Tangled by Emma Chase

Why I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Drew Evans is a winner. Handsome and arrogant, he makes multimillion dollar business deals and seduces New York’s most beautiful women with just a smile. He has loyal friends and an indulgent family. So why has he been shuttered in his apartment for seven days, miserable and depressed?He’ll tell you he has the flu.But we all know that’s not really true.

Katherine Brooks is brilliant, beautiful and ambitious. She refuses to let anything – or anyone – derail her path to success. When Kate is hired as the new associate at Drew’s father’s investment banking firm, every aspect of the dashing playboy’s life is thrown into a tailspin. The professional competition she brings is unnerving, his attraction to her is distracting, his failure to entice her into his bed is exasperating.

Then, just when Drew is on the cusp of having everything he wants, his overblown confidence threatens to ruin it all. Will he be able untangle his feelings of lust and tenderness, frustration and fulfillment? Will he rise to the most important challenge of his life?

Can Drew Evans win at love?

Tangled is not your mother’s romance novel. It is an outrageous, passionate, witty narrative about a man who knows a lot about women…just not as much as he thinks he knows. As he tells his story, Drew learns the one thing he never wanted in life, is the only thing he can’t live without.

What worked for me (and what didn’t): I am a hero-centric reader so stories told from the hero POV are always ones which pique my interest. I knew going in that Drew was an asshat.  And he REALLY is.  For most of the book (and in some areas, all of it – more on that later), he is a COMPLETE jerk.  What saved him (mostly) for me was that he got his comeuppance  (brought low by true lurrve (TM) don’t ya know?) and that (and he) was (often) very funny.

The book breaks the fourth wall, which won’t be popular with some readers but I think it works well here, where the style is entertainingly conversational.
Drew really is a jerk.  He has many unfortunate turns of phrase.  He manages to be offensive to multiple minorities.  Like here.
We ordered food a few hours ago and worked through dinner. I had pasta with chicken, while Kate preferred a turkey club with fries on the side. Much as I hate to admit it, I’m impressed. Obviously, she doesn’t subscribe to the “I can only eat salads in front of the opposite sex” rule of thumb a lot of chicks swear by. Who gave women that idea? Like a guy’s going to say to his friend, “Dude, she was one fugly chick, but once I saw her chomping that romaine, I just had to nail her.”

No man wants to fuck a skeleton—and nibbling crackers and water like a prisoner of war at dinner isn’t attractive. It just makes us think about what a cranky bitch you’re going to be later on because you’re starving. If a guy’s into you? A cheeseburger deluxe is not going to scare him away. And if he’s not? Ingesting all the greens on Peter Cottontail’s farm isn’t going to change that, trust me.

So, thin people and prisoners of war get it here.  When he’s distasteful, he is REALLY distasteful.
On the other hand, he also says this
Now, I know some women have issues with their bodies. Maybe you’ve got a little extra junk in the trunk? Get over it. Doesn’t matter. Naked kicks Modest’s ass every single time. Men are visual. We wouldn’t be fucking you if we didn’t want to look at you.
which, while blunt, is actually a pretty good message I think. ETA slightly better (if read in the narrow context of being naked with a man and not in any broader sense). Maybe. I’m a really bad feminist so don’t take my word for it.
He’s fairly juvenile.  But lucky for Drew, sometimes juvenile humour works for me.
Every healthy man in the world wakes up with a stiffy. A fatty. Morning wood. I’m sure there’s some medical explanation for the phenomenon, but I just like to think of it as a little present from God.
And he can also direct that humour at himself so, brownie points for that.
“I love you, Kate.”

She sighs. It sounds content. “I’m going to be really clingy and needy for the next few weeks. You should be prepared.”

“I’ll be insecure and jealous. It’ll work out great.”

Where Drew was really amazing was in his relationship to his 4 year old niece MacKenzie. He is devoted to her.  He spends loads of time with her, is super protective and gives her really cool advice about female empowerment
“So, Mackenzie, have you decided what you want to be when you grow up?”

“Yep. I wanna be a princess. And I wanna marry a prince and live in a castle.”

I need to talk to my sister. Disney is dangerous. Corrosive brainwashing bullshit, if you ask me.

“Or, you could go into real estate. Then you could buy the castle yourself and you won’t need the prince.”

She thinks I’m funny. She laughs.

“Uncle Drew. How’s I gonna have a baby wit no prince?”

