Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fifty Shades Darker chapter 12 recap, or “Piano for Dummies”

Okay, I’m going to be straight with you, before we dive into the recap like you’re not supposed to dive into your ass. I am about to abuse my readership with a sinister ulterior motive. My kid is doing this fundraiser thing. The whole point is to raise money to go to Mackinac Island for a few days and learn about Michigan history. If you support educational trips, or Michigan, or me getting rid of my kid for a few days, or you’re a Somewhere In Time fan who just spazzes out about anything to do with Mackinac Island, then check out this (fundraiser over) and see if there’s anything you could use that would help some lucky writer get three whole kidless days while her son is stranded on an island that doesn’t allow automobiles.

Now, here is the thing, I don’t want you to think, “Jesus, she just did that really manipulative thing where she promised us more recaps if we raised a thousand bucks for her stranded friend, now she’s trying to bilk us for more cash?” No. Not at all. I have nothing to emotionally blackmail you with this time. It’s not like I’m going to withhold recaps from you or anything. I’m just thinking of this as more like United States of Tara, where her daughter dresses up like a mythological Norse princess and sits in cake for perverts to masturbate to, and then they buy things off her Amazon.com wishlist. I realize that I just made myself a sexy teen and you guys a bunch of perverts, but overlook that for a second, will you?

Wait a minute, did anyone else see that show? Didn’t she meet a weird kinky billionaire doing the webcam stuff? Like, he was looking to jack off to her, but then he wanted an emotional connection? Oh my god, is 50 Shades plagiarized off United States of Tara too? I completely forgot what we were talking about before.

Oh, right. Anyway, I’m not emotionally blackmailing you. I’m just suggesting that if you’re in the mood for catalogue candy or emotionally distant Christmas gifts for the people in your office or family members you don’t like, that link might be handy. I think it’s US shipping only, though.

Anyway, the link I really want to concentrate on today is this HILARIOUS news, courtesy of The Guardian, in which E.L. states:

“I’ve actually written myself into the book; I play a very tiny cameo role and I might try and do that if I’m asked to … we’ll see,” she said, adding: “It’d be interesting to know if people can find me in the books.” 

I have a theory of my own. E.L. wrote herself into the book as Ana’s subconscious. I’ve solved the mystery, folks. She has glasses and a sour expression. That’s who it is. But I would love to know your theories in the comments.

The article linked above also holds this nugget in a biscuit:

“I have three people who could play Christian and I think four who could play Ana, and I’m not going to tell you any of them.”

“I have three people who could play Christian, and they’re all Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis, and I think four who could play Ana, but I can’t tell you their names because they don’t exist because Ana is ME, DAMN YOU! ME!”

Okay, so where we last left Ana and Christian, they were in Christian’s apartment and Mrs. Lincoln, AKA Mrs. Robinson, has just shown up totally unannounced and they’re waiting for her to get out of the elevator. Ana asks Christian if he talked to her, and he says that he did, and he told her he didn’t like her going behind his back. Ana asks why Mrs. Robinson is there, and Christian says he has “no idea,” but I’m pretty sure I know why. It’s because no one in this book has any sense of boundaries.

Taylor comes in and actually announces Mrs. Robinson like he’s the Major Domo of the living room or some shit. Ana immediately feels insecure:

Why is she so damned attractive? She’s dressed entirely in black: tight jeans, a shirt that emphasizes her perfect figure, and a halo of bright, glossy hair.

Being blonde isn’t an item of clothing, Ana, you can’t be dressed in it. Also, bright glossy hair isn’t black. I always wonder how long it will take me to find the first badly constructed sentence in each chapter, and I think this one set a record by being on the first page.

Mrs. Robinson has no freaking clue why Ana would be there:

She gapes at me in shock, frozen to the spot. She blinks before finding her soft voice. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you had company, Christian. It’s Monday,” she says as if this explains why she’s here.

Chedward is basically like “Duh, girlfriend,” and Ana shows her up, I guess:

“Of course. Hello, Anastasia. I didn’t know you’d be here. I know you don’t want to talk to me. I accept that.”

“Do you?” I assert quietly, gazing at her and taking all of us by surprise.

Now, I understand what this is saying, that Ana matches Mrs. Robinson in a game of wits or power or something here, but I don’t see why it says that. After all, you can’t assert something quietly, can you? It would be like when Liz Lemon thought she was being bullied, and she muttered all her comebacks at the bullies. It’s not assertive at all.

 But I’m sure Ana could rock that perm. Oh, hey, look, blonde on brunette violence.

Now, Ana is plainly uncomfortable, and Elena has already been asked once not to butt in, so of course, Christian tells her to get gone.

“Do you want a drink?”

Oh. Well, he can do that, too.

Christian gets everyone wine while Ana tries to decide if she should stay for their conversation or leave.  She decides to stay, even though the entire room just dropped about twenty degrees in the space between her and Mrs. Robinson. Elena is hesitant to discuss her problem in front of Ana, but Christian makes it clear that there are no secrets between them. Turns out, Mrs. Robinson is being blackmailed, probably because there aren’t enough subplots in this fucking book already.

Let’s count them, shall we?

SUBPLOTS SO FAR IN 50 SHADES DARKER

  1. Leila the sub trying to murder Ana and/or Christian.
  2. Ana’s boss trying to get into her pants.
  3. SIP’s takeover by Grey Holdings Inc. Transworld LLC
  4. Elena being blackmailed
  5. Mrs. Jones and Taylor carrying on a hot affair. Okay, maybe not this last one.
Now, multiple subplots aren’t a bad thing. You know, in genres like… EPIC FANTASY. It didn’t work for Twilight, it’s not working here. In both series, the subplots like a murderous ex sub or a murderous vampire are thrown in after we already know that the end game has been accomplished. We know that despite their lack of chemistry on the page, Ana and Christian are going to end up together. We know by the end of the second book that Bella and Edward are going to be together forever, but in order to spin the story out into needless sequels that don’t really add anything but misogyny and gender stereotyping, there needs to be some element of easily resolved danger. And don’t give me that shit about the Volturi being so scary and shit. All he had to do was make Bella into a vampire. It’s how the second book should have ended, and it would have had more emotional punch than watching a werewolf go through puberty and a vampire baby being eaten out of Bella’s stomach.
I’ve gone off track again, but my point is this: if your subplots are highlighting the extremely weak or nonexistent tension in your main plot, then you have a real problem with your book. If your readers are more interested in what side characters are doing, then you need to figure out what is making your main characters so not interesting, and you need to have them do the opposite of that. That’s your writing lesson for the day.
Anyway, Elena says she’s being blackmailed:

Holy shit. Not what I expected out of her mouth. Christian stiffens. Has someone found out about her penchant for beating and fucking underage boys? I suppress my revulsion, and a fleeting thought about chickens coming home to roost crosses my mind.

Why are you suppressing your revulsion, Ana? On the list of things it’s okay to have revulsion about, having sex with kids is pretty high up. Above ten, certainly. Above five, let’s say. Okay. Having sex with kids is the worst thing a person can do. So, feel as disgusted and utterly repulsed as you want, Ana. I’m on your side.

Mrs. Robinson gets out a letter, and Christian won’t touch it because he doesn’t want to get his fingerprints on it. Ana is still wondering if this has something to do with underaged boys. Ana wants to go, but Christian ain’t having it:

I try to retrieve my hand from Christian’s grasp, but he just tightens his hold and turns to gaze at me.

Creeeeeepy. Why does Ana need to stand there and hear Mrs. Robinson’s personal business? Ana tells Christian she’s tired and she wants to go to bed, but what she really does is stand in the hallway and eavesdrop. The good news is, even though Elena came over with a pretty fucking dire problem, the second Ana is ready to eavesdrop, the conversation turns to her:

“She knows me better than anyone.”

“Ouch! That hurts.”

“It’s the truth, Elena. I don’t have to play games with her. And I mean it, leave her alone.”

“What is her problem?”

“You… what we were. What we did. She doesn’t understand.”

“Make her understand.”

Whoa, what the fuck. Here the rapist (and notice, I have consistently referred to Mrs. Robinson as a rapist, commenter on the last post who tried to assert that I have some kind of blinders on to the rampant evil that is “female privilege”) is trying to make the victim apologize for his own rape to his new girlfriend. Because this book wasn’t fucked up enough.

They talk about his bad self-image for a few lines, then Mrs. Robinson says:

“Have a little faith in yourself. You really are quite a catch. I’ve told you often enough. And she seems lovely, too. Strong. Someone to stand up to you.”

I can’t hear Christian’s response. So I’m strong, am I?

Yeah, you didn’t hear literally every side character praise you for that already? Because it’s happened about sixty or seventy times, and the interesting thing is, you’ve yet to display one example of this supposed strength. It’s certainly not emotional or intellectual. I’m guessing she can lift a car over her head?

Mrs. Robinson asks Christian if he misses going into the playroom, and he kicks her out. Well, they have a boring argument in which he reasserts how much Ana means to him, and then he kicks Mrs. Robinson out. So, the entire blackmail subplot seems to have been a stupid way to try and either add tension to the plot, which didn’t work, or to give us exposition on how Christian feels about Ana, which was unnecessary. One might go so far as to put forth that for the author of a Mary Sue, it is unthinkable to go a few pages without reasserting the wonderfulness of her idealized self, but that’s only if one is slightly into snarking fanfic. Ahem.

Before Elena leaves, Christian asks if Welch should check out this whole blackmail thing. But isn’t Welch tirelessly searching for Leila the danger sub? Ana isn’t worried about that, she’s trying to make sure Elena isn’t moving in for the kill:

I listen to them bickering, trying to figure this out. They do sound like old friends, as Christian says. Just friends. And she cares about him – maybe too much. Well, would anybody who knew him not care?

Who has two thumbs and doesn’t care about Christian Grey?
When Elena leaves, Ana has to hurry to Chedward’s bedroom so she doesn’t get caught eavesdropping. But I bet Taylor totally caught her on the Taylorvision wired up throughout the apartment. Ana tries to get Christian to tell her a little more about his relationship with Elena, and it goes… not great:

I gaze up at him, trying to frame my question. “Will you tell me alla bout her? I am trying to understand why you think she helped you.” I pause, thinking carefully about my next sentence. “I loathe her, Christian. It hink she did you untold damage. You have no friends. Did she keep them away from you?”

He sighs and runs his hand through his hair.

“Why the fuck do you want to know about her? We had a very long-standing affair, she beat the shit out of me often, and I fucked her in all sorts of ways you can’t even imagine, end of story.”

Ladies, this is the romantic hero of your dreams. Who hasn’t wanted their boyfriend to say the exact same thing to them about his ex and all the hot sex they had back in the day?

After his blowup, Christian calms down a little and asks her what she wants to know. So, of course she can’t ask him now, and insists she’s not jealous:

“I’m not jealous.” I’m wounded that he would think that – or am I? Shit. Maybe that’s what this is.

That’s what this is. Mystery solved, everybody. No need to thank me.

Christian tells Ana he’s been in love with her since her trip to Georgia:

“I loved you then, Anastasia,” he whispers. “You’re the only person I’d fly three thousand miles to see.”

Whether you want me to or not.

“Ironically, it was Elena who pointed it out to me. She encouraged me to go to Georgia.”

That’s not what irony means. Also, I wonder if she did that to try and sabotage the relationship. “Yeah, I’ll send him to Georgia, see? And then she’ll get freaked out by how stalkery he is, see? And then she’ll dump him, because no dame in her right mind would keep going out with a fella who dogs her all the way to her mother’s house. Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket!”

I think in the movie of 50 Shades, Ana should be played by Bugs Bunny in a dress.

Ana starts to think that maybe Mrs. Robinson isn’t so bad, that all she wants to do is protect Christian, and then she’s like, oh wait, she’s a child rapist. Christian tells her again that the relationship was consensual, that he subbed for Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Robinson subbed for him, and that she has a new, totally of-legal-age sub, but he’s pretty much done discussing the subject:

“Look, Anastasia, as I said to her, she’s part of my past. You are my future. Don’t let her come between us, please. And quite frankly, I’m really bored of this subject. I’m going to do some work.” He stands and gazes down at me. “Let it go. Please.”

Yeah, Ana, let it go, because he’s bored of this particular relationship problem, even if it’s unresolved for you.

Christian tells Ana that, oh, by the way, her new car came a day early, but she can’t drive it because Leila might be hiding in the glove box or something. It’s just safer for Sawyer to follow her everywhere. Christian also puts another restriction on her work day: if she’s going to leave the building, she has to call him. He makes a jab about not being able to trust her, which is hilarious coming from a guy who keeps files on everyone he fucked.

Can we ever have a normal conversation without it disintegrating into an argument? It’s exhausting.

No shit, you should try blogging about it some time.

Ana has the fucking staggering realization that maybe moving in with someone you’ve only been dating for a little over a week might be a really stupid idea, but I’m not going to bore you with that because we all know that they’re going to end up moving in together, anyway, and it’s going to be the most perfect love ever recorded in prose.

Ana goes out onto the balcony to dramatically think about her relationship:

With a heavy sigh and a last glance at Seattle spread like cloths of gold at my feet, I decide to call Ray.

Because everyone knows that when you’re looking at a romantic vista, the first thing you think is, “I should call my dad.”

Ana calls her dad, and they chat very briefly, and it ends like this:

“Love you, Dad.”

“Love you, too, Annie.”

I hang up and check my watch. It’s only ten. Because of our discussion, I am feeling strangely innervated and restless.

She’s obviously talking about the discussion she had with Christian, but it’s phrased like she’s talking about the discussion with her father, in which he told her about a soccer match (because beer drinking, hard-fishin’, all-American sumbitches like Ray are really into soccer) and she says things are going good with Christian, and that is like, all. Which is funny. Pronoun confusion is funny.

It’s outselling Harry Potter. It’s not funny.
Ana takes a shower and puts on a fancy nightie:

In the mirror, I look like a 1930′s movie star. It’s long, elegant – and very un-me.

You can’t do that. You can’t be like, “I look like a movie star,” in one sentence, and then be all sad trombone noise of ugliness and despair in the next one. No one is buying it, Ana. Downplaying your attractiveness doesn’t make you more sympathetic to the reader, especially when you’re always doing it on the heels of telling us how amazing you look.

The library is where the pool table is, so when Ana goes looking for a book, she ends up getting all flushy at the memory of having sex in there. She also finds the ruler, which she picks up and thwacks on her palm, while lamenting:

Why can’t I take a little more pain for my man?

I’m sorry, I just rage blacked out for a second. Did I miss anything?

Ana picks Rebecca to read, and while she’s reading she falls asleep, because that is a very boring book. Well, that’s not what it says in the text, it’s just more my commentary on that book. Inaccessible and dry, and this is coming from a Melville fan, okay? But it’s kind of funny, since Rebecca is basically an AU fanfic of Jane Eyre.

Anyway, Christian has to come in and find Ana and carry her to bed, where hours later she wakes from “a disturbing dream” and hears the piano playing. Yes, again. And she goes out and watches Christian play as he sits in his “bubble of light.” Yes, again. Although Ana says:

The whole scene looks different somehow, and I realize that the piano lid is down, giving me an unhindered view.

Oh, well, if the piano lid is down this time, that changes everything, and I can totally pretend I didn’t already read this scene twice already. When he’s done playing, he looks up and says:

“Do you have any idea how desirable you look at this moment?” he says, his voice soft.

Do you mean, does she have any idea how desirable she looks in the nightgown you bought her, Christian? Thanks for propping up my theory about the “Do you have any idea”s.

“Why do we fight?” he whispers, as his teeth graze my earlobe.

Because you’re both emotionally stunted people who have no clue what a healthy relationship looks like because the only examples you’ve had are a mother who is a serial monogamist and an older women who molested you, and you’re both trying to skip over any internal growth or healing in the interest of speeding to what you view as the finish line of the relationship? This is just off the top of my head.

Of course, the author can’t acknowledge this, because it doesn’t fit in with her Mary Sue NANOWRIMO, so instead, they get hit with insta-lust and forget what they were fighting about.

“You feel so fine under this material, and I can see everything – even this.” He tugs gently on my pubic hair through the fabric, making me gasp, while his other hand fists in my hair at my nape.

Hey, no fisting. It’s in the sex contract. The pube pulling is fine, though. If that’s what you’re into.

Suddenly he rises, startling me, and he lifts me onto the piano. My feet rest on the keys, sounding discordant, disjointed notes, and his hands skim up my legs and part my knees.

Well, someone has been watching Pretty Woman while they write, haven’t they?

Is nothing sacred?

The lid is hard and uncompromising against my back. He lets go and pushes my legs open wider, my feet dancing over the keys, over the lower and higher notes.

Then he goes down on her on the piano, which so didn’t happen in Pretty Woman, so this scene isn’t like that scene at all. Except for the tortured young billionaire who wants to take over a company and build something positive, rather than destroy it. And the whole sex as a business transaction thing. And the emotional distance that seems impossible to overcome, due to the hero’s control freak nature.

