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Bared to You by Sylvia Day Book Review
My rating for this book: ♥ (1 heart out of 5)
*rating system located at the end of this hub*
*Beware! This REVIEW is filled with SPOILERS!!!*
During the fall of 2013, after having read Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James the previous fall, I did an online search to find books like Fifty Shades just to see what would pop up. Not surprisingly, a number of novels turned up on various websites. Established romance authors seemed to have jumped at the chance to pen their own version of Fifty Shades so they, too, could cash in on the craze. There probably wouldn't have been a problem with this, in my opinion, if the majority of them hadn't copied James's entire plot, barely making any changes to the circumstances that the original story had given its characters, and completely unable to make their characters more captivating than Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. Not that most people that liked Fifty Shades seemed to mind that they were reading the same book over and over again, just penned by more experienced writers than James—which is more than a little disturbing.
One book stood out, though, and I decided to check it out of the library after reading its positive reviews on Amazon. Do you want to know why I checked it out of the library instead of buying it from the store? My answer is simple: I was fooled into purchasing several books over the past few years after reading their descriptions, sample pages, and reviews on Amazon, only to have them arrive by UPS and for them to end up being complete garbage…and a waste of my money. Call me a penny-pinching miser all you want, but I don't like spending $5-$12 on books that turn out to be absolute duds.
And I am so happy I did not spend any money on Bared to You by Sylvia Day.
Let me start by saying I absolutely HATED this book. Did I hate it from the very first page? No, I did not, but I did end up loathing the entire story by the last page. Do you want to know why I hated it? I'll tell you why, a couple of paragraphs from now, but I should probably begin from the beginning.
Back in 2013, Bared had only a handful of one and two star reviews on Amazon as opposed to over 4,000 five-star reviews, and I took that ratio as a very good sign. I read a few of the five stars where readers claimed that Bared was BETTER than Fifty Shades and that they wished they'd read Bared INSTEAD of Fifty Shades. Since I read Fifty Shades and actually liked the book, I thought those were some pretty big claims to make. Now, Fifty Shades is not without its faults, but I've always admitted that regardless of its flaws, I think it is a good story. The praise for Bared seemed to go on and on under the five and four-star reviews, and when I got down to the book's negative reviews they seemed scant. One person claimed the book was boring, another claimed it was just a copy of Fifty Shades (which didn't really surprise me), and another person called it disgusting, but none of those people with the negative reviews actually pointed to anything specific in the story that would turn off a potential reader. If anything, reading the negative reviews of Bared to You made me want to read it even more to see how wrong those negative-Nellies were. I've always thought that if you're going to give a negative review, you'd better give a damn good reason why you think their writing stinks since you're ultimately ripping apart someone's work, and those reviewers hadn't done that. They were vague, and I don't like vague negative reviews.
I'm not going to be vague in this review, trust me.
First of all, unlike the wait I had for Fifty Shades of Grey, I received Bared to You in less than three days after putting myself on the waiting list for it (actually, I don't think there was a waiting list; I just "borrowed" it from another library located in another county). I'll be the first to tell you that being on a waiting list for a book for that short period of time, and it's supposed to be very popular and well-liked by the public, isn't necessarily a good sign. A book doesn't have to be a new release for it to be popular and for your wait to be long at the library, trust me. I waited four months before I got Fifty Shades of Grey. I waited for that book so long I was tempted to buy it, but I was not going to spend $11 for a book that had 10,000+ negative reviews at the time (I've since bought Fifty Shades of Grey, by the way, LOL). On the other hand, I waited nearly seven months before I received The Fault in Our Stars, and I'm glad I waited instead of spending any money on it because although I did like it, I didn't think it was unbelievably amazing as everyone claimed it was *shrugs*. It's a crapshoot. However, I'll admit that when I left the library that day with Bared in my hands, I wasn't just excited to read it, I felt lucky that my wait for it hadn't been so long. Truthfully, I thought that maybe I'd found some treasure that a lot of other people hadn't discovered yet, and they were still hung up on Fifty Shades of Grey when all along there was probably a better book out there.
Boy, was I about to be proven wrong on that theory.
