My friends are constantly trying to force me to read erotica books - the more they think I'll dislike it, the more they want me to read it. I was wary about starting BARED TO YOU for several reasons: one; it's frequently referred to in the same breath as FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, which I did not like; two; I've been acquainted with this author before via her historical romance novels, which I also did not like; and three; it's got one of those vague non-summaries that doesn't tell me what the book is going to be about, which kind of makes me suspect that it's not going to have much in the way of substance besides, well, copious sex.
As it turns out, I was sort of correct and sort of incorrect on all three counts. BARED TO YOU is the story of an early-twenty-something and a late-twenty-something using kinky sex to self-medicate their traumas - only, instead of one of them being god-like and rich, they're both god-like and rich...and so is everyone else in the book. I'm still not sure if this levels the playing field, or if it just underscores the vapid, shallowness of these types of books.
***WARNING: SPOILERS TO FOLLOW***
I buddy-read this with my friend Sarah, and I have to agree with her that Gideon is a much better hero than Christian. As controlling and stalky as he is, at least he listens to the word "no" and doesn't beat her with belts and control her eating habits in order to come to term with his own demons. They actually do couple things together, like eat out (no, not just that way) and work out together, and go to charity balls...and other things that normal couples do together. The only downside is that Gideon apparently acts out rapes in his sleep, both on the receiving end and the giving end. Um.
The sex - and man, there was a lot of sex in this book - was actually good, for the most part, which was a pleasant surprise after reading ASK FOR IT and being treated to the not-so-sexy image of creamy bodily fluids gushing every which way. BARED TO YOU has some great scenes...but since this book is basically 70% sex or prelude to sex, they lose their power and get repetitive after a while.
Also, there's just some really bad scenes in here:
...his powerful body straining with the primal need to mate (91).
"I'm so deep in you...I can feel it against my stomach...feel my dick pounding into you" (137).
His balls were heavy and big, an audacious display of his powerful virility (162).
Gideon battered my tender sex with that brutally thick column of rigid flesh (230).
"You're milking the head of my dick with those hungry little squeezes" (237)
And some of the worst phrases for buttholes:
the pucker of my anus (234)
my sensitive rosette (235)
that darkly sexual place (237)
I did find it a little irritating that the bisexual best friend of the hero sleeps around constantly with people of both sexes and basically comes across as a shallow jerk. The author gives a reason for this behavior, but it's still annoying to see characters conform to stereotypes (I also side-eyed her flamboyant gay boss). I'm all for inclusivity and practice makes perfect, but this is not a book I would ever pick up to fulfill any #diversefiction challenges. Let's put it that way.
Likewise, the way the other wom(en) are portrayed in this book made me feel similarly torn. Day tries to give them more substance than just that beautiful conniving temptress who swoops back into the hero's life to still him away from the virginal heroine. In this case, Gideon's women are portrayed with some degree of nuance (more so towards the end). The women who sleep with Cary (the bisexual BFF of the heroine), however, do not receive that same courtesy, and at one point, Eva refers to them as trash or something like that. Stay classy, Eva.
The way one of my coworkers described this book to me at my old job made it sound like this book was about assassins, and that title - Crossfire - made me think that I was about to get my hands on some Bastien Toussaint-type anti-hero. I think I know what happens next (based on her spoilers), and I'm curious enough to learn about Gideon and Eva's backstories that I'd probably pick up book 2. If it was cheap. I think my favorite part was when Eva, starry-eyed from her move from San Diego to New York, New York, marvels at the modern wonder of the garbage truck. Because of course, in California, we grind our garbage up and put it into fair trade coffee or smoke it in bongs, I guess. Please, tell me more about this New York-exclusive rubbish-processing behemoth on wheels... -_-
Edit: Can I just say that I'm so tickled by the fact that this edition has "discussion questions" in the back of the book? They're absolutely hilarious. Here are some of my favorites:
Initially, it's the physical attraction that draws Gideon to Eva, but by the time he lures her to his nightclub there's something deeper involved. What is it about Eva that causes Gideon to pursue her so relentlessly? (337)
Gideon's life revolves around his work and his philanthropic commitments; Eva's social life is more personal. How do these differences affect them as a couple? (338)
Gideon and Eva have a very sexual relationship. Considering their pasts, why do you think sex is such an important way for them to communicate? (338)
2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars