By E.L. James
After walking out on Christian, Ana is haunted by memories and thoughts of him. Completely devastated without him, she is a shell of her previously vibrant self. Barely eating or sleeping, Ana starts her new job as assistant editor at SIP. When Christian emails Ana offering to give her a ride to her friends art show in Portland, she is be besieged by emotion. In turmoil, but unable to resist her longing for him, Ana agrees. On the way home from the show the inevitable happens and they begin to talk and argue about what happened in their relationship. As the passion between them resurges, Christian informs Ana of his new proposal – starting again with ‘a regular vanilla relationship with no kinky fuckery’. As the anguished lovers work together to reach some compromise and create a relationship that fulfills both their needs, Ana must come to terms with Christians past. When an ex-Sub of Christians confronts Ana outside her workplace, Ana starts to question whether Christian can ever be satisfied by a ‘vanilla’ relationship. Even though he says he loves her, will it be enough? Will Christian tire of her? Also the striking similarities between the ex-Sub and herself, make Ana question Christian’s motives.
In this book the author did try to add some plot, however it was fairly cliche and only got worse as the novel went on. The characters are so angst ridden at the beginning of this book that, frankly, it is hard to stomach. This reader found the book to be far less absorbing than the first one however, that may be due to a personal aversion to angsty characters. On another note, having the main focus of the book be the ‘saving’ of Christian from his depravity was also slightly off-putting. Christian’s sadistic tendencies and need for control are deep-rooted in painful memories surrounding his ‘crack-whore’ mother. In this reader’s opinion, Ana misinterprets his ‘kinky fuckery’ as a negative influence on his life and therefore convinces him that he needs ‘saving’. While it makes sense for Christian to confront and find closure with his past, it doesn’t mean that he has to deny all of his sexual preferences. Granted it is stressed in the book that Christian is much happier because of Ana, but this reader remains unconvinced that such a dramatic character shift in such a short period of time is possible, much less realistic. The actual writing in the novel is still decent. In this reader’s opinion, the author’s strongest point is her witty banter. When Ana and Christian are not being emotionally tortured they do maintain an engaging, flirtatious dialog.
This reader was extremely disappointed with this book, especially the erotiscism. I truly never thought I’d say this but, there was too much sex in this book. The language used, coupled with the overly ‘vanilla’ tones to the sex scenes, gets extremely repetitive, even more so than the first book. There are barely any BDSM elements anymore since the characters are trying to compromise to make their relationship work. It seemed the author couldn’t be bothered to develop sexual tension between the characters and just used their emotional angst to fuel their passion. “He glances down at me, and it’s there in the air between us, that electricity. It’s palpable. I can almost taste it, pulsing between us, drawing us together.” And then they fuck. There were only a couple of scenes towards the end of the book that actually deserve to be called erotic. Giving the author some credit, the scenes that were erotic had creative variety and ranged in appeal. However, the vast amounts of flowery repetitive sex in between almost drowns out the eroticism. Bottom line, this reader was disappointed and bored by this novel.