The romance plot is the same, and James has kept much of the dialogue from book one between our billionaire sadist and eager-to-please college student—lines like, “Because I’m fifty shades of fucked up, Anastasia.” But Grey gives us more of Christian’s backstory, and is narrated entirely in his voice.
Out today in time for Christian’s birthday, a fictional date that barely passes as a lame publicity stunt, James has dedicated the book to “those readers who asked… and asked… and asked… and asked for this.”
This shouldn’t come as a shock—the trilogy has sold more than 125 million copies in 52 languages, after all—yet one can’t help but wonder who these readers are, these Jamesian fanatics clamoring for more of her pitiful prose. We can assume a good number of them, upon reading sentences like, “His cool fingers trail languidly across my belly,” had to pause and breathe deeply into a paper bag.
Christian’s “long, skilled” fingers evoke his virtuosity in many arenas: He is nimble at the piano; deft at maneuvering helicopters and gliders and sailboats; meticulous when braiding Anastasia’s hair or rubbing her bottom with baby oil after a rough spanking.
Some readers may fantasize about Christian’s long fingers pulling an American Express card out of his wallet; others prefer the thought of them wrapped around a riding crop. Either way, Jamesians are still diddling themselves over Christian Grey, three years after he became a household name.
But the novelty of his “singular tastes” and Red Room of Pain has long since worn off. At the end of the day, he is a thinly sketched derivative of the brooding Mr. Rochester that Anastasia reads about in her English literature classes. In theory, his appeal lies in the fact that he’s both nurturing and mysterious. But now that Grey has given us access to his psyche, the mystery is gone, and the 27-year-old billionaire we’re left with is a consummate bore.
Christian has routine nightmares about his “crackwhore” mother and her abusive pimp, then heads to the gym to sweat out his demons (Moby and the Foo Fighters top his workout playlist). He hates golf, but has to suffer through the occasional nine holes to close business deals for Grey Enterprises Holdings (too bad he didn’t consult advisers when establishing a name for his LLC). But once Ana walks into his office, there’s only one deal he’s interested in closing: He wants to “possess” and “own” and “claim” her—a run-of-the-mill stalker who keeps a bottle of Sancerre or Chablis in his fridge at all times. He warns Anastasia that he “doesn’t do hearts-and-roses,” but secretly fantasizes about buying her diamond earrings.
Get a grip, Grey. Game on, Grey. For Fuck’s Sake, Grey.
That’s the tedious drum beat of Christian Grey’s inner monologue, comparable to Anastasia’s Holy Cows.
He may be blessed with conventional good looks, but otherwise he’s a drip with deep pockets: terrible at small talk, worse at smooth talk, and pathetically desperate for Anastasia’s loving ministrations.
But because readers “have asked… and asked… and asked,” here’s a preview of the smuttiest, most lumbering scenes in Grey.
Anastasia gets a spanking for rolling her eyes at Christian, who observes that she has a “fine, fine ass”
“I drape my right leg over her legs, holding her in place. I’ve wanted to do this since she asked me if I was gay. ‘Put your hands up on either side of your head,’ I order and she complies immediately… With great care—relishing the deed—I tug down her sweatpants. Her beautiful behind is naked and ready for me. As I place my hand on her backside, she tenses every muscle in her body … waiting. Her skin is soft to the touch and I sweep my palm across both cheeks, fondling each. She has a fine, fine ass.”
Christian contemplates Ana’s “inner freak” over a glass of Chablis and the sports section
“You have an inner freak, Ana. I know it. Closing my eyes, I recall her wet and wanting around my fingers after I spanked her. When I open them, she’s staring at me, pupils dilated, her lips parted … her tongue moistening her top lip. She wants it, too.
“I select a Chablis to have with lunch—one of the few chardonnays I like—and when I’m done I take a seat on the sofa and browse through the sports section of the paper.”
He is giddy when she submits to the riding crop, puts on a special pair of jeans for the occasion
“I want to run, but I contain my eagerness and walk purposefully downstairs to my bedroom.
“Maintain some fucking dignity, Grey. In my closet I strip off all my clothes and from a drawer pull out my favorite jeans. My DJs. Dom jeans.
Slowly I begin to circle her, drawing the crop across her skin, across her belly, her flank, her back. On my second circuit I flick the tongue at the base of her behind so it makes sharp contact with her vulva.”
More on Ana’s “vulva” (he frequently deploys clinical terms to describe her lady parts)
“I skim the leather tongue down through her pubic hair, against her vulva to her vagina. The brown leather is glistening with her arousal when I pull it back. ‘See how wet you are for this, Anastasia. Open your eyes and your mouth.’ I’d like to claim her ass. Now. But it’s too soon for that.”
Perhaps Christian is a wordsmith after all
“Her sharp intake of breath is music to my dick.”
Christian hates condoms, just wants “skin against skin” contact but doesn’t mind “period sex”
“‘I want to fuck you without a condom… Hold on to the sink,’ I command. Grasping her hips, I lift her and pull her backward so she’s bent over. My hand glides down her ass to the blue string, and I tug out the tampon, which I toss in the toilet. She gasps, shocked, I think, but I grab my cock and slide into her quickly. Fuck. She feels good. So good. Skin against skin.
“‘Does it bother you? It shouldn’t. It’s natural.’ I’ve known only one woman who was squeamish about period sex, but I wouldn’t take any of that crap from Ana.”
Christian strokes his chin with his long, skilled fingers…
“Sometimes it’s just fucking great to be me.”
After Anastasia climaxes, Christian longs for Chopin’s “somber” melodies
“And finally she explodes around me, shouting out her release and pushing me into an intense, draining climax where I lose all sense of self. I collapse on top of her as my world shifts and realigns, leaving that unfamiliar emotion swirling in my chest, consuming me …
“Chopin is my solace; the somber notes match my mood and I play them over and over. A small movement at the edge of my vision catches my attention, and looking up, I see it’s Ana coming toward me, her footsteps hesitant. ‘You should be asleep,’ I mutter, but continue playing.”
Riveting chat with Elena Lincoln, his former Dom—and the reason why he doesn’t like to be touched—who notices he’s “distracted”
“‘I haven’t seen you like this,’ she says.
“‘What do you mean?’
“‘You’re distracted. That’s not like you.’
“‘Is it that obvious?’
“She nods, her eyes softening. ‘Obvious to me. I think she’s turned your world upside down.’
“I inhale sharply but hide the fact by raising my glass to my lips.
“Perceptive, Mrs. Lincoln.
“‘You think?’ I murmur after my sip.
“‘I think,’ she says, her eyes searching mine.
“Elena was devilishly handy with a cane. It’s the only touch I could tolerate.”
Things have changed since Elena …
“Even I used to masturbate, before Elena sunk her claws into me. Ana’s probably never had an orgasm—though I find this hard to believe. Whoa. I’m responsible for her first fuck and her first orgasm. I’d better make this good.”
He’s completely bewitched by Ana’s “unbridled enthusiasm for sexual congress”
“‘Let go, baby,’ I murmur, and pull her nipple with my teeth. She cries out as she climaxes.
“Yes! I move quickly to kiss her, capturing her cries in my mouth. She’s breathless and panting, lost in her pleasure … Mine. I own her first orgasm, and I’m ridiculously pleased by the thought.
“Visions of her head thrown back in passion, of her crying out a barely recognizable version of my name, and her unbridled enthusiasm for sexual congress overwhelm me.”
And her scent, like an “orchard in springtime”
“Fuck, does she smell and taste good, an orchard in springtime, and I want my fill … Not taking my eyes off hers, I deliberately lick my lips, then lean forward and run my nose up the center of her panties, inhaling her arousal."
And her “feminine cunning”
“I withdraw my thumb from her vagina. ‘Open your mouth,’ I order, and when she does I thrust my thumb between her lips. ‘See how you taste. Suck me, baby.’
“She sucks harder; her eyes are alight with feminine cunning. I’m going to make you come like a freight train, baby.”