Fifty Shades Darker – E. L. James

image(2)Book Description (Amazon): Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades. While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life. This book is intended for mature audiences.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: meh

I liked about the first half of this book which felt a lot more like the first book. Then it sort of felt like the author wanted to change directions and make the story more “normal”, and I think that fell a little flat.   Verdict: 2.5 stars I had a lot of hope in the first book that this would be more of a modern story–not the damsel in distress being rescued by her valiant knight. But getting engaged to a man you barely know who has control (and many other) issues when you are barely 22 years old was a poor choice. I realize that it would be hard for the author to keep the magic of the first story going forever, but I don’t think this was the right direction to take. It turned the story into one of bickering and arguing, and no one wants to read a romance novel like that.

So we leave book 1 with Ana having tried out the submissive lifestyle, becoming emotionally overwhelmed and walking out on Christian. Book 2 begins 3 days later.

Ana has begun her job at the publishing house, and something is up with her boss, Jack Hyde. Christian sends her flowers for her first day of work, which she doesn’t throw away. He then sends her an email, asking about Jose’s photography show. She realizes that she hasn’t been getting any calls because she has had them all forwarded to her blackberry, which Christian has. Ana agrees to have Christian pick her up for Jose’s show the next night.

Christian picks her up (they have been separated for 5 days) and begins berating her about when she last ate. He really knows how to make girls swoon. Yet, he tells her that he’s missed her, holds her in his arms, and she realizes that’s where she needs to be. They take the helicopter to Jose’s show in Portland. One of the main features at Jose’s opening is a series of candid photos of Ana. Christian buys them all and is furious at Jose (and Ana) for taking them. Geez, lighten up dude.

After their brief appearance at the show, Ana and Christian go eat and talk. Ana reiterates that she can’t be what he wants. He insists that she is. Taylor picks them up and drives them back to Seattle so that they can have a chance to talk. Because a normal relationship is out of the question, they flesh out a new proposition for their relationship. Not really vanilla, but no serious punishment. Somewhere in between.

They arrive at her house, and he gives her a gift to be opened inside. He also agrees to pick her up from the bar the next night (she’s having after-work drinks with her sketchy boss). Everything is pretty much back to normal. She opens the box inside and finds an iPad filled with music and books.

The following day, she begins email banter with Christian who eventually informs her that her email is monitored. As she is heading out to have that drink with her boss, a girl stops her on the sidewalk. The girl looks strikingly similar to Ana, knows her name, and asks her, “What do you have that I don’t?” before walking away. Uh ok.

Ana smartly keeps her distance from Jack at the happy hour, and when he finally starts talking to her, Christian appears. Jack is obviously annoyed at the interception. On the ride home, Christian grills Ana about Jack, and he tells her that if Jack pulls anything, he’s out…because Christian now owns her company (so he’s Jack’s boss). She’s mad, but not for long. They go back to Ana’s apartment, and make up for lost time.

Christian stays over, and Ana dreams about the strange girl outside her office. She awakes with a start and tells Christian about her.  He realizes that it is one of his ex-subs and makes some phone calls (presumably to his security) about it. He wants to just brush it off, but Ana, understandably, wants to know what’s going on.

Leila, the sub, has some mental issues. When Christian and Ana were in Georgia (book 1), Leila showed up at Christian’s and tried to commit suicide. They got her to the hospital, but she checked herself out. No one had been able to find her since, including her husband who she married after Christian, and ran out on him four months ago.

Christian has had Taylor return Ana’s car (which she relinquished during the breakup) and also informs Ana that he has deposited $24k in her account for the sale of her Beatle. Ana is shocked and somewhat upset. She tells Christian that she needs to get her hair cut for his father’s function that evening, and Christian, like a complete and utter idiot, takes Ana to “Mrs. Robinson’s” salon. Ana is understandably furious, and walks out, and Christian arranges for one of the stylists to come to his house instead because he doesn’t want Ana to be alone with crazy Leila on the loose. Ana learns that Leila has obtained a concealed weapons permit.

They go back to his place. Ana gets her hair cut. They talk about Leila, Mrs. Robinson, the $24k sale of her car. Christian tells her that he earns $100,000 per hour. Assuming he’s using a 40 hour week, that equates to $208 million a year. For a 27 year old. Who never appears to actually do any work. Yep that seems realistic.

