Thursday, June 26, 2014

This Love is Not For Sale (2013)

By: Ella Dominguez

Genre: Romance, Erotica

After a death in her family, Lilliana Norris inherits property worth millions. It is a home that was an anchor for her as a child, a home to many cherished memories shared with her mother and aunt. She moves into the house, knowing she’ll never be able to afford the taxes. Enter Tucker McGrath, a handsome, shady real estate mogul, who will stop at nothing to get his hands on her property. The two eventually become a couple, but does Tucker really love her, or is he just in it to get her land?
This book caused me so much rage! I nearly threw my kindle across the room several times while reading this garbage. It was just so frustrating! Now, I normally try to keep my reviews fairly professional, but I just can’t with this one. WARNING! You are now heading on a long venture through SNARK-infested waters! If that’s not your bag, you might want to turn back while you still can.

The first thing that angers me about this story is the characters. I liked Lilliana quite a bit at first, despite her initial condescending words to Tucker (before I realized just what HE was like). She’s independent, intelligent, and feisty. At first she’s really able to stand her ground against Tucker; telling him off when he oversteps her boundaries, giving him deserved verbal beat downs when he talks down to her, and refusing to take his crap. She has some great lines:

“It so happens that I admire all of your teeth, but it’s your ass I want off my property.” (p. 17)

“How dare you presume to know my needs. You have no idea what makes me tick. I’m no little girl, Mr. McGrath. I’m a lady and a grown woman with desires you’ll never comprehend. It’s very obvious to me that from your attitude, I doubt you know what any woman needs.” (p. 19)

“You can’t begin to fathom the amount of fucks I do not give about what you want. You know the way out.” (p. 20)

“If by fuck you mean slap you upside your fat, egotistical head, then yes, I do want to ‘fuck you.’” (p. 35)

“This isn’t a drive-through service, chucklenuts.” (p. 56) [Also, stealing the insult, “chucklenuts.” Best thing in the book. That, and “dick nugget.”]

“Unbelievable. Seriously, I don’t think you know the first thing about being gentlemanly. I’m not sure what kind of women you’re used to dealing with, but you don’t get to take what you want with me. You’re haughtiness goes beyond anything I’ve ever experienced…Just turn this stupid, over-priced car around and drive me home!” (p.78) [Grammatical errors from the text.]

 “You don’t own me, Tucker McGrath, and I haven’t signed anything yet stating that you can do whatever the hell you want to me. You wanted me on my knees and that’s where I am at. If you want something else, then you can ask nicely…Do you know how to do that or would you like me to demonstrate?” (p. 157)

“Fine, I guess we won’t remain amicable then. What the hell is your problem anyway, Tucker? Why did you come back here? Just to chew my ass? And just to clarify: it’s you and not me.” (p. 161)

“You said you could find someone else to provide your needs. So what are you waiting for?” (p. 162)

Yet despite these moments of awesome, she wants to, and often does, give in to him at the slightest touch. Why? Because he’s hot. 

Also, his dominating personality and objectifying behavior make her “feel like a woman.” That is literally her response when he orders her to cook for him and when collars her and forces her to suck him off. 

The more Tucker mistreats her, the more she gives him what he wants and rarely asks for anything in return. She has the rare moments of clarity listed above, but as the book progresses, she falls more and more underneath his twisted spell. I guess being hot makes up for being an asshole. 

Now, let’s discuss Tucker. From the beginning he comes off as a sexist, egotistical piece of shit, and that doesn’t change at all as the book progresses. Good things about Tucker: he’s a hard worker, he’s against cheating, he provides for his parents, and he’s not a homophobe. Also, he’s good-looking, rich, and into BDSM (well, using it to abuse his power, anyway) which seems to rev Lilliana’s engine. The bad things about Tucker? Oh, how I loathe him, let me count the ways!

1.       He immediately objectifies Lilliana, taking mental notes about her beautiful ass.

2.       After receiving some of Lilliana’s trademark sass, he decides she’s in need of “a good bit of discipline.” He doesn’t even knowing her name at this point.

