Three Weeks With Lady X was not only a DNF read for me, but a Kill It With Fire experience. Yes, James and I have been in the process of a very difficult breakup, and yes, I wish I had read this USA article before trying just one more time but as you are my witness I have learned. Oh, how I have learned. James is so busy trying to be clever that she’s forgotten to deliver a plausible story. Even worse, she’s not checking her homophobia at the door. While I’ve certainly complained about that in the past I begin to think I gave James too much credit. Let’s look at this example early in chapter two, after our prize of a lead has been disparaging women in general and his selected wife in particular.
“You never go into society, so you wouldn’t know, but Laetitia’s just spent the season dancing with a crowd of wand-thin mollies with no need to shave. We’re too big, and we’d both have a beard within the day if we allowed it.” “Those men were all at school with us,” Thorn said, shrugging. “You’re taking marriage too seriously. It’s a transaction like any other. I’m giving her a country house; that will make up for my brute proportions.” – Eloisa James, Three Weeks With Lady X
Wand-thin mollies. You know, those skinny gay boys instead of us manly muscle men. (Pauses, thinks about the local Gold’s Gym clientele, sighs and continues.) They were at school with Thorn and his buddy but they lack the testosterone to shave routinely, because they aren’t… manly. (Considers bear culture, thinks about asking some otters on Scruff about this, moves on.) We’ve got a pair of Gastons for the lead. What about Lady X? Is she a prize? Spoiler alert: No.
True, her reputation was tarnished by the fact that she refused to stay home practicing her needlework. But as she was the daughter of a marquess, technically a Dibbleshire would be lucky to dance with her. Not that she cared about such things. – Eloisa James, Three Weeks With Lady X
Oh, she’s one of those. Right. India, the Lady X in question, is positively besieged by proposals from men she holds in mild contempt. Despite having once been relatively poor and her parents of the hippie persuasion, India is a hot property on the marriage market. She’s not only good looking, she earns a living as an Organizer. Because if there was one thing the cream of society wanted, it was a slightly scandalous impoverished peer telling them how to sort their cupboards. If only they’d had HGTV.
Catching sight of herself in a mirror, she peered closer to see whether wrinkles indeed radiated out from her eyes. She couldn’t see any. In fact, at twenty-six, she looked fairly the same as she had at sixteen: too much hair, too much lower lip, too much bosom. – Eloisa James, Three Weeks With Lady X
Poor India. If only her parents hadn’t been neglectful, so consumed by their love for each other that they often forgot to feed her. (While this is a DNF I bet India forgives every hungry night she ever had by book’s end.) India has had to make do with extended family, improbably lucrative skills and stunning, ageless beauty. No wonder she’s so fatigued with humanity. But back to Thorn. He’s decided, because his father and step-mother have a successful and loving marriage, that he’s going to pick the stupidest woman he can find to wash the common beginnings of his blood pure in her lineage. Because of course a man raised by a caring and wealthy step-mother would hate women. I mean, duh. There’s no way a kid from an unloved background who landed in clover would ever realize the importance of treating people as humans first and status symbols second. Let’s get real here! Look at Thorn bringing the sexy in this quote.
Frankly, he didn’t waste much time thinking about trusting women. And he found it rare that he respected them. His life revolved around his work, and most gentlewomen didn’t seem to do anything except their part in bed, though he generally did most of the work there too. That was the nature of it. He wasn’t a man to give a woman her way between the sheets. – Eloisa James, Three Weeks With Lady X
Who’s a future rapist? Thorn is. He’s already explaining how his intended wife’s consent and intelligence are irrelevant. The powerful domination of his genes will allow her womb to stamp out little Thorn copies for his enjoyment. (He even says it but I’m tired of quoting.) Thorn is so unconcerned about her contribution that he’s chosen a woman unable to read. Here I paused again. One of my great reviewing regrets was my failure to call James out fully on The Duke Is Mine. I was so happy just to see a Down’s Syndrome Duke that I gave her a pass on the contempt he was shown. When James killed him off as an impediment to a HEA I swept it under the “Too Many Spoilers” rug. I was wrong. (I regretted it almost instantly, but I have a no take backs policy on my reviews.)
At the close of chapter two we have India (about whom I care not at all) set to meet Thorn (whom I actively despise). I’ve got no idea how India made her money. The wealthy are famous for not paying bills unless badgered. Actually requiring payment could get India kicked out of society pretty quickly. (I live among the very wealthy. Everything should be a favor, darling. Be a dear, won’t you. Couldn’t you just? The very wealthy do not happily offer up payment. It’s a point of pride to them to avoid it as long as possible.) I’ve got no idea how Thorn came to loathe women and I don’t much care. He’s got a homophobic friend. He thinks a woman’s consent is irrelevant if you’re paying her with a ring and a house and your half-ducal wang.
Flipping ahead to the author’s note I learned at some point Thorn will acquire a daughter named Rose. (Because Bret Michaels?) I’ve got it. I’ve learned. Eloisa James and I need to see other people. We shouldn’t even be on the same dating site. I miss her being one of my auto-buy authors, but I couldn’t read a single page more.
*This post originally appeared at Love In the Margins.