Christian has ordered some additional security for the party just in case. While getting ready, they do a little foreplay of sorts mapping out the untouchable parts on Christian with lipstick–showing Ana the boundaries where she can touch…which she proceeds to do. Progress, I suppose. They decide to use the Ben wa balls for the charity function. (I bet sales of those dramatically increased due to this series).

They arrive at the party. It’s a bunch of schmoozing. During the auction for the weekend stay in Christian’s Aspen home, which Ana didn’t know about, she decides to bet her $24,000 that she made from the sale of her car. Christian is annoyed with her, why, I don’t understand. He makes $100k/hour. They then have a “first dance auction”. Ana is worried that Christian is going to be upset (get over it!) but Mia assures her that he will win her. He doesn’t. She asks Christian who it was, but he doesn’t say. Instead he leads her to his childhood bedroom for some naughty time. She sees a picture on his nightstand, but he says it’s no one of consequence.

They return to the party, and she is introduced to her first dance partner, Christian’s therapist, John Flynn. After the dance, Ana heads for the restroom and is stopped by Mrs. Robinson who tells Ana that Christian loves her (Ana) and then she proceeds to threaten Ana that if she ever hurts Christian again, that it is not going to be pleasant. Apparently Christian was completely shattered by their 3 day break up. Sometimes I forget that these people are supposed to be grown ups.

Ana talks to Carrick briefly who reveals that his wife was the doctor who took care of Christian when he was rescued as a young child, and that he didn’t speak for two years. No wonder he’s a mess. They stay for the fireworks and then head home. Sawyer, the security guard, hands Ana a letter from Elena (aka Mrs. Robinson). Awkward. And then when they get back to Christian’s, Christian and Sawyer search the apartment for any sign of Leila, but they don’t find any. Ana goes to bed.

She awakes with a start with the feeling that someone is in the room with her. She goes to find Christian, and he is on the phone with Elena. He’s telling her to leave Ana alone. They go back to the bedroom, and realize the balcony door is open. Ana realizes that there was someone in the room with her when she awoke. Christian decides that they need to go to a hotel somewhere. Taylor escorts them to the garage where she sees her car with the tires slashed and covered in paint. She finds out that Christian buys all his subs the same exact car, so that’s how Leila knew which one was Ana’s.

They check into the hotel under Taylor’s name (very sly) and let off some steam. After breakfast, Dr. Green, the OB/GYN, comes by the hotel to give Ana a birth control shot because her breakup was so traumatic that she forgot to take her pill. She gets a pregnancy test, which startles her. Because you know, no one can get pregnant by having the sex without birth control. Ana tells Christian about it after, and he is upset too.

They take a shower, and Ana slowly cleans off the lipstick lines off Christian from the night before. She wants to know who would traumatize him so much. And then Christian tells Ana that he loves her. (Duh.)  They go buy her a new car–a Saab (snore) and then walk around until going on a trip on Christian’s boat. This whole section is really dull and forgettable.

When they get back and Ana decides to start getting ready for work, Christian flips out. Leila is still out there. She shouldn’t work. He’ll take care of her. Ana at least has the good sense to roll her eyes at him. She gets to work and Jack informs her that he wants her to go to New York with him later that week. Well that is not going to fly with Christian especially after he has just asked Ana to move in with him. Since he owns the company, he orders a moratorium on all spending so that Ana can’t go to the conference. Ana is understandably pissed at Christian (because he doesn’t actually talk to her about things ever like a grown up), but he is validated by Jack creeping on Ana later that night.

Christian picks her up from work, and after some sexy time in a stopped elevator, Mrs. Lincoln shows up to tell Christian that she is being blackmailed by her current sub. Who cares? Why is this whole story line thrown in here?

