After a brain-meltingly drunk week on Bourbon street, you would think I would be coming into this recap refreshed and renewed for the task ahead of me. Instead, I’m bone weary and looking at the page count of this thing in despair.
I know this is the spot where the links go, but since I’ve received such a slew of them over the week and I’ve had no time to investigate them all, you’ll have to forgive me for putting them off until the next recap. The good news is, the funny stuff will still be funny, and the news stuff will still probably be infuriating, if not timely.
One thing I would like to share with you, by the by, is that this week wasn’t just total debauchery. I was actually working. I do that, sometimes, but don’t let that get around. I have a reputation to maintain. Anyway, I’ve been at the Authors After Dark conference, a reader-oriented event for fans of the romance genre. On one of the days, I was on an erotic romance panel. And because I should never talk about anything, anywhere, in public, I said the following things:
- About reading other erotic romance after reading 50 Shades: “It’s the only drug where your second hit will be more powerful than your first.”
- About the term “mommy porn”: “Can we just fucking stop calling it mommy porn? Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I stop having any sexual desire or curiosity.”
- About “down there”: “It’s not a fucking down there. I don’t have a down there. I have a pussy. I have a cunt.”
And, one last, really, really important thing: I have written an essay for a book titled 50 Writers on 50 Shades of Grey, which, you know. Does what it says on the tin, basically. Agent and publisher Lori Perkins rounded up fifty different opinions on the series and put us all in one book, which will be released by Smart Pop books in November. The good news for you is, it’s available for pre-order right now.
Boy, I want him inside me now.
Willikers! They have sex, it’s exactly like every sex scene they’ve had so far, with one caveat:
He groans loudly, closing his eyes again, tipping his head back. Seeing Christian undone is enough to seal my fate, and I come audibly, exhaustingly, spinning down and around, collapsing on top of him.
Wait, she had an orgasm without him verbally commanding her to do so? I’m actually excited about this. It’s like a lunar eclipse, it doesn’t happen very often in these books.
Afterward, Christian has some condescending things to say about Ana’s other potential suitors:
“All those boys pursuing you – that isn’t enough of a clue?”
“Boys? What boys?”
“You want the list?” Christian frowns. “The photographer, he’s crazy about you, that boy in the hardware store, your roommate’s older brother. Your boss,” he adds bitterly.
“Oh, Christian, that’s just not true.”
“Trust me, they want you. They want what’s mine.”
Okay, a couple things here. First of all, gross. Second, Ana, you know that Jose has a thing for you. You expressly told us that in the first chapters of the first book. You friendzoned him, that doesn’t mean he stops having a crush on you. Plus, Miss Won’t Take A Hint, besides him professing his love for you while he drunkenly groped you outside of the bar in the first book, he also made you the focus of his very first gallery exhibition. I think you can drop the “aw, shucks, no one would be interested in me,” routine when literally everything with a penis in this book wants to climb on you despite the fact that you have the most horrible personality ever recorded in fiction.
Also, I hate the way Christian, who is all of twenty-fucking-six years old calls men who are his age or just a few years younger, “boys.” In fact, he included Jack Hyde in that category… if it hasn’t been stated outright, it is somewhat implied that Jack Hyde is older than both Ana and Christian. So what is up with this “boy” thing? It’s juvenile and pretentious, so I guess it shouldn’t really surprise me that he’s doing it.
Finally, does it seem weird to anyone else (and I know that it does, otherwise you wouldn’t be here reading this) that Christian isn’t like, “They want you because you’re a great person,” but instead, “They want you because you’re mine,” as if that’s the lure of Ana? Just belonging to Christian somehow makes her something for other men to covet? That doesn’t make sense, because these men all liked her before Christian was a blip on their radar.
Since he still has the lipstick marks on his body, Ana wants to touch him, but first, he has to throw the used condom on the floor. Because he is a gentleman.
“I hate those things. I’ve a mind to call Dr. Greene around to give you a shot.”