3.       He acts as though Lilliana has no right to the property that she rightfully inherited.
Ex: “…Fuck. I hope she’s not planning on taking up permanent residency in that house. I need to talk to her right away. Get me her number. No. Fuck that. I’ll get changed and pay her a visit myself. I prefer to do business face-to-face anyway.” (p. 12)
Because how dare she own something he wants?! The nerve of her!

4.       If you don’t give Tucker his way, you’re automatically an insolent child that needs a spanking.
Ex: “Tucker…was quickly becoming irritated with Lilliana’s insolence. Twice in one day he’d had a vision of a woman bent over his knee with red ass cheeks.” (p. 16)

5.       He gets aroused by a woman’s uneasy or fearful expressions.
Ex: “Tucker hadn’t felt the uneasiness of a beautiful woman in a very long time and he found it enthralling that she could at least recognize his animalistic intentions and power, despite her willfulness and disobedience.” (p. 16); “…her eyes as wide as the moon. Tucker didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or jizz in his pants from Lilliana’s reaction.” (p. 110)

Because great sex and healthy relationships are all based on the woman being slightly frightened of the man. A guy who could jizz in his pants over the fear in your eyes is NOT someone you want to be with.

6.       Whenever Lilliana stands up to him, the reader gets a lovely description of how he wants to “fuck her mouth” to shut her up.
Ex: “Tucker suddenly wondered what it would feel like to have those full lips wrapped around his shaft and that sharp tongue licking his big balls, He bet her smart-ass mouth would look absolutely divine glistening with his warm cum.” (p. 18); “He wanted nothing else but to fill her mouth with his cock and to fuck the mockery right out of it and make her surrender completely to him.” (p. 90)

She’s basically a cum-receptacle – an object to satisfy his sexual needs. He needs those “big balls” of his kicked in.

7.       She refuses to discuss selling her land with him and tells him to get his ass off of her property. His response? “…A good hard fuck is exactly what you need, little girl.” (p. 19) Yes, because a woman who doesn’t want to give you something she owns obviously just needs to be fucked until she comes to her senses and hands it over.

8.       He grabs her keys from her hand and blocks her from getting into her car to get away from him. Red Flag Alert! Preventing someone from leaving is considered an abusive behavior. Get the hell away from him, Lilliana!
Lilliana: -Accompanies him to his office-
9.       He offers this lovely gem, “Don’t test me, Lilliana, and don’t mistake my tolerance for weakness. That mouth of yours is going to get you in trouble every time. I won’t ever disrespect you and I expect the same courtesy in return.” (p. 38) He then proceeds to disrespect the hell out of her for the rest of the book. Also, I don’t believe telling someone they need a “good hard fuck” is very respectful there, Tucker.

10.   He insists she accompany him to dinner, she tells him maybe and then doesn’t show. He becomes angry that she “stood him up” (she never agreed to meet you, that’s not standing you up, dickhead!) and barges into her house demanding that she make it up to him by cooking him something sweet for dessert.
Me: What the hell?! GET THE FUCK OUT, you entitled piece of shit! She owes you nothing! Tell him, Lilliana!
Lilliana: “Look, I’m not sure what you think is going to happen here, but you really need to leave.”
Me: Yes!!
Tucker: “And I will, after you’ve prepared something sweet for me. I hope you can cook, Ms. Norris. I’m in the mood for something sweet.”
Me: How about a nice Cyanide-laced Kool-Aid? Maybe some arsenic? Would that work for you?
Lilliana: -Wavers and gives in-
Lilliana: I’m sorry, what can I do? He’s not going anywhere!
Me: Call the cops and have him arrested for trespassing?
Lilliana: Nah! I’m gonna make him some apple crisp!
11.   When she begins to cut the apples for the apple crisp, he tells her she’s doing it wrong, and rubs his erection into her ass while he demonstrates the “proper way” to cut up an apple.
Me: Let me show you how a knife feels in your family jewels! Back the fuck up off me, creep!
Lilliana: Ooh, that’s a big dick rubbing against my ass! Oh, how I’ve missed the feel of a man’s touch!
Me: A man’s touch IS nice, but you can wait for a deserving man. Until then…. 

Tucker: -kisses down her spine, pulls down her shorts, gropes her ass and bites her ass cheeks-
Lilliana: -squeals-
Me: I would have purposely farted in his face.

12.   When Lilliana questions his sincerity in wanting to be with her, he gets upset and says, “Please don’t question my intentions and motivations, Ms. Norris.” Yet on the very next page there’s an entire paragraph about how he was going to get her “on her knees” and get “that fucking land.” Don’t get pissed at her for being suspicious, asswhipe. She has every right to be.

13.   Tucker: “…Why won’t you let me plant my lips on you? I’ve been denied twice now, Lilly. Twice. I want that mouth and I’m not a man that takes no for an answer without a fight.” (p. 56)
Me: Well doesn’t that sound rapey! She owes you nothing!
Lilliana: “Alright, you can have a kiss, but only a kiss. Deal?”

14.   These words: “I will get you on your knees, Lilliana Norris. I promise you, that.” (p. 57) This is said after the kiss.
Me: Get the fuck out, pervert!
Lilliana: Ooh! –continues making out with him-

15.   When Lilliana is approached at a restaurant and warned about Tucker, causing her to rage at him and storm off, instead of realizing his own actions caused this, he freaks out and goes off to find the person responsible. After all, her being angry is the fault of the person who approached her, not Tucker’s for being a shifty, conniving bastard.

16.   When they get into an argument while driving, Tucker starts driving dangerously fast before pulling the car over to the side of the road, getting out and throwing a temper tantrum.
Me: I’m getting the fuck out of here. I’ll walk back, I don’t care. I’m not spending another minute in this car with that entitled baby.
Lilliana: -scrambles outside and babbles an apology- “Tucker…I’m sorry. I know I can be… difficult. I get my temper from my father, or so my mother said. I wouldn’t really know. Anyway…” (p. 79)
Me: NO!!
Tucker: -forces a kiss on her, refusing to let her go despite her struggling-
Tucker rapidly forced his mouth onto hers, holding her firmly by her waist with one hand and the back of her neck with the other. His unyielding grasp on her didn’t allow her to resist, even though she tried. She placed her palms on his chest and tried to push him away but he forbade it. He was going to show her that, yes, he could take what he wanted and right now, what he wanted more than anything was to shut her the hell up. ….When Lilliana realized her efforts were futile, her body sagged in his arms. She accepted Tucker’s tongue in her mouth and it felt just as good as it did the first time they kissed. (p. 80)
The moral of this story? If a woman doesn’t want you to kiss her, force it on her anyway because she doesn’t realize how much she’ll actually enjoy it. 

 SERIOUSLY?! This is a sexually aggressive act, an assault. It is violating and scary, not something you just realize feels good after you stop struggling. Yeah, rapists believe that’s what will happen if their victims stop fighting them too.

17.   When they are alone in the woods, horseback riding (two people on one horse), Lilliana again says something that sets Tucker off (not like that is hard to do!). So, he decides to choke her, because that’s a healthy way to tell someone you’re upset with them.
With his other hand, he reached over her arm and chest effectively pinning it down and wrapped his long fingers around her throat, forcing her head back onto his chest so he could see her face. “Don’t mock me, Lilly,” he snarled into her ear, caressing her neck gently with his fingertips. “Tucker,” she whimpered, clearly alarmed by his forceful gesture. Her hands came up and tried to loosen his grip, but the precarious and vulnerable position Tucker had her in left her helpless. “I’m all for fun and games when it’s appropriate, but do not mock me. And you sure as hell better never tease me if you don’t plan on following through with your actions. Am. I. Clear?” Lilliana hesitated and Tucker grasped her breast tighter, making her mewl. (p. 89)
Because abuse is always sexy! Mmm mmm! Give me some of that good ol’ country domestic violence! Seriously, it was at this point in the book I began to hate myself for pushing forward.
Lilliana: “You don’t ever have to explain your actions to me, Tucker.” 

Me: WHAT THE FUCK?! He doesn’t have to explain why he just choked you?! FUCK YOU, LILLIANA! And fuck you, Ella Dominguez for making this seem okay! It’s NOT okay! THAT IS ABUSE!!

Lilliana: I want to be his pet!

18.   How Tucker greets her for their first official date: Tucker ghosted his fingertips over the curve of her waist as he moved his hand upwards, skimming her nipple. (p. 106) Classy, right? I guess a kiss hello is so passé!

19.   He makes this claim: “I’m all for a strong, smart, independent woman outside  the bedroom, in fact, I encourage it.” (p. 112) No you don’t! You’re always cutting them down and reducing them to what they can do for you sexually! It’s not encouraging when you tell an independent woman she needs to be spanked and fucked all because she won’t give you what you want. Basically they can be independent as long as you don’t want anything from them.

20.   The prospect of giving this man oral seems terrifying (and not just because he disgusts me). Every time Lilliana does give him a blow job, he forces himself so far into her throat that it causes her to gag, refusing to allow her to move away when it becomes too much for her, then shaming her for her lack of deep-throating skills. What, did you expect this Kansas girl to have the abilities of a porn star?! And remember ladies, if you can’t deep-throat your man, you’re not satisfying him. Some winning lines from Tucker: “No worries, pet. That sort of skill comes with practice and I intend to give you plenty of it until you get it right.” (p. 121); “You’re quite talented at the skin-flute, as well, though there are a few things we need to touch up on,” (p. 189)

Seriously, I can’t be the only person who would tell their partner to get bent after they criticized my sexual performance! 

21.   When, in one of her rare moments of clarity, Lilliana gets sick of being pushed around, he tells her, “I once told you I will not be topped, and I meant it. I’m not playing games with you. Either you provide me with what I need and submit to me, or I’ll find someone who will.” (p. 157)
Lilliana: “Then find someone else.” (p. 158) 

22.   He was not going to be topped by Lilliana or any other woman – no way in hell. Who the fuck did she think she was dealing with…? (p. 160) Yeah, the misogyny isn’t just dripping from this statement at all….

23.   Even his compliments are objectifying: “He lost a good thing with you. Dumb fucker. I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him because you’re quite a catch, Lilliana Norris, and I’m one lucky SOB to have gotten you on your knees.” (p. 176) 

24.   When he won’t introduce her to his brother and she becomes upset, he tells her to stop being so dramatic.

25.   He walked into her house and watched her as she slept on the couch. His voice was quiet and soothing, but all too real. Lilliana pried her eyes open to see Tucker kneeling next to her, only inches away from her face. (p. 210) CREEPY!
Me: This is so creepy! Get the fuck out! You don’t just walk into someone’s house and watch them sleep! 

Lilliana: Hey sexy! Let’s have sex!

26.   He tells her he’ll never punish her in anger, so what the hell was that choking thing about then? That sure didn’t seem like a playful punishment to me.

27.   He fights her about using condoms, acting like it’s only HER duty to prevent pregnancy by being on the pill. She counters with, “condoms prevent more than pregnancy,” which they do – but you’ve been ingesting his semen for weeks now – you ARE aware that STIs can be transmitted orally as well, correct? In fact, swallowing is a “major safe-sex no-no” as Sasha from Urban Legend put it so eloquently. Despite this issue, it still pisses me off that Tucker manages to manipulate her into having condomless sex not too long after this argument.
Tucker: Waah! You don’t trust me! Waah! Condoms kill my mojo!! (No kidding, he says this on page 223) –gets Lilliana so sexually revved up she goes in for the sex without a condom- Ha! I win! No more condoms!! 


