I don't know why I pushed through once I started getting irritated with the weird regressive snobbery of the main character -- probably because this is short and maybe she'd pull her head out eventually. An English teacher on her last dime is driving up from the deep South to Chicago to crash on a friend's couch and hopefully find a new job. She doesn't really have anyone in her life: parents are dead, boyfriend took off to Africa to Peace Corps or something. She gets into a car accident on the way to Spooky Gothic Boys Academy, and wakes up in the headmaster's apartment. She hassles him for a job and he puts her on a one week probationary period. Here's where things start to go to shit.
First, main girl starts hitting on the headmaster like it's her damn job. This is unbelievably unprofessional, if not downright unethical. Which fine, this is a Gothic romance, whatever. The real irritation set in when she began outlining her curricula, and I fully own what a dork ass thing that is to say. It's a boys' school, yes? With a very frusty hidebound reading list? And she's like, I won't bother them with Brontës or Austen because boys hate romance. What in the actual fuck.
This is actually, literally a romance novel, and we're going to have to hear a bunch of fucking bullshit about how 1) the Brontës and Austen wrote romance and 2) boys shouldn't have to read writing by women because it's all fucking romance. Jfc does that piss me off. Brontës were Romantics, no question, but given that the modern romance novel wasn't invented until a century and a half later, they were not writing romance novels. Moreover, if they were somehow writing romance, given their position in the actual Western Canon, there is absolutely no justification for keeping them off a reading list for boys, other than boys might get cooties and feel uncomfortable, and their delicate feelings must be shielded from women blah blah.
This bullshit is repeated when Gwen(?) considers maybe she should include some works by black authors because there is a single black student who, it is assured to us assiduously, is completely extraordinary and the smartest kid in the school. Which is why the headmaster went to bat for him the previous year when he was the first black student in the school, and half the parents pulled their kids. There's a (stupid) reason for why the school just integrated in the 21st fucking century, but Gwen does not know that reason. Headmaster gets all the cookies for standing up to racists, but it's full on bullshit that there are only white dudes on the reading list, and Gwen is all la la la maybe I should remedy that lol, instead of asking very pointed questions about what the fuck is wrong with a school that accepted its first black student in 20 fucking 18. But really she's much more interested in banging her boss before she even gets the job.
The ending is where I blew my top, but I'm not sure I should get into it because of spoilers. I'll just say that the horrible, inert ending of the Twilight saga, which saw Bella and Edward locked into enduring middle class perfection for ever and ever amen is, for me, the worst kind of hell. Aspects of that were replicated here, with an added bonus of the death wish of such a vision made more explicit. There's medieval heresies based on what happens here, and while I'm not usually aligned with religious crackpots high on ergot, we are in accordance here. What a strange world we live in.