This review is for the third book in a series, and might be considered spoilerish - consider yourself warned.

Yes it was painful, but I managed to get through all three of these books relatively unscathed. I did need to bleach my brain out afterwards, but I believe I’ve recovered and can now return to good books. I could have used a break period between books, but the last two turned up at the library at the same time, and with such a long wait list (why?), I felt it best to dig in and get it over with and pass them along. Now to the review, which I’m finding difficult because this book is less like a *story* and more like a series of vignettes that don’t add to the plot (such as it is), or to the character development. Think of it as watching clips from Pretty Woman your favorite movies on YouTube, bits and pieces that don’t quite make up the whole.

At the start, we find Ana and Christian on their honeymoon in the south of France, with some flashbacks to the wedding and events leading up to it. Ana ticks Christian off by removing her top at a nude beach, and despite the fact that she accepts his reasons for not doing so (paparazzi, ya know), he takes her back to their private yacht, handcuffs her hand-ankle, blindfolds her and marks her chest with a bunch of hickies so she won’t be sunbathing again (that is a loving husband?). Ana shows a bit of backbone, but a few smirks and cocked heads from Christian bring her right back into the fold.

Why do I feel like I’ve entered the principal’s office? This man had me in handcuffs yesterday. I refuse to be intimidated by him, he’s my husband, damn it.

There are wasted pages of  being cool and filthy rich until the *cough* action finally returns to Seattle. Then we get some conflict between controlling Christian having issues with Ana returning to work. There’s also some crazy person who is stalking the Greys. I won’t spoil, but it’s pretty damned easy to guess who the nutter is. This of course leads to a high-speed car chase, which leads our intrepid pair to a public parking garage. Can you guess what happens?

Shit! We really are going to do this, in a public parking lot.

I actually have a better quote, but it contains multiple “F” bombs, and my recently bleached brain is trying to avoid them.

Despite Christian’s confession in book two that he’s like an alcoholic trying to get sober, dumb stupid Ana can’t resist her curiosity about the toys in the red room of pain. I will spare you the details, but I suspect you’ll learn way more about butt plugs than you ever wanted to know.

Toys! Oh, I love, love, love this anticipation. The drawer closes and my breathing spikes. How can the sound of a drawer render me a quivering mess? It makes no sense.

No, it doesn’t make any sense. Stop enabling the man.

Who cleans these toys?” I ask as I follow him over to the chest. He frowns at me, as if not understanding the question. “Me. Mrs. Jones.” “What?” He nods, amused and embarrassed, I think.

TMI

The next little *play* takes our pair to Aspen, with BFF Kate and her brother, as well as Christian’s brother and sister. They shop and drink and dance and stuff. Not sure why this little bit was included at all, except to club the reader over the head remind us how filthy rich Christian is, and how hot all the men think Ana is.

OK, back to Seattle via their private jet landing at SeaTac. Ms. James: no one lands their private jets at SeaTac, why would you when Boeing Field is so damned convenient? Even the president, who can use any airspace he damn well pleases lands at BFI. Every. Single. Time. he comes to Seattle. There’s more stuff with the big mean baddie who is stalking the Greys, kerfuffles over his former subs, Christian getting mad, Ana cowering because she’s afraid he won’t want her if she doesn’t like the kinky side of sex, kerfuffles over an accidental pregnancy (for once she shows some spirit), and lastly the silliest hostage situation ever. Seriously, you can stick a gun into the back of your pants and walk into a downtown bank? There is parking to be had in the back of the building? I told my coworkers about this development and they’re laughing their arses off.

Honestly, I still don’t get why these are selling like hotcakes and being promoted heavily by the media outlets as the greatest books ever. This is not romance, this is sex with a heavy emphasis on the “F” word. I understand Christian was abused as a child, but that still does not count for him abusing others, and while he does show a tender side towards Ana, it doesn’t make up for the abuse he dishes out (and I do mean abuse). Ana doesn’t get any points for 1) being so terrified she’ll lose Christian if she doesn’t play along and 2) being the one to encourage him to continue, and that includes spanking.

I know, I know – what goes on between two consenting adults and all, but there’s a whole lot more baggage with this pair, and the conflicting messages just don’t work to carry off such a feeble storyline. In the end, all you’re going to have is a sexed up Bella and Edward, a very predictable baddie, and probably one of the worst epilogues ever. Worse yet, there’s a peek at the back of the edition I had that begins the story all over again from Christian’s POV. Please, tell me they’re not going to publish these all over again.