Described by some nobody on the internet, The Button Series (Book One of Three) is comparable to Fifty Shades: “If you like Fifty, you will enjoy this”. And, seeing as there are numerous articles on the internet dedicated to awful Fifty Shades phrases (50 Terrible Lines for example), this should clearly not be taken as any sort of compliment.
As an aspiring writer, I find it both abhorrent and intensely depressing that such trash can be spat out by the back-end of the writing community and be praised by its demographic that is clearly made up of organisms akin to earthworms. As such, when the advertisement for the book popped up on Facebook, I was sceptical. And, unfortunately, I was proved absolutely correct in my initial assumption – The Button Series (Book One of Three) is…
Certainly a contender for the Bad Sex Awards, the first book in The Buttons Series, Buttons and Lace is an embarrassment to the medium of writing. Instead of raising the practice of writing up as something to be loved and cherished, looked on as an art form instead of just a hobby, Buttons and Lace was too busy contradicting and wetting itself to help.
So, what can we do about it? Well, I can show just how terrible it truly is. Armed with my knowledge of writing, my rage and quotations from the “novel”‘s free-to-read extract, I’m going to work my way through the parts of said extract that made me laugh in derision. I would read through the whole book instead of just the free-to-read extract, but, just by reading the extract, I know I have more important things to do, like cutting myself or hijacking cars. I’d never claim my writing was flawless, but even my fanfiction from two years ago has more continuity than this garbage.
Now, let’s just get this over with.
Our extract starts with a personality-void girl reflecting in irritating formatting – why are italics used to describe her inner thoughts when her inner thoughts are already being used to describe her surroundings – on what she remembers of kidnapper. On first glance, he was “her saviour” but now he’d drugged her and stolen her, he was “her kidnapper”. So, we know one fact about him – he kidnapped her. In fact, it takes us eight more tiny paragraphs to get to the description of him. And how is he described? Exactly as a ten-year-old would describe him. Everything is “he had” or “he was”, and we get no indication as to his personality, as other, better writers would know to do. We get one clumsy attempt at lyrical wordplay, as our protagonist (Pearl) describes his “mocha” eyes as “burning with constant threat”.
And, to kickstart our count of contradictions, his body is childishly described as “tall and muscular, but slender and toned”. Now, when I think of muscular, I think of wide-chests, thick arms and broad shoulders. But no, our beloved writer, one Penelope Sky, seems to want to make us do a mental double-take, as “muscular” and “slender” are essentially antonyms. Oh, and our protagonist says she “didn’t know anything about him”. And this is true – she knows nothing about him apart from that he has “mocha” eyes, a “chiselled jaw covered by a 5 o’clock shadow” and that he’s synonymously “muscular” and “slender”.
But, maybe she means she knows nothing of his personality. And tough luck – none of us will ever know his personality, because he hasn’t got one. He’s the verbal description of the stoic male character in a bad fanfiction. He’s “threatening”, “powerful, dangerous” but oddly “handsome”. With “tender lips”. Sit yourselves down, girls, surely this heartthrob is going to make you as unrealistically wet as he made our protagonist.
Oh yeah. That’s right. Sure, there’s no penetration, but there is an awfully described almost-rape scene where Girl is being pinned down to the dinner table by her neck, and she still creates a reservoir in her pants at a single kiss. And, I mean reservoir. The lovely image is described thus: “I felt my panties soak with my own fluid.” Now, either our Penelope Sky has never orgasmed before, or our protagonist just wet herself. Yes, women can explode all over the place at a moment’s notice, but they do not produce enough… “fluid”… in one orgasm to flood a pair of pants. Not only that, but the female orgasm is designed to wet the inside of the vagina, to allow comfortable penetration. It isn’t designed to happen outwardly (though does undoubtedly happen a lot) This disgusting scene is only made yet more horrific and infuriating when Man steps away: “he noticed the large spot of liquid that formed in the front of his boxers”. And yes, it’s insinuated that it “wasn’t from him”. Well, seeing as we’ve agreed a female orgasm simply couldn’t cause this much lubricated carnage, it’s clearly urine. She’s just pissed on her kidnapper. It’s the only explanation.
So yes, we’ve managed to get from Girl waking up in a badly-described house of “Italian Royalty” where she doesn’t believe his title could be “his Grace” despite the whole Italian Royalty thing, to him almost raping her on a dinner table. Whew! What a wild ride. But how did we get there?
As she explores the house, just after she wakes up, she comes across a butler. A butler that speaks English, uses American mannerisms, lives in Italy and has a German name. Well, if our male ant/deuteragonist is called “Crow” (yes, seriously) Lars is absolutely divine. It actually annoys me though – I’d use the name Lars as a pen-name. It’s my favourite male name. And it’s been ruined for me. All I’m going to see when I think of Lars now, is a “butler” who cracks jokes, talks as if he isn’t “in his fifties” and manages to carry about five different plates to serve to Girl. Impressive or improbable, you decide.
But, nevertheless, we’re in the dining hall, at breakfast. I’ll waylay my complaints about how the whole place is described – it seriously gives the reader nothing to relate or emote to – but I will tell you this. The dining room table is a “large mahogany table that could easily seat sixteen people” and is “three feet wide.” Okay, remember that. “Large … sixteen people… three feet wide.” Got it?
While sat at this “large” table, Girl and Man (I am not calling him Crow) actually interact. It’s as wooden and awkward as you’d expect, interjected by more irritating italics that serve no purpose but to let the reader know very lazily that she doesn’t like him and more awful contradictions. One minute she “continued to stand… out of defiance” yet all that Man must do is raise his voice a decibel and she “[rethought her] actions.” Well done. You managed to dodge a plot point that might have birthed you some personality.
Man is also attempting to have personality, but Penelope Sky won’t let him. In an attempt to make him seem ‘intelligent’, Man corrects Girl, telling her that “Picasso was Spanish, not Italian.” However, this just reflects horribly on Sky herself. Clearly she thought of the first painter she could, checked he wasn’t Italian, and gave herself a good old fingering in reward. A better joke might have been to use the Spanish realism painter and sculptor Antonio López García. At least those names sound Italian. Pablo clearly sounds Spanish. So, it’s a bad joke that failed on two levels – it failed at being a joke, and it failed to establish that Man or Author have any knowledge of art whatsoever. No one looks intelligent at this dinner table, then.
This is getting a bit boring though. Just a conversation we’re told is awkward so the writer doesn’t actually have to make it awkward herself. How about we get back to one of the central themes of this part of the book that everyone seems to have forgotten – the fact Man kidnapped Girl. With a topic change that will give the reader whiplash, we jump from “home-made pancakes” to “I inserted a tracker in your right ankle.” Clearly, this man is a bloody lunatic. But I’d like to know when exactly he inserted the tracker. I can believe this kidnapping, girl-raping, “his Grace” of a man would insert a tracker himself instead of getting the previously established perfect butler character Lars to do it. Or I can pretend to believe it. But when did it happen? Certainly no time recently, as Girl feels the “small bump [protrude] from the skin” and notices “a tiny scar just above it.” A scar. The wound from the insert has already scarred over. Either Girl has the genetics of Deadpool, or Man inserted this tracker at least two weeks ago. But no, it’s obviously insinuated it was inserted recently. She can’t even write injuries correctly. But she’s very good at creating mental scars in the minds of those of us who read it.
And, unbelievably, it gets so much worse. Not only does our favourite author Penelope Sky think that a wound can scar over in a few hours, but she thinks “a butter knife” can “stab” through to a heart! When I read this particular line, “A butter knife… wasn’t sharp like a steak knife, but if I used blunt force, I might have been able to get it inside his heart,” I had to stop reading. I couldn’t get past it for a full five minutes without laughing in pure pain and misery that bile like this had been published. And that people, members of my species, had read this particular line and still enjoyed the book. There are so many reasons why a butter knife can not stab through to a heart, and, in case you think otherwise, I’m going to list them: • There is skin in the way. The “butter knife” is “blunt”. • There is flesh in the way. • There are ribs in the way. Ribs. Bone. • It’s a fucking butter knife. It would bend before it made any headway through a body. • A BUTTER KNIFE WILL NOT DELIVER A “DEATH BLOW.”
I am hysterical at this point, as I’m reading the extract out loud to myself. Which makes what happens next intrinsically painful to me as a writer and lover of good literature. The internal italicised monologues return and so do the contradictions. Girl “threw herself across the table” which “nearly [tips] over with [her] unexpected weight.”
Remember when I said to remember those three facts about the table? That it’s “large,” could sit “sixteen people,” and is “three feet wide?” In case you’re wondering, this is what a sixteen-seater table looks like:
© 101 Pallet Furniture
And yet a Girl “nearly tips it over”. Are you kidding me?! Either the table is made of aluminium or something and our favourite protagonist is 300 kilograms, or the culprit, once again, is awful, terrible writing. The writer just needed a perfectly good reason to have Girl be put on the same side of the table as Man. Because no, it wasn’t as if they could walk around or anything! She couldn’t try to make her escape at which point he grabs her and forces her back to the table he was so insistent she sat at before. Instead, no, this sixteen-seater, three foot wide table, a good quality “Italian table”, tips over at the introduction of a single human’s weight.
I have nothing further to say. I will not ever read any of the three books (Book Two is coming soon) and I will avoid this book like typhus. If anyone asks you your opinion on it, should they buy it, and you agree with me, please point them here. Save us all from more awful ‘erotica’ novels. They give the genre of Erotica a bad name too. But all that will happen is that books of this calliber will continue to get published. And why? Because, on numerous sites, the book Buttons and Lace by Penelope Sky, has a 4.5/5 rating at least.
To everyone who rated this book highly, I despise you. To anyone who recommends this book, I abhor you. To everyone who “can’t wait for the next one”, you are the reason I am clinically depressed. Why should I waste my time on writing a good-quality novel with intricate themes, believable and sympathetic characters, subtle sub-plots, and realistic problems if all you need to do to achieve a 4.5/5 rating on a book reviewing website is to smear paint on your anus and potato-print onto each page? That is all this book is – an anal potato print. As bad as Fifty Shades, at least, if not worse. E. L. James, you have a new competitor, Penelope Sky.
But, I will keep writing despite this. And you know why? Because this saga will soon be a little more in the public eye, and it will be ripped on, it will be torn up, it will become as much as a laughing stock as Fifty Shades was. And when I release whatever I end up publishing, I know I’ll have created something that will stick with people, that will stay proudly on a bookshelf. I don’t want to be famous, but I certainly don’t want to be infamous.
Fucking butter knife.