Tuesday, October 16, 2012

50 Shades Darker Chapter 16 recap, or "A Treatise on Spreader Bars and Human Anatomy, with a Focus on Physics"

Stuff has happened. Smart Pop Books featured a quote from my essay, "Every Breath You Take," from 50 Writers on 50 Shades of Grey on their tumblr this weekend, so you can check that out here. Also, I did an interview with a local newspaper, and it's available on MLive.com. You should check that out, too, because someone left a comment on it and immediately took it to politics. I was super impressed at how quickly they were able to link 50 Shades to a government takeover conspiracy.

Onto the recap.

When we last left Ana, she had just been cornered in the office kitchen by Snidely Whiplash's cousin, Riff Raff:

"You've arrived on a rather special night. It's one of the master's affairs..."

In case you're just joining us, I'm talking about Ana's boss, who suddenly has turned into the rapey bad guy from Ever After.
Fear chokes me. What is this? What does he want? From somewhere deep inside and despite my dry mouth, I find the resolve and courage to squeeze out some words, my self-defense class "Keep them talking" mantra circling my brain like an ethereal sentinel.
"Jack, now might not be a good time for this. Your cab is due in ten minutes, and I need to give you all your documents." My voice quiet but hoarse, betraying me.
I keep getting hung up on that description of her voice. When you're hoarse, isn't it normal to be quiet?
He smiles, and it's a despotic fuck-you smile that finally touches his eyes. They glint in the harsh fluorescent glow of the strip light above us in the drab windowless room. He takes a step toward me, glaring, his eyes never leaving mine. His pupils are dilating as I watch - the black eclipsing the blue. Oh no. My fear escalates.
Is this like when Bilbo the Ripper didn't want to give up the One Ring in that Johnny Depp movie?

Or whatever was happening here. I saw rare pot roast, got hungry, and left.

Jack the Raper tells Ana that he had to fight to get her the job, and Ana suggests that they schedule a meeting with HR. Jack tells her that when he hired her, he thought she'd be a hard worker, but the real thing he's concerned about is all this "boyfriend" nonsense.
"I decided to check through your e-mail account to see if I could find any clues. And you know what I found, Ana? What was out of place? The only personal e-mails in your account were to your hotshot boyfriend." He pauses, assessing my reaction. "And I got to thinking... where are the emails from him? There are none. Nada. Nothing. So what's going on, Ana? How come his e-mails to you aren't on our system? Are you some company spy, planted in here by Grey's organization? Is that what this is?"
So, what's going on? Ana got effed in the A, is what's going on. Christian only deleted his emails from the server. He left all of Ana's on there. Except... that doesn't make any sense. Wait a minute... Ana was emailing stuff about whips and chains to his email account, and he spazzed out about it. So, why didn't he have those emails deleted? And why hang Ana out to dry like this? Oh, riiiiiight, because he's a selfish a-hole, and he didn't want Ana to have the job in the first place. Leaving her emails on the server gives her employer a reason to fire her that would have nothing to do with him, directly.
Some subliminal pheromone that Jack is exuding has me on high alert.
Aren't all pheromones subliminal? I can't recall a single time in my life that I've thought, "My, what a nice smelling pheremone." Also, you're not on high alert because of a pheromone, you're on high alert because your boss has you cornered in an empty office and he's acting like he's going to rape you.

