Episode 24: Ghost of a Chance

Do you wish Scooby Doo had more gross alpha male huffing and puffing in it?  Then this book is for you!  Anne Silver knows it's probably a bad idea to go ask ex-CIA agent Julian Aries for help, since he's a fucking sack of shit.  But she does anyway, because she's got a plan to outcaper some fake ghost hunting cat burglars!  Will they get it on?  (Yes.  Duh.)  Is this going to be complicated by the presence of an actual ghost?  Who decorated this tacky-ass mansion?  Why was the 80's such a wasteland for men's underwear?  WHO KNOWS?!  

(Ed: please enjoy Courtney's show notes!)

Please note this book has some fairly serious trigger warnings. Most of what we read features bossy, alpha hero types housed in fantastical settings. This book crosses the line from the fantastical to the factual. The hero in this book utilizes a lot of factors that are seen in those who perpetuate domestic violence. He insults the heroine, orders her around, manipulates her, and makes threats of violence toward her. Again, these are things we have seen before but never in such a jarring way. So, if this doesn’t sound like it is for you, please sit this episode out.

Up until now, I had never been Catfished; to be fair it’s not that I couldn’t be Catfished. I’m sure if someone on the internet had told me they were Dolly Parton’s wig person and sent me some pictures of soft focus blonde hair that I would have totally bought it. My Dolly love leaves me not thinking clearly. I met my husband in graduate school and in undergrad I only used the internet for Napster to make CD jams (yeah, I am Napster old). (Ed: me too.)  I prided myself on the perfect ratio of Fuel to Destiny’s Child to Nerf Herder. My undergraduate dating life consisted of drinking too many midori sours and making out with random dudes from Beta Theta Pi. Anyway, I did know a girl in college who met a guy in a chat room who ended up being a girl and they enjoyed a blissful 6 months together (long distance). So imagine my almost middle age surprise when I got to experience the embarrassment and anger that is being Catfished, just this week. I wasn’t lurking around on Snapchat or Reddit, or in AOL chat rooms. I was Catfished by a book. A. Fucking. Book.

Welcome to our Halloween Episode. Buckle Up Bitches.

For this episode we read Jayne Ann Krentz’s Ghost of a Chance. Published in 1984 this book was part of the Harlequin Temptation line. It is one of the earliest in the supernatural romance genre. On paper this book should be a Banger! Our heroine, Anne Silver is out to catch some phony psychics who are really cat burgers. They ran her brother over with a car when he got too close to the truth! For help, Ann enlists the help of an ex CIA agent she had the hots for 6 months ago, Julian Aries. Together they have to fight fake ghost hunters, a real ghost, and their burning passion for one another.

THAT SOUNDS AMAZING! That book I described, ticks all of my fucking boxes. All of em! Hijinks! A guy with a zodiac name! A girl with a precious metal name! Ghosts! Phony ghost hunters! Give it to me….

This is not what came inside the box.

I was expecting a frothy romp with ghosts and capers, what I got was a seriously toxic dude who always seemed to be in tightey whiteys being horrible to a woman he has been obsessed with ever since she said no to a One Night Stand. All you need to know about this book is found in this actual sentence, “A woman who was cautious around a man was subtly acknowledging his power.”  Any man who thinks this way is terrible in bed, that is scientific law. After making love to Ann in his cabin (I still don’t know if it was consensual) he prides himself on being able to nail her while delirious and sick. 80 percent of the book our hero finds himself recovering from a fake malaria type disease, bullying our heroine, and saying, “we do things my way.”  He is consistent in telling her that she is ridiculous and that he wants to punish her for not fucking him 6 months ago. Julian Aries gives off serious domestic violence vibes. He also suggests that when a woman was murdered for cheating on her husband in a loveless and forced marriage, that she had it coming! He also tells Ann he would beat her if she ever cheated on him, but don’t worry he wouldn’t kill her. Forget ghosts, this book is about a monster. I am seriously getting angry all over again just typing this.

I wish I could demand an apology from a book. That I could be on that MTV show and walk up to this book’s front door and say, “how dare you?” I long to slap a book across the face and yell “liar!”  I want to Real House Wives of Orange County confront this book from across a table and throw chardonnay on it. But I can’t. I can’t do any of that. Making this the perfect book for Halloween, not because of real or fake ghosts but because it is an actual nightmare.

In all seriousness, we read a lot of hot nonsense that can be disturbing but is usually housed in a fantastical setting. This was all too real and Julian Aries seemed based to firmly in reality. There is nothing sexy, frothy, or fun about domestic abuse and I hated this book for this reason.

So I thought I was done with this write up but last night I began thinking about this book and got angry all over again. I was upset because it ruined one of my favorite tropes. Plucky lady meets deadly assassin/spy and hijinks ensue. So here is a list that got this glorious trope right.

American Dreamer: This movie is the foundation of my love for this trope. Cathy, an American housewife wins a writing contest and has the chance to go to Paris to meet her favorite Mystery/Romance Author. Her husband says they are too busy to go so she says forget you and goes on her own. While there she suffers a head injury and believes she is the main character of a spy novel. She has many shenanigans and meets fine ass Tom Conti, who has a secret of his own. Tom never threatens to kill her for cheating. All the Stars!

The Scarecrow and Mrs. King: If American Dreamer laid the foundation, this tv show is the brick and mortar of my obsession. Divorcee meets spy and gets involved in international intrigue. In one early episode a woman is passing national secrets through code on a cooking show using recipes. It is absolutely ridiculous and wonderful. Also, our hero never has to scare a woman to prove he is sexy. All the Stars!

If Looks Could Kill: High school student mistaken for a spy while on a school trip to France? Hook it to my veins! It also had Richard Greico who I was sort of obsessed with. Also, Gabriel Anwar was an actual bad ass spy bitch. They work together and no one has malaria. Bonus Linda Hunt had a necklace that became a whip! All the Stars!

Spy: Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham are a fucking delight. I adore this movie so much that I am begging for a sequel. Let me put it out into the universe ala the Secret. I need more ridiculous Jason Statham wearing sexy loafers and fucking everything up. No brown robe to be seen. All the Stars!  (Ed: I cannot with Jason Statham ever since somebody pointed out to me that he looks like a live action porn Homer Simpson and now you know that too.)

Jumpin Jack Flash: When I was 8 years old I thought that this was the pinnacle of what comedy was. Nothing could be funnier than this movie. Whoopi Goldberg is a computer operator who begins communicating a man in British Intelligence who needs her help to escape from behind enemy lines. Our hero, Jonathan Pryce is just a distended voice until the final scene when they meet and go for dinner. Whoopi Goldberg dresses as a Supreme and then a paper shredder attacks her dress. It is less aggressive than Julian Aries’ advances. All the Stars!

Top Secret: Y’all know why. All the Stars!

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