When the bombshell that was Fifty Shades of Grey dropped into the library community it forced a really interesting discussion to take place. Does "erotic literature" have a place in a library? In order to better understand some reader's potential concerns about having this material in a library where it is freely accessible to any age group, the librarians decided that we should probably read the book so we could have real conversations with our patrons. My personal conclusion after reading some of the first FSoG book was that its no different than a regular romance novel but it deals with a subculture of society that is a lot more taboo. Unfortunately, I found FSoG so badly written and overly long that I never finished the book.
I know, what does this have to do with Crossfire and Bared to You? Well, I was given Bared to You as a funny gift because I had been talking about FSoG so much with my friends. After letting it sit on my shelf for a little over 6 months I decided it was time to read it. I admit that I had very low expectations for the book, but let me say I was completely surprised at how much I enjoyed it. No, its never going to be great literature, and I still think of it as a trashy romance novel, but the author is much more succinct, in general a better writer, and the story she crafts is much more of a romance that the average person can get into. Its still steamy as hell, and deals with a lot of difficult subjects, including child abuse and rape.
It probably sounds strange, but I really appreciate that the author decided to go the route of child abuse and dark pasts because it gives the characters more depth. Where I found Anastasia and Christian to be very flat, Eva and Gideon are more real in some ways, more flawed, more willing to compromise about the things that have hurt them in the past. The books do start out similarly. Eva is typically self conscious and unaware of her own sexual power, she has a drop dead gorgeous male roommate instead of a female one, and she's somehow always surrounded by incredibly attractive men. She even falls flat on her face in front of Gideon Cross walking into his office. There is discussion of dominant vs submissive, but its more related to personalities and roles in what society thinks of as acceptable sexual behavior. But once you get past the surface similarities is where the story really takes off.
If you like romance novels, but thought the BDSM of FSoG just too much for you, I would suggest this series. Its sexy, steamy, with just that hint of Dom/Sub relationships, but its less about the games and more about the characters.