Book Review: Everything and a Happy Ending

Sometimes the point of literature is to give you a glimpse into a world you’ve never known, a life you’ve never led, some feelings you’ve never experienced. But other times, the point of literature is to mirror your feelings back at you, to remind you of what you’ve been through, and to show you that you’re not alone.

I went through that when I read Tia Shurina’s memoir, Everything and a Happy Ending. Though I went into this book knowing essentially nothing about it, I saw myself reflected back to me in its pages. And it felt weirdly affirming to see that the intense unrequited love I’ve experienced over the past couple years is both a common human experience and a valid one.

In her book, Shurina tells the story of her relationships with three men who played key roles in her life: her father, her ex-husband, and (wait for it) actor and comedian Ray Romano. (She refers to him as “Emilio” throughout, a code name, but is open about the fact that Emilio is really Ray.) I was interested in this detail because Romano kinda fucked me up as a kid. On his show Everybody Loves Raymond, a recurring gag shows him trying to initiate sex with his wife, only to be rebuffed with a sardonic “No.” This instilled in my young brain a belief that women are sexual objects to be pursued, not sexual agents capable of desire and initiative. While I don’t necessarily fault Romano for restating an already-rampant cultural trope about sex, I was curious to read about his inner romantic and sexual workings. (Spoiler alert: there’s no sex with Romano described in this book, and what little sex there is is mentioned only obliquely in passing.)

Everything and a Happy Ending chronicles – among other things – Shurina’s reconnection with her dad after a long period of distance, the pain she went through when he died, and her difficult decision to separate from her husband after decades together. It’s a poignant study on how our relationships are all interconnected and feed into each other: when you have a more satisfying connection with a parental figure, for example, it can give you the strength and courage you need to bravely leave a spouse.

But by far, the strangest and most emotional part of Shurina’s story is her romance with Ray Romano. She knew him when she was in college and they worked together at the bank where he also met his eventual wife, Anna. The way Shurina tells it, Romano made a pass at her in the form of a starry-eyed poem he gave her when she quit the bank. Though she didn’t tell him so for many years, his sweet poem boosted her self-confidence at a time when she really needed it. I was reminded of the first boy who ever called me beautiful – a friend of a friend, in an MSN Messenger conversation, when I was about 13 years old – and how much that one small action impacted me for years afterward. It’s funny how our choices can affect other people for far longer than we ourselves even remember them.

Decades after losing touch with Romano, Shurina reconnected with him on a trip to Vegas, by which time he’d risen to fame as a comedian. She describes an intimate, emotional affair they subsequently had via email, sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings on weekly electronic “dates.” Though he eventually cut off contact with her in order to preserve his marriage and remain true to his wife, Shurina fell deeper and deeper in love with him, and came to view this love as a turning point in her life.

I recognized these feelings as I read them. The powerful love for someone who cannot return it in the ways one wishes they could; the aching and hoping for closure that will never come; the irrational and extreme things one does when one is in love. Shurina continued to email Romano and even hand-deliver gifts to his workplace after he ceased contact with her, which frankly is scary and worrisome behavior.

But part of me understood the feelings that might drive that level of obsessiveness, even if I can’t and don’t condone what Shurina did. I remembered the time I bought the same deodorant as a crush because I wanted to be able to smell him whenever I wanted, the time I picked up a receipt a crush had dropped because I wanted a glimpse into the mundanity of his life, the time I kept a dime on my bedroom floor for a year because a crush had left it there and it reminded me of him. Not all the things we do in the name of love are ethical or even forgivable. Sometimes it feels like we can’t help it.

Structurally, Shurina’s book is all over the place: she’s always digressing on mini-monologues about spiritual epiphanies, happenstance meetings, and “winks from the universe.” But it’s charming, in its own way – like listening to your kooky aunt tell you the story of the love of her life. Though sometimes her thoughts felt repetitious or brought out my inner skeptic, I still wanted to keep reading. I wanted to see Shurina get her happy ending.

