The media frenzy over 50 Shades of Grey’s sadomasochistic antics and hackneyed narrative has subsided, but the trilogy continues to top bestseller lists and bedside tables. On Sunday, more than 500 women and men of all ages lined up to meet the author of the erotic trilogy, who had arrived in Miami for her U.S. book tour.
If the mixed crowd at E.L. James’s Florida book signing was any indication, the author’s “mommy porn” is catching on among daddies and even granddaddies. To wit: my 72-year-old uncle has snatched his wife’s copies of the books. I’ll admit after finishing the first installment I was ready for a break from Anastasia’s “inner goddess” and Christian’s tortured, tortured soul. But apparently I was in the minority, as 50 Shades Darker is currently No. 2 on USA Today’s bestseller list, just behind 50 Shades of Grey.
The Cinderella storyline and spanking continues in 50 Shades Darker, but Christian Grey the sadist has softened considerably in the five days since Anastasia ran away from his “Red Room of Pain” at the end of the first book. It’s not long before she’s back in his clutches and, Holy cow!—her “inner goddess” is acting out in all sorts of psychologically and physically implausible ways. Desire runs through her veins, pools in her groin, and races through her bloodstream during foreplay, but it’s clear that what she’s really getting off on is their increasingly lovey-dovey relationship. Christian doesn’t even attempt to spank her—let alone pull out the nipple clamps and ball gags—until almost halfway through the book.
Deprived of the racier BDSM scenes, the reader learns more about Christian’s dark past (hence the book’s title): his crack-whore mother; the “Mrs. Robinson” figure who turned him into a masochist; his former “Submissive.” These revelations are peppered with explicit sex scenes, but there’s more “gentle, sweet lovemaking” than in 50 Shades of Grey. The fetishistic Cinderella plot takes center stage, with Christian buying Anastasia Cartier earrings and an iPad filled with her favorite 19th-century, romantic literature. He escorts her to masquerade parties, takes her sailing on his yacht, force-feeds her oysters. Without giving too much away, there are several instances of borderline role-reversal between the “Dominant and the Submissive.” But even when Anastasia’s giving sexual orders, she’s still the same tiresomely prude good girl we remember from book one, only now she’s more comfortable playing at being bad.
Spoiler alert: the Twilight-y love story escalates in 50 Shades Darker, but the author hasn’t lost her touch when it comes to writing about sex in gory detail. Below, the most “Jamesian” passages from the second book in her Grey series.
Anastasia’s still scared of Christian’s ‘Red Room of Pain,’ but she wants his ‘kinky fuckery.’
“‘Do you want a regular vanilla relationship with no kinky fuckery at all?’” My mouth drops open.
“‘Kinky fuckery?’” I squeak … My inner goddess is down on bended knee with her hands clasped in supplication begging me. “ ‘I like your kinky fuckery,’” I whisper.” (Page 34)
‘Kinky fuckery’ includes food during foreplay and rough sex.
“[Christian] trails a spoonful of ice cream down the center of my body, across my stomach, and into my navel … He kisses each of my breasts and sucks each of my nipples hard, then follows the line of ice cream down my body, sucking and licking as he goes … ‘This way,’ he murmurs and abruptly is inside me … He leans over, releases my hands, and pulls me upright so I am practically sitting on him … He nuzzles my neck, biting down, as he flexes his hips, deliciously slowly, filling me again and again. He smiles against my neck, and his fingers curl around my jaw and throat, holding me fast for a moment.” (78, 79)
Anastasia wishes she didn’t want someone so badly who is ‘crazy with a capital K.’
“Why, oh why have I fallen for someone who is plain crazy—beautiful, sexy as fuck, richer than Croesus, and crazy with a capital K?” (104)
Anastasia forgot how much she likes when Christian spanks her really hard.
“This feels different than the last time—so carnal, so … necessary. He caresses my behind with his long-fingered hands, and I’m helpless, trussed up and pressed into the mattress, at his mercy, and of my own free will. He hits me again, slightly to the side, and again, the other side, then pauses slowly as he peels my panties down and pulls them off. He gently trails his palm across my behind again before continuing my spanking. I surrender myself to the rhythm of blows, absorbing each one, savoring each one … I moan loudly as my body takes over, and I come and come, convulsing around his fingers.” (153)
Rough sex turns into ‘gentle, sweet lovemaking.’
“He flexes his hips so his erection pushes against me … Yes. Right there … He runs his teeth along my chin, eases back, then slides into me again—so slow, so sweet, so tender—his body pressing down on me, his elbows and his hands on either side of my face. ‘Oh, Ana,’ he breathes as he lets go, my name a benediction on his lips as he finds his release. His head rests on my belly, his arms wrapped around me … I just want to enjoy the quiet serene afterglow of making love with Christian Grey, because that’s what we’ve done: gentle, sweet lovemaking.” (186, 187)
After steering Christian’s yacht, Anastasia gives into more ‘unexpected audacity.’
“I step towards him, slip my fearless fingers inside the waistband of his jeans, and tug so he’s forced to take a step closer to me. He gasps involuntarily at my unexpected audacity, then smiles down at me. I undo the button, but before I unzip him I let my fingers wander, tracing his erection through the soft denim. He flexes his hips into my palm and closes his eyes briefly, relishing my touch … I move my hands to the front of his jeans and pull down the zipper. My intrepid fingers move through his pubic hair to his erection, and I grasp him tightly." (218)
Christian bends Anastasia over a pool table, her ‘inner goddess starts to tango,’ then he spanks her with a ruler.
“ ‘I don’t’ care if you hit or miss baby. I just want to see you like this—partially dressed, stretched out on the billiard table.’ I flush, and my inner goddess grabs a rose between her teeth and starts to tango … He caresses my behind, over and over again … I bend over the table once more … ‘You missed,’ he says softly in my ear … Gently, he caresses my behind and curls his other hand around the nape of my neck, his fingers tightening around my hair at the nape, his elbow at my back, holding me down … ‘Open your legs,’ he murmurs and for a moment, I hesitate. And he smacks me hard—with the ruler!” (243, 244, 245)
Anastasia on meeting Christian’s former ‘Submissive’: Holy Fuck.
“Holy Fuck. She’s here, gazing at me with an unnerving blank expression, holding a gun. My subconscious swoons into a dead faint, and I don’t think even smelling salts will bring her back … Christian’s expression is raw, full of some unnamed emotion. This is Dominant Christian, and how at ease he looks … Finally he mouths a word at her. I can’t make out what it is, but the effect on Leila is immediate. She drops to the floor on her knees, her head bowed, and the gun falls and skitters uselessly across the wooden floor. Holy fuck.” (309, 313)
Christian submits to Anastasia, and lets her touch him ‘in the forbidden zone’ …!
“With his eyes wide and full of fear, he gently tugs my hand and places it on his chest over his heart—in the forbidden zone. His breathing quickens. His heart is beating a frantic, pounding tattoo beneath my fingers … I gasp. Oh, my Fifty! He’s letting me touch him.” (326)
Too bad he’s still a ‘sadist’ and likes to ‘whip little brown-haired girls.’
“ ‘I’m a sadist, Ana. I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore—my birth mother …” He runs a hand through his hair and almost smiles but instead sighs ruefully. ‘I’m talking about the heavy shit, Anastasia. You should see what I can do with a cane or a cat.’ ”
But then he begs her to ‘touch him where I’ve never touched him before’ and ‘unman’ him.
“I groan and run my fingernails across his back. And he gasps, a strangled moan … ‘You are going to unman me, Ana … You—take me.’ I sink down onto him … reveling in the fullness of my possession, reveling in his reaction, watching him unravel beneath me. I feel like a goddess … ‘Ana, touch me … please.’ I lean forward and steady myself with my hands on his chest … ‘Come on baby, I need this. Give it to me.’ And I explode, my body a slave to his, and wrap myself around him, clinging to him like a vine as he cries out my name, and climaxes with me, then collapses, his full weight pressing me into the mattress.” (343, 344)
Anastasia’s all about the BDSM stuff now! She trusts her sweet sadist and ‘sexual mentor.’
“‘These clamps are vicious.’ He prods the nipple clamps. ‘We’ll use these …They’re adjustable.’ Christian, my sexual mentor … My mouth is already open from panting. I open wider, and he slides a large cool metal object between my lips. Shaped like an oversized baby’s pacifier, it has small grooves or carvings … ‘I’m going to put this inside you …’ His fingers trail between my buttocks spreading oil … Instantly the plug inside me starts to vibrate—down there! ... It feels alien, full, forbidden … but oh … so … good … As my body explodes, I’m nothing but sensation—everywhere.” (487, 492, 493)