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Literature / The Mister

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The Mister is a 2019 romance novel by E. L. James. It tells the story of a relationship between a British aristocrat, Maxim Trevelyan, and his Albanian housemaid Alessia Demachi.

Maxim is the younger son of an aristocratic family, with all the privileges but none of the responsibilities. He spends his days on leisure activities, pursuing his latest hobby until he gets bored or in bed with numerous beautiful women. This changes when his elder brother, Kit, dies suddenly in a motorcycle accident and Maxim inherits his title as Earl of Trevethick. Now playboy Maxim will have to step into his brother's shoes, although another complication arrives in the form of Alessia, his new housemaid.

Alessia has been forced to leave her homeland of Albania and settle in the UK, working as a housemaid for various members of the upper-classes. She finds herself drawn to one of her employers in particular. Sparks fly between Alessia and Maxim and they grow closer by the day. However, with Alessia's dark past threatening to catch up to her and Maxim's aristocratic peers potentially disapproving of him romancing a servant, will the pair get a happy ending?

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Tropes present in this novel include:

  • Aborted Arc: Kit's widow Caroline brings up that she thinks she may be pregnant with Kit's child, who would potentially displace Maxim as Kit's heir, but this plot point ultimately goes nowhere.
  • The Ace:
    • In addition to being an earl, Maxim is also a photographer, model, and DJ. He's extremely good-looking, wealthy and has women throwing themselves at him.
    • Alessia herself is a talented chess player, a concerto-level pianist with synesthesia and a skilled clay-pigeon shooter despite never having held a gun before.
  • Advertising by Association: The book was marketed as being from "the author of Fifty Shades of Grey", which is also mentioned on the cover.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Albania gets portrayed as being a rather primitive country, with Alessia being amazed by all the modern shops in Britain and calling a credit card "magic". Albania actually does have shops no different from ones in Western Europe. It's even weirder considering Alessia says she's from Kukës, which isn't some backwater rural village but a small city; it's a popular tourist destination (with an international airport) and just Googling pictures of the place will demonstrate it absolutely has modern supermarkets and convenience stores. Credit cards are also used in the country (although a lot of places only accept cash, so it's recommended to not rely only on credit cards while travelling).
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  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Not a single one of the Albanian characters has an Albanian name. Protagonist Alessia Demachi has an Italian given name and surname. Her betrothed Anatoly has a Russian name. Her kidnappers are named Dante and Yili. Dante is Italian again; Yili is probably a misspelling of the actual Albanian name Ylli. Her roommate is named Magda, a name used in several European languages, but still not Albanian.
  • Cinderella Plot: Alessia starts out as poor and downtrodden; she doesn't have a wicked stepfamily though her father is quite cruel and controlling. She's forced to work as a cleaner to support herself, until she meets and romances a handsome aristocrat who raises her out of poverty. After Alessia goes missing, Maxim vows to search far and wide for her and make her his bride.
  • Damsel in Distress: Alessia, twice. First the slavers she escaped from track her to one of Maxim's houses and attempt to recapture her; luckily Maxim intervenes. Then in the third act, she's kidnapped by her abusive ex who takes her back to Albania, and Maxim sets out to rescue her.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Maxim, unsurprisingly. But notably also Alessia, surprisingly enough.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Alessia is clearly running away from one and there are many hints dropped in the first half as to what happened to her. After running away from her abusive fiance, Alessia was captured by traffickers while trying to get into the UK; she escaped but is now in the country illegally and the traffickers are hunting for her.
  • Death by Despair: Maxim believes his father was "broken" by Maxim's mother divorcing him, as he died just four years later.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Maxim's older brother Kit was the respectable and level-headed Earl of Trevethick, while Maxim is a hedonistic slacker who can rarely hold down a job for long before getting bored. After Kit dies and Maxim inherits his title, he has to step up and start taking responsibility.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Alessia and Maxim have known each a little under a month and have only been properly dating for about a week when Maxim decides she's the woman he wants to marry. When Maxim proposes to Alessia at the end, she instantly accepts. Alessia's father then enforces the matter by demanding they marry in four days before leaving Albania.
