Remittance Girl's Reviews > Bared to You

Bared to You by Sylvia Day
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Jun 25, 12

Recommended for: readers who don't require much realism in their erotic fiction.
Read from June 24 to 26, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

I decided to read Bared To You because it was sold as a well-written version of Fifty Shades of Grey. To give credit where credit is due, Sylvia Day is not E.L. James. Her grammar is good, she varies her sentence structures and, although her propensity for purple prose is at times off-putting, she's a competent wordsmith. That being said, I would not want to imply there was anything remotely literary about this book. There isn't. Which is a shame, because someone should start writing literary erotica again.

It was certainly gratifying to discover that at least this heroine wasn't a 22-year old virgin who'd never masturbated. However, like FSOG, it casts improbably young people in improbably mature situations. Eva is 22, a recent graduate who has landed a job at an ad agency in Manhattan with little to recommend her. She lives in an apartment with a wine fridge and a bi-sexual roommate who tucks bottles of Cristal on ice for her as a favour. Gideon Cross is a 28-year old billionaire who seems to own half of Manhattan.

I have to admit to being puzzled by the choice of age of the characters, both in this novel and in 50 Shades, until I realized that there is no way the litany of contrived conflicts in the plot would work with even marginally mature grown-ups. It takes characters with hair-trigger reactions, non-existent impulse control and an expectation that your lover comes to you without a past to make the plot move forward. Just like 50 Shades, the story jerks spasmodically along from emo moment to sex scene to emo moment like pawns doggedly inching their way across a chessboard of adolescent over-reactions.

The sex is interestingly written. It's a rather strange hybrid between female-focused sex acts and the sort of cliché-ridden over-explicit dialogue that people who learn from porn-sites call 'dirty talk'. He's either going down on her repeatedly, or gasping out lovelorn remarks like 'your cunt's so tight'. Well, she's 22. I'm not sure how this goes down with the mommy consumers of mommy porn. Does it remind them to redouble their kegel exercise efforts, or do they resign themselves to saving their pennies for a vaginoplasty?

Still, I'm unsure whether it's the sex that is supposed to get you off or the conspicuous consumption. The book is littered with brand names. An ever-present materialism thrums like drone through the whole novel and is eerily reminiscent of Bret Easton Ellis's psychopaths obsession with brand names. It is so ubiquitous, I have to wonder if the 'kink' hiding in this story isn't actually subliminal "1% fetishism". Except, of course, the 1% doesn't refer to everything by brand name. It's the wannabe 1% who do that - or psychopaths.

Along with the consumerism is an unvarying textual obeisance to the buff, ripped, perfect body. No one in this novel has any flaws. No one is plump, no one is bony, no one has acne, no one has visible scars. No one has a single physical shortcoming. It's a world of Calvin Klein ad models, toned and photogenicly sheened in odorless sweat, fucking on the immaculately decorated set of a feature piece for Vogue.

Their perfect bodies might be read as an ironic juxtaposition to their myriad emotional scars. But probably not. It has the heavy taint of soap opera about it: the baseless, instant jealousies that are conveniently forged into both signs of inner damage and smoldering romantic love. There is a supporting cast of the mildly villainous and the long-sufferingly loyal to provide that friction: catty female rivals and overly affectionate gay friends. Puppets to adorn the rococo melodrama.

Don't mistake me. There is actually a very compelling and rather serious plot beneath the glutinous and facile emo soup.(view spoiler) Had this been a novel about two realistic, imperfect, damaged souls who struggled to negotiate a sexual and emotional relationship in the wake of those experiences, it would have been a very good, and very hot, novel.

But sadly, this novel has used what might have been a very credible and almost insurmountable internal conflict and commoditized it, much like the bodies, the wardrobes, the interior décor and the characters.

Perhaps I'm just not the right sort of woman to read these types of books. I don't need my fiction strewn with glossy images of super-rich lifestyles, impossibly sculpted bodies, decorated with brand products, or have my fictional mental traumas used to such transparently sensational plot-driven ends. The explicit sex doesn't compensate for the number of times I rolled my eyes while reading this. I miss reading stories about adults.

