Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Why I read it: I picked this one up on NetGalley.  To be honest, the blurb didn’t sell me – it was kind of confusing and didn’t tell me what I wanted to know but I’ve read and enjoyed Sylvia Day before so I decided to give it a whirl.

What it’s about: Because I thought the blurb wasn’t very helpful, I’m not going to copy and paste this one – so I’ll give you my own.  Eva Trammell (24) moves to New York with her gay BFF Cary from California to pursue a career in advertising.  She is the stepdaughter of a very rich man and so has a lovely apartment (which she shares with Cary) but has insisted on an entry level job which she obtained without his help.  She works at the Crossfire Building and there she (literally) runs into Gideon Cross, a 28 year old bazillionaire.  There is instant connection. Instant and sizzling lust.   But, both Eva and Gideon have past traumas which come back to haunt them – can they have a successful relationship?  Are they soul mates or are they destined to flash, crash and burn?
What worked for me (and what didn’t):   With all the hype about Fifty Shades of Grey (50SOG) around the place, it is hard not to make a comparison between it and Bared To You.   I havent’ read 50SOG and I don’t plan to.  But, from what I’ve read about it, I think that Bared To You is what 50SOG could have been, maybe aspired to be (if it had left out many fanfic conventions and had some savvy editing)^.    Like 50SOG, there is a bit of the Harlequin Presents (HP) about this story. 

But, Bared To You takes a few somewhat old tired tropes, equalises and modernises and creates something compelling and different and good.  *rubs hands together*

Unlike (what I understand of) Ana, Eva is a little older and definitely not naive (she’s not clumsy either ETA – she does fall over when she and Gideon first meet, but she’s not generally a klutz).  She is sexually experienced and not afraid to express her desires or take the lead in her sexual encounters with Gideon.

“Don’t burn off too much energy,” I whispered. “I want you missionary-style the first time.  I’ve been having this fantasy of you on top, banging the hell out of me.”

She even shows him a thing or two (limo sex!).   Eva does not depend on Gideon for a place to live, friends, affection, a job.  She is not physically helpless (she’s learning Krav Maga).  Because of a rich stepfather, she doesn’t depend on Gideon for money either.  Plus, she has a job and ambition of her own.  That changes the dynamic straight away from many HP’s I think (and 50SOG too).  Gideon is a super bazillionaire sure, but in his relationship with Eva, I’d argue that it is she who mostly has the upper hand.  He’s jealous but so is she.  She makes demands very early on about a particular female acquaintance of his and he accedes – she is in the power position from the start.

Gideon wants sex with Eva from the beginning. But Eva doesn’t do sex that way.  She needs some sort of relationship, a connection, before being physically intimate with someone.  She doesn’t need hearts and flowers necessarily, but she doesn’t want to be “a vagina on legs” either.  She needs to know that Gideon wants her for her, not just because she’s convenient.   Gideon does not do this.  Ever*.  But, such is his obsession for her, that he very quickly agrees to “review and revise” in order to have her.  Gideon separates things in his life.  There is work, there are friends and there are sex partners.  They do not mesh.  A relationship where there is time spent with a sex partner “not actively fucking” is not on his agenda.  But, for Eva…

“Eva… If you just tell me what you want -” his throat worked on a swallow.  “I can become whatever you need.  If you give me the chance. Just don’t… don’t give up on me.”

It is not very long after that first “revision” that Gideon’s rules change again and he’s diving headlong into a traditional and exclusive relationship.  He wants to be with Eva all the time.  He can’t get enough of her.
This might be creepy except that Eva feels the same way about him.  It is the mutuality of the obsession which, I think, makes this book work so well.  Where Gideon shows dominance and “mastery” the reader sees it from Eva’s POV and therefore is implicitly aware of both her consent and her reciprocal feelings.  Where Gideon crosses a line (and he does from time to time), Eva calls him on it.  Refreshingly, Gideon quickly recognises where he went wrong each time (for the most part) and gives a genuine apology and then changes the behaviour (or at least, makes a good faith effort). 
He calls Eva out too and fairly.

 “I can let you in, Eva. I’m trying.  But your first response when I screw up is to run away.  You do it every time and I can’t stand feeling like any moment I’m going to do or say something wrong and you’re going to bolt.”

Their relationship is very HP over-the-top dramatic – in fact, one of the secondary character in the book refer to it being better than a soap opera – the angst factor is intentionally dialled up to 11.

However, as much as there is on again/off again, the problems seem realistic and they are dealt with pretty quickly so there’s not lots of time where the couple are apart (another plus for me).

The writing is spare and yet evocative and I was completely hooked.