Jack tells Ana that he knows Chedward fucked up the New York trip.
Jack continues, enjoying my discomfort. "And he thinks I'd make a pass at you?" He smirks and his eyes heat. "Well, I want you to think about something while I'm in New York. I gave you this job, and I expect you to show me some gratitude. In fact, I'm entitled to it. I had to fight to get you. Elizabeth wanted someone better qualified, but I - I saw something in you. So, we need to work out a deal. A deal where you keep my happy. D'you understand what I'm saying, Ana?"
Fuck!
"Look at it as refining your job description if you like. And if you keep me happy, I won't dig any further into how your boyfriend is pulling strings, milking his contacts, or cashing in some favor from one of his Ivy League frat-boy sycophants."
How quickly he goes from being disgusted by the thought of making a pass at her to implicating that she needs to give him a handy at lunch time.
My mouth drops open. He's blackmailing me. For sex! And what can I say? News of Christian's takeover is embargoed for another three weeks. I can barely believe this. Sex - with me!
Gosh! Willikers! Someone wants to have sex with me? Golly. I'm sorry, I can't help but hear Kristen Wiig's impression of Liza Minnelli as I read that line, and it's coming off more as, "Aw, shucks, who'd want to have sex with lil' ole me," than, "Oh my god, I'm being blackmailed." And it is hilarious.
Jack moves closer until he's standing right in front of me, staring down into my eyes. His cloying sweet cologne invades my nostrils - it's nauseating - and if I'm not mistaken, the bitter stench of alcohol is on his breath. Fuck, he's been drinking... when?
If I worked with you, I'd be drinking constantly. But you would know the "bitter stench of alcohol" pretty well, wouldn't you, Ana?



"You're such a tight-assed, cock-blocking, prick tease, you know, Ana," he whispers through clenched teeth.
How did she cock-block you? Does Jack not know what cock-blocking is? It's stopping someone else from getting laid. If anyone is cock-blocking Jack right now, it's Christian.
What? Prick tease... me?
What me, prick tease?

Ana reminds us once again that Ray taught her to fight, so she's good with self-defense, in case we missed it the other ninety times she's brought it up in this book:
Ray will be proud. Ray taught me what to do. Ray knows his self-defense. If Jack touches me - if he even breathes too close to me - I will take him down. My breath is shallow. I must not faint, I must not faint.
So, you know. Brave, strong, desperately trying not to faint, etc.

Jack starts talking about how turned on Ana probably is, and how she really wants him and he can tell, and he calls her a prick tease again, and a bitch, so Ana grabs his pinkie and bends it back, and then she knees him in the jimmies. They are rustled, both metaphorically and physically.
"Don't you ever touch me again," I snarl at him. "Your itinerary and the brochures are packaged on my desk. I am going home now. Have a nice trip. And in the future, get your own damn coffee."
Just a PSA here, if someone is trying to rape you, and you get away, don't try to get the last word in. Run, okay?
I run full tilt to my desk, grab my jacket and my purse, and dash to Reception, ignoring the moans and curses emanating from the bastard still prostrate on the kitchen floor. I burst out of the building and stop for a minute as the cool air hits my face. I take a deep breath and compose myself. But I haven't eaten all day, and as the very unwelcome surge of adrenaline recedes, my legs give out beneath me and I sink to the ground.
Heads up, we're going to hear Chedward bitch at Ana for not eating, I can feel it in my bones. And of course, it's very important to remind the reader that Ana hasn't eaten, for what does her name truly stand for? And didn't Mia just get off the phone with her at the end of the last chapter?

Christian and Taylor jump out of the car and rush to her side:
Christian sinks to his knees at my side, and on some unconscious level, all I can think is: He's here. My love is here.
You can't think unconsciously. At least, not in words like that.
"Ana, Ana! What's wrong?" He scoops me into his lap, running his hands up and down my arms, checking for any signs of injury. Grabbing my head between his hands, he stares with wide, terrified, gray eyes into mine. I sag against him, suddenly overwhelmed with relief and fatigue. Oh, Christian's arms. There is no place I'd rather be.
Keep in mind that this passionate Pieta is taking place on the goddamned sidewalk at like, 6:30 pm on a business day. There are probably annoyed commuters walking around them, rolling their eyes, wondering if there's a movie being filmed and if so, where are the cameras?

Ana just says Jack's name and Taylor is off like a shot, like a real man defending his woman from harm. He knows she can handle herself, most of the time, but he can also tell when she needs backup, and now is that time. He'll go inside and give Jack what for, then he'll take me home for chinese takeout and a M*A*S*H marathon, because he loves that show, unlike my husband. And then he'll give me what for, in the sex way of using that phrase, which means pounding.

Wait, I'm doing a recap. Sorry, my mind wandered.

