Cus’ its sooo romantic to be in love with a honking misogynist drug lord

I want to pay my respects to the late L.A. Banks by not having my first post about her work be me taking issue with it.

However, I just can’t contain myself. The disappointment is so great. She shall be Issued.

I recently read Minion, Book I of the Vampire Huntress series. The bible-thumping, heterosexism, healthism, and classism is expected, kind of comes with the territory of a despicable genre like urban fantasy combined with paranormal/vampire fiction and romance.

My primary issue, pros and cons considered, is Carlos Rivera being Damali’s love interest (“her man”, as it were).

Now, having only read the first book, I can’t say how he will develop. However, I am overwhelmed with disgust for him as a character and Damali’s obvious inability and lack of desire to just do better. This is worse than Richard Zeeman and the whole Black Dagger Brotherhood shit party put together. I am even more disappointed to see that it seems Carlos isn’t going anywhere after reading the descriptions for the whole series. So far he has:

–objectified/commodified/dehumanized women

–dissed his own family and roots

–plagued his community with drugs for his own profit, ego, and comfort

–literally sold his soul for money and power

among other things.

If Carlos Rivera is any indication, its all good to go on about “bitches and hos” until minions of satan talk about raping the one woman on the face of the Earth that you like and claim to care about. Its like a long, long Jay-Z song.

Like, he’s not even a human being at this point. Forget this, “reformed sinner” crap–I can see why he becomes what he becomes and even if he sprouted wings and flies to heaven by the end of the series I don’t know if I can accept him or bring myself to read another book. L.A. Banks wasted a lot of time (that should have been used developing Damali as a solid Black heroine) on this loser wannabe excuse of a human and her fantasies of him.

What’s with this “bad boy” theme in urban fantasy fiction. Having a passionate male lover who’s a decent human being just isn’t enough for people? Why do these writers’ fantasies involve these trashy, violently sexist dudes? It just doesn’t make any sense to me. If this is how you get people to buy books, I’ll never sell one.

The first fantasy romance book I read written by a Black woman where the heroine is Black and most of the main characters are Black and she has to be in love with a great big honking misogynist drug lord.

My dearly departed sista, L.A. Banks, you betrayed me before I knew thee.

Signed,

Queens

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Eternal Seduction by Jennifer Turner: A sort of review

I got tired of it sitting in my queue so here it goes

I got this book free on my new Kindle Fire, which was given to me as a gift. I have no money and, most importantly, I have no money to waste on badly written books, so I’m all for the freebies for right now.

Let me tell ya, there was nothing about this story that made me think “eternal seduction”—I mean, looking at the plot itself and the characters.

  • The Cover—a sketch of my impression:

Pasty, thin white people with problems. A hint of goth, roses, and morbidity. Instant pop media vampire story, spun right off of Stephanie Meyer and probably that Twilight nonsense. A simple recipe. I am not impressed.

When is the romance industry going to stop with these stupid covers??? *pulling out my hair*

But there was almost a jewel under the cover. It turned out to be a few steps above that Twilight nonsense.

  • The Heroine

My attitude about the book began to change with finding out that the heroine’s name is Logan, which is typically used as a masculine name. Not bad, Jennifer Turner.

I read the second part of the dedication: “And to Logan and Kerestyan, who decided to break the mold and not be the classic hero and heroine…thank you!”

So, you think so, Jennifer Turner, whoever you are.

Logan Ellis is also homeless. An interesting attempt. (It didn’t stay interesting for long.) Logan Ellis, again, another interesting thing to note about the character’s journey.

  • Fatphobia/Fat Hatred

Nobody likes feeling like the main character would say or ugly, bigoted things about their body or eating habits if they were somehow to extract them from the book and meet them in real life.

 “…When the fat girl stuffing her face in the corner fully recognizes food gives her the comfort she can’t find in anyone else.”

It was supposed to be some kind of profound moment so I was caught off guard considering that Logan, the main character, is a skinny bitch character, a homeless starved heroine addict who chose to live on the streets. At first, I thought she was charming but as I continue reading, she’s just becoming abrasive. That comment didn’t help my perception of her. I definitely don’t appreciate her stereotype here at all and she pairs it up with example of sexism and promiscuous men, prefacing the comment with “The moment you realize all your worst fears are true”.

But that comment and how it’s set up within the context of the story really put me off. As if of course we’re all lonely misanthropic fat girls sitting in corners huddling our foods around us and shunning people.

I visited her website and was surprised to find that Jennifer Turner appears to be a plus-size woman, like myself. That’s if the photo under the author’s section is at all recent. Politically and intellectually, I don’t understand why she would choose to write a thin character who would make a comment that, to me, sounds fatphobic, out of the blue like that when the character is trying say something important.

Whatever, after the words were said, the whole book lost its shine for me and it went downhill from there in a combustion of disappoint and barely expressed ire. The suspension of disbelief was dismissed and the good faith in the character was totaled beyond all recognition.