  • Gold Digger: Maxim's mother was this; she married his father for his wealth and title, then later divorced him, with Maxim stating she didn't reciprocate his genuine love for her. This has apparently given Maxim concerns about his own relationships with women.
  • Go Through Me: In the climax, Alessia shields Maxim from her abusive gangster ex Anatoli when he points a gun at Maxim. The effect is slightly diminished given that Alessia already knows she had removed the bullets from Anatoli's gun.
  • Human Traffickers: It's revealed that the men stalking Alessia are this; they abducted Alessia and took away her passport when she was trying to get into the UK; she managed to escape but now they're trying to re-kidnap her so she won't threaten their schemes.
  • It's All About Me: When Maxim learns about Alessia's backstory involving an abusive father, a forced engagement and sex trafficking, one of his first responses is to lament that he "can't touch her" now.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Maxim has had many lovers though he doesn't have an emotional connection to any of them (possibly because of how his parents' marriage ended up; his mother married his father for his wealth, divorced him after getting bored and his heartbroken father died a few years later). He then finds himself genuinely falling for Alessia, which initially confuses him.
  • The Malaproper: Alessia, due to her incomplete grasp of the English language, has a tendency to do this, most notably referring to smartphones as "clever phones".
  • More Experienced Chases the Innocent: Maxim is extremely promiscuous and develops feelings for Alessia, who is a virgin, has never been in a serious relationship and had quite a sheltered upbringing. She was kidnapped by sex traffickers and was aware of their intentions, but fled before anything worse happened. Maxim is drawn to Alessia's innocence and finds it endearing when she's flustered around him due to her inexperience.
  • Multiple Narrative Modes: When the novel is told from Maxim's viewpoint, it uses first-person perspective. When it switches to Alessia's viewpoint, it uses limited third-person perspective.
  • No Woman's Land: Albania comes across here as a misogynistic hellhole; women are rarely seen out on the streets because it's not proper, they're expected to wait on their husbands or fathers hand and foot, domestic violence against women is common, and Alessia's father sold her into marriage without consulting her.
  • Really Gets Around: Maxim is known for having lots and lots of casual sex with different women. He actually states that sex is one of his favorite pasttimes.
  • Runaway Fiancée: It's eventually revealed that the reason Alessia left Albania is because her father betrothed her to an abusive gangster, not knowing his true nature, and her mother helped her escape.
  • Sequel Hook: The novel ends with Alessia's father demanding that Maxim and Alessia marry in four days; they're fine with this but Maxim remarks that when they get back to the UK, they'll have to deal with his mother's reaction to their hasty marriage.
  • Sex Slave: Alessia was kidnapped by human traffickers to be sold into sex slavery. She was able to escape though we don't know if the other women she was with were as fortunate.
  • Sex with the Ex: Maxim and his sister-in-law used to casually date before she married his brother. A few days after Kit's death, they end up in bed together again out of shared grief.
  • Skewed Priorities: In the climax, Maxim realizes that Alessia has been abducted by her evil ex fiance and he's likely taking her back to Albania. Maxim, naturally, declares he will rescue her forthwith. But despite time being of the absolute essence, Maxim still thinks it's a good idea to shop for an engagement ring for Alessia. One would think he'd worry about all that after he gets her back safely. He and his buddy also pause their desperate race to save Alessia to drink at bars, both in England and Albania.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: The novel revolves around a playboy earl falling for his housemaid, who is hiding a Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Uptown Girl: Maxim is a gender-flipped example to Alessia; he's an immensely wealthy earl while Alessia is his housemaid (and an undocumented immigrant). She's actually briefly scared off when she learns about his title, thinking they could never be together.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A really horrific example. We never find out what happened to the other women Alessia was trafficked with. She at one point hopes they were able to escape too, but we never know for sure.

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