Fifty Shades Darker (Book 2 in The Fifty Shade Trilogy)

 

Author: EL James

532 pages

Available: Now

Warning: Very Adult Content in parts….read at your own risk

 

My review of Book 1, Fifty Shades of Grey, can be found here but a quick recap:

Christian Grey is a super successful businessman and a sexual Dominant who meets uber virginal Ana Steele who is a college student and just uber virginal. They fall in love and he introduces her into the world of BDSM. Nice tame BDSM but he does tie her up a few times and spank her. And she introduces him to the world of spending the night together, cuddling and ‘vanilla’ sex. Unable to cope with Christian’s lifestyle, Ana leaves him.

Our lovers part, lives are ripped asunder and misery abounds. And so ends Book 1.

Fifty Shades Darker finds Christian and Ana still apart and absolutely miserable without each other.  Ana has started her new job and just a few pages in, Christian has sent her flowers and an email. Yep…..it’s all going to be back on.

This novel concentrates on the burgeoning relationship between our protagonists. We get to watch as they really get to know each other, as they move through the lust stage and have to really deal with each other. Now that’s not to say they aren’t still lusting but it’s moving into relationship territory. We’ve all been through it and it can be tough.

James also delves a lot deeper into Christian’s ‘issues’.  As Ana spends more time with him, including nights, he can no longer hide behind his whips and chains and has to confront who he is and who he wants to be. We meet his family & some friends…..and of course, Ana is still blindly and irrationally jealous of Mrs Robinson.

Ahhhhh Mrs Robinson. I think every female knows a Mrs Robinson. The woman in your man’s life you are insanely jealous of either with good reason or just because she exists. Nothing like a good dose of jealousy to amuse and delight those among us who enjoy witnessing a hissing mini breakdown…..hopefully in public!

Christian finds himself in unexpected territory when it comes to Ana’s friends & family as well. He meets and is very surprised by his reactions to her parents & close friends. The common ground he finds made me smile. Another layer of the mysterious Mr Grey peeled away.

And again there is the sex. Still lots and lots of it. And in Darker, it is a little more creative, a little more giving, a little more meaningful. But…..

But…. it’s still oh so dull!

Ana has managed to shame the already damaged Christian into almost exclusive vanilla sex. He is allowed to spank her once. As a treat.

Now I have mentioned that we delve deeper into Christian’s issues and I am in no way negating the impact an abusive childhood can have on people but this all happens before Ana knows the truth.

Ana becomes just another person to use Christian. Sure it’s all wrapped up in so called love and sweetness and her wanting to help him and blah blah blah. What rubbish.

Just like it’s oh so obvious big sister aka The Twilight novels, this is an ode to dysfunctional relationships. The women who read…..nay inhale….these novels are being told it’s okay to stalk and be stalked as long as it’s ‘love’. It’s okay to be controlled and controlling as long as it’s ‘love’. It’s okay to want to change another person and berate and shame them into doing this….you guessed it. As long as it’s ‘love’.

I would have preferred to leave the psychoanalysis to the professionals. To offer it up as erotica is a little bit nasty. I am sure there are lots of screwed up BDSM aficionados out there but to demonise them again is just rude. I am sure there are a lot of screwed up vanilla sex devotees out there too but I guess that’s not so titillating.

And that’s the rub. Another Fifty Shades novel marketed as some kinky sex romp is nothing of the sort. It’s simply more validation for the modern woman’s belief that bad boys just need the love of a good woman to sort them out. The irony is that once a bad boy has been tamed by the love of a good woman, he becomes dull, uninteresting and pathetic.

What changes within Ana? Nothing. To Christian, she is perfect just as she is. He tells her constantly. He adores her. Yep….more validation for the self absorbed narcissistic modern woman. If a man truly loves you, he will change into whatever you want.

Sure Christian is a good ummm an excellent lover and we love that in a man. As a close friend pointed out, the reason women are swooning over Christian Grey is because he is good in bed. He knows what to do, how to do it, how long to do it and when to do it. Ana doesn’t have to tell or guide him (not that she could anyway). He knows how to give a woman endless orgasms and he does it gladly, with great instinct and he genuinely loves giving her pleasure. Come to me Christian…you can bring the whip baby!!!

Let’s not tame all our bad boys. I like my boys bad. And so does the vast majority of women judging by the men we find hot, sexy and gorgeous. Why is Mad Men’s Don Draper so attractive. Because under that smart suit beats the heart of a bad boy. Why is True Blood’s Eric the Vampire so damn sexy. Because he doesn’t ask, he takes…..and you will love every second of it!

And don’t even get me started on the eternal bad boy, the image on whom all bad boys base themselves James Dean and even his modern namesake, porn superstar and women’s lust object James Deen. What? You don’t believe me about the porn guy? Google him. A pop culture phenomenon. But more on him at a later date 😉

All these words for a book I found boring. Oh my….

Will I be reviewing book 3, Fifty Shades Freed? You betcha!!! I won’t stop reading now but I am taking a break from Fifty Shades and reading some Sookie Stackhouse.