I probably don’t have to tell you what’s wrong with a man saying he’s going to have a woman injected with hormonal birth control without asking her opinion on the idea first. But a lot. A lot is wrong with that. Ana, however, is just skeptical that a doctor as highly respected as Dr. Greene will come-a-runnin’, so the short discussion ends up focused on how much power Christian Grey has in Seattle.
Christian is still very uncomfortable being touched, but to his credit he is game to try. This isn’t enough for Ana, though, who immediately brings up Mrs. Robinson. When Christian says he doesn’t want to talk about his past, this is what he tells Ana:
“No, you can’t, Ana. You see red Whenever I mention her. My past is my past. It’s a fact. I can’t change it. I’m lucky that you don’t have one, because it would drive me crazy if you did.”
So, basically, “It’s okay for me to have a past and you just have to deal with it, but if you had a past, I would be even more unbearably possessive than I am now.”
I actually just finished reading a great paranormal romance novel by Shanna Abe, The Smoke Thief. Near the end of the book, the hero tells the heroine that he knows she has a past, and he has a past, too, but he’s not going to hold her past against her and expects the same courtesy from her, so that they can forge ahead in a loving relationship. I almost jumped up and threw my fist in the air in like, a frozen movie moment, I was so excited to read that. It’s a fantastic book and I absolutely recommend it.
Since Christian has no refractory period, Ana just touching his stomach gets him hard and ready again, and there is a section break as they start to have sex again.
Now, onto a word-use nit-pick! Huzzah!
I stand beneath the shower, absentmindedly washing myself, careful not to wet my tied-back hair, contemplating the last couple of hours.
How do you do something both absentmindedly and carefully? Answer? You don’t. Those things are near opposites. “Careful” implies some degree of concentration, while “absentmindedly” implies a lack of thought. Words are hard, guys.
Ana thinks about how much Christian has revealed to her in the past day:
It’s staggering, trying to assimilate all the information and to reflect on what I’ve learned: his salary details – whoa, he’s stinking rich, and for someone so young, it’s just extraordinary-
I would have said “totally unbelievable,” but whatevs.
and the dossiers he has on me and on all his brunette submissives. I wonder if they are all in that filing cabinet.
My subconscious purses her lips at me and shakes her head – don’t even go there. I frown. Just a quick peek?
The grown-up, not frosted side of me says that she should respect his privacy if she expects him to respect hers, but the frosted kid in me says to crack that shit open, because we all know he’s not going to really respect her privacy.
And there’s Leila – with a gun, potentially, somewhere – and her crap taste in music still on his iPod.
Yeah, but you listened to it, didn’t you, Ana? You scrolled past all the Thomas Tallis to get that Beyonce, so let’s not go pointing proud, proud fingers here.
But even worse, Mrs. Pedo Robinson; I cannot wrap my head around her, and I don’t want to. I don’t want her to be a shimmering-haired specter in our relationship.
But who wouldn’t go off the deep end? What normal, sane person would do that to a fifteen-year-old boy? How much has she contributed to his fucked-upness? I don’t understand her. And worse still, she says she helped him. How?
How indeed, Ana? Oh, I’m sorry, I was addressing a different question, which was, “how can this incredibly good point be made and maintained in a book that gets everything else so completely wrong?” But still, and here is the SHOCKING part, I really like that this is in here. At this point, I was so afraid that the author would normalize statutory rape with dumb justifications, that I was really, really pleased with this paragraph.
He’s said such loving things to me today.
Like what, Ana? What has he said that has been loving? Was it the part where he said men want you because you belong to him? Or the part where he was going to force birth control on you without asking you if you wanted it, because he doesn’t like condoms? Was it when he got angry with you for complimenting his mother and snapped at you about picking out a dress to wear tonight? Help me out, Ana, because I don’t remember a lot of “loving things” Christian has said or done in this or the last chapter.
Perhaps we can make this work. But how long will he want to do this without wanting to beat the crap out of me because I cross some arbitrary line?