To call either of us virgins would be ridiculous, yet emotionally that’s just what we were.  Fumbling in the dark and too eager, completely out of our depths and self-conscious, trying to impress and missing all the subtle nuances.

The last 100 pages – read after a break of a day and a half (due to time issues not lack of interest) – didn’t work quite so well for me as the first part of the book had.  I wonder if I would have felt that way if I’d managed to read this in one sitting? The last part of the book, far from resolving their many issues, mainly served to introduce new ones.  And, it is here there is a discussion about D/s aspects to their relationship.  Gideon says he will take Eva any way he can have her but he believes that she needs the submission to be truly satisfied. Or, at least, I think that’s what he was saying. The conversation gets hijacked (as conversations often do) and I didn’t think Gideon was able to get back to his main point – therefore, to me it felt loose and unclear – I didn’t know exactly what had been in his mind to say and there weren’t enough clues for me in the text for me to put it entirely together.   I felt that this aspect of the relationship was introduced a bit late into the story as well – this was over 2/3 into the book.

I was also a bit nonplussed by the introduction, so late in the book, of the Corinne character and it seemed inconsistent* to me. Given his previous history with Corinne does that make the set up for Gideon’s character inaccurate – the part about him not doing relationships? And, with Gideon’s previous growth that he could be so clueless about her effect on Eva.

There was also a character by the name of Dr. Terry Lucas introduced around that time which confused me a little – it is clear he knows Gideon and there is history between them of some sort but he had such a small part to play in the book that I wondered why he was there.  Perhaps the answer is to consider Bared To You like Part I of a miniseries and taken as a whole the story will feel more balanced?

I did find this book compelling and angsty and sexy and dark and Gideon was sighworthy.

“Talk to me Eva, so I can tell you it’ll be okay.”

I enjoyed seeing his vulnerability to Eva and his complete intoxication with her. 

“Oh, Eva.”  He rubbed his cheek against my damp face. “I must’ve wished for you so hard and so often you had no choice but to come true.”

If Eva hadn’t have felt the same about Gideon though it would have just been stalkerish behaviour, but instead, their mutual obsession was compelling reading.

What else? The book does finish abruptly and there are many issues left unresolved.  While the couple are together at the end, I didn’t feel at all confident they had worked out enough of their issues to be certain they would make it.  On the one hand, I’m glad there will be another book (due out in October) so those issues can be explored.  On the other, will it be too much?  Will I be as engrossed or just exhausted by all the drama?  As much as the last 20 pages introduced a whole slew of new problems, there were some problems (e.g., Gideon’s traumatic past) which were barely touched upon – so there is plenty of conflict set up for the next book.

I did enjoy this book and I’m seriously hoping that the author can pull off the delicate balance between resolving their many problems, giving them a believable HEA and keeping everything interesting without becoming caricatured.  I have my fingers crossed and roll on October!

In the meantime, if you like sexy, dark and angsty,  go and read this book!!

Grade: B+

^In fact, Jane_L (from Dear Author) and LizMc2 and I had a Twitter conversation about this very thing.  Also, Jane wrote this review of Bared To You on April 7 and she actually said there that Bared To You was what 50SOG could have been, so she agrees with me.  Or rather, because she said it first, I agree with her! 🙂

14 comments on “Bared to You by Sylvia Day

  1. Eesti

    I read 50 shades of gray first and found this book to be as close to plagerism as you could get without directly stealing!! The story is so similar like Dejavu. It is okay but 50 shades is so much better because the story felt original. I was looking for books similar to 5o shades but not necessarily an exact match!!

  2. Kaetrin

    Hi Eesti. It's funny you should say that because 50 Shades of Gray is Twilight fanfiction so there's a certain irony to the suggestion that Ms. Day has committed plagiarism. I haven't read 50 and don't intend to, but if you enjoyed it, that's great. I think the tropes used in Bared To You can be found in any number of romance books – they certainly weren't original in 50 or even Twilight. You only have to look at the Harlequin Presents line.There are certainly similarities in the 2 books (50 and BtY) but I don't think there's been any plagiarism.

  3. Anonymous

    You've not read 50S, so you wouldn't know that in BtY not just similar descriptive wording, but exact wording has been used. And I've read 100's of books but have never come across certain descriptions of things that I have read in both books, certainly not in the Twighlight novels, So much to the fact that I found this thread after googling to see if Sylvia Day was an Alias for E L James. Both authors either share the same mind or were tutored in descriptive writing by the same teacher! That's all I have to say, apart from read all the books before denying the possibility of plagiarism.

