The Other Woman has already been done, but I can't not recap this. I can't not. It's impossible for me to not. This was my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE book in the SVU series when I was a kid, because A) Jessica has sex, which I always thought was scandalous whenever it happened; 2) Elizabeth's reporting puts her in danger; and 3) because Bruce and Lila.
Check out this guy on the cover. This guy is Louis Miles, Jessica's sex-crazed professor, and there is no possible way he is anything but a serial killer. Look at that jacket. That hideous jacket has elbow patches too, I'm sure of it. Serial killer elbow patches.
Also, there's a globe in the background. I can't remember what Professor Louis is a professor of, but it had better be a globey thing. Even just a Professor of Globes will do.
The A Plot: Jessica, Professor Can't-Keep-It-In-His-Pants and Mrs. Professor Can't-Keep-It-In-His-Pants
We begin the book with Jessica and Professor Louis, rounding all kinds of bases in the backseat of Professor Louis's Toyota. Professor Louis is telling Jessica hoarsely that they can no longer keep up their love affar. Is it just me, or does everyone say things 'hoarsely' in Sweet Valley books? I'm pretty sure I learned that word from here. Also, 'skeptical.' Everyone's always skeptical in these things. Sometimes they even say skeptical things hoarsely, and then you're well on your way towards Sweet Valley bingo.
A few minutes later, Professor Louis stops and leans back, "as if he'd been running." Or schtupping. Let's just say he's out of breath. I love that he managed to fit in a quickie between telling Jess that he wants out of their tryst and actually having the conversation. He tells her that it would be inappropriate for them to keep seeing each other, and he doesn't want to be her boyfriend. She tells him that she's not a kid, and she's even been married before. Professor Louis neglects to tell her exactly what the title of the book tells us, which is that he's married still.
After Professor Louis drops her back home, Jessica thinks about how much heartache she's already had to deal with this year. She mentions that her marriage to Mike McAllery involved "a tragic accident involving a gun," and that "James Montgomery had tried to rape her. She could hardly bear thinking about that." Then she goes on a mini-rant about how poor old Randy Mason started off sweet and caring, but had fallen short of her ideal. Excuse me, but James Montgomery gets two sentences about how trying to rape her wasn't exactly a good time, but Randy gets a paragraph and a sarcastic "Ha!" because he fell short of her ideal? That's worse?
Jessica thinks some more about Professor Louis while clutching one of her essays to her breast. Boob paper cuts aren't sexy, Jess. Also, it's mentioned that Professor Louis is a Medieval History teacher, so I don't think a globe is really a necessity in that particular class.
Hey, a chapter from Professor Louis's point of view. He turns off all the lights in his condo and thinks about how much he loves Jessica. Um, would you like us to leave you alone there, Louie? Then he, no shit, crushes a coffee mug in his bare hand. Literally. Apparently he's angry at the way his scented candles smell. I think it reminds him of his wife. Or Jessica. Or something. All I know is, that's a Fragrance of Love scented candle, bitch! Ha ha, seriously though, this guy is a serial killer.
The next day, Jessica has breakfast with her Theta sisters. The biggest item of gossip? Bruce Patman and Lila Fowler, whose adventures I will most definitely recap later on. Jessica gets bored with all the Bruce/Lila talk (?) and daydreams about hers and Professor Louis's backseat romp the other day. She talks about how love hurts, but in a good way, just like Mellencamp always told us it did. She muses that, "it was the kind of ache she felt after a hard workout." I'll bet, Jess. I'll bet.
Suddenly, the object of her thoughts shows up in person. The girls all coo over Professor Louis and invite him to join them. Alison Quinn flirts with him, and he changes the subject by suggesting she ask Jessica about "the essay I assigned her." You mean the one in your pants, Professor Skeevy? Is that really a breakfast topic? Jessica doesn't think so, and she makes some excuse as to why she needs to leave early. Professor Louis sits there, dumbfounded, as he's practically mauled by remaining the Theta skanks.
Jess helps Lila and Bruce move into their new fabulous beachfront apartment for fabulous people, which is hereby known as the Fabulous Beachfront Apartment for Fabulous People. Among their possessions are Bruce's tennis trophies and Lila's fine china. I love these two. Jessica watches as they make out, completely jealous that they're able to share their love with the world while she and Professor Louis have to make do with sneaky car sex. In fact, their kiss is so hot, Lila drops one of the glasses she's holding and they don't even notice. Fuck yes.
