Fifty Shades Darker by EL James

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Fifty Shades Darker by EL James

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: What Christian and Ana did next, this is just as satisfying as the now iconic first book, but with some brilliant extra plot twists outside the bedroom.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 544 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Arrow
ISBN: 978-0099579922

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Not a lot of time has passed since the first instalment of Ana’s adventures with the man she calls Fifty Shades. Perhaps unusually for a follow up it’s not months or years later, in fact just a few days have gone by. Lots of things have changed, though. Successful businessman Christian is still our tortured hero and Ana, now in her first proper job, remains our befuddled heroine but they’re not Christian-and-Ana any more having parted ways at the end of book one. At the same time, a lot has stayed the same. They’re not having quite as much dirty sex as they were but the tensions are still there. He’s still incapable of letting her get on with things without interfering (you’ve got to love a guy who buys the company you work at, just to keep an eye on things). And he still has, let’s say, particular preferences when it comes to his bedroom antics. So, it seems, does Ana. With what were increasingly becoming her regular nocturnal activities now off limits, she’s started craving them. Craving things she didn’t know were possible a month or so ago. Craving things she’s aware nice girls wouldn’t…unless it’s all one big unspoken secret in the sisterhood. Craving things that, let’s be honest, a massive number of readers probably quite fancy themselves after the literary foreplay that was book 1.

With a title like this, you might be expecting this second book to be a, well, darker version of the first one and in some ways it is. But for a series that started with a book already quite dark, some readers may feel reassured by the knowledge that it’s not much ‘worse’ than the first one. It’s perhaps deeper emotionally, but the physical stuff is really just more of the same plus or minus a few butt plugs, anal beads and nipple clamps. The sex doesn’t seem quite so outrageous this time around, either because Ana seems to be a more willing participant by this point, or simply because overexposure has limited the shock factor. It’s still seriously hot and steamy and the sort you might not want to get stuck into in a public place where people can look over your shoulder, but for such a dark book, it’s also unbelievably adorable. Christian is like an excitable puppy that you just want to hug (outside the lipstick line of course). If ever there were a couple to root for, this would be it. I’d be quite willing to take care of Mrs Robinson and Jose and Ethan and Leila myself if it meant I could live happily ever after with Christian and Ana.

This is book 2 in a trilogy and the first chapter reads more like a follow on than the start of a whole new story. In fact in some ways the whole thing is like the next 22 chapters in the story rather than a book in its own right. If you’ve not read its predecessor (and by this point, how has anyone not?) then you might miss a few subtleties in Fifty Shades Darker but it’s not entirely unreadable as a stand alone. Good on its own, better in a pair (or with the 3rd part, in a threesome perhaps). Just like Christian and Ana. As with the first, I was glad when it came to the end that I knew there was more to come – the cliffhanger in this second book is more pronounced so it’s about the continuation of the story as well as the chance to spend a bit more time with the characters. I read the blurb on the back in such a way that it didn’t really marry up with the story that unfolded before me, and in a way I kept waiting for it to arrive without realizing that it was already around me. My recommendation therefore would be to ignore the publisher’s attempt at summarizing the story and just get stuck in instead, and it’s something I’ll be keeping in mind for book 3.

I loved this book because I’m hooked on Christian and Ana, but for critique’s sake, I’d say I loved it a smidgen less than the original. This is the sort of book where you think more time has passed than really has – it’s only the repeated references to ‘little foil packets’ that remind you a lot of this happens in the same 7 days while waiting for her Depo to kick in. And while I appreciate the need to practice safe sex I can understand why a lot of erotic fiction skims over it, because condoms interrupt the story just as much as they would a bit of real life rumpy pumpy. Would it really have made that much difference to the story if she’d just continued taking her Pill like a good girl? All it did for me was make me wonder (a) if he had shares in Durex, because if so he’d be keeping them afloat single handedly, pardon the pun and (b) what he did with them afterwards when they were somewhere like, oh, a lift, where disposal would surely not be as easy. That’s not the sort of thing you should be thinking in a book like this, but it’s what came to mind because of the references again and again and again to the ‘telltale rip of foil’ that quickly got old. I’m really hoping that book 3 takes place over a period of less than 3 months so the now administered Depo lasts and we don’t need to go through all this again.

While the story moved on, some of the scenarios seemed to repeat themselves too frequently: the fights, the misunderstandings, his fear that she would leave, her reassurances that she wouldn’t. I was surprised she didn’t feel more suffocated by him, because though she expressed her irritation at times, she almost always backed down and agreed to his requests on everything from who was going to drive to whether or not she’d leave the office for lunch. Equally, Ana goes out of her way to provoke him at times. She begs for permission for things she knows he won’t be happy with, when any normal person would just do without asking and perhaps suffer the consequences later. It’s almost like she’s angling for an argument, winding him up as if she wants a punishment, which would be right up Christian’s sexual street after all. The detail entered into was minute and while I didn’t feel it at the time, on reflection it did seem to drag things out a bit when there were other issues that could have made for a more interesting discussion.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this is a worthy follow up to Fifty Shades Of Grey. They compliment each other well, with this one having more plot development outside the bedroom/playroom/boathouse while maintaining the sexual tension that built up in the first book. So just as hot but with more of a plot – what’s not to love?

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book and putting way too many ideas in my head for my next date. We also have a review of the final part of the trilogy.

Christian may be rich, but Ana’s far from a hooker. Callgirl by Jenny Angell features one, though, for comparison while My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler is officially autobiographical which may make you like its kinkiness more or less than a piece of great fiction.

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Buy Fifty Shades Darker by EL James at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fifty Shades Darker by EL James at


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