Christian is, of course, enraged, and demands to know:
"Did he touch you?"
Not, "Did he hurt you?" or "Did he scare you?" or even, "Did he yell at you?" Christian is only concerned with whether or not someone else has played with his toy. Laying hands on her is unacceptable, because Ana is Chedward's property.

Ana tells Christian that Jack did touch her (he put a finger on her breastbone or something), and then this happens:
Christian's muscles bunch and tense as rage sweeps through him, and he stands up swiftly, powerfully - rock steady - with me in his arms. He's furious. No!
Okay, first of all, drink. Second of all, why "No!"? "Hey, boyfriend, someone tried to rape me." "That makes me angry!" "No!" Is she trying to protect Christian from his own emotions or something?

Christian wants to go in and help Taylor deal with Jack:
"Don't go in. Don't, Christian." Suddenly my fear is back, fear of what Christian will do to Jack.
What do you think Christian is going to do to Jack that Taylor isn't capable of doing on his own? Is Christian going to throw money at the guy? Sexily spank him? I know that Mia claims Christian was a "brawler" in school, but we're talking about grown ass men here. Taylor has it on lockdown, trust me.

Christian tries everything to get Ana in the car. He swears at her, he orders her around, and all the while they're listening to this shouting going on inside the building. Isn't there like, a lobby and a reception area and then Ana's office is upstairs or something? How chintzy are the building materials in the Pacific Northwest, that they can hear all this going down while they're out on the street during rush hour?

Ana tells Christian that Jack has her emails. It doesn't go over well:
"Christian, he has my e-mails."
"What?"
"My emails to you. He wanted to know where your e-mails to me were. He was trying to blackmail me."
Christian's look is murderous.
Oh, shit.
"Fuck!" he splutters and narrows his eyes at me. He punches a number into his BlackBerry.
Oh no. I'm in trouble. Who is he calling?
"Barney. Grey. I need you to access the SIP main server and wipe all Anastasia Steele's e-mails to me. Then access the personal data files of Jack Hyde and check they aren't stored there. If they are, wipe them... Yes, all of them. Now. Let me know when it's done."
 Oh, so that's what his job is.

Hey, asshole, here's a thought... you could have done that when you had him wipe all of your emails from the SIP server. In fact, you could have had only Ana's emails wiped from the server and this would have gone much better, especially since she was the one sending messages about BDSM smexytimes. I'm still boggling over why he had just his messages removed from the server. I mean, wouldn't the text of the messages she was replying to be attached to the messages she sent? None of this makes sense.

Christian calls Roach and tells him to fire Jack immediately. Like, Christian wants his desk cleaned out this very second. So, is Roach supposed to have HR come in and do the paperwork on that right now? Because everyone in the office had gone home. Little details like realism don't matter to Christian Grey, though, because he will liquidate SIP first thing in the morning if he doesn't get his way. Except, how is that going to work? There's an embargo on news of the SIP sale. Who is he going to sell the bits of the company to, if he can't even tell people he owns it yet?
"Please don't be mad at me." I blink up at him.
"I am so mad at you right now," he snarls and once more sweeps his hand through his hair. "Get in the car."
"Christian, please - "
"Get in the fucking car, Anastasia, or so help me I'll put you in there myself," he threatens, his eyes blazing with fury.
Why is he so mad at her? For having a job? For being assaulted? Both? That actually seems more likely, that's he's angry at her for having a job and for being assaulted. How dare she want independence from him! How very dare she allow another man to attack her! The whore.
Oh, shit. "Don't do anything stupid, please," I beg.
"STUPID!" he explodes. "I told you to use your fucking BlackBerry. Don't talk to me about stupid. Get in the motherfucking car, Anastasia - NOW!" he snarls, and a frisson of fear runs through me. This is Very Angry Christian. I've not seen him this mad before. He's barely holding on to his self-control.
This is the kind of man you want, ladies. The man who will gladly respond to your work emails and cheerfully have any evidence of doing so wiped from your company's servers, but leave yours behind to get you possibly fired. The man who will blame you for all of that, as well, and who will snarl at you when he doesn't get his way. Isn't barely-leashed anger sexy when it's headed directly at you? I'm so tired of the romance novel hero whose strength and anger frighten the heroine, but never actually poses a danger to her, only to people who would hurt her. No, I want a hero who is moments away from snapping and punching the heroine's lights out. No Ne-yo for me, talking about how I got my own and my independence makes me sexy. I want Chris Brown, beating my head in for looking at his phone. That's real romance.