Juuuuuuuust saying.

Christian gets up on top of the piano, and they fuck up there. Which is not a great idea, piano owners. Just a heads up, while those lids are strong, they’re not made to bear the weight of two idiots vigorously humping.

After the aforementioned humping, Ana tells Christian that she would have brought him coffee or tea when he was working, but she didn’t know what he liked.

“Oh, I see. Water or wine in the evening, Ana. Though maybe I should try tea.”

He only has water or wine because he’s Christ. This entire thing is an allegory for how religion beats up on women. I see it so clearly now.

The alarm goes off with the six a.m. traffic news, and I am rudely awakened form my disturbing dream of overly blonde and dark-haired women. I can’t grasp what it’s about, and I’m immediately distracted because Christian Grey is wrapped around me like silk, his unruly-haired head on my chest, his hand on my breast, his leg over me, holding me down.

I like how Christian has become the literal interpretation of an anchor, because it makes my job here a lot easier. Why does Ana consider being awakened from a bad dream being rude? Did she want to linger in her strange hell dream where other women dare to exist? But at least she’s only extending her subconscious hatred toward overly blonde and dark-haired women. If your hair is red, or light brown, or ashy blonde, you’re probably okay. But ROFLMAO to the fact that she just can’t figure out what that dream could possibly mean. It’s not like she doesn’t spend every moment of every day obsessing over all the women who might steal her boyfriend away.

When Christian wakes, Ana asks him if he still has nightmares, and if so,

“What are your nightmares about?”

Well, gee, Ana, I sure don’t know. As a toddler he was once left alone for days with the decomposing corpse that used to be his mommy. I just don’t know what his nightmares could possibly be about.

Christian tells Ana that he’s never cried before, and then Ana thinks the subject is too dark for that early in the morning, which makes me wonder why she asked in the first place. After all, it’s not like she doesn’t know Christian’s history, or that terrible shit happened to him. What did she honestly think a question like, “What are your nightmares about?” would result in?

She asks him if he has any good memories, and he spins her this heartwarming tale:

“I recall the crack whore baking. I remember the smell. A birthday cake, I think. For me. And then there’s Mia’s arrival with my mom and dad. My mom was worried about my reaction, but I adored baby Mia immediately. My first word was Mia. I remember my first piano lesson. Miss Kathie, my tutor, was awesome. She kept horses, too.” He smiles wistfully.

“You said your mom saved you. How?”

His reverie is broken, and he gazes at me as if I don’t understand the elementary math of two plus two.

Dude, you clearly don’t. You finally get him talking about happier times, and then you immediately bring it right back to, “Hey, remember when you got adopted because your real mom o.d.ed and you ended up stuck in an apartment with her dead body for days? Let’s talk about that some more.”

Christian tells her a little about his adopted mom, but says that it’s too early in the morning for this bullshit to be so deep, and he changes the subject with sex. A merciful cutaway saves us from simultaneous orgasms on command (but not from “Oh, what I’d like to do to you,” and repeated uses of “Miss Steele”), and then it’s time for breakfast with Mrs. Jones.

Ana asks Christian when she’s going to see the personal trainer (remember, that was a part of the contract, that she had to train with Christian’s “Olympic champion” kickboxing trainer, and BTW, still no kickboxing at the Olympics), and Christian says he’ll check with Andrea:

“Andrea?”

“My PA.”

Oh yes. “One of your many blondes,” I tease him.

SHE IS JUST TEASING, SEE SHE IS NOT INSECURE IN THE FACE OF BLONDE WOMEN!

“She’s not mine. She works for me. You’re mine.”

“I work for you,” I mutter sourly.

Well, then he’s obviously cheating on you with her. You two should break up before this book gets any longer.

Christian and Ana talk about the piano sex in front of Mrs. Jones, but they do it in an almost Navajo Windtalkers code that no one could possibly crack:

I glance behind me at the piano, savoring the memory of last night. “You put the lid of the piano back up.”

“I closed it last night so as not to disturb you. Guess it didn’t work, but I’m glad it didn’t.” Christian’s lips twitch into a lascivious smile as he takes a bite of omelet. I go crimson and smirk back at him.

Yeah, Mrs. Jones probably didn’t pick any of that up.

By the way, is anyone else imagining Mrs. Jones as Shirley Jones in Grandma’s Boy?

Just me, huh?
Mrs. Jones gives Ana her brown bag lunch, because this is the first day of kindergarten and her billionaire boyfriend can’t spare the environment and buy her a damned lunch box:

I give her a shy smile, which she reciprocates warmly before leaving the great room. I suspect it’s to give us some privacy.

Or she just wants to get the hell out of there before she has to listen to more of your barely disguised sex talk.

IT’S CAN BE CONVERSATIONS TIMES:

“Can I ask you something?” I turn back to Christian.

His amused expression slips. “Of course.”

“And you won’t be angry?”

“Is it about Elena?”

“No.”

“Then I won’t be angry.”

“But now I have a supplementary question.”

“Oh?”

“Which is about her.”

He rolls his eyes. “What?” he says, and now he’s exasperated.

“Why do you get so mad when I ask you about her?”

Is that the supplementary question, or a question wholly unrelated to what she’s going to ask and then follow up with the supplementary question? Also, why should Christian be mad at Ana for bringing up Mrs. Robinson? It’s not Ana’s fault that Mrs. Robinson keeps trying to shoe horn herself into Christian and Ana’s relationship. She’s trying to squeeze into them like a pair of jeans from her high school days she’s bound and determined to wear to the class reunion, and it just ain’t happening, but no one wants to tell her that while she’s wrenching on the zipper with forceps.

“Honestly?”

I scowl at him. “I thought you were always honest with me.”

 “I endeavor to be.”

I narrow my eyes at him. “That sounds like a very evasive answer.”

“I am always honest with you, Ana. I don’t want to play games. Well, not those sorts of games,” he qualifies, as his eyes heat. 

Let’s just take a look at Christian’s track record with honesty, shall we? And we’re going to do it with a little meme known as Scumbag Steve. Scumbag Steve, take it away!

I would keep going, but that kid’s face just makes me angry.
The entire stupid point of the entire stupid conversation is that Ana wants to be clear that he only had sex with his subs on the weekends, so he’s not used to having sex during the week. Really? We had to sit through all that, just so we could know… what, exactly? That Ana is better than all the other subs? We knew that already, by virtue of her Mary Sueness. Thanks for wasting my life, E.L..
On the drive to work – Ana can’t drive her new car because danger – Christian reminds Ana that Kate’s brother, Ethan, will be returning from the now seemingly eternal Barbados trip. Ana tells Christian that she’ll have to go back to her apartment, and he’s not real hip to that idea because danger. Ana suggests it might be easier if she had that brand new Saab Christian bought her, and he shoots that down, saying that Sawyer will pick her up and take her and Ethan to the apartment. Now, you and I both know that it’s not for Ana’s “protection” but for Christian’s peace of mind. He’s sending Sawyer along as a chaperone, so Ana doesn’t have sex with Ethan. Because he trusts her.
Christian also warns Ana that she’s not allowed to go anywhere one her own, and should call him if that need arises during the day. She’s also supposed to email him on her Blackberry, because the idiots finally figured out that, hey, you can send emails from accounts other than the monitored ones at your place of business. You know, Christian, she has a Blackberry… you could just text back and forth, too.
Then Christian gets a call from Mrs. Robinson, telling him that the blackmail letter was from her sub and part of a sex game. Well, correction, we’re never told that at all. What we get is:

“You’re kidding… For a scene… When did he tell you this?” Christian chuckles, almost reluctantly. “No, don’t worry. You don’t have to apologize. I’m glad there’s a logical explanation. It did seem a ridiculously low amount of money… I have no doubt you’ve something evil and creative planned for your revenge. Poor Isaac.”

And so on, until Ana asks who it was and Christian says she doesn’t want to know. I’ve tried to make it very clear that I’m not a professional detective, but let me just state again, in case you mistakenly attribute my keen instincts to some kind of specialized training in the field of criminal science, that even though I figured this mystery out, I am not, in fact, employed by any law enforcement agency, nor do I solve crimes for money. Shocking, I know. Here’s another mind blower: the entire blackmail subplot really was just a device to further explore how great Ana is and how Christian’s love for her is super strong. That’s it. A huge chunk of this chapter, a new subplot, and for nothing. Handily wrapped up once Ana and Christian have an opportunity to fight about it and fuck some more. You should definitely feel mind violated right now.

Ana gets in to work and chats with Claire the receptionist, who is black and therefore not a threat in the way every other woman in the story is. You think I’m kidding?

“Your boyfriend is so dreamy, Ana,” she says, her eyes glazing over.

I am tempted to roll my eyes at her.

“He’s not bad-looking.” I smile and we both start laughing.

Now, compare that reaction to the reaction Ana has had any time a white girl has thought Christian is attractive. Ana isn’t giving Claire a bitchy nickname. She isn’t criticizing her at all. In fact, she has a laugh with her about how sexy Christian is. If Claire were a white girl with blonde hair, this scenario would be a lot different, and what that tells me is that Ana doesn’t find women of color to be in her league in terms of attractiveness and man-catching abilities. Or maybe Ana doesn’t think Christian will stray across race lines, or maybe she doesn’t think women of color are worthy of her boyfriend? There really is a lot of weird racial stuff in these books, isn’t there?

Jack Hyde is super crabby, and he tells Ana to be alert for any clue as to what is going on with upper management, because he senses change on the wind. But he manages to do it in the most misogynistic way possible:

“There’s something going on at senior management level, and I don’t know what it is. Keep your ear to the ground, okay? If you hear anything – I know how you girls talk.” He grins at me, and I feel slightly sick. He has no idea how we “girls” talk. Besides, I know what’s happening.

Of course, knowing what’s happening brings up this other important point:

Oh, it’s hard being in the know. What will he do when he finds out? My blood runs cold. Something tells me Jack will be annoyed.

Something tells me your boyfriend just got you fired, and here’s why. You come to the company just before it’s purchased by Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. Water & Supply Wholesale LLC. & Co., and then it does get bought out, and you’re just working as this lowly assistant who, oh hey, happens to be dating the guy who bought the company, guess what, you look like a spy. And even though Christian owns the company, there’s really not a lot he can do to keep one specific low-level employee on the payroll, unless he’s going to obsessively monitor the hirings and firings at SIP and require his approval on each one. Okay, so that’s pretty likely. But still, once the news of this gets out, you’re still going to look like a spy and none of the people you work with are going to trust you. Congratulations, your boyfriend fucked you in the ass, this time without a sex contract.

There is a pointless exchange of emails with Christian, and then a paragraph break until lunchtime, when Jack asks Ana to go and get him lunch. Like a good brainwashed slave, Ana calls Christian to let him know that she’s leaving the building. Which he would probably have known anyway, because remember, he’s having her followed.

“Christian, Jack has asked me to get his lunch.”

“Lazy bastard,” Christian gripes.

Um, excuse me, Mr. Billionaire, who gets your fucking lunch?

They have a little conversation while Christian works:

“Are you on your own?”

“No, there are six people staring at me right now, wondering who the hell I’m talking to.” 

Shit… “Really?” I gasp, panicked.

“Yes. Really. My girlfriend,” he announces away from the phone.

Holy cow! They probably all thought you were gay, you know.”

Oh, good, I’d missed the whole “It’s a tragedy if someone thinks your gay” thing that we had going for a good clip in the first book. Also, why is she panicking? It doesn’t seem like a panic-type situation.

Christian says “Laters, baby,” and six people in the room with him hear it. So, you know, he’s not embarrassed to say that in front of people. If three of them were women, I guarantee they locked their office doors and masturbated to that.

When I exit seconds later, Sawyer is waiting on the doorstep of the building.

Really? Is he a ghost?

Ghost Sawyer accompanies Ana to the deli, while she thinks about Kate, the roommate who never returned:

I miss Kate. It’s only been two weeks since she left for her vacation, but it feels like the longest two weeks of my life. So much has happened – she’ll never believe me when I tell her. Well, tell her the edit, NDA-compliant version.

Please note, the NDA is not discussed in this book at all. So, if you picked up this book before the first one, you’d have no idea what she’s talking about. Or if you let a long time go by between books. Or if you slipped and hit your head in the shower and lost the part of your brain that remembers the first book. Please tell me, by the way, if you’re a neurosurgeon and you believe such an injury could be possible. Because I’d like to get one.

Ana asks Sawyer where he is when he’s watching her all day, and as it turns out, he’s just sitting in the coffee shop across the street, creepily watching Ana’s building. Ana asks him if he knows what Leila looks like, and if he has a picture, but he says he just remembers what Leila looks like. Since Leila and Ana look so similar, I’m kind of hoping Sawyer accidentally stun guns Ana on her way out at the end of the day.

I’d really like to examine a photograph of Leila to see what she looked like before she became Ghost Girl. I wonder if Christian would let me have a copy? Yes, he probably would – for my safety. I hatch a plan, and my subconscious gloats and nods approvingly.

This is just fuel for my theory that E.L.’s “cameo” is Ana’s subconscious. Only the author of this book would think Ana is really smart for “planning” to ask to see a photograph. Seriously, how much planning does that require? “Hey, Christian, do you have a picture of the girl who’s stalking me, so I can keep an eye out for her?” Done. No planning. But her subconscious finds this so impossibly clever, the only explanation is that the subconscious is the character E.L. admits to having been based off of herself. She spends most of the book making other characters marvel at how smart Ana is, and tells the reader over and over how smart she is, so to self-insert in order to praise Ana for her intelligence isn’t that big of a leap.

Ana takes Jack his lunch and he practically molests her with his eyes, then Ethan calls and arranges to pick up the keys to the apartment from Ana. He says, “Laters,” when they get off the phone, because it’s a fucking epidemic. If anyone you know or love starts saying “Laters,” you must isolate them immediately. If they attack, they can be subdued by removing the head or destroying the brain.

Yes, I did make a Shaun of The Dead reference, you’re welcome.

Ana emails Christian and they plan that he will pick her up from work to go meet Ethan at the apartment, and then they’ll all go out for drinks and a good time together.

I daydream briefly about what he might do to me but find myself shifting in my chair. My subconscious gazes at me disapprovingly over her half-moon specs – get on with your work.

Yeah, you see it now, don’t you.
Claire the receptionist calls Ana to tell her that a hot guy is waiting to see her. It’s Ethan, by the way.

Holy shit – sun-bleached blond hair, a tan to die for, and glowing hazel eyes gaze up at me from the green leather couch.

That’s a hell of a good-looking couch.

 As soon as he sees me, his mouth drops open and he’s on his feet coming toward me.

Are you still imagining the couch? Because I am. I’m just imagining this green couch with a tan and glowing eyes running toward her on little tiny couch legs.

Ethan gets the keys from Ana and says “Laters” twice during the entire process. There’s a paragraph break, and Ana gets a call from Christian to say he’s waiting downstairs. Then she says goodbye to Jack, who is in a better mood, and she wonders why “he” can’t be that way all the time, but I can’t tell if she’s talking about Jack or Christian, because I can’t trust context clues in a book with this much pronoun confusion.

The Audi is parked at the curb, and Christian climbs out as I approach. He’s taken off his jacket, and he’s wearing his gray pants, my favorite ones that hang from his hips – in that way.

I’ve missed those pants, as well. This entire chapter was like walk down memory lane, if memory lane was in Centralia, PA.

Sounds legit.
They pull up to Ana’s apartment building, and Christian gets a phone call that keeps him from going up to Ana’s apartment with her. This is because, in the grand tradition of this book and its predecessor, every chapter is thirty pages of pointless day-to-day bullshit, with an allegedly exciting event jammed onto the last paragraph. In this chapter, that allegedly exciting event (that everyone probably already saw coming) is that Leila is in Ana’s apartment with a gun.
And that’s the end of the chapter.

Fifty Shades Darker Chapter 11 recap or “Right makes might.”

I have to share this with you guys. Because I’m still undoubtedly suffering the effects of both malaria and Dengue fever, with a side of black death, the auge, and consumption. So, when I die from this disease that is causing epic amounts of snot to clog my head (in a tragically romantic fashion like unto the third act of La Boheme), at least it will be with a smile on my face:

Furthermore, I must note that the man who is basically a folk hero in my mind, Alex Day, has commented on the 50 Shades phenomenon. Just to give you a rundown as to why I think this guy is so blisteringly cool, he sings in an all vlogger trock band. Not a typo. Trock. Time Lord Rock. And he ripped apart Twilight chapter-by-chapter on youtube in a segment called “Alex Reads Twilight.” Which inspired my “Jen Reads Blood Ties” videos, which I kind of wandered off from when looking at something shiny, which in turn inspired the “Jen Reads 50 Shades” video that I never posted because it was waaaay too mean, and instead went on to write these blog posts instead. So, I guess what I’m saying is, E.L. James is to Stephenie Meyer as I am to Alex Day, and I don’t even mind the comparison, because Alex. Motherfucking. Day. Anyway, here is him, and you really owe it to yourself and everyone around you to watch his video:


Because seriously, without his brilliant idea to scream at a copy of Twilight for numerous videos, I would not have had the idea to do these recaps.