Jess decides to give those glass-shattering lovebirds some privacy, and goes for a walk along the beach towards Professor Louis's condo. He happens to be on the balcony. With a woman cuddling him. Devastated, Jess runs back to the Fabulous Beachfront Apartment for Fabulous People, where Lila is dissing Bruce's wallpaper samples. Bruce says to her, "Your taste is in your mouth, Lila," which gets a dirrty! rating from me.
Professor Louis runs down the beach in a torn shirt. Nobody bothers to explain why his shirt is torn, but I'm betting he did it himself, that crazy fucker. He finds Jessica leaving the Fabulous Beachfront Apartment for Fabulous People, and grabs her arm to stop her from turning her back on him. She yells at him to let her go, but he drags her away from view, pushes her down and climbs on top of her. Out of nowhere, Jess is in love with him again. I don't know how this happens. He doesn't even attempt to explain who the woman is. They just hump away in Bruce and Lila's driveway. Afterwards Jessica asks who that chick was he was embracing on his balcony, and Louis goes crazy again, grabs her and shoves her towards her car, telling her go away. Jess thinks this is slightly odd behaviour.
The next day, Jessica waits by the phone for her demented lover to call. Elizabeth comes in and randomly snarks that she doesn't believe Bruce and Lila are going to make it. Cutely, Jess protests that they're in love, and Liz smirks and says, "We'll see." Out of nowhere, Jess puts her big shiny lady-balls on and tells Liz that it's stupid the way she and Tom believe they're the only two people capable of true love, and treat everyone else's relationships as superficial crushes. Yay Jess! Liz doesn't have a smart-ass comeback for all that truth.
Just then, the phone rings. Jess answers it, thinking it's Louis. It's a heavy-breather. Which, based on the last chapter, could still very well be Louis, but whatever. The ghostie's still going with this whole 'mysterious dark secret' plot, despite the fact that the title of the book is literally called The Other Woman. There's another woman. Or, more accurately, Jessica is the other woman.
Jessica goes to Medieval History, and finds all the Theta girls there too. They're not enrolled in the class or anything. They just think Professor Louis is sexy. Turns out, Professor Louis is in a grumpy mood and yells at two people talking before class. Worse yet, he doesn't even smile at Jessica! Noes! Jess thinks, "What kind of code did he live by? The code of weasels?"
Also, the syntax reminds me of Zoolander's, "What is this? A centre for ants?" and that makes me laugh. Anyway. Jessica drives to the prof's condo. She yells at him in the rain. Then they fuck. DRAMA! The next morning, she drives off only to have someone in a black Mazda continuously bump into her. She's like, "Screw your Mazda, bitch; I drive a Jeep," and decides she's going to outlast this clown, whom she believes is one of the corrupt jocks you're about to hear about in Liz's plotline.
Professor Louis is making himself a cup of tea in what is probably his one remaining un-crushed mug when he gets a call. It's his wife. She says she's driving behind Jessica right now, and she's "about to run Blondie off the I-87 at the Pine Bluff construction site." That's an oddly helpful threat, Mrs. Miles. You want to give him your exact co-ordinates, too? She keeps her promise, and Louis hears a crashing sound on the other end of the phone. He likely feels bad about it, and I don't want to know what he did to the mug this time. I just don't.
Meanwhile, Jessica has managed to steer her car to safety. Who knew Jessica Wakefield was such a badass stunt driver? The first thing she says is, "I'm so glad I didn't die," which feels like an understatement, but whatevs. Crazy Mrs. Miles comes over to her and tells her that Professor Louis is her husband and Jess had better stay away. It is not mentioned whether this kind of blatant threatening behaviour is approved by the Weasel Code, but I think probably not. Also, colour me amused that the obviously crazy professor has an obviously crazy wife. That's cute, in an oddball way. It's just like Silver Linings Playbook, if Silver Linings Playbook had ended with Jennifer Lawrence beating Nikki to death with a lead pipe while Bradley Cooper sat in the corner, rocking back and forth and pooping himself.
The B Plot: Elizabeth, Todd and the Corrupt Sports Administration of Doom
Backstory: Elizabeth is investigating why there's all sorts of money being donated to the athletics budget, but none of it is being spent on what the admins are saying it's being spent on (i.e. new floors, lockers, etc.) Todd is helping her, because Todd is the patron saint of sports.