And happily, she does. As the book comes to a close, its offbeat protagonist has shaken off her toxic marriage, successfully grieved her father’s death, taken at least some steps toward letting go of Romano, and met a man who wants to be with her – in real life, not just in “reel” life. It felt fortuitous for me to read this book at a time when I, too, have just recovered from an unreturned love. It served as a reminder that life can and will go on, and that there are happier adventures awaiting me.


You can buy Everything and a Happy Ending on Amazon! This review was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.

Babes, Bards, and Batterers: 3 Brief Book Recommendations

Tina Horn has one of my favorite brains in the world, as I’ve told you before. When I heard she was writing a book about sexting, I texted my best friend a mangled string of all-caps words followed by a glut of exclamation points. I can’t help it: a favorite writer of mine writing about a favorite activity of mine? Sign me up.

Simply called Sexting, the book is as straightforward and to-the-point as its title would indicate. It contains practical advice on all things sexting and sexting-adjacent, from online dating to selfie-taking to vocabulary choice to sextual aftercare.

Tina’s book is written such that a beginner to the world of sexting can pick it up and learn, but you’ll come away with some fresh tips even if you’re a seasoned sexter. I love this book and find myself referring to it time and time again!

Incidentally, it was on Tina Horn’s podcast that I first heard about this next book, Sex with Shakespeare by Jillian Keenan. Jillian is a lifelong spanking fetishist – in the true sense of the word “fetishist,” i.e. she has never had an orgasm thinking about anything but spanking. This would be interesting grounds for a memoir in and of itself, but Jillian’s also a Shakespeare nerd, so she’s interwoven her personal story with kinky analysis of the Shakespeare plays that helped her process her emotions as she came to terms with her fetish.

Prior to reading this book, I liked spanking and kinda-sorta liked Shakespeare; now that I’ve read it, I like (and understand) both a whole lot more. Jillian’s writing transports you around the world and throughout history, and you learn a whole lot about her kink and any kinks of your own on the way. Now I’m hungry for more memoirs by clever fetishists like Ms. Keenan!

I read Sex with Shakespeare on my Kindle, but there are good reasons to go analog with this tome. When I gifted Georgia a hardcover copy, she proceeded to (consensually) spank me real fuckin’ hard with it while I was bent over the arm of her sofa. Be still, my li’l kinkster heart!

I recently found out a friend of mine is chronically abusive, and cut him out of my life entirely. I’m very lucky to have been spared the majority of his abuse, but nonetheless, it was a difficult experience to process. I kept wondering: what made him do those things? Was he aware of what he did to those women, or was it inadvertent? How could I have been so blind to his tactics? Or, to put it how author and domestic abuse counselor Lundy Bancroft puts it: Why Does He Do That?

I picked up this book as research for a writing project, but it quickly became clear that I needed to read it for personal reasons, too. Learning about the mindset of abusive men helped me understand what I’ve been through, and gave me tools to analyze potential red flags I see in the behaviors of other men as well. This book is written specifically for women currently mired in relationships with abusive men, but you’ll find it interesting and affirming if abusers have ever confused or frightened you in any capacity.


What books have you read and loved recently? Lay ’em on me!

GJ Reads Grey, Chapter 8

Want to go back? Read the previous chapter or the first chapter.

I flipped through the first several pages of this chapter without finding anything worth remarking on. The first chunk of the chapter is mostly email exchanges between Ana and Christian; he’s bought her a new laptop (without asking her first, of course) and keeps checking in to determine whether she’s been doing her assigned research on BDSM.

He ascertains that she’s done her homework, based on the fact that she calls him “Sir” with a capital S. He also calls her a “sassy wench.” How sweet.

Christian’s also exchanging emails with his former domme, Elena. Her email signature tells us that she owns a beauty business called Esclava. As in, the Spanish word for slave. Subtle.

Ana asks Christian what she should Google to begin her BDSM research, and he says, “Always start with Wikipedia.” This seems like risky advice at best. Why not just recommend some specific websites you know are good, Christian? Or buy her some books? You’ve done it before…

After spending some time Googling, Ana sends Christian a curt email that simply says, “Okay, I’ve seen enough. It was nice knowing you.” If this was a book about a dude who respects when women say “no,” this would be the end of the story. She doesn’t want you in her life anymore, so you get out – easy. But this is Christian, so obviously he’s not going to do that.

I sit back in my chair, dumbfounded.
Nice? Nice. NICE.
She thought it was more than nice when her head was thrown back as she came.

Yes, amazingly, orgasms are not actually the same thing as everlasting consent.

Christian drives to Ana’s house to try to change her mind, chardonnay and condoms in tow. Dude, take a hint.

I’m uneasy; it’s reckless and too presumptuous of me to come here. Then again, I’ve already been here twice, though for only a few minutes.

Hey, cool fact: having been to someone’s house doesn’t entitle you to visit it again whenever you want! And likewise, having fucked someone before doesn’t mean you can fuck them forever!

Ana’s roommate Kate lets him into the house, and he sneaks up on Ana where she’s seated at her desk listening to music and looking over his BDSM contract. Does he ever stop watching her without her knowledge?

“Are you biting your lower lip deliberately?” I inquire, my voice sterner than I’d intended.
“I wasn’t aware I was biting my lip,” she whispers, her face pale.

CAN YOU STOP WITH THE LIP THING ALREADY?? I am so sick of hearing about lip-biting. Uuuuughhhh!

“Did you mean [it was nice] knowing me in the biblical sense?”
Her cheeks pink. “I didn’t think you were familiar with the Bible.”
“I went to Sunday school, Anastasia. It taught me a great deal.” Catechism. Guilt. And that God abandoned me long ago.
“I don’t remember reading about nipple clamps in the Bible. Perhaps you were taught from a modern translation,” she goads me, her eyes shining and provocative.
Oh, that smart mouth.

Ostensibly to “remind her how nice it was to know him,” Christian proceeds to have sex with her. It seems, actually, pretty consensual. Ana “launches herself at” him, and a few times he asks her check-in questions like “What do you think of that?” and “Trust me?” before going ahead with various actions. Okay, cool, yes. Why aren’t all the sex scenes like this? (Minus the creepy “sneaking into her apartment without her knowledge” beginning.)

There is one part, however, where he binds her and blindfolds her using a tie and her T-shirt, and then says, “I’m going to get a drink,” and does. Liiiiike… you probably shouldn’t leave someone unattended while they’re in bondage, particularly if they’re new to it.

Outside her room, I leave her door slightly ajar and enter the living room to retrieve the bottle of wine.
Kavanagh looks up from where she’s sitting on the sofa, reading, and her eyebrows rise in surprise. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a shirtless man, Kavanagh, because I won’t believe you. “Kate, where would I find glasses, ice, and a corkscrew?” I ask, ignoring her scandalized expression.

Poor Kate. She has to put up with a lot of weird shit in this book.

When Kate asks Christian where Ana is, he replies, “She’s a little tied up at the moment,” as if no one in the history of popular culture has ever made this joke and he’s brilliant for inventing it. Excuse me while I roll my eyes forever.

Christian bosses Kate into helping him put ice in the wine glasses and pour the wine. Does he think all women are his submissives?! Kate quite reasonably asks him if he’s going to help her and Ana move into their new apartment, and he reacts like a caricature of a commitmentphobic man:

Fuck off, Kavanagh.
No way am I going to help. Ana and I don’t have that kind of relationship. Besides, I can’t spare the time.

So you have the time to travel back and forth between Portland and Seattle ad nauseum for sex dates but can’t spare a few hours to help Ana pack some boxes. Nice! Good boyfriend award over here. And on that note: he finally returns to Ana’s room, where the poor girl is still tied up and waiting.

I release each of her breasts from her bra so they’re supported by the underwire cups; her breasts are pert and vulnerable, just how I like them.