Ana goes into her room and looks at the clothes that Christian had bought her before their breakup, and of course they’re all expensive and this makes Ana uncomfortable. Christian comes in to watch Ana get dressed, and they have one of their “cute” conversations about how much they want to fuck, but they can’t because they have to go somewhere. They actually have to go to his parents’ house for a charity dinner (if you’ve forgotten), so of course, that’s the appropriate time for her to wear the Ben Wa balls. No, seriously. He wants her to go to dinner with his parents like that. What is it with him and his parents and wanting to do sexual stuff to his girlfriend in close proximity to them? That’s a really, really specific fetish.
He puts the balls in and then gives her a pair of “second-chance” diamond earrings from Cartier (yes, as in, “you gave me a second chance, allow me to buy you some fancy shit since I can’t express emotion any other way), and then Ana admires herself in her fancy new dress.
My hair falls in soft waves around my face, spilling over my shoulders to my breasts. I tuck one side behind my ear, revealing my second-chance earrings. I have kept my makeup to a minimum, a natural look. Eyeliner, mascara, a little pink blush, and pale pink lipstick.
I don’t really need the blush. I am a little flushed from the constant movement of the silver balls.
“Security team?” I ask.
“Close protection. They’re under Taylor’s control. He’s trained in that, too.” Christian hands me a champagne flute.
Taylor is trained in controlling people, too? Did he and Christian go to the same school for that? And I’m about to start a drinking game where you just drink every time the characters drink, but again, everyone would die.
“Here, you’re going to need this.” He hands me a large velvet pouch that was resting on the kitchen island. “Open it,” he says between sips of champagne. Intrigued, I reach into the bag and pull out an intricate silver masquerade mask with cobalt blue feathers in a plume crowning the top.
I love it when the cover is described in the book. This is my favorite.
“It’s a masked ball,” he states matter-of-factly.
No, it’s just a mask, Christian. Oh. Oh, no, I see, I get it. The thing that you’re going to… never mind.
“Are you wearing one?”
Wait, can’t you tell, Ana? You’re standing right next – Oh. Right, I got it, is he wearing one to the… never mind.
“Come. I want to show you something.” Holding out his hand, he leads me out into the hallway and to a door beside the stairs. He opens it, revealing a large room roughly the same size as his playroom, which must be directly above us. This one is filled with books. Wow, a library, every wall crammed floor to ceiling. In the center is a full-sized billiard table illuminated by a long, triangular-prism-shaped Tiffany lamp.
“You have a library!” I squeak in awe, overwhelmed with excitement.
Yes, Belle, he has a library. You’re excited now, but wait until later when you realize he didn’t go out and buy you those first editions of Tess of The D’Urbervilles, he just pulled them off the shelf. Then you won’t be as impressed.
“Yes, the balls room, as Elliot calls it. The apartment is quite spacious. I realized today, when you mentioned exploring, that I’ve never given you a tour. We don’t have time now, but I thought I’d show you this room, maybe challenge you to a game of billiards in the not-too-distant future.”
Sorry, chap, I have plans for the “not-too-distant future” and they involve being trapped on a Satellite of Love with robot friends I made all by myself, even though I’m just a janitor. Holy shit, I just realized that MST3K is the sequel to Good Will Hunting.
Seriously, though, Christian “forgot” to give Ana a tour because E.L. James was in the middle of writing Masters of The Universe when Disney’s Beauty and The Beast released on DVD and she was all, “Damnit! Why didn’t I think to give him a sexy, sexy library?!” I would bet money on that.
“Bring it on.” I secretly hug myself with glee. Jose and I bonded over pool.
You should mention that to Chedward. I bet he won’t be jealous at all.
Next scene, they’re in the back of the Audi, headed to the party:
I am beginning to feel a dull, pleasurable ache deep in my belly, caused by the balls. I wonder how long I will be able to manage without some, um… relief? I cross my legs. As I do, something that’s been gnawing at me in the back of my mind suddenly surfaces.
