I think I now know how an addict feels. It’s a love hate relationship with your drug of choice and you can love and hate the drug at the same exact time. That’s how I felt about EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey.
The subject matter is very interesting on a dark and intimate level. BDSM is something that a person toys with, pun intended, on the very fringe of what is considered acceptable and most people, if they pursue it at all, only scratch the surface of what this particular scene is all about. Most of us are babies and we like our sex fairly bland, or to borrow from the book, vanilla. Most of us don’t have playrooms and most of us don’t want them. This book gives a whole new meaning to the term panic room.
In the first several chapters, I was holding my breath. The male character promised a dark and most probably terrifying experience in the playroom. I kept waiting for the pain, like it was going to happen to me. Mercifully, it didn’t happen to the very, very end of the first book and even when it did, it was not dealt with in the same sharp detail as the lead in. I was sort of disappointed in a way that is very twisted. Sorta like when you brace yourself for impact only to have a near miss. Sure no one wants to be in an accident, but you’ve prepared yourself and when it doesn’t happen, it’s hard to come down from that initial adrenaline rush.
The book explores darkness and taboo through the eyes of someone who’s had no experience whatsoever in this discipline (will the puns ever cease?). She’s an honest to God virgin and while it’s exciting to see her grow into a surprisingly strong-willed person, I was biting my nails for her through about two-thirds of the book. I kept waiting for her to get her punishment and to be honest, it wasn’t a good feeling.
There was something sort of Twilight-ish feel about the relationship between the two characters and I read a lot of reviews claiming that the book was a work of fanfiction. The mental domination of the main characters is evident. The fact that the male’s parents had adopted their children is also a nod at the Cullen family. The female main character was an innocent, in stark contrast to the male lead; exactly like Edward and Bella. The author even threw in a secondary wanna-be love interest who twists the male lead into a ball of jealous, dominant, possessive fury (yeah, I know, three words that basically mean the same, but all need said). Does that take away from the book? For me no, I sort of enjoyed finding the parallels and gave myself a high five each time I made a correlation. It was like a puzzle and so I didn’t mind connecting the dots.
So far, pretty bleak huh? Maybe I’ve dissuaded you from picking this up. I certainly hope not. I think it’s a fascinating book dealing with a fascinating subject. Certainly not for the faint of heart or someone not open to extreme displays of affection. (Yes, spanking can be a form of endearment.) What I loved about the book, and I mean it in the gotta have it, where’s the needle kind of love, was the pull it had on me. I needed to know how this turned out. I needed to feel the absolute domination he exerted over her. I needed to see her grow and yes, even be punished. It was that addictive. I loved the book and hated the book for its addictiveness. Of my own free will I stepped off the ledge in to this book, hating myself the entire time. And whether you’ve ever contemplated this kind of exploration or not, it will pique your interest. It’s terribly naughty and therein lies another draw. As our female lead alludes, like a moth to the flame.
As a full disclaimer, I’ve only read the first in this trilogy, and I’m not sure I’m going to grab books two and three. My hesitation is the direct result of whether I have the stamina to live through the entire trilogy. I nearly killed myself with Twilight and I’m afraid that Fifty Shades will do the same thing to me. I’m afraid to be drawn in and used up and like any good recovering addict, I know that’s a very real possibility. Add my abhorrence to paying $10 for an ebook, and the series may end for me here.
I think you should try it and whether I mean the book or the bondage is my little secret. Keep an open mind!