Friday, August 28, 2009

Reality Minus Expectations by mjinaspen

This week's Perv Pack Recommendation is...

Title: Reality Minus Expectations
Author: Mjinaspen
Chapters: 16
Words: 79,576
Reviews: 593
Summary: AH. After deciding to dissolve their failed marriages, Bella and Edward learn that happiness equals reality minus expectations.

Guest Reviewer- swill122

It was love at first type between my girl MJ and me. I saw her beautiful Faith the Vampire Slayer avatar from across the crowded TS thread, and I was enamored. We came, we saw, we snarked. It was an easy affair. It wasn’t long into our little online Boston marriage that we discovered we had identical brains.

And then she sent me the first chapter of this fic she wanted to write, asking for my opinion. It was then that I knew we didn’t share a brain. She had my brain, sure, plus 8 bajillion more comedy-capable neurons. I laughed, I cried (OK, I didn’t cry, but I know people who did!), I wished for some Edward peen in my life…

Edward (early-thirties) and Bella (late-twenties) have both realized that their respective marriages suck. Bella’s hubby Jake is stifling, never allowing her to be the adult she is. Edward’s wife Tanya is forever stuck in his best-friend zone, despite the two having a child together. These pairs are couples that should work, that everyone expects to work, but they just don’t. Bella is missing the ardor and passion she craves:

“I can make myself come in about two and a half minutes… So, it’s not like it’s hard or especially noteworthy. What I want is the elusive connection, the intensity, the passion… I’m just… lonely? It’s like I spent all that time with Jacob waiting for us to be… more. And it never happened.”
Edward and Tanya are missing commitment. Not to each other, but to themselves. They’ve settled for one another, rather than committing to finding what’s best for themselves:

Tanya and I married when she was six months pregnant. We weren’t in love, but we thought with a marriage and a child, we could build love. We were wrong. I was pretending I didn’t care that I had dedicated my life to a woman I would never love as more than a friend. Of course I cared.
For a change of scenery and a new start in real estate development, Edward moves his law practice to Aspen, where he collides with Bella, and they find the explosive passion for which they were both searching…

And that’s all I’m going to tell you about the main plot. I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Like chapter 5.

What I will tell you are the three reasons you should be reading this particular gem. We’ve all got innumerable fics on our “to be read” lists, why does this one deserve a bump to the top?

The boot, the bat, and the bastinado.

[Robin Wood lovers rejoice.]

No, seriously. The three reasons you should read are: the details, the characters, and the sex.

1. The Details

When I read fiction of any kind, I tend to get lost completely. I’ve been known to sit literally for hours reading, without food, toilet breaks, or sleep. If something is written well, with detail that makes me believe in what’s happening, I can’t help myself. I devour. I read the entire Saga over a 72-hour period the first time around. I can finish the first two Harry Potter books in a single Sunday afternoon if I’m bored. So when I come across fic that manages to incorporate the kind of details that make me believe, make me want to just lose myself entirely in another world, I have to do just that.

Bella doesn’t live in some posh two-bedroom apartment immediately out of a divorce; she lives in a studio apartment and has to fold up a futon every morning to make room to walk. Her shower stall is elbow-wide. She volunteers at her local animal shelter by walking a Rottie/Shep mix. Jake farts during sex. Edward’s daughter likes cupcakes and has a stuffed pig named Mr. Gordo [snort]. Bella has an addiction to Fiji water. Edward was in a punk band in college. He still wears his wedding ring. And everyone drinks like fish.

We all want to escape real life by reading, and some people do it by reading fic where Edward has a 10-inch schlong and his junk juice tastes like sugar syrup and Bella is a famous model and nothing resembles reality. In the words of MJ’s Rosalie,

“That’s why romance novels sell. Impractical, desperate women read that shit and dream that one day they will meet their Prince Charming and live Happily EverAfter. Pure. Fiction.”
For me, I usually prefer a writer who can create believable people and situations in this world. I’d much rather a story feels real, and the characters seem like they could be my best friends. I’d rather relate. That’s what MJ’s done with this—she’s managed to help me draw a picture in my mind of these people and their lives by giving me the details and description necessary to feel like a part of her world.