He takes her to the edge of orgasm five times but doesn’t let her come, and then when he finally fucks her, she apparently comes after the first thrust. Um. I suspect this isn’t exactly realistic. I mean, I know this is a romance novel, but come on.

As she lies flat on the bed, panting, I pull out of her and remove the wretched condom.

Of course Christian has a hate-on for safer sex supplies…

“Please pass me my sweatpants,” she orders, pointing to them.
Wow. Miss Steele can be a bossy little thing.

But… she said please…?!

I start the car and begin the drive back to Portland, analyzing what’s taken place between us.
She e-mailed me. I went to her. We fucked. She threw me out before I was ready to leave.
For the first time – well, maybe not the first time – I feel a little used, for sex.

Christian’s middle name should be Hypocrite. He’s constantly complaining about Ana doing the exact same stuff to him that he does to her. His sense of entitlement is staggering.

This chapter, in summary: a decent sex scene surrounded by terrible writing and problematic relations. That’s a good wrap-up of the entire book, actually…

GJ Reads Grey, Chapter 7

Want to go back? Read the previous instalment or the first chapter.

Content warning: This instalment contains mentions of blood, rape, and emotional abuse. If those are triggering topics for you, I encourage you to take care of yourself and skip this post.

We already know, from heavy-handed literary references in other chapters, that Ana has a thing for Victorian-era romantic heroes. So it makes sense she’d be interested in Christian. His attitudes about women, virginity and “sin” are so archaic that they make the Victorians look well-adjusted.

I wake with a start and a pervading sense of guilt, as if I’ve committed a terrible sin. Is it because I’ve fucked Anastasia Steele? Virgin? … Ana sleeps the sound sleep of an innocent. Well, not so innocent now.

He lies awake in bed, hours after their inaugural fuck-fest, watching her sleep – like Chuck Bass in my favorite fanfic. (Don’t judge me, please.) Christian reflects on Ana’s “unbridled enthusiasm for sexual congress” and concludes that “fucking her was merely a means to an end and a pleasant diversion.” This is the dude who’s melting the hearts of female readers the world over? Huh?

It’s at this point that I start wanting to count the number of times Christian’s “cock twitches in agreement,” because surely it’s been at least five so far. E.L. James is notorious for repeating the same words and phrases far too many times, but this is one of the first I’ve noticed in this book. Maybe her writing has improved (marginally) or maybe Christian is just less annoying than Ana (unlikely).

Ever-pretentious Christian goes to his piano – “my solace, where I can lose myself for hours” – and plays a sad Bach piece. I know he hasn’t forgotten that Ana’s there, so I guess he just doesn’t care if he wakes her up? And indeed, she does wake up, and comes to see him. When she calls him “melancholy,” we get a brief flashback to one of Christian’s memories, in which a previous submissive, Leila, also called him that word. It’s a welcome reprieve from the narrative, but doesn’t really reveal anything new about Christian’s character, like a flashback should.

They go back to bed and there’s blood on the sheets. “Evidence of her now-absent virginity.” Ana’s deeply embarrassed upon seeing this, but instead of comforting her, asking her if she’s still in pain, or offering to change the sheets, Christian just says, “Well, that’s going to give [the maid] Mrs. Jones something to think about.” Helpful.

They fall asleep together. In the morning, Christian is awakened by the smell of the bacon Ana’s cooking, and he goes to watch her in the kitchen. She doesn’t hear him come in because she’s wearing earbuds (see, she’s more considerate than him: when someone is sleeping nearby, she keeps her music quiet). “Christian watches Ana without Ana knowing” is a disturbingly frequent theme in this book.

She’s whisking eggs, making breakfast, her braids bouncing as she jiggles from foot to foot, and I realize she’s not wearing underwear. Good girl.

After she notices him and they chitchat awkwardly about pancakes and eggs, Christian pulls on one of her braids and says, “I love these. They won’t protect you.” ??!??!

“Mr. Grey,” she replies, with contrived formality, and winces as she sits.
“Just how sore are you?” I’m surprised by an uneasy sense of guilt. I want to fuck her again, preferably after breakfast, but if she’s too sore that will be out of the question. Perhaps I could use her mouth this time.

