While the book is not especially well-executed, James has tapped into a female sexual and psychological curiosity that can...

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

From the Fifty Shades Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Innocent girl meets billionaire boy with some serious issues; they fall for each other anyway, but is attraction enough to overcome his need for control and her need for independence?

Anastasia Steele interviews local business magnate Christian Grey for her college paper. Despite her misgivings on his control tendencies, Ana is attracted to him, and shocked to learn the feeling is mutual. Overwhelmed by his seductive presence and staggering wealth, Ana still chooses to enter into a confusing emotional and physical relationship with the enigmatic billionaire. Grey is a tormented, damaged hero, and Ana feels out of her league dealing with his frequent emotional distance, and his sexual need for control and dominance, especially given that his attraction to her stems from her down-to-earth personality and independent spirit. Through Grey she explores her own awakening sensuality, but finds herself unwilling to enter into his darker passions, all the while growing more and more attached to his companionship, his powerful charm and his desire to overcome his demons. On the heels of Twilight (literally and figuratively, since Fifty Shades was originally conceived as Twilight fan fiction), James has concocted the latest controversial mega-bestseller targeted to the female reader. Considering the cultural impact this book has made, you’ve likely heard of it, and possibly already read it.  So here’s the straight scoop: this book is not particularly well-written, nor is it hard-core porn that’s going to burn your socks off once you open the pages. Neither is it a piece of fiction that will take the women’s movement back 60 years. It’s fan fiction and fantasy fiction. Hundreds of thousands of women are reading this book because it’s the type of scenario that never happened to us, will never happen to us, and is one from which we’d likely flee as fast as possible if it ever did happen to us—wouldn’t we? That’s the point. It’s intriguing, conceptually, to wonder “what if...?” This book is not for everyone. It could have used a good editor. If you want great characterization, perfect construction, or if the repetition of words or phrases bothers you, probably best to not pick it up. However, it was more entertaining and compelling than expected.

While the book is not especially well-executed, James has tapped into a female sexual and psychological curiosity that can be disturbing if taken too seriously, but is somewhat fun and entertaining in the imagination stage.

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-345-80348-1

Page Count: 530

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2012

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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