzabella says:

    “The man had a diamond dick that was quickly becoming her best friend….”
    Sparkly, cold and white?  Is Yvonne sure that she isn’t banging Edward Cullen?

  29. 29

    “I think he has bigger problems to worry about. “

    Well, he thinks that gay marriage is worse than climate change AND threatens the survival of the human race, so it’s likely that he thinks a gay footballer is a Very Big Deal indeed.

    “there are NO out soccer players right now”
    Not exactly true:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L…

    “if he’s really this super talented player, I don’t think people would really care that much.”

    Agreed. It would be something for rival fans to use to sledge him, but that’s also true for black players. Attitudes have changed at least in England since Justin Fashanu’s sad death:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H…

    The reaction to Steve Davies (first openly gay English cricketer) and Gareth Thomas (openly gay Rugby captain) has been positive, and both have spoken of the support they’ve had from team mates and the general public.

    It’s amazing how having someone you admire as a sportsman, come out as gay, can change people’s attitudes to homosexuality.

    On the other hand, the German team captain Phillip Lamm and the repulsive player-pundit Jason Akermanis have said recently that gay players shouldn’t come out for their own good (and because it makes the lockeroom ‘uncomfortable’). The response to Akermanis in Australia was derisive and he was soundly rebutted by other players and the football associations. Doesn’t mean that a gay player might not consider their advice worth taking. No one wants to be first, after all.

  30. 30

    @SB Sarah

    I feel you. I can’t deal with reading through that sort of mess either. 

    But, I know grammatically-challenged authors who have loyal readers, and it makes me curious why. 

    I think a comment over at DA summed it up

    “all I cared about was how the story made me feel”

    One person’s crap is another person’s sweet spot.

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