I got home, made myself comfortable, and started reading. The first thing I noticed was Bared to You started off very…boring—just as one of the readers under the one-star reviews had already noted. But I didn't want to blame the story, not right off the bat. What did I do? What I always do, of course…I blamed myself. I thought that despite the fact that I'd been geared up to read that story, maybe it was just my brain that was misconstruing Day's words on the first handful of pages and it only seemed tiresome at the time to me. There were endless descriptions of the city and the main character's surroundings, and I just wanted the story to start because the author sounded as if she were rambling on about nothing at all. I guess since that's how Fifty Shades began, she figured she'd do the same. Go figure.
The other thing I noticed about the character development from the start was that in Bared to You, I felt as if I weren't just getting normal character introductions, I felt as if I were being introduced to their neuroses as well. Mind you, I'm one of those readers who hate to be told everything within a story right up front instead of the author fleshing out dialogue and circumstances to make me learn things about the characters and their issues and what makes them tick. I'll give you an example. I don't especially like it when authors write things like this: "Marlo is depressed. She has been in that way since her son died two years ago. All she wants to do is sleep." Instead of perhaps writing it like this: "Marlo held the photo of her son in her hand, studying his features, even though she tended to avoid looking at it most days. Looking at his face in such exquisite detail made her realize he was the one person that was missing in her life. Just looking at a picture of him made her heart ache. He was the only person she wanted, the only one who mattered, and he was the one person she knew she couldn't pick up her phone and call, or see him walking up her driveway toward her front door with that familiar smile on his face ever again. For two years, she didn't understand how she had been able to continue living, but she had. If she could, she'd sleep the rest of her life away, but she knew that wasn't the way things worked." The second version is much longer, but it also doesn’t make me feel as if the author thinks I'm stupid, as a reader, and in turn, I don't think the author is an idiot either. Without the author actually coming out and saying that Marlo's son died in the second example, the reader can surmise as much from the context if the reader has at least two brain cells. The first example was the way Day approached her characterizations in Bared to You, and I'll admit, it started turning me off, but apparently not completely, because I continued reading the story. Every single time a character's name was brought up in the story, you didn't learn about them as if they were "real people", but you learned about them as if they were in their therapist office and you were getting a rundown of their lifelong problems.
Reading Sylvia Day's version of Fifty Shades, I felt as if I were reading her "response" to James's story with Bared. Mind you, this is all my opinion, but I read both books, and I felt as if Sylvia Day was, in her own way, correcting certain things that she thought E.L. James did wrong in her novel. And one of those things, I felt, was that she was literally spelling out her characters' mental and emotional issues in Bared to You unlike what James did in Fifty Shades of Grey. A lot of people don't see, and wouldn't see, anything wrong with what Day did in her novel, not the way I did. A lot people that read the Bared actually liked what Day with her characters and the way she spelled out every single issue they had. But Sylvia Day also had a built-in fan base with her series because she was already an award-winning novelist in the romance genre and there were lots of people who already liked her style of writing; that is not a secret, look it up, it's all online.
After learning about some of the main character's issues and her gay male roommate's issues, along with a couple of other people's issues after a few pages, the reader is introduced to Gideon Cross. What an absolute tactless asshole dickwad he turned out to be. My first impression of this character was not that he was suave or sexy, but that he had absolutely no game, and the only women who would be attracted to him would have to be shallow airheads that would only be with a man because he was rich and handsome. That didn't really say much for the main character in the story, Eva Trammel.
What was his pickup line to Eva, you ask? Mind you, I'm paraphrasing here because it's been so long since I read the book, but he basically said, "I want to fuck you." As a woman with some respect for herself, if that had been me and a man I'd never met before in my life leaned in and said something like that I would have immediately walked away from him without another word. Many other women would have hauled off and slapped him. What he said was the equivalent of a man darting his tongue out of his mouth and wiggling at a woman he likes to simulate his oral sex skills. What did the female character in this book do, however? She claimed to be "offended" by what Gideon said to her, but then she admitted that she was turned on by it. I was like, "WHAT?!" Then I remembered Gideon was very handsome and rich so that negated anything that came out of his mouth, and any woman in this book that didn't immediately fall in love with him was out of her mind. I was wrong (apparently), the characters and their reactions were right—my bad.
At this point in the story, I foolishly still had high hopes that it would get better. I just want to say that if a book isn't good by page forty or so, it probably isn't going to magically become good, but I wanted desperately to believe that this book would improve. Well, wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up first. In other words, of course it didn't get any friggin' better.