There’s a 50 Shades cooking class now. And a picture of a cupcake with Ben Wa balls on it.

Reader [put the reader's name here, dummy] left me this link to her hometown newspaper’s interview of E.L. James. She manages to work the word “bemused” into her first answer. But my favorite is this quote, in reply to how she came up with the euphemism “happy trail”:

I can’t remember. I probably heard it somewhere, who knows. It occurs to you while you’re writing.”

I give her points for not trying to pass “happy trail” off as her own original creation, and I love the acknowledgement that she throws in stuff she probably just heard somewhere, you know? Like, plot points and characters lifted wholesale from another author’s book, that kind of stuff. Song lyrics and shit. Who has time to come up with anything creative these days, am I right?

But it severely pisses me off that they asked her about her sex life. Do people ask male authors about their sex lives when they write sexy books? Not likely, as those are real books, and anything written by a woman is probably about how my wife needs to spice things up for me in the bedroom right after she’s done vacuuming in her pearls, amiright fellas? *Romney-like grin*

Okay, where else am I? Oh, yes, perhaps you should have waited and looked at all that other stuff first, before this link. But it’s too late now, and I’m far too lazy to edit the damn thing. But here is a great link that will make you think and which points out one of the problems with our culture that enables us to live in a world where 50 Shades is an acceptable phenomenon. It’s basically about the old “he only did that because he likes you” saying. Thanks to Bronwyn Green for the link.

And speaking of Bronwyn Green, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have a direct line into my head at all times, well, lucky you, she actually has one of those. It’s called Yahoo messenger, and I frequently annoy her with stream of consciousness musings that pop right out of my melon and directly onto a keyboard I should be using for writing my books. And she gives you a glimpse into her hellish existence as my friend right here.

Okay, onto the recap:

We last left our intrepid band of merry morons playing pool. I actually mistyped that as “playing poop,” but remember, there’s no scat allowed in the sex contract. If Ana wins the game, she gets to go back into the playroom, and if Christian wins, he gets to spank her and fuck her over a billiard table. But, it’s not really a billiard table at all. They’re playing pool. Billiards tables are different. The rails are different, the nap of the baize is different, and it’s substantially longer than a pool table. But I digress, because let’s be honest, if E.L. can’t be bovvered to put in correct details about a sexual lifestyle that is easily researchable on the internet and which makes up the bulk of the conflict in her novel, she’s not going to give a shit about different types of games played with balls and sticks. I’m seriously surprised that she didn’t suggest they could also play baseball on the damned thing.

Pictured: E.L. James’s writer brain.

Even though Ana is really good at pool, and even though it would make the plot more interesting if they went into the playroom together on her initiative rather than his, this book is all about how perfect Christian Grey is, so naturally he wins.

He doesn’t look like a CEO – he looks like a bad boy from the wrong side of town. Holy cow, he’s so fucking sexy.

Eegods! Great honk! He’s so fucking sexy.


Christian asks Ana if she’s going to be a sore loser, and she responds:

“Depends on how hard you spank me,” I whisper, holding onto my cue for support.

Okay, so here’s the thing. That line? It could have been a pun. Sore loser, spanking, get it? But when she’s whispering it and holding onto an object for support, it becomes more “battered woman” than “playful sex partner.” And Christian does not help that impression with his next lines:

“Well, let’s count your misdemeanors, Miss Steele.” He counts on his long fingers. “One, making me jealous of my own staff. Two, arguing with me about working. and three, waving your delectable derriere at me for the last twenty minutes.”

“Delectable derriere?” Who the fuck is writing this?

 This joke has layers. Internet layers.
And wait a second, how is it Ana’s fault that you get jealous of your own staff? Maybe don’t have a stone-cold killer who exudes sexual magnetism as your head of security, and this wouldn’t be a problem. Also, women are supposed to argue with men who want them to quit their jobs to be 24/7 sex playthings. It’s called women’s lib, and I thought we had at least that basic cornerstone of this shit locked down a couple fucking decades ago.
Christian tells Ana to take her jeans and shirt off, and goes to lock the door. This strikes me as kind of funny. Who’s going to just burst in? Shouldn’t his household staff knock? But whatever.

I stand paralyzed like a complete zombie, my heart pounding, my blood pumping, not actually able to move a muscle.

So much here is wrong. Let’s just do it in list format:

  1. Zombies can move. It’s part of what makes them scary.
  2. Zombies probably don’t have heart beats.
  3. If your heart is pounding, then you’re moving at least one muscle, also known as your heart.
  4. Thanks for thinking we’re all too stupid to understand what “paralyzed” means. It’s a big word and I’m sure we all really needed the help.

 In my mind, all I can think is – this is for him - the thought repeating like a mantra over and over again.

So, here we see our heroine psyching herself up to endure the spanking she’s about to get. The same heroine who just said that if she won, she would opt to engage in some heavier BDSM. So, either way, Christian was going to be the winner in this scenario, and Ana has given up all pretense of sexual agency because he needs it more.

Something that I’ve noticed happening a lot in this series is, when they’re about to have sex, they take a really, really long time getting down to business. There has to be some witty banter here, a dash of dysfunction there, but they can’t just be like, “Let’s have sex!” “Okay!” about it. For example, here:

“Clothes, Anastasia. You appear to still be wearing them. Take them off – or I will do it for you.”

“You do it.” I finally find my voice, and it sounds low and heated. Christian grins.

“Oh, Miss Steele. It’s a dirty job, but I think I can rise to the challenge.”

“You normally rise to most challenges, Mr. Grey.” I raise an eyebrow at him, and he smirks.

“Why, Miss Steele, whatever do you mean?”

Are they trying to avoid having sex? Going for a world record for “most cliches in a single pre-sex conversation?” What is the point here, besides an author patting herself on the back for making her characters so amazingly clever and coy? And if any man ever said that undressing me was a “dirty” job, I’d be giving him the side eye so fucking hard. Dirty? Excuse me? Besides, Ana showers more than any human being I’ve ever read about, and I once read a nonfiction book about clinically germ phobic people.

Chedward undresses her while she thinks about how much she luuuuurves him, and then there is some truly SCANDALOUS language, dear readers, so have some pearls nearby in the event that you need something to clutch:

Oh my. He kisses me… there.

FETCH MY SMELLING SALTS AND A FAINTING COUCH! I FEAR MY FRAGILE FEMALE VAGINA MIGHT TURN ITSELF FAIRLY INSIDE OUT AT SUCH EXPLICIT DETAIL!

“Safeword?” I murmur.

“No, no safeword, just tell me to stop, and I’ll stop. Understand?” 

That sounds totally safe and reasonable. After all, when you’ve asked him to stop doing things in the past, he’s totally respected your wishes, right? You were all, “Stop giving me expensive gifts,” and he totally did, and then you were like, “Stop stalking me,” and he definitely didn’t fly all the way to Georgia and watch you while you spent the day with your mother, right? You even said, “I don’t want to do this whole pain thing anymore,” and he totally… I’m not sure I’m accurately conveying the depths of my sarcasm here. But I’m using a Mariana Trench worth of it, I assure you.

Christian makes her promise to tell him to stop, with this epic gem of shitworthiness stuffed into the conversation:

“We’re lovers, Anastasia. Lovers don’t need safewords.”

Is this one of those, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” lines that people completely fall for, but if they took a goddamned minute to think about what they just heard, they’d be like, “Oh, no, that’s total bull shit, isn’t it?” Even Ana seems to know that it’s total bullshit:

“I guess not,’ I murmur. How do I know?

Chedward picks up a pool cue, and Ana thinks:

Oh fuck, what’s he going to do with that?

Which is really only a feeling one should have when watching scenes from Game of Thrones which involve two prostitutes and King Joffrey.

Thanks, bestweekever.tv, for making this thing of beauty.

Lucky for us, he just wants to keep playing pool. Probably to avoid sex they way they have been bantering and avoiding sex for like, two pages now. Excluding him kissing her… there. Which I hesitate to bring up due to my frail constitution.

“You play well, Miss Steele. I must say I’m surprised. Why don’t you sink the black?”

First of all, it’s the eight ball. People in America call it the eight ball. And second, how is she supposed to sink it? You just won the game, meaning that the eight ball is already done sunk. Seriously, could she not even visit the wikipedia page for “pool”?

I position the white ball.

The cue ball. It’s called a fucking cue ball. E.L. James has never played a game of pool in her life. And I went back through and tried to find the part where Christian took the eight or “black” ball back out of the pocket and dropped it on the table. He never does. Is E.L. James under the impression that there is more than one eight ball in a game of pool?

I don’t know why this is bugging me more than the “love means never having to safeword” nonsense, but damnit, it does. They keep calling the eight ball, in dialogue and in Ana’s narrative, “The black.” I keep thinking they’re talking about the fucking Night’s Watch.

Christian has an ulterior motive for this whole, “sink the black,” thing he’s got going on:

“I don’t care if you hit or miss, baby. I just wanted to see you like this – partially dressed, stretched out on my billiard table. Do you have any idea how hot you look at this moment?”

Do you have any idea, reader, how many times we’ve read some variation of “Do you have any idea how sexy/hot/perfect/beautiful/alluring/etc.” in this book? Why does he keep asking her this?

 I flush, and my inner goddess grabs a rose between her teeth and starts to tango.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: that bitch can do anything.

So, Ana misses the shot. Which is actually described as “the white” hitting “the black” and I begin to wonder if there is some coded Aryan message in all of this. But that might be the influence of my new haircut. And if you don’t get that because you come here and just read the recaps and not the rest of the stuff I post, then you don’t deserve that amazing callback I just did because for shame. But back to the point, once again. Not “the white.” Cue ball. Not “the black.” Eight ball.

He strolls to the end of the table, sets up the black  ball again, then runs the white ball back down to me. He looks so carnal, dark-eyed with a lascivious smile. How could I ever resist him? I catch the ball and line it up, ready to strike.

That is how fingers get pinched, friends, by rolling pool balls back and forth on a pool table. Heads up.

She keeps trying to make the shot while he keeps spanking her every time she misses. And he spanks her with a ruler. Because he’s a grown man and he left his ruler laying around in the rec room.

I marvel once more at how I have managed – and yes, enjoyed – what he’s done to me up to this point. It’s so dark but so him.

It’s not that dark to get spanked and fucked on a pool table. That’s actually the kind of funny sex more people probably wish they had. But let’s concentrate on this whole “I’m trying to talk myself into liking my boyfriend’s sexual fetish” thing you’ve got going on there, Ana.

I hear the telltale rip of foil, then he’s standing behind me, between my legs, pushing them wider.

Has anyone else noticed that a “rip of foil” or “he produces a foil packet” etc. have become shorthand for “We are going to have intercourse now?” It’s in every single scene. It never says, “he put on a condom,” or “he sheathed himself,” (my personal favorite, by the way, I think I tend to use it a lot), but it’s always something about the foil, to clue us in that they’re just about to go full P in V.

“Your cheek is pink from the baize,” he murmurs, rubbing my face tenderly.

Let’s do an experiment here, shall we?

 So, there. In my data sample of 1, that’s the answer we’re going with. Normal 25 – 35 year olds do not know that it’s called “baize.” “I would have to go out on a limb,” says Joe, “that most people don’t know that it’s called baize.”

Which also handily moves us on to my next point: Christian Grey is not people.

“You never fail, Ana. You are beautiful, bright, challenging, fun, sexy, and I thank Divine Providence every day that it was you who came to interview me and not Katherine Kavanagh.”

OMG. LOL. Seriously? If you ran Ana headfirst through a combination Mary Sue-O-Meter/woodchipper, this is where the damn thing would get clogged. I refuse to believe this was written by an adult female. It reads like it was written by a mousy thirteen-year-old who is so going to show those popular girls someday. And I should fucking know because that’s primarily what fueled my early writing. But you know what? I grew the fuck up and grew out of needing people to tell me that they hate every other girl who isn’t me because my self-esteem is so damaged that it’s the only way I can like myself. I can now coexist peacefully with all manner of vagina-bearing people without feeling like the only way I can be happy with the relationship I am in is if my boyfriend makes it good and clear that he thinks I’m prettier and worth more than my roommate.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh….

After their super dark, darkity dark dark dark sex, they go get in a bath together:

Christian is massaging my feet, one at a time.

How would he massage both at the same time? I suppose it’s possible. But super awkward.

Ana asks if Sawyer can just drop her off at work, instead of coming in with her, and Christian is okay with that, provided she never, ever leaves the building. Which is probably going to be really easy to pull off since she’s someone’s assistant. Those jobs never require leaving the building to do some menial task the boss would rather not get out of his chair for.

I stretch out in bed, so tired. It’s only ten thirty, but it feels like three in the morning. This has to be one of the most exhausting weekends of my life.

No shit. You’ve eaten out twice, had sex three times, went sailing, bought a car, played pool, bathed twice, got into a few conversations where your relationship hung in the balance… and that was just today. Yesterday, you went to a gala fundraiser and almost got murdered by your boyfriend’s ex, resulting in a late-night flight to a hotel you had to drive obscenely out of the way to get to. No wonder you’re exhausted.

The alarm goes off at 6:30 AM, and Ana thinks:

“It’s set so early.”

I’m sure you’ll be weeping tears of blood for poor Ana, having to get up at the inhumane hour of 6:30 next time your alarms go off at 6:30 and earlier.

Christian and Ana grab some breakfast courtesy of Mrs. Jones. Like, real breakfast, bacon, pancakes, etc. So, of course Ana is super appreciative of it:

“Oh, thank you. Good morning,” I mumble. Jeez – I could get used to this.

JUST SHUT UP AND BE HAPPY YOU’RE EATING PANCAKES, BITCH. I really want pancakes, and I don’t have any. I’ve also got pork chops in the crock pot actively thwarting any chance of me getting pancakes tonight, too, so shut up and enjoy every damn bite.

Hey, wait a minute. Mrs. Robinson. Mrs. Jones. I sense a theme.

Oh, and before we go on, I want to let you know that at the start of the scene, Ana takes another shower. Even though she took a bath right before bed the night before. Her skin must be super dry, yo.

Mrs. Jones offers to pack a lunch for Ana, and she’s able to muster up at least a little gratitude for the housekeeper’s efforts this time:

“Please, Mrs. Jones, call me Ana.”

“Ana.” She smiles and turns to make me tea.

Wow… this is so cool.

I turn and cock my head at Christian, challenging him – go on accuse me of flirting with Mrs. Jones.

Right?! I rarely get a chance to say this (because this book is horrible), but point for Ana!

“I have to go, baby. Taylor will come back and drop you at work with Sawyer.”

Are you sure she’s not going to go sex crazy and fuck them on the drive over? Will they be wearing their chastity belts?

Ana makes it clear that the bodyguards are only to accompany her to the door of her building, and Christian agrees, but you and I both know he’s lying about that and he’s going to have her stalked like the stalkingest stalker to ever stalk somebody. Christian says “Laters, baby,” and a bunch of suburban moms run to their cars to rub one out before their kids’ dance recitals are over, because OMG LATERS BABY.

Once Christian is gone, Ana makes small talk with the housekeeper while Mrs. Jones packs her a lunch:

“You know, I can do that,” I mutter, embarrassed that she should be doing this for me.

“You eat your breakfast, Ana. This is what I do. I enjoy it. It’s nice to look after someone  other than Mr. Taylor and Mr. Grey.” She smiles very sweetly at me.

Yeah, and in her head, she’s thinking, “Oh, yeah. Sure, go ahead and make your own lunch. You could clean the apartment, too, and I’ll just go sit outside and wait for the unemployment checks after you make my job entirely unnecessary. Maybe you could try to kill yourself in front of me, too, because that’s another aspect of my job I really enjoy.”

Ana takes her sack lunch and goes to the car, where Taylor is waiting:

“Taylor, I’m sorry about yesterday and my inappropriate remarks. I hope I didn’t get you into trouble.”

Taylor frowns in bemusement at me from the rearview mirror as he pulls out into the Seattle traffic.

“Miss Steele, I’m rarely in trouble,” he says reassuringly.

And then she climbs over the seat and they just go to town on each other.

Obviously not, because then this book would be readable. No, instead they go to Ana’s work, where she makes chitchat with her boss, then gets down to business.

I nod and sit down at my computer. It seems like years since I was at work.

Yeah, no shit. It’s felt like years for me, too.

I switch on my computer and fire up my e-mail program – and of course there’s an email from Christian.

Of course there is. If he can’t keep you on a physical leash, he’ll settle for an electronic one. Christian tells her via email that he had a great weekend and he hopes she’ll never leave, and that the news about SIP being purchased by his company is embargoed, so she should delete his email immediately. Or, maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned the embargo in an email at all, since it’s monitored and he knows that. But all of this flies right over Ana’s head, because when Christian tells her he hopes she’ll never leave, this is how she interprets it:

Hope I never leave? Does he want me to move in?