28.   When he defends Lilliana to her asshat ex-husband, he never once says anything about what a great person she is, how strong, independent, intelligent and witty he claims to find her (in his head, never to her directly). Instead he just defends her oral and sexual skills (although, of course he’ll tell her they're lacking). When the two men get into a fight, Lilliana gets between them, and her ex ends up punching her in the face. What does Tucker do? He gets mad at her for trying to protect him! “So instead he hurt you. I don’t need that kind of guilt. Fuck, look what he did to your eye!” (p. 327); “If you weren’t such a mess, I’d paddle your ass for that little stunt,” (p. 238); Before leaving, he placed another delicate kiss on her swollen eyelid, and reprimanded her yet again for her overzealousness in trying to protect him. (p. 241)
He seems to worry more about how this incident reflects on him and makes him feel, rather than the pain Lilliana might actually be in.

29.   “I’m sure as hell not shopping for feminine hygiene products. Buying tampons is a hard limit for me.” (p. 275) Sounds like someone isn’t as comfortable in his masculinity as he likes to appear. I think he needs a lesson from Priestly in Ten Inch Hero.

30.   His apology gift to Lilliana after one of their fights is … drum roll please …. A collar and leash so he can parade her around like a dog! This is not an apology, this is just another way to objectify her.

31.   “Lilliana wants whatever I tell her to want.” (p. 313) Not abusive or controlling in the slightest.

32.   He doesn’t allow her to have a girls’ night without him intruding.
Lilliana: It’s cute. He’s so charming and witty with them! 

Me: He’s controlling you, Lilliana. You can’t even spend time with your friends without him supervising you. That’s another abuse red flag. But then again, choking is very abusive and you seem cool with that, so….

RAGE!! This relationship was definitely a bit of a roller coaster in that I would get my hopes up every time Lilliana stood up to him or left him, and then they would be crushed by her stupidity. She allows herself to be controlled by her arousal – which doesn’t seem to dwindle no matter how badly Tucker treats her. She claims to be in love, and during one of their break ups, uses up two weeks of vacation time mourning the loss of their relationship. SERIOUSLY?! I’ve broken up with guys after being in a relationship with them for a year or more and continued to function normally. I went back to work a week after losing my grandfather. She breaks up with a man she’s been dating for a month and needs ALL of her vacation time to mourn the relationship?! REALLY?!

Also, these authors who write BDSM erotica really need to actually research the topic and not just plug in their own creepy fantasies. The only thing Dominguez gets right is this, “Being submissive doesn’t mean you’re weak. It takes a strong person to allow another to take control.” (p. 306) However, there is no mention of the fact that in real S&M play, the submissive is actually the one with the power to stop everything with the utterance of a safe word – something I don’t remember Tucker allowing Lilliana to have. (Although in her case, a safety action or gesture may work better, since he was always cramming his penis down her throat.)

Another thing this book gets wrong is that a relationship like this is heavily based on trust. Dominguez has Lilliana allowing Tucker to restrain her, spank her, and treat her like his slave when she has expressed many times that, although she finds him attractive, she doesn’t trust him. You need to be able to trust your partner not to hurt you, and I don’t think Lilliana was really able to do that, causing her to fear Tucker when he is in one of his punishing moods, and causing his arousal by being afraid. This does not promote a safe relationship, and safety is always a priority in this kind of play.

Please don’t try to defend Tucker’s actions as part of BDSM. They are not. They are abusive, chauvinistic and self-serving. Yes, forced kisses and choking can be part of the play, but only if both parties agree to it. It should never be done in anger, which both actions were within the context of the story. Collars and leashes are also a part of the play, but, again, Lilliana wasn’t asked if she wanted to take part in that kind of play, it was just introduced as a required act. Boundaries were never discussed at all, and every time Lilliana tried to set one, Tucker would find a way to manipulate his way around it. In this kind of relationship, boundaries are extremely important and absolutely need to be discussed to ensure the well-being of both parties. Doms need to be sure they don’t cross the line with their subs, and subs need to know where doms may draw the line. Tucker uses his being a dom as an excuse to be a jerk to women who don’t know anything about the lifestyle.