2. The Characters

Because the characters from the original series were viewed largely from a single unreliable perspective (Bella’s), it’s easy to create caricatures rather than characters in fan fiction. One of the things I love so much about this story is that characters we’re so used to dismissing quickly force us to give them a second chance. As much as readers are used to hating Tanya or Jake (or even Edward or Bella sometimes), it’s simply impossible to hate anyone in this story. MJ’s created characters that are three-dimensional and multi-layered. Each character has flaws and strengths that play into their individual storylines.

Jake doesn’t always think through his words, but he genuinely tries to give Bella the support she needs when he realizes what he’s said and done wrong. In the words of one reviewer (reigny):
“Heck, I'll even admit that I like Jake (and srsly, who ever likes Jake in fanfic when there's Edward, right? RIGHT!)”
Tanya pushed Edward into marriage and family, but she does her best to let him go without a fight when she realizes the mistake they made. Again, reigny rails:
“I'm totally shaking my fist at you, woman! How DARE you make me like Tanya too? I find myself feeling compassion for this blonde minx.”
ScarlettLetters writes:
“I hope Tanya finds some happiness too. I hope she sets pool boy aside and looks for something real.”
Rosalie may be quick to judge Edward, but she’s even quicker to help Bella and Edward get past a miscommunication when she sees how wrong she was. Reviewer CullenCoven agrees:
“Wow, when you have Rose as an ally, you're in a good place.”
PurdueLiz sees Rosalie’s actions as particularly selfless, under the circumstances:
“I love th[at] Rose came on Bella's behalf even though Edward probably brings up a lot of bad memories for her.”
Edward settled for an open marriage rather than love, but when he finds it, he’s committed. Ericastwilight gets Edward in one sentence:
“Edward is both very selfless and selfish. It takes a lot to walk away to want to make a better and happy life for yourself.”
Bella has trouble opening up to Edward and sharing her feelings like she shares her body, but she makes an effort as time passes. ThisColony says it best:
“[E]ven in one chapter you've managed to give a very clear impression of Bella. She's a great balance of snarky and laid-back, with that undercurrent of vulnerability. It's a sort of ‘I've accepted that I am jaded, yes. But...well, whatever.’ But she still wants more; there's still a sense of loss.”
Every single character in this story is on a journey, and as a reader, you can’t help but root for every single one of them to get his or her happily ending.

3. The Sex

So, we’ve all read plenty of smut at this point. More than we’d want our mothers to know about, anyway. I don’t know about you all, but lately I find myself skimming most citrus because I feel like I’ve read it all. Times over. Something about these lemons, though, evokes a serious visceral response that just isn’t easy to explain. I can’t get enough of the mono- and disyllabic commands that come out of Edward’s mouth. Not to mention the recurrence of “Good girl.” Guh…

Some citrus highlights the lustful connection they share:
Licking long and slow from bottom to top, he takes my clit between his lips as he eases one long slender finger into me.

“Ung,” I am waaaay beyond poised, fucking muttering nonsense.

One finger, then two in a slow steady rhythm. He sucks hard on my clit, curls his fingers, and scratches an itch I didn’t know I had.
“Bella…” Edward’s voice is raspy, and he sounds like he’s out of breath. “I’m coming. Are you gonna swallow?”

One finger circling my clit, teeth in my thigh, cock in my throat.

Fuck yes.

I hum around him, relax my throat, take him deeper. He hooks two fingers inside me and bursts down my throat. I swallow it all. Barely. It’s a little bit gross and a lot sexy.
Other citrusy bits highlight the emotional bond they’re forming:
I can feel every inch of him, slow and hard as he touches me inside and out. He whispers my name, kisses my lips, and he owns me – body and soul. When he tells me to come for him, I don’t hesitate. I cry out and clench his hips between my thighs. I hear my name in his voice… I feel like crying.
He gently covers my body with his, enters me, reaches under the pillow and our fingers are entwined. His knees are holding me wide, elbows holding him up, hands holding mine. We are one body, twisting, moaning, sliding in tandem. Teeth grazing my neck, collarbone, shoulders… Biting, sucking, licking.

“Come, baby,” he mutters, hot and low. “Come.”
All the while, neither MJ nor Bella take it all too seriously. Sometimes, sex is funny:
The word “sheath” comes to mind as I roll the condom down his cock, and I giggle a little bit. I hate that word, but it seems to go hand-in-hand with condoms and the use thereof. I shake my head and hope that I can have that ‘thick piece of man-meat’ ‘sheathed’ inside my ‘womanhood’ soon.