Okay, okay, in fairness to Ana, she also thinks:

Holy Moses… I barely know the man. I press delete.

So, at least she acknowledges that it’s stupid for him to want her to move in when they’ve only known each other for five weeks and have really only been officially dating for a few days.

Ana’s boss comes out and tells her that she is going to have to go with him to a conference in New York. You know, that kind of shit actually does happen in the publishing world. People take their assistants all kinds of places. They also take friends who they claim are their assistants all kinds of places, because if you say “friend” companies balk at paying their fees, but if you say, “My personal assistant, Jill,” they will usually shell out some dinero. Right, Jill?

Where was I? Oh, yeah. So, Ana is going to have to go to New York for her job:

“Yes. We’ll need to go Wednesday and stay overnight. I think you’ll find it a very educational experience.” His eyes darken as he says this, but his smile is polite.

E.L. didn’t write it into the story line, but I have it on good authority he also twiddled his oily handlebar mustache when he said this.

Crap. I wander back to my desk. This is not going to go down well with Fifty – but the fact is, I want to go. It sounds like a real opportunity, and I’m sure I can keep Jack at arm’s length if that’s his ulterior motive.

So, Ana wants to go to this thing, but she thinks Christian is going to be pissed. And then she gets an email response from Christian saying explicitly that he wants her to move in with him.

He does want me to move in. Oh, Christian – it’s too soon. I put my head in my hands to try and recover my wits. This is all I need after my extraordinary weekend. I haven’t had a moment to myself to think through and understand all that I have experienced and discovered these last two days.

That’s the plan, Ana. If Christian can keep you constantly unhinged by simply speeding through the relationship, you’ll never have a chance to hit pause and decide if you’re doing what you want to do, or what he wants you to do.

Ana emails him back and mentions the conference. She doesn’t ask if she can go, she says:

I’ve been asked to go to a conference in New York on Thursday.

It means an overnight stay on Wednesday.

Just thought you should know.

She also mentions that she wants to talk about this whole moving in thing. But right now, there are more important things, like the fact that Ana wants to go three steps away from Christian’s side and he’s just not having it. In an email with the subject line “WHAT?” he says:

Yes. Let’s talk this evening.

Are you going on your own?

Ana writes an email with the subject line “No Bold Shouty Capitals on a Monday Morning!” which is the title of a musical I am writing and now I have no idea what to call it. She asks if they can talk about it later, and he replies, in an email with the subject, “You Haven’t Seen Shouty Yet.” which is the title of this other musical I am writing and boy, am I ever in a real pickle now:

Tell me.

If it’s with the sleazeball you work with, then the answer is no, over my dead body.

Keeping in mind, she never asked for permission. He’s telling her no, in answer to a question he’s just presuming that she asked. Ana emails him back that yes, she’s going with Jack, it’s a good career opportunity, and Christian sends another email stating that his answer is an emphatic “NO.” So, Ana sends him the following:

You need to get a grip.

I am NOT going to sleep with Jack – not for all the tea in China.

I LOVE you. That’s what happens when people love each other.

That’s kind of weird phrasing, isn’t it? When people love each other, they don’t sleep with Jack? That’s a pretty fucking specific definition of love.

They TRUST each other.

Ohhh, I see. You flipped the cause and the effect around. Continue.

I don’t think you are going to SLEEP WITH, SPANK, FUCK, or WHIP anyone else. I have FAITH and TRUST in you.

Please extend the same COURTESY to me.

Because Ana had a spine on rental for a few hours, she sends her email and immediately books her flight to New York. Then she gets another email. This time, it’s from Mrs. Robinson, saying that she thinks they “got off on the wrong foot” and would like to try again. Unless she has a time machine and can go back and not molest Christian, I think she is severely over-estimating the power of her other foot.

Holy crap – not Mrs. Robinson! How the hell did she find out my e-mail address?

Yeah, it’s not like you guys have anyone in common. Like, anyone who would have done something like share your emails with her while discussing you.

Then the phone rings, and it’s Christian:

An achingly familiar voice snarls at me, “Will you please delete the last email you sent me and try to be a little more circumspect in the language you use in your work e-mail? I told you, the system is monitored. I will endeavor to do some damage limitation from here.” He hangs up.

Isn’t the system monitored on his end, though? Like, isn’t it his company monitoring the emails? Not that it matters. Just deleting an item from your inbox isn’t going to make it vanish into some netherworld where it can never be retrieved. If the email accounts are being monitored, they’re probably already going to have a copy of the email. And by the by, if he’s so paranoid about the emails being monitored, why did he call Ana’s boss a sleazebag? Isn’t that the sort of thing that might, you know, fuck up her job a little? OH SNAP. Could it be that Christian doesn’t want Ana to work so that she will be dependent upon him and his wealth?

I open my emails and delete the one I sent him. It’s not that bad. I just mention spanking and well, whipping. If he’s so ashamed of it, he damn well shouldn’t do it.

Bingo. And it’s not like he’s the only CEO in the history of American finance to use his money on some really weird sexual shit, right? I mean, if tomorrow the New York Times revealed that Bill Gates liked to be rectally stimulated with a cattle prod, it wouldn’t be on the front page. No one would think, “Gosh, that’s news, that rich people get up to some strange sexual stuff.” Christian’s fetish is actually quite tame. I recently watched a documentary where a rich businessman liked having cigarettes stubbed out on his tongue by a dominatrix. Whips and chains are just scratching the surface of sexual depravity in our deranged 1%. God love ‘em.

Jack comes out of his office and tells Ana not to book her flight. Turns out, some strange and mystifying order from “the top” has just been issued putting a lock down on SIP’s coffers, and all expenses must be pre-approved. He’s going to check with “old Roach,” which briefly makes me imagine all the characters in this book as Mrs. Brisby-type animal characters. Jack is a weasel, in my version.

Ana immediately knows what’s up. She writes an email to Christian asking him not to interfere in her work. He responds:

I am just protecting what is mine. 

He tells her that all their emails have been wiped from the servers.

How does he do this? Who does he know that can stealthily delve into the depths of SIP’s servers and remove emails?

And why was it a big deal, if he could do that, anyway? This guy is so fucking bad at business. “I own this company, but that knowledge is embargoed. I better email back and forth with my girlfriend on a monitored system and talk about the embargo. Oh my god, what have I done?”

Ana replies that she doesn’t need protecting, and she can reject Jack all by herself when she’s damned good and ready. But that’s not good enough for Christian, not when he can use RAPE BLAME ™, the patented victim shaming technique that holds women accountable for the actions of men! BEHOLD:

I have seen how “effective” you are at fighting off unwanted attention. I remember that’s how I had the pleasure of spending my first night with you. At least the photographer has feelings for you. The sleazeball, on the other hand, does not. He is a serial philanderer, and he will try to seduce you. Ask him what happened to his previous PA and the one before that.

I hate to have to resort to the list format again, but really, it’s so much easier when there is this much bullshit to keep track of:

  1. Ana is somehow responsible for the fact that a man physically overpowered her.
  2. Christian is somehow not responsible for the fact that he removed an unconscious woman from a bar and took her back to his hotel room.
  3. It would have been okay for Ana to get raped by Jose, because Jose has a crush on her.
  4. Ana is too stupid and too gosh darn rapeable to fight off her boss.
  5. Because his last two assistants slept with him, she will, too.

#5 really bugs me, because I once worked for a guy who really did sleep with all his secretaries. So much so that his old secretaries would call me while I was working and tell me how he was going to lie to me, how I was going to be helpless to resist, how I should guard my heart because he was going to use it up and throw it away. And no matter how many times I would say, “Um, this guy looks Eugene Levy and The Penguin from Batman Returns had a baby, you really don’t need to worry about me,” they would still insist that I was going to sleep with him. And guess what? Worked there for a while, never slept with him. Never even remotely tempted. The way Ana feels about her boss is pretty clear, and the idea that women are going to just helplessly sleep with their bosses is pretty fucking insulting.

Christian also tells Ana:

If you want to go to New York, I’ll take you. We can go this weekend. I have an apartment there.

Oh, of course he does. But that’s not really the point, is it, Ana?

Oh, Christian! That’s not the point.

No, it’s not. The point is, Ana was asked to fly to New York for her job, which she takes seriously. Christian should be proud to be dating someone who commits to her work and isn’t just some vapid gold digger. I mean, she’s plenty vapid, but she’s not a gold digger.

Trust him to bring up Jose. Will I ever live that down? I was drunk, for heaven’s sake.

Yeah, since when is it the victim’s job to “live down” the assault? Why does Ana have something to be ashamed of?

Ana writes another email to Christian:

While you have been busy interfering in my career and saving your ass from my careless missives, I received the following email from Mrs. Lincoln. I really don’t want to meet with her – even if I did, I’m not allowed to leave this building. How she got ahold of my e-mail address, I don’t know.

Yes, you do. It’s not really that big a leap. Christian says he’ll deal with it, and Ana tells him to stop emailing her because she’s trying to do her job. Jack comes back from visiting The Old Roach under the Hollow Tree and says that upper management won’t approve her going to New York. Que sopresa. Then, Jack asks Ana to go out and get him lunch. Which, you know, she can’t do, because she promised Christian she wouldn’t leave the building, because she doesn’t have the gift of foresight. She goes anyway, figuring he’s not going to find out, because she hasn’t read any other page in this book.

Claire from reception offers me her umbrella since it is still pouring with rain.

What a weird way of phrasing that.

Ana immediately gets freaky, I-am-being-watched feelings on her way to the deli, but chalks it up to garden variety paranoia:

It’s just your imagination, my subconscious snaps. Who the hell would want to shoot you?

I would. I would want to shoot her.
When Ana gets back to the office, Jack tells her that she has to work late, because they need to get some briefs ready. Wait, I thought this was a publishing house. Is it a law office? She worries about what Christian is going to think of her working late, and eats the lunch Mrs. Jones made her.

Of course, if I moved in with Christian, she would make lunch for me every weekday. The idea is unsettling. I have never had dreams of obscene wealth and all the trappings – only love. To find someone who loves me and doesn’t try to control my every move.

False. You wanted a literary hero. Not a lot of heroes from classic literature just loved their heroines without trying to control them. Aren’t you an English major?

The phone rings, and when Ana answers it, she gets this:

“You assured me you wouldn’t go out,” Christian interrupts me, his voice cold.

My heart sinks for the millionth time this day. Shit. How the hell does he know?

“Jack sent me out for some lunch. I couldn’t say no. Are you having me watched?” My scalp prickles at the notion. No wonder I felt so paranoid – someone was watching me.

Christian doesn’t admit that he had someone follow her, and he is somewhat chastened when she tells him to stop suffocating her.

After our wonderful weekend, the reality is hitting home. I have never felt more like running. Running to some quiet retreat so I can think about this man, about how he is, and about how to deal with him. On one level, I know he’s broken – I can see that clearly now – and it’s both heartbreaking and exhausting.

Well, you better move in with him, Ana, because I’m certain it will only get better if you do that.

With a heavy heart, I drag one of the manuscripts Jack wants me to summarize into my lap and continue to read. I can think of no easy solution to Christian’s fucked-up control issues.

Aspiring authors, beware. Your manuscript could end up in the hands of Ana, and she’s not going to be reading it so much as thinking about her boyfriend while staring at your words. But really, that first sentence makes me imagine the poor assistant or copy editor who had to slog through these 50 Shades books.

Ana stays late, but figures she’ll be out around seven-thirty. The office is all deserted except for her and Jack, who immediately turns on the slime:

He leans over me while I retrieve the document, rather close – uncomfortably close. His arm brushes mine. Accidentally? I flinch, but he pretends not to notice. His other arm rests on the back of my chair, touching my back. I sit up so I’m not leaning against the backrest.

“Pages sixteen and twenty-three, and that should be it,” he murmurs, his mouth inches from my ear.

My skin crawls at his proximity, but I choose to ignore it. Opening the document, I shakily start on the changes. he’s still leaning over me, and all my sense are hyperaware. It’s distracting and awkward, and inside I am screaming, Back off!

At this point, I’m wondering if she’s hyperaware because Christian has planted the seed of the idea in her head, or if he’s really trying to get into Ana’s pants. But then this happens:

“I think the least I could do is reward you with a quick drink. You deserve one.” He tucks a strand of my hair that’s come loose from my hair tie behind my ear and gently caresses the lobe.

EW! When you put it like that, like, “gently caresses the lobe,” yeah, he sounds like an oily pervert. Ana begins to think she might be in a bad situation:

Alarm bells sound loudly in my head. I am on my own in the office. I cannot leave. I glance nervously at the clock. Another five minutes before Christian is due.

You know that I absolutely hate to say anything good about this book, but that excerpt there? That is what I’m going to show to my husband to try and explain male privilege. Because he’s actually quite astounded when I bring up things like, “The reason I walk on the outside of the sidewalk is because someone can grab you and pull you into an alley or a doorway.” Because that stuff doesn’t enter into a man’s mind, and it’s not their fault, because for them, the world really is a safe place. A man would probably not feel unsafe being in an office with their male boss after the building is closed.

Jack tries to get Ana to go out for a drink, and she turns him down. Then he asks her if she had a good weekend, and questions her about her boyfriend:

“What does he do?”

Owns your ass… “He’s in business.”

“That’s interesting. What kind of business?”

Okay, hold up. I thought Christian Grey was super well-known. In the third book (spoiler) he’s worried about the paparazzi dogging him and Ana on their honeymoon. So, if he’s famous enough to be followed around the world by paparazzi, why didn’t Jack recognize him when he met him at the bar? In the city that Christian practically owns? You would think that working in Seattle, Jack would have at least seen him in the newspaper or something. Yet when Ana tells him Christian’s name:

Jack’s mouth drops open. “Seattles richest bachelor? That Christian Grey?”

“Yes. The same.” Yes, that Christian Grey, your future boss who will have you for breakfast if you invade my personal space again.

“I thought he looked familiar,” Jack says darkly, and his brow creases again. “Well, he’s a lucky man.”

I’m confused as to how Jack didn’t put the pieces together when Ana introduced him to Christian. I guess there’s a reason Jack is an editor and not a detective.

Jack backs off immediately when he finds out Ana is boning the richest man in the universe.

Well, that problem might be solved. Fifty works his magic again. Just his name is my talisman, and it has this man retreating with his tail between his legs. I allow myself a small victorious smile. You see, Christian? Even your name protects me – you didn’t have to go to all that trouble of clamping down on expenses.

Why are you victorious, Ana? Because you’ve managed the impossible feat of having a man to hide behind? Good for you. And I mean that as sarcastically as possible.

Christian comes to pick her up from work, and when she gets into the car, he tries to get pinkeye:

He raises my hand and lightly grazes my knuckles with soft butterfly kisses.

For those not “in the know,” what he’s doing is putting her hand by his eye and fluttering his eyelashes. That’s what a butterfly kiss is. Not only is it ridiculous, it seems like it would be about 100% more germy than a regular hand kiss, on the kisser’s end.

They don’t really talk in the car, which is a shame, because they usually almost end their relationship every fucking time they’re in the car together, and one of these days it’s going to stick, damnit. When they get to the building, Ana asks if Christian has found Leila yet, and I really wish he would just be like, “Leila who? Oh shit, was I supposed to be looking for someone?” because he’s clearly not doing a damn thing to find her. He says someone named “Welch” is looking for Leila. One guy, out of his entire staff, is looking for this girl. Yeah, you’re really trying hard, Christian.

Now, keeping in mind that Christian has exerted stupid levels of control over Ana today, fucked with her job, had her followed, etc., you’d think she’d be pretty pissed off at him, right? No, of course not! She’s overcome with her lust for him when they get into the elevator:

Oh my – the longing, the lust, the electricity. If it were visible, it would be an intense blue aura around and between us; it’s so strong.

Christian hits the emergency stop, because he’s apparently the only important person in the building. During this entire “Love in an Elevator” sequence, I like to imagine there are two paramedics waiting in an upstairs hallway, trying desperately to keep a heart attack victim alive to get him or her to the hospital, but because Christian has stopped the elevator to fuck his girlfriend, the patient dies.

Just like every other time they have sex, Christian gives Ana instructions as to how she should undress. This time, he tells her to take down her hair and unbutton the top buttons of her blouse. Then he says:

“Do you have any idea how alluring you look right now?”

And I finally get the “Do you have any idea” thing. He’s asking, because he wants her to appreciate how sexy he has made her look. Think about it. Every time they have sex, he tells her to undress in a certain way, to pose in a certain way, and then he says, “Do you have any idea,” about the situation. When he says this, he is congratulating himself for making her look the most attractive to him that she can possibly be.

Oh no, that’s not creepy at all.

