Title: Bared to You
Author: Sylvia Day
Genre: Contemporary Romance – Erotic Adult Romance
Series: Crossfire #1
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 375 (ebook)
Eva has just moved to Manhattan to start her new job. When timing her route to work, she meets Gideon, a mysterious and handsome man. Unconsciously, she’s drawn to Gideon when they meet again. Soon Eva finds herself amidst a tumultuous relationship in which Eva has to confront her past and move forward. However, Gideon has some demons of his own too. Will they be able to leave their dark pasts behind and have a future together, or are they beginning something that’s already set to fail?
Sylvia Day should be a familiar name when you’re a fan of the erotic romance genre whether you’ve read her books or not. Not only is she the #1 New York Times bestselling author, but she’s also #1 bestselling author international. She’s got more than twenty award-wining books and her novels have been translated into 41 languages. Her work has been on top of lists and you can’t walk into a bookstore anymore without bumping into a shelf or two filled with her books.
Bared to You received a lot of attention when it was first published (around the time when Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James was immensely popular and it desperately tried to get the same attention by cloning as much of the FSoG covers as possible). Throw all these facts together and I was convinced I was missing out on something huge if I didn’t start reading this fast. Day has been praised by so many but unfortunately, I’m not one of them. In fact, once I started reading this, I couldn’t believe my eyes. This has been the biggest disappointment since I read Haven of Obedience by Marina Anderson.
After all this hype, I was expecting a lot of things when I picked up Bared to You but the most important aspect was the presence of BDSM. Sadly, I’m not entirely happy with the way it was introduced. Not only took it three parts of the book before it was first hinted at but when it did pop up, it was misplaced and ripped out of context, as a result of two weak and continuously out of character characters.
This book has been praised to be the better-written version of FSoG but I’d like to point out that when claiming to be better written, everything should fit. Not only should the writing style be better but the development of characters and plot should be too and although E.L. James’ writing style was childish, Sylvia Day’s characters lacked consistency and the story turned into a plot-what-plot kind of story. Some might not mind this but I’m afraid that I do.
To begin with, Gideon describes himself as someone who doesn’t do romance and is only good for giving orgasms and yet, within days of knowing Eva he has a picture frame on his desk. He might be “filthy rich judged by his clothes and accessories” and the “hottest man on earth” but agreeing to go to couple therapy to work out their problems isn’t something I see him doing when he stresses out he doesn’t do relationships. He’s lean and build (hmm. When I google picture this it makes me gag) and basically the perfect guy. That is, when you don’t consider his demons who come haunting him at night.
Just as fast paced as their relationship is moving, just as fast is Eva to share her dark past with Gideon, despite never having told any other boyfriend before. Again, I’m talking of a time range of one to two or three days of knowing each other. She takes control of their relationship, deciding when and where they’re having steamy sex and because of her major trust issues she has a tendency of fleeing from Gideon whenever she’s having a petty feeling of being wronged (read: getting upset because he brought her to his sex pad after knowing her a few days because she’s obviously worthy of more compared to his other girlfriends). No matter how hard Eva pretends to be an adult, she behaves like a child. She acknowledges she’s easily jealous and shares this with Gideon (something good!), however, she uses this against him the moment it suits her and expects she’s allowed to act however she likes without any consequences instead of learning from it. On top of that, what she says contradicts with what she thinks and she assumes Gideon to understand
(which, surprisingly, he does for a man).
All these elements together contributed to a misplaced introduction of BDSM. Although I raise my eyebrows skeptically when Gideon claims to be a Dom, if I accept this, I can understand where he comes from when he asks whether Eva has a safe word, following on a request she’s made for him to erase a negative emotion and action. When looked at from Eva’s point of view though, Gideon’s answer felt blunt especially after opening up to him. To be asked this, is something that would make most people shut up and question what kind of relationship they’re having, specifically because there hasn’t been any previous mention of any kind of BDSM.
Not only does Gideon ask about her safe word, but he asks about it while willing to fulfill her orgasmic needs in a room that’s far from private. I understand that this might intensify the situation, provoking more thrilling sensations about the possibility of being discovered but if Gideon is the Dom he professes to be, he’d make sure that an obvious hard limit for Eva would be discussed or ‘worked at’ at a place where Eva would be safe and shouldn’t have to worry about any interruptions (even if she might like the idea of exposure). Hard limits should be dealt with privately first.
Whether my expectations were ignited by the author’s popularity, the reviewers or the publisher’s wrong advertising, I don’t care but I do care about the fact I was coerced into reading a book that promised to be one thing and was something else entirely. When being claimed as better written, I expect more than a better writing style – I expect great characters (with flaws, of course) that are actually in character. I don’t mind all the sex (obviously or I wouldn’t have picked this up) but I do like it even more when there’s a strong plot carrying the sex and not a story that uses every single action as motivation for sex.
Sylvia Day will have to take it up a notch in her second book in the Crossfire series, Reflected in You and yes, I’ll be giving this a chance because I do believe that sometimes characters need a second book to show they’re not as weak/flat/annoying as I would have originally thought. I hope Day will take more notice of her characters’ personalities in specific situations so that their reactions will flow more naturally instead of feeling forced upon us.
I would recommend this book to everyone who’d like a bit of a dirty read with a handsome, rich guy who helps you to escape the world but if you’re looking for a bit more than that, I think you’d feel dissatisfied.
Although the publisher and readers tag BDSM on this book, if you’re specifically looking for this genre, you might be wasting your time. Maybe Sylvia Day has saved this for the next book in the series but I have to say it’s almost not mentioned at all. There are other books out there that might be more what you look for, like Cherise Sinclair’s Masters of the Shadowlands series.
Have you read Bared to You? How much did you like it? Were you as annoyed with Eva as I was or did you not mind that she fled all the time when she should have stayed? What do you think of Gideon asking about her safe word at the party? Let me know in the comment box!