After an entire page of arguing, Ana finally gets in the car, and Christian goes into the building. Then Jack comes out with his desk all boxed up, because that is realistic. Even though he tried to, you know, rape and blackmail her, no police are called. No one even gives her the option. She should just sit in the car and think about what she's done to invite this kind of male attention, because it's clearly all her fault.

Christian and Taylor come back to the car, and Christian takes a speakerphone call from Barney, who says he found stuff on Jack's computer he needs to tell Christian about. Christian tells Barney they'll talk about it later.
Barney hangs up. He sounds so much younger than I expected. What else is on Jack's computer?
Kiddie porn, probably, in order to ram home his evil. See, it's not enough that he's a slimeball, he needs to be the ultimate in evil so that Christian is extra, super right about not trusting him. That will teach Ana (and the readers) not to question men, for they clearly know better, and we women can never possibly judge a person's character correctly or stand up for ourselves.

Ana asks Christian if he's talking to her, and he says no:
Oh, there we go... how childish. I wrap my arms around myself and stare unseeing out the window. Perhaps I should just ask him to drop me off at my apartment; then he can "not talk" to me from the safety of Escala and save us both the inevitable quarrel.
That's never going to happen. As far as Christian is concerned, he wants you to live with him, so you do. You're never going to spend another night in that apartment.

For the men who are reading this recap, let me pause here and say that if your girlfriend or wife or friend or coworker is ever attacked, this is not how you handle it. I'm sure you knew that already, but I would feel remiss not stating it. If this exact scenario happened, this is how you handle it:

  1. Dial 911.
  2. See if the victim needs immediate first aid.
  3. Do not confront the attacker, because you're not going to be any help to the victim if you're shot or stabbed or punched out.
  4. Wait with the victim until the police arrive.
They get to Escala and go into the lobby:
"Christian, why are you so mad at me?" I whisper as we wait.
 "You know why," he mutters as we step into the elevator, and he punches in the code to his floor. "God, if something had happened to you, he'd be dead by now." Christian's tone chills me to the bone.
So, here he is, telling Ana that he's mad because if she had been hurt, he would have been powerless to keep from murdering someone? That sounds like it resides in the neighborhood of "You make me hit you."
"As it is, I'm going to ruin his career so he can't take advantage of young women anymore, miserable excuse for a man that he is." He shakes his head. "Jesus, Ana!" He grabs me suddenly, imprisoning me in the corner of the elevator.
Like looking in a mirror, huh, Christian? Maybe people who live in glass penthouse apartments and who also take advantage of young women shouldn't throw stones? And you know what would really ensure that he couldn't do this to any more women? If you had CALLED THE POLICE. Or even bothered to tell Roach why you wanted the guy fired. No one but you, Ana, and Jack know that he's an attempted rapist. You're not protecting anyone, you're just stupid and ineffectual as always, but go ahead and congratulate yourself because clearly you're Superman.

Because they're in the elevator, it's time for sexy passionate times. They make out, and it's possessive and breathless and desperation and other words that have been overused during kissing scenes.
He straightens, releasing me as the elevator comes to a stop. "He said you kicked him in the balls." Christian's tone is lighter with a trace of admiration, and I think I'm forgiven.
Awfully nice of him to forgive you for being assaulted. That's mighty big of him.

