My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m going to give Sylvia Day credit for “Bared to You” – this was a book that I was glued to for a full 48 hours and I did not stop reading until the end. Since I was already off a run of reading a few erotica books, I figured I’d give it a try. At least after a long debate of whether or not to read it in the first place.
Some of you know I’ve had my fill of reading erotic books about wealthy billionaire playboys who treat their LIs like prizes to be won or possessions to be had. That the couple in question have extravagant issues that are played up for drama and there are exclamations of pleasure that are often overused, worn thin, and goodness knows not actually used in real life sexy times unless you want to name them under a crude heading like “things that get you kicked out of the room” or