Eva and Gideon began their torrid romance. Does it really matter how it began? I don't even recall how they actually got together, but after reading his very first come on to her, what sort of writing do you think would bring them together as a couple? And they were the most annoying couple to read about EVER. They had the most childish relationship I've ever had to endure on paper before. Every single thing upset Eva and she would run away from Gideon. Every five pages it seemed Gideon would do something offensive and Eva would go running out the door. All she had to do was think about the circumstances she was in for all of two minutes and she'd bolt; then Gideon would start running behind her, begging her to come back to him. That didn't just happen twice, mind you, that happened at least three or four times, and after the second time I was rolling my eyes and telling Gideon to find another chick. None of these characters had any kind of appeal to their personalities that would have made someone want to be with them that I could see. Oh yeah, Gideon was rich, and they were both good looking—lest I forget. It was also spelled out in DETAIL, and at more than one interval, that Eva had commitment issues because of her past traumas, and the author felt the need to exemplify this issue repeatedly.
Although this book contains sexually explicit content, I want to make it known that this is not a sexy carefree book with some drama intertwined to keep the reader interested. The drama that unfolds is more disturbing than captivating, and that was my biggest issue with this book aside from the exceedingly boring writing.
It is revealed somewhere in the middle of the book (or a little bit beyond that portion) that Eva had been raped as a child, starting at the age of ten, I believe. If the mere knowledge of that wasn't bad enough, the author went into even more disturbing details. Apparently, Eva's sadistic older stepbrother had raped her for YEARS. When her mother finally took her to a doctor in her teens (I can't recall if she was thirteen or fifteen by that time, which was mind blowing), it was revealed that she had vaginal and anal scarring from all the abuse she'd suffered.
I realize this is a fictional novel, and someone reading this hub might think I'm going a little overboard with what I'm about to say, but let's step into reality for a minute here (usually I'm against that when it comes to fiction, but just hear me out on this one). There is no way on earth that a child, male or female, would be able to hide the evidence of constantly being raped by anyone when they're living under the same roof as their parent unless that parent is either the one doing the abusing, in complete denial of the situation, or they are horribly neglectful of their child(ren). That's just the bottom line. Of course, a child is going to try to hide the evidence of their abuse because most of them are not only ashamed, but they are also probably blaming themselves for being attacked. However, no matter how much a ten-year-old girl, especially when it comes to her mother, tries to hide the evidence, there is no possible way she could keep that from her mother for YEARS unless her mother absolutely cares nothing about her and pays her absolutely no attention. I'm about to get graphic here, so prepare yourself if you keep reading. First of all, she won't only have to deal with yeast infections, but a female's body is so delicate, there will be all sorts of signs of the abuse to do with her private parts. I don't care if there are servants in the house; you mean to tell me that a REAL mother wouldn't be looking at her little girl's dirty clothes just to make sure everything is okay with her or even to see that she's cleaning herself properly? I realize that not every mother does this, but it's normal for a mom to check up on her child's things, and she would have noticed semen stains somewhere or blood somewhere. Little girls at that age change clothes in front of their mothers at times, and regardless of how a teenage boy would hit a girl so the bruises wouldn't show, eventually her mother would have (or should have) known something was wrong, I don’t care how much her daughter lies. Not only that, but if she's been abused for years, there would also be telltale signs in her behavior. And last, but definitely not least, I don't care if she's threatened repeatedly, eventually—and I'm talking about after the first few rapes within the first few months—she's going to tell her mother in some way, somehow. Being violently raped over and over again, night after night, for three years or more, is a lot for a teen or an adult to hold in, let alone a child. I realize there are exceptions to every rule because people are different, and so are situations, but no matter how much we stick to that theory, we aren't that different as people when it comes to certain things.
When you're writing what a reader thinks is supposed to be a kind of "fun" erotic journey, filled drama here and there, and good sex, I personally believe you're supposed to keep some of the heavy stuff to a minimum because it will start to turn people off your story. There is a big difference between dramatic twists and turns in a book, and shocking your reader into wanting them to read more, as opposed to layering your story with disturbing character revelations that make you feel sorry for the character to point where it's not a fun and intriguing story anymore. Feeling a little sympathy for a character, and feeling downright sorry for them to the point where you're almost depressed because of their problems are two different things in my eyes.
