DDS REVIEW: Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James

Sunday, July 22, 2012 1:00
Posted in category Review

Veena’s Duckies Do Series review of Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James
Erotic Romance ebooks published by Vintage May 11 – Jan 12

E.L. James has consistently held the 1, 2, and 3 spots on the bestseller list for 122 days and counting with her controversial Fifty Shades Trilogy. I had hesitated to pick up the series due to the comments regarding poor editing, typos, and unbelievable characters until a total stranger in an airport lounge raved about how these books had changed her relationship with her significant other and highly recommended I read them. She was on her third reading of the series. In the quiet of the night as I winged my way half way across the globe, I began to read and got so caught up in the life and relationship of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele that I forgot to sleep. Any poor grammar and/or editing mistakes became totally irrelevant.

Book Cover

Fifty Shades of Grey
Book 1 – 25 May 11

Anastasia Steele is a naive, very young 21-year-old college senior. She gets swept into the world of Christian Grey, gorgeous billionaire extraordinaire, by accident, literally falling at his feet at their first meeting.   Christian, who is active in the BDSM lifestyle as a practicing dominant and sadist, perceives Ana’s nervousness and shy demeanor as signals of her submissiveness, only to find out as their relationship progresses that she  “doesn’t have a submissive bone in her body.”

In Fifty Shades of Grey the author opens us to a voyage of discovery as Christian and Ana act on the instant attraction of their first meeting and through a variety of excuses and opportunities start to explore a relationship.  Ana’s romantic dreams of flowers and hearts meet with the harsh reality of negotiating a Dom/sub contract, which is Christian’s relationship reality. Naive, virginal Ana holds  her own with Christian as she negotiates for what she needs from a relationship and yet compromises on other issues as she surrenders her virginity and explores her sexuality. Christian, who, in his own words, is “fifty shades of fucked up,” finds that he has definitely met his match and slowly evolves as a human being as he moves toward finding and providing the “more” that Ana needs from a relationship.

Secondary characters in their lives, Jose her photographer friend; Kate her roommate – who is dating Christian’s brother Elliot – Ethan; Kate’s brother, Taylor, who is Christian’s bodyguard and driver; Ray, Ana’s stepfather; and Ana’s mother are all well-developed characters who play their roles in furthering the story which moves to its inevitable conclusion. The harsh reality of sado-masochism clashes with  romantic idealism and Ana  flees from the relationship.  The book is an excellent primer on the BDSM lifestyle and provides a well-developed framework for negotiating a Dom/sub relationship.

Grade: B+

Summary:

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

No excerpt available.

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Book Cover

Fifty Shades Darker
Book 2 – 13 Sep 11

Christian reaches out to Ana on the pretext of a pre-arranged trip to Portland to view Jose’s photography exhibit  in his attempt to find comfortable ground with Ana and a bridge over her fear and pain.  Pretty soon their combustible relationship has them back in bed, continuing to explore Ana’s sexual boundaries as Fifty Shades Darker continues their story from where it left off at the end of the first book.

This is the best book of the three, as Ana explores her sexual freedom and finds herself as a woman, as a professional in the workplace, and as an equal in a relationship with a man who’s used to calling all the shots.   Through interactions with the people from his past and in his present and through his innermost feelings and secrets that Christian reveals to her one at a time, she finds the person hidden behind the brilliant facade he presents to the world, who she lovingly refers to as “fifty.” He’s a complex man, not a simple white or black, but truly fifty shades of gray.  I thought the most beautiful moment in the book is when he takes her to the attic that he has filled with flowers for her to give her his heart and flowers instead of the purely sexual relationship that he had originally proposed when they first met. The author does a terrific job of using short one-line emails to drive the story forward and keep the reader engaged and amused with the banter and back-and-forth dialog between the two protagonists.

Grade: A

Summary:

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.

No excerpt available.

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Book Cover

Fifty Shades Freed
Book 3 – 17 Jan 12

A loving relationship between a happy couple is as much of a negotiation and setting of hard and soft boundaries between two partners as is a contract between a Dominant and his submissive.  Fifty Shades Freed is Christian’s journey from the trauma of his past into the sunlight of love and acceptance.  He learns that he gets the same focus and clarity of thinking within the intimacy of his relationship with Ana as he did from his control as a Dominant.

Jack Hyde, Ana’s former boss, comes back into their life as a serpent in Eden attempting to poison their harmony.   As they defeat Jack’s attempts and the barriers seen and unseen dissolve between Christian and his family, they emerge triumphant from their trials to live happily ever after.

Grade: A

Summary:

When unworldly student Anastasia Steele first encountered the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment. Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.

Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.

Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

No excerpt available.

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Yes!  This story is erotic romantic fiction. The author has done a terrific job of blending in strong characters who explore their sexual boundaries and engage in elements of kink to spice up their physical relationship.  Even though Christian Grey is larger than life with his beautiful looks, his extreme wealth and proficiency in flying, sailing and other sports, his concert-level musical skills, the reader empathizes with him and admires his resolve and drive which brought him from extreme poverty to being one of the youngest entrepreneurs of his time.  As Ana and Christian work through the various facets of their relationship, I find myself really engaged and involved and rooting for the both of them.

There are elements of mystery to further spice up the story and the author maintains the suspenseful elements well. I  love the way the author uses emails as a means to keep the dialog crisp and drive the story forward without a lot of prose.  All in all, I echo the recommendation from the stranger I met at Los Angeles International airport: “Do read the books, you won’t be sorry.”

I’m glad I read them and these are definitely a keeper on my bookshelf.

Overall Grade: A

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