Before we begin talking about ‘The Mister’, the new romance novel from E.L. James of the 50 Shades of Grey mega franchise, let me just preface this by saying that I am not a snob when it comes to the things I consume for leisure. And full disclosure: I’ve read all three books in the 50 Shades Trilogy, as well as watched all the movies – some for work (because I do write for a women’s magazine), and some because I was bored and needed to pass time.
With that out of the way, and a spoiler alert warning (I’ll try not to give too much away), here are five thoughts that I had whilst reading The Mister.
1) The plot is nothing ground-breaking
It’s a tale as old as time. Ah Sia Kia (rich man’s son) with f*ckboy tendencies meets a beautiful, talented, but not so well-to-do damsel. She piques his interest because she’s soooooooooo different from the type of girls he usually bed.
In this case, the titular Mister – Maxim Trevelyan – is an English aristocrat grappling with some emotional baggage because his brother Kit just died in a motorbike accident. Our damsel is Alessia Demachi, a piano prodigy from a small town in Albania who somehow ended up replacing his previous cleaning lady.
2) The sex is rather tame
Looking for a super steamy novel? This is not it. Compared to the kinky f*ckery depicted on 50 Shades of Grey (which taught me what Ben Wa balls are), the sex scenes in this book – particularly the ones involving Maxim and Alessia – are NC16 at most. I had to wade through 200+ pages of text before he finally deflowered her, because just like Anastasia Steele in 50 Shades, our female protagonist has never slept with anyone else but the man of her dreams.
But for what it’s worth, you can’t deny that E L James knows what turns her readers on. One particular highlight for me was when Maxim drew a bath for Alessia using a Jo Malone scent. English Pear & Freesia, for those who are curious. And the bathroom comes with a sea view. And he happens to own the super luxe property that houses this said bathroom. And the entire coastal town that this luxe property is on.
In the words of Bella Hadid, if homeboy comes through with these, homeboy is gonna like… get it.
3) But it’s unexpectedly… thrilling?
What is a piano prodigy from a small town in Albania doing, cleaning the house of a handsome rich man in London? Wellllll long story short, she’s running away from not one, but two different groups of men back home. Throughout the 522 pages of this novel, our damsel was:
- Almost sex-trafficked
- Forced to get into the trunk of a Mercedes
- Smuggled across borders
- Involved in a gun fight at some point
There were a few moments where I found myself flipping furiously, trying to find out if she had managed to thwart the baddies and escape from their clutches. In some chapters I almost forget that this page-turner is supposed to be a romance novel. Speaking of which…
4) It’s basically romance porn
Christian Grey doesn’t do romance, but our titular Mister here does. There’s no doubt that our male protagonist is hopelessly in love with our damsel in distress. He constantly calls her beautiful and when he’s not ravaging her between the sheets, he’s covering her with soft kisses.
In one chapter, she falls asleep in his arms and he reacts by thinking “What a privilege this is – to hold a sleeping beauty.”
And here’s another excerpt as Exhibit B:
A relationship with Alessia. What would that entail?
I’ve had her beautiful body.
And it’s not enough.
It hits me. Like a sledgehammer. Right between the eyes.
I want her heart.
Sappy? 100% yes. But do I want someone to call me a sleeping beauty and think that holding me is an absolute privilege? Also yes.
5) …I’m left with one burning question: was Kit’s death an accident or not?
The first act of The Mister sees Maxim trying to come to terms with his brother’s death. There’s also a little sub plot where he tries to suss out whether it was a suicide, because his older brother is a mature, responsible adult who wouldn’t be speeding around in a motorcycle in unfavourable weather conditions.
Unfortunately, the book didn’t wrap this up in the end. In fact Kit kind of takes a backseat halfway through the book as Maxim chases after Alessia with the intensity of Christian Grey’s BDSM sex contract.
Oh well. Guess that means I’ll have to read the sequel, if there is one.
The Mister by EL James is retailing at $16.90 at all major bookstores.