Carte Blanche (Camille Anthony in Charming the Snake) – Chapter Five

The next day, Chassy recaps the events of the night for Alicia. Apparently, Dare had refused Chassy’s offer of a carte blanche and that was what she was so huffed about. Alicia asks what she’s planning next.

“Make him change his mind, of course. [Because that’s so easy…] I don’t want to be a virgin anymore, but since I met him, I don’t want anyone else to be my first. It has to be him.” [And you’ll only get him to sleep with you by offering him a carte blanche? Girl, change your tactic, because apparently that one didn’t work.]
“You’re in love with him.”
She stiffened in her seat. “I am not! I’m in lust with him, yes, but not the other ‘L’ word.” [Boys, ewww!!! Cooties!!! Love, bah, I can’t even say the word, that’s how mature I am!]

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Carte Blanche (Camille Anthony in Charming the Snake) – Chapter Four

Okay, let’s get right to it!

Body still so sensitive that her clinging nightgown was an irritant, Chassy flopped on her bed, fulminating thoughts running through her head. She was too heated and sexually frustrated to sleep, too angry at Dare for leaving her like this. How could he refuse her? How could he leave her aching and hurting like this?

She’s sexually frustrated after just having an orgams that had her undulating? And she’s angry at Dare, because she didn’t get to give him a blow job? Or maybe, because she couldn’t give him almost limitless power without asking anything in return? WThuh?

And I guess, she still has a date with him later that night, so get a grip, girl!

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Carte Blanche (Camille Anthony in Charming the Snake) – Chapter Three

They walk into the garden until they can’t hear the sounds of the party anymore, only the crickets. [They couldn’t save all of humanity, but they could save the crickets? WHY, for Pete’s sake, why? Was it Noah’s ark? Didn’t they worry at all about the natural equilibrium of the new planet?]

She sank down onto a cool stone bench and spread her skirts, demurely covering her slippers. [It is very important that she cover her slippers, especially in the light of what’s coming next.]

Dare tries to make some conversation, but Chassy interrupts him by saying “You know you don’t want to talk. You want to get in my pants, so let’s get to it!” [paraphrased].

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Carte Blanche (Camille Anthony in Charming the Snake) – Chapter Two

Chapter Two starts with Dare’s point of view – he’s at the party, drinking as much champagne as possible, waiting for someone named Crofton.

Lifting his glass, he tossed back the high-priced bubbly, barely tasting it, his disregard an insult to the years spent in perfecting its exquisite bouquet. [Oh, I bet, all the champagne ever does while fermenting (does champagne ferment?) is trying to be as perfect as possible. It’s all will power…]

But he decides that champagne will not do tonight, it has to be either stronger alcohol or sex. As alcohol leaves you hung-over, sex it is. He starts casually to skim the crowd, looking for the right person. Because of his notoriety, he’s irresistible to women, he just will have to chose which one will have the honour of spreading her legs for him.

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Carte Blanche (Camille Anthony in Charming the Snake) – Chapter One

It’s Chastity’s 18th birthday and she’s waiting for the right moment to break up with her fiancé. Apparently, things in the last months have been going exactly like they thought they would, so there’s no need to mention them. Fortunately, we at least get a detailed description of Chastity’s dress (“silver chiffon and lace”) and how her breasts don’t need a bra. [Seriously.]

She and nameless fiancé are standing on a landing, while aristocrats aplenty queue up to meet them. And Chastity is a complete brat, thinking about how she despises all of them and now she has to let them kiss her hand, although they are against everything she stands for. [Everything she stands for is female independence.]

Her uncle may think himself her guardian, but he and his handpicked puppet [her fiancé? Her uncle’s wife? Her uncle’s consultant? Who?] would soon learn better. Only her father had ever tried to boss her around [no, obviously, her uncle tries at well], and he’d ceased that exercise in futility before her eighth birthday.
On her other side, Alicia, the marchioness of Avondale, leaned over and hissed at her to please smile. Chastity glanced around and up, a sneer curling the right corner of her mouth as Alicia’s quiet plea [That didn’t sound like a plea to me.] sounded in her ear. She felt so much older than her cousin, it was always a surprise to realize the woman towered over her own petite frame. [Arrogant much? “She’s such a child!”, says the 18-year-old.]
“I have no intention of being polite to this pushy, nosy rabble.” [Whatever have they done to you? Just because you don’t agree with a lifestyle or you don’t want to live it, doesn’t mean that you have to be an impolite bastard to everybody living it.]
“Great gad [is that supposed to mimic a posh accent?], woman! Can you never act as you are supposed to? You disgust me.” [That is the fiancé speaking. What a great man he seems to be.]

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Carte Blanche (Camille Anthony in Charming the Snake) – Prologue

Before the prologue actually starts, we get a brief explanation for what a carte blanche actually is:

In the days before the world burned, the original definition of the term “carte blanche” literally meant “blank ticket.” If one could obtain a blank letter or ticket stamped with the king’s seal, one could write whatever they wished upon the paper. Many such papers were secured and sold for a price to ruthless men of power. Many people disappeared — some into the dreaded prison called the Bastille and others into the murky waters of an undisclosed and unmarked death. And so carte blanche came to be known as limitless power and authority. The years passed, and in the latter days of the kings of Great Britain, men took mistresses as they always did. Also as always, the women who captured the lusts and interests of such men demanded something in return for their favors. The bargaining was intense as the doves negotiated everything but a wedding dress. The highest any kept woman could aspire was to be given a home of her own and a blank ticket of credit. — Ananda, ship’s librarian Diaspora a. p. 194

Okay, so that’s clear. The only thing that’s not really clear is how this goes with a Science Fiction novella/short story. I mean, usually, those take place in the future, right? And now you keep talking about Kings and mistresses and so on…

Let me put it this way: after the part royalty played in Seducing the Saint, I’m a bit wary about what’s coming next.

But, brave as I am, on to the Prologue!

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Seducing the Saint (Melissa Schroeder in Charming the Snake) – Conclusion

One recurring theme in all the books I dissect here was maybe at its peak in Seducing the Saint: A character doesn’t become self-reliant, managing, independent, etc… just because you say it’s so.
“Look, that’s Libby. Libby is the epitome of independence, even if she spends the entire novel being nothing but dependent and following orders.”
You’ve got to back those claims with action and talk that prove them.

It’s okay that a character needs help, she doesn’t have to do everything on her own. But having nothing but damsels in distress all the time sucks.

Apart from that more general observation, the story is fucked up. Irish Royalty on a planet two weeks travel time from earth? Fathers, who only want to make their daughters happy by disappearing for almost a year so she can hook up with that unreliable ex-boyfriend of hers? Agencies, which are so secret you don’t even know their name, but their agents spend their time hunting embezzlers? A universe at your disposal and aliens are mentioned once (in the first chapter) and the rest of the time, it’s human actors, albeit on different planets?

The whole thing doesn’t make sense.

And don’t even get me started on the names! Nomen est omen? In this case it’s more “nomen est contraria”. [Okay, now I’ve used up pretty much everything that’s left of six years of studying latin in school and all I got was this stupid pretentiousness.]

Seems to me, Schroeder set out to write a different book, changed her course in the middle of it and then didn’t want to edit the rest so it all fit together. Or maybe she just glued two books together and made sure that the main character’s names stayed the same.

Open Questions

Why didn’t Robbie Masters or John Hunter warn Libby and BtA?
Where the fuck has Sterling *cringe* been all this time?
Why did Tony’s and Sterling *cringe*’s characters go from one end of the spectrum to the next without explanation?
How come Libby, who is so intelligent and well-studied, believed every little rumour about the Funkai until they held a gun to her head (figuratively), but then, it was no problem to just accept that it was not like that?
Why was the whole thing in space and on a different planet? To include the Funkai, which were ultimately inconsequential? To be able to have sex on a space ship?
Will there be a sequel, where we discover that the Legend of the Snake King is actually true and somebody – with royal Irish blood – finds the emerald and rules the universe until Libby Jr and BtA Jr stop them?

And finally, and probably most importantly (and I asked it before): Who saw this novella/short story fit for publishing?

Eternal Truths Learned

A flesh wound on the shoulder is life threatening, makes you incoherent and requires you to stay in bed for three days.
When somebody practices BDSM, they have to hide in the woods, or else society will be out to get them.
When somebody practices BDSM, they don’t see women as individuals and their society is inherently patriarchal.
A woman is independent, when she protests before she follows orders.
Fathers are stupid, but they mean well. [Hey, this could actually… no, no…]

As usual, you’re very welcome to add to this list in the comment section.