The sex is real, instinctive, and in the words of RedVelvetHeaven, “fuckall fucking hot!”

This is the perfect time to start reading, if you haven’t already. You can enjoy the lemon freshness (in the words of cristynd, “a whole grove of citrusy yumminess”), but there’s still plenty of story to come. Why is Embry hiding the debt he owes Edward? How will Bella react to Edward’s daughter Delia? How will Tanya find her way out of her destructive depression? Does Jake get his happy ending with Leah? And will Bella and Edward finally get their act together?

Go forth and read. Don’t forget to have extra batteries or a willing partner handy.

Em- I really enjoyed this weeks story and I am now stalking my email for an alert that a new chapter has been posted. What I really like about this story is that is seems fresh and different from so much that is out there.

Set in Aspen it brings a different dimension to the usual Seattle or Chicago settings. I like that E/B are both older and have life experiences behind them. Both of them trying to find a new way after failed marriages. Bella is a strong and accomplished woman but still has those insecurities that us women get when it comes to new relationships, she has a strong circle of friends and I enjoy her friendship with Johnny and Xander; but then who would not want them as friends? Her relationship with Jake and Leah for that matter is complicated and messy but that is life and it feels real.

The pacing and the changing POV's work well and I feel like we are getting to know the characters well and letting them tell us their story. I guess what I am trying to say is that is just flows well.

Now for the smut. Holy fuck that first hook up had me squirming in my seat at the dentist office as I was reading on my phone. So yeah I enjoyed it but wish I could have read it in private. We have sexy DILFward, Dirty Talking Edward, Sexting Edward, Phone Sex Edward and of course Shower Sex Edward all interlaced with a compelling story. Go read and enjoy! 4.5/5

Emmy- I got such a pleasant surprise reading this story... You know how many stories in the fandom are starting to merge into one in my mind? How many stories, no matter how daring the sex is, how rough and randy the characters are - it just doesn't set you ablaze or make you give a flying fuck as to what happens? Well RME really piqued me on so many levels. Really grabbed me by the short & curlies and made me care... (its one of the reasons I love my bitches and this blog.. - the ALWAYS share the good stuff)

I really shouldn't do my recc after the others - as I feel I am repeating what they say! But my goodness CHAPTER FUCKING FIVE PEOPLE! Give this girl a fucking award already! FOR THE LOVE OF SMUT! But also for the love of good writing... No flabby plotlines, or pointless twisting here. Its just brilliant. I also love chapter 10 - its not as raw and explicit - but it means so much - as their honesty has been revealed and they both know the reality of the other....

I also love her array of POV's - whether it be Edward, Bella, Tanya or Jake it rings true and resonates and I feel as though I am lodged in their mind, body and soul - that's not easy to pull off. Particularly for me to read a and appreciate a JPOV - as I generally dislike the shite out of Jake.. (Wingman by nina is one of the few others where I don't want to skin him alive and turn his bollocks into a chandelier)..

I also love the gradual unfolding of this story, the setting up of future chapters and ideas - no ridiculous body swerves and cheap shock value tactics are employed here. Just wonderful writing and characterisations. Real characters, flawed characters, misunderstood, making mistakes, making amends, discovering their way characters that come to live off the screen. Dear god, amazing, amazing smut! Tingly, warming, breath gasping, where the fuck is the git as I need to really get some, lemonade abounds in RME.

I actually feel a bit of a dipshite, it really should not have taken me so long to read this story. I think I need the full list of what Kathy Beta's and read the fuck out of them all - as I have not come across a Kathy beta'd story I do not LOVE! So read it! Do not miss out, do not pass go, just go directly to RME and enjoy! 4.5 (I am hanging on for the butt secks) red silky knickers (as we all know red is Aspenward's colour) out of 5...

Hope-Every girl needs to be ‘Chapter Fived’ at some point in her life, just saying. I’d heard about this fic on twitter and my chica Kath beta’s this bitch so I put it on my list. Let’s just say I devoured the first 13 chapters in a few hours. And Oh. My. Fucking. God! The smut is fuckhot and I’ll get to that in a little bit, but what I really love is that the chara’s talk and act like real fucking people. They aren’t overly verbose or trying to be something they aren’t. They’re frank and forthcoming and have real fears and anxieties and deal with it in real fucking ways.

