When university student Anastasia Steele met enigmatic businessman Christian Grey, it sparked a passionate love affair between them that changed both their lives and took them to places neither expected. After discovering Christian's singular sexual tastes, Ana went through a number of responses before finally finding a balance in their relationship that was acceptable to both of them. But ultimately she desired a deeper commitment.
Now happily married, Christian and Ana are madly in love and seem to have it all. But a dark force with an axe to grind isn't about to let them settle into married bliss easily. Soon they find themselves and their loved ones in the crosshairs of this malevolent person, searching for the truth before someone is harmed, or worse, dies. Meanwhile Ana endeavors to accept Christian's world of wealth and privilege, while staying true to herself and her own life goals, and Christian continues to struggles with his need for control. When a series of unexpected events shake his carefully ordered life, can he find a way to accept that some things are outside of his power to command or will he revert back to his old life, leaving Ana devastated?
Now that I've finished the Fifty Shades Trilogy I'm feeling both happy and sad. I'm so happy that I finally got around to reading the series, because it's been one of the most amazing literary experiences of my life. I've loved each of the books in turn, as I followed Christian and Anastasia through their tumultuous, emotional, roller-coaster relationship that has seen them both grow and change in unexpected but welcome ways. I've come to love the characters so much, I almost feel like they're real. I just can't get enough of them. At the same time, I'm now sad, because I can't go back and become a Fifty Shades virgin again.:-( Don't you wish you could flip a switch in your brain and forget your favorite stories, so you can read them all over again like it's the first time? But alas, their story is finished (more or less). I know that the author is rewriting it from Christian's perspective, and I welcome the chance to read it again from a different point of view, but I probably won't until Ms. James has all of them completed. I could barely stand to wait between these books, and I don't think I'll want to wait between the new POV books either. We'll see, though, if I can hold out that long.:-) At least I have the Fifty Shades Darker movie to console me in the immediate, but then I'll probably have to wait another year for the movie version of this book. No matter what, though, these are books that I won't soon forget and will definitely revisit in the years to come.
Christian is one of the most unforgettable romance heroes I've ever read. He's a brilliant businessman, but his intelligence surpasses the business world and can be found in his personal life, too, in the form of his interests, hobbies, and general knowledge. He begins the series as a broken man, who doesn't think he has much to offer from a genuine relationship standpoint. All he's ever know is his Dominant lifestyle, but Anastasia becomes the one woman he can't resist on an emotional level and who tempts him to want more. All of his love, affection, desire, and passion becomes solely focused on her alone, which makes for a heady romantic brew. Christian has grown from a Dom who wanted to tame Ana and bend her to his will, to a husband and lover who's intrigued and challenged by her smart mouth and unwillingness to be cowed by him. He's also grown to regret any pain or discomfort he brings her even if she found enjoyment in it, which I feel shows just how much he truly cares for her and is willing to change for her. Of course, he's still eager to engage in sex play, so that hasn't changed.;-) He just doesn't want to mark or hurt her anymore. Christian's vulnerabilities and how he still sometimes needs reassurance continue to melt my heart. As always, he can be a bit overbearing and overprotective, but most of the time, he's open to listening to Ana's concerns and taking her feelings into consideration. However, he isn't perfect. When unexpected circumstances arise, putting his carefully ordered world into disarray, it can be difficult for him to cope. But he eventually comes around. In the end, I felt like he'd made great strides from an emotional perspective. Hence the "freed" in the title. In some ways, he'd changed, and in other ways, he didn't. But in every way, he'd become a better version of himself.
