The continuing adventures of a scornful mathematician’s journey through a category romance novel: DocTurtle reads Kathleen O’Reilly’s Sex, Straight Up, Part the Third...see Smart Bitches, Trashy Books for more coverage!
Chapter 6: In Which the Plot Moves Forward Like Napoleon Into a Winter-Wet Russia
The first eye-catcher in this chapter was a comment about one of the O’Sullivan boys’ bar’s regulars: “He [an engineer for the MTA] talked like a professor, carried his tall frame like a professor and had two ex-wives, who wish he’d been paid like a professor.” So do I! Oh, wait...hmm. Fact is, university faculty don’t get paid nearly as much as the general public thinks they do. Don’t get me wrong, we do pretty well, and I ain’t complaining, but not many faculty get into it for the money.
This chapter is distinguished primarily by the Mother of All Plot Twists, in which Daniel’s brother Gabe, undertaking renovations on one of the brothers’ bar’s walls, finds a mid-century engagement ring buried inside the wall. The ring falls into Daniel’s hands (the question he’s to answer: “whose finger does it fit?”), offering him the perfect excuse to track down a jewelry expert of the sort as might be retained by a major auction house.
Of course, this excuse proves unnecessary, as he’s soon tapped to head the team of outsiders tasked with performing an independent audit of Montefiore’s. Poor Catherine doesn’t even have a chance to Google Daniel (although she thinks about it on page 73) before he shows up in her building’s elevator.
Move along, folks, nothing to snark here...
Chapter 7: Our Hero Undumbasses Himself and Places the Ball Squarely in Her Court...No, Not That Again, Not Yet Anyway...Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter, You!
“Don’t talk to me.”
“You need to listen...Please.”
“No, I don’t think there’s anything to say.”
“I should have told you.”
“Yes. You should. I never would have...would have...if you had.”
“That’s not what I’m trying to say.”
“I don’t want to listen. I’ve never done anything like that in my life, and now I’m going to have eto live with it.”
“Catherine. I’m widowed.”
There it is, folks! It’s out! And it’s only page 77! That leaves...[thumbs through book]...[what, this thing has an Epilogue?!]...137 pages to go! Man, what are we going to do for conflict now?
Fortunately for us (but not so for them) this bodacious beau has been hired on to investigate her grandpa, making it unlikely the pair will be able to engage in much carefree nookie. Not to mention the fact that Daniel’s dead wife keeps getting in the way of their clumsy semi-romantic advances.
You should rest assured that by now Maggie’s informed me of the romance novel’s convention of misunderstanding and miscommunication that leads to protagonist conflict. Nevertheless, being a pretty straight shooter myself, I find the game-playing these two are going through to be pretty silly. For sure, I understand that human emotions are fragile, subtle, chimerical creatures, and that very often human interaction is not all that it seems to be. And for sure I understand that love is the most tortuous and tempestuous of all human emotions, and that sometimes it takes a skilled navigator to map a course through its throes. (At this very moment I’m helping a young friend try to figure out just what in the hell this one guy she’s got her eye on is thinking.)
But come on! Sheesh...
I’m sure the SBTB readers will be happy to hear that by the time
Chapter 8: Rolls Around
I’m actually cheering for these two numbskulls (huzzah, Ms. O’Reilly!), which is why their continued attempts to sabotage their own happiness are so damned frustrating.
By now we can add to the list of things we know about Daniel (erenow he was a cut [bodily, not phallically], dark, brooding, mysterious accountant-cum-widower): he’s now revealed to be a nice Catholic boy who loves his mother-in-law, even though he and her daughter were only married for a few months.
Moreover, on page 91 we find I wasn’t far from the mark when I surmised that Catherine’s a dynamite cook, too.
This chapter’s action carries the two to a date at a nice trattoria. A relationship malfunction at an adjacent table allows us to learn a bit more about our heroes’ altruistic characters, and then they skulk off into the lobby of an office building and boink publicly to Barry Manilow. Well, pseudoboink. Or quasiboink. Or whatever. They never make it to the finish line.
“You want an affair? No emotional commitment, no sharing, no ties?” Catherine asks on page 99 after coitus interruptus.
“That’s all I can do.” Oy! Like I said, I’m actually cheering for these two, but my neck is sore from watching the ball bounce back and forth.
Chapter 9: But This Can’t Be Tennis...
...for our hero is allowed a bump, set, and spike of dumbassitude. After his insistence at the last chapter’s close that all he has to offer is sex sex sex, he now asks for Catherine’s help in tracking down the immured engagement ring’s true owner. You can’t have it both ways, partner.
By me, nothing else of considerable interest goes on in this chapter: the couple schlep the ring down to the jeweler who’s most likely to have made it, and just outside this Park Avenue proprietor’s they help a young girl find her way back to her father. (Aha! Mark your scorecards, ladies and gentlemen: Daniel would make an excellent father.)
In the “Oh, And” column we can place a few suspicious e-mails between Charles “Grandpa” Montefiore and the head of one of the rival auction houses: is Gramps in collusion after all? Oh noes!
The chapter’s highlight? Catherine’s mother Andrea’s use of the word “puddleglum.” I’ll take “puddleglum” over “man-man” any day.
Chapter 10: Awkward Moments and Feverish Masturbation
Hey, everybody! It’s the long-awaited Italian Renaissance art reception and auction!
Hilarity ensues when Catherine and Daniel feign unfamiliarity while being introduced to one another by Charles “Grandpa” Montefiore. Well, maybe not hilarity...mild unease, at least.
It’s nothing compared to the torture Daniel goes through in spending the night at Catherine’s side, unable to keep his eyes off of her “silk-covered ass” (“the curves made for a man’s hands”), her “lush bountiful breasts,” and her “nipples perked against her dress.”
After all, “seven years of celibacy took a hard, hard, nail-chewingly hard toll on a man.”
At the day’s end, the couple find themselves lonely and alone in their respective domiciles, Catherine fingering herself beneath her covers and Daniel whacking off in the shower, coming with a “long and anguished roar.”
“Why would it be anguished?” Maggie asks. “I’m pretty happy when I come.”