Monday, April 27, 2020

Game Changer (Lisa Millar #1), by Lasairiona E. McMaster

Drama Llama Publishing, March 2020

AJ Williams is a college hockey player, with two Canadian best friends. One is Jeremy, his hockey teammate. The other is Brittany, a..k.a. Britt, whose visa is running out, and who wants to stay in the US, so she can be with her boyfriend, who is also not a US citizen. She's come up with a brilliant plan--AJ should marry her, a completely phony marriage, so that she can stay in the US.

This is of course a really stupid idea, and selfish on Britt's part, but AJ feels obligated to support his friend.

Jeremy, meanwhile, talks AJ into joining him in an online chat with his latest love interest and her best friend. That friend, Lisa Millar, is Irish, turns out to have a large overlap in musical interests with AJ, and is, improbably, a hockey fan. She's been watching AJ and Jeremy's games online.

You can see where this is going. AJ is soon a technically married man, with a girlfriend in Ireland he's getting more and more involved with.

Then his younger sister, Ana, like all the sensible people in his life, doesn't approve of the business with Britt, gets in touch with Lisa, and arranges for her to come for a visit. She hasn't told Lisa about the paper marriage, and he springs her arrival on AJ at a post-game "meet the fans."

This can't end well. It doesn't.

On the one hand, of course Lisa finds out about Britt, and is very, very hurt and betrayed.

On the other hand, a player on another team, that AJ has been clashing with already, gropes Lisa in a bar because he knows AJ is interested in her. This soon leads to a clash on the ice that ends with AJ badly hurt.

I like the characters, especially AJ, Lisa, and Jeremy.

The secret marriage is stupid anyway, and the idea of a rich, white Canadian needing tricks like this to stay in the US when her rich parents actually support the idea, is beyond stupid.

Then we have the lesser stupidities, the failure to do basic checking of the differences in terminology between British and American English. I had never encountered the term "air hostess" before, but its meaning was pretty obvious--the exact equivalent of "flight steward/stewardess" in the US. A couple of decades ago, that is. If not longer.

Why does this matter? Because it comes out of the mouth of AJ Williams, talking with Jeremy on the plane to Ireland, and then texting with Lisa. Lisa could perfectly plausibly have said "air hostess," I gather, but it came out of AJ's mouth first.

And no, I don't believe that.

I grew up reading both British and American books, in a working class white ethnic (a term Millennials may never have encountered, because it is so over now, and started getting scolded out of use in the mid-seventies) family. I knew the British spelled some words differently, and I knew they also used different words for a bunch of things. I've been told by British friends and acquaintances that British children were not exposed to that Awful Stress and Confusion, and any American works that got published in the British Isles got "translated" so that perfectly ordinary American teens would wind up talking about adverts and frocks and "fancying" a person of the gender they find interesting.

I find this bizarre. I wouldn't believe it at all if I hadn't seen a few books with these pointless substitutions in their British editions. But clearly it has happened in the past. Is it still happening now? This is the first time in a while that I've seen evidence of this blind assumption that of course it's completely reasonable to put British idiom in the mouths of Americans who would have had no occasion to pick it up. And this is particularly egregious. It's not "carpark" instead of "parking lot." Steward/stewardess got the boot from American English for a reason--it's was pointlessly, needlessly gendered. It's a throwback to a time when the idea of jokes about female flight attendants saying "Coffee, tea, or me, sir?" was considered funny. And to my ears, which may be just me, "hostess" sounds even worse in that regard. It assumes the flight attendant is there to be a social hostess, instead of having serious safety functions on board an airliner in flight.

And on a pure language level, it's not the term that would come out of an American's mouth, and that kicks me out of a book for a moment, even if the plot is more satisfying.

But I did really like the characters.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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