Dec 232012
 

More pillow talk in the playroom. (Ana seems to have recovered quickly.) Christian still seems to expect Ana to obey him and not defy him, even though Ana’s moments of independence are rather childish and largely symbolic. E.g. going out for drinks with Kate.

“But I need to know . . . why did you safe word, Ana?”
I blanch. What can I tell him? That he frightened me. That I didn’t know if he’d stop. That I begged him—and he didn’t stop. That I didn’t want things to escalate . . . like—like that one time in here. I shudder as I recall him whipping me with his belt.
I swallow. “Because . . . because you were so angry and distant and . . . cold. I didn’t know how far you’d go.”
His expression is unreadable.
“Were you going to let me come?” My voice is barely a whisper, and I feel a blush steal over my cheeks, but I hold his gaze.
“No,” he says eventually.
Holy crap. “That’s . . . harsh.”
His knuckle gently grazes my cheek. “But effective,” he murmurs. He gazes down at me as if he’s trying to see into my soul, his eyes darkening. After an eternity, he murmurs, “I’m glad you did.”

Unless he was going to lock her in a chastity belt afterwards, was Christian really going to keep her from masturbating and finishing herself off? (Granted, Ana apparently didn’t masturbate before meeting Christian and doesn’t now.) Orgasm denial is a tease, not real punishment. However, Ana feeling that the situation was out of control, that she didn’t know what Christian was going to do, that she didn’t trust him above all, was more than enough reason to safeword.

“Really?” I don’t understand.
His lips twist in a sad smile. “Yes. I don’t want to hurt you. I got carried away.” He reaches down and kisses me. “Lost in the moment.” He kisses me again. “Happens a lot with you.”
Oh? And for some bizarre reason the thought pleases me . . . I grin. Why does that make me happy? He grins, too.

No, no, no. Christian shouldn’t get lost in the moment. As a dominant, it is his responsibility to stay in control and think about Ana’s experience.

“It means I can trust you . . . to stop me. I never want to hurt you,” he murmurs.

Again, no. Just because Ana can and will safeword does not lift the burden of responsibility from Christian. A safeword is the emergency brake, not the steering wheel (to go back to the car metaphor I used in discussing book 1).

“I need control, Ana. Like I need you. It’s the only way I can function. I can’t let go of it. I can’t. I’ve tried . . . And yet, with you . . .” He shakes his head in exasperation.
I swallow. This is the heart of our dilemma—his need for control and his need for me. I refuse to believe these are mutually exclusive.

The thing is, they might well be. The marriage plot requires obstacles to be surmounted, but it assumes that those obstacles can be surmounted to get to the happily-ever-after payoff. One possible way this situation would play out is that Ana just decides that she can’t tolerate Christian’s controlling/abusive ways, and she can’t sacrifice her own life to fixing him, so she leaves him (probably netting a juicy divorce settlement). Realistically, the story should have ended with the ending of book 1. But that wouldn’t be a romance story anymore.

You can have a good story without the marriage plot. Annie Hall ends with Alvy and Annie separated, but Alvy redeems himself from his, at times, dickishness by wishing her the best. Broadcast News end with the female lead not choosing either the type A or the type B guy, but foccussing on her career. But those aren’t happily ever after romances. Those aren’t the stories people chew through like candy.

Still, Ana ends up apologizing to Christian, saying he’ll be more considerate.

After sleeping, Christian has one of those night terrors, and on waking immediately starts having sex with Ana. (Sheesh, everything makes this guy horny.) Ana, still frustrated from last night, gets into it.

I want him. I want him now. I want to heal him. I want to heal me . . . I need this.

Good luck with fucking him into mental health, Ana.

More vanilla sex.

Ana reflects on the situation in her artless way.

Boy, what an evening. I feel like I’ve been run over by a train—the freight train that is my husband. Hard to believe that the man lying beside me, looking so serene and young in his sleep, was so tortured last night . . . and so tortured me last night. I gaze up at the ceiling, and it occurs to me that I always think of Christian as strong and dominating—yet the reality is he’s so fragile, my lost boy. And the irony is that he looks upon me as fragile—and I don’t think I am. Compared to him I’m  strong.
But am I strong enough for both of us? Strong enough to do what I’m told and give him some peace of mind? I sigh. He’s not asking that much of me. I flit through our conversation of last night. Did we decide anything other than to both try harder? The bottom line is that I love this man, and I need to chart a course for both of us. One that lets me keep my integrity and independence but still be more for him. I am his more,  and he is mine. I resolve to make a special effort this weekend not to give him cause for concern.

It still sounds like Ana really expects to sacrifice her life for Christian’s sake, as both her all-powerful father and her endlessly needy child. That isn’t going to leave much of her left over.

Christian wants to go on vacation in Aspen. Scratch that, Christian doesn’t “want” to do things, he just does them. Once again, anything to avoid dealing with the actual problem. Better yet, bring Kate, Elliot, Mia and Ethan along on the company jet. (Of course, all of them can drop what they’re doing and go on vacation at a moment’s notice. This is the Christian Grey zone!)

This is those passages when I really want to take a red pencil to this book, because it is full of trivial details like Ana trying to remember the name of the flight attendant, who is another brazen hussy throwing herself at Christian. EL James really needs to learn how to narrate over the unnecessary parts. You could just cut a lot of pages from this entire series and replace them with scene breaks, and it would at least read faster.

It’s indicative of what a wimp Ana is that Kate easily manages to get Christian to do exposition on Jack Hyde and his plans (not sure why this is relevant, seeing as Jack’s in jail now). Thankfully, Jack is established as 32 years old, so we’ll be spared any “I am your father” scenes with Christian. The story also establishes that Jack really is a self-made man, unlike Christian who was adopted by wealthy people and who also had a substantial financial aid from Elena.

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