This is so alien to me. I am starting to believe Christian might be a sociopath, because how else could he view Ana’s sexual debut so cavalierly? Having sex for the first time is always at least kind of a big deal, and you need some time to process it and recover from it, at least emotionally if not physically. How can he think, Her vag is sore from her FIRST-EVER fucking; better make her give her first-ever BJ, too?!

After talking to her friend Kate on the phone, Ana asks Christian if it would be okay for her to ask Kate a few sex questions. The NDA she signed prevents her from going into too much detail about her sex life with Christian (including the fact that it exists at all), but she still wants to learn some basic things about sex. Christian tries to convince her to keep these questions to herself, and in doing so, he’s displaying a key behavior of emotionally abusive partners: trying to isolate Ana from her support systems. Nice.

“I know that lip is delicious, I can attest to that, but will you stop biting it? Your chewing it makes me want to fuck you, and you’re sore, okay?”

Translation: “My desire for you is entirely your fault, and if you push me over the edge and I rape you, it’ll be completely because of you, okay?”

They take a bath together. He lathers up her breasts and then kind of fingers her through a washcloth, during which he says to her, “Feel it, baby. Feel it for me.” He’s the king of dirty talk, right?! Also, here is a literal thing he says about his penis:

“I want you to become well acquainted, on first-name terms, if you will, with my favorite and most cherished part of my body. I’m very attached to this.”

Then there’s some HJ and BJ action. To Christian’s credit, at one point he tells her, “Anastasia, I’m going to come in your mouth; if you don’t want me to, stop now.” Hooray, ongoing consent. I was enjoying this paragraph until I saw that the thing that finally makes him come is Ana using her teeth on his dick. Look, I’m not saying no man has ever enjoyed a very slightly toothy beej, but I do have to wonder if E.L. James actually asked any penis-havers about this before writing it.

After he comes, he tells her he “owes her an orgasm,” and then impulsively begs her to say yes to his Dom/sub agreement. Um, I’m not sure it’s ethical to make someone sign a contract when you’re implicitly blackmailing them with proverbial blue balls. How about you make her come first, take some time for both of you to cool down, and then talk legalities?!

Anyway, he doesn’t make her sign it just yet. Instead, he takes her to his bed, and there’s actually a pretty great cunnilingus scene. It’s only occasionally ruined by weird Christian-thoughts such as:

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen pubic hair up close and personal like this.

After some more fucking and two orgasms for Ana (yeah, girl!), they are interrupted by the arrival of Christian’s (adoptive) mother, Grace. They engage in some pointless small-talk. She leaves after about two minutes and we’ve learned basically nothing about her or her role in Christian’s life. Cool narrative development, E.L. James!

Christian and Ana go for lunch and he tells her part of his backstory: a friend of his mother’s, Elena, seduced him when he was a teenager, and he was her submissive for six years. He doesn’t say a lot about this relationship but it sounds pretty fucked-up, obviously. He also reveals to Ana that her devirginization the previous night was a first for him too: his first time having “vanilla sex.” (Ana doesn’t even know what this phrase means, and has to ask him for clarification. Oh, sweetie…)

Ana fidgets beside me as we wait for the elevator, her teeth on her plump lower lip. It reminds me of her teeth on my cock.

And with that haunting image, I’ll leave you til next week. I know you’re champing at the bit for the next chapter… just like Ana is champing at Christian’s dick.

GJ Reads Grey, Chapter 6 (second half)

Want to go back? Read the previous instalment or the first chapter.

Last time, we left off with Christian pinning Ana against an elevator wall and kissing her aggressively without checking in or ascertaining her consent in any way. Cool story, bro!

This time, we start with a smaller manifestation of that same contempt for consent: she asks him to call her Ana, again, and he still goes on calling her Anastasia, because evidently he doesn’t give a shit about what she wants.

