When I find a really good book, I just can't help but shout out about it. Fifty Shades is a series that took me by storm. It was recommended to me by a good friend, barely two days ago. I haven’t fallen in love with a book like this in far too long. I started with book one, FiftyShades of Grey, but quickly moved on to book two, Fifty Shades Darker.
I fell in love with Christian by somewhere around the end of the first chapter. He was the perfect Alpha male to me. He was strong and masculine and used to getting his own way, but he was also sexy and protective and sweet and he doted on her like someone he cherished her. Swoon.
Then he makes Ana an offer. I won’t spoil it for you, but essentially he shows her his BDSM lifestyle and asks her to be a part of it. But in a completely controlling Alpha jerk way. He offers her a contract and tells her she’ll need to sign it before they can become intimate.
When he offered her that contract, my heart broke. And I mean that. I was so enthralled by his character that my chest ached. The author had just ruined this wonderful man for me. I thought, it’s that romance, where the controlling, Alpha jerk gets tamed by the beautiful woman. I hate that guy. I’m not a fan of strong Alphas, because it’s just not realistic to me. How could a woman fall for that? I prefer my men soft around the edges. Give me a Beta (aka the best friend) any day. I had to put the book down and pondered whether or not I could actually pick it up back up. I was that disheartened by this revelation.
So I emailed the friend who recommended the book and had already moved on to book two. She said, “Don’t give up on him.” So I begrudgingly kept reading.
Yes, there are a lot more times when Christian becomes that Alpha. They argue, they fight often. He’s a control freak, who doesn’t seem to have any idea what he’s doing to her. And in those times, I want Ana to leave him. I want her to tell him off and storm out of his life. She deserves better than that! It takes her a long while to do it, and I have to tell you, I wasn't happy about that. It wasn't until I was about three quarters through book two that I fully understood. In between Alpha jerk, Ana gets glimpses of the real man inside. The soft-hearted, scared guy who’s hiding behind his control freak nature. And, just like I do reading this book, she caves, becomes unsure of herself.
IOW, Christian ends up being a very complex character. He’s real and it’s wonderful to behold, because his character arc is huge. His “issues” are realistic and that’s what makes me love him so much. Ana was real as well. I found her insecurities to be very realistic. Honestly, I'm tired of feisty heroines. Every once in a while, I want someone not quite so perfect. And Ana blossoms over the course of the two books. She finds her self-confidence during both books, learns to stand up to him, and the more she does, the more I found myself cheering for her. In the end, the two of them completely complement each other.
Downsides: repetition. Words and phrases repeated over and over. The love scenes, while scorching, are numerous and at times I found them repetitive as well. Which reminds me. The BDSM aspects are rare. It's more talked about than done, and in the end, it's abandoned completely. It's listed as "erotic", but the language is mild. The love scenes are fully described, but tastefully done. The F word is about the harshest word in this book (Christian refers to himself "f-ed up"). None of the harsh language you usually see in an "erotic" are in this book.
Also, it's really obvious that the author isn't American, because neither character's speech sounds like an 20-something American. It's more formal than it should be and there are definitely points where I recognize some British terminology. But, I didn't find that this took away from the book itself.
Also, these books follow nearly every single moment of these people’s lives, so that there are places in both books where I was bored to tears, wondering why the author didn’t just condense those places. But then I realized (in the end) that this is needed in order to gain the full scope of Christian’s character. Without going through absolutely everything, I don’t think he would have quite come alive the way he did.
Fifty Shades of Grey needs to be read along with book two, Fifty Shades Darker, in order to get the full scope of Christian’s character. Christian’s true inner character, that sweet, lovable guy, gets revealed extremely slowly and if you don’t read book two, you’ll likely come away from book one feeling slightly short changed. Book two is where you get most of the details of exactly why Christian is the way he is, and where his change is the greatest.
These books revolve around their developing relationship. That IS the plot and for me, this is perfect. This was right up my ally and extremely well done. I highly recommend it. Now, I'm off to indulge in more Christian in the third book, Fifty Shades Freed.