Saturday, June 30, 2012

BOOK RELEASE! (A little late, due to vacation)

So, there I was, just relaxing and luxuriating and thinking that not having internet access wasn't a problem because I had everything taken care of when LO! I forgot about a book release. Not to sound like one of those authors who are ungrateful for their opportunities, but it's easier to forget a book release when you have several come out in a single year and also you're on vacation and there is a ton of booze there.

Without further ado, here is my official announcement that my awesome m/m baseball romance, DOUBLE HEADER, is available now:

When Javier Vargas was traded from the Portland Pioneers to the Grand Rapids Bengals, he didn’t just leave his team behind… he turned his back on the love of his life. Now, a year later, short stop Zach Martin is playing for the Bengals, as well, and Javier can’t believe he ever walked away from the scorching heat between them.

Being a Bengal brings its own complications for Zach, who’s tired of never setting down roots. Playing beside Javier, Zach is constantly reminded of their passionate nights—and the pain of his loss.

Javier screwed up one chance with Zach, and he’s not about to let a second one slip by. With scandals swirling all around the team, he has to choose between his career and his heart, and in the end, he might have to sacrifice both.

Tune in Monday, when I'll share video of my vacation and a recipe for bacon cheesecake.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

50 Shades of Grey chapter 26 recap or "The end! The end! My god yes, yes, yes, the end!"

Just when I thought I couldn't stand it anymore, just when I thought that surely I would die from the exquisite torture of it, I am done with recapping this fucking book. Let me tell you, it was almost more difficult re-reading it than reading it in the first place.

Before we dive into this bittersweet last recap, I want to just thank everyone who has come here and had discussions, pointed out errors (E.L. James's and my own), who have enjoyed the recaps, and really, to the people who didn't enjoy them, too, because you participated as well. This has been a lot of fun. I'm still on the fence about book two, but we'll see what happens after my vacation.

Oh, what's that, you ask? My vacation? Well, I'll tell you. When this beauty posts on Saturday, I will be on my way up north, to Michigan's beautiful U.P. That is, I'll be leaving the part of my beautiful state that looks like a mitten and heading to the part that looks more like a shark or someone's hand if they've worked in a paper mill their entire vocational life and they maybe had some industrial accidents. If you've never been to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you're missing a really unique time capsule of a place. It's like stepping back into the 1950's in some places. It's truly magical, and I'm going to spend a whole week on the shores of  the big lake they call Gitcheegoomi, otherwise known as Lake Superior. That's one of the Great Lakes, Chet. Be jealous. There's a sea monster in it. I'll be working on a book of mine own, for the first time in months, and hanging out with some like-minded author friends and probably passing my days in a Hunter S. Thompson style substance binge. Maybe it will cleanse my soul and I'll be all geared up to read more about Jack Hyde. Who knows. Maybe I'll blow off the Mighty Mac and die. I really hope not, because I think that's only happened to like, one other person and it would SUCK to be the second person that happened to. I wouldn't even make the papers.

So, without further ado, here is the final 50 Shades of Grey recap, with way fewer punches pulled, in my opinion.
I wake with a jolt.
I realize that this is the last time I'm going to have to read a chapter that begins with Ana waking up or going to sleep. Victory is mine!

Ana wakes up at five in the morning because of the three hour time difference. She was only there for four days, dude. She gets jet-lagged easily. She needs to take her pill, so she gets out of bed to do so. I wonder why she's taking her pill so early in the morning, that she's going to have to set an alarm to wake her up that early. Or maybe she forgot her pill the day before. Don't know, don't care, this is the last day of school for me.

Christian is playing piano, so she puts on her robe and goes to listen to the "melodic lament" he's playing. Doesn't this guy know any happy songs? Oh shit, that's right, he couldn't know any happy songs, because he's tortured.
Shrouded in darkness, Christian sits in a bubble of light as he plays, and his hair glints with burnished copper highlights. He looks naked, though I know he's wearing his PJ bottoms. He's concentrating, playing beautifully, lost in the melancholy of the music.
I feel like this has happened before. I have the oddest sense of deja vu.

Just ignore it.
He looks lost, sad even, and achingly lonely - or maybe it's just the music that's so full of poignant sorrow. He finishes the piece, pauses for a split second, then starts to play it again.
That's probably the only piano piece he knows, and he just plays it when women are over to like, impress them. Once, I saw some youtube clip where James May was talking about how even guys who can't play the piano could learn to play this one, impressive sounding piece, and it would get them ladies. Let me see if I can't rustle that clip up and post it here for all my James May lovin' sisters and brothers:

Okay, I may have confused this clip with the one from Man Lab where he teaches the guy to cheat on  guitar. But in any case, that's what happened. Christian Grey only knows how to play one song on the piano, and I'm sticking with that theory, because it's hilarious.

Full disclosure, I had to share that link because I love all of you who have come out to me with your James May crushes and I thought we should share this moment before the fickleness of the internet forces us apart. Know that I will forever remember your excellent taste in over-forty hotties.
I move cautiously toward him, drawn as the moth to the flame... the idea makes me smile.
You know, that metaphor will never get old. I assume I'll see plenty of it in book two.


You know I'm totally going to read the damn thing.

Christian tells her she should be asleep. Well, maybe if someone with a piano wasn't making a bunch of fucking racket and forcing us to experience scene deja vu...
I ignore his facial expression and very bravely sit down beside him on the piano stool, placing my head on his bare shoulder to watch his deft, agile fingers caress the keys. He pauses fractionally, and then continues to the end of the piece.
"What was that?" I ask softly.
"Chopin. Opus 8, number 4. In E minor, if you're interested," he murmurs.
There's like, only one way to improve on that sentence, and that would be to add, "Pleb," to the end of it. That would be hilarious.

Ana says that she's always interested in what he does, and I'm kind of expecting him to say, "Not super controlling pseudo BDSM," but he doesn't, unfortunately.
"I didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't. Play the other one."
Oh snap, she's on to him and his one song repertoire!
"The Back piece that you played the first night I stayed."
"Oh, the Marcello."
Just play it, jackass.
He starts to play slowly and deliberately. I feel the movement of his hands in his shoulder as I lean against him and close my eyes. The sad, soulful notes swirl slowly and mournfully around us, echoing off the walls. It is a hauntingly beautiful piece, sadder even than the Chopin, and I lose myself to the beauty of the lament. To a certain extent, it reflects how I feel. The deep poignant longing I have to know this extraordinary man better to try and understand his sadness.
I'm sure that's exactly what the composer intended. He was like, "Some day, not soon, but some day, my work will be immortalized in a book about an intensely unlikable woman and her abusive boyfriend." And then Thomas Tallis swooped in and stole his thunder.
 "Why do you only play such sad music?"
For attention.

Christian asks Ana for what feels like the hundredth time in this scene already why she's up, and she explains the timezone difference and that she has to take her pill. He chides her about starting birth control in another time zone, and then lays out this very specific plan for getting back on schedule. I realize that they really do recommend you take your birth control pill at the same time every day, but is three hours difference really going to matter on your, what, fourth or fifth pill? I don't think it would. I'm not a gynecologist, but I just don't think it would.

Christian wants to have sex, but Ana would rather talk. Because that's what this book is about, one slow, teasing build up to a conversation. I bet you thought it was about the sex!

The sex was a red herring.
"Maybe on the piano," he whispers.
Oh my. My whole body tightens at the thought. Piano. Wow.
Go for it. It will never, ever be as hot as this:

Nothing will ever be this hot.

Rather than have sex on the piano, Ana wants to figure out, once and for all, what is up with their relationship, and specifically the contract.
"Well, I think the contract is moot, don't you?" His voice is low and husky, his eyes soft. "Moot?"
"Moot." He smiles. I gape at him quizzically.
"But you were so keen."
So... wait a second. You spend the entire book bitching about how you don't want to sign the contract, and now you're all, "Hey, why haven't I signed the contract?" about it? Ana cannot make up her damned mind.
 "Well, that was before. Anyway, the Rules aren't moot, they still stand." His expression hardens slightly.
So, he's not into the paperwork anymore, but he's still going to want total control over her entire life. You know, at least under the contract, thee were safeguards for the stuff she didn't want to do. But before, he says? Before what?
"Before,"... He pauses, and the wary expression is back, "more." He shrugs.
"Besides, we've been in the playroom twice now, and you haven't run screaming for the hills."
"Do you expect me to?"
"Nothing you do is expected, Anastasia," he says dryly.
 Are we reading the same book, Christian? I've been able to pretty accurately predict every thing she's done so far.
"So, let me be clear. You just want me to follow the Rules of element of the contract all the time but not the rest of the contract?"
"Except in the playroom.  I want you to follow the spirit of the contract in the playroom, and yes, I want you to follow the rules - all the time. Then I know you'll be safe, and I'll be able to have you anytime I wish."
You guys got that? She doesn't have to follow the contract, just the rules, unless they're in the play room, but he wants her to follow the rules all the time. And the reason she needs to do this is so that he'll be able to have her any time he wants. Look at how reasonable that is!
"And if I break one of the rules?"
"But won't you need my permission?"
"Yes, I will."
"And if I say no?"
 He gazes at me for a moment, with a confused expression.
"If you say no, you'll say no. I'll have to find a way to persuade you." I pull away from him and stand. I need some distance. He frowns as I stare down at him. He looks puzzled and wary again
"So the punishment aspect remains."
 "Yes, but only if you break the rules."
What the shit is this, the freaking LSATs? It's like a logic problem, and in the answers it says "none of the above" right above "all of the above." How is she supposed to figure any of this out? Is she writing it down?