Topics you should stay away from, or choose your words and/or character circumstances very carefully when it comes to these matters when writing erotica are: suicide or other means of death, rape, religion, various kinds of mental/emotional/physical abuse, and mental illness. I'm not saying a writer can't incorporate those things into their erotic stories, but if a writer does, they better damn sure know how wield their pen to keep us, the readers, wanting more instead of being so irritated we put their work down. In the case of Bared to You, Sylvia Day simply didn't seem to know what she was doing when she incorporated those rape details into her book and I'll explain why.
Only a handful of pages after informing us of what Eva had gone through as a child, along with the additional traumatizing details, Day jumped right into a graphic sexual situation between Eva and Gideon that was more disconcerting than hot. The reader hadn't even gotten a chance to process Eva's past rape and already she had the characters pawing at one another, having sex. I was like, "What?! Eww…" Then again, not only didn't the reader get a chance to digest the horrific information, neither did the character, Gideon. Seconds after telling Gideon what happened to her, Eva suggests they have sex, and when Gideon was apprehensive about it, Eva flies into a tirade, accusing Gideon of having lost interest in her after knowing about her past ordeal. Now, I hate to say that an author is nuts because of their character's actions, because—again—this is fiction, but all the evidence illustrated that either Sylvia Day isn't a bright person or Eva Trammel isn't—or wasn't—because that didn't make any sense.
I realize that people actually feel this way after being raped, or assaulted in other ways. They feel that if their partner knows certain things about them, they will become undesirable in their eyes, and that is really heartbreaking. And it's especially heartbreaking when a person's partner does end up looking at them differently and doesn't want to be with them after finding out that something awful happened to them that was beyond their control. I also know some of those things firsthand. But this is fiction. You should use common sense as a writer and realize there are certain boundaries you shouldn't cross because it's not going to be appealing to the reader. I don't know if something similar like that happened to the author in her actual life, but to me, it sounded as if she read up on the psychosomatic effects post-rape and incorporated it into her book without actually knowing how.
Secondly, fictional character or not, I was amazed that Gideon was able to get it up in the book only about 3 minutes after hearing what happened to Eva. I'm assuming—beyond his other boorish ways—that Gideon was a normal man that wouldn't be aroused in the least by the details of Eva's assault, and he pretty much attempted to illustrate that he wasn't interested in sex right then, but Eva wouldn't leave him alone. A normal man's reaction after hearing that someone had raped the woman he likes/loves repeatedly is ANGER at the person who hurt her, and second to that is the need to comfort her—NOT fuck her silly. It's also amazing to me that these female writers write these "all powerful" mogul men, yet they seem to lack rudimentary verbal and negotiation skills. I would assume that a man like Gideon, who is always in constant communication with other business men and women, and has to discuss various business deals, as well as mergers with different companies, would be able to explain to his girlfriend that he still loves her and wants to be with her no matter what happened in her past. I would have assumed that instead of letting Eva and her outrageous whining talk him into having sex with her at that moment, he would have found some way to reassure her without using sex as a tool or a Band-Aid, because that's not healthy either. If you have two characters with all kinds of severe emotional problems and sexual dysfunctions, how are you going to make their sexscapades good for the reader to just enjoy and get lost in? Trust me, if your characters have too many negative issues going on, (normal) people aren't going to fall in love with them or their story, even if they can relate on some level. Nobody is reading erotic fiction to be depressed or for counseling—we're reading for entertainment.
Let's talk about Gideon for a second here. If you thought what I mentioned about Eva was disturbing, get a hold of Mr. Cross. We knew he had emotional issues after some trauma happened to him when he was young—every friggin' character in this book did, after all—but his even freaked me the hell out. I'm going to try to make this short and as painless as possible. Eva woke up to him doing something to himself one night in bed, but it wasn't sensual in the least, and it wouldn't have turned anybody on that I know of. Gideon was asleep and he started to touch himself "violently", let's just say. I kind of wanted to close the book at that point because I felt that all of those character issues were going too far. In fact, I did close the book for a couple of days at that point because the story had just gotten…ugh.
This book wasn't at all what I'd expected it to be. Sometimes that's a good thing; this time, it really wasn't. I thought I was picking up a nice light read that would suck me in and keep me reading along, enjoying every word the author had to offer, and I would scramble for the second book in the series. This book was so bad I had to force myself to finish reading it. Usually, I don't do that. If a book is bad, I stop reading it and either it starts collecting dust on my shelf or I quickly turn it back in to the library. Only this time, for some odd reason, I felt a dire need to finish the story, and I can't exactly explain why.