  4. Kaetrin

    I don't believe that Sylvia Day and EL James are the same person and I don't believe that Sylvia Day plagiarised 50 in any way. The tropes used in both books are common in romance. I don't think I need to read all the books before denying the possibility of plagiarism. You are making a pretty serious accusation here. While I haven't read 50, I know many trusted bloggers who have read both 50 and BtY and no-one has suggested there has been lifting of text from one to the other. I don't accept it at all. I think if you are going to make such accusations, the least you could do is put your name to the comment. Frankly, making such comments anonymously just makes you look even less credible.

  5. Dina Gardner

    I don't know how you can say what you say without reading Fifty Shades. I honestly can't believe that EL James is not considering a lawsuit. I'm happy to put my name.

  6. Kaetrin

    @Dina Gardner that's a joke right?

  7. Lesley D

    Kaetrin, while I respect your blog and review in regards to 50sog and Bty the others who have placed comments on how Bty and 50sog are too similar are correct. It's to the point where Day read 59sog and put her own spin on Ana and Christian. To name a few of the similarities beside the wording itself one would think plagiarism exist due to the following: Ana and Ava graduating and moving to a new city to start their career as entry workers, Christian and Gideon working as business men who buy companies as their trade, Christian and Gideon having the exact same number of siblings (one brother and one sister), how Ava and Ana are the only child, how Ana and Ava's mother has been married three times, how Ana and Ava have a dad that they admire and cherish that live apart but has actively been in their lives, how Christian and Gideon have a specific type but Ana and Ava are completely opposite from their type, how Ana and Ava's room mates are social and charismatic, etc etc. I was honestly offended by the similarities and I feel that you can't defend the thought of plagiarism because you have not read both books.

  8. Kaetrin

    @ LesleyD I'm glad you respect my blog.As to whether or not I can "defend the thought of plagiarism" – well, I'm not defending it. I'm saying it's not plagiarism. And I'm as entitled to my opinion as you are.Day said in a podcast interview with DA Jane and SB Sarah that she wrote BtY in 2010 and at the time had no idea of the existence of Masters of the Universe as it may have been then (I don't believe it was 50 at that stage but I don't know when the first fanfic was posted). I'm happy to take Day's word for it.

  9. rdawn27

    This book was not that great. In fact, I really didn’t like it. It was unimaginative and dull and it felt like the author, Sylvia Day, said I can do a better version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Both books had an extremely handsome, billionaire main male character, under 30 with serious issues. And in each book, they pursued a young woman who eventually falls for him. Neurotic, possessive and controlling are serious character flaws. Not something to be cherished. Sex? Yep, it’s in there! While “Fifty” introduced the BDSM lifestyle, “Bared” seemed to throw in a word or two to say see, we’ve got that too! I guess if you use the word “topping”, then you’re into BDSM too. Eva spoke as if she were 40 years old. I may be quite removed from my college years, but I work at a university and most of the young ladies I talked to (and overheard their conversations) didn’t speak like that. That’s the main thing that made this book so painful. If Eva is so mature to recognize the failings of Gideon and even herself, why would she behave the way she does? Twice I had to put the book down and walk away from it. It didn’t make sense. There seems to be no significant timeline to gauge how much time has passed. It reads like: "I met a guy, told him to get lost, now I’m in love. OMG, he’s got serious problems! Hey, I’ve got serious problems too, and although most people would recognize immediately that this can’t possibly work, I’m in love and will love him forever and everything will be fantastic. It doesn’t matter that behaviors still exist, our love will power through." Seriously??? Oh, and apparently she can make gay friends like making coffee….not that there’s anything wrong with that. Actually the gay characters seemed closer to the people I met and know. I guess what’s aggravating about the book is that I was optimistic and had high expectations. I wanted a book that was steamy but could tell a decent story with decent characters. If I read about another billionaire, I’ll pull my hair out. What’s wrong with a millionaire? I bought this book (and audio) for the treadmill thinking I could enjoy a few steamy scenes while burning off the winter calories. All I did was get ticked off. I would not recommend this book. Read something funny and sexy like Wallbanger instead.

  10. Kaetrin

    @rdawn27 I'm sorry the book didn't work for you as well as it did for me. I haven't read Wallbanger but my 'book twin' didn't like it so it's not on my reading list.

  11. Love SMS

    I have read the fifty shades trilogy and I have read the first two parts of the crossfire series. Sylvia day is a great author. The book was out of this world. It had a certain similarity to fifty shades as the trilogy inspired it but, I liked this better. It was a mix of emotions and a must read.

  12. Kaetrin

    I enjoyed both this and the second book and I'm certainly looking forward to the next installment. 🙂

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