We get all the usual trappings of a Chedward/Anabella sex scene, including the “foil packet” and he “starts to move, really move,” and of course, simultaneous elevator orgasm. Then they go eat coq au vin (because even their food needs to drink heavily) and Christian tells Ana about his day:

Christian fetches a bottle of white wine from the fridge, and as we sit and eat, he tells me about how much nearer he’s getting to perfecting a solar-powered mobile phone. He’s animated and excited about the whole project, and I know then that he hasn’t had an entirely shitty day.

Well, thank God for that. Because it would really suck if his day was unpleasant, after he spent so much time making yours unpleasant.

Ana tells Christian that he was right about Jack being a sleazeball, and Christian offers once again to have him fired. So Ana tells him:

“You really have to let me fight my own battles. You can’t constantly second-guess me and try to protect me. It’s stifling, Christian. I’ll never flourish with your incessant interference. I need some freedom. I wouldn’t dream of meddling in your affairs.”

Except for when she, you know, asks your therapist to break patient confidentiality and tell her all about your problems. She’ll totally meddle in your affairs then.

Christian reasserts that he’s just protecting her, but Ana sticks to her guns:

“You can’t interfere in my job. It’s wrong. I don’t need you charging in like a white knight to save the day. I know you want to control everything, and I understand why, but you can’t. It’s an impossible goal… you have to learn to let go.” I reach up and stroke his face as he gazes at me, his eyes wide. “And if you can do that – give me that – I’ll move in with you,” I add softly.

Okay, she sticks to her guns for like a millisecond. And then she’s all, “I’ll move in with you,” because as I pointed out before, that’s not going to exacerbate his control freak problems or anything. Ana tells Christian that there’s nothing he can tell her about himself that would make her run away, and I totally believe that. She can rationalize his behavior into anything she wants, and continues to, because as you can see in this next excerpt, he still really does not fucking get it:

“I’m trying, Anastasia. I couldn’t just stand by and let you go to New York with that… sleazeball. He has an alarming reputation. None of his assistants have lasted more than three months, and they’re never retained by the company. I don’t want that for you, baby.” He sighs. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. You being hurt… the thought fills me with dread. I can’t promise not to interfere, not if I think you’ll come to harm.” He pauses and takes a deep breath. “I love you, Anastasia. I will do everything in my power to protect you. I cannot imagine my life without you.”

Now, notice that he doesn’t say, “You’re right, I’ll respect your boundaries and not fuck with your work.” On the contrary, he says pretty explicitly that he’s going to keep interfering if he thinks it’s in her best interest, and she doesn’t get to decide what her best interests are. But Ana doesn’t hear a damned word of this. What does she hear?

Three little words. My world stands still, tilts, then spins on a new axis; and I savor the moment, gazing into his sincere, beautiful gray eyes.

And then Taylor comes in and says that Mrs. Robinson is on her way up. CLIFFHANGA!

Crazy Doctor Who Fan Theory

Here’s my crazy Doctor Who fan theory: Oswin is actually Amy. Here’s why:

  • At the beginning of “Asylum of The Daleks” he tells Amy “Make them remember you.”
  • At the end of “Asylum of The Daleks” Oswin says “Remember me.”
  • Amy had a Time Lady baby, River Song.
  • How did that happen if she wasn’t a Time Lady?
  • In “Dinosaurs on A Spaceship” Amy is really, really good with technology.
  • Remember who else was really good with technology?
  • That’s right, Donna Fucking Noble after the metacrisis.
  • Oh, yeah, and Oswin.
My money is on “Amy somehow became a Time Lady and regenerates into Oswin.”
If I’m wrong, meh. I’ll just write an AU fanfic about it.

50 Shades Darker Chapter Ten recap or “So little conflict, so many words.”

EDIT ALERT!

After I first posted this recap, I found this infographic via Twitter, and it’s worth taking a look at. My favorite part is where they point out that Ana drinks 365% more alcohol per day than the recommended intake.

EDIT ALERT OVER! RETURN TO YOUR LIVES!

Good morning (or whenever the hell it is that I post this recap. I always shoot for morning and fall desperately short of the mark because the internet is full of distractions and pictures of cute animals)! I want to just say thank you for being so awesomely patient while I slowly punch through these recaps. I promise that once this book I’m working on is finished, I’ll get more recaps per week on the page.

This is actually going to be a fairly short recap, because it’s a fairly short chapter. So, let’s do this thing.
After their boat sex, Christian tells Ana that Mac will be back soon:

“As much as I’d like to lie here with you all afternoon, he’ll need a hand with the dinghy.”

I know it’s a legit nautical term, but every time I hear the word “dinghy,” all I can think of is Tommy Boy.

You can get this on a t-shirt, so people under 30 can stare at you, bemused, and life will be just like this book.

I watch him move about the cabin as he dresses. This man who has just made such sweet love to me again. I can hardly believe my good fortune. I can’t quite believe that he’s mine.

Every. Fucking. Time. Seriously, how often do we have to hear about how Ana can’t believe she’s with Chedward?

“You are the master of my heart, Mr. Grey.” And my body… and my soul.

So, that’s healthy.

If you’ve noticed that they haven’t had an alcoholic drink since they got on the boat, and you were getting antsy wondering if they were going to go a full two hours without booze in their hands, Chedward has that covered:

“I’ll be on deck. There’s a shower in the bathroom if you want one. Do you need anything? A drink?” he asks solicitously, and all I can do is grin at him. Is this the same man? Is this the same Fifty?

Since he’s been feeding her alcohol for this entire book and the last one, I don’t know why she thinks this is such a huge change in his personality. Unless she’s a robot powered by alcohol and her programming is severely limited once alcohol levels take a critical dive.

Isn’t Bender’s last name Rodriguez? Oh my god, is this a clue that Ana is going to wind up with Jose?! This series has so many twists and frantic, heart stopping turns!

 Ana asks Chedward what happened to the real Christian, and Christian tells her:

“He’s not very far away, baby,” he says softly, and there’s a touch of melancholy in his voice that makes me instantly regret asking the question. But he shakes it off. “You’ll see him soon enough” – he smirks at me – “especially if you don’t get up.” Reaching over, he smacks me hard on my behind so I yelp and laugh at the same time.

Wait, does Christian have fully integrated dissociative identity disorder?

If so, I’m rooting for Buck.
Then Christian says “Laters, baby,” and a handful of middle aged women squeal like teen girls. I mean, not in the text. It’s just something I can hear in my head the entire time I read this book.  In a throwaway paragraph, Ana goes up on deck, Mac avoids her, and Christian talks on the phone, then they start heading back to land.

Under Christian’s careful, patient instruction, I have now stowed a mainsail, a headsail, and a spinnaker, as well as learned to tie a reef knot, clove hitch, and sheepshank.

So, she learns about the boat stuff after the chapter where she describes all the boat stuff, and again, this book is written in present tense. Ah, craft. Who needs it, am I right?

Ana warns Christian that she might use her newfound knowledge to tie him up, and he says she’d have to catch him first.

His words bring to mind him chasing me around the apartment, the thrill, and then the hideous aftermath. I frown and shudder. After that, I left him.

No shit, really? Because this entire book so far hasn’t been centered on the fact that you guys had a fight and broke up for five whole days. Which were, of course, the longest and most painful five days any human has ever suffered through. Forget POW camps, forget the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide, no, Anastasia Rose Steele suffered through the most painful human experience possible, a five day breakup from a boyfriend of two weeks. A break up so horrible and painful, we’re describing it as “leaving” someone, because that’s how close they were. It was like they were practically married, guys. They are soul mates.

One must “leave” him, dramatically, for five days.
But at least Ana has some perspective on the whole, “he beat me as hard as he could with a belt and then blamed me for not using the safe word” thing:

Would I leave him now that he’s admitted he loves me? I gaze up into his clear gray eyes. Could I ever leave him again – no matter what he did to me? Could I betray him like that? No. I don’t think I could.

NO MATTER WHAT HE DID TO HER. In other words, she feels like she betrayed him when she left him because she wanted a boyfriend and he wanted to just beat the holy fuck out of her all the time even though she didn’t like it. That’s the betrayal she’s talking about. And if he did the exact same thing again, she couldn’t leave him. She’s completely roped into the role of patient victim now, to the point that she’s really enjoying her martyrdom.

Ana thinks about how Christian took her on a tour of the boat and had sex with her. Because if she’s not talking directly to Christian, she should be thinking about him, and especially about sex.

He is an exceptional lover, I’m sure – though, of course, I have no comparison. But Kate would have raved more if it was always like this; it’s not like her to hold back on details.

Note the subtle dig: the sex Ana is having is better than the sex Kate is having. Since we’ve read the first book, we already know that Ana is better than Kate in every way, or at least she must reassure herself that she is, because otherwise, how can she be happy?

But how long will this be enough for him? I just don’t know, and the thought is unnerving.

And repetitive.

And then, oh dear, dear readers. And then I read a line that makes my heart almost explode into millions upon millions of little black, bat-shaped pieces of despair confetti at its inclusion in this book:

 “There is poetry of sailing as old as the world,” he murmurs in my ear.

NO. No, no, no. Fuck you, E.L., no. First of all, the quote is: “There is a poetry of sailing as old as the world,” and no. You are not going to use Le Petit Prince as any kind of metaphor for Christian Grey. I will not stand for it.

Although now that I’m thinking about it, Ana does remind me of a certain floral character…

They get back to the marina at around twilight (a word that is carefully avoided), and Ana has to thank Christian, of course:

“Thank you,” I murmur shyly. “That was a perfect afternoon.”

Enough with the shy murmurs. They’ve fucked a billion times. In his parent’s boat house. In his parent’s house. In his house. In her house. On a boat. Because there was nothing good on tv. Because a butterfly flapped its wings in Singapore. They’ve played sex games. They’ve escaped… I don’t know, some kind of danger, I guess. You can say thank you without being shy about it. Shyness doesn’t make you more desirable.

Christian suggests that Ana take sailing lessons, so they can take the boat out more often:

“I’d love that. We can christen the bedroom again and again.”

That’s not what “christen” means, Ana. Surely you, a bright, bright, brighty-bright-bright English major knows that.

Christian tells Ana that the apartment is safe, so they can go back there (that’s a familiar song). He tells her that Taylor already got their stuff from the hotel, after he did a security check on the boat:

“Does that poor man ever sleep?”

“He sleeps.” Christian quirks an eyebrow at me, puzzled. “He’s just doing his job, Anastasia, which he’s very good at. Jason is a real find.”

“Jason?”

“Jason Taylor.”

I thought Taylor was his first name. Jason. It suits him – solid, reliable. For some reason it makes me smile.

It makes me smile, too, Ana. Because now I have the completed mental picture of Jason Taylor, and it’s this guy:

Bitches, please, this is what he does for fun on the weekends.
Christian gets a little suspicious of Ana’s interest in Taylor:

“I’m not attracted to him, if that’s why you’re frowning. Stop.”

Christian is almost pouting – sulky.

Jeez, he’s such a child sometimes.

 Oh is he, Mrs. Robinson?
Christian and Ana say goodbye to Mac:

I shake his hand shyly. He must know what Christian and I were up to on the boat while he went ashore.

Because Christian has probably done it with all his subs. Yeah, he said you were the first, but how many things has he given to you or done with you that you’ve later found out is par for the course with all his exes? And we have a new drinking game rule. Drink every time Ana does something “shyly.”

Ana asks Christian if Mac is one of his friends. Because apparently Ana believes Christian’s friends would call him “sir” and “Mr. Grey” and that would be totally okay. Christian says he doesn’t have any friends:

He frowns. “Not really. Doing what I do… I don’t cultivate friendships. There’s only-” He stops, his frown deepening, and I know he was going to mention Mrs. Robinson.

I know that when he says, “doing what I do,” he’s talking about his job, but I’m going to think that “doing what I do,” means, “my freaky, controlling behavior.” Oh, but at least he has one friend. You know. His molester.

Ana and Christian discuss the friendship issue at a restaurant called Bee’s, which is described as being located right next to SP’s. So… is this a code? Is there a coded message running through these books? A subliminal signal to make otherwise intelligent people really, really enjoy these books?

Obviously, they can’t just have dinner. They have to have dinner with a side of angst:

“Anastasia, what’s wrong? Tell me.”

I glance up into his concerned face.

“Tell me,” he says more forcefully, and his concern evolves into what? Fear? Anger?

I take a deep breath. “I’m just worried that this isn’t enough for you. You know, to let off steam.”

His jaw tenses and his eyes harden. “Have I given you any indication that this isn’t enough?”

“No.”

“Then why do you think that?”

Because there is no conflict in this relationship at all, so every scene must be fraught with manufactured drama.

The thing that really frustrates me about this book is, there could be conflict. If Ana had a spine or a brain, there could be conflict. After all, she’s just gotten into a relationship with a guy who she is drawn to on some deep level, but who lives a lifestyle that is putting her in danger. The recipe for conflict is there. I mean, it’s actually there, in the background, waiting to be addressed, and it never is. Instead of thinking, “Gosh, I wish I could be Christian’s everything, and I’m falling so pathetically short,” Ana could be thinking, “I love this man, but being around him puts me in danger, can I really do this to myself?” It would be a whole different (and better) book.

Of course, they resolve their difficulty in a few paragraphs, because that’s how life works. Everything gets wrapped up in neat little packages. Oh, except:

“So, you don’t want to take me into your playroom?”

He swallows and pales, all trace of humor gone. “No, I don’t.”

“Why not?” I whisper. This is not the answer I expected.

And yes, there it is – that little pinch of disappointment. My inner goddess stomps off pouting, her arms crossed like an angry toddler’s.

First, Ana, make up your damned mind. Second, does anyone get the feeling that this whole, “You’re exactly what I need, without BDSM” storyline smacks of, “People who are into BDSM don’t really love their partners?” Because that’s how it’s reading, to me. Christian wanted to dominate Ana, until he fell in love with her, at which time she is exactly what he needs and he no longer wants to engage in BDSM.
So, since they settled that matter, Ana has to keep pushing, saying that it’s not going to be “relaxing” for Christian to always have to worry about her feelings. Um, isn’t that what a relationship is, Ana? Being considerate and loving where another person’s emotions are concerned? Oh, you wouldn’t know, because your idea of normal romantic relationships are from Thomas Hardy and the Bronte sisters. You have no idea what a healthy relationship should be, because you’re still chasing your romantic heroes from classic literature. In fact, I would go so far as to say that she’s not even interested in Chedward being a literary hero, she’s more interested in Chedward making her feel like she’s a literary heroine.
For those keeping word-rep score at home, in the space of about a page, the word “carefree” is used three times, and some variation of “relax” is used four. Editing is hard, yo.
After dinner, they drive back to Christian’s apartment, and Ana thinks about her day:

I have had a mind-blowing day: Dr. Greene; our shower; Christian’s admission; making love at the hotel and on the boat; buying the car.

There is some needless tension re: Leila and some more needless tension re: their relationship, and then once they get into the apartment, Christian says:

“You are not allowed out of here alone. You understand?” he snaps.

So, she’s a prisoner. Looks like you get your wish, Ana! Chedward is the literary hero of your dreams! It’s just that he’s Mr. Rochester, and you’re the crazy wife in the attic, so… good luck with that!

After being told that she’s basically his prisoner, this is Ana’s totally rational response:

“Okay.” Jeez – keep your hair on. But his attitude makes me smile. I want to hug myself – this man, all domineering and short with me, I know. I marvel that I would have found it so threatening only a week or so ago when he spoke to me this way. But now I understand him so much better. This is his coping mechanism. He’s stressed about Leila, he loves me, and he wants to protect me.

But not enough that he would call the police or do anything that would actually protect you.

Ana tells Christian that his pouting has the same effect on her that her biting her lip has on him.

He pouts again and leans down to give me a swift chaste kiss.

I raise my lips to meet his, and in the nanosecond when our lips touch, the nature of the kiss changes – wildfire spreading through my veins from this intimate point of contact, driving me to him.

So… it wasn’t really a chaste kiss then, was it? It was just the regular kind.

“What you do to me, Ana.”

How many fucking times is he going to say this? Seriously? Is he a robot or something, just repeating the last phrase he was programmed to say in this situation?

 The sad thing is, when I tried to save this picture as “Buffybot” I got a pop up that said there was already a file called “Buffybot” on my computer. And I was like, “Of course there is.”
They run into Taylor, and Ana makes a little joke about their hotel aliases:

“I was Mrs. Taylor yesterday.” I grin at Taylor, who flushes.

“That has a nice ring to it, Miss Steele,” Taylor says matter-of-factly.

“I thought so, too.”

Christian tightens his hold on my hand, scowling. “If you two have quite finished, I’d like a debriefing.” He glares at Taylor, who now looks uncomfortable, and I cringe inwardly. I have overstepped the mark.

