Is another literary coprolite that I have discovered and eagerly digested, having obtained a copy by methods that will not be relayed here.
I should also state that this does represent a sort of Rubicon-crossing for myself here, because I was looking forward to the release of something so that I could see if it was as bad as I suspected. And it was, but I've, perversely, been looking forward to this somewhat. Because this is yet another book that started life (like Fifty Shades of Grey) as Twilight fan fiction, this time one called "The Office". It's also a collaborative effort by a Christina Hobbs and a Lauren Billings, who collectively call themselves Christina Lauren. However, it's not so much two heads being better than one as two arsehole generating twice as much shite.
Right then. On with the show.
The most lamentable tragedy of the woman who fell in love with a rampant panty fetishist.
A bit more detail, if you wouldn't mind?
Bella Swan Chloe Mills (note similar number of syllables) is the PA to the titular "beautiful bastard" of the title, a giga-rich business type called Edward Cullen Bennett Ryan. Well, he's allegedly some sort of hard-nosed entrepreneur and all round mogul in the fashion business, but there's not really all that much actual business that gets done. Because Bennett Ryan is constantly womanising and suchlike. He often has supermodels in his office (in more ways than one). He treats his colleagues and staff and underlings with absolute disdain and generally acts like King Shit. But that's okay, because he's awfully handsome, has a colossal beef spear, and he's enormously rich.
Throughout the first few chapters, we see Bennett Ryan treating Chloe like part of the furniture and also occasionally pawing at her. These advances are unwelcome but not really, because she ends up getting a little bit turned on by this. Being betrayed by one's body, if you will. Or, in her words, "fucking traitor nipples."
Anyone who's playing the Ropy Romance Drinking Game now takes a shot.
Those aren't the only traitorous parts of her anatomy. Once Bennett has taken the JCB starter buttons that have appeared under her blouse as an invitation, we're treated to yet more descriptions of the sudden tidal wave that's emerging from between her legs. He's a beautiful bastard and she freely admits he treats her like shite, but she still shags him. Repeatedly. At excruciating detail. In the office, on the couch, in the lift (after a little bit of, erm, persuasion, you know, persuasion of the ever so slightly rapey variety, on his part) and in the changing rooms at La Perla.
Speaking of which, she's a great fan of fancy undercrackers. She refers to them as her "power panties" and she indulges a large proportion of her salary on expensive knickers. Which Bennett repeatedly rips off her before making with the boning and then stashes in a desk drawer. Apparently this behaviour, which is more than a little creephattish, let's be honest, gets her quite enthusiastic about it. Bloody heck. In one of the chapters from his POV (this is about half the novel), he goes on about how he spends lunchtimes when she's not about furiously masturbating while sniffing her gussets or even just thinking about said bags. Sorry, but this isn't sexy. It's comical. There's a reason why the sniffing of used panties and women's bicycle seats is more a comedy trope than an erotica one. Because the image of a man - any man - with his pants round his ankles and his prong in his fist driving his nose into a place where a lass's quim has recently been is a fundamentally hilarious one, regardless of whether he's a high-powered super-hawt executive or a local dirty mac-wearing pervert. Even the slang terms for it are inherently funny - Roger's Profanisaurus has it as "quumfing", for instance, while Urban Dictionary calls it "snurging."
And every other chapter, or thereabouts, is from his viewpoint, like I said. That's a lot of panty raids.
And he sets up a credit account for her at La Perla so she can vicariously add to his collection.
In fact, Mr Ryan's burning attraction to Chloe, who he internally refers to as a "cocktease" and a "stuck up prissy bitch" on many occasions, is hard to understand other than by dint of her undies. Chapters from his viewpoint spend far more time describing her underwear than her. Want an example?
Well you've no choice in the matter, you're getting one, you bugger.