Ana can't really remember what the rules are. If she could hear me, I would remind her that the rules are as follows:

Rules for being Chedward's girlfriend

  1. Do what he says, whenever he says.
  2. If you don't, he gets to beat you.
  3. Don't have friends or family he doesn't approve of.
See, super easy.

Chedward goes to get her a copy of the rules, and Ana thinks about how weird it is that they're talking about it early in the morning while his business is in crisis. Well, you know, Ana, you were the one who brought it up. It's not like you didn't know what time it is.

When he returns with the rules, I don't see a lot of changes, though Ana assures the reader that some things are crossed out. she's still expected to do whatever he asks "eagerly and without hesitation" sleep the number of hours he wants, eat the foods he approves, wear the clothing he approves, work out with a trainer, stay completely waxed, and behave the way he deems appropriate. She must do all these things, or be punished.

They start to talk a little bit about the contract, but then Ana has the audacity to roll her eyes. Christian wants to spank her for that infraction, but Ana tells him he has to catch her first.
"I'm quite fast you know." I try for nonchalance.
"So am I."
He's stalking me, in his own kitchen.
Must be nice for him to be working from home for a change. Christian points out that if Ana runs and gets hurt, she'll be breaking one of the rules, but she takes off, anyway.
Suddenly, he lunges for me, making me squeal and run for the dining room table. I manage to escape, putting the table between us. My heart is pounding and adrenaline has spiked through my body... boy... this is so thrilling. I'm a child again, though that's not right.
So not right.

Ana outruns him for a while, and he says it seems like she doesn't want him to catch her:
 "I don't. That's the point. I feel about punishment the way you feel about me touching you." His entire demeanor changes in a nanosecond. Gone is playful Christian, and he stands staring at me as if I'd slapped him. He's ashen.
"That's how you feel?" he whispers.
Those four words, and the way he utters them, speaks volumes. Oh no.They tell me so much more about him and how he feels. They tell me about his fear and loathing.
 We can't stop here. This is spank country.

Ana backs down from her assertion that she hates being spanked as much as he hates being touched, because she gets this crazy feeling that disliking being spanked due to not being spanked as a child is probably not the same as disliking being touched due to having someone put fucking cigarettes out on your chest as a child. Then she claims that she's "'ambivalent about it. I don't like it, but I don't hate it.'" Okay, that's selling yourself a little short. You don't like physical pain, speak up and be honest about it, don't back down like, "Oh, I'm actually just 'meh' about it," when you really feel strongly that you do not want to be involved in physical pain as a sexual fetish.

Because that's what this is, readers. In the final chapter, we get to the crux of things. Christian isn't into BDSM. He's into causing pain, which, while sometimes falling under the umbrella of BDSM, is a pretty specific subgenre of BDSM fun times:
"I do it for you, Christian, because you need it. I don't. You didn't hurt me last night. That was in a different context, and I can rationalize that internally, and I trust you. But when you want to punish me, I worry that you'll hurt me." His gray eyes blaze like a turbulent storm. Time moves, and expands and slips away before he answers softly.
"I want to hurt you. But not beyond anything that you couldn't take." Fuck!
He runs his hand through his hair, and he shrugs.
"I just need it." He pauses, gazing at me with anguish, and he closes his eyes and shakes his head. "I can't tell you," he whispers.
 Ana asks if it's "can't" or "won't" and he admits that he just plain won't tell her. Because he's afraid she'll leave him. So, he just wants to cause her pain, for no reason, and she should be cool about it, because he knows exactly what she can/can't handle with regard to his tortured past.
"Don't leave me. You said you wouldn't leave me, and you begged me not to leave you, in your sleep," he murmurs against my lips.
Oh... my nocturnal confessions.
"I don't want to go." And my heart clenches, turning itself inside out.
This is a man in need. His fear is naked and obvious, but he's lost... somewhere in his darkness. His eyes wide and bleak and tortured. I can soothe him. Join him briefly in the darkness and bring him into the light.
How is she going to do this? By letting him beat the ever living shit out of her. No, I'm not kidding. She tells Christian she wants to see how much it can hurt, and he expresses disbelief.
"Yes, I said I would." But I have an ulterior motive. If I do this for him, maybe he will let me touch him.
This seems like the sort of thing you might want to work out, perhaps on paper, in a contract of some kind, perhaps, before you let someone unleash hell on your butt. Either way, he's DTS (down to spank) and he takes her into the red room and tells her to bend over a bench. He's going to hit her with a belt. A straight up belt.
"We're here because you said yes, Anastasia. And you ran from me. I am going to hit you six times, and you will count with me."
 Six times, with a belt, so it hurts as much as it can possibly hurt. You dig? This is the moment, guys.
"I am doing this so that you remember not to run from me, and as exciting as it is, I never want you to run from me," he whispers.
And the irony is not lost on me. I was running to avoid this. If he'd opened his arms, I'd run to him, not away from him.
Ana notices that as he talks, though, he sounds more like the Christian she's used to, like he's in his element or something.
I close my eyes, bracing myself for the blow. It comes hard, snapping across my backside, and the bit of the belt is everything I feared. I cry out involuntarily, and take a huge gulp of air.
So, the belt hurts. At least it's not the canes, right? So, he hits her, it hurts, etc.
"Five." My voice is more a choked, strangled sob, and in this moment, I think I hate him.
Once he's done whipping her with the belt, she doesn't want him touching her, but all he wants to do is straight up cuddle. Guys, pssh. Always with the cuddling, am I right, ladies?
"Don't touch me!" I hiss. I straighten and stare at him, and he's watching me as if I might bolt, gray eyes wide, bemused. I dash the tears angrily out of my eyes with the backs of my hands, glaring at him.
"This is what you really like? Me, like this?" I use the sleeve of the bathrobe to wipe my nose.
He gazes at me warily.
"Well, you are one fucked-up son of a bitch."
Let me just remind you, he bought what appeared to be murder supplies in front of her in chapter two. Straight out of Dexter murder supplies. And then she found out they were just for sex. And only now does she think he's fucked up?

 Ana tells him to sort his shit out and then goes to her room.
What was I thinking? Why did I let him do that to me? I wanted the dark, to explore how bad it could be - but it's too dark for me. I cannot do this. Yet, this is what he does, this how he gets his kicks.
What a monumental wake-up call. And to be fair to him, he warned me and warned me, time and again. He's not normal. He has needs that I cannot fulfill. I realize that now.
Let's keep on forgetting how he doesn't meet a single one of your needs. Let's roll around in our anguish about not being able to meet his. Oh, you're going to do that for a whole bunch more paragraphs? Please, carry on.
Why, why, why have I fallen in love with Fifty Shades? Why?
Replace "I" with "Women" and you will be echoing my frustration with this book, Ana.
Oh, his distraught look as I left. I was so cruel, so shocked by the savagery... will he forgive me... will I forgive him? My thoughts are all haywire and jumbled, echoing and bouncing off the inside of my skull. My subconscious is shaking her head sadly, and my inner goddess is nowhere to be seen.
Maybe Christian beat her to death.
I have to go. That's it... I have to leave. He's no good for me, and I am no good for him. How can we possibly make this work? And the thought of not seeing him again practically chokes me... my Fifty Shades.
I feel like that phrase has been used so many times in this book, both the words "fifty" and "shades" are now meaningless for all eternity.

Christian comes in and tries to snuggle with her, but she's still not having it. He's brought her Advil and Arnica cream, but I don't know what Arnica cream is, so I'm going to just call it ass cream.
Here goes. I need to say my piece. "I don't think I can be everything you want me to be," I whisper. His eyes widen slightly, and he blinks, his fearful expression returning.
"You are everything I want you to be."
"I don't understand. I'm not obedient, and you can be sure as hell I'm not going to let you do that to me again. And that's what you need, you said so." He closes his eyes again, and I can see a myriad of emotions cross his face. When he reopens them, his expression is bleak. Oh no.
We all know that they're breaking up, so allow me to interrupt this recap to defend "a myriad of." I know it sticks in some of your craws when it shows up in this book. And God knows I don't want to be E.L. James's champion or anything. But this is important. If you look up "myriad" in Miriam-Webster, it's going to tell you that either "myriad" or "a myriad of" are correct usage. I'm sorry for your loss.