Let me back up a little bit…
At first, the book was just sort of boring, but around page seventy or so, I thought it was starting to get interesting. Yes, you read that correctly…page 70-something! That's when the story seemed to start to pick up. For about five pages it did, then it sort of lulled down again. I'm not joking and I'm not trying to be mean, that's just how it was reading that book.
There were a couple of hot sex scenes between Gideon and Eva, I'll give Day that much, but that's about it. I think they were at a party at Gideon's family's house or somewhere and they snuck away and I have to admit, that was the good sloppy sex I was hoping to read about, but it could not make up for the rest of the story.
One thing I cannot leave out of this review is one of the last scenes in the story. Talk about HORRIFYING! Eva went back home, and I think she was upset for some reason (she was upset during most of the book after meeting Gideon, so her mood was no shocker) and she walked in on her friend/roommate having an orgy in their living room. I am no stranger to any kind of erotica. Reading about nearly any kind of sex in graphic detail is not offensive to me in the least. I am far from a prude. In fact, I consider myself the anti-prude. But I'm telling you, the orgy that her roommate was participating in made me want to vomit. I'm not kidding or exaggerating. I don't remember exactly what happened, and I'm glad I don't. All I know is I'm glad I wasn't having a snack while I read that portion of the story because I probably would have upchucked all over the book and would have had to pay for it, and I really would've been pissed off then.
The bottom line is this: Gideon and Eva are the poor man's Christian and Ana. The entire story of Bared to You was nothing more than a pitiful rip off of Fifty Shades of Gray. The main differences were that Gideon wasn't trying to get Eva to sign a contract so he could have Dom/Sub relationship with her. For anyone who claims that those two books are absolutely different, they're right, they are; Fifty Shades is about 10,000 times better than Bared could ever hope to be. I thought it was amusing how Day acknowledged James at the beginning of her novel, lumping her in with a bunch of other people, when she should have just thanked James alone for giving her a basic plot for her trilogy. Bared is the same story, it just has all of the personality and allure leeched out of it that Fifty Shades possessed.
I want to make something clear. I don't think Fifty Shades of Gray is a masterpiece like so many women out here seem to think it is. While I liked the story, it was poorly written. The dialog was bad and obviously James was just "playing around" with being a writer; her story just blew up and became larger than life. If the book hadn't been so popular, I never would have read it, and after having read it, I don’t understand how it became so huge. Something else I want to make clear is that it's obvious that Sylvia Day is a better writer "technically" than E.L. James, meaning she writes like a woman who knows what is acceptable by publishers as a mainstream romantic fictional novel. When I found out (afterward) that Day had already been an established romance author, everything made sense. While the story was bad, I could tell she's a good "technical" writer. So many authors are like that. Their stories are horrible, but they're good writers in a technical sense; they have their degrees and their experiences in the writing field, so they can still get publishing deals. Simple as that.
I don't really like to say that I don't recommend anyone else read a particular book in my reviews if it's obvious that I don't like the story, but it's up to you to pick up this book after reading what I've said about it. I didn't like the characters in Bared to You, I didn't like the story, and nearing the end when Day tried to add some kind of weird "twist" to the plot to keep the reader intrigued (there was some kind of scandal going on and someone was hiding in the bushes or some shit) I ended up laughing out loud. I was like, "Is she kidding? She throws that in at the end of the story thinking that's going to make me want to pick up the second book? Bitch, please." To be honest, the "scandal" sounded pathetic as I was reading about it, it seemed like a pathetic attempt to keep the reader interested in a lackluster trilogy, and it actually just seemed like an overall pathetic last-minute attempt at creativity.
Read Bared to You at your own discretion. Thousands of other women LOVED it, apparently, and I am just one woman. But my verdict is, the characters' emotional baggage overshadowed the story's entertainment value, and I will be one happy woman if I never pick up a Sylvia Day novel ever again in my life.
My rating system is pretty standard:
5 hearts= Great (I really adore this story; possibly one of my favorite books)
4 hearts=Good (I went out and bought it, and trust me, I'm a cheap bastard)
3 hearts=Fair (to make this one clear, I'll say: the book isn't that bad, but it's not good either)
2 hearts=Bad (Think twice before reading it, and even harder before buying)
1 heart= I finished it, but that's about it
I didn't bother to finish it…it was that bad.