I like that Ana is still the ordinary girl from day one, who's out of her element in Christian's world of wealth and splendor. She's totally content with the simple things in life even though he wants to place the world at her feet. On their honeymoon, when he bought her a bracelet that cost thousands, she later went out and brought herself a five dollar anklet at a low-end tourist shop, which I thought perfectly showcased the kind of girl she is. For her, it's never been about the money; it's only about her love for Christian. Although Ana has always been willing to take a stand when she needed to, she began as a shy girl who lacked confidence in her abilities. Being with Christian has helped her to grow into a more confident woman who doesn't hesitate to speak out to both her beloved husband and others. I love how she stood up to their new architect who was being sexually predatory toward Christian, and let her know in no uncertain terms that she wasn't going to put up with it. Ana is every bit as protective of Christian as he is of her, and she worries every bit as much about his safety as he worries about hers. Christian may have begun their love story with plans to tame Ana, but in fact, it was she who tamed him. She's incredibly deft at handling Christian's mercurial moods and keeping him from losing control most of the time. It's like she's become the Christian whisperer.:-) And just because she doesn't like the hard-core BDSM stuff that he used to engage in doesn't mean that she doesn't like to play too. In fact, she's begun to crave his kinks and is actually disappointed when they can't have playtime.
Christian and Ana's relationship is a thing of rare beauty. They're both very giving and loving toward each other, showing a willingness to compromise until they find that happy medium that's acceptable to both of them. It's really cute how they can't seem to get enough of each other. They love one another with their whole beings and from the moment they met, all others ceased to exist. They each believe in the other in ways they often don't believe in themselves, but in doing so they help the other to gain confidence in their own capabilities. Their relationship is one of warm, sweet, emotional moments interspersed with lots and lots of blazing passion. By the time I reached the end of the book, I was more than convinced that Christian and Ana were going to have a long and happy future together, till death do they part.
The one and only thing about this book that I found ever so slightly disappointing is that I really wanted more of a comeuppance for Elena aka Mrs. Robinson. Like Ana, I never felt like what she did to Christian at such a young age was right, even if he did feel it helped him in some ways. I loved what happened in the last book with Ana and Christian's mother taking the woman to task, but I was almost expecting more in this book. Without giving too much away, I'll say that I was at least glad that Christian came to a place of accepting that his relationship with her hadn't entirely been as a good thing as he'd originally thought and he permanently cut ties with her once and for all. It's just that I always agreed with Ana that she wasn't the true "friend" that Christian thought her to be and in fact, had behaved in a sexually predatory manner toward him. However, I guess this is one of those things where there unfortunately isn't equality between the sexes. And it wasn't in any way a deal-breaker for me, nor did it mar my reading of this otherwise exceptional love story. Christian and Ana's extraordinary love more than made up for it.
I also enjoyed all the little side romances that have been brewing in the background over the course of the trilogy. Christian's brother, Elliot, and Ana's best friend, Kate, move forward in their relationship. Exactly what's going on between Christian's sister, Mia, and Kate's brother, Ethan, remains somewhat ambiguous, but it seems like they may have something romantic in the works too. Then there's a slightly unexpected pairing that we first learn of in this book, which leads to more for this couple. Of course, Christian's parents who are still happily married after many years shine as a beacon of love and hope.
Even though I've tried, I don't think I can begin to express exactly how much I love these books and how much of an impact they've had on me. Christian is the kind of hero I'd love to wrap up in my arms and give all the love he deserves, while Ana is someone I could definitely see myself being friends with, because we're so much alike. I enjoyed the way Ms. James bookended this volume of the story with two little vignettes from Christian's childhood. The opening one nearly had be in tears as this little boy struggles for life in the days following his birth mother's death. The ending one was happier with little Christian celebrating his first Christmas as the Grey's newly adopted son, but at the same time, we can still see the sadness and self-loathing present in that tiny head. The author finishes the book off with two scenes from Christian's perspective, the first being where he meets Ana in his office, and the second being his visit to her at Clayton's hardware store. I'm guessing that these scenes are giving a glimpse of the opening chapters of Grey, and I can't wait to read more. But alas, I suppose I'll have to be patient. In any case, I've thoroughly enjoyed this ride and will definitely take any opportunity I can get to revisit Christian and Ana's world in the future.
Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual situations, including bondage, spanking, use of sex toys, and anal play, which some readers may find offensive.
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