This plot starts with Todd being soundly beaten in a game of one-on-one, which seems like a good place to start. Elizabeth is watching and laughing. The man defeating Toddles is named Daryl Cartright, and he's important today. Todd says that his jeans are restricting his movement. Yeah, blame the jeans, Todd. But of course, Todd and Liz didn't come round to Daryl's "shabby ranch house" for basketball and cookies. (I'm assuming there are cookies somewhere.) Todd demands to know why such a great athlete had such an out-of-character slump last season. Liz accuses Daryl of point-shaving. Daryl, stupidly, invites them into his house.
After recapping much of the last book for us, Todd asks Daryl if he took any money in exchange for playing like ass. Daryl gets mad and tells them to leave, but just then, his little sister walks in. Or should I say hobbles in, because she's got teh polio or something. Turns out Daryl is the eldest of four sadsack orphan siblings, like you knew he would be. One of them's even in a gang. Todd thinks maybe someone threatened to harm his family if he didn't lose those games. That'd be fairly low, considering they appear to have already gotten the shortstick on the walking and not-being-in-gangs front. Oh, and the dead parents. Daryl decides he doesn't need this, and kicks Liz and Todd out of his shanty.
As they get back to school, Elizabeth notices all the work trucks and construction sites around campus and mentions that nothing ever gets done. Liz, welcome to construction sides. The staple of the tradesman is his ability to drag out even the least formidable task. They decide that the tradies might be in on it, too. Liz decides that they need to work out where the money's gone, and Todd mentions that he doesn't think it went towards paying possible new recruits as Daryl insinuated, because when they bribed Todd, all he got was a parking spot. Heh, they lowballed Todd. And he fell for it.
Over midnight snacks, Todd expresses his concern for their safety. Apparently he got beaten up by some dudes last week, warning him and Liz to stay off the story. He suggests they wait until Tom gets back from Las Vegas. Liz indignantly suggests that they don't need Tom, and Todd says, "I wouldn't mind having Tom lurking in the background to protect me." Hahaha, Todd! There is so much wrong with that sentence. He then says that waiting for Tom was just a suggestion, and he's now fulfilled his duty as an ex-boyfriend and surrogate brother to keep her safe. Ew, Todd, you can't be both those things to one person. Also, Liz already has a brother.
Elizabeth decides that since Todd brought up her significant other, she'd better one-up him and suggest that they could use Gin-Yung's help with this. Todd silently disses the idea, because "he didn't want to foul up a relationship with her by making her part of a threesome with Elizabeth." Needless to say, he allows himself to be talked out of that way of thinking pretty quickly.
They go meet Gin-Yung at a coffeehouse. Gin-Yung plays hers and Todd's song on the jukebox. Liz thinks that's kind-of fun, so she plays hers and Todd's song on the jukebox. Could Liz be the awkwardest person in history? What earthly business does she have doing that? Also, I hate that we don't get to find out what the songs are. I hope at least one of them is AC/DC's 'Big Balls.'
Todd and Gin-Yung play-fight about Liz and Todd being such good friends, and then Todd lays out what's going on with the sports scandal. Then he holds her hand and admires how perfect she is. Seriously. Even "her feet were just the right shape." As in foot-shaped? What other shape would they be? Todd mentions that he's speaking to a number of ex-players, which segues right into the next chapter.
Mark Gathers, Todd's ex-friend and AlexEnid's ex-boyfriend, makes an appearance. He's wearing cowboy boots, which is kind-of a weird option to land on when getting ready to meet Todd Wilkins. Maybe his feet are oddly-shaped; I don't know. Mark goes to the cafeteria, where everyone promptly ignores him. He tells the story about how Liz's exposé on recruiting tactics caused him to be booted off the team, and so he headed off to LA to find himself. He found himself (and some cowboy boots!) but has evidently become a social pariah at SVU. He's like, "Fuck this noise," and decides not to meet Todd after all.
Twenty miles later, Mark turns his car around and decides to come back to SVU after all, because he wants to get back into AlexEnid's pants. Okay then.
Meanwhile, Todd is calling a bunch of ex-players from a list he got from Gin-Yung. They all hang up on him, so for the last name on the list, he pretends to be fundraising for SVU and cons the guy into giving him his address. That's stalker behaviour, Wilkins, but as long as you know what you're doing. Then a guy with a deep (nay, hoarse!) voice calls Todd up and threatens him again.
Elizabeth has managed to get herself and Todd and appointment to see one T. Clay Santos, head of the alumni association. Liz warns Todd not to lose his temper. Warns him twice, in fact. As they drive into the Santos estate, they spot a stable. Note that Liz is the one who identifies them as thoroughbred racehorses, while Todd's all, "Horsies are pretty!"
