Here’s what I don’t get: I don’t get why people go crazy over books like Fifty Shades of Grey or Beautiful Disaster when there’s something like Bared to You in existence. When it all comes down to it, these books tackle almost the same core premise: an irresistibly sexy male alpha with a tortured, damaged soul, and a woman who falls helplessly in-love with him and helps him fight against his demons.
What differs is the manner of execution. Day possesses the sophistication in writing that Maguire and James utterly lacked. She managed to tackle controversial issues such as BDSM, feminism, and the characters’ emotional/psychological struggles in ways that improved the story instead of corrupting it. Her characters were sexy as hell, and not once did they strike me as offensive. Imperfect, maybe, but then again in fiction, that kind of thing is highly encouraged.
You see, for me, there is a huge freaking difference between an offensive character and an imperfect one. Take for example Travis Maddox. I have no doubt in my mind that he was supposed to be seen as a flawed human being; I was supposed to sympathize with him; I should like him despite his imperfections. But no, I found his existence intolerable and reading about him for me was painful. I could not for the life of me, understand why someone would be willing to voluntarily put up with him and therefore, he is to me an offensive character, one that could suck out any enjoyment I’d feel for a book. Thankfully for me, Sylvia Day knows how to maneuver her way between the thin lines that separate offensive and imperfect. Gideon Cross is a highly flawed character; he is obsessive, he is possessive, he doesn’t take no for an answer, he can be pushy and manipulative, he’s domineering, and he can be a bit dense, too; qualities that are all unquestionably inherent in his brand of damaged alpha male, qualities that Day’s female character counter beautifully.
Most girls who read this book probably gushed all over the place about Gideon Cross, but I would like to take a different route and say that Eva Tramell is the one who made this book as perfect as it was. Eva Tramell is gold, ladies and gentlemen. She’s smart, she’s assertive, she’s fearless; she knows her power as a woman and she wields it gloriously, she may be a bit low on the self-esteem but you would never know it because she knows how to handle Gideon; Eva doesn’t just give in to Gideon’s every whim. She stands for her decisions and life choices when she knows she’s on the right, no matter how much he doesn’t want it. Not once did Eva let Gideon tell her what she can or cannot do with her life, what she can or cannot wear. She makes her decisions and stands for it, and Gideon, because he is enamored by Eva, learns to compromise. He had to suck it and deal. There was a balance of power between their characters, and it’s empowering and sexy and adorable all at the same time.
And in all fairness to Gideon Cross, despite being hot and all that jazz, he was never disrespectful of other women in this novel. There was no mention of him using them like condoms and treating them like trash. In fact, he actually cares deeply for the women in his life and treats them like actual people with feelings, even the bitchy one who said something mean to Eva, and that’s really good because if there is something I’ve already had enough of, it’s unnecessary slut-shaming in literature. Day was good to avoid that and that’s another plus point for her in my book. Gideon, damaged as he is, was a gentleman in all the ways that matter and not only towards the woman that he’s involved with but to others as well, and as a reader and a female myself, that actually means something relevant to me. (See also: Above paragraph concerning offensive vs. imperfect characters)
Day was also clever to put both her main characters on equal footing. Both Eva and Gideon have pasts that haunt them and all of their actions and reactions when it comes to their relationship are somehow affected by the skeletons in their closet. Eva is not the only one who is trying to free Gideon from the ghosts of his past; he’s doing the same for her, and it’s actually heart-warming to see them fumbling in the dark, unsure of how to chase away the shadows but trying just the same.
For those who are worried about the BDSM components of this novel, thou shall not worry for there is very small to none. There was a mention of dominant and submissive but there never were humiliating or gross practical applications of such. No nipple clamps or whips or shit like that, thank God. I don’t think I could survive another one. The sex was hot and damn fine, raw and emotional at times, which which suits my tastes perfectly well. I think for the most part, although there were arguable semblances between this book and Fifty Shades of Grey, the sex really drew the difference. No humiliating gratification here; both Eva and Gideon get their turn to be in control of the situation, which is preferable to me over the set-up of Anna and Christian.
Additionally, I enjoyed the character dynamics in this book; the friendships were flawed but functional, the families of both MCs were both complicated, etc, ect. The chemistry and sexual tension is set just right all throughout and the pacing is sensuous, leisurely, and perfect. The secondary characters were lovable as well; I especially liked Cary because I know someone just like him (sigh), Ireland because I love little sisters who look up to their big brothers (here’s me hoping she gets more of a storyline in the next book. I’m looking at you with Bambi eyes, Sylvia!) and Mark and Stephen, too. Even Magdalene and Corrine. The roles they play in Eva and Gideon’s life help shape their story, which as you all know is something I value in books; I don’t like wasted characters and Sylvia Day worked every one of them in this novel to their full potential.
Bared to You is an erotic romance that’s tastefully done, one that I can’t help but love. In a way it feels like one hell of a preparatory course for the momentum that is building for the next novel and I’m really excited about where things would go. Will BDSM remain as a dark undercurrent or will it play a more significant role in Eva and Gideon’s sex life? What is Christopher Vidal up to? What on earth is Cary doing with his life? Will we ever meet Nathan? Just how damaged is Gideon and what’s his true story? And more importantly, despite the horrors of their past, will Eva and Gideon be able to build and nurture a healthy relationship? I demand answers to this question and part of the reason why I’m withholding a coconut in my rating is because Bared to You, satisfying as it was, didn’t answer the questions I stated above.
With that said, I am giving this book four coconuts out of five, and I’m about to begin the next one so I’d really appreciate it if you pray for my sanity. Sylvia Day is a revelation to me and I can’t believe that I have Seven Years to Sin in my Kobo for ages now and I have yet to read it. That will change soon. This book is highly recommended for those of you who like erotic romances and interesting, multi-faceted characters. I am most definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I’m really glad I decided to read this novel, and I guess that concludes what I feel is my longest review so far.