Ana and Christian continue to break up, complete with a whole, "You're right, you should go"/"I don't want to go"/"I don't want you to go" back and forth, but then Ana lets loose with the game changer:
"Me too," I whisper, "I've fallen in love with you, Christian." His eyes widen again, but this time, with pure undiluted fear.
Remember how he had that whole commitment problem before, readers? Dropping L-bombs doesn't work great with him, for some reason, and he flips out. Why? Because he can't make Ana happy.
Holy fuck. This really is it. This is what it boils down to - incompatibility - and all those poor subs come to mind.
They make their break up official and Ana asks for privacy to get dressed, because she is going to leave.
I have had my eyes opened and glimpsed the extent of his depravity, and I now know he's not capable of love - of giving or receiving love. My worst fears have been realized. And strangely, it's very liberating.
The pain is such that I refuse to acknowledge it. I feel numb. I have somehow escaped from my body and am now a casual observer to this unfolding tragedy.
She takes a shower, gets dressed, and as she's digging through her suitcase she finds the little gift she got for Christian. Bit reveal time, it's a model kit of a glider. She even wrote a note that says, "This reminded me of a happy time."

Wait, what? Reminds her of a happy time... yesterday?

She leaves the glider and the note on Christian's pillow, thinking really dramatic thoughts about breaking up with her boyfriend of less than a month:
I cannot believe that my world is crumbling around me into a sterile pile of ashes, all my hopes and dreams cruelly dashed.
Okay, hold up. All your hopes and dreams? You've been with this guy like, a few weeks. Didn't you have hopes and dreams before you met him? Or did you just throw those out when the more important boyfriend came along?

As Ana comes out of the bathroom, she hears Christian on the phone, yelling at someone, ordering them to "find her." I assume he's already stalking his next lady love, then?

Ana tries to return the computer and BlackBerry, she just wants the money Taylor got for selling her car. They argue about it, but he ends up giving her a check. While Taylor brings the car round, and after they argue some more, Christian says:
"I don't want you to go," he murmurs, his voice full of longing.
"I can't stay. I know what I want and you can't give it to me, and I can't give you what you need."
Ana leaves Christian in his sterile art gallery of an apartment, and goes downstairs to get in the car.
Embarrassment and shame washes over me. I'm a complete failure. I had hoped to drag my Fifty Shades into the light, but it's proved a task beyond my meager abilities. Desperately, I try to keep my emotions banked and at bay. As we head out onto 4th Avenue, I stare blankly out of the window, and the enormity of what I've done slowly washes over me. Shit - I've left him. The only man I've ever loved. The only man I've ever slept with.
Ana starts bawling in the car, and then when she gets home, shit really hits the fan, because she sees the deflated helicopter balloon tied to the end of her bed.
I fall onto my bed, shoes and all, and howl. The pain is indescribable... physical, mental... metaphysical... it is everywhere, seeping into the marrow of my bones. Grief.
You know, I've had a similar reaction, myself. WHEN SOMEONE FUCKING DIED. GET YOUR SHIT SHIT TOGETHER ANA.
This is grief - and I've bought it on myself. Deep down, a nasty, unbidden thought comes from my inner goddess, her lip curled in a snarl... the physical pain from the bite of a belt is nothing, nothing compared to this devastation. I curl up, desperately clutching the flat foil balloon and Taylor's handkerchief, and surrender myself to my grief.
So, basically what just happened in this chapter is the beginning of the second Twilight book. So, we're going to leave our recaps just like this:


Friday, June 22, 2012

50 Shades of Grey Chapter 25 Recap or "DTF"

At the airport, Ana's mom rattles off every motivational poster she's ever seen hanging in an insurance agent's office:
"Follow your heart, darling, and please, please - try not to over-think things. Relax and enjoy yourself. You are so young, sweetheart. You have so much of life to experience yet, just let it happen. You deserve the best of everything."
Hang in there, baby! I hate Mondays! Creation is 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration!

You get the picture.

"Darling, you know what they say. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince."
Okay, enough with the inspirational quotes, Carla, Jesus!

 As Ana leaves her mother, her thoughts turn to Christian. Because Ana has two modes of operation, thinking about Christian and having sex with Christian.
What does Christian know of love? Seems he didn't get the unconditional love he was entitled to during his very early years. My heart twists, and my mother's words waft like a zephyr through my mind: Yes, Ana. Hell - what do you need? - a neon sign flashing on his forehead? She thinks Christian loves me, but then she's my mother, of course she'd think that. She thinks I deserve the best of everything.
Then why does she want you to be with Christian? That seems counter-intuitive to the whole "wanting the best for you" process. But I really am admiring the way E.L. James teases out the "People who like BDSM are damaged from childhood" theme, slowly twisting it like a biopsy probe to wring out maximum offense.

Ana realizes that she "needs" to be loved by Christian Grey. And it brings up another point about Ana that really irks me:
This is why I am so reticent about our relationship - because on some basic, fundamental level, I recognize within me a deep-seated compulsion to be loved and cherished.
EVERYONE. HAS. THAT. ANA. I absolutely loathe the kind of person Ana is, that is, the kind of person who makes these profound statements about obvious, shared experiences. Ana telling the reader, "Hey, I think that deep down, I really just want to be loved," is like Ana telling the reader, "I came to the most stunning realization... did you know that water is wet?" Almost everyone in the world has a need to be loved. It's part of the human condition. Ana coming to this realization as though it never occurred to her makes me want to shake her again.

Speaking of shaking Ana, commenter Julia Burns suggests that me shaking Ana would look something like this:
The Hulk and I do have similar body types.
And because of his fifty shades - I am holding myself back. The BDSM is a distraction from the real issue. The sex is amazing, he's wealthy, he's beautiful, but this is all meaningless without his love, and the real heart-fail is that I don't know if he's capable of love. He doesn't even love himself. I recall his self-loathing, her love being the only form he found - acceptable. Punished - whipped, beaten, whatever their relationship entailed - he feels undeserving of love. Why does he feel like that?
I feel like Ana is making a lot of presumptions here. She doesn't know that Christian doesn't love himself. In fact, to the casual observer (reader), it seems like he loves himself more than he loves anyone else, because he's a narcissist. All Ana knows is that Christian's relationship with Mrs. Robinson involved her "acceptable" form of love. Because she's jealous and a narcissist herself, Ana assumes that Mrs. Robinson "broke" Christian. She can't fathom that in the years since his relationship with his molester, Christian could have come to some kind of inner peace about his upbringing. I'm not trying to give credit to a molester here, I'm just saying, maybe the experience spurred some inner changes in Christian that led to him being better, not worse. Ana didn't know Christian six years ago, even a year ago. She's known him for a few weeks, and suddenly she thinks she knows what's best for him.

Worse, she seems to get off on playing Florence Nightingale to Christian's tortured soul, despite not knowing if he really is messed up or not:
I close my eyes, imagining his pain, and I can't being to comprehend it.
There is word for people who abandon their own problems and self-development to meddle with the problems and development of others. They're called Britta.

And Britta is a ruiner.

I could make an entire blog post out of how very similar Ana is to Britta in a totally-not-funny way, but that wouldn't be fair to Britta and it might make me hate Community, which would be a real tragedy.

On the plane, Ana emails Christian. When he emails her back a short message about looking forward to seeing her, she thinks that's strange. Rather than say to herself, "You know, my boyfriend is the head of a multibillion dollar empire, he's probably just busy," Ana keeps emailing Christian in the hopes it will elicit a warmer response. And of course, it doesn't.
Crap. Okay. Jeez. What is eating him? Perhaps 'the situation'? Maybe Taylor's gone AWOL, maybe he's dropped a few million on the stock market - whatever the reason.
Pff, just a few million? Way to be cavalier about something else's money. Although I did get a laugh at the thought of The Situation from The Jersey Shore doing a bunch of bath salts and literally eating Christian Grey.

 Now, if it were meant as a double entendre, we would also be getting somewhere.

Ana keeps emailing him until she can finally construe something as an apology, and I realize at this point that Ana and Christian are both terrible people and probably deserve each other. How fucking rude is that? "I know my boyfriend has some dire thing going on, but he needs to be paying attention to meeeeeeeeee!"
Perhaps 'the situation' is out of hand.

Ana bought a gift for Christian to say thank you for flying her first class and taking her gliding. I wonder if she bought her mom anything to say sorry for abandoning her in the middle of a visit to go bonk a boyfriend who lives like, fifteen minutes away most days. But she doesn't know if she's going to give him the gift, because he might not like it if he's in a strange mood. When is this guy not in a strange mood? I ask aloud in my lonely office while my family wonders if I've finally gone round the bend.
As I mentally flick through all the scenarios that could be 'the situation',
 I become aware once again that the only empty seat is beside me. I shake my head as the thought crosses my mind that Christian might have purchased the adjacent seat so that I couldn't talk to anyone. I dismiss the idea as ridiculous - no one would be that controlling, that jealous, surely.
Right? The only kind of person who would do something that crazy is the kind of person who would like, track your cellphone and abduct you from a bar when you're good and roofied, and then try to make you sign a sex contract and follow you across the country because they can't stand to be away from you for four days.

