I love my friend Sonia's choice in trashy literature! Don’t get me wrong. She’s quite the literary hound when she wants to be – she’s part of our book club after all and has a track record of getting through the toughest of reads -- Frank Herbert’s Dune for example, which had most members falling asleep the minute the Gom Jabbar was unsheathed. But when you spend a minimum of two hours going back and forth on a loud, crowded and muggy train, good literature doesn’t always shut out boredom, fatigue and chaos. Nor does it help in purging those parts of your brains that can't be asked to retain another fact, prophecy, metaphor or anomaly.
That is why I was quite happy when Sonia offered to lend me a book called Bared to You by Sylvia Day – “If you loved Fifty Shades of Grey, you’ll love this”, proclaimed the silver sticker of its black cover; in addition to (someone please call the grammar police) “He possessed me, and obsessed me”.
Meet Eva. She’s the anti-Anastasia. She’s rich, for one, lives with a bisexual roommate, makes love to a vibrator and even though she wants to make it on her own in the big bad world – by which I mean she has a job as an assistant to a manager in an ad agency – she’s quite happy to be living in a posh hood in New York.
The male attraction in this novel is multi-billionaire Gideon Cross, whom she christens (pun intended) Dark and Dangerous. Obviously he crudely propositions her in the first 15 pages of the book. While she refuses at first, she can’t help but drink in his manliness, good looks, etcetera, etcetera, which Day painstakingly takes a paragraph to describe on every page. She finally gives in and they forge a deep obsessive relationship, a first for both as they’re brutally damaged souls.
Needless to say the book is quite disturbing in parts – Cross keeps a track on her whereabouts, owns her apartment building and gym, has a somewhat public argument with her in front of her boss and makes sure that all men are kept at a safe distance at all times. He also has a copy of her keys, breaks into her cellphone to retrieve some footage and replicates her bedroom in his own home so she has a safe place to run to every time they have a fight. It's even more disturbing when Cross tells Eva that her boss is lucky he's gay, though her bisexual roommate still has him on edge.
All in all, it reeks of the formula that made Fifty Shades such a raging success! In fact, I think publishers have a pre-requisite on what sort of erotica they want to publish -- the man must be damaged, a dominant in search of a submissive, the woman must have self-esteem issues and must secretly love being 'owned' like a piece of property. Even so, Fifty's language didn't allow much room to complain. Bared in contrast is nothing short of awkward. For one, it’s tough to get a sense of the where the action is taking place, especially with simple things like the first few pages of the book where you don't know if she's entering her office building, or leaving. A few chapters in, before their charity ball date, you're left wondering whether they're making out on the living room couch, floor or standing up? What I find even more strange is the voice of the story – narrated in first person – which is sometimes very typical of romantic novels that speak of peaks, manliness and mountains; but at other times it is downright pornographic.
It’s a relatively ‘okay’ book to keep you satiated if erotica has replaced chicklit on your bookshelf. But I would suggest you save your money for something better. Moreover, what kind of women are we if we crave dysfunctional romances such as these just because the men in question are heartbreakingly handsome and stinking rich? I get the lure of kinky sex. But men who insist on following you around, or rather, have the 'resources' to have your movements tailed, erm, there's only one word for that and honey, 'erotic' isn't it!
We suggest: Borrow it and hang tight until The Caterpillars publish their favourite erotica novels of all time! Coming SOON.