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
) 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.
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!!
^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! 🙂