“Where did you get the lipstick?” I ask Christian quietly.
Okay, why is this gnawing at Ana? You and I both know, reader (and specifically YOU, not the other people reading this blog, I’m talking to YOU personally), that Ana is wondering if it’s Mrs. Robinson’s lipstick. But why would it have to be? The guy is rich, and he’s had some girlfriends. Either he bought it at CVS (they don’t make you declare your gender before you buy stuff), or one of his girlfriends could have left it behind. I honestly don’t see why this would be “gnawing” at her, except for the part where she’s ridiculously insecure. But then, the most wonderful thing happens:
He smirks at me and points toward the front. “Taylor,” he mouths.
MOST. INTERESTING. I’m so invested in Taylor at this point, that I’m now dying to know where he got the lipstick. Because I know he didn’t just pick it up at CVS. He’s got that lipstick because he’s a stone cold ladies man. Why can’t this book be about Taylor?
When I open my eyes again, Christian is regarding me closely, a dark prince. It must be the dinner jacket and bow tie, but he looks older, sophisticated, a devastatingly handsome roue with licentious intent. He simply takes my breath away. I’m in his sexual thrall, and if I’m to believe him, he’s in mine.
Oh my god, Christian Grey is Dracula. It’s all so clear now!
Also, reading the description, especially the bit about the bow tie, I thought, “This is exactly what the 11th Doctor thinks he looks like.”
Long, pale pink paper lanters hang over the drive, and as we inch closer in the Audi, I can see they are everywhere. In the early evening light they look magical, as if we’re entering an enchanted kingdom. I glance at Christian. How suitable for my prince – and my childish excitement blooms, eclipsing all other feelings.
And that, right there, is the crux of Ana’s problem. She lets childish excitement and romantic expectations formed from fairytales and gothic novels eclipse the very real warning signs she’s acknowledged, then chosen to conveniently ignore, throughout the entire first book.
Before they get out of the car, they put on their masks, and we get some really weird emphasis:
All I can see of his face is his beautiful mouth and strong jaw.
Now, since I’ve been quoting, I’ve been converting all the text into italics, using plain text to represent italics, because I am, apparently, the editor of People magazine. Anyway, the “jaw” at the end of the sentence is in italics in the book, for some reason. I don’t know why. It’s totally bizarre, and probably the most puzzling thing in all three books.
Coming into the party, there are photographers, and they call out to Christian:
Christian nods in acknowledgement and pulls me close as we pose quickly for a photo. How do they know it’s him?
He’s famous. That’s how they know who it is.
Oh, my picture in the press again. Leila briefly enters my mind. This is how she found me, posing with Christian. The thought is unsettling, though it’s comforting that I am unrecognizable beneath my mask.
Um, Ana, I hate to ruin your moment of calm here, but Leila already knows you’re dating Christian. It doesn’t matter if your picture is in the paper, she already knows who you are and where you work.
Christian gives Ana another glass of champagne, and then it’s time for the needlessly detailed description!
We approach a large white pergola hung with smaller versions of the paper lanterns. Beneath it shines a black-and-white checkered dance floor surrounded by a low fence with entrances on three sides. Standing at each entrance are two elaborate ice sculptures of swans. The fourth side of the pergola is occupied by a stage where a string quartet is playing softly, a haunting, ethereal piece I don’t recognize. The stage looks set for a big band but as there’s no sign of the musicians, I figure this must be for later.
I complained about the description in these books to a friend recently, and she defended it by saying, “Well, it is fanfic, and there was a lot of needless description in Twilight.” That doesn’t make it okay. Seriously, in no universe am I ever going to need to know the number of exits from the dance floor, or that there isn’t a big band now, but there might be later. Just move the damn story along!
A young woman appears out of the throng and throws her arms around his neck, and immediately I know she’s Mia.