Ana arrives in Seattle eight hours later (she must have had a layover) and Taylor is there with little chauffeur sign with her name on it. And of course, when he sees Ana, she can tell that he wants to smile at her, because everyone loves Ana, against all reason and logic.
I remember, though I would like to erase it from my memory, that this man has bought me underwear. In fact - and the though unsettles me - he's the only man who's ever bought me underwear. Even Ray's never had to endure that hardship.
Where does she buy underwear, that it's such a hardship? Does she have two asses, so you have to special order it? This is another of the things that irks me about Ana, her utter immaturity turns things that aren't remotely sexual into embarrassing pseudo-sexual problems. "Oh no, he bought me underwear, tee hee." He's probably bought a lot of underwear for women, working for Christian Grey. It's no big deal, almost everyone wears underpants, Ana. I have such a hard time believing, "Yeah, she's going to be totally into being hit in the clit with a riding crop," when she is mortified at the thought of someone buying her underwear.

In the car, Ana decides to pick at Taylor for information:
"How's Christian, Taylor?"
"Mr. Grey is preoccupied, Miss Steele."
Oh, this must be 'the situation'.

Ana doesn't really get much from Taylor, and instead listens to classical music until they get to the Escala, where Ana thinks that Taylor's tone is "avuncular" because E.L. James got a Word-A-Day calender for Christmas. Headed up to Christian's apartment, Ana is all nervous, because she's kind of hoping he's going to want to fuck her, and kind of worried that he's going to be a bad mood. Those are basically the only two modes Christian has, when you think about it. "Frost Giant" and "Fuck Me".
In the great room, Christian is on his BlackBerry talking quietly as he stares out of the glass doors at the early evening Seattle skyline. He's wearing a gray suit with the jacket undone, and he's running his hand through his hair, he's. H agitated, tense even. Oh no - what's wrong? Agitated or not, he's still beyond beautiful. How can he look so... arresting? It's such a pleasure to stand and drink in the sheer sight of him.
Note, that fucked up bit in there was totally in the book. I didn't get a weird case of the spaz fingers. I like how Ana is seemingly surprised to find that something's wrong, when she's been aware that something is wrong since he left Georgia.
"No trace... Okay... Yes." He turns and sees me, and his whole demeanor changes.
From tension to relief to something else: a look that calls direction to my inner goddess, a look of sensual carnality, gray eyes blazing.
See, he's gone from "Frost Giant" to "Fuck Me." There really are only two modes here.
 "Keep me informed," he snaps and shuts of his phone as he strides purposefully toward me. I stand paralyzed as he closes the distance between us, devouring me with his eyes. Holy Shit... something's amiss - the strain in his jaw, the anxiety around his eyes.
Aaand it looks like he's stuck somewhere between those two gears. He's gonna need a whole new transmission. And note how Ana continues to point out that something is wrong. We know. We are already painfully aware. Yet you keep pointing it out without giving the reader any new information. At this point, I don't even care what the problem is anymore, I just want them to say "the situation" a few more times because I have a cache of hilarious pictures of Mike.

Despite the extremely fucked up state of affairs - that the reader still knows nothing about - Christian wants to have sex with Ana, and of course it's going to be super erotic and amazing, but first, the medical review:
"I want you now. Here... fast, hard," he breaths, and his hands are on my thighs, pushing up my skirt. "Are you still bleeding?"
"No." I flush.
No, I'm not still bleeding, because I store all of my blood in my face. Permanently. But let's look at this whole, "Are you still bleeding" thing. Ana started her period the day before Christian arrived in Georgia. Christian was supposed to have dinner with Ana on her last night at her mother's house, because when she spoke to Christian on the phone, he said he would see her "tomorrow". Which means that Ana's period only lasted... three days? Is she currently breastfeeding? Think about that, she had a heavy enough flow that she bled all over him having sex, but she's not bleeding now? Ana is blessed with unusually short periods, I guess. That, or she has a tumor.

They have sex, it's mind-blowing and all-consuming, she explodes, etc. And they don't use a condom. There is a debate raging in the chapter twenty-three post about when and how she should have started her birth control, but I'm thinking back to when I was on the pill, you started it the Sunday after you started your period. So, would Ana even have started the pill yet? If today in the book is Friday, and she was at her mom's house for four days, and she started her period the day before Christian got there... she hasn't even gotten to Sunday yet. So, they're having completely unprotected sex. I'm quite disappointed, because earlier I had praised E.L. for making her hero wear a condom when so may romance authors talk their heroines out of it. Even me, although my characters were vampires who couldn't conceive.

When they're all done having sex, Ana tells Christian that she has a job, and he has no idea where, because he hasn't been stalking her. But they don't have a lot of time to talk about unimportant shit like her new job, because Christian wants to take a shower with her.
"Ow," I squeal. The water is practically scalding. Christian grins down at me as the water cascades over him.
"It's only a little hot water."
And actually, he's right. It feels heavenly, washing off the sticky Georgia morning and the stickiness from our lovemaking.

Are you fucking serious, Ana? "Ow, this water is hot. Oh, what's that, Christian? You say it's not? MY SKIN HAS MAGICALLY FUCKING ADJUSTED TO THE TEMPERATURE TRULY YOU ARE THE MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE."

Ana asks Christian to go to Jose's art show with her, and he says okay, but he also threatens her a little, warning her to remember how jealous he is. Ana asks when she's going to be allowed to touch him, and he responds by making her put her hands on the wall so he can fuck her. Shocking the hell out of me, the sex scene is skipped over! Huzzah! And they go to the kitchen for pasta and wine.
"How's the um... situation that brought you to Seattle?" I ask tentatively.
Going okay, but he keeps taking his shirt off.

 Christian doesn't want to talk about it, though, and he tells her that she needs to be ready and in his playroom in fifteen minutes. Oh, and he's bought her a whole closet full of clothes. Because apparently 'the situation' was a Denim & Co. marathon on QVC. He tells her to get ready in her room.
Ho! My subconscious has her snarky face on. I ignore her and make my way upstairs toward my room so, it is still mine... why? I thought he'd agreed to let me sleep with him.
I suppose he's not used to sharing his personal space, but then, neither am I. I console myself with the thought that at least I have somewhere to escape from him.
You could go to your apartment, Ana. You do have one of those.

Ana waits for him in the red room.
Anticipation runs bubbling like soda through my veins. What will he do? I take a deep steadying breath, but I cannot deny it, I'm excited, aroused, wet already. This is so... I want to think wrong, but somehow it's not. It's right for Christian. It's what he wants - and after the last few days... after all he's done, I have to man up and take whatever he decides he wants, whatever he thinks he needs.
That's right, ladies. Listen to the nice, sexy book everyone is talking about. If your man buys you stuff, you have to do the sex things he likes. HAVE TO. Ana is always so worried about being a ho, but then she can make a statement like the one above without any irony whatsoever.
The memory of his look when I came in this evening, the longing in his face, his determined stride toward me like I was an oasis in the desert. I'd do almost anything to see that look again.
These sentences tell us two very important things about Ana. 1. She is severely codependent, and is more turned on by the thought of someone desperately needing her than loving or desiring her. 2. She is a better sub than she thinks. She just doesn't know what a sexual submissive is. All along she's been laboring under this delusion that to enjoy sexual submission means giving up all personal autonomy. Now, we can't entirely blame her for this impression, because she's inexperienced and she's being taught by a guy who also doesn't understand submission. He's not a dom, he's a control freak. But the way she's sitting there, thinking she wants to do things to please him, to the point that she's getting wet from imagining it, well, I dispute Chedward's claim that she doesn't have a submissive bone in her body.

Christian comes in, he's so hot that Ana says "Jeez" in her head, her subconscious and her inner goddess are both ready to go, and while he takes stuff out of a chest, she thinks about how she wants to lick his sexy, naked feet. He tells her to get on her feet and reminds her of the safe words, "red" and "yellow".

I feel like I'm skipping over a lot in this chapter recap, but there's just another sex scene, except he puts a blindfold on her and some headphones so she can't hear him in a sensory deprivation type thing. It's just that it takes so fucking long for him to tell her what he's going to do, that I was thoroughly bored with reading it the first time, not to mention when I'm reading it now to recap it.
Okay. A musical interlude, not what I was expecting. Does he ever do what I expect?
Jeez, I hope it's not rap. 
Thank you, Ana, for officially taking over as musically oblivious 8th grader:

 He braids her hair for her and then we get the exceptionally erotic language this book is known for:
He hums softly as he does, and the sound resonates through me. Right down... right down  there, inside me.

 He ties her to the bed, blindfolds her, puts headphones on, etc. and she listens to Gregorian chant while he uses a fur glove on her before he starts in on her with the flogger. When he's got her all worked up, in comes the seemingly impossible sex position I've been trying to figure out with stick figures for the past two months:
Then, grasping my hips, he lifts me so that my back is no longer on the bed. I am arched, resting on my shoulders. What? He's kneeling up between my legs... and in one swift, slamming move he's inside me... oh fuck... and I cry out again.
Here's what I'm trying to figure out. How tall is Christian, if his dick can reach her from a kneeling position when her body weight is resting on her shoulders? I keep trying to imagine this position and I just can't make it work. Are her legs off the bed, then? Is she doing that bridge thing from gymnastics? But she's not using her hands to support her, she's on her shoulders... what the fuck is going on in that sentence? Whatever it is, it sounds super uncomfortable. I assume that the "oh fuck" and her cry is because he just broke her neck with his "slamming" thrust.