Someone, please write a fanfic where Ana ends up with Taylor. And also, she ends up a real, actualized human being, because it’s not going to happen in canon. I mean, really. I agonize over these recaps, and I ask for so little in return. I just want you to write every single plot bunny I’m throwing out there, so that I can read them. I’m the Jareth of fanfic. Fear me, love me, write whatever I say, and I will be your slave.

Christian tells Ana point blank to not be “friendly” with the staff. He feels like she was flirting with Taylor, and he’s super threatened.

“You know how jealous I am,” he whispers.

“You have no reason to be jealous, Christian. You own me body and soul.”

I have to point out here that Christian’s jealousy does make a lot of sense. After all, there is literally nothing that holds this romance together, apart from the sex. But I’m sure that’s not what E.L. is trying to highlight here.

Why on earth would he be jealous of Taylor? I shake my head in disbelief.

Because apparently owning another human being “body and soul” isn’t enough for him.

Ana goes upstairs to her room and finds that all the clothes that she said she didn’t want anymore are missing:

Why did he take me at my word? My mother’s advice comes back to haunt me: “Men are so literal, darling.

Yeah, stupid men, being all literal and shit, and doing what you tell them you want them to do. How could he have not known that when you said you didn’t want those clothes, you meant the exact opposite. Men are so, so dumb, and women who play coy games are clearly superior. FEMINISM YAY!

Her iPad and her laptop are also missing, so she assumes Leila snuck in and stole them, until she goes to Christian’s bedroom and finds all of her stuff in there, including the clothes she wants/doesn’t want. Because of the threat of Leila, Christian has had all of Ana’s things moved to his room.

“Taylor thinks Leila was getting in through the emergency stairwell. She must have had a key. All the locks have been changed now. Taylor’s team has done a sweep of every room in the apartment. She’s not here.” He stops and runs a hand through his hair. “I wish I knew where she was. She’s evading all our attempts to find her when she needs help.”

What attempts? The sailing? Did you think she was in the ocean? It’s not like you’ve been working tirelessly to find her, despite your insistance that you want to help her. And it’s not like Taylor has been trying to find her. He’s been toting Ana’s belongings from the hotel to the apartment, and checking the boat – which none of the other subs have been on, or so claims Christian- to make sure it was safe. The rest of the team appears to have been moving Ana’s belongings literally from one room to the next, because it’s too dangerous for her to go to her own damn room to get them, apparently. So what, exactly, have you been doing to look for her, Mr. Grey? All what attempts? When you looked around suspiciously as you drove up to the apartment building? You must be fucking exhausted from all the looking around you’ve been doing. Hey, off the top of my head, I was thinking, you know who can sometimes be good at finding people? The police you should have called the moment Leila tried to kill herself in your apartment. Hey, come to think of it, that would have been a great time to change the locks, too, Mr. “I’m so careful about my safety and privacy” Grey. Or hell, maybe you could take the extra, extra cautious step of not giving your girlfriends keys to your apartment, or changing the locks after you’ve broken up with them. This is all just crazy talk, though, because clearly this plot is just filler to make it seem like there is something interesting in this book when it’s really just a lot of shitty writing and allegedly graphic sex.

Christian tells Ana he wants her to sleep in his room, because he doesn’t have nightmares if she’s with him. Except, didn’t he have a nightmare when she was sleeping with him before, in the last book? I honestly can’t remember, because I have a very finite capability for remembering stupid bullshit that glorifies abuse. Ana tells Christian that she has to get her clothes ready for work tomorrow, and then THIS happens:

“Work!” Christian exclaims as if it’s a dirty word, and he releases me, glaring.

“Yes, work,” I reply, confused by his reaction.

He stares at me with complete incomprehension. “But Leila – she’s out there,” he pauses. “I don’t want you to go to work.”

What? “That’s ridiculous, Christian. I have to go to work.” 

“No, you don’t,” he repeats, emphatically.

“Do you think I’m going to stay here twiddling my thumbs while you’re off being Master of the Universe?”

I love it when they work the title of the fanfiction that the book used to be into the actual book.

Christian tells Ana that she doesn’t have to work for a living – basically, that to fulfill his own pathological need to be safe, she should quit her job. He petulantly agrees that she can go to work, as long as she brings one of his guards with her. Not Taylor, though. Sawyer. The one she hasn’t allegedly flirted with.

“Either he comes with you, or I will be really irrational and keep you here.”

He wouldn’t, would he? “How, exactly?”

“Oh, I’d find a way, Anastasia. Don’t push me.”

Seriously, he has an entire room devoted to tying, shackling, and zip-typing women up, plus a staff of beefy security guards with guns. He’s also a sociopath, so kidnapping you would seem ethically cool, so long as it benefited him.

Like, the second their argument is settled, Christian says:

“Shall I give you a tour?”

A tour? Are you kidding me?

Yeah, are you kidding me? He’s given you a tour of his apartment before. There’s really no need for another one, especially since the next time E.L. wants to add another room, Chedward will just say that it’s a big place and Ana hasn’t seen it all yet.

He gives me a tour of the apartment, showing me the various rooms. Along with the playroom and three spare bedrooms upstairs, I’m intrigued to find that Taylor and Mrs. Jones have a wing to themselves – a kitchen, spacious living area, and a bedroom each.

So, wait, are you saying there are two kitchens and two living areas? Or that each person has their own bedroom? I’m beginning to think that the lack of editing on this book smacks of blatant exploitation of a poor writer who has never learned the ropes, and will now never learn them because she’s being spoon fed the lie that the amount of money you make is a testament to how good a writer you are. That is going to be a monumentally hard fall, and I actually feel bad for E.L. at this point.

But let’s explore the idea that Taylor and Mrs. Jones live together. Speaking of which, is she Ms. or Mrs.? Because if she’s Mrs., where the fuck is her husband and why does she live at work?

He also shows her a room with a huge tv and game consoles, thus solving the case of the twenty-something millionaire who doesn’t have an Xbox.

During some random chit-chat, Christian lets it drop that he doesn’t have a middle name. Ana thought “Trevelyan” was his middle name, and he’s like, no, that’s my last name, “Trevelyan-Grey,” which he doesn’t use because:

“It’s too long. [...]“

If there is any word that could describe a man who names his company Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc., it’s “succinct”.

Christian also takes Ana to Taylor’s office, which surprises me, since I figured he wouldn’t want her to know where it was in case she accidentally showed up there and fucked him. By the way, Taylor has a conference table and CCTV in his office, so you could work those into your fic. I eagerly await a link. There is also a wine “cellar” in the apartment, which makes absolutely no fucking sense. How do you have a “cellar” in an apartment on an upper floor? You can definitely have a climate controlled room for wine storage, but not a “cellar”.

The tour ends in the billiards room, where Ana challenges Christian to a game.

“You’re that confident, Miss Steele?” He smirks, amused and incredulous at once. “What would you like to wager?”

“If I win, you’ll take me back into the playroom.”

Oh, that’s probably a great idea, Ana. Since you broke up with him because you couldn’t handle the BDSM aspect of your relationship, you should definitely reintroduce that element so we can hear all about how you can’t love him the way he needs you to. This is going to be super. Especially since Ana turns out to be a pretty good pool player.

She also understands the time honored tradition of playing pool as a way to let a man ogle you. Remember that article about pedophilia hiding in this book? Here’s another argument I make against it:

I stalk around the table, bending low at every available opportunity – giving Christian an eyeful of my behind and my cleavage whenever I can.

and later:

I tilt my head coquettishly to one side, gently fondling my cue, running my hand up and down it slowly. “Oh. I am just deciding where to take my next shot,” I murmur distractedly.

So, clearly, this is not a case of a child-like heroine who has no idea what sexual power she possesses.

It’s down to the eight ball, and Christian still hasn’t chosen what he gets if he wins. Ana misses her shot, and then this happens:

“If I win…”

Oh yes?

“I am going to spank you, then fuck you over this billiard table.”

It’s like E.L. James has a list of all the lines from my James May sex fantasies, damnit. *mumbles incoherently, stalks off*

Holy shit. Every single muscle south of my navel clenches hard.

Just for fun, when I read that, I clenched every single muscle south of my navel. And you know what I found? It would be really hard to make a shot playing pool if that kind of debilitating spasm was happening to you.

Then the chapter ends on a cliffhanger, as Christian bends down to make his shot.

50 SHADES OF BREAKING NEWS

Friends.

Friends.

Friends.

E.L. James’s lawyers warned someone off for copyright infringement of 50 Shades.

From the article:

EL James’ agent Valerie Hoskins said the legal letter was not personal, adding: “You can’t just hijack something someone else owns.”

“You can’t just hijack something someone else owns.”
You can’t just hijack something someone else owns.”
“You can’t just hijack something someone else owns.” 

Look at this cover!

Today, I got my cover for my first ever release from Ellora’s Cave. And it is epic:

Silent Surrender is a historical romance set in Plymouth, England, 1849. The heroine is a Deaf woman, and her love interests are a dock worker and her childhood tutor. I’m not explaining this as masterfully as the back cover copy will, I’m sure, and release date is TBD, but look at that cover. Is it not stunning? I’ve always wanted a cover with a corset on it, and now I can cross that off my writing bucket list.
More information to come, but I’m super excited and had to share!

My #newtoWHO Story

If you follow me on twitter, you know that my twitter stream looks something like this:

So, you’d think that the establishment of a Whovian hashtag, one that encourages, nay, begs, Whovians to share their first experience with The Doctor, you’d think I would be all over that.


Sidetrack: How the fuck is Chris Hardwick getting all these jobs talking about my favorite shows? More importantly, why aren’t they hiring me? I have two things going for me that he does not: I do not make every sentence drip with false urgency, and I never hosted a really sleazy dating show. That any copies still exist of.

Back on topic, the hashtag #newtoWHO. How can one ask a true, dyed-in-the-horizontal-striped-wool Who fan to share their memories of their first Doctor in 144 characters? It’s criminal. So, I’m sharing my #newtoWHO story right here. Lucky you.

My first Doctor, MY Doctor, is the Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann.

Eight has the dubious distinction of being the Doctor with the shortest television run, but his epic adventures span a number of novels and Big Finish audio plays. It is truly criminal that we didn’t get more time with Eight, because he was the perfect bridge between the classic series and the new series, in which The Doctor became more “human” and showed self-doubt in a way the previous Doctors didn’t.
In 1996, after being off the air for seven years, Doctor Who made an attempt to resurface in the United States. If you watch the television movie, you get a glimpse of what the American reboot would have been like, and it’s not entirely removed from the Russel T. Davies series. A quick summary: The Doctor is transporting the mortal remains of The Master, who has been executed by The Daleks, from Skaro to the Time Lord home planet, Gallifrey, in accordance with The Master’s final wishes. As the TARDIS travels through space, the Seventh Doctor kicks back and relaxes in his bad ass, totally Steampunk TARDIS, reading H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine and eating jelly babies. But The Master’s plan all along was to funnel his essence into The Doctor to secure more regenerations. This goes awry when The Doctor makes an emergency landing in San Francisco, 1999, and gets shot in the crossfire of a gang turf war (no, really). He ends up in the hospital, where a brilliant, sexy cardiologist, Dr. Grace Holloway, assumes he’s human, performs a heart procedure, and kills him. Because he was anesthetized at the time of his death, his regeneration is delayed, and when he regenerates, he has no memory of being a Time Lord. He has to recover his memories in time to stop The Master, and to stop the universe from being destroyed at 12AM on January 1st, 2000.
Definitely helped that he was a hot ginger. No wonder Ten was so disappointed to turn out as David Tennant.
At the time the tv movie aired, I was fifteen or sixteen, and possibly the biggest nerd on the planet. I was still deeply grieving the cancellation of Covington Cross, a very short-lived 1992 dramedy that ABC pulled because they hate me and everything good. Since I had been so terribly burned by that cancellation, I had taken to videotaping literally everything I watched on television, in case it got cancelled. I had an entire closet full of VHS (this strategy also paid off for My So-Called Life). When I heard there was going to be “some time travel show thing” on Fox (my mother continued to refer to Doctor Who as “some time travel show thing” for the rest of my years at home), I thought it might be kind of cool to check out.
My reaction was somewhere between “holy shit” and “where has this been all my life?” Keep in mind, I had no idea that the show existed before 1996. I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, and whoever had come up with this startlingly brilliant new idea should be immediately handed heaps of money and the keys to the Vatican. I was in L-O-V-E. 

It should have come as no surprise to me that since I loved the show, it never got picked up for an American series. But I didn’t realize it was supposed to be a series, so I was perfectly happy to watch the story of The Doctor and Grace over and over again. I learned about amnesia as an exposition device. I learned about atomic clocks. And I was torn between pride that Grace was an independent enough woman that she wouldn’t forsake her own life to ride off into the time sunset with The Doctor, and furious that he didn’t pick me instead, because I would totally have gone with him. Also, jealous because she got to kiss him.
A few months after the movie aired, I was flipping through the pathetic five channels that I could get at my grandparents’ house, and I landed on PBS. Immediately, I was struck at how bizarrely similar to my Doctor Who this weird show with a funny looking, curly haired guy and his assistant, Sarah Jane, was. And she called him The Doctor… and they were in… the… TARDIS… and they…
I swear to you, I get teary-eyed remembering the feeling I had upon learning that The Doctor had other adventures. I didn’t know about regeneration yet. I just figured that in Great Britain, people were very high-brow and could overlook the fact that The Doctor’s appearance changed wildly. But as time marched on, and my love of The Doctor grew, I learned more about the show. I wrote fanfic. I tried to knit the scarf. I failed, but damnit, I tried. I routinely drew question marks all over my body in sharpie in loving homage to Seven.
But then it became time to put away childish things. I went out into the real world. I got a job, and a guy to live with, and a kid. So, when I learned The Doctor was returning, I didn’t pay much attention. I wasn’t that nerdy little girl anymore, I had very important things to do. Plus, The Doctor was wearing a leather jacket. I was so terrified that they were trying to “update” my beloved Doctor, to make him into something sleek and polished for a jaded modern audience, the way they’d tried and failed to do in 1996. I didn’t want Doctor Who without cardboard walls and papier mache monsters. So I put off watching the new series… until 2008.
When I started watching it again, friends, it was all over. I had regaled my husband with stories of my childhood nerdiness, and he watched with amusement as I geeked out all over again. And he started watching it, too. And my son made a Doctor Who puppet show, with Daleks he drew and taped to popsicle sticks. And so, here we are again. I guess it must be fate. And other Peter Cetera lyrics.
A few days ago, I watched the tv movie again. I do, every once in a while. It feels dated, of course, but dated like the sofa you grew up with. I feel echoes of Dr. Grace Holloway in Dr. Martha Jones, because they were both the girls who didn’t wait. I watch that first episode of Christopher Eccleston’s run and imagine the regeneration we never saw, from Eight to Nine. When Ten speaks so passionately about the Time War, I want to cry, because I know it was Eight, it was my Doctor who fought those legendary battles we’ll never see.
I hold out hope for a lot of things to happen during the 50th Anniversary celebration. Donna’s memories to return. The Doctor going back and picking up Lethbridge-Stewart for a fantastic voyage. Susan. Romana. The end of the Time Lock that imprisons Gallifrey. Triumph over the Daleks, for once and for all. But most of all, I wish for my Doctor to return. Because we’ve got a lot of running we still need to do.

50 Shades Darker Chapter 9 recap, or “Isn’t that how Natalie Wood died?”

Hey there, friends, Romans, countrymen. Lend me your eyeballs a second.

I’ve had several people send me this link, and someone posted in the comments of the last recap. When I first read it, I could see a couple points I agreed with. Then I started thinking more about it, and I was like, “Well…” because on reread, I started to not agree with it. But I was still going to post it, because I thought, “Maybe it’s just me.” Then, after MomE posted the link on the last recap (and thank you, everyone who sent me the link or posted it here, because it’s created a discussion!), I saw some people kind of agreed with me about it, as well. So, here is what I’m going to do. I’m going to post the link, so if you missed it in the comments section, you can go read it and form your own opinion of it for yourself: http://theulstermanreport.com/2012/08/16/50-shades-of-grey-pedophilia-hiding-in-plain-sight-letter-from-a-reader/
Here is my take on this piece: I think she was reaching way, way too hard to connect 50 Shades to Jerry Sandusky, and it leaves me with bad feelings. First of all, the stuff that happened at Penn State was horrible. Incredibly, life-destroyingly horrible. But there is a mountain of difference between the rape of children and a consensual sexual relationship between adults, no matter how naive or childlike Ana acts in the book. While I believe Ana suffers domestic violence in these books, and I’ve shared my doubts as to whether Ana could give informed consent about entering into a 24/7 D/s relationship due to her sexual naivety, I firmly and fully believe that Ana can consent to a sexual relationship. This is the primary condition on which the author of that piece (more to the point, her social worker friend) and I disagree. Ana might be childish, but she is not a child, and I feel the author of the piece is intentionally misleading in her cataloging of Ana’s allegedly childlike traits. Does Ana wear pigtails? Yes, twice, but more often she wears a simple, non-age-implicating pony tail. Does she say “Jeez!” and “crap,” absolutely, but she also uses words like “avuncular” and “precis” and opens the first book by graduating from college as an English major. I can’t believe I’m actually defending this fucking book, but while I may use Chris Hansen occasionally as a gag, I do not for a moment believe this book encourages pedophilia, or that it was E.L. James’s hidden agenda to mainstream pedophilia. I don’t think E.L. James is a good enough writer to subtly sneak pedophilia in under our noses on purpose. But your mileage may vary, and that’s okay, too, because it’s not like it really hurts us as a culture to examine these things.
With that in mind, here is another link, this one to some 50 Shades fanfic that retells the story from Chedward’s perspective. So, I guess this is a 50 Shades/Twilight/Midnight Sun fanfic? I don’t know, but Anonymous brought this to you, so unto Anonymous go the spoils of your adulation: The strange thing is, the writing is almost better. Unfortunately, she loses me when she casts Drew Fuller as Jose, because Drew Fuller is, you know, not Mexican. Or maybe that was the point.

