So I discovered Susan Elizabeth Phillips quite by accident, and Glitter Baby is now the go to reference between Boss and me whenever he feels the need to make fun of what I’m reading, and even though I point out again and again that my trashy romance novels are high literature compared to some of his trashy celebrity biographies, he still continues to make fun of me and I let him because he pays me. And sometimes he buys me diet Coke. So I figured – even though I’ve read other Phillips books that haven’t been as fantastic but were still sort of decent – that Heaven, Texas would be a pleasurable diversion.
Except all it did was piss me off. Lots.
Bobby Tom (yes, that’s his name, and I’m mortified to admit that I read a book where the romantic lead’s first name is Bobby Tom; can you imagine yelling that out in a fit of passion?) is OMGthegreatestfootballplayer ever, but he’s been forced to retire earlier than planned because of a career-ending injury. He’s decided to try his hand at acting, although I’m not really sure why, since it’s pretty clear that Bobby Tom is a gazillionaire and doesn’t really want to act. Gracie Snow is a plucky thirty-year-old virgin with a rocking body, a bad haircut, worse clothes, and fancy lingerie who is assigned to get Bobby Tom from Chicago to the middle of nowhere, Texas. Bobby Tom mistakes her for a stripper, humiliates her in front of his friends and various vacuous women at a party, then proceeds to undress her against her will (but it’s okay because it was in the privacy of his office), she outsmarts him the next morning, and together they set off for Texas in his vintage Thunderbird.
I’m not going to tell you the rest of the plot, because it doesn’t matter, but I will tell you that the following things happen:
1. Bobby Tom lies to Gracie. A lot. Big lies. This doesn’t appear to matter.
2. Bobby Tom is an asshole. A lot. This also doesn’t appear to matter.
3. Bobby Tom decides without consulting Gracie that he’s going to pretend that they are engaged so that the hussies of his hometown will leave him alone and then in almost the same breath freely admits that Gracie is beneath him appearance-wise, but figures he can gussy her up and make her sexy enough to pass muster, at least for the little while that they have to pretend to be together.
4. After sending Gracie on a humiliating makeover trip with his mother, where she buys clothes that she knows Bobby Tom will like but that make her feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, Bobby Tom chooses to completely ignore how great she looks, which sends Gracie in to a bigger spiral of low self-esteem and confusion and makes her feel, basically, like crap. And he does this on purpose. And we know this because we’re treated to his stream-of-consciousness thought process about it.
5. When Bobby Tom and Gracie finally kiss for the first time, he sticks his hand down her pants and she has an orgasm immediately. Let me repeat that. A thirty year old virgin has an orgasm the first time a man touches her.
6. Bobby Tom can’t understand why Gracie hasn’t had sex before since she’s “so responsive” and her body is made for sex.
7. Bobby Tom decides that he’s going to do Gracie the favor of relieving her of her virginity because he can take better care of her than the idiots around town.
8. When they finally do have sex for the first time, again, Gracie has an orgasm immediately. Like, the second he touches her. With no warm up. Does this really happen? Has Cosmo been lying to me all these years? Am I doing something wrong?
9. Towards the end of the book, Bobby Tom proposes to Gracie in front of a crowd “for real”, and when she says no, he hurls horrible insults at her over the PA system in front of the entire town, including saying things like he’s too good for her and she’ll never amount to anything.
10. Bobby Tom tells everyone he meets that his mom is a hooker. His mom is actually on the board of education and is widely regarded as the classiest woman in town. His mother thinks this story is cute and sighs with loving exasperation whenever it comes up.
11. This might be the biggest thing of all, and the one that made me decide to finish the book just so I could come here and rant about it. In a pretty rapey B story, Bobby Tom’s widowed mom becomes involved with the man who owns the town’s biggest employer because she’s under the impression that if she doesn’t sleep with him, he’ll close up shop, effectively sentencing the town to a slow economic death. What’s worse, the man knows it, but allows her to labor under that pretense because he’s been in love with her for thirty years and wants to do the horizontal mambo with her, and he just can’t help himself, so he promises he’ll tell her in the morning. Except he never really does. But it’s okay, because she wants him, too; she just feels guilty for “cheating” on her dead husband. So he effectively cons her in to having sex with him, knowing that she a) doesn’t want to, b) is only doing it out of her sense of duty to the town, and c) is still mourning the loss of her husband. And even though she’s decided to lie back and think of England, it’s still amazing sex. So of course she feels guilty, because proper ladies aren’t supposed to have orgasms. Or enjoy sex.
I don’t even know what to say.
Wait, yes I do, but my mom sometimes reads these reviews and I don’t want her to know that I know those kinds of words.
Susan. This is not a romance novel. This is a book about a big fat douchebag who manipulates a woman he believes – and tells her this to her face as well as via a PA system in front of the entire town – is undeserving of him in to having sex with him. And she – even though she is supposed to be plucky and smart and witty and funny (and I will concede that yes, she is at times) – agrees with him. This is a book about an entitled asshole preying on a girl with low self-esteem. And on behalf of the millions of girls and women out there who are plucky and smart and witty and funny and also happen to have low self-esteem who have been involved with assholes like that once or twice or eighty times, thanks but no thanks. We’ve got enough of that in our real lives; we don’t need to read about it, too.
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