Christian fucks her in time to the music until she has the most intense orgasm ever. It's hard to get excited about that, considering that every orgasm she has is the most intense ever. You know, fucking to music is fun, but it works better with something like Tool or Nine Inch Nails, I think. King Diamond, if you really want to get a workout. When they're done, Christian tells her all about the music, which I guess in hindsight isn't really Gregorian chant:
"It's called Spem In Alium, or the Forty Part Motet, by Thomas Tallis."
"It was... overwhelming."
"I've always wanted to fuck to it."
According to Wikipedia, that bastion of truth and infallibility, the text of the piece translates to:

I have never put my hope in any other but in You,
O God of Israel
who can show both anger
and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins of suffering man
Lord God,
Creator of Heaven and Earth
be mindful of our lowliness
Oh yeah, that gets me hot, I don't know about anyone else. While Christian gives her a back rub, they talk about what she says and doesn't say in her sleep:
"What did I say to you in my sleep, Ch - err, Sir?"
His hands pause their ministrations for a moment.
"You said lots of things, Anastasia. You talked about cages and strawberries... that you wanted more... and that you missed me."
Oh, thank heavens for that.
"Is that all?" The relief in my voice is evident.
Christian stops his heavenly massage and shifts so that he's lying beside me. His head propped up on his elbow. He's frowning.
"What did you think you'd said?"
Oh snit, how is Ana going to recover from that one?
"That I thought you were ugly, conceited, and that you were hopeless in bed." 
This doesn't throw Christian off the scent, but he doesn't get an answer before the chapter ends.
And I never even got to use this picture.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

50 Shades of Grey Chapter 24 recap or "Bonus post because I can't count!"

You're getting a bonus post today, because I'm incapable of counting. I thought, "I'll write the recaps one a day, keeping a day ahead, and working in this fashion the last recap will post on the first day of my vacation, and I will be done!" Except math. So, here's a post to catch me back up to my brilliant plan.
Christian stands in a steel-barred cage. Wearing his soft, ripped jeans, his chest and feet are mouthwateringly naked, and he's staring at me. His private-joke smile etched on his beautiful face and his eyes a molten grey. In his hands he holds a bowl of strawberries.
Because an apple would be too obvious.
He ambles with athletic grace to the front of the cage, gazing intently at me. Holding up a plump ripe strawberry, he extends his hand through the bars.
"Eat," he says, his tongue caressing the front of his palate as he enunciates the 't'.
Jeez, even in her dreams he's obsessed with her eating. She wants to go to him and eat the damn strawberry, but something holds her back, and he keeps telling her to eat, because that's just how things work with him, and then the real Christian is waking her up.

It is literally the middle of the night, and Christian is all dressed in black. He tells Ana he wants to "chase the dawn" with her, which sounds like drug talk if I ever heard it. Ana asks if she can take a shower before they go out. Of course she can't!
"If you have a shower, I'll want one with you, and you and I know what will happen then - the day will just go. Come."
Or, and here is an novel thought, you could control your own desires for a second and let Ana take a damn shower, since she's been bleeding all over herself and the hotel sheets all night long. Christian has laid out a fresh pair of his own Ralph Lauren underpants for Ana:
 I shake my head at his lar-gesse, and I frown as a scene from Tess crosses my mind: the strawberry scene. It evokes my dream. To hell with Dr. Flynn - Freud would have a field day - and then he'd probably expire trying to deal with Fifty Shades.
Freud and I have that in common. Don't you just love it when an author not only weaves a particular motif though a book, but also makes the text scream in your face, "THIS IS A REFERENCE TO A LITERARY CLASSIC LOOK HOW SMART I AM!" when you read it? I particularly enjoy that.

When Ana is done doing her bathroom things, she comes out to find Christian eating breakfast. And of course, he wants her to eat, too:
"Eat," he says.
Holy Moses... my dream. I gape at him, thinking about his tongue on his palate. Hmm, his expert tongue.
I don't think we can attribute him telling her to eat specifically to her dream. More likely, we can attribute dream-Chedward telling her to eat to real-Chedward constantly doing so whenever they're in the presence of any kind of food.
It really is too early for me. How to handle this?
"I'm not hungry because it's too early in the morning." That should work, right? Oh, wait, no, it won't work, because your boyfriend is a sociopath.
"I'll have some tea. Can I take a croissant for later?" He eyes me suspiciously, and I smile very sweetly.
 "Don't rain on my parade, Anastasia," he warns softly.
Ana teases him about spanking, and then she gets all swoony because Christian has Twinings Breakfast Tea on the table, which means he really cares. Would pointing out that Twinings is a popular brand for hotels to carry destroy the romantic fantasy here? After non-breakfast, Christian takes Ana outside, where a valet is waiting with a soft-top convertible, and Christian says, "'You know, sometimes it's great being me.'"
This guy. This fucking guy.

In the car, they listen to some La Traviata, but Ana doesn't want to listen to music about a "'doomed courtesan,'" so Christian invites her to scroll through his iPod to find something she likes better. Every time they talk about music, Christian makes me think that he's one of those people who doesn't actually listen to what he likes, but what he thinks will make people find him smart or cool. Now, I'm not saying no young people like opera. I love opera, and did even before I reached the Anastasia Steele benchmark for geriatric hopelessness, otherwise known as "thirty." However, Christian always smirks when he's discussing music, and it's always some song that echoes what's going on in their relationship. Or it's a piece that Ana isn't familiar with, so she has to ask him about it, and he gets to look super smart. "Oh, you've never heard Thomas Tallis? He's only the greatest Tudor-era composer. I can't believe you've never heard him."

This is my favorite hipster macro EVER.

Because Chedward is such a fucking pretentious hipster about his musical choices, it makes it that much funnier when Ana scrolls through his iPod and finds Britney fucking Spears, "Toxic," on there. I'm sure it's just there ironically. Because Ana and Christian can't talk like normal humans, she assumes his choice of La Traviata (which spellcheck keeps trying to change to La Travolta, which is an entirely different opera altogether, wherein Danny marries Sandy as his beard and gets thrice weekly massages from young men desperate to break into Hollywood) is a comment on their relationship, and chooses "Toxic" as her comment on it. Talking is too mainstream.
He turns the music down a little more, and inside I am hugging myself. My inner goddess is standing on the podium awaiting her gold medal. He turned the music down.
You probably could have just turned the music down, yourself. There's a little knob on the car stereo that does that. If it was too difficult to pull off, you could have just asked.
"I didn't put that song on my iPod," he says casually, and puts his foot down so that I am thrown back into my seat as the car accelerates along the freeway.
Oooh, he's all mad because you found his secret, decidedly unhipster Britney cache! Are you new here, Chedward? Just say you only put it on there "ironically" or to test people who use your iPod. That will show her for making you feel uncool.
What? He knows what he's doing, the bastard. Who did? And I have to listen to Britney going on and on. Who... who?
Is there some reason you can't change the song, Ana? Seriously, for two people in their twenties, they're acting like middle schoolers. The next song that comes on is Damien Rice, so we know that we've downshifted into serious time.
"It was Leila," he answers my unspoken thoughts. How does he do that?
"An ex, who put the song on my iPod."
Here is another thing that bothers me about this book. Needless dialogue. If Ana already knows the question in her head, why does she ask, "'Leila?'" like she has no idea what he's referring to? Save the reader some damn time. All of us, Ana, Christian, the reader, we all know that he's saying Leila put the song on his iPod.

As it turns out, Leila was a former submissive who wanted more from Christian, so he broke up with her. He tells Ana that he's never wanted more with a sub, except for her, and then Ana's inner goddess does more spastic shit. Ana asks what happened to the rest of his subs, and he tells her that he's only been in four long-term relationships, not counting Mrs. Robinson, whose real name is Elena.
Elena! Holy Fuck. The evil one has a name and its all-foreign sounding. A vision of a glorious, pale skinned vamp with raven hair and ruby-red lips comes to mind, and I know that she's beautiful. I must not dwell. I must not dwell.
How is that working for you, Ana? I love that she thinks "Elena" is a foreign name. Ana is so bizarrely xenophobic. At dinner with Christian's parents, she uses "European" as an insulting way to describe their housekeeper. Now she's thinking "Elena" sounds foreign. Elena doesn't sound blonde, though, thank God. I wonder if this isn't a little bit of the stereotypical "I'm not a part of Europe!" attitude you hear from some British people leaking into the text. I mean, Ana even shoots down the idea of going to Paris because she would rather go to London. The pieces are suddenly falling into place here. The funny thing is, people in the United States don't think of England as a piece separate from Europe, we think of it as a European country, so that attitude is all wrong on an American heroine. Unless she's one of those obnoxious Anglophiles who prances around with a fake accent and talks about how they only watch British television.

Okay, I have a little of that, but it extends only to Top Gear, and that's because our version of Top Gear is balls awful.

They talk a little bit more about his past girlfriends, and Ana brings up that someday she wants kids, which doesn't sit great with Christian. They are driving to an airfield, where Christian wants to show her his second favorite pastime, gliding. They get to the airfield, and Taylor is there, and so is the tow pilot, who Ana can tell is British from his accent. If you're South African, Australian, Irish, Kiwi, or Scottish, you are probably laughing your ass off right now, because you know that most Americans default to "British" upon hearing any kind of even remotely similar accent.