  Heads up, I find hidden racism like whoa in this chapter, so I don’t know what that says about me.
So, in the interest of public service announcing at you, if you’ve sent me a link or posted it in the comments and I haven’t posted it here and you’re particularly sore about it, hit me up again. Sometimes, I don’t post links because they’re total bummers, and sometimes I don’t post links because I just forget.
All right, on to the recap:
When we last left Ana and Christian, he had just told her that he loves her. Well, no, actually. She said, “You love me,” and he said, “Yes, I do.” Which means he never said he loves her. He just agreed with her. And let me point out that he agreed with her after she stopped trying to have sex with him in order to talk about his feelings. Does anyone else see some motivation here for him to move this scene along? Does anyone else feel like this is a conversation Charlotte had with the rest of the girls on Sex and The City?
“I’m an Ana!” said no woman. Ever.

Since being owned by a man is the highest bar that Anastasia Rose “Courageous” Steele has set for herself, the next chapter starts like this:

I cannot contain my jubilation. My subconscious gapes at me in stunned silence, and I wear a face-splitting grin as I gaze longingly up into Christian’s tortured eyes.

Why is she smiling if he’s looking tortured? It’s like that old “I always cry at weddings,”/”What the fuck do you do at funerals?” chestnut from days of Rocky Horror yore. Also, way to show that bitch, your subconscious. It’s not like she’s given you any good advice that you’re routinely ignoring in favor of your loins. Your stupid, stupid loins.

Ana gushes over his “three small words,” even though they’re not “I love you,” and might as well be, “Sure, fuck now?” because confessions garnered in pursuit of nookie are inadmissible in the court of this blog. Then she again thinks about him being a “beautiful, fucked-up man,” which an astute commenter pointed out is directly from the lyrics of Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery.” I should have caught that, too, because I passionately sang that album from start to finish during my hormonal teenaged years, even though my boyfriends in high school were all pretty normal teenaged boys. I desperately wanted a beautiful, fucked up man to angst over. I guess some writers grow out of it.

Oh yes, I did.

My heart swells with joy but also pain for his suffering. And I know in this moment that my heart is big enough for both of us. I hope it’s big enough for both of us.

Oh, so you mean, you’re pretty sure you can love him so much that he doesn’t have to really participate in the relationship and all and you can still trick yourself into feeling that your emotional needs are fulfilled? Because that’s what you’re saying, Ana.

They decide to continue the fucking, albeit in another location, probably because talking about his feelings in the shower has deflated Christian’s erection considerably. Ana dries Christian’s hair with a towel, and he comments that no one has ever done that for him before. Ana insists that Grace must have done that for him as a child, and he answers:

“No. She respected my boundaries from day one, even though it was painful for her. I was very self-sufficient as a child,” he says quietly.

I feel a swift kick in the ribs as I think of a small copper-haired child looking after himself because no one else cares.

You mean like the adoptive parents who took him into their very wealthy family and gave him opportunities to achieve things he could never have dreamed of in his past situation, while respecting the fact he came from a hideously abusive and traumatic childhood and treating him with that in mind? Yeah, those fucking monsters. Only you can love him the right way.

So, Ana gets this idea that if she can dry his hair with the towel, she can touch him through the towel, too:

Carefully, I wipe his back beneath the faint lipstick line, which is still visible.

Please, someone tell me what this brand of never-wears-off lipstick is, so I don’t accidentally buy it and tattoo myself into permanent Joker cosplay with it.

Ana wipes his back with the towel, even in the no-go zones, while he makes audibly tense breathing noises and grimaces, and it’s a lot like the scene in Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly In Amber where Claire rapes Jamie into not being messed up by rape. Or something. I was kind of confused by a lot of stuff in those books.

Gazing at us both in the mirror – his beauty, his nakedness, and me with my covered hair – we look almost biblical, as if from an Old Testament Baroque painting.

Okay, first, how self-involved do you have to be to compare drying your boyfriend off after a shower to the fucking Bible, which is, btw, probably the only book that could outsell this behemoth? Second, what strange phrasing. “Old Testament Baroque painting” makes it sound like the Baroque period was actually in the time of the Old Testament, and that it was referenced in the Bible. Also, I’m pretty sure Satan didn’t take your soul in exchange for advertising his primary competition, E.L.

Oh, yes I did.
She’s still wiping him off with the towel, and he’s still reacting like a war veteran during an air show, and she thinks:

My subconscious looks on with approval, her normally pursed mouth smiling, and I’m the supreme puppet master.

Whoa, that got 50 Shades Darker. Really, Ana? Your boyfriend has severe PTSD and you’re proud of how well you can make him suffer from it? Don’t get me wrong, Christian Grey is a dickhole, but I don’t really think it’s fair to manipulate him through his childhood memories of molestation and physical torture.

Ana and Christian have off-camera sex, but it isn’t shown because it’s apparently not uber-kink, the way all these other, very, very shocking and titillating glimpses into the life of hardcore BDSM have been.

Apparently, this time it wasn’t fucking, hard, but making love. Awww. Ana mentions that Christian was surprisingly gentle, then tells him:

I grin. “You weren’t particularly the first time we… um, did this.”

She still cannot speak about sex with the man, even after they have just had sex. She literally can not say the word. The instant I read that line, it took me directly back to this novel I wrote in seventh grade. You see, I wanted to write a blisteringly good romance. It was about actors in a Broadway company of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (no, I didn’t have many friends, thanks for asking) who fell in love while working on the show. It was the worst novel anyone has ever written, and that’s including the book we’re talking about right now and the historical romance novel I wrote in sixth grade (which is actually pretty good, probably only because it was partially lifted from Far and Away). There was no conflict in the romance, there was no external conflict on the characters, it was just a story about two people who dated, fell in love, had sex, and got to be on Broadway. But what I felt was very grown up and important to the story were lots of conversations between the main characters about the sex they were having, because that’s what I thought a grown up relationship was. Only, they said stuff very similar to “the first time we… um, did this,” because while I was horribly fascinated by the concept of sex and adult relationships and thought night and day about how those concepts worked together and separately, I was also very embarrassed and giggly about those subjects, as well.

“No?” He smirks. “When I robbed you of your virtue.”

Hey, when I lost my virginity to you, you weren’t gentle enough. Wait, are you smirking? Why would you be proud about that? That’s horrible.

“I don’t think you robbed me,” I mutter haughtily – I am not a helpless maiden. “I think my virtue was offered up pretty freely and willingly. I wanted you too, and if I remember correctly, I rather enjoyed myself.” I smile shyly at him, biting my lip.

No, you’re not a helpless maiden. Just a stupid one who won’t bother to call the police – or assert your right to call the police – when your life is in danger, because you can wait for big, strong Christian to protect you from the problem he created.

 “So did I if I recall, Miss Steele. We aim to please,” he drawls and his face softens, serious. “And it means you’re mine, completely.” All trace of humor has vanished as he gazes at me.

That’s right. If a man gives you an orgasm, he owns you now. It’s in the Magna Carta, look that shit up.

Ana asks Christian if he knows who his biological father was:

His brow creases and then he shakes his head. “I have no idea. Wasn’t the savage who was her pimp, which is good.”

Maybe it’s just my white guilt, but something happens in this section that gives me pause. First of all, he says that pimp was a “savage.” I hate that word, because it makes me think of all those 80′s rapemances where the women were kidnapped to nights of endless, sometimes non-con rapture by sweet, savage savages (aka Native Americans). The word savage would be used liberally, either in the title or the back cover copy, to warn the reader that non-white loving would be happening in the pages. So when Christian says, a few paragraphs later:

“Police interviewed him later. He denied flat out I had anything to do with him, and Carrick said he looked nothing like me.”

I can’t help but wonder if this is a clumsy, roundabout way of implying that the “crack whore’s” “pimp” was not white.

Ana figures she has to change the subject “before he goes all Fifty on me,” which, you know, that doesn’t sound like an abusive relationship at all, trying to constantly monitor the situations you’re in so the abuser doesn’t react negatively or anything, but I guess I digress.

“Can you face going out for some fresh air? I want to show you something.”

No, she can’t. She’ll wilt, because she’s a porcelain Victorian lass whose vagina will fall out at the mere mention of physical exertion.

 He grins at me with his boyish, carefree, I’m-only-twenty-seven smile, and my heart lurches into my mouth.

Because she realized that in three years he’ll be the dreaded thirty and impossibly old. I love that Ana, who is younger than Christian, is thinking of his age in terms of “I’m only,” as if she’s much, much older than he is. Look, I’m not calling Ana a Mary Sue, but I’m calling Ana a wishful projection of E.L. James.

As we dress, I notice that we move with the synchronization of two people who know each other well, each watchful and acutely aware of each other, exchanging the occasional shy smile and sweet touch.

The synchronization of two people who have known each other for, what, is it three whole weeks now? I’ve lost count, because it seems like time moves in slow motion in this book and days are like, thirty-seven hours long so that there is plenty of time for hours of love making and daring escapes and charity balls. For example, in this day already they’ve had breakfast, Ana’s gotten forced birth control, they shared their feelings in the shower, made slow and tender off-screen love, now they’re going to go buy Ana a new car and then take Christian’s yacht out for a day of sailing. Then they’re going to go out to dinner, drive to Christian’s apartment, have a mini-fight, have a bigger fight, play pool, fuck on the pool table, take a bath together and then they’re in bed by TEN-THIRTY. And this apparently super long day? It takes place over three or four chapters.

Christian drags a large, cream, cable-knit sweater out of his bag and drapes it artfully around over his shoulders. With his white T-shirt and jeans, his artfully rumpled hair, and now this, he looks as if he’s stepped out of the pages of a high-end glossy magazine.

New drinking game rule: take a shot every time E.L. uses the word “artfully.”

As they got dressed, Christian and Ana traded quips about how his palms still twitch, and he could prove it, or whatever, so after the artful sweater draping paragraph, Ana thinks:

And I don’t know if it’s the momentary distraction of his perfect looks or the knowledge that he loves me, but his threat no longer fills me with dread. This is my Fifty Shades; this is the way he is.

In other words, “When he threatens to hit me, I’m not scared anymore, because I’m so used to his threats. Also, he’s hot, so that makes this all okay.”

My hair is a mess, my face flushed, my lips swollen – I touch them, remembering Christian’s searing kisses, and I can’t help a small smile as I stare. Yes, I do, he said.

But not “I love you.” Keep that in mind, reader.

We have to wait with Christian and Ana while the valet gets the car, because this was written by someone who is so attached to their own work that they can’t imagine we wouldn’t all be super fascinated by the minutia of the characters’ every day lives, like getting dressed, eating breakfast, and waiting for the fucking valet. The sick thing? People actually are fascinated by these shitty details that make this book way too long.

As we cruise through traffic, Christian is deep in thought. A young woman’s voice comes over the loudspeakers; it has a beautiful, rich, mellow timbre, and I lose myself in her sad, soulful voice.

The car has a loudspeaker?

Christian is taking Ana to get a new car, so he pulls into the Saab dealership.

“Not an Audi?” is, stupidly, the only thing I can think of to say, and bless him, he actually flushes.

Better give him a derogatory nickname then, Ana.

Christian is going to buy Ana a Saab 9-3, which tragically dates this book already, because Saab went bankrupt and the US inventory of new cars was seized by GM’s finance division back in May. Since this version was published in April, it’s not like they could have done anything about it, but still, it made my heart go, “Awww, poor Saab.”

By the way, when I checked the copyright page to figure out when the Vintage version came out, I noticed this little gem:

The author published an earlier serialized version of this story online with different characters as “Master of The Universe” under the pseudonym Snowqueen’s Icedragon.

 Back in March, Jane at Dear Author excerpted a bit of a Washington Post article in which Vintage books asserted:

“It is widely known that E.L James began to capture a following as a writer shortly after she posted her second fan fiction story,” Vintage said in a statement. “She subsequently took that story and re-wrote the work, with new characters and situations. That was the beginning of the ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy. The great majority of readers, including fan fiction aficionados, have found ‘Fifty Shades’ deeply immersive and incredibly satisfying.”

So, it’s a completely new and original work that was first published somewhere else! Thanks for the integrity, Vintage!

Anyway, back to the car search. Christian is going to get Ana a Saab 9-3 because there were no uglier cars available.

I resign myself to my fate. A Saab? Do I want a Saab?

Does it matter? He doesn’t let you order your own meals in restaurants, I highly doubt he’s going to let you pick what car you drive.

Troy Turniansky, the salesman, is all over Fifty like a cheap suit.

Why does the salesman have a last name? Or any name? Why do we even have to go car shopping with them? It’s not interesting at all, and I will skip a lot of it. The gist is, Christian asks Ana what color car she wants, then argues with her and overrides her choice, and when Ana points out the way he’s behaving, she instantly regrets it and tells him she’ll take the Audi instead. Then, they talk about getting the convertible model, which makes Ana horny in the pants and her inner goddess shows up again (drink!). While Christian gets the safety stats on the car from Troy Turniansky, the car salesman so important as to have a last name even though he’s in one goddamned scene, Ana thinks:

Naturally Christian wants me safe. It’s a religion with him, and like the zealot that he is, he listens intently to Troy’s well-honed patter. Fifty really does care.

Yes. I do. I remember his whispered, choked words from this morning, and a melting glow spreads like warm honey through my veins. This man – God’s gift to women – loves me.

On behalf of all women, I would like to return the gift.

I find myself grinning goofily at him, and when he glances down at me, he’s amused yet puzzled by my expression.

So, he’s amused and bemused at the same time? Come on, E.L., you missed such an opportunity there!

Christian produces his credit card, or is it Taylor’s? The thought is unnerving.

A lot of stuff unnerves Ana, I’m noticing. What does it matter if it’s Taylor’s card? Is she worried that Christian isn’t going to pay him back?

I wonder how Taylor is, and if he’s located Leila in the apartment. I rub my forehead. Yes, there’s all of Christian’s baggage, too.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what she means by “all of Christian’s baggage, too.” In addition to what? Leila is part of Christian’s baggage. I’m so confused.

Back in the car (not the Saab they just bought, Christian’s car), Ana asks who the singer on the “loudspeaker” is, and Christian informs her it’s Eva Cassidy, then explains that she died young. And then he’s all, “Are you hungry,” so no, the conversation wasn’t a metaphor or anything, it’s literally just needless chit-chat. I’m not kidding, look how quickly he shifts gears:

“She died young.”

“Oh.”

Are you hungry?”

Well, not now, I’m not. Geesh. Nothing wets the appetite like the untimely death of a criminally ignored young talent. Mmm, let’s get porkchops! Why the hell was that conversation included?

Ana is all “uh-oh” when Christian asks her if she’s hungry, because she’s apparently afraid to admit that she wants to eat. Or she’s afraid to admit that she’s hungry, but how is she supposed to control that? It’s not like they had a buffet at the car dealership.

It’s another beautiful day in Seattle; it’s been uncharacteristically fine for the last few weeks.

Okay, this is funny, because Seattle in June usually is pretty nice (or so I’ve been told), but this year, the year this book made its debut, Seattle had an unusually cold and rainy June. So, it’s hilarious on two levels:

  1. It wouldn’t be unusual to have some nice days in June in Seattle.
  2. It makes it look like this book has some dark power to fuck with the weather. 

I put on my robe and wizard hat.
They’re driving now, so you know what that means: it’s time for Ana to think really deep thoughts about Christian Grey:

I am less nervous of his moods, confident that he won’t punish me, and he seems more comfortable with me, too.

I think what she meant to say was, “I’ve learned to modify my own behavior in order to keep from being physically abused by an angry man, and he likes that I’m acting exactly according his every whim.” I’m sure that’s what she really meant. And as confident as she is of her ability to not get beaten up, she still considers him somewhat threatening, because in the next paragraph, after they pull up to a marina, this happens:

“We’ll eat here. I’ll open your door,” he says in such a way that I know it’s not wise to move, and I watch him move around the car. Will this ever get old?