Finally, I am quickly recognizing the blatantly mercenary strategy for publishers to manipulate readers into buying into a whole series by shoddily and abruptly ending the first book. Both this book and FSOG used this strategy. It is a supreme comment on how publishers - even the big ones like Random House and Penguin - have become nothing more than Mall-Chain discount sellers. No wonder they are quickly loosing their legitimacy as arbiters of good fiction.
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Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by Lisabet (new)

Lisabet Sarai Fantastic review, RG. I haven't read the book, but I've encountered this sort of weird product placement in a number of erotic romances I've read. For me it's totally puzzling. I mean, who CARES what brand of shirt or cologne or watch or car someone owns? Some readers, apparently!

message 2: by Remittance (last edited Jun 27, 2012 10:37PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Remittance Girl Yes! There seems to be a 'romance of wealth' that harkens back to a much earlier age when a man could guarantee not only sexual safety, but financial safety too, perhaps? I'm not sure.

I guess, because of my background, I find it particularly offensive. I don't want to have Boss or Prada marketing subliminally ground into my subconscious while I'm reading erotica. And I fear erotica and erotic romance are types of literature that demand the deep engagement of the reader. It's very hard to really enjoy and submerge in a story if I feel forced to read critically and be on the lookout for propaganda. We want readers to open up their emotions to the story. So when all this consumerism gets stuffed in there, I guess I see it as pernicious and manipulative concerning areas of my consciousness I don't want manipulated.

message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris Garcia I love your line about pawns doggedly etc. That's wonderful to read. I was thinking about what you've said about this book and the enormous popularity of FSOG. I agree with everything you say about that book in your blog, I've been trying to read it and dropped off on about page 90 and now I'm reading Lisabet's Bangkok Noir which I enjoy a lot more. I think the popularity of soap operas and books like FSOG is the fantasy element, they are popular exactly because they are so divorced from people's daily experience of life. They're not challenging. As a general thing billionaires don;t fall in love with young nobodies who say "Holy crap!" all the time. Young handsome muscular billionaires - fuggedabodit. Those guys got options. They fall in love with other billionaires and get prenups. But its exciting to fantasize about it. When you have a chance, look up a non-fiction book called "A Billion Wicked Thoughts" which you can buy or preview on Google Books. Its breaks all this down into a remarkable formula that will probably make you scream or laugh or both.


message 4: by Chris (new)

Chris Garcia One more thing - consumerism.

When you get a chance read or preview on Google Books Brett Easton's "American Psycho". The character in first person narrative takes consumerism to an extreme and the author actually uses the characters fetishistic obsession with status consumer products to covey to the reader in a subtle way how dangerously crazy he is. As soon as he sees someone he always starts off by obsessively describing and critiquing very article of clothing the person is wearing. Its a kind of obsessive compulsive thing.


Remittance Girl Hey Garce,

I've read American Psycho. It's a heck of a read and Ellis is a great writer.

I guess my problem is that I just don't fantasize about 27 year old, ripped billionaires. Quite honestly, the thought kind of turns my stomach.

message 6: by Chris (new)

Chris Garcia I can;t think of a single 27 year old ripped billionaire in existence in the real world, with the exception of Mark Zuckerberg who is a decent guy and not especially handsome or ripped. Its pure fantasy, like vampires who speak french and are fabulously wealthy in spite of being serial killers who are unable to earn a living or do anything in the daytime. It appeals to something more primitive inside of us. I had the opportunity to meet Charlaine Harris who created the Sooky Stackhouse novels that HBO made into "Trueblood" and asked her why in the world male vampires had become such powerful sex symbols. She laughed and said she really didn't know.



Ashleyb Wow, great review! I couldn't have put it any better.

message 8: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Great review! I'm one third of the way through this book and I'm really tired of the "dirty talk". One of the things I liked about 50 Shades is that E L James was at least tasteful about describing body parts & she actually created a story where the reader roots for the characters. Sorely lacking in this book! I find myself not really caring about Eva or Gideon. I'll finish the book for the sake of giving it a chance but, as of now, I'm seriously disappointed. Cancelling my pre-order of book two from Amazon.

Remittance Girl No, I must admit, I could not care for them either, and a month after reading the book, none of it, save the blatant consumerism, has stayed with me.

message 10: by Kemz (new)

Kemz I am yet to read a book with a strong compelling female character that understands her own strengths and weaknesses, acts mature, and is willing to make sensible mistakes and develop as the story evolves. Rather we get characters that have no depth , allow her man command her to eat, sit, shut up, come, go, am I the only one offended by those remarks? Plus I'm not surprised by the adolescent reaction to problems in a relationship, Eva and Ana are the most annoying characters iv ever read in any book' ever. My main disappointment is the character development, yes we all want to believe in " loving someone has no explanation" how ever there should be a trigger that special thing about you that we readers can see, ( other than your blonde hair eva)If a man has been fucking chicks with no commitment all his life and you come into his life and change that I want to understand how and why unless you are Cinderella. Hell Cinderella even has more depth than Eva and Ana . I thought it couldn't get any worse than Ana, well ladies it just did

Eva walks out for no damn reason
She slaps his face ( I don't know about you but that was just rude)
The only way to prove she is a strong woman that takes no bull from a man is by walking out on him after a nightmare

She ( and him) are both stalkers and both writers in their minds think that's sexy well el and Sylvia its not sexy it's just crazy

I am yet to finish it but so far it's been boring I was warned but I'm very stubborn I had to see for myself

message 11: by Remittance (last edited Jun 28, 2013 04:57PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Remittance Girl I never write a review to convince someone not to read a book. No book is ever a waste of time, even when it's disappointing. A book is always going to arrive in the readers hands with certain expectations attached.

This is, ultimately, the sublimity of reading. That in good books, we have our expectation both met and challenged. Reading should be an adventure and we all have to be willing to have some of our expectations left un-met, and, happily, have new ones forged for the next reading experience.

After reading this novel, I really began to think hard about how a couple with equally hideous pasts might actually and believably negotiate a relationship.

message 12: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen You mean we all shouldn't have aspired to marry at 22!? ;) lol

Victoria Maniotis this was an excellent review. I just finished the book and was trying to describe to a friend (who loved it) why I was so annoyed with it. I couldn't find the words to describe it to her, however you nailed it. I am sending her this review now.

Phyllis What a great review. I absolutely loved the sentence "Had this been a novel about two realistic, imperfect, damaged souls who struggled to negotiate a sexual and emotional relationship in the wake of those experiences, it would have been a very good, and very hot, novel. " Perfect description.

message 15: by Stella (new)

Stella K Oh wow. You sure know how to write a wholesome review. I am totally blown away by the depth of your analysis, and should you ever wish to review THE CLOSING by STELLA K, I'd read carefully what you had to say. Well written!

message 16: by Lisa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Taylor Excellent review! I feel the same way but could never articulate it as well.

message 17: by K8 (new) - rated it 1 star

K8 I totally agree with the following: "Had this been a novel about two realistic, imperfect, damaged souls who struggled to negotiate a sexual and emotional relationship in the wake of those experiences, it would have been a very good, and very hot, novel.

Now THAT might have been a good book.

message 18: by Mary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mary Great review, right on the spot. You had me nodding all the way.

message 19: by Stella (new)

Stella K Kemz wrote: "I am yet to read a book with a strong compelling female character that understands her own strengths and weaknesses, acts mature, and is willing to make sensible mistakes and develop as the story e..."

I am totally with you on the lack of compelling female characters. I think it's what propelled me -even if subconsciously- to create Bella Nars in THE CLOSING.

Anuja Wonderful review! Sums up almost everything that I wanted to say.

Holly Blackstone Stunned by how well you enumerated your objections and concerns - thank you! I agree there should be more 'literary erotica' instead of insipid and unbelievable erotic (romantic) novels. We're a sufficiently intelligent lot, aren't we? We require more than sophomoric writing and threadbare storyline.

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