Uh, wow. So this is IT? The book that the whole world is in utter fascination with? I think someone is laughing their way to the bank.
So I shamelessly caved and read this book after repeatedly swearing I never would, but the publicity and hype finally won me over. (I also got a free copy of the book, no way was I going to pay for this.) And while I now have a better understanding of the fascination, I still don’t get it. Sure, there were some hot sex scenes, and at times Grey and Ana were both likable characters. I eventually even understood their fascination with each other. And I liked them when they were away from the whole BDSM/punishment/discipline/control freaky shit. Grey even had the sexual stamina of ten horny rabbits put together! What’s not to like about that? (Dang, that man is always hard and ready!!)
But so much of this book was utterly disturbing! It primarily focused on Grey trying to coerce and manipulate her into being what HE needed, despite how much it would hurt her. He claimed to care for her and was patient, but it always boiled down to his need to punish and inflict pain. Outwardly he came across as a suave, polished and sophisticated normal person, but inwardly he was one sick dude. There were times they really were a great couple, but only when they were in a ‘normal’ environment. When the BDSM environment was involved, I wasn’t a fan of either of them.
Initially I couldn’t understand what the heck Grey saw in Ana. A clumsy, mousy naïve girl who face plants on the ground (TWICE!), and then pukes her drunken gut out. (Uh right, what guy wouldn't get hot for a girl like that?)
His quick attachment to her had me baffled for nearly the first half of the book. If all he wanted was a submissive with no romantic ties, why chose her? By his own words he no problem finding consenting partners before.
After Grey reveals his proclivities, I figured Ana would run for the hills if she had a brain in her head. Unfortunately, she is a naïve virgin with no experience to even compare him to, and the poor girl is so blinded by how “OMG, he’s so HOT!” So when she actually entertains his twisted notions and begins negotiating terms of hard and soft limits, I wanted to scream at her! How stupid and naïve are you girl?!! WTF?? WHY?? She was too trusting, too unaware, and he was painting one rosy ass picture of how wonderful his lifestyle would be for her. Sorry, but signing over your free will into a sexual contract where you WILL get hurt is just F’d up, especially when your gut feelings are constantly telling you to flee.
I’ll give Grey bonus points for his honesty at being so upfront with Ana, but that doesn’t make what he is about any less of a predator. He was honest with her about not wanting a normal ‘hearts and flowers’ relationship. If she agreed, she would be his submissive and enter into TRAINING. All he has to do is brainwash her into believing she would actually prefer this life style over the normal one she dreamed of. (WTF??!)
Another aspect I did not get was how Ana repeatedly accuses him of having commitment issues, but throughout the book it was her that had one foot in the relationship and the other foot well outside of the door. He on the hand was far more committed, albeit with a strict set of ‘rules’.
Despite all the WTFery and the disturbing portrayal of a young woman being coerced into an unknown and unsafe world, I was fascinated with the overall story. Like watching a train wreck fascinated, and nothing to be proud of. I found myself wanting to read just one more chapter and then another. So yes, this book was hard to put down. It was also hard not to pitch it at the wall!
I honestly thought I would not want to read about BDSM, but surprisingly that aspect didn't even bother me all that much until the end The hard spanking scene was just cruel, as intended, and beyond disturbing!!. If this was about two mutual consenting adults who fully understood what they were getting into, I might have even enjoyed it. But the constant coercion and manipulation killed the book for me.
In the end this book really made me want to scrub myself clean. And take some Advil. And rub on some Arnica cream to sooth ‘bruising, sprains and injuries’. (Chrisitian’s remedy to a bruising sore ass, oh lovely)
The writing is another issue with this book. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared, but the euphemistic inner dialogue drove me nuts. The book often read like a comic book script, not a serious contemporary novel. All of the Oh, my! GASP! whoa! What?! Kabam! Pow Pow!
(OK, not the last couple ones, but the rest are real!) were tiresome and over-done to death.
Well…love it or hate it, this was one controversial and thought provoking book, just WAY too distributing for my personal taste. They say one man's trash is another man's treasure, and maybe in this case one woman's trashy mommy porn is another woman's hot treasured erotica. (Oh, Nora Roberts this is not!)