Because you’ve met her before. If I see my friend Jill on the street, I don’t think to myself, “A woman in a Beatles t-shirt and red converse sneakers, and immediately I know she’s Jill,” I think to myself, “I see Jill.”
Mia is super excited to see Ana, and wants to take her to meet her friends, because none of them can believe Christian has a girlfriend. The implication is that no one can believe a notorious playboy can commit, but I’m going to assume they can’t believe he has a girlfriend because he’s so fucking difficult, no one wants to date him.
I shoot a quick, panicked glance at Christian, who shrugs in a resigned, I-know-she’s-impossible-I-had-to-live-with-her-for-years way, and let Mia lead me over to a group of four young women, all expensively attired and impeccably groomed.
Yeah, the nerve of that bitch, wanting to introduce you to people at a party! How inappropriate.
Mia makes hasty introductions. Three of them are sweet and kind, but Lily, I think her name is, regards me sourly from beneath her red mask.
“Of course, we all thought Christian was gay,” she says snidely, concealing her rancor with a large, fake smile.
“Lily, behave yourself. It’s obvious he has excellent taste in women. He was just waiting for the right one to come along, and it wasn’t you!”
Thanks, Mia, for defending your brother from such horrific allegations of gayness. This book doesn’t reek of homophobia now AT ALL.
Lily blushes the same color as her mask, as do I. Could this be any more uncomfortable?
As if summoned by those very words, who appears but Christian “The Dark Prince” Grey himself, to drag Ana away from Mia’s friends and introduce her to his. Ana is getting tipsy, and then dinner is served. They go to the big tent where the dinner is being held, and Ana gets to meet more of Christian’s family:
“Mother,” Christian greets her stiffly and kisses her on both cheeks.
“Oh, Christian, so formal!” she scolds him teasingly.
Have they not met?
Christian’s grandparents also show up, and Ana thinks they seem “exuberant and youthful,” but she can’t tell because of their masks. Here’s a hint to their age, Ana: they have a twenty-seven year old grandson. Trust me, they’re probably old.
“Grandmother, Grandfather, may I introduce Anastasia Steele?”
Mrs. Trevelyan is all over me like a rash. “Oh, he’s finally found someone, how wonderful, and so pretty! Well, I do hope you make an honest man of him,” she gushes, shaking my hand.
All over her like a rash? How fucking charming. Tell me again why everyone is so taken with the beautiful, kind, Ana? She’s saying this about someone’s grandmother.
Mia has brought a date, so Christian has to try and intimidate him:
Christian shakes Sean’s hand as he regards him shrewdly. Don’t tell me that poor Mia suffers from her overbearing brother, too.
No, he only has a pathological need for total control in one area of his life.
Christian’s father opens the party with a short welcome speech, then joins them at their table:
Carrick joins us, kissing me on both cheeks, surprising me.
And then Christian punches him out. No, totally kidding, that doesn’t happen. But in my mind, it did.
The MC gives each table some instructions for a game they’re playing:
“In the center of the table you will find an envelope,” the MC continues. “Would everyone find, beg, borrow, or steal a bill of the highest denomination you can manage, write your name on it, and place it inside the envelope? Table heads, please guard these envelopes carefully. We will need them later.”
Oh, and they will be full of money. That’s a good reason to guard them carefully, too.
Then, there’s some more needless description, this time of Christian’s fountain pen:
I sign my name using his fountain pen – it’s black, with a white flower motif on the cap – and Mia passes the envelope around.
I bet you have been dying since page one of the first book, thinking, “If only I knew what Christian Grey’s fountain pen looks like. I can’t fully immerse myself in the details of this erotic fantasy until I know this.” Breathe easy now, friend. Your moment has arrived.
There’s a menu on the table, and there’s a different wine served with each course, so Ana should really be in her element here. Then the waiters come to serve the first course:
“Hungry?” Christian murmurs so only I can hear. I know he’s not referring to the food, and the muscles deep in my belly respond.