  • The Love Interest of the Heroine

Kerestyan a pretty unusual name for me. I like it.

Kerestyan seemed pretty interesting up until the point that Logan made her fatphobic remark and I lost interest in the book. My favorite scene was the in the kitchen scene, unf.

  • Preternatural “Plastic Surgery”

So after about two decades or so of wrecking her body with heroine, you’re telling this bitch gets a pass once she receives the privilege of becoming a servio? Get. Out. Of. Town.

In the same vein as the fatphobic remark made by Logan, the heroine, it seems that eternal thinness is the beauty standard for vampires. Give me a break. This metaphysical/magical “plastic surgery” adds a whole layer to my understanding of the bigotry inherent in the body image message of this book.

  • Drug Trafficking in New York

So you’re telling me that after living for thousands of years, these vampires can’t figure out how to heavily mitigate drug trafficking in one primarily human city?

Sounds like the limitations of the human imaginations to me. That’s a fail, Jennifer Turner.

  • Homelessness

Only presumably liberal white artists would choose to portray a story in which the white main character actively chooses to be homeless and actively chooses to be on drugs.

I feel like this was a poor decision on the author’s part and was somewhat mocking of people who are born into poverty and homelessness.

  • All-Seeing Old Dude

Spare me. The all-seeing, all wise master vampires who reigns of from on high? Throne and all? The author could’ve missed me with this one. I was, overall, not impressed. The whole “very old vampire family presented as a gang/organization with selective recruiting” was another fail.

J. R. Ward’s latest, Lover Mine: A Critique

Elia's Diamonds

This critique has been a long time coming.

As a dedicated supporter of the good that the romance genre does offer despite all its issues, I bought J. R. Ward’s latest book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Mine in an act of faith.

J.R. Ward's Lover Mine
J.R. Ward's Lover Mine

This book is primarily about John Matthew (aka Tehrror) and Xhex. As a womanist and Black feminist, I tend to focus on what’s going on with the heroin in relation to the men in the story instead of the other way around. I admired Xhex a lot because she was different from all the other heroins in the series, by her very demeanor and life experiences; most of all, she could fight for herself, she didn’t need to be protected by a male and could, for the most part, look out for herself. Eventually, I was disappointed in the way Xhex came out over the course of the book.

Xhex’s breakdown after being captured by Lash and fighting against his torture and rape for months didn’t lead to her becoming a stronger character. It seems it only led to her becoming a more docile version of her former self in order for her to become suitable for being mated to John Matthew. I was looking for her to open herself to what she was feeling, but this isn’t what I wanted, expected, or anticipated. In her eagerness to deliver what on her message forums for the series is called an HEA (“Happily Ever After”), she perpetuates stereotypes, cliches, and archetypes of what its means to be in a “happy” romantic relationship…for white heteronormative audiences.

I read Payne’s scenes with Wrath and all that. As for most of the rest of the book, it wasn’t something I wanted to open myself up to. I’m just trying to forget it right now.

I bought the book to read and returned it to get my damn money back. It wasn’t worth it.

At first I was very amused by Ward’s attempt at writing an urban fantasy with white vampires. Some of it is really funny and it resonates with me. At this point though, I think Ward needs to stick to writing what she knows, not what she fantasizes about.

Its Official

As an avid reader of paranormal/fantasy/romantica/etc., I can now say without a doubt that J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood is a series that I will not be purchasing again. I got it for my birthday, but her last book nearly cost 40 bucks and to top it off it wasn’t that great, for reasons I will soon comment on.

The last book I actually bought was Lover Enshrined and I’ve regretted it ever since. I’ll buy with skepticism and return soon after from now on.

The Queen

TOP 10 ISSUES I HAVE WITH J.R. WARD’s BDB

TOP TEN ISSUES WITH J.R.Ward’s BDB series:

  1. The pervasive appropriation and use of rap music and rap culture with not one single person of color present as a regular character directly tied into the plot.
  2. The use of the word “Moors” to refer to characters who are obviously Black. Trez and iAm are subservient to a white male vampire (Rehvenge) who just happens to be a drug-dealing, club-owning, substance-abusing (not to ignore his “handicap” but still) pimp.
  3. The absence of women of color and vampires of color.
  4. The heavy Christian overtones. Just bludgeon me already!
  5. The heavy references to designer labels. Capitalism and classism, people.
  6. The homoerotic relationships with no real homosexual couples present in the books are an affront to the queer community as the book currently stands.
  7. The Scribe Virgin. Period.
  8. Vishous is a misogynist. I understand the deal with his mom, but, jeez, its so apparent.
  9. Lover Enshrined. The whole thing.
  10. Bella, Marissa, Beth, Jane, Cormia, Mary & Rhage. The caveman-eat-from-my-hand-guard-you-with-my-knife-traps-you-in-my-mansion-for the rest of your life-for-”your safety and mine”-but-its-all-your-choice-of-course thing. That’s all I’m saying.