Ana makes a comment about Ray being ex-Army, because we may have forgotten it by now. Since that's the only characterization Ray is given in this book, I guess it's important to really hammer it home. Christian goes to call Barney back, and Mrs. Jones gets Ana some wine, while Ana thinks it would be nice to have a boring day now and then. Which is the exact opposite of how I feel about the situation, because I find most of Ana's life unbearably boring. Must be it's different when you're just reading about it.
What if I'd never met Christian? I'd be holed up in my apartment, talking it through with Ethan, completely freaked by my encounter with Jack, knowing I would have to face the sleazeball again on Friday. As it is, there's every chance I'll never set eyes on him again. But who will I work for now? I frown. I hadn't though of that. Shit, do I even have a job?
Not if Christian has anything to say about it, you probably don't. And I hate to point this out, gentle readers, but if Ana had never met Christian, she would probably be on a plane to New York right now. There would have been no incriminating emails to get Jack all riled up at her, so she would be flying to New York with Jack the Raper, who would likely be taking a more subtle approach to seduction. The only real difference would be that instead of Christian pressuring her for sex that she doesn't want to have (see last chapter), it would be Jack doing it.

Christian comes out to join her and Mrs. Jones, and Ana asks if she still has a job at SIP:
He cocks his head to the side. "Do you still want one?"
"Of course."
"Then you still have one."
Simple. See? He is master of my universe.
I know I've said it before, but I love it when they reference the title of the fanfic the book used to be in the actual text, while utterly denying that it was fanfic in the first place. Oh, ethics. You were just bunging up the entire publishing industry, anyway.

Mrs. Jones makes them dinner and leaves them alone, and Ana thinks this is the perfect time to bring up Jose. By the way, I've received all your suggestions for how to get the accent mark over his name. Some of them won't work at all, because I'm on a Mac. Others work perfectly for Mac, EXCEPT when you're using blogger's interface. And the rest of them take way too much damn time, and these recaps are already taking between six and eight hours of work, so copy/pasting every time I need to use Jose's name just is not going to happen. But I appreciate all the help, and I now know how to make literally any accent mark in written language because you guys are on top of shit like whoa.

Anyways, Ana tells Christian that Jose wants to come and drop off the pictures:
"A personal delivery. How accommodating of him," Christian mutters.
You're the one who bought the pictures, asshole.
"He wants to go out. For a drink. With me."
"I see."
"And Kate and Elliot should be back," I add quietly.
Christian puts his fork down, frowning at me.
"What exactly are you asking?"
I bristle. "I'm not asking anything. I'm informing you of my plans for Friday. Look, I want to see Jose, and he wants to stay over. Either he stays here or he can stay at my place, but if he does, I should be there, too."
Christian's eyes widen. He looks dumbfounded.
"He made a pass at you."
Yes, I suppose he did. But that was before you owned her. Seriously, am I the only one seeing red, then blacking out for a moment and waking up with blood on my hands while reading this chapter? I really need to know, before the police get here.
"Ethan's there. He can keep him company."
"He wants to see me, not Ethan."
Christian scowls at me.
"He's just a friend." My voice is emphatic.
"I don't like it."
So what? Jeez, he's irritating sometimes. I take a deep breath. "He's my friend, Christian. I haven't seen him since his show. And that was too brief. I know you don't have any friends, apart from that god-awful woman, but I don't moan about you seeing her," I snap.
YES! CONSTANTLY YOU DO THIS!

What book is Ana reading, where she doesn't complain about Christian's relationship with Mrs. Robinson? And really, there's no comparison. Ana is asking to maintain a friendship with a guy who, yes, got handsy with her. There's no way around that. But he got handsy with a single woman, not with Christian Grey's girlfriend. He's given Ana plenty of space, she's forgiven him, and nothing like that has happened again. He's not trying to interfere in the relationship at all, unlike Mrs. Robinson, who is not only an ex, but a child rapist who is actively trying to weasel her way into some sick, three-way emotional clusterfuck with both Christian and Ana.

Christian asks Ana why she's never mentioned that she doesn't like him buddying around with his rapist and newsflash, Chedward, she's made it pretty damn clear that she doesn't like the woman. Still, he wants to know why Ana didn't ask him, explicitly, to stop being friends with Elena:
"Because it's not my place to say. You think she's your only friend." I shrug in exasperation. He really doesn't get it. How did this turn into a conversation about her?
Because you brought her up, genius. But Christian decides that he's okay with Ana spending time with Jose, provided that he stays over at Escala. Probably with Taylor's hand on his throat the whole time, but really, I wouldn't mind Taylor choking me a little bit.

