When literature major, Anastasia Steele, agreed to interview billionaire businessman, Christian Grey for the university newspaper as a favor for her sick best friend, she had no idea how much her life was going to change. The man is drop-dead gorgeous and sexy as sin, but he's also intimidating and arrogant. Yet for some reason, he seems interested in Ana, which baffles her. Unable to resist his allure, she agrees to a date, during which he wows her with his expensive tastes in material possessions and frightens her with the revelation of his rare sexual tastes. Christian makes her a proposition to be his submissive, but Ana is an innocent who, until that moment, didn't know such things existed. Even after spending time with him, she still doesn't know even half of what Christian wants from her. But there's something about him that draws her like no man ever has before. She's the moth to his flame, and she fears that if she gives in to her desires, she may get burned. At the same time, she sees mysterious depths in him, a tortured soul in need of redemption, that makes her want to give all of herself to him. Christian can take her to heights of pleasure she never thought possible, but Ana needs a more normal relationship too. She thought when he agreed to try "more" that their relationship would grow in a way that she could come to accept, but if anything, he soon becomes even more enigmatic than before, refusing to give her the more intimate part of himself that she needs. When Christian finally unleashes his dark side, can Ana meet him in the darkness and draw him into the light or will it be the end of their beautiful and magical romance?
I know I'm late to the party on this one, but my mantra has always been better late than never. That especially applies when the book is as freaking good as this one is. Now I know what all the fuss is about. And all I can say is: Wow! Count me among the hordes of women who are now madly in love with Christian Grey. No romance hero has broken my Top 10 list in two and half years and it's been even longer since one has broken my Top 5, but that's about to change. Move over boys, because there's a new guy in town.;-) [Swoon!] I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey with a bit of trepidation, because I know it's a very polarizing book that has rather middling ratings at online book sites. Also erotic romances containing BDSM and dominant heroes can be hit and miss with me. But once I started reading the book all that anxiety faded away in the wake of its sheer awesomeness. I've read a lot of five-star romances, but it's been quite a while since I've read one that got me this excited. I could hardly put it down and I can't wait to read more!
It's not just Christian who made this story great for me either. I've read a number of wonderful romance heroines, some of whom were quite similar to me in personality, but very few who I can say that every single thing she said, thought, or did made perfect sense to me. Anastasia is just such a heroine. I felt like I understood her in a way that I often don't with literary characters, and that made the book all the more enjoyable to me. Her reactions to each new revelation and her thought processes are exactly what I believe mine would be in those circumstances. Ana is a literature major who loves books, especially old romantic classics. She's a romantic at heart who wants the kind of relationship for herself that she's only read about in books. She has a tendency to over-think things. (Boy can I ever relate to that.) She communicates better in the written word than verbally. (Another extremely relatable characteristic for me. Trying to talk to someone in person, my tongue often gets tied up in knots, but give me a keyboard and I can go to town.:-)) As a nearly 22 year old modern virgin, she may be unusual, but I like that she doesn't sleep around. IMHO, it makes her attraction to Christian feel that much deeper, because she's not just in it for the sex. I also think that her innocence brings a whole new dimension to her relationship with him and draws him in a way that an experienced woman couldn't. Ana is shy, sweet, kindhearted, and gentle, but she's not a pushover. If anything, she ends up admitting that she's not very good sub material. She's a very smart girl who doesn't simply sign his D/s contract without giving it a lot of thought (and I do mean a lot) and doing her research. I love that she negotiates with him as well as any shrewd businessperson would, and I think Christian respects her for it. She doesn't just give in to all of his demands, but she is willing to compromise on certain points. I feel like this shows her strength of character. She's also very good at intuiting things about Christian and isn't so naive as to not realize up front that he likely won't be able to give her what she really wants and that she may get her heart broken if she agrees to become his sub. But that doesn't stop her from hoping that she can eventually make sense of her Fifty Shades and get him to open up to her.
The whole book is written from Anastasia's first-person POV. At first, I thought that not having Christian's perspective might be a detractor, but now I think it was a stroke of writing genius. Not knowing exactly what he's thinking leaves the reader feeling a little off-balance and uncertain just like Ana does, as well as frustrated when he's reticent about his past or even his present. I also think it's going to be a lot of fun to peel away Christian's layers and learn his secrets right along with Ana. Not to mention, she sees him clearly enough to help the reader understand what kind of person he is without necessarily being inside his head. That doesn't mean, though, that I'm not looking forward to reading Grey, and seeing things from his side. I'll just wait to do so until I've completed the series.