Bella is slightly quirky, she knows herself in and out even if she doesn’t recognize that fact. Edward knows his faults and past mistakes. He isn’t perfect but always tries to always do the right things. Both have past marriages that left them unsatisfied and in each other find the thing that was missing. There’s the usual beginning of relationship ‘What exactly are we doing? Is this only fucking?’ fears, but it’s not overdone or overly dramatic. Like I said earlier it’s real.

Now the mother fucking smut! Again, Oh. My. Fucking. God. It’s srsly fucking hot. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s not overly graphic; MJ writes the schmexing in a way that you know what’s going on without all the gritty details. There’s a good balance between the physical and the emotional. I like that pov changes in the middle, it gives a glimpse into both minds without being repetitive. And the smut never gets old or boring, it’s new and intense every fucking encounter. Phone Sex, floor sex, impromptu 69’s, patio sex, head under the pillow morning sex, etc… you get the idea. 4.5/5 from moi!

Jo- I'm ridiculously late! So what's new? I JUST finished pouring out 16 reviews to the lovely mjinaspen, and since Nina (and everyone) is so VERY VERY correct regarding Chapter Five... thought I'd share my review for it with you all (it explains where my head - and my hoo-hah - were at during the time):
&&$($)!@&@$#*&%)$_^)%$*_)~&@!*#%$@^#$()%@(*$(#)!&^)#$~!@(^%$#^%&)(#$#@(RUHJC$F%RT&N$#?V(T&FF#*MR@##XNNR$CW*TUX*F($#MT%U*(D#$VTC%MUTD*(%$&^ N%(V%#*D&M$X(Y&$*($#&TM% (T%#*CU(#EMR(Q)R%&C*!#*(M#($CM*(

Sorry... that... is all... I'm capable... of... right... now....


NOTE TO SELF: Get Chapter 5'd more often. kthxbai.

FUCK and YES. You'll find no overstatements here regarding the fucktacular hotness that is Chapter Five, but that is by NO MEANS the only hotness in this fic. She just keeps bringing it, and I love her for it!
In addition to the panty wetting hotness, one of the things I LOVE about this fic are the unique, interesting, and well written character portrayals. She's taken so many of our favorite characters and not only held true to their original traits, but made them HER OWN. She's made me sympathize with Tanya, and actually LIKE Jake. I can't do proper justice to her writing here... all I can say is GO READ THIS BITCH! DO IT! Chapter five alone get's all 5 pairs of my panties, I've had to break out extras for the rest of the story. (Oh, and pssst... I'm with Nina on the buttsecksin! Bring it babes, we're all beggin' for it!)

Kathy- Full disclosure: I beta for this story, so my opinion is NOT unbiased. That said, of course I love this fic. MJ brings us a delightful romp with Edward and Bella that starts out with them on two different paths. Bella is getting a divorce from Jake, Edward has decided to finally stop pretending with Tanya, and things progress for them after they meet in a bar. However, one of my favorite chapters is before the infamous E/B hookup - chapter 3. We see a flashback to a moment with Edward and Tanya and it gives so much insight into who they both are, why they are the way they are. It is a wonderful peek into their personalities and hearts, I think. Now, okay, chapter 5 is gloriously hot, as has been well established by everyone else in the review. I love the canon parallel in chapter 6, when he notices she's bruised, post-smexin'.

One of the things I like best about this story (aside from the smut), is the way the characters feel real in my head. Their reactions, their words, these things ring true for me. This story easily earns its 4.5 panties. Unlike the rest of the hoors that want backdoor sex, I'm not really anxious for that - these two kids are having fun getting to know each other and love each other, DILFward is about to have his kid come into town for an extended period, I'm sure the tension is going to ratchet up a bit. They'll get to the anal when/if they get to it, and I won't be one bit disappointed if MJ never goes there (*hides from everyone else*) - I'll re-read chapter 5.

Nina- So, one day Kassiah tweets, "Holy shit, RME updated!" I didn't know what RME was and because I'm me, I forgot about it. Then Kathy retweets it and I remembered to ask her twat it was. She sent me the link and then I proceeded to die.