 Any similarity to any blogging author alive or dead is purely coincidental.

Christian has some work to do, so Ana loads the dishwasher (because she wants to get poor Mrs. Jones fired, I guess) and then, as an afterthought to everything else that has happened, Christian finally asks Ana if she's okay:
"After what happened with that fucker? After what happened yesterday?" he adds, his voice quiet and earnest.
Oh, see, I thought he was worried about her after the attempted rape, he's really just making sure she's still buying his "catatonic sub/fake nightmare" bullshit routine. That's charming.

While Christian is working, Ana gets bored. Probably because she's living there, but she has none of her own stuff there, so she's feeling like a guest in a very sterile B&B. She wanders around the apartment a little:
I wonder idly where Christian will hang Jose's pictures of me. I'd rather he didn't. I am not keen on looking at myself.
Bull fucking shit you aren't. The entire series began with you gazing at yourself in a mirror. Every time you're near a mirror, you check yourself out and tell us about it, even when you ran to the bathroom crying in the last chapter. Own your vanity, Ana. Everyone else does.

Ana finds the playroom unlocked, so she goes inside:
 I flick the switch and the light under the cornice light up with a soft glow. It's as I remember it. A womblike room.
It's been a long time since I've been in a womb, but I do have one, and I'm reasonably certain there are not canes and floggers in there.

Ana starts going through the stuff in the playroom and thinking boring thoughts about it, and feeling like she's trespassing, etc. when Christian chances upon her:
Oh shit. Is he mad? I flush. "Er... I was bored and curious," I mutter, embarrassed to be found out. He said he'd be two hours.
Yeah, but you know how time moves in this series, Ana. Two hours could be two minutes or two days, depending on what the author needs.
Slowly he enters the room and closes the door quietly behind him, his eyes liquid gray fire. Oh my. He leans casually over the chest of drawers, but I think his stance is deceptive. My inner goddess doesn't know whether it's fight-or-flight time.
So, here we have Ana being ACTIVELY AFRAID OF THE MAN WHO SUPPOSEDLY LOVES HER. Stick that in your head hole for a second, reader. Why is she afraid of him? Because she doesn't know how he's going to react, and he has a volatile temper, as we've already witnessed in this chapter. More importantly, she doesn't know if he's going to do something to her that she doesn't want him to, like, you know, beat on her with a belt. And she's afraid of this because she knows she has no control. If she felt like she were an equal partner to Christian Grey, she wouldn't fear him, would she?

Christian tells Ana that he was trying to decide what to do with all the stuff in the playroom. As in, he's thinking of getting rid of it all. She's just worried that he's mad at her for being in there.
"Why would I be mad?"
"I feel like I'm trespassing... and you're always mad at me." My voice is quiet, though I'm relieved. Christian's brow creases once more.
"Yes, you're trespassing, but I'm not mad. I hope that one day you'll live with me here, and all this" - he gestures vaguely around the room with one hand - "will be yours, too."
What? The curtains?

I love how he's all, "I want you to marry me," but going into an unlocked room in his house is trespassing. Who the fuck does he think he is? Blue Beard?

Ana thinks:
My playroom...? I gape at him - that's a lot to take in.
Which is hilarious, because then she opens up a drawer and finds:
 "What's this?" I hope up the silver bullet thing. 
 "Always hungry for information, Miss Steele. That's a butt plug," he says gently.
 "Oh..." 
 "Bought for you."
 What? "For me?"
And they say romance is dead. Turns out, Christian buys shiny new steel butt plugs and other ass toys for each sub, which really does appeal to the OCD germophobe in me. Ana picks up some anal beads:
I examine them with fascinated horror. All of these, inside me... there!
If she's going to start referring to her asshole and her vagina with the same vague terminology, this series is either going to get a lot better, or a lot worse, because I am going to be powerfully confused.

