I hate the idea of a trendy book. When everyone starts gushing about the same thing, I want to head in the opposite direction. And it’s not fair. Popular doesn’t necessarily mean “bad.” The thing is, that doesn’t always mean it’s good either. I’ve heard this book touted as an alternative to 50 Shades of Gray. That did not make me want to read it. If anything, it kept me away, because from what I’ve heard about 50, it’s not my kind of book. But I can tell you with 100% certainty, this book lives up to the hype. Not the 50 Shades part, because I have no frame of reference there. But it’s definitely the angsty, erotic, tortured story I was promised.
The book follows two extremely damaged people as they try to navigate a relationship. Gideon Cross is an ubersexy billionaire who doesn’t believe in mixing sex and emotions. Eva is a young ad agency assistant who works in the same building and is trying to live a normal life after a childhood filled with sexual abuse. When they cross paths, there is an electric connection. Gideon wants to negotiate sex like a business deal. Eva needs more and she turns him down, making his interest burn even brighter.
He makes it his mission to have her, but finds the tables turned when he falls completely in love with her. There is sooo much baggage. Eva is up front about her abusive past, but Gideon tries to shove his down. He tries and he fails. What we end up with is two people who want each other desperately, tied together by mindblowing sex and a need to be loved. The question becomes whether individuals as dysfunctional as they are, can really make it work as a couple.
Will this be everyone’s cup of tea? No. I was very slow to warm up to the story and even considered putting it down at first. I found Gideon to be very arrogant and off-putting at the beginning of the book. And it was hard to find much respect for Eva when she was wetting her pants over him while simultaneously being offended by his boorish behavior. Also, the sexual abuse issue is an integral element of the story. The relationship is, in part, a struggle for sexual dominance between two partners who have a history of being forced into submission by other people. I am not a fan of d/s relationships in books, most often because I’m turned off by what feels like demeaning of the sub. But I didn’t feel that way here.
“You know what I went through. I need control as much as you do.”
“Sit down, Eva”
I stayed on my feet just to prove a point.
His smile widened and my insides melted. “Do you have any idea how crazy I am about you?” he murmured.
“You’re crazy all right, if you think I am going to put up with being ordered around, especially sexually.”
“Come on, Eva. You know I don’t want to beat you, punish you, hurt you, demean you, or order you around like a pet. Those aren’t needs either of us has.” Straightening, Gideon leaned forward and placed his elbows on the desktop. “You’re the most important thing in my life. I treasure you. I want to protect you and make you feel safe. That’s why we’re talking about this.”
This exchange went a long way for me. That’s not to say that there aren’t colossally bad decisions made by both of these characters. They are terribly emotionally stunted, and cling to one another like lifelines. Their past hurts make them to try shield themselves and it often has unfortunate consequences. For Gideon, this manifests in possessive and stalkerish behavior and for Eva, it’s running away when she gets hurt. But that same damage within them is also what makes them so sympathetic. It makes their frantic need for each other feel real and it makes me want them to have their happy ending, if only to ease the hurt.
Plus, the sex is really hot, even if one questions the believability of that kind of stamina.
*ARC Provided by NetGalley
Bared to Youby Sylvia Day
Original Release Date: April 3, 2012
Re-Release Date: June 12, 2012