“Why do you insist on calling me Anastasia?” she asks.
“Because it’s your name.”
“I prefer Ana.”
“Do you, now?”
“Ana” is too everyday and ordinary for her. And too familiar. Those three letters have the power to wound…

Christian drives Ana back to the apartment she shares with her friend Kate…

Kavanagh jumps up and gives me a critical once-over as she hugs Ana.
What did she think I was going to do to the girl?
I know what I’d like to do to her…

It’s like this dude has multiple personalities, and one of them is a murderer. He’s continually written to seem totally blind to his own creepiness. Ugh.

A lock of her hair has broken free, and without thinking, I tuck it behind her ear. She leans her face into my fingers, the tender gesture surprising me. My thumb strays to her soft bottom lip, which I’d like to kiss again. But I can’t. Not until I have her consent.

YES! CONSENT! I would be cheering and pumping my fists in the air right now, if I didn’t know that by “her consent” he means “her signature on a creepy BDSM contract.”

Then Christian gets in the car with his brother Elliot, who’s apparently dating Kate now, and they have another one of their classic bro-y conversations. It’s filled with stilted dialogue out of bad ’90s teen sex comedies, like “Man, I need some sleep; that woman is voracious” and “How about you, hotshot? Did she pop your cherry?” (Can we have an Elliot spinoff novel? I bet he’s more fun than Christian.)

The results come back from the background check Christian ran on Ana’s friend José (remember?). No sexual harassment charges; only “a ticket for possession of marijuana.”

And the little prick smokes weed? I hope he doesn’t smoke around Ana – and I hope she doesn’t smoke, period.

Grey has his assistant print out a non-disclosure agreement and a copy of his “standard Dom/sub contract” for Ana. Oh, the romance!!

For the first time in a long time, I have a sweet sense of anticipation. I’m excited.
Will she say yes to my proposal?
I picture her sleeping beside me, soft and small… and my cock twitches with expectation. I could have woken her and fucked her then – what a novelty that would have been.
I’ll fuck her in time. I’ll fuck her bound and with her smart mouth gagged.

It’s gross that for him, the appeal of fucking Ana is that it would have been “a novelty.” Not that he likes her, or wants to make her feel good, or wants to explore an equitable and mutually enjoyable sexual connection… but that she would’ve been an interesting new way for him to get his dick wet. Sigh.

Christian picks her up after her shift at the hardware store. “She’s dressed in black jeans… Jeans again.” Dude, it’s probably unsafe to wear a skirt when you work around sharp and splintery objects all day! Can you cut her some slack for wearing jeans to a goddamn hardware store?! She’s not here to please your eyes and your dick!

He’s taking her out on a trip in his helicopter, which is called Charlie Tango. I have italicized the name of the helicopter not for emphasis but because it is literally italicized every time it’s mentioned in this book. This is probably too boring and journalism-nerdy to even get into, but dammit, it annoys me. Who copy-edited this trash? I even just Googled “do you italicize the name of a helicopter?” but the results were unhelpful.

“Over there,” I order, pointing to the front passenger seat. “Sit. Don’t touch anything.” I’m amazed when she does as she’s told.

Really? You’re amazed that a small, college-age woman feels intimidated by the commands of an older, authoritative multimillionnaire in an aircraft she doesn’t know how to operate and won’t be able to escape from? What is confusing about that?

Do you remember the shot in the movie where Christian straps her into the seatbelt-harness of the helicopter, like she’s a literal child? That part is even creepier in the book. He’s “trying not to imagine her naked” while he does it, breathing in her “sweet, evocative scent,” and conceptualizing the straps as some kind of bondage device. “You’re secure. No escaping,” he tells her, and then, “I like this harness.” So glad I’m not Ana right now.

“You’re safe with me,” I reassure her, and add, “Well, while we’re flying.” I give her a wink, she beams, and I’m dazzled.

Is this what serial killers’ flirty banter is like?