They go through the drawers in the Red Room of Pain, looking at nipple and genital clamps, a Wartenberg wheel, ball gags, clothespins, etc. When discussing the ball gag, Christian says:
"It's about control, Anastasia. How helpless would you be if you were tied up and couldn't speak? How trusting would you have to be, knowing I had that much power over you? That I had to read your body and your reaction, rather than hear your words? It makes you more dependent, puts me in ultimate control."
You run a multi-billion dollar empire. You have honest to god servants living in your home. You can track people down with a phone call, buy companies, probably literally move mountains. Why do you need to control the physical body of a woman whose every action you already manipulate and dictate?

Answer: because you are a creepy asshole.

Ana points out that he does have power over her. Not to, you know, stand up to him, but to reassure him that he has all the power he needs.
"Do I? You make me feel... helpless."
"No!" Oh, Fifty...
Oh please. Drink 'em if you've got 'em, but seriously? There is so much wrong here. Because he can't utterly control every single facet of Ana's life, down to her physical responses during sex, he feels helpless? And although Ana often describes herself as being helpless to him and seems to view the idea of that helplessness as generally positive, the idea of him being helpless elicits a reaction of strong denial? Does anyone else see how fucked up this is?!


They start to get kissy, and then Christian says:
"Ana, you were nearly attacked today." His voice is soft but wary.
"So?" I ask, enjoying the feel of his hand at my back and his proximity. He pulls his head back and scowls down at me.
"What do you mean, 'so?'" he rebukes.
Yeah, Ana! You're not being a victim in exactly the way he wants you to! You have a responsibility, as the victim of sexual assault, to behave exactly as other people say you should! I mean, not really, of course, but in the context of this book, with women as they are viewed in the reality of this narrative, that's how it is. And you know, yesterday, when she was attacked by a gun-wielding intruder and it was all your fault? You forced her to fuck you, even though she didn't want to. Thanks for being considerate now.

It was at this time that I tried to rip the book in half, gentle readers. I must compliment Vintage press for their surprisingly sturdy and well-constructed trade-sized paperbacks. I'm certain I would have accomplished the feat had I been holding a Kindle.

Oh, also:
I gaze up into his lovely, grumpy face, and I'm dazzled.
 Dazzle!

They decide they're going to bone, but not in the Red Room, because alcoholism:
"I'm like a recovering alcoholic, okay? That's the only comparison I can draw. The compulsion has gone, but I don't want to put temptation in my way. I don't want to hurt you."
He's recovering from the disease that is BDSM, but to conquer it for once and for all, he needs to change his people, places and things. This is in no way insulting to the millions of normal people who enjoy BDSM and who don't see it as an evil to overcome or a symptom of a mental illness.
He looks so remorseful, and in that moment, a sharp nagging pain lances through me. What have I done to this man? Have I improved his life? He was happy before he met me, wasn't he?
I think "happy before [s/he] met me" is an apt description of pretty much everyone Ana could possibly meet. I also think that "sharp nagging pain" is an apt description of what happened to my right eye when I read that line and realized that I'm reading a book about a woman who spends her every waking moment in a constant state of mental anguish caused by her emotional torture specialist boyfriend while simultaneously worrying if she's good enough for him.

Christian and Ana take a spreader bar back to his bedroom and start getting sexy with the how-the-fuck-did-a-copy-editor-miss-this?! word rep:
He gazes down at me, watching my every move, eyes so dark and filled with carnal bliss. Oh my. I sheath my teeth and suck harder. He closes his eyes and surrenders to this blissful carnal pleasure.  
Copy editor should be fired. No. No, that's not fair. The author should be fired. From a cannon. Into the mouth of a crater-dwelling moon beast adrift in space.

Ana sucks Christian off and swallows, and then he immediately kisses her and tells her he can taste himself on her, and then Ana tells him he tastes "mighty fine," because it's so adorable and cute and ironic when she says things to him that he usually says to her. This is such a masterfully written work, let me tell you.