Oh, boy.

“You’ve got plenty of time for babies. After you get your masters in business or your medical degree. Oh, or you can be a CEO and start a daycare at your office. Then you can bring your babies to work with you every day.”

See? He sounds enlightened and totally not a douche there.
But then. Early in the piece, Drew describes the movie The Notebook as “so fucking gay” he goes on to say  
“It’s nauseating. I have friends who are flaming homosexuals—and that movie is too gay for them.”
Not. Cool. At. All.  What’s worse, is that over the course of the book this doesn’t change.  He described the movie at the end as “still fucking gay”People are gay, not things (repeat after me everyone. Drew I’m looking at you). Gay people are not “vaginas” or feminine (although they can be if they want to be, that’s totally okay and, I’ll add, that feminine isn’t a bad thing anyway).    If he’d become more aware by the end of the book, I could have given it a pass.  I have said stupid shit before that offended people.  I try not to and to learn from my mistakes.  Drew did not.  Authors please note: homophobic slurs are not a joke, they are not funny and I don’t want them in my books.  Also, not keen of prisoner of war/starvation jokes.  Just sayin’
Possibly because I am not gay or related to a person who was starved in prison, I was however, able to look past the slurs and see the good things in the book. (This may say bad things about me).   But I can see that some readers will find Drew’s various offenses just too much and I really can’t blame them.
For me, just when Drew did something that sent me off the deep end, he’d go and do or say something totally sweet or heroic and I’d soften toward him.  And then he’d piss me off again.
I liked Mackenzie’s “Bad Word Jar” to which Drew contributes vast amounts (especially when, at Kate’s suggestion, inflation hits) and Drew’s friends, who give him some humorous (but not otherwise useful) advice when he wrecks his burgeoning relationship with Kate.
As her words sink in, Matthew grips my shoulder. “In times like this, I always ask myself, ‘What would William Wallace do?’”
What else? The sex scenes were pretty darn sexy and hot and I liked that Kate stood up for herself with Drew even though she was a bit of a dishrag with Billy (the guy she’s engaged to at the beginning of the book).
I liked it.  But I feel a bit guilty about it.  Drew is a person I can cope with in small doses. And really, “so gay” just needs to go.

Grade: B-/C+


12 comments on “Tangled by Emma Chase

  1. Brie

    Oh. My. God. "Now, I know some women have issues with their bodies. Maybe you’ve got a little extra junk in the trunk? Get over it. Doesn’t matter. Naked kicks Modest’s ass every single time. Men are visual. We wouldn’t be fucking you if we didn’t want to look at you."That is *not* a good message! It implies that the only reason why women have body-image issues is because they are overly concerned with getting a man. Not to mention that he’s being completely dismissive of something that’s quite serious. "Get over it" Is this guy for real? This is so not the book for me. Thanks for the detailed review! You just saved me some money and a lot of rage.

  2. Kaetrin

    @Brie. I am *really bad* at feminism. I actually read it slightly differently than you did. I picked up on the last line "we wouldn't be fucking you if we didn't want to look at you". I thought that wasn't heinous. Perhaps my bar was lowered by what went on before! LOL. But I also thought that the context of the paragraph was in relation to being naked with a man and not being self conscious so I didn't read anything wider than that. It wouldn't have occurred to me to go from that to "body-image issues are only because they are concerned with getting a man". I had a very narrow context to that statement. And I agree that to suggest that's the only reason for body image issues is wrong and bad. Like I said: bad feminist. I am so often oblivious *sigh* *hits self in head*.It's really hard to explain why I kinda liked it. Because it's all kinds of wrong.

  3. Brie

    I’m sorry, Kaetrin. I didn’t mean to make you feel like you read the book wrong, or were bothered by the wrong reasons, or not bothered enough. I appreciate the honest, detailed review that tells me way more about the book than any other review I’ve read. And you’re not a bad feminist, besides, you’re acknowledging that the book is problematic and not for everyone.