It got old two-hundred and seven pages ago. And yet…

Ana and Christian “stroll” through the marina, where Ana shows off her fancy college degree:

“So many boats,” I murmur in wonder.

So, just in case you’ve ever been wondering if there are a lot of boats on Puget Sound, there are, indeed, a lot of boats on Puget Sound.

Christian takes Ana to a bar on the waterfront where the barman knows Christian by name, and Ana has some more of her weirdly placed white guilt:

“Welcome to SP’s Place.” Dante gives me a friendly smile. He’s black and beautiful, his dark eyes assessing me and not finding me wanting, it seems. One large diamond stud winks at me from his ear. I like him immediately.

Remember how when she met the black receptionist, she was like, “I could be friends with her,” but when she meets anyone white, she has a derogatory name for them, like “Mrs. European Pigtails” or “The Charlatan?” There’s a lot of weird racial stuff in these books, now that I’m thinking of it. Like Edward calling Jose “boy,” and the above mentioned use of “savage.” I can’t be the only one seeing this, right?

Hey, you guys? You’re going to need this monkey again in a second:

“What would you like to drink, Anastasia?”

I glance at Christian, who regards me expectantly. Oh, he’s going to let me choose.

“Please, call me Ana, and I’ll have whatever Christian’s drinking.”

That’s right. He lets her choose something, and she defers to him. She’s so proud at how trained she is, it actually makes my heart sad. Not because I like Ana, but because I know how very common this is.

Christian orders their food – which Ana is totally okay with – and their meals are served with a side of self-centeredness:

He recounts the history of Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc., and the more he reveals, the more I sense his passion for fixing problem companies, his hopes for the technology he’s developing, and his dreams of making land in the third world more productive. I listen, enraptured. He’s funny, clever, philanthropic, and beautiful, and he loves me.

Keep in mind that with the way Ana treats her friends, Christian could be Jesus and Buddha reincarnated simultaneously into the body of a 1950′s gay magazine pinup guy with the brain of Stephen Hawking, and it would mean squat if he wasn’t in love with her, because then it would have nothing to do with her. The only reason she’s so excited about how funny, clever, philanthropic, and beautiful he is, is because he fulfills a need for her.

Now, reread that paragraph excerpted above, and pay attention to the verbs used to indicate Christian’s sharing of information: recounts, reveals, hopes, dreams, either neutral or positive words. Now, when it’s Ana’s turn:

In turn he plagues me with questions about Ray and my mom, about growing up in the lush forests of Montesano, and my brief stints in Texas and Vegas. He demands to know my favorite books and films, and I’m surprised by how much we have in common.

Plagues. Demands. So, on Ana’s end, conversation about herself feels like a burden. I’m undecided if it’s because she finds herself genuinely less interesting than Christian, or if it’s just because she’s as deeply unpleasant as she has been throughout the series so far.

Oh, and for you Tess of The D’Urbervilles readers out there, here’s something you can go apeshit about in the comments (and please do):

As we talk, it strikes me that he’s turned from Hardy’s Alec to Angel, debasement to high ideal in such a short space of time.

He’s cured! Guess he doesn’t need to keep seeing the psychologist you don’t approve of despite not having any background in psychology, Ana. You’re just as smart as a doctor, and your magic hootchie cures all.

Now, I’m sure you’ve all guessed why Christian Grey drove out to the marina to have lunch with Ana. And you would be right. He has a boat, and he wants to take her sailing.

Holy cow. It must be at least forty, maybe fifty feet. Two sleek white hulls, a deck, a roomy cabin, and towering overhead an impressive mast. I know nothing about boats, but I can tell this one is special.

Drink every time Ana admits to not knowing about something, but makes a quality call, anyway.

He pulls me to the side so I can see her name: The Grace. I’m surprised. “You named her after your mom?”

“Yes.” He cocks his head to one side, quizzical. “Why do you find that strange?”

Because it’s not The S.S. Anastasia Rose Steele Magic Hootchie Express. Ana thinks that it’s weird because Christian doesn’t show much warmth when he’s around his mother, but she doesn’t say that. She just lets him ask her again why she thinks it’s weird, and then he’s all, she saved my life, the least I can do is name a boat after her, and Ana finally gets that, oh, hey. He loves his mom. And yet she doesn’t ask him why he’s not warm and friendly to the mother he loves and who saves his life, because if she did, she might get an answer. If she got an answer, we couldn’t have six or seven endless pages of her mulling over the mystery of Mr. Grey.

ALLITERATION! BOOM!

They go aboard and meet a man who I’m going to just imagine as Kurt Russel from Captain Ron, because that description is more interesting than the one in the book:

“Anastasia, this is Liam McConnell. Liam, my girlfriend, Anastasia Steele.”

Girlfriend! My inner goddess performs a quick arabesque. She’s still grinning over the convertible. I have to get used to this – it’s not the first time he’s said it, but hearing him say it is still a thrill. 

Yes, you do have to get used to it, Ana, because we don’t want to hear about that cupid stunt, your inner goddess, every time the word girlfriend comes up. Girlfriend! My inner goddess whips her sled dogs into a frenzy at the very mention of the word! I know we’ve been dating for four years, but I’ll never get tired of my mercurial, abusive Mr. Grey. Gag.

“How’s she shaping up, Mac?” Christian interjects quickly, and for a moment, I think he’s talking about me.

“She’s ready to rock and roll, sir,” Mac beams. Oh, the boat, The Grace. Silly me.

Yes, Ana, silly you. Not everything is about you.

Christian gives Ana a tour of the boat, and of course inside it’s all white and pale wood and blah blah blah just like the Escala, and then he shows her “oh…” the bedroom:

“This is the master cabin.” He gazes down at me, eyes glowing. “You’re the first girl in here, apart from family,” he says. “They don’t count.”

Because I can’t fuck them, they don’t count.

I flush under his heated stare, and my pulse quickens. Really? Another first.

Okay, so what happens when you’re not special anymore, Ana? When there aren’t any more firsts for you guys to do together?

“Might have to christen this bed,” he whispers against my mouth.

Oh, at sea!

No, in the fucking desert, where do you think, Ana? You’re on a fucking boat. No, in space, Ana. That’s where he means. I hope your inner goddess gets sea sick and pukes all over her dragon boat or whatever ludicrous metaphor you come up with.

“It’s a six-berth cat. I’ve only ever had the family on board, though. I like to sail alone. But not when you’re here. I need to keep an eye on you.”

Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. Of course he’s not going to sail alone if he’s brought another person along. It has nothing to do with keeping an eye on anybody, it’s just… I don’t know, science, or fact, or reality or something. If you bring another person, you’re not alone.

They have an absolutely maddening conversation as he puts a life jacket on her and they talk about straps and how he’s a pervert, but he’s her pervert, basically the same conversation they’ve had a bunch of times and the same conversation they will continue to have a bunch of times for the rest of the book. Then there is some bland innuendo about “rope tricks” regarding the rigging.

Mac comes scooting back down the side of the boat, grinning at me, and jumps down to the deck below where he starts to unfasten a rope. Maybe he knows some rope tricks, too. The idea pops unwelcome into my head and I flush.

And there you have more evidence that Ana is incredibly immature about sexuality. The only sexuality that is welcome is Christian’s sexuality, and hers, to a lesser extent. But once that pesky inner goddess starts casting her net a little wider, sex is once again icky and not good. Her subconscious even “glares” at her for reacting to another man, and Ana thinks about how it’s Christian’s fault. She’s not willing to own a single thing about her own sexuality, but remember, these books are somehow helping women own theirs? I don’t buy it. Those women who claim 50 Shades of Grey and the sequels have changes their lives are in exactly the same position, by the way. They’re not saying, “because of this book, I learned to accept and explore my own sexuality,” they’re saying, “because of this cultural phenomenon, I have permission to be horny.”

After they motor out of the marina:

“Sail time,” Christian says, excited. “Here – you take her. Keep her on this course.”

What? He grins, reacting to the horror on my face.

Ana is super nervous to drive the boat, which I don’t quite get, since she flew the glider with no problem. You’re way more likely to survive a boat crash than a glider crash. Ana steers the boat while Christian and Mac raise the sails:

Perhaps Mac is Fifty’s friend. He doesn’t seem to have many, as far as I can tell, but then, I don’t have many, either.

I wonder why that is, for both of you? You can tell that neither of them have any friends, because Ana seems to think it would be normal for Mac to call Christian “sir” if they were hang out buddies.

Well, not here in Seattle. The only friend I have is on vacation sunning herself in Saint James on the west coast of Barbados.

Yeah, for like, ever. At least, it seems like it. I wonder if Kate is going to show up in this book at all.

I feel a sudden pang for Kate. I miss my roommate more than I thought I would when she left. I hope she changes her mind and comes home with her brother, Ethan, rather than prolong her stay with Christian’s brother, Elliot..

Why? You won’t spend any time with her, anyway. And if you do, you’ll just complain about how terrible she is for being rich or wearing pajamas or being, horror, blonde.

Now, we reach a conundrum of POV. This book is written in first person, present tense. Not my favorite, let me tell you, to read or write, but sometimes a book doesn’t work any other way. If the story is a third person, past tense story, you can try all you want to make it work in a first person pov or a present tense, but it’s not going to work. I don’t know why that is, maybe it’s magic. Maybe it’s science. Maybe there is a reason for it in one of those craft books better writers take the time to study. But it is what it is. However, no matter what pov or tense you’re working with, you have to follow the rules, and one of the rules of first person, present tense is that you can only supply information your character has right now. Earlier on, Miss Anastasia Rose Steele says:

I know nothing about boats, 

so we, the readers, have to take her at her word. She knows nothing about boats.

If she knows nothing about boats, then how is she telling us this?:

Christian and Mac hoist the mainsail.

or:

They get to work on the headsail,

or:

He points with his chin toward Mac, who is unfurling the spinnaker -

It doesn’t make sense for her to know what any of this is, if she doesn’t know anything about boats. And if she doesn’t know it, she certainly can’t share it with us in first person, present tense, no matter how much rich detail it lends to the narrative.

Ana and Christian spend some time being lovey-dovey, and then Ana thinks:

Yes, you’re a lucky bitch, my subconscious snaps. But you have your work cut out with him. He’s not going to want this vanilla crap forever… you’re going to have to compromise. I glare mentally at her snarky, insolent face and rest my head against Christian’s chest. Deep down I know my subconscious is right, but I banish the thoughts. I don’t want to spoil my day.

I don’t want to spoil my day thinking about how eventually he’s going to need to either beat the shit out of me with a belt or dump me, fiddle dee dee, I’ll think about that tomorrow.

An hour later, we are anchored in a small, secluded cove off Bainbridge Island. Mac has gone ashore in the inflatable dinghy – for what, I don’t know – but I have my suspicions because as soon as Mac starts the outboard engine, Christian grabs my hand and practically drags me into his cabin, a man with a mission.

I find it highly suspect that Christian has never brought another girl here, but Mac just instinctively knows to get out so the boss can get down to fucking. Christian tells Ana to strip for him, then there is another scene of fresh-out-of-the-socks toe sucking (why?! why?!) and some deeply troubling inner thoughts on Ana’s sexuality:

I want to be sexy for this man. He deserves sexy – he makes me feel sexy.

Deserves? No one “deserves” for you to be anything, Ana. This is sick and sad.

I am wearing some of my new underwear – a white lacy thong and matching bra – a designer brand with a price tag to match. I step out of my jeans and stand there for him in the lingerie he’s paid for, but I no longer feel cheap. I feel his.

See, if you just have sex without it being true lurve, you’re a cheap, filthy whore. Thanks for confirming that and propping up yet another stereotype about women’s sexuality, E.L. You are truly a fucking sister.

Slowly, I slip my panties off, letting them fall to my ankles, and step out of them, surprised by my grace.

Bitch, you didn’t ribbon dance at the Olympics, you took off your panties. Get over yourself.

Standing before him, I am naked and unashamed, and I know it’s because he loves me. I no longer have to hide.

That’s right, ladies. If no one loves you, cover that shit up. No one wants to see it until you’ve done your duty as a woman and earned the love of a man, no matter how he treats you.

I step toward him, slip my fearless fingers inside the waistband of his jeans, and tug so he’s forced to take a step closer to me.

 For outstanding bravery in the field of undressing one’s boyfriend, awarded posthumously to Ms. Anastasia Rose Steele, killed in action.

“You’re getting so bold, Ana, so brave,” he whispers and clasps my face with both hands, bending to kiss me deeply.

See sarcastic Medal of Honor, above.

My intrepid fingers moves through his pubic hair to his erection, and I grasp him tightly.

Move over, Lewis and Clark. Take a hike, Sacajawea. Intrepid has a new meaning, and you better in be in awe of it.

There’s some kissing and other boring sex stuff, and then Ana gives what has to be the vaguest bj in all of recorded history:

I shift back, taking him in my hands, and I just can’t resist him in all his glory. I bend and kiss him, taking him in my mouth, swirling my tongue around him, then sucking hard. He groans and flexes his hips so that he’s deeper in my mouth.

Until I got to the flexing hips part, I had no idea she was sucking his cock.

And then they achieve simultaneous orgasm, and the chapter is over. Thank god.

I want to talk to you guys about Doctor Who and Downton Abbey.

Okay folks, just a heads up here: this post is going to be spoilers. Just a whole, tangly, Medusa’s head of spoilers biting and snarling and slithering over each other. So here is my spoiler warning:

  • If you haven’t watched the latest Doctor Who episode, “Asylum of The Daleks” and you don’t want spoilers, stop reading this post. 
  • If you haven’t watched the Christmas episode from season 2 of Downton Abbey and you don’t want spoilers, stop reading this post. 
With that in mind, allow me to provide a little spoiler space for you:
That otter has literally nothing to do with the post, I just thought it was cute as hell. OMG, have you seen the video of the otter talking?
Sorry for the digression. Joe is actually watching me type this post and he said, totally exasperated, “So, what does this have to do with the Doctor or Downton Abbey?”
Nothing at all.
First, I have a mixed bag of feels about “Asylum of The Daleks.” I feel like the quality of the writing is not up to par with some of the classic Doctor Who episodes. I was watching The Aztecs the other day (one of my favorite First Doctor adventures), and it occurred to me that in recent years, the show has been less about the Doctor travelling through all of space and time and having adventures, and more about making the audience sad. I “discovered” Doctor Who in 1996. It wasn’t until the Tenth Doctor wiped Donna Noble’s memory that I could say, “Hey, remember that episode of Doctor Who that made me cry so hard I burst blood vessels in my eyes?” It just doesn’t seem right, to someone who came to the fandom through the classic series (prompted by Paul McGann’s epic turn as Eight in the tv movie), that the show should be such a downer all the fucking time. We came into this season with me fervently wishing we could get away from the melodrama about relationships and into more adventure.
But holy shit, did it throw me for a loop when the new companion showed up in this episode! I had no fucking clue she was going to be in there, and I have a google alert for news stories about Doctor Who. How did they keep that a secret? How did none of that leak? That’s fucking epic, and I quite like her.
HOWEVER.
If the Doctor does not save her from becoming a Dalek, if it’s all this bullshit about “I ruin people’s lives/I can’t change the past/Woe is me Time Lord,” I am going to roast the surface of this planet in my utterly incandescent fury. This is something they have to change. They have to undo that end to her story line, or I will never recover. Enough of Stephen Moffat writing Angst, Hurt/Comfort Doctor Who fanfic and foisting it upon us.
Feel free to discuss, in the comments. Tell me what you thought of “Asylum of The Daleks.”
Okay, onto Downton Abbey. I had a nightmare about Downton Abbey last night. Keep in mind that when I say “nightmare,” it’s like, a fangurl nightmare, not a dream that would be actually frightening or troubling to anyone who wasn’t a total freak about fictional happenings.
So, as you know (or don’t, but you DNGAF about spoilers), Mary and Matthew FINALLY GOT ENGAGED at the end of the Christmas episode. I was so relieved. I have been rooting for them to get together for the whole series (as the writers intended). When he proposed, I cried. I didn’t cry when Joe proposed to me, but I cried when Matthew proposed to Mary. Holy cow, did I cry, and squeal, and weep tears of genuine relief.
Last night, I dreamed that I was at Downton Abbey for a wedding. A huge, amazing wedding. Of course, I knew exactly who was getting married. Matthew and Mary! I was at their wedding, omg omg, how exciting, to be a part of all of it!
Until the bride showed up and she was not Mary. I started having a full-fledged panic attack, chest pains, sweating, crying, begging Matthew not to marry this woman that wasn’t Mary. That’s right. I pulled an “I object!” on behalf of someone else. And it was super embarrassing, interrupted the wedding, caused a huge scene, and I woke up the way people wake up from nightmares in movies.
It was super duper pathetic. I’m fully aware of that, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you all. As a kind of penance, I suppose.
Enjoy your holiday weekend, American readers, and a new recap will be posted on Tuesday.