He cuffs her ankles and adjusts the spreader bar so that her legs are three feet apart. Then he breaks her fucking spine:
Reaching down he grasps the bar and twists it so I flip onto my front. It takes me by surprise.
No shit, really? Because it would shock the hell out of me if someone possibly sprained and/or fractured my ankles, knees, hips, and/or back. Think about this one, reader. If someone grabbed you by the legs and tried to flip you over, would the top half of your body move? If you weren't ready to be flipped over? Would your upper body remain rigid, like you were one, unbendable piece of cardboard? Or, I don't know, would being flipped over via spreader bar when you weren't expecting it kind of hurt? I guess I'll have to leave that question at the feet of the BDSM master, Ms. E.L. James.

He unexpectedly flips her again, and then he goes down on her, then he cuffs her wrists to the spreader bar and talks about how he wants to fuck her ass, but not right now (or ever in the entire series) because she's not ready. Then, because the refractory period does not exist in this book, he fucks her and they both come at the same time.

After he uncuffs her from the spreader bar, he says:
"I could watch you sleep forever, Ana," he murmurs and he kisses my forehead.
Sleep forever? So he's finally going to get around to murdering her, then?

The last paragraph of the chapter is:
 "I need you," he whispers, but his voice is a distant, ethereal part of my dreams. He needs me... needs me... and as I finally slip into the darkness, my last thoughts are of a small boy with gray eyes and dirty, messy, copper-colored hair smiling shyly at me.
Is there anything that hair can't do?

6 comments:

  1. I love the Monty python reference. That's exactly what I was thinking while reading this chapter.

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  2. "This is the kind of man you want, ladies. The man who will gladly respond to your work emails and cheerfully have any evidence of doing so wiped from your company's servers, but leave yours behind to get you possibly fired. The man who will blame you for all of that, as well, and who will snarl at you when he doesn't get his way. Isn't barely-leashed anger sexy when it's headed directly at you? I'm so tired of the romance novel hero whose strength and anger frighten the heroine, but never actually poses a danger to her, only to people who would hurt her. No, I want a hero who is moments away from snapping and punching the heroine's lights out."

    Bears repeating, since the millions of women who swoon over this ass just don't seem to get it!!!

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  3. I've read all of your recaps so far, as I wanted to find out exactly why this book was such a success without reading the fucking thing, and I cannot believe how goddamn messed up it is. However, I must say that there is one good thing about this series and that is definitely Taylor. I love all of your Taylor-related digressions!

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  4. I've read all of your recaps so far, as I wanted to find out exactly why this book was such a success without reading the fucking thing, and I cannot believe how goddamn messed up it is. However, I must say that there is one good thing about this series and that is definitely Taylor. I love all of your Taylor-related digressions!

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  5. Huh, I don't know how I got this far in your recaps and only just now made the connection between Christian's BDSM and Edward's vampirism. Could explain why EL James decided to bastardize BDSM as something shameful; she needed something that would be immediately recognizable as both sensual and forbidden by mainstream perception to stiff-arm into the place of Edward's undeadedness. BDSM has a similar allure and perceived danger to vampires since blood and pain tends to be closely linked in the mind. As Edward with his vampirism, Christian is ashamed of his 'darkness', because it's not 'human/socially acceptable'. Edward pretends he doesn't want Bella's blood, while Christian pretends he doesn't want to be in a BDSM relationship with Ana. Both 'heroes' give the impression of wanting to protect the love interest from his baser instincts, thus creating a 'sympathetic monster' for the heroine to try to save. Since no one can resist the temptation of a beautiful, broken monster, this grants the heroine/reader permission to be helpless against his demands and therefore unaccountable for their own decisions or sexual desires.
    KC

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  6. Another parallel between Twilight and 50 Shades... Stephanie Meyers straight up admitted that she'd didn't know anything about vampires before she wrote Twilight. Equally obvious, EL James didn't know anything about BDSM before she wrote this series. We have two author's who don't understand the origin source of their inspiration.
    Honestly, I feel ashamed for not seeing it sooner. *hangs head in shame*
    Also, I don’t know how I didn’t find this sooner. (Probably had something to do with the fact that I staunchly avoid searching for anything 50 Shades related and happened on this link by accident) In any event, I just want to commend the effort and sacrifice that has gone into this series. Well done, and thank you for saving the rest of us from reading these books.

    Thank you,
    KC

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