I just finished reading E. L. James’s Fifty Shades trilogy.
Noting Myth’s and J’s warnings that the books were birthed from Twilight fan fiction, and nothing possibly good could come of that, I nonetheless downloaded the first book on my Kindle. There’s been a lot of buzz about the book, and as a long-time reader of romance (I completely devoured a trunk of trashy paperbacks bestowed to me by my aunt in elementary school that I was mysteriously allowed to read by my otherwise conservative parents) and an advocate of kink, I felt it behooved me to see what was what. Besides, Sexy Librarian was reading the first book and told me it was hot.
As I started reading, I was totally hooked. The tension between the two main characters was delicious, palpable. Okay, the female lead was a bit spleeny but whatever. Much of their initial courtship, the original banter, furious make-outs in the elevator, etc, reminded me quite a bit of when Skyspook first got together, were fighting, switching, wrestling. We had polyamorous agreements to sort through that held us back and deliciously tormented us rather than trepidation or anything like that, but the energy is similar.
Back to the book. A BDSM contract is whipped out, discussed a bit. Princess Spleeny McSpleenster the Virginal loses her shit and proceeds to judge the hell out of the male lead’s proclivities at every opportunity.
Okay, whatever, fine. I’m a patient reader. I figure that this bit is to connect with readers, most of whom are probably vanilla, that the two of them will talk it out, and she’ll come around and work out their contract, even if it does end up being a bit skimpy in depth and breadth, especially at the onset, due to her newness to all things kink. After all, there are 3 books. I buckle down, look forward to reading about her growth as a person, her evolution through kink, her journey to learn more about herself and face her fears, guns blazing, to find that she is stronger than she ever thought.
Alas, no. Instead what follows is a tedious narrative where she basically tames him into a committed, significantly more vanilla specimen. His former power exchange relationships are explained away by concrete connections that are made to his traumatic childhood. Lovely. To make matters worse, much of the narrative is devoted to moments when they become hideously jealous at the drop of a hat for virtually no reason.
Roughly the first half of the first book in the series was decently well written (not high art or anything), and I enjoyed it, but after that, the trilogy got worse and worse until Skyspook observed me shouting at my Kindle, desperately pleading with the characters to stop being so idiotic, and I found that I was only reading to finish what I’d started and to see if, by some outside chance, it ever got better.