"I pulled her pants down her thighs; goose bumps breaking out over her skin as I trailed my fingers down her legs. Turning her slightly, I finally got a chance to see the panties I had been imagining. Pink satin; a small heart cut out across her ass. Pink lace lined the heart, but still left enough skin visible to send a surge of arousal straight through me. Her hands went to my hair and pulled roughly. I fucking loved it when she did that. I bit my lip and groaned as I looked up at her. My fingers ran along the edge of the delicate satin, stopping at the thin straps on her hips. “These are almost too pretty to ruin,” I said, wrapping one strap around each hand. “Almost.” With a quick tug they broke easily; allowing me to pull the pink material between her legs slowly and stuff it in my pocket."
And here's another.
"Once again, she was so nonchalant as she glanced at her phone and typed her response, I wouldn’t have even known what was going on if I hadn’t been in on it. She seemed to take longer to respond than she had before, but it was explained as soon as my phone buzzed. Instead of a message there was a simple link.
Sweet Shit. The link took me straight to the La Perla website and a photo of the exact panties she was wearing right now. Shit, that tiny bit of satin and lace would be so easy to ri-
“Bennett? Are you okay?” My father’s voice broke through my thoughts and I lifted my chin to look at him. Five sets of concerned eyes looked back at me, including Chloe’s."
See what I mean? And it's not just once or twice that he collects her knickers, it's every other sex scene. Which makes up pretty much the entirety of the novel, let's be frank. In fact, the whole novel is basically a predictable pattern of Bennett being unpleasant to Chloe, her body betraying her, them shagging, and him stealing her panties. There's bits in between but they're just random things that happen. There's supposed to be character development but I haven't seen any. In fact, I cannot think for the life of me what she sees in him other than his pretty looks, enormous bank account, and colossal Schwanzstucker. Because for all these qualities, he still succeeded in pulling her with sexual harassment. In real life anyone vaguely sensible would have hot-footed it to their friendly local employment tribunal right about now. Jesus wept.
And what does he see in her anyhow? Apart from the tasty underwear, that is. Despite her alleged spirited defiance and being the only woman who hasn't flung herself at him (or so we're told), he finds this some sort of a challenge. But then again, is it really such a challenge? She still flings herself at him, she just does it about 50 milliseconds later than his other women. So it's an informed ability then. Right. There are other characters but they may as well be cardboard cut outs for the depth given then. In fact, towards the end I started getting more bored than anything. Oh Gods, I'd be thinking. They're not gonna shag at excruciatingly poorly written length AGAIN, are they? Please no. But alas and alack, they were, and we were treated to yet more images of her underwear being ripped off her. Again.
I would go on but there's only so much flesh and blood can stand. You can tell this started life as a Twilight fan fiction, because the characters behave almost entirely like their counterparts in said sparkly vampire drivel. All I'm saying is that I'm glad that I don't work in their office.
There's a sequel as well coming just later this year called Beautiful Stranger. It'll probably sell like hot cakes. Meanwhile, novels that are well written, honest, and meaningful are finding themselves roundly ignored. Sometimes I wonder if I should just ditch my totally badass law procedural which is stalled at 47,000 words now due to the wind completely failing to blow in that quarter. Or better still, just take the carefully crafted John Grisham meets Michael Crichton plot, flush it down the netty, and just have my protagonist start porking the receptionist until they're both sore and bleeding. Because clearly that the only way it's ever gonna get published.
But then again, I don't think I'd want to do that. I have this thing called "integrity." It's mighty inconvenient but as the existence of this novel shows, it precludes book deals. In a just world the authors would have been flogged, had their ascended fanfic burnt and the ashes blown up their arses with a rusty trumpet, but alas, we are not in a just world. Suffice it to say that if ever I see a copy of this on sale in a book shop, I will take the thirty seconds or so to hide it behind something deserving in order to hamper its sales. I'd rather scrape the crust off Harriet Harman's gusset than read this novel again.
You are what you drink, and I'm a bitter man. I know.