I'm going to skip most of the scene with the gliding, because it reads like a procedural straight from How To Go on a Glider. Basically, Christian likes strapping Ana into her parachute, and then into her seat harness (because he's into BDSM, get it?!), and then they get up in the air.
The light is extraordinary, diffuse and warm in hue, and I remember Jose rambling on about 'magic hour', a time of day that photographers adore - this is it... just after dawn, and I'm in it, with Christian.
Abruptly, I'm reminded of Jose's show. Hmm. I need to tell Christian.
I think you should definitely do that while he's piloting an engineless light aircraft that could easily have some kind of accident. Tell him right now.
The plane banks and turns as the wing dips, and we spiral toward the sun. Icarus. This is it. I am flying close to the sun, but he's with me, leading me. I gasp at the realization.
First of all, Ana:

Second, you just realized he was there?

Christian lets Ana pilot the glider, and then when they land, he asks her:
"Was it more?" he asks, his voice tinged with hope.
"Much more," I breathe, and he grins.
But it wasn't, was it? It wasn't emotional trust or true intimacy. It was piloting a glider.

After their gliding adventure, they go to IHOP. Yes. International House of Pancakes. And proximity to greasy, overpriced menu items gets both of them all hot.
Oh, I want to run my hands through that hair. I pick up a menu and examine it. I realize I'm starving.
"I know what I want," he breathes, his voice low and husky.
I glance up at him, and he's staring at me in that way that tightens all the muscles in my belly and takes my breath away, his eyes dark and smoldering. Holy shit. I gaze at him, my blood singing in my veins answering his call.
"I want what you want," I whisper.
He inhales sharply.
"Here?" he asks suggestively, raising an eyebrow at me, smiling wickedly, his teeth trapping the tip of his tongue. 
Oh please. Stop. I'm not sure if I can take the unbridled eroticism of this moment. Seriously, I cannot wait to see the promotional tie-in for this one. "The Rooty Tooty Fresh n' Fruity Buttermilk Ben Wa Pancake Stack?" With "Lingering Gaze" ligon berry sauce? You wouldn't even have to change the name of the stuffed french toast, that already sounds dirty enough. Of course, it's French, so we'd have to probably change that, or it will steal Ana's boyfriend.

 Kids and Adults with child-like sexuality eat free!

Their waitress shows up, and she flushes just as much as Ana does when she sees Christian. She's a redhead, and Ana shows surprising neutrality toward her. I guess she only cares when blondes and people with black hair and foreign names flirt with him, gingers are G2G. Then Ana and Christian talk to each other about how they both disarm each other, and Ana asks if that's why Christian has changed his mind about their arrangement.
"I don't think I've changed my mind per se. We just need to re-define our parameters, re-draw our battle lines, if you will. We can make this work, I'm sure. I want you submissive in my playroom. I will punish you if you digress from the rules. Other than that... well, I think it's all up for discussion. Those are my requirements, Miss Steele. What say you to that?"
We all know what Ana is going to say to that. Their breakfast arrives, and then they have this charming exchange:
"Can I treat you?" I ask Christian.
"Treat me how?"
"Pay for this meal."
Christian snorts.
"I don't think so," he scoffs.
"Please. I want to."
He frowns at me.
"Are you trying to completely emasculate me?"
This. Fucking. Guy.

I'm not even going to get into how awful that statement is, because either you recognize what is wrong with it, or you're a time traveler from the 1950's who stumbled, confused, upon my blog and are probably wondering why my husband allows me to read.

Christian takes Ana back to her mother's house - without asking for directions, because he already knows where she lives. I'm not kidding, Ana even says as much:
Of course he doesn't ask me for my mother's address. He knows it already, stalker that he is. When he pulls up outside the house, I don't comment. What's the point?
That' right, Ana! You march straight into that relationship in which your feelings don't matter. At least you're doing it with somewhat open eyes. Ana asks him to come in. I half expect him to say, "I've already been there, while you were sleeping," but instead he turns her down:
"I need to work, Anastasia, but I'll be back this evening. What time?" I ignore the unwelcome stab of disappointment. Why do I want to spend every single minute with this controlling sex god? Oh yes, I've fallen in love with him, and he can fly.
He can't really fly, though, can he? He has to use a vehicle.

 Say what you will about Supes, but he doesn't need a helicopter. And his ice cream is fantastic.

Ana goes inside to find her mom cleaning obsessively, and Ana offers to cook dinner, which her mom turns down.
Perhaps she's improved since she moved to Savannah with Bob. There was a time I wouldn't subject anyone to her cooking... even - who do I hate? Oh yes - Mrs. Robinson - Elena. Well, maybe he. Will I ever meet this damned woman?
Back up there, Ana. You've known Christian for all of what, three weeks? And you're impatient because he hasn't introduced you to his ex-girlfriends? Now who's a controlling stalker?

Ana emails Christian (because they have been apart maybe ten minutes) and during the exchange he tells her that she talks in her sleep.
Supposing I've said I hate him, or worse still, that I love him, in my sleep. Oh, I hope not. I am not ready to tell him that, and I'm sure he's not ready to hear it, if he ever wants to hear it.
That actually happened to me, once. I was occasionally sleeping with this guy, totally casual, and one night when I stayed over I had a dream that I got to meet Paul McCartney. Apparently I sat up and yelled, "I love you!" and then went back to sleep. That... took some explaining.

Greatest hits: "Hey Jude," "Live and Let Die," "Ruining Jen's sex life"

Ana goes to the supermarket with her mom, where she gets a phone call from SIP, offering her an assistant's job to Mr. Jack Hyde.

I need you to be fucking honest with me here, readers. I wasn't going to read the second book. But I have this feeling there is going to be some kind of sexual tension between her and Jack Hyde, based on her meeting with him in this book. If there is, if you've read book two, let me know, and I'll fucking read it. But if you lie to me, I will find you like the goddamned Repo Man and I will gut you. Also like the Repo Man.

This one, not Jude Law. That is the Rip Off man.

Ana's mom is thrilled that her daughter is an employed college grad. Too thrilled, for Ana's tastes:
"Congratulations, darling! We have to buy some champagne!" She's clapping her hands and jumping up and down. Is she forty-two or twelve?
Maybe she's your inner goddess, Ana.

Ana sees a missed call on her phone from Christian. Ana calls him back, and he tells her that a situation has come up and he has to fly back to Seattle immediately. He won't be able to have dinner.
Oh no. The last 'situation' he had was my virginity. Jeez I hope it's nothing like that.
Yup, that's exactly what it is, Ana. Your hymen grew back. Only, something went... wrong. And now it has engulfed all of Seattle.

Later that night, she remembers that Christian had dinner with Elena. I call bullshit, as I'm sure that has been on her mind all damn day. They email back and forth again, he still doesn't tell her what she said in her sleep (Spoiler alert: it was "I love you, Paul McCartney") and the chapter ends.

50 Shades of Grey chapter 23 recap. You've been waiting for the infamous tampon scene, and now here it is. Here it fucking is.

Once again, the excerpts in this post are riddled with format errors that are not present in the text of the book. So don't hold them against E.L. James or The Writer's Coffeeshop.

I would really appreciate it if you would do me a favor and read the next excerpt while listening to this. I think we're both going to be better people for it:

I glance nervously around the bar but cannot see him. 
 "Ana, what is it? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"It's Christian, he's here."
Yup. After she asked him, once again, to give her space, what has he done? He's followed her to Georgia, after she expressly told him in chapter twenty-one that she didn't want him to come with her. After he promised via email to give her space. Okay, he promised to try to give her space, but how difficult is it to not suddenly be in Georgia if you live in Washington? Answer: not too damn difficult.
I have neglected to mention Christian's stalker tendencies to my mom.
Or the police, which is probably the better idea.
I see him. My heat leaps, beginning a juddering thumping beat as he makes his way toward us. He's really here - for me. My inner goddess leaps up cheering from her chaise longue. Moving smoothly through the crowd, his hair glints burnished copper and red under the recessed halogens. His bright gray eyes are shining with - anger? Tension? His mouth is set in a grim line, jaw tense. Oh holy shit... no. I am so mad at him right now, and here he is. How can I be angry with him in front of my mother.
Where to start? First, Ana's inner goddess has so many fucking props, I imagine the inside of Ana's head looks like something from Storage Wars. Second, Christian's hair is moving smoothly through the crowd? What about the rest of him? Third, why would he have any right to be angry? He's the freak who flew cross-country after his girlfriend told him not to. Finally, you have every right to be angry with him, even in front of your mother, because he has no concept of boundaries whatsoever.

When she introduces Christian to her mother, we finally get to find out her mother's first name. It's Carla. That's actually a great name for someone who goes to the beach in big hats, isn't it? I'm writing that down. Her full name is Carla Adams, something Ana has not divulged.
How does he know her name? He gives her the heart-stopping, Christian Grey patented, full-blown-no-prisoners-taken smile.
It is the law of the land that Christian's smile be described in no less than one hundred adjectives at any moment.