“Very,” I whisper, boldly meeting his gaze, and Christian’s lips respond.
Do you get it? She’s hungry, but not for food. What she’s saying is, she wants to have sex, but she’s saying it in such a way that suggests she’s talking about dinner. I’m not sure if you get it, and I want to make it very clear for you, because it’s a subtle motif that has been woven throughout the book and I feel like if you’re not fully grasping the double meaning of “hungry” every single time it is used in this context, you’re really missing out on something special.
Ana wishes Kate were at the party, but I’m really glad she’s not, because listening to Ana bitch about yet another female would be just too much for me to take in this chapter. And besides, she’s too busy bitching about Christian’s grandmother, aka The Rash:
Christian’s grandmother is the most vocal. She, too, has a biting sense of humor, usually at the expense of her husband. I begin to feel a little sorry for Mr. Trevelyan.
If a woman in this novel is not Ana, then they are bitches. It’s how this works.
There is some boring stuff about Christian’s business and this wind-up cell phone they’re developing, and people stop by the table to meet him.
He introduces me to some but not other. I’m intrigued to know how and why he makes the distinction.
My money is on jealous insecurity.
Dessert rolls around, and Ana is done with the Ben Wa balls, she has to go take them out.
Before I can excuse myself, the master of ceremonies appears at our table, and with him – if I’m not mistaken – is Miss European Pigtails.
What’s her name? Hansel, Gretel… Gretchen.
She’s masked, of course, but I know it’s her when her gaze doesn’t move beyond Christian. She blushes, and selfishly I’m beyond pleased that Christian doesn’t acknowledge her at all.
Why is she there? As far as I can tell, she’s there because there aren’t enough females for Ana to dislike at this party.
When Ana gets up to go to the bathroom, she’s kind of hoping Christian will go with her so they can fuck at his parent’s house again. Apparently, they both get off on the idea of doing it around his parents, so this is a match made in heaven. But Mia offers to take Ana to the bathroom instead, and Christian sulks, so it’s not going to be totally obvious to everyone what the plan was. Good thinking, Chedward. When she comes back, he’s in a better mood:
Phew… he’s no longer mad at a missed opportunity, though maybe I am.
Why would he be mad? Oh, that’s right, because he’s a child who demands what he wants, when he wants it, and if he doesn’t get it he throws a fit at the nearest available person he can blame. I really need to take better notes here.
There is a list of items up for auction, rich people stuff like oil paintings and landscaping design and driving an Aston-Martin DB7 (because at least SOMEONE in this book drives a rich people car, damn!), and a weekend stay at a property in Colorado that is donated by one Mr. C. Grey. Ana had no idea that Christian owned property in Aspen, and he’s annoyed when she mentions it, so I guess that’s where his super secret vampire lair is located? I’m not sure. She asks him if he owns any property anywhere else:
“I’ll tell you later,” Christian says quietly. “I wanted to come with you,” he adds rather sulkily.
Well, you didn’t. I pout and I realize that I’m still querulous, and no doubt, it’s the frustrating effect of the balls. My mood darkens after seeing Mrs. Robinson on the list of generous donors.
I wonder why they don’t get invited to more parties, these wacky, fun loving kids. They’re openly pouting because they didn’t get to fuck in the bathroom. I want them at every wedding, funeral, retirement function, etc.
I glance around the tent to see if I can spot her, but I can’t see her telltale hair. Surely Christian would have warned me if she was invited tonight.
Surely, he would have. Just like he warned you that he was taking you to her salon, where he took all of his exes, and like he was going to warn you about how Leila wants to murder you. Because if there is one thing Christian Grey is, by god, it’s forthcoming.
Christian’s weekend away in Aspen is on the block, and the bidding has climbed to $20k. Since she’s in such a good mood, Ana bids $24k, which, if you recall, is the amount of money Christian just deposited in her bank account without her permission. The chapter ends with Ana winning the weekend, and we can all look forward to the endless argument this will cause in Chapter 7.