Ethan, Kate’s roommate arrives, and meets Ana at her office to pick up the apartment keys (since Kate is still on vacation with Elliott). After work, Christian picks up Ana, and they go to pick up Ethan for dinner. When they arrive at the apartment building, Ana gets buzzed in since she gave Ethan her keys. When she gets into the apartment, she realizes that it wasn’t Ethan who buzzed her in, it was Leila. Ana keeps her cool and manages to not get shot all the while Leila is asking “what do you have that I don’t?”. Turns out that the whole dom/sub thing is probably not good for some people. Christian eventually realizes what happens and comes up with Taylor and rescues the two of them. Christian stays with Leila in the apartment while Taylor takes Ana and Ethan back to Christian’s. (Ethan showed up which alerted Christian that he wasn’t actually in the apartment).

Ana and Ethan detour to the bar where they proceed to get drunk. Upon arrival back at Christian’s, Ana is in big trouble for going out drinking. Despite the fact that Christian has spent the last x hours bathing and taking care of an ex-sub. And to make her feel even worse, he counters her anger by becoming submissive. They get into a discussion of all of the main issues–Leila, Ana leaving, how all the subs (and Ana) look like Christian’s mother, Christian’s childhood, and then just like that, Christian asks Ana to marry him. Um you’ve known this guy for like a month. You’re 22 years old. He’s a complete lunatic that you barely know with a ton of baggage. Ana tells him she has to think it over and she wants to discuss with Dr. Flynn.

The following day at work, Jack is in an awful mood. He’s shouting at Ana about every minor issue. It probably doesn’t help that she arrived late, met Ethan, took a phone call from Jose (who is going to deliver the paintings), and took a phone call from Mia (who tells her that Saturday is Christian’s birthday) during work. During her lunch break, she realizes that she has to give Christian unconditional love or he will never be OK. She neglects to actually eat lunch during lunch so later in the afternoon, she goes to the break room. She’s followed by Jack who closes the door (whose break room has a door?) and tells her that it’s a good time to discuss her misdemeanors.

Jack has realized that Christian now effectively owns the company, and he is livid. He thinks Ana was put in as a spy, and of course he won’t tell anyone about Christian’s takeover if she does him some sexual favors. Thankfully for Ray, Ana knows how to defend herself, and leaves wounded Jack in a heap as she leaves the office. Christian is there to pick her up so that they can go to the appointment with Dr. Flynn. He hears the story of Jack, and he orders him fired. Security escorts out Jack while Christian makes a cryptic call to someone about “other stuff” on Jack’s computer. (How they did that all so quickly is quite impressive.)

Well everything exciting in the book is over. Ana and Christian alternate between fighting about Christian’s overbearing stubbornness and jealousy, and then having make up sex to fix it.  Seems like a good relationship…*sarcasm*

Because of Jack leaving, she’s been promoted to editor in chief. That seems reasonable. Obviously it was Christian, but in real life, would a shrewd businessman put an inexperienced person in a position of such power? Not likely.

Ana sets up Ethan and Mia (so now there’s a really weird sibling love triangle going on.) Ana gives Christian his birthday present early but he’s not supposed to open it until the party. They meet with Dr. Flynn, and nothing really exciting comes from it. Then Christian takes Ana out to see a house on the sound that he wants to buy for them. And then at his birthday, when he opens Ana’s gift that says “YES”, everything falls into place. Happily arguing ever after. Kate is the only person who thinks this is insane, but she’s easily bullied by Mr. Christian Grey. Elena hates it too but for a different reason of course, and no one cares what she thinks. Christian’s mom overhears some of Elena’s conversation, realizing what went on between Christian and Elena (took long enough) and kicks her out of the birthday party. At the end of the night, Christian gives Ana a “real” proposal with a ring (giant of course).

The book ends with a man talking about how he’s still on Grey’s trail despite him not dying in the helicopter crash.  And it’s pretty likely that man is Jack. On to the next book.

Verdict: 2.5 stars

I liked the beginning of this book because it felt more like the last book, but it just got more and more daytime soap opera as it went on. Not only do we have drama from 2 old partners, we also have this situation with Ana’s boss. And despite Christian being this savvy businessman, he never seems to actually work, and he puts Ana in position to be editor in chief after working there for maybe 2 weeks. And then the whole marriage thing. Yeah totally you should get married to someone who you constantly argue with and barely know. This book was a train wreck, and the sex scenes weren’t enough to save it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2.5 stars, Book Review

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