That actually gives me an idea. I know that there are a lot of big names flying around, who should play Christian Grey in the movie. Most of them are too old to play twenty-seven. But not one guy. Not one very special guy, with a winning smile:

Ridiculously Photogenic Guy for Christian Grey. Come on.

 "What are you doing here?" My question sounds more brittle than I mean, and his smile disappears, his expression now guarded. I am thrilled to see him, but completely thrown off balance, my anger about Mrs. Robinson simmering through my veins. I don't know if I want to shout at him or throw myself into his arms - but I don't think he'd like either - and I want to know how long he has been watching us.
Oh, of course she's not angry that he followed her to Georgia. Of course she wants to throw herself into his arms. Because Ana is operating under the misconception that it's totally okay to stalk another person, so long as you're rich and gorgeous. Something tells me that if Jose or Paul from the hardware store pulled this kind of shenanigan, she'd file for a restraining order. But when Ridiculously Photogenic Christian Grey does it? Then it's okay.
"Well, yesterday you said you wished I was here." He pauses trying to gauge my reaction. "We aim to please, Miss Steele." His voice is quiet with no trace of humor.
She also said that she wanted time away from you. Interesting how you missed the mark when you aimed to please on that one. 
Crap - Is he mad? Maybe the Mrs. Robinson comments? Or the fact that I'm on my third, soon to be fourth Cosmo?
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS? I wish, so very, very hard, that I could reach into the book and shake Ana. Just shake the ever living shit out of her. Give her whiplash. Why should Ana be worried whether or not HE is mad at HER? She isn't the one who stalked him. So what if she has a few drinks? He plies her with liquor literally every time they're together. He gets her drunk on purpose to manipulate her. But yeah, let's really worry if HE is angry.
"So you just happen to be staying in the hotel where we're drinking?" I ask, trying hard to keep my tone light."Or, you just happen to be drinking in the hotel where I'm staying," Christian replies. "I just finished dinner, came in here, and saw you. I was distracted thinking about your most recent email, and I glance up and there you are. Quite a coincidence, eh?" He cocks his head to one side, and i see a trace of a smile. Thank heavens - we may be able to save the evening after all.

This guy. This fucking guy. And there's Ana, worried about saving the evening, because God for-fucking-bid Christian be unhappy after he's worked so hard stalking and intimidating her.

Christian compliments Ana on the top she's wearing, and her EZ-LUBE Vagina (tm) gets all fired up. All is forgiven, I guess, because he makes her happy in the pants region. In fact, she's more upset at her mom, for staring at Christian, than she is at Christian for refusing to honor boundaries.
 "I don't want to interrupt the time you have with your mother. I'll have a quick drink and then retire. I have work to do," he states earnestly.
You know, Chedward, IF YOU DIDN'T WANT TO INTERRUPT THE TIME SHE HAS WITH HER MOTHER, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE FLOWN TO SAVANNAH IN THE FIRST PLACE.  And I love that he "has work to do," because he never fucking works. So what work could he have to do in Savannah? He probably needs to get on the phone to some (blonde, evil) assistant and bark vague commands about it being "shit or bust" time.

Ana's mom invites Christian to dinner the next night, and he accepts, then Carla excuses herself to the bathroom. That's when Christian decides it's time to bring up Ana's email. He assures her that his sexual relationship with Mrs. Robinson was over a long time ago, and now Ana is the only person he wants.
"I think of her as a child molester, Christian." I hold my breath, waiting for his reaction.Christian blanches."That's very judgmental. It wasn't like that," he whispers, shocked. He releases my hand. Judgemental?
I'm right there with you, Ana. How is it judgmental to call it what it is? Clearly, Christian really is damaged goods, if he's still seeing a relationship between a child and an adult as consensual. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that Ana only thinks of Mrs. Robinson as a child molester as a cursory stop en route to jealous lover town. Ana points out that if the roles had been reversed, if Mrs. Robinson had been Mr. Robinson and Mia had been in the relationship with him, Christian would probably feel differently. But Christian feels that Mrs. Robinson was "a force for good. What I needed."
"Anastasia, your mother will be back shortly. I'm not comfortable talking about this now. Later maybe. If you don't want me here, I have a plane on stand-by at Hilton Head. I can go."
Laters, asshole.
"No - don't go. Please. I'm thrilled you're here. I'm just trying to make you understand. I'm angry that as soon as I left, you had dinner with her. Think about how you are when I get anywhere near Jose. Jose is a good friend. I have never had a sexual relationship with him. Whereas you and her," I trail off, unwilling to take that thought further.
Of course you don't want him to go, Ana. You're psychologically all screwed up, in a manner of weeks, because this guy is a master manipulator.
"Anastasia, she helped me, that's all I'll say about that. And as for your jealousy, put yourself in my shoes. I haven't had to justify my actions to anyone in the last seven years. Not one person. I do as I wish, Anastasia. I like my autonomy.
And Ana doesn't like her autonomy? Or maybe she just doesn't deserve it. And did anyone else think of Forrest Gump when he said "that's all I'll say about that?" Because I totally did.

 I may not be a smart man, but I know how to track a cellphone, Jen-nay.

That reminds me, I need to do a blog entry at some point about how that movie ruined my fucking life.

Okay, where were we? 

That's right, Chedward doesn't think Ana deserves autonomy, but he does, and he lets it slip that he has to see Mrs. Robinson, because they're business partners. Ana asks why Christian stopped sleeping with Mrs. Robinson and the answer is, unsurprisingly, because her husband found out. That earns something stronger than a Jeez! from our heroine.
"I don't think you'll ever convince me that she's not some kind of paedophile.""I don't think of her that way. I never have. Now that's enough!" he snaps.
"Did you love her?"
Ana doesn't get an answer to the paedophile question, because her mom comes back to the table and they have to act like everything is hunky dory. Just a heads up, British people, "pedophile." Stop trying to, as Eddie Izzard might say, cheat at Scrabble. Christian tells them to charge the drinks to his room, and Ana's mom gets all gooey over the fact that Christian uses Ana's full name. Then he leaves, with a "laters, baby."
"Well strike me down with a feather, Ana. He's a catch. I don't know what's going on between you two, though. I think you need to talk to each other. Phew - the UST in here, it's unbearable." She fans herself theatrically.
What the fuck is an UST? Unresolved Sexual Tension? Does Ana's mom write fanfic, too? Carla tells her daughter that she needs to go see Christian, even though Ana points out that she came to visit her, not her boyfriend from back home who has horned in on shit. Upon learning that Christian has a private plane, Ana's mom is even more pushy about Ana going to talk to him, and Ana confesses that she thinks she's in love with him. Carla tells Ana that it's obvious that Christian is in love with her, too. Hey, stalking is a form of love!

Ana goes to Christian's suite, which is of course "ultra modern" because everywhere Christian stays must be "ultra modern" in this book. He's on the phone, talking about some expensive mistake, and he starts filling the bathtub. When he comes back, he says something about being interested in some land there. So, not only will he stalk Ana, he will buy property near her family so that he can continue to stalk her? Ah, romance. When he gets off the phone, it's shit or bust time:
"You didn't answer my question," I murmur."No. I didn't," he says quietly, his gray eyes wide and cautious."No you didn't my question or no you didn't love her?" he folds his arms and leans against the wall, and a small smile plays upon his lips."What are you doing here, Anastasia?"
Um, visiting her mother. What the fuck are you doing here, Chedward?

He tells her that he didn't love Mrs. Robinson, and then it's straight to the fucking, even though they're supposed to be having some meaningful conversation. 
"I don't remember anyone but my family ever being mad at me. I like it." He runs the tips of his fingers down my cheek. Oh my, his proximity, his delicious Christian smell. We're supposed to be talking, but my heart is pounding, my blood singing as it courses through my body, desire, pooling, unfurling... everywhere. Christian bends and runs his nose along my shoulder and up to the base of my ear, his fingers slipping into my hair. "We should talk." I whisper. 
 Yeah, Ana, later. Your pesky concerns are meaningless, as you're just a sex toy/employee to him.

But now, my lovely, lovely friends. Now, you are about to be treated to what is undeniably the most needlessly disgusting sex scene ever written by someone whose last name is not "de Sade" or "Waters". Let me preface this scene by saying that I'm not one of those self-hating women who thinks her period is super gross. I'm a woman who realizes that menstruation is a part of a woman's life, and normal cycles are a sign of good reproductive health, which I am all for. However, I do suffer from OCD, and my feelings about bodily fluids are that I would like them to stay, you know, contained. For the most part. Your heroine can gush all she wants in a sex scene, that's fine. But period blood is a waste product. I'm sure that out there, somewhere, there is a writer who has the skill to pull off this scene without making me cringe about blood-born pathogens, but that writer? Is not E.L. James. So don't be flooding the comments to this fucking entry with shit about being moon sisters and our bodies are beautiful and we need to celebrate our womanhood and take the mystery out of it, because there's nothing mysterious about it to me. I know how it works, but I'm mentally ill. I don't want a goddamned lecture here about how I should finger paint in my menstrual blood. My crippling disorder is my free pass to mock the shit out of this scene, take it or leave it.