They get to the house and meet Santos, and Liz seems almost disappointed that he's not nearly as shady and supervillainish as the rest of the players in this seedy little game. Todd tells Santos that he would like to be reinstated on the SVU basketball team, and Santos promises to send a letter to Dr. Beal (head of sports) doing just that. As they're leaving, though, he tells Todd that all of those questions he's been asking could be hazardous to his health, so Todd tells him to shove his letter. In the car, Todd seethes with rage. He has to remind himself not to run over the gatekeeper, 'cause that's a little bit illegal.
Mark finally Gathers up the courage to meet up with Woodward and Bernstein over there. He greets Liz by saying that he read about the William White business in the paper, and "it must've been a pretty hairy experience having an insane stalker try to murder you and all your friends." I don't know if it's needless exposition or if Mark's just trying to give Liz the shits. I think it's the latter, because he thinks to himself how uptight, sanctimonious and humourless she is. Heh. Mark, you're all right. Todd asks the big question -- did he ever get offered money to lose? Mark responds by jumping over the coffee table and punching Todd right in his stupid face-mouth.
We randomly get two chapters of Tom Watts's perspective, all the way from Vegas. He's worried about Liz and Todd spending all this time together on this dangerous, sexy mission, so when Liz calls, she lies and says that everything's fine.
Todd, meanwhile, is convinced that Daryl Cartright is "just dying" to talk to them again. That's a very poor choice of words, Toddles, all things considered. They go to Daryl's shack where Todd yells accusations at him until he finally breaks down and tells them that he's still getting money from the alumni to keep quiet, which, nice job there. He begs them not to drag him into their shit. Let's see if they'll listen.
Mark goes to the Santos estate on a cold, rainy night. It's all very ominous. Oh, and Santos has a man servant named Bobbo. I must move on from this. Mark tells Santos everything he knows about Liz and Todd's investigation, and then asks for a job. He says he deserves one, since he punched Todd Wilkins. Santos is like, "Yeah, that is pretty awesome," and gives him some money straight away. It's seemingly that easy to become a henchman in Santos's organisation. As he leaves, Mark overhears Santos telling someone over the phone to put a tail on Elizabeth's Jeep. This is supposed to lead us to believe that the Mazda attempting to run Jess off the road in the next chapter is one of Santos's many Todd-punching henchmen, but I recapped ahead and spoiled that for you. Apologies.
The next day, Mark begins his cushy side job as Coach Crane's assistant. All his old friends are impressed that he's worked his way back into the administration's good books, and Mark brags that he'll be back in school and on the team by next semester. Todd happens by and overhears this. He asks Mark how that's possible, and Mark says that it's thanks to their mutual friend Santos. So much for keeping a lid on it, Stealthy.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth gets called into Dr. Beal's office. Because 'ominous' is apparently the word of the day, he's taken the time to pull down the shades and set the mood. Liz thinks it's like being in a climate-controlled cave. Dr. Beal tells Liz that if she doesn't stop her rampant journalising, he's going to expel Jessica. Liz is all, "Bullshit; for what?" and he shows her some, um, photos. Of Jessica and Professor Louis. If you know what I mean. As Liz is leaving the office, she spots Mark sitting there, and he decides to tell her about his new job, too. They manage to get into a physical fight, and Liz drops her sister's smutty photos all over the floor. Way to go, everyone involved in this.
The C Plot: Winston and the Completely Disproportionate Punishment Police
We're almost at the good stuff, so I'm going to breeze through this Winston plot if that's alright with y'all.
Winston is failing Physics 101. Winston has stolen a copy of his latest Physics 101 test. Winston is scared of flunking out of school. Winston doesn't want to flunk out of school, because then his girlfriend Denise will dump him. Winston does not want this to happen.
Winston goes to do his test. Winston is nervous. Winston fakes a coughing fit. Professor Stark, the only professor in this book not currently putting his penis in his barely legal students, tells him to go get some water. Winston does so, then decides to use the test he's stolen to cheat.
Winston gets caught. Professor Stark shows no mercy. Denise breaks up with Winston. Winston and his parents go to meet with the disciplinary committee. The disciplinary committee think that Winston's an okay guy and decide not to punish him. Winston's dad is apparently a dick and wants them to send his son to the army.
Wait. Hold up.
Winston's father, the man who sired Winston, wants the university to send his one and only son to the friggin' army because he cheated on a test? What in the actual fuck? Mr. Egbert wants Winston to sign up for the ROTC, an acronym this Australian is unfamiliar with, but Winston and Wikipedia assure me is definitely the army. The army. Okay, back to the recap.
