Paperback Purgatory: The Key, Part Two

Have you ever squeezed a fistful of Jello and felt it squish through your fingers? That’s the feeling I get whenever I read one of Lynsay Sands’ sex scenes. Everything is mushy and gooshy and wobbling. Yucky yucky. Fortunately, there are not a great many sex scenes left in The Key. Unfortunately, there’s not much of anything else.

“But what then,” you may well ask, “is there? Surely the remaining pages cannot simply be left blank?” Would that they were, my imaginary friend, would that they were. Here’s a brief summery – presented in lovely bullet point format – of what goes on in this, the second half of our tale:

  • Iliana takes advantage of her husband’s newfound cleanness; they fuck again.
  • Duncan starts to smell again.
  • She refuses to bone him again.
  • He whines about it again.
  • She puts on her chastity belt again.
  • Iliana’s mom shows up, then somebody tries to kill Iliana. Iliana’s nasty step-father shows up and they all fight; Duncan kills the bad guys.
  • They install a bathtub.

Did you happen to noticed the prominent use of the word “again?” You did? Good fucking job with that.

Honestly, this book sort of melted my brain. As weird and dull as the first half was, it at least held onto a fraction of my attention if only by the sheer force of its oddity. I found it extraordinarily difficult to focus on this half of the book (I must confess that, regretfully, I was unable to struggle through to the bitter end, and only skimmed the penultimate chapters). Essentially, nothing new happens. The book repeats itself, and then goes out with a tepid battle. I was expecting, at the least, a couple more of Lynsay’s wacky sex scenes. Yes, they may be awful, but they’re at least entertainingly awful. This was just so… mushy.

Okay, so there are three things I want to talk about. And when I say “want to” well… you know what I mean.

The Accents


Fuck… I really don’t wanna talk about the accents. They’re just… they’re really bad, okay? Totally overwrought. Even if you took out all the miserable fucking Scottish Brogue which Lynsay has so lovingly shoved in wherever possible, it would still be awful. Everything’s all twas this and twill that. There’s only so much of twat that one person can handle!

It wouldn’t be so terrible if it was at least consistent (yes it would) but Lynsay’s always slipping in wonky little anachronisms. For example, Duncan admires the fact that his wife is willing to “stick to her guns.” Stick to her guns. Her fucking guns! Holy shit, kids! I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that people didn’t say that in the fucking middle ages! Are you telling me I suffered through all those Verily’s and Aye’s and Forsooth’s for fucking nothing?! Where’s your goddamn attention to fucking detail, Lynsay?!

Just look at this. Look at how much I’m swearing because of this. Look at all those exclamation points. How sad they are.

Domestic Violence Ha Ha

In the back of the book there is a picture of our culprit author. She looks rather sweaty and self satisfied, but not altogether a bad sort. She has this to say for herself, and I am now paraphrasing: “I just want to make people laugh and sticky their drawers.” That’s a loose translation but, I think, accurate.

It’s a fine goal, if you ask me. I’ve got no problem with some lighthearted sex-having. Sounds pretty fantastic, as a matter of fact. Sadly, Lynsay is utterly unable to maintain a tone of lighthearted sensuality. I already talked about all the weird fetish-like olfactive shenanigans in The Key, but I would be remiss if I didn’t draw attention to the other major clonk (that’s the onomatopoeic representation of a tin-eared tonal shift).

When Iliana’s mother shows up at Dunbar Castle, it is revealed to us that she has been horrifically beaten by her nasty new husband. The book details with nauseating specificity the exact nature of her injuries, which are – and I really can’t overstate this – quite extreme. She’s covered in bruises, she’s got broken bones, swollen flesh, etc etc.

This was, to be honest, a pretty effecting moment. It was a real, like, oh shit! reality check sort of thing. This isn’t just fun and games, boys and girls, there are real consequences and people really do get hurt here. I’d like to give Lynsay points for actually provoking some reaction but no, this doesn’t fucking count. You can not pull this shit, no way. This is neither funny nor sexy, and has no place in a novel that’s trying to be either. How the hell do you get away with this? You’re not writing Blue fucking Velvet here, Lynsay!

Hey, do you remember that part in When Harry Met Sally after Meg Ryan pretends to have an orgasm in the diner? They’re driving innocently along when, out of the blue, Billy Crystal gets car jacked. You remember how the car thief kept smashing that tire iron in Harry’s face while poor Sally begged for mercy? Perhaps you recall the sight of the battered Harry picking up his teeth off the sidewalk and sobbing uncontrollably? Surely you remember how-

Hm? What’s that? Oh, you don’t remember that bit? How strange. Could it perhaps be because that shit didn’t fucking happen, as it would be completely inconsistent with the established tone of the story?


Plotting and Scheming

The last thing which must be said about The Key is that it doesn’t make any gosh darn sense. Everything is plotted like there wasn’t even an outline to begin with! The characters verbalize Lynsay’s “note to self” ruminations on plot over and over again. It’s awkward and unprofessional. This is plainly a first draft.

The eponymous key, incidentally, is just that (which is to say, in the most confusing way possible: incidental). The goddamn chastity belt, which seemed like it was going to be the main hook/gimmick (and what a hook it is!) turned out to be totally useless. The key was never really used. It would take about fifteen minutes to edit the whole contraption right out of the story. Why the fuck is it the title of the book?! Why? Will somebody please tell me why!

And I really can’t bring myself to write another word about this lousy thing.

Final Judgment

An utter failure. When it isn’t boring, it’s weird. And it’s never a good kind of weird. I was not amused in the least by a single event, and zero excitement occurred in my pantaloons.

On the plus side… er…




I hate this book.

I don’t really think Romance is my genre. Maybe there’s a crappy sci-fi book around here somewhere…

(this is what they call a “teaser” in the blog business, by the way. Did it work? Are you anticipating fun times? Oh good, I’m so glad.)


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