Now you know what you're getting into, okay? Let's set the mood a little. Ah, this song should do nicely:

"I want you," he breathes.I moan and reach up and grasp his arms."Are you bleeding?" He continues to kiss me.Holy Fuck. Does nothing slip by him?"Yes," I whisper, embarrassed."Do you have cramps?""No." I flush. Jeez...
He stops and looks down at me."Did you take your pill?""Yes." How mortifying is this?
I think you mean, "How sexy is this?" Ana, because this is supposed to be every woman's sexual fantasy, right? I should be jilling off to this in the tub, right? (Apologies to my friend Jill, who hates that expression).
He takes me into the bathroom which is two rooms, all aquamarines and white limestone. It's huge - In the second room a sunken bath, big enough for four people with stone steps that lead into it, is slowly filling with water. Steam rises gently above the foam, and I notice a stone seat all the way around.
This is a hotel suite. So just imagine the number of prostitutes that have been murdered in that tub.

Yes, that's another obsessive thought of mine, I'll try to keep it from further intruding on the sexual fantasy unfolding before you.

 Because she's "Bleeding Love," he's going to have sex with her in the bathroom. He gets her naked, and then they look at her naked body in the mirror while he talks about how sexy she is, and he uses her own hand to rub her body while he whispers sexy things to her, and it's really by far the best sex scene in the book yet. And then. Good lord. And then.
"When did you start your period, Anastasia?" he asks out of the blue, gazing down at me. "Err... yesterday," I mumble in my highly aroused state."Good." He releases me and turns me around."Hold on to the sink," he orders and pulls my hips back again, like he did in the playroom, so I'm bending down.He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string... what! And... a gently pulls my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck. Sweet mother of all... Jeez.
Sweet mother of all Jeez, please protect and guide they humble servant through this sex scene, and please shine they holy light upon that turlet, which will surely become clogged because you ain't supposed to put lady trash in them. Amen.

They fuck, it's amazing, yadda yadda.

Did she just "yadda yadda" sex?

Remember what I said before about how I'm a story ruiner, I will ruin stories by going just a step beyond what is necessary, and in doing so I bring everyone down?
We sink slowly to the floor, and he wraps his arms around me, imprisoning me. I am curled on his lap, my head against his chest, as we both calm. Very subtly, I inhale his sweet, intoxicating Christian scent. I must not nuzzle. I must not nuzzle. I repeat the mantra in my head - though I am so tempted to do so. I want to lift my hand and draw patterns in his chest hair with my fingertips... but I resist, knowing that he'll hate it if I do. We are both quiet, lost in our thoughts. I am lost in him... lost to him.I remember that I have my period."I'm bleeding," I murmur.
Here's the thing: I know, intelligently, that having sex while on your period is no big deal. Just like I know, from a feminist standpoint, that to have a scene like this in a groundbreaking (for whatever sad reason) bestseller is a coup for women everywhere. It's saying, "We're not ashamed of menstruation. We can read about it, we can even get turned on by the thought of a dude pulling out our tampon." But from a personal standpoint, full of fears of bodily fluids and smells and mess, I cannot look at this scene and think anything other than, "What does it add to the story for Ana to be having her period?" It adds nothing. This sex scene was actually pretty well written, for a change. But there is no level of eroticism added, in my opinion, by having him pull out her fucking tampon, and then reminding the reader that she's bleeding all over him. It just doesn't work for me. If it works for you, more power to you. But just like I don't read medieval historical romances while thinking, "Gee, if only they could talk more about how everyone smells bad and there's no penicillin," I don't read erotica and think to myself, "This scene would be way better with menstruation all up in it."

They get up to go have a bath (and I'm sure that bathtub has seen its share of blood, what with all the prostitute killing that has happened in it), and Ana notices the scars on his chest again.
They are not chicken pox, I muse absentmindedly. Grace said he was hardly affected. Holy shit... they must be burns.
Ana wonders if Mrs. Robinson burned him with cigarettes, or if his birth mom did it. That actually makes me a little sad. I'm all for someone stubbing a cigarette out in this jackoff's eye, but that now, not then. I wouldn't advocate doing it when he's a little defenseless toddler. Ana confronts him about it, and he tells her that of course Mrs. Robinson didn't do it. So, that leaves us with a case of child abuse. Oh my god, everything Dr. Drew said is coming horrifically true!
He's standing there, naked, gloriously naked, with my blood on him... and we're finally have this conversation. And I'm naked too - neither of us has anywhere to hide, except perhaps the bath.
Water is clear, Ana.

As they sit in the bath, Ana decides that she's going to get her answers from him, no matter how much silent treatment he dishes out, and finally he tells her that if Mrs. Robinson hadn't molested him, he wouldn't be the person he is, he would have become just like his birth mother. He tells Ana that Mrs. Robinson "'loved me in a way I found... acceptable,'" and then goes on to explain:
"She distracted me from the destructive path I found myself following. It's very hard to grow up in a perfect family when you're not perfect." Oh no. My mouth dries as I digest his words. He gazes as me, his expression unfathomable. He's not going to tell me any more. How frustrating. Inside, I'm reeling - he sounds so full of self-loathing. And Mrs. Robinson loved him. Holy shit... does she still?
Here's Christian, finally answering Ana's questions, and what's she worried about? Does she have a romantic rival or not. That's not, you know, disgustingly selfish or anything. They argue a little more about how Christian never talks and always tries to distract Ana from her questions. Then he admits that while he's not talking to her about their relationship, he does talk to Mrs. Robinson about it.
"Why do you talk about me?" I endeavor not to sound whiney and petulant, but I don't succeed. I know I should stop. I am pushing him too hard. My subconscious has her Edvard Munch face on again."I've never met anyone like you, Anastasia.""What does that mean? Anyone who just didn't automatically sign your paperwork, no questions asked?"He shakes his head."I need advice.""And you take advice from Mrs. Paedo?" I snap. The hold on my temper is more tentative than I thought.
 Christian threatens to spank her if he keeps talking about Mrs. Robinson that way. Because if he doesn't like something, well, by God, he'll beat the shit out of it until he does. He's finished answering her questions, and then he turns the table on her, asking what she thought of his latest email. As a reader, I don't know what email he's referring to, because the bulk of the last chapter was made up of their emails. The email device, that I once found kind of cute, has devolved into this horrific, confusing ordeal. If I never read another email again, in this book or in my real life, I might be able to recover.
He gives me a genuine, relieved smile. "I'm please I'm here too - in spite of your interrogation. So, while it's acceptable to grill me, you think you can claim some kind of diplomatic immunity just because I've flown all this way to see you? I'm not buying it, Miss Steele. I want to know how you feel."
Yeah, Ana. He worked so hard at stalking you, how very dare you not do as he commands! Selfish.

Chedward asks Ana what she thinks about their arrangement, and she's finally honest with him:
"I don't think I can do it for an extended period of time. A whole weekend being someone I'm not." I flush and stare at my hands.He tips my chin up, and he's smirking at me, amused."No, I don't think you could either."And a part of me feels slightly affronted and challenged."Are you laughing at me?""Yes, but in a good way," he says with a small smile.He leans down and kisses me softly, briefly."You're not a great submissive," he breathes as he holds my chin, his eyes dancing with humor.
 FINALLY! I'm so relieved that this is out in the open. Now it's not a BDSM relationship, it's just a regular old abusive relationship, and we can approach it with honesty.

Just kidding! Ana realizes that hitting her is how he shows that he cares. And he says nothing about discontinuing with the BDSM.
"You can always safe-word, Anastasia. Don't forget that. And, as long as you follow the rules, which fulfill a deep need in me for control and to keep you safe, then perhaps we can find a way forward."
Look at that, right there. What he's saying is, quite literally, "We can't continue this relationship unless you let me control you, because my needs are the only important ones."

Fear me, love me, do as I say, and I'll let you be my girlfriend, Ana.

"But, here's the thing - one moment you say don't defy me, the next you say you like to be challenged. That's a very fine line to tread successfully." He gazes at me for a moment, then frowns."I can see that. But you seem to be doing fine so far.""But a what personal cost? I'm tied up in knots here.""I like you tied up in knots," he smirks.
See, it's okay! He's fine with Ana being emotionally crippled by the relationship! Problem solved! And that's a good thing, because the time for talking is over, and the time for sexing has begun anew. They fuck in the bath, and she thinks,
I love this man. I love his passion, the effect I have on him. I love that he's flown so far to see me. I love that he cares about me... he cares. It's so unexpected, so fulfilling.
This horrible relationship is super fulfilling, and I know that, because I, Ana Steele, have a ton of experience with this sort of thing.

Without any transition at all, they're lying in the bed, where we find out that Christian has had seventeen sexual partners in his lifetime, and his favorite movie is The Piano. Which I had completely forgotten about, and totally recommended everyone watch a few recaps back. I still recommend it, but I hate that it's Christian Grey's favorite movie. I don't like having anything in common with him. One thing we don't have in common? He's paid for sex.

Oh my god. I just realized that in comparing Jareth to Christian Grey, I have absolutely slaughtered my fond memories of my budding childhood sexuality.