Mr. Egbert wins the round. Winston is now in the army. Denise, too, is now in the army. Denise and Winston make up, in the army. The end. Expect the next book to be Stripes.
The D Plot: Lila and Bruce, aka Why We Love Sweet Valley University
The Bruce/Lila saga picks up where we left off in the A plot, with them moving their worldly possessions into the Fabulous Beachfront Apartment for Fabulous People. Lila complains that Bruce has too many tennis trophies, and Bruce concedes that they may need to have three more fireplaces built just so he has enough room for all his accolades. Just as Lila happily tells her beau that their whole lives are going to be absolutely perfect, their landlady rings the doorbell and informs them that their cheque has bounced. She holds up the cheque that has RETURN! INSUFFICIENT FUNDS! stamped all over it, and Bruce is like, "Bah, what are these words?" He assures the landlady that this has never happened to him before, which I'll be kind and assume is the first time he's had to say that to a woman in any situation.
Bruce tells Lila that his new trust fund somehow works out so that he only has a certain amount of his own money to spend every month. I don't know enough about trust funds to work out whether this is right or not. Lila tells him that all her money is tied up in Italy, what with that whole exploding Italian count thing, and that he ought to call his trustee (Uncle Dan, whoever that is) and get some more moolah.
Uncle Dan, it seems, already knows about his nephew's money sitch. He says that Lila must be a gold-digger, like all women, and he ought not invest a cent in that broad. Bitter much, Uncle Dan? After Uncle Dan hangs up, Lila says that they can't ask her dad for money, because he's a Capulet, and he doesn't want his daughter shacking up with no Montague. Shameful priorities, Mr. F. Lila goes all Scarlett O'Hara and wails about how they just have to live together! Bruce says they can still do that, they just have to do it like regular college students and give up the beach views. Lila says, "You mean we could get something in the mountains?" Oh, Lila.
Bruce finds a one-bedroom for them to look at, but when they go to see the place, he's horrified to discover that it's the attic of a three-storey house. That's storey, Americans. Not story. That's not how that word is spelled in the King's English. I let the cheque/check thing go before, but this one's new to me, and I am horrified. Anyway, Lila decides that living like bohemians might actually be romantic, and she agrees to live in the shithole with Bruce. Fabulous Beachfront Apartment for Fabulous People, we hardly knew ye. Now it's all about the craptown attic apartment...for fabulous people.
Later that night, Bruce and Lila sit on the couch and laugh about how neither of them knows how to cook. Seems they tried to make themselves dinner, and Lila burned the heck out of some squash. Bruce then went to get pizza. He's the bestest. Lila closes her eyes and imagines how she's going to redecorate the place when her money's no longer in lire. Bruce closes his eyes and works out that if he wants to, Uncle Dan can fuck him over on his trust fund for as long as he pleases. Not sure how that's legal, but alrighty. They nuzzle on the couch a little longer...until the ceiling collapses in on them.
Truly, though, this is not okay. No relative of Bruce's would be so cruel as to let these two live like this, and since Uncle Dan wasn't in Patmans of Sweet Valley, I'm forced to believe it's just some guy with the first name Uncle, last name Dan. Hear that, Uncle Dan? YOU ARE ADOPTED.
The next day, Lila gets on her hands and knees and scrubs the apartment clean. You go, girl! Way to acclimate. She rewards herself by having a bubble bath. You go, girl! Way to still be Lila. Of course now's the time a handyman comes by to repair the roof. He says that the landlady has gone away for the week, and she gave him a key to get it. He'd like to get to work, please. Never mind that Lila is all sorts of nekkid right now.
The tradie fixes the roof and says that he can give Lila a receipt so she can be reimbursed by the landlady when she returns. Lila sadly tells him that she has no money, and what does the tradie do? He gives her ten bucks and tells her that she and Bruce can have dinner on him tonight. Lila is really, truly touched by this man's kindness, and it changes her whole perspective on the crappy, falling-apart, no-beachfront attic apartment. Until she realises that, at some point between bathtime and now, the water has been turned off. Bruce has to actually fix it himself when he gets home. Luckily he's so handy and awesome. If I could, I would give him a plumbing trophy that he could add to his collection. Then Bruce and Lila have a pillow fight and some sex, because why not?
Well, that's it for today. Happily for me, my local Salvos store also had the next book, Deadly Attraction, which they never had at my library growing up. Happily for you, irinaauthor has already recapped that mother, and it's pretty much this book + awesomer. Let's hear it for dead boyfriends and extreme journalism!