“Erotic novels” like this make me angry because they make abuse seem like part of BDSM play. It is not, and any Google search of BDSM guidelines will tell you as much. It would be a rather quick research job, if the authors of crap like this really bothered to look into it. I found such informative links as “BDSM Safety and Common Sense”, an article that really would have benefitted the Tucker character: “So You Want to Be a Dom,” - which basically tells would-be doms to act nothing like he does, and a fabulous introductory video on BDSM101 by Laci Green for A Naked Notion.

I found all of this in about ten minutes of searching Google, so how come these “erotica” writers can’t get it right? Promoting unsafe ventures into something like this is irresponsible at best.  Please, folks, if this book or 50 Shades of Grey has gotten you curious, read up on how to practice safe play. DO NOT USE THESE BOOKS AS GUIDES!

But how can I expect decent research to have been done on the topic when it appears the text wasn’t even proof-read before going to publication?  This story was in dire need of editing, from the missing words, dangling modifiers, and gaping grammatical errors to the most ridiculous descriptions and sentences I’ve ever read. There were multiple occasions where the wrong form of “your” and “lay” were used. Pronouns were mixed up within the same sentence (Ex: Tucker attempted to strike up a conversation with him. By her body language, it was obvious to Tucker that she was interested. [p. 10]).  Also, horses in this universe appear to swap genders. When Tucker and Lilliana are leaving on their trail ride, the horse is a stallion which Tucker calls “girl,” and when they come back it’s a mare. So, either Dominguez decided to change the horse’s gender halfway through the scene and never went back to fix it, or she doesn’t realize that stallions are males while mares are females.

There were a few descriptions in this book that left me scratching my head as well. Dominguez tends to throw in odd descriptors outside of the rest of the story’s vocabulary. For instance, she describes Lilliana’s lips as being the color of amaranth, which is a shade of purple. That’s not normal, is she asphyxiating? Does someone need to perform the Heimlich Maneuver? Tucker’s skin is a shade of praline, which is a kind of dough, so I’m guessing it’s a tan color. I really have no idea.

There are also some ridiculous comparisons made. One of my favorites has to be, “…a beautiful woman with an ass like an onion that could bring tears to his eyes.” (p. 51) Sounds delectable. I know I’ve always wanted my ass compared to an onion. The other is this winning line, “Damn if Tucker’s smile was like icing on the cake, the cherry on the pie, the lube on the dildo.” (p. 112)

I love how we went from innocent food to BAM! Dildos! I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

The author’s creativity also left something to be desired. Clearly, this was written to cash in on the 50 Shades of Grey craze, so it is already a rip-off of a rip-off (the latter originated as Twilight fan fiction). On top of that we have a red headed character named Ariel, and, as if the reader wouldn’t catch the reference, we are beaten over the head that it’s a cliché from that Disney movie.
Yeah, I got the joke, but it’s not funny, sorry. Lastly, there’s a scene that almost directly rips off the kitchen scene in 9 ½ Weeks. You know the one.
Except, instead of just having fun and feeding her different foods, she has to guess what it is or be denied orgasm. This may be out-kinking a classic kinky film, but it hit so close to the original scene for me that I couldn’t get into it. Tucker and Lilliana are no John and Elizabeth, and their relationship is far more unhealthy.

Overall: This is a 50 Shades knock off in need of proof-reading/editing due to awkward sentence structure, strange similes, missing words and obvious grammatical errors. The author, like that of 50 Shades, seems to know nothing about healthy BDSM practices and seems to have dominance/submission confused with abuse. Tucker has very few redeeming qualities and, though he sometimes admits to himself that Lilliana has other great qualities aside from being attractive and good in bed, he rarely, if ever, allows her to know he feels that way. She has moments of being a strong, intelligent character, but these get fewer and farther between as the story wears on. There are times when it seems like the worse he treats her, the more she falls for him, and that is something I hated to read. He acts like her sexual skills aren’t good enough, demeans her, gets physically violent with her out of anger, and convinces her it’s all a part of domination/submission. It is NOT. It’s more like an abuser/victim relationship under the guise of BDSM, and promotion of that idea is repulsive and irresponsible.


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