  4. Kaetrin

    @Brie gosh! No need to apologise. I appreciated that you showed me a different way to see it. 🙂 And, I really think I probably AM a bad feminist. I miss so much until it's pointed out. But I'm getting better I think 🙂

  5. Laura K. Curtis

    I have to agree with Brie – this review was really useful to me. I find so often reviews don't pinpoint the kind of specifics that allow me to make up my mind. I don't need a "grade" or "stars," I need details and quotations that support the points the reviewer makes so I can decide for myself. This review really does that.And as for the bad feminist…I don't know that you're a bad feminist. You saw the problems. You pointed them out. I'm not a great feminist, but I am a pretty good one, and I think that while what he said is a bit offensive, it's also TRUE to a guy's point of view. To me, that trumps everything else in writing. That said, this is a book I will probably give a miss to. I'm not a fan of first person anyway, and this doesn't exactly rock me 🙂

  6. Kaetrin

    Thx Laura 🙂 I'm glad you found the review helpful.

  7. AJH

    Again, I am absolutely not criticising you for being okay with the book – but, God, every line of dialogue you've quoted is like sandpaper on my soul. It's like he's playing whack-a-mole with offensivness.I feel like I would respond to this book like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSDJE5Qc2Tc(Sorry, I just like an excuse to watch that clip … no idea why I find it so funny, I think because I'm inherently puerile.Again, not my place to really comment, everything he says about women's bodies just seems rooted in the idea that the ONLY reason women have for being, well, alive is to get bonked by men. It's like he's saying, don't be insecure because men will find it unattractive, don't be thin because men will find it unattractive, don't not eat because men will find it unattractive…. *drops chicken* Ahhhhhhh.And don't get me started on 'fucking gay' as a pejorative term. Just don't ;)Also, again, not my place to say but I don't think you're a bad feminist. That'd be like me calling someone a bad queer for not being suitably offended by 'fucking gay' (as plenty of queer people are not, actually) i.e. not my place to judge :)Excellent review, though 🙂

  8. Kaetrin

    @AJH Come now, you didn't think that bit with his niece wasn't at least a *little teensy bit okay*? In relation to the women's bodies thing, I honestly didn't take it as a comment about how women should only think of their bodies in relation to what a man might think of it. That didn't occur to me. It is, of course, a valid interpretation but it's not what struck me. This may be because I've read the whole book. It may equally be because I am often oblivious (hence, bad feminist – which I am no longer calling myself as I have resolved to stop being apologist. So there.)What I thought he was saying (badly) was something like, "ladies, don't let men get you all hung up on your bodies. We like you the way you are." And I don't think that is an inherently bad message. I didn't take it as anything other than that. I didn't think he was suggesting that women would have no other reason for feeling that way or that there weren't more complicated things about the issue. At least, (and I say this in a COMPLETELY NON APOLOGETIC WAY) that's how *I* interpreted it.I think I wanted to ensure I conveyed in the review that I knew there were problems in the book, that I wasn't blind to them. So I made sure there were plenty of examples but the *whole* book isn't like that. Just, a fair bit of it. And I do think that it isn't a book for everyone.I am listening to another book right now and I am finding the hero in that one way more offensive on my personal offens-o-meter and I'm thinking of writing a comparison post to try and tease out (mainly for myself) why that might be. I have a theory I'm working on.And, as you know, I completely agree with you on gay as a perjorative. Even though I did, overall, find the book hugely entertaining, it was in spite of the offensiveness and not because of it. But, you knew that as well.Anyway, I guess you won't now read a book which would make you run screaming down a long hallway on camera so I feel I have performed a public service or something! LOL

  9. Laurie C

    Wasn't the author trying to make him offensive and obnoxious, though? And then he changes? If he's perfectly great to start with, there's not much of a transformation story to make a romance out of! I think there are plenty of men who think/talk like that but who tone it down around women because they're NOT a**holes like Drew!

  10. Kaetrin

    I agree the author was trying to make him offensive. But his change was incomplete. For example, the "so gay" comment was made both at the beginning and the end of the book – so there was no change there. If his change had've been more comprehensive, I think I would have been more won over. I kind of liked Drew in spite of everything and I was hopeful that there would be more growth in time (off page) by the end, but it wasn't a complete turnaround by any stretch IMO.

  11. Kaetrin

    @LaurieC I also think this comment from the Book Smugglers' review of Deanna Raybourn's A Spear of Summer Grass is apropos here:-It is really important when reading historical novels like this to be able to differentiate between what can be construed as accurate portrayals of privilege, colonialism and racism within the novel itself and what is built on stereotypical portrayals that go unchallenged and therefore are perpetuated instead of questioned.but delete reference to historical novels and exchange sexism and homophobia for colonialism and racism.They're my thoughts. YMMV.

%d bloggers like this: