As I mentioned in my review for Breathe, I broke my boycott of books by Abbi Glines. I had been hoping that my disdain for the books I’d read was misplaced. And with Breathe, I figured out that it wasn’t. Considering how negatively I felt towards Marcus Hardy in that book, it doesn’t surprise me that in Because of Low, I also found him to be a loathesome, misogynistic miscreant. (Say that three times fast.)
This book is so much more degrading toward women than most books by this author. That’s really saying something because it is a common feature of her books to have women portrayed as objects and toys for the male characters to manipulate, abuse, etc. So when I say that this book is absolute misogynist trash, believe it. Marcus is having family issues because his daddy decided to cheat on his mom. While he hates his father’s decision and often complains about it in his own inner monologues, his vitriol is unleashed on the other woman. The nicest things he calls her is: gold-digger, that slut, and his little girlfriend. He repeatedly calls her a whore. He even calls her a “paid-for” toy. He often suggests that his dad is being used for his money and that that indicates how he’s a sucker. He thinks one time that he might kill his father, but then he suggests that he might have an even more elaborate plan for his father’s girlfriend. That part honestly had me a bit freaked out because it took the sexism into a whole new level of awful.
Marcus has an obsession with stalking and sexually accosting innocent girls. That too carries over to this book. But this time, the innocent girl is interested. He wonders things like if Low knows that her BFF “had bagged” a certain number of women that week. Bagging or being bagged is grotesque. It not only objectifies women, it makes sex sound like something that is done to one party by another, when it’s not. Even in power-play sexual relationships, sex doesn’t work that way. When sex is something done to a party by another party, it’s called by another word: rape. So, we either need to call the sex between Cage and various women sex or we need to call it rape. If it’s consensual, then we should go with sex. If it isn’t, someone should be calling the fictional police department of the fictional town of Sea Breeze to report this sexual predator.
Marcus talks about how he has a righteous fury toward Cage over any possible sexual relationship between Cage and Low. He envies him touching her. Marcus fails to understand that Low is a grown-up. She gets to do what she wants with her body. He gets angry because Low wears cowboy boots when she goes out. They’re so hot on her that he can’t handle the thought of any guy being attracted to her while she wears them. He needs to stop this crap. He talks about going caveman, which is trashy book talk for basically wanting to take a woman back to his apartment/house/mansion and coerce or force a sexual act out of a woman because she’s either pissed him off or because he is feeling insecure. It’s really a degrading phrase for all of humanity.
The author uses the term “female” or its plural “females” in many of her books to refer to women. This is sexist and transphobic language. It’s sexist because it breaks women down to their reproductive organs–female is the term for biological sex. It’s transphobic because not all women are born female and not all people born female are women.
As usual with her books, there are also slams at single parents. Tawny is portrayed as so uncaring that she leaves her daughter’s care arrangements (baby-sitters being lined up) to her sister. She is portrayed as being a cruel individual because she kicks her sister out any time that her daughter’s father happens to be around, so she leaves her sister homeless. There are also references to Low’s mom dying of cancer, which is something that is not uncommon in her books. And Low’s dad is a deadbeat & Marcus’s almost turns into one; these are other things that come up quite often in her books.
There are slams of people who have had plastic surgery–a lot containing talk about breasts being fake and how that makes women ugly or trashier. Low even does this with Trisha. She sees her as a sex object first and can only picture her being good at sex work. This sort of judgment doesn’t work both ways, as she respects her and takes up for her when the guys suggest Low might not be very smart. And if a woman is into casual sex? Oh, honey, don’t even go there. That must mean that she’s an airheaded slut because that’s how they all behave in these books. But the guys who like casual relationships aren’t portrayed as stupid. Lead male characters who have history of casual relationships are suggested to be lacking morally, but that doesn’t keep them from ending up with a girl who has only had and will only ever have sex with them. Yep, the douchebags always get the virgins. I feel like this plot was stolen from an MRA website.
The male characters in the books need to learn to stop ignoring when women say that they aren’t interested. In this book, it was Cage who didn’t get it. But both Marcus and Cage spent some time talking about Low as though she was some prize in a contest, not a person. Cage also had a tendency toward trying to tear Low down. It was presented as a best friend being compassionate and caring, but it was a type of bullying. He tried to ruin any confidence that Low had about her relationship. If he was trying to convince her to leave Marcus because he’s a jerk, I could have gotten behind that, but he suggested that Marcus would leave because Low was too poor for him. Great. Really great friendship you have there.
And, for the love of all that’s good in the world, can we stop talking about suicide and mental illness like it’s a character flaw? It isn’t. These are actual health conditions and do not deserve this kind of crap.
Basically, there is a lot about this story that squicks me out. And that’s not even the more technical facets. The grammar is atrocious. The editing is awful. There’s a lack of development of the story. It feels like Glines writes pretty much the same story over and over. That might be popular with some, but it’s boring for others. I think she might be a decent writer if she would stop doing that and start writing books that she puts a full effort behind.
I am going to try to finish this series, even though I’m pretty sure that no book in it will ever get above a 2-star rating. People who enjoy Glines’ books will probably love this one. People who don’t won’t. It’s really that simple.