Ahh, Christian! [Sigh!] Christian is obviously an extremely intelligent man not only to have made it where he is in the business world at such a young age, but he also has many other talents as well, such as flying, music, and speaking another language. No average person would be able to do all that he does, nor so skillfully. I think he's also an overachiever, because he never feels like he's good enough. Christian is definitely a control freak as Ana calls him, but it's a calm kind of control that is actually rather soothing and appealing to me. He rarely looses his cool (only once at the very end of the book, and it was totally understandable) even when Ana pushes him. He also possesses a quiet confidence that maybe leans a little toward arrogance, but IMHO he's not cocky. Dominant, possessive romance heroes often push my buttons and rub me the wrong way, especially if they're jerks, but I never had that problem with Christian. If anything, he shows glimmers of vulnerability in his responses to Ana from the very start and those chinks in his armor only reveal themselves more over time. It's what makes him so lovable in spite of his sexual deviance.
It's obvious that things are quite different for Christian with Ana than in his past relationships. He admits that he wants her deeply and that's definitely borne out in his actions. I feel like he falls for her every bit as much as she falls for him, but either doesn't realize it or isn't able to admit it yet. Although Christian is still pretty buttoned up most of the time, he also shows a lighter more playful side at times too, and I think it's Ana who brings it out of him. Christian may be a Dom, but he has a tender side as well that I love. For a man who hates to be touched, he's very tactile himself, and I love a touchy-feely hero. I also love his protectiveness. Even though he goes a little overboard, I think his heart is in the right place and it shows how much he really cares about Ana. I love him for his philanthropy too, and for his willingness to compromise and try to give Ana the more romantic relationship she needs, even though he isn't sure he's capable of it. Most of all, I just want to wrap him up in my arms (although I know he'd hate that) and give him all the love he so desperately needs. Christian is definitely among the most tormented romance heroes I've ever read (and we don't even know the half of what he's been through yet, though I can guess at some of it), and I'm itching to uncover all of his secrets.
Christian and Ana's relationship is a thing of beauty. It's not perfect, though. Christian holds back a lot of himself, but I think it's because the things he feels for Ana are so new and maybe even frightening. He's also a person who doesn't seem to trust easily and considering what we discover about his background in this book (which as I said, barely scratches the surface), it's pretty understandable. Ana can hold back too sometimes, I think for the same reasons, but it's never to a frustrating degree. It always made sense to me and they still give a great deal of themselves to one another. Ana is the virgin who's not just experiencing sex for the first time, but kinky sex. Yet a part of her is surprised by how good it feels and embraces it to a degree. But it's not only Ana who's having a lot of "firsts." I love how there are many things Christian does for the first time too, things he never thought he would ever do with or for anyone. I love how each of them comes from their respective positions of extremes and are able to find some middle ground. Although they may not have entrusted each other with all of themselves yet, it still takes a high level of trust for them to engage in the kinds of sex play they often do and that alone is a lovely thing. They both seem to be enthralled with one another, yet because of their respective self-esteem issues, they don't always see or understand how much the other one cares for them. Their relationship is by turns sweet, sensual, romantic, sexy, and downright scorching hot. But it's not all about the sex. There's a lot of tenderness in their romance too, and I was downright surprised by how many times I smiled or even laughed at their banter particularly over email. I didn't expect that kind of humor in such an emotionally taut book. I think it gave their relationship at lot of depth and range. What each of them feels for the other is intensely emotional and only gets more so as the story progresses, but sometimes love alone isn't quite enough to bridge a gap as wide as theirs and I'm dying to find out how they resolve their issues.
Between them, Christian and Ana have loving families and friends, who make up a cast of supporting characters who orbit the periphery, but mostly this is their story alone. And what a story it is! It took me on an emotional roller coaster ride, and when it was over, I didn't want it to stop. I'm as enthralled by these two and their romance as they are by each other. Fifty Shades of Grey is a beautifully written book filled with deep emotions and expertly rendered characterizations. I know it isn't for everyone, but I loved it and would highly recommend it to romance readers who crave heart-stopping love stories and who can handle the erotic nature of the story. Normally I have pretty good self-control, and I'd been planning on waiting a while to read the second book. Especially now that I've enjoyed this book, stretching out my reading of the series, would help to prolong my enjoyment. However, with that twisty emotional ending, I can't wait to continue. I'm still going to try to wait one more month, but it's going to be torturous. Fifty Shades of Grey has made a huge impression on me and I'll probably be thinking about it all throughout the coming month and beyond.
Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual situations, including a D/s style relationship, bondage, spanking/whipping/flogging, use of sex toys, and discussion of much kinkier things, which some readers may find offensive.
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