Before and during the takeoff, there’s lots of technical jabber about helicopter motors and dashboards, etc. E.L. James: always a riveting writer. (Just wait til we get to the BDSM contract, y’all. It leaps off the page, with its many salient details about nutrition and living arrangements and clothing. Yawn.)

“Do you always impress women this way? ‘Come up and fly in my helicopter’?”
“I’ve never brought a girl up here, Anastasia. It’s another first for me. Are you impressed?”

Can we talk about how she used the word “woman” and he immediately switched it out for “girl”? This encapsulates so much about this damn book.

He takes her to his house, which is called Escala. I wonder why its name isn’t italicized like Charlie Tango. (Okay, I’ll stop being a copyediting nerd now, I promise.)

“Do you play?” She looks at the piano.
“Of course you do. Is there anything you can’t do well?”
“Yes… A few things.” Cook. Tell jokes. Make free and easy conversation with a woman I’m attracted to. Be touched…

Yikes. Just… Yikes.

He has her sign the non-disclosure agreement, which she does willingly. Then she asks if he’s going to “make love” to her tonight and he delivers one of his most well-known lines: “I don’t make love. I fuck, hard.” He invites her to check out his “playroom” and she delivers one of her most well-known lines: “You want to play on your Xbox?” Oh, honey…

He takes her in there and they have an incredibly awkward conversation that seems to indicate pretty clearly what any astute reader knew was true: Christian has very specific desires for Ana and she doesn’t have much knowledge of or interest in what he’s telling her. She seems confused, unsettled, and unwilling. Any half-decent human would have abandoned this whole endeavor if they were in Christian’s shoes, seeing how uncomfortable Ana is. But he’s Christian, and he puts his own agenda first, always.

“So you’ll get your kicks by exerting your will over me.”
Spot on, Miss Steele.
“It’s about gaining your trust and your respect, so you’ll let me exert my will over you.” I need your permission, baby. “I will gain a great deal of pleasure, joy even, in your submission. The more you submit, the greater my joy – it’s a very simple equation.”
“Okay, and what do I get out of this?”
“Me.” I shrug. That’s it, baby. Just me. All of me.

Then he shows her the bedroom where she’ll stay, Fridays through Sundays, if she agrees to the terms of his contract.

“I’ll sleep here?”
“Not with you.”
“No. I told you, I don’t sleep with anyone, except you when you’re stupefied with drink.”

Christian, you dumb shit!! You just gave her a powerful incentive to get blackout drunk more often! Not to mention, after he says this, he continues plying her with wine, even though she won’t eat anything and it’s probably not safe for her to be drinking so much on an empty stomach. Ugh, someone please delete this book from my Kindle before I throw it out a window.

“I will punish you when you require it, and it will be painful.” For example, when you get drunk and put yourself at risk.

Like right now, perhaps???

He gets frustrated with her (quite reasonable) series of questions, so he shows her the rules laid out in the BDSM contract. Their ensuing discussion leads to the revelation that Ana is a virgin.

How the hell did I get this so wrong? Anger lances through me. What can I do with a virgin? I glare at her as fury surges through my body. “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?” I growl, and start pacing my study. What do I want with a virgin?

After he calms down a bit, he tells her he wants to “rectify the situation right now.” HOW are women worldwide swooning over this character?! HOW is it at all romantic or exciting for someone to express their desire for you as wanting to “rectify [your] situation”?? A bit later, he rephrases it to, “Please, Ana, let me make love to you,” and that’s better, but still. He should have led with that.

He takes her to his bedroom and there’s a sex scene that is, actually, not terrible. He makes her come by just sucking on her nipples (unrealistic, maybe, but she does admit she’s never masturbated, so maybe a first orgasm would be that easy?) and then they fuck twice in two different positions. You know, if it weren’t for the horrible, awkward dirty talk, E.L. James might not be too awful at writing sex scenes, I will concede.

The chapter ends with Ana falling asleep next to Christian, devirginized and sated and happy. Yes! Get it, girl!

Can we just end the novel here before shit starts to get really scary?

Want to keep reading? Go to the next chapter.