Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades 1), by E.L. James

1 Star

fifty shades of grey

I first read Fifty Shades in the height of its popularity, because there must be something to this, right? Spoiler alert:

I reread this series to drunkenly mock an illegal download of the movie. Two years later, I found all of my initial complaints valid. First, it’s not difficult to believe this was fanfiction, because it reads like fanfiction. We experience every selfish thought in Ana’s hateful head as we’re walked through each mundane moment of her day. During the first read, I was wondering if I had the wrong title. This wasn’t sexy at all, because nothing was happening. Once James finally got to the sex, it was just… bad…. and not because of whips. J.R. Ward totally pulled that one off and I’m not even into BDSM. It’s bad because it’s intensely repetitive and childishly worded in a super creepy way.

“I … quickly tie my hair in pigtails. …The more girly I look, perhaps the safer I’ll be from Bluebeard.”

Second, it’s not about a consensual kinky relationship or just one with an alpha male, like most paranormal romance. It’s about a woman who’s pressured to submit and share sexual quirks under threat of losing affection. It’s not that Christian spanks Ana. It’s that she cries, because she doesn’t want it. I’m no stranger to erotica, and that’s exactly why this book failed. The characters are assholes. It’s not sexy. Even if you don’t consider the relationship abusive, MY VAGINA FELT LIKE DRAGON SKIN.

Review Word Count: 246

Five Ways You Offend Women by Insulting Fifty Shades of Grey

Series Reading Order
1. Fifty Shades of Grey
2. Fifty Shades Darker
3. Fifty Shades Freed

Alternative Erotica Suggestions
Bared to You, by Sylvia Day
Knight, by Kristen Ashley (she calls him daddy, so there’s that)
Rush, by Maya Banks

Advertisements

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street 1), by Samantha Young

4 Stars

on dublin street

This is a terrific angsty read. It has all the elements of a good plot-light, strictly romance story: rich alpha male repairs emotionally damaged girl with his luuuuuv.

While this is the beginning of a series, and not a bad series at that, Young definitely got things right the first time. Braden comes off as a real world alpha, with none of Kristen Ashely’s fireman holds or Christine Feehan’s puppeteering. He’s just the right mix of possessive, protective, and rich. He has his asshole moments, but Young never takes it so far as to completely turn off the reader. Jocelyn is a believably broken heroine. Her story never becomes so complicated as to induce eye rolling, as is common in the genre. She’s just sassy enough to counteract Braden’s overly domineering moments, but not enough to earn the title of bitch. Most importantly, I never felt like Young was reaching for excuses to keep the couple apart in this story. It ended when it needed to end and the romance wasn’t too cheesy, which is more than I can say for her series as a whole.

My only complaint, while trivial, is that Jocelyn/Joss has a confusingly similar name to Johanna/Jo in the sequel, Down London Road. I found myself thinking “EVERYONE IS NAMED JO!

Series Reading Order (sans novellas)
1. On Dublin Street
2. Down London Road
3. Before Jamaica Lane
4. Fall from India Place
5. Echoes of Scotland Street

Review Word Count: 216

This Man (This Man 1), by Jodi Ellen Malpas

1 Star

this man

Have you ever bitten into a burger only to get one of those hard bits of cartilage? This book is like that.

Being a fan of alpha males, this series was recommended to me numerous times, before I finally decided to give it a try. This, however, was one of those books that actually took me multiple tries to even finish. Not only was the text bursting with Britishisms to the extent of rendering it nearly unreadable, but the characters were deplorable. Jesse was batcrap crazy, Ava a moronic masochist, and I’m pretty sure Kate was the worst best friend since Wormtail betrayed the Potters.

Worse even, than muddling through stories of people I hated and their “jumpers” and “posh flats”, were the stories themselves. This Man has literally no plot to move it forward, save for the rapey and psychotic romance. The sex is plentiful, but it’s so redundant and unappealing, with descriptions of “hot minty breath” that I was left dry as the Sahara, as well as bored. As a mystery, the Big Reveal is weak. As a romance, the relationship is abusive. As erotica, my vagina felt like sandpaper. I do, however, regularly recommend this one to those fans of The Hate Read.

Series Reading Order
1. This Man
2. Beneath This Man
3. This Man Confessed

Review Word Count: 218