Friday, October 2, 2015

The Quest for Forgiveness: This Romance Chapter Is Not Romantic

Last time, they transported Brianna's mom back to the U.S. and then Brianna went on tour, and now she's in Paris and she and Conrad are about to go for a walk. I think romancey things happen here. The romance writing in this book is the worst, so I don't anticipate that this will be a fun ride.

So Brianna and Conrad start off this chapter by going to the Eiffel Tower and racing each other up the stairs, because apparently there's nobody else here to see it that day. Conrad marvels at Mary Sue-ness:
He was always amazed at her physical fitness.
He catches her on the second floor (a little less than halfway up the Tower, according to my research) and they stare into each other's eyes for awhile before just looking at the view. Conrad is nervous from staring into Brianna's eyes so he tries to talk about French history, and it is Brianna's turn to be impressed.

Conrad asks Brianna if she has any opinions on anything, and she says not unless she can write about it. She talks for a little while about how her music drives her every day and is pretty much her whole life. (This will be important for you to remember later, readers. IIRC, there is a distressing retcon around the corner.)

Conrad then asks her if she'd put as much effort into a relationship as she does into her music, and she refuses to answer at first and just touches his face instead. Then she says, yes, she'd put her all into a relationship and slow her entertaining schedule, which, I mean, is probably a good idea just for her health, given that I'm pretty sure she's been touring full-time for almost a solid two, two and a half years at this point. She has to be exhausted.

Uh, then this happens:
Conrad released her hand, and slipped out of sight.  
Brianna turned to see where he had gone.  
Conrad, the man who had protected her since the beginning of her career, was on one knee in front of her, holding a spectacular diamond ring.

Granted, she has been flirting with him for several years (though she's REALLY bad at it), but, people, you do not just run off and propose to people when you haven't even openly admitted you have a romantic interest in them. That is such a terrible idea.

When Jacob and I first started dating, we were in a pretty marriage-obsessed environment of Christian college kids and, no joke, I started getting asked about our marriage plans like two months in. We ended up with this running joke that he was going to propose to me any day now, but every time after we made that joke, I reminded him that if he did that I would say no. It took about a year of dating him to decide I wanted to marry him. If he had just straight-up proposed to me that first day he told me he liked me, I would have laughed out loud because I'd have thought it was some weird joke because proposing to people you've NEVER BEEN INVOLVED WITH ROMANTICALLY is a thing that only works out well in rom coms, and I make fun of it then too.
“Brianna, as your bodyguard, I have been near you day and night, hardly ever leaving your side the past seven years. The moment I saw you, I fell madly in love with you.[”]
Um, 'scuse me, can we all take a second to remember that when Conrad first met Brianna, she had JUST turned 16? The book claimed he himself was "in his early twenties," but given that he had had time to not only have a significant military career but also firmly established himself as a bodyguard to the stars, I'm pretty sure he has to be older than that, so maybe he just looked like he was in his early twenties and was really like 30. Either way, for him to cheerfully confess that as an adult he fell in love with a barely-16-year-old... it's far less romantic than this moment is apparently supposed to be.
“This morning I asked your father for your hand in marriage, and he kindly gave me his blessing. It meant a lot to me when he said he would be proud to have me as his son.”

So this has to be an offshoot of the more extreme versions of the idea of Christian courtship. For most people I know who talk about courtship, they mean 1) their dating is focused on finding a marriage partner, not just for fun, and 2) they make a lot of use of parents or other authority figures to guide and advise them during this time. Occasionally it means the couple only interacts in the presence of other people. I don't have a particular problem with any of this if this is how people want to do things, even though I think it wouldn't have worked particularly well for me.

However, there is an offshoot of this in which relationships are formed in a way that is uncomfortably close to an arranged marriage. The kind in which the woman's preferences aren't of particular interest to anyone, and benchmarks in the marriage are arranged between the man and the woman's parents.

This doesn't feel like that because he talked to her father about proposing. My husband did that too. This feels like that because he talked to her father about proposing before he had even talked to her about romance at all. It's like he saw her in a shop, decided he wanted to buy her, and negotiated with the shopkeeper without ever talking to her about it. It just icks me out.

But clearly the book advocates this kind of unsettling arrangement, because Brianna happily agrees.
“I fell in love with you the first time I saw you, too. . . . I knew you were the right one, but I had to get my life in order first. I’m sorry it took this long.”
"...I'm also sorry we didn't get married when I was 16"? She didn't have to get her life in order as much as she had to become a legal adult. Frankly, I'm not even sure she could have gotten married when they first met. In Tennessee, where she was living, she'd need approval affidavits from her parents, who weren't around and she wouldn't have tried to locate them anyway, so I'm not even sure who could have signed for that. These are the kind of questions that come up when you gloss over the fact that an adult man fell in love with a girl who would've been a high school sophomore.

That's the end of this chapter, and thank goodness, though the next one is called "A Shocking Discovery," so that's gotta be good.

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