I have four words and four words only that easily explains this story.

"I've been Chapter Fived"

Fuck me sideways ladies, I read a lot of smut, I mean a lot. A-fucking-lot. In reading so much smut, you sometimes get desensitized to some of it. Chapter five alone, nearly killed me, in the very best way possible. There was no desensitizing, if anything all my senses were going apeshit.

It's not just Chapter Five though (although I've read it 3 times), it's the whole story. You've heard me fucking drone on and on about enjoying 'older' characters more than high schoolers. I also enjoy adult characters that have been married before, ones that aren't virgins and like to bone... a lot.

I agree with Stephie, the fact that it's in a new location was great. I love the fact that it's in Aspen. I don't know that I've read one set there before. The Edward/Tanya backstory is pure win. I love the twist (I won't spoil it).

All the supporting characters are well fleshed out and most are likeable (except Victoria that slut). Emmett and Rosalie are pissers. I really like the spin on Rose's backstory as well, and Edward's 'involvement' in it. The original characters are complete and total win, they're gay and wonderful. But really, let's get back to the smut.

I'll harp on chapter five again, just humor me.
“Good girl,” he smiles and grazes my hip with his teeth.

Hot breath on my skin, fingers working inside my panties and between my lips…

Edward rolls me onto my back and pulls my legs up over his shoulders. His rough fingers scrape my calves and my thighs.

“I don’t wanna come yet,” his voice is like gravel in my ear. “I’m gonna fuck you into the floor.”

Yes, please and thank you. Line forms to the left behind me.

4.5/5 because I'm a h00r and I want her to write buttsecks. Get on that. (That's what he said)

Steph- Doing my rec from vacation land. I had heard snippets about this, but was trying to avoid it, because I need another fic to read like I need a damn hole in my head. But I got it rec'd in an email and the bitches kept harping on it so I gave in cause I'm a hoor like that. Fuck me gently with a chainsaw. No, really. Chapter 5 me please. Oh, fuck yes. I wish I could go into all the reasons I love this, but I've got limited (ie: stolen while the parentals and kidlets are asleep) computer time. So I will say, I fucking love this. Hard. Oh and I'm with Nina, we really need some buttsecksin. Please?? 4/5 from me :)

Stephie- I kept seeing tweets and emails in regards to this story and took the plunge. I'm glad I did. I mean, mjinaspen had me at Karmel Sutra ice cream by ben and jerrys. hehe, ok, so not really but I do love that stuff and ya know...anyway. What really drew me in was the strained relationship between Bella/Jacob and Edward/Tanya. Newly divorced, Jacob is still trying to help and solve Bella's problems, much to her annoyance. Edward and Tanya, well, their relationship was never what it seemed. Now they are having to deal with the aftermath of some unwise decisions.

What I love about this story: It's set in Aspen, which is so new and fresh. I've never read a story that took place there so I feel like I'm learning all about the atmosphere as I read. Johnny and Xander; probably my favorite gay couple to act in a supporting role. They give that added flourish of humor and advice that is much needed. Plus, when they first see Edward they're betting on whether or not he plays for the other team. hehe. Getting TPOV and JPOV provides insight into all the character motivations and actually makes you sympathize with the characters that are, at least most of the time, universally disliked.

And of course there's the sex. Um...yeah...yum. Their first sexual encounter (that sounds odd) is hot. I don't have any other words for it. And remember the stupid (at least IMO) "spider monkey" comment from the movie? Ok, remember what Edward says just before that? "You better hold on tight." Now just imagine that, when Edward and Bella are naked and...yeah. It just gets better from there too.

Besides, I think every time Edward calls Bella a "good girl," an angel gets its wings. No, that can't be right. More like, every time Edward says that, a fangirl loses her panties. 4/5 for me.


Kassiah said...

Yeah. Chapter 5. And 6. And 10. And the OJ in Ch 16. Duuuude. I love this story sfm, thanks for featuring it :D

mjinaspen said...

Thank you, ladies! I am honored.

dihenydd said...

Yeh chapter 5 and 10 and don't forget the homecoming in chapter 15.

What I love about this story is not just how likable the characters are (like Kathy I think chapter 3 was beautiful) but how joyful the sex is. They laugh and smile. The whole story is a testament to life - flawed and messy but joyful.