I did say I liked my bad boys bad……

PS. A quick look around my local stores shows they are sold out of Fifty Shades of Grey but have piles and piles of the other two books. Make out of that what you will.

PPS. Alexander Skarsgard….please do not do these movies. Please.

Fifty Shades of Grey

 

Author: EL James

514 pages

Available: Now

Warning: Very Adult Content in parts….read at your own risk.

Anastasia Steele is a naïve and innocent college girl who offers to help out her best friend, Kate, by interviewing mega-industrialist Christian Grey for their student newspaper. Anastasia stumbles, literally, into Christian’s office and is instantly attracted to the very handsome yet intimidating young man. She gasps and blushes and he watches with a slight smile. Christian is attracted to her as well and he pursues her with good deeds and expensive gestures. Grey is dark, secretive and composed in contrast to Ana’s fumbling, childlike innocence. And when I say innocence, I mean it in a very literal sense. Ana is a virgin and has barely been kissed. The scene has been set…..Grey is very, very dark and Ana is very, very innocent. Oh my!

But the course of true love never did run smooth. You see, Mr Grey is a Dominant and wishes Miss Steele to be his submissive. Within a short amount of time, he issues the breathless, swooning Ana with a detailed contract he wishes her to sign. She must agree to be his submissive if she wishes to pursue any kind of relationship with him. Grey has never had a relationship of any other kind and does not wish to do so now. He wants Ana but will not relent. For all her innocence, Ana manages not only to avoid signing the contract but to engage Grey in the previously unknown world of ‘vanilla’ sex. He breaks rule after rule for her.

In between all this chasing and contract negotiating there is sex. Lots and lots of sex. The pair cannot keep their hands off each other. He slowly introduces her to his world of BDSM via some very tame and light bondage. A little bit of spanking and one session in his fully decked out playroom. She introduces him to the world of sleeping the night together and cuddling. Ana is all goodness and light and will save the dark, tortured Christian from himself.

Yes, you are so right. We HAVE seen this all before. And very recently too. Maybe not the specifics but the general premise of this relationship is very, very familiar. 50 Shades of Grey started it’s life as Twilight fan fiction. Crap!

Okay, so here we go…..

There is nothing wrong with this book. It is not a bad book but it is not a good book either. The premise is a very interesting one and, in the hands of another more accomplished and/or knowledgeable writer, it could have been much, much better. I found it engaging, I must admit but that was mostly because it is a very easy read. When I asked friends who liked the book why they liked it, they unanimously agreed that it was because it was an easy to read love story.

That electric feeling between our star crossed lovers is something most of us love. Whether you are happily married, single, newly dating, whatever, we all yearn for that passion. The first days/weeks/months when you will do or say anything just to make your beloved happy. To have someone want us so badly that they put aside their own wishes to accommodate another person. Ahhhhhhhhh yes!

This brings me to the writing. Now, call me a harsh bitch but if you are going to put pen to paper and write an erotic novel….or three… then you had better be comfortable with references a little more specific than down ‘there’. Seriously. This woman is writing about a potential Dom/sub relationship, with a contract stating all types of sexual acts I am sure many people do not usually engage in, but she cannot find a suitable adjective….or three….for her vagina. This entire relationship will require honest and open communication but she fumbles over a few words. Crap!

It also bothers me this whole ‘good girl must save bad boy from his dark demons’ thing. Is it a coincidence his name is Christian and her name is Steele? It probably is, you know. I fear I am delving into depths that simply do not exist.

Why do women think they need to save bad boys? Why is BDSM being demonised? The relationship he proposes is built on trust and consent, he is very clear and particular about that. Safe words are established and he reminds her of them many times. She has, as all subs do, complete power over her situation. She can leave at any time. She chooses to stay. Why can she not just stay and see what happens rather than continually imposing her ideas and ideals onto him. I suppose if she did that, we wouldn’t have a story.

Or would we?

I would love to read this story without the moralising and the whole good triumphs over evil undertones. But I am someone who cut her teeth on Pauline Réage’s The Story of O and The Sleeping Beauty series by A. N. Roquelaure so perhaps my views are a little more left of centre.

But this good girl saving bad boy morality is exactly what has allowed this novel to go mainstream and sell its millions (or whatever) copies. Mommy porn as it has been dubbed. The kinky sex book all the girls can feel okay about reading. Sex shops and the like must be rubbing their hands together as these women order a riding crop and some silky soft ties.

Should you read this book? If you want an easy to read love story with an ever so slight edge to it, then go for it. I can absolutely see the appeal and as it is only $10 a book, why wouldn’t you read it? If you are expecting a real glimpse into the BDSM lifestyle, this book is not for you. I mean, was there ever any doubt? Oh there are some aspects that are spot on, most assuredly, but for the most part, this has been watered down and watered down to feed the masses.

Finally, I would like to see Ana’s subconscious and her inner goddess go outside and beat each other senseless. No safe words just duke it out. The constant references to these inner parts of her psyche were so annoying I wanted to scream. That and her constant holy crap and holy shits. Please *rolling my eyes*

Now I am off to read Fifty Shades Darker because why not? These books are such a pop culture phenomenon that I simply cannot resist. It’s just what I do….