Review: Sweatpants Season by Danielle Allen

Reviewed by Caitlin

Me: She’s an ardent feminist and a freelance writer. He’s a writer and an English teacher who also hosts a podcast that gives guys sexist The Game-like dating advice.

Boyfriend: *makes face like he smelled bad sushi*

Me: I mean, I’m pretty sure he’s gonna leave the show in the end. And he’s not actively giving the bad advice.

Boyfriend: Okay… I guess…

I’ve been in kind of a reading slump recently. I haven’t actively hated a book in a minute, but what I’ve been reading has been… fine. So in a way, this book broke the slump.

Because the more I think about this book, the more I hate it. Boyfriend was right – the hero can’t redeem himself after that.

It’s too bad, because I think Danielle Allen is a talented writer (this is the only book of hers I’ve read, but her prose kept me engaged throughout), and I actually really liked the heroine. But a bad hero and some problematic aspects brought the whole novel down.

Akila Bishara is taking a visual storytelling class and is up for a job at Re-Mix, a magazine she’s dying to work for. On the first day of class, she gets partnered with Carlos Richmond, a very sexy high school English teacher who has a book of essays he’s hoping to publish next year. They have an instant connection.

Then she finds out he’s on the podcast Lost Boys, which recently advocated staring at a woman’s chest as long as the shirt was low-cut because a shirt like that means she wants the attention. She¬†can’t be into such a pig. He’s pissed that she assumes he doesn’t respect women. They don’t like each other.

In Carlos’s defense, he disagreed and insisted staring at a woman’s chest was never okay.

And then they have to work together on a dating assignment for Re-Mix magazine. Okay, two different scenarios where they are forced to interact might be a bit much, but I’m not mad at it.

I bought Sweatpants Season because I liked the cover and I liked the idea of a woman who was totally opposed to objectification still check out a guy’s “dick print” (the outline of a guy’s dick you can see in sweatpants). And some of their banter showed some good chemistry.

But we have some issues.

Red flag #1: Akila’s roommate Meghan stops seeing a guy because his dick is so small, she can’t even feel it when they have sex. That is the entire stated reason.

I’m all for appreciating a man when he’s big, but cutting a man down because of his smaller size feels kinda mean. If Meghan had said he had sex like a jackhammer or that he had actually DONE anything wrong, I would have been on board with the dumping. Simply having a small dick isn’t really good enough and makes Meghan look callous.

Red flag #2: The guy on the Lost Boys dating podcast that is the worst – City Boy – is actually disgusting. Over and over and over again he’s like a bad parody of Tucker Maxx (is that reference still acceptable or is it too old?). I have guy friends that are bro-y AF and they would not only never say this type of shit, they wouldn’t even want to associate with someone who does. The fact that Carlos doesn’t say these demeaning, misogynistic remarks is not good enough. By the time he finally walks away from the show because City Boy makes a joke about raping Akila, the reader has seen Carlos forgive way too many comments City Boy has made. He is complicit. I cannot root for him.

Red flag #3: Akila is a feminist, and Carlos is a high school teacher. And yet I ain’t seeing ONE GODDAMN WORD about protection or birth control or STD’s before they have sex. EVER. And when they have sex the first time, they make it clear they don’t expect this to be a repeat thing, which means they’re having a one-night stand and they DID NOT USE A CONDOM.

Y’all. It’s one thing to do that in a historical or a paranormal, but in a contemporary romance novel? No. Have all the casual sex you want, girl, but keep yourself protected. And a high school teacher should DEFINITELY know better.

It’s a quick read. It’s easy. She’s a good writer. I might give one of her other books a chance. Sweatpants Season to me feels like a missed opportunity.

Rating: D

Click to purchase: Amazon

Sweatpants Season
by Danielle Allen
Release Date: July 31, 2018

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