Anastasia's Reviews > Bared to You

Bared to You by Sylvia Day
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's review
Aug 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-romance
Read on August 18, 2012

I loved this book!

It's important to understand that it's not a book about BDSM, and it's not trying to be. Bared To You is a story about two damaged people attempting to hash out a functional relationship together; to build and maintain trust, to co-exist without triggering one another, and to reclaim parts of their sexuality that were tainted together.

It could be faulted for perpetuating the stereotype that all kinksters into BDSM have been abused as children, but since it's not about BDSM, I don't think that's a fair conclusion.

It is not unusual for victims of abuse to seek to reclaim, or even recreate, aspects that they find triggering in a safe and consensual environment. Suspension of disbelief is required for some of the standard romance tropes - everyone is unbelievably, inhumanly attractive, the love interest is unrealistically young and successful, earth-shattering sex, etc.
Still, despite the usual trivial romance aspects and the whirlwind timeframe, the characters are well fleshed-out, very obviously separate, defined people with their own thoughts and justified behaviour.
Neither the heroine nor the hero are perfect (neither are they particularly heroic), they both display different safety behaviours and coping mechanisms developed over the years.

The heroine, Eva, was particularly believable for me and easy to relate to. She is portrayed as someone who has done a lot of work to get past what happened to her, she has an important support network - most notably a best friend she met in a support group - but she routinely expects and fears rejection, has believable fits of spiralling anxiety and low self-esteem beyond the trite "I'm not pretty" spiel we see from a lot of YA literature. Her tendency to cut-and-run, to avoid situations and confrontations that she found upsetting or anxiety-provoking struck a chord with me, as well as her trying to overcome it.

Both characters are damaged, jealous, possessive, unstable people, and the best friend, Cary, has his own issues. His relationship with the heroine, not being reduced to a clichéd love triangle but adding some complex conflict nonetheless, is one of the things that made this a more engrossing read for me. I could easily get invested in the character drama and relationships; I envied Eva for the bonds she had with her father and with Cary.

I do think the book suffers from the attractiveness aspects being pushed to extremes - everyone is too pretty, too young, too rich, too successful to be believable. I can get over it, though, because the characterisation is actually brilliant, and the people involved are more than just a hollow suggestion of the ideal fantasy figures.

Some power-exchange ideas feature in the book, brief mentions of D/s relationships with both main characters clearly aware of the terminology, but there is no real BDSM, and it is clear that the contemporary romance aspects tie into the characters' backgrounds. I was expecting perhaps more romantic suspense, as there were any number of unbalanced, potentially-dangerous adversarial characters, but it's not that sort of book.

Don't be put off by the purple prose of the blurb, thankfully the book doesn't have much of that, aside from the obligatory too-often-repeated references about how impossibly appealing every single aspect of the male lead is. This is surprisingly well-written, has some good character insights, great characterisation and is easy to get sucked into the characters' personal drama and their relationships. I found the dynamic with Eva's best friend just as interesting as her struggling relationship with Gideon.
We are not plagued with constant, obnoxious flashbacks of childhood trauma or gratuitous gory detail. I thought the subject was handled both sensitively and realistically, and the idea of the couple trying to reclaim triggering events was a pretty good excuse for a lot of the aforementioned earth-shattering sex scenes.

Fifty Shades is a Twilight fanfic, with no characterisation, dreadful writing, and almost as many plot holes as expletives. Bared To You is a contemporary romance about the struggles in trying to make a 'happily-ever-after for the fucked-up crowd' with a healthy dose of smut thrown in. Fucked-up people need love, too, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Since vanilla romance does nothing for me, I hope that this trend of including some power-exchange aspects continues in other books. Personally, I'm hoping for a surge in urban-fantasy/contemporary romance crossovers.
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Quotes Anastasia Liked

Sylvia Day
“I want there to be happily-ever-afters for the fucked-up crowd. Show me the way, Eva honey. Make me believe.”
Sylvia Day, Bared to You

Reading Progress


Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Mindy (last edited Aug 18, 2012 09:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mindy I'm smack dab in the middle of re-reading this one, I lurve it. So much I almost bought the paperback but felt silly having two copies. Hopefully #2 is just as good!
ALSO FUN FACT! Number 2 was going to be called Deeper in You but the publisher felt it sounded too dirty :D

Anastasia That is pretty dirty! It could've been "Deeper With You" imo.

I'm really hoping that the series doesn't turn into a massive BDSM fest, or if it does that they won't work through their trauma and decide to go vanilla. I want books which don't perpetuate the stereotype that all kinksters were sexually abused and that BDSM is wrong or that vanilla is healthier.

Mindy I know, one of the books I've read (can't remember which one) a review had someone asking what made them the way they are. Sometimes there honestly is no reason and people are wired the way they're wired. Have you read the Masters of the Shadowlands book yet? SOGOOD

Anastasia I started with the last one, book 6, and got all interested then realised it was the last one. So I bought book 1 and also book 5, because it had Gabi and whateverhisnameis that I liked briefly in book 6.
But that kind of killed my momentum because I started them out of order.

I will read them though, I tend to read multiple books at once until I find something I don't want to put down. I'm sloughing through Delirium atm but I'm not a YA fan and it's a bit too purple-prosey for me.

Anastasia And yes - sometimes there is no deep, underlying reason. When I was a kid, my Barbie dolls got kidnapped by Ken. When we played imaginary games in the school playground, I was always the spy who'd been caught and tied to a chair, or the robber who was being interrogated by the police, etc.

I knew what I liked even before I knew what sex was and many years before I knew what the name for what I liked is. I grew up feeling like shit about it, and I wish that wasn't so common. I didn't stop feeling like a freak until I was 17 and my sister told me what BDSM was.

Now, as an adult, at least I can argue back with people who tell me that I'm a victim or that my consensual relationships are abusive.

message 6: by Mindy (last edited Aug 18, 2012 11:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mindy I didn't realize what I liked until last year! And thinking back it all makes sense. Hell I even had dreams of getting chased by cops and woke up all RIGHT ON and I'm nowhere near a criminal I just really wanna get tackled lol. I remember seeing a movie when I was little, maybe 6, where the girl was in a straight jacket. That coat always fascinated me. 6 years old and already thinking of bondage! But of course not knowing it at the time. I just wondered what it would be like in that jacket.

And another clue was when I was 16 I read Shattered Mirror (one of my favourites as a teen) and my favourite part was where the guy had her pinned with her arms above her head to carve stuff onto her arm. It wasn't the carving part I liked but her getting pinned. Even though he's a bad guy, still kinda hot. I'm sure someone will think I'm whacked in the head for thinking that but oh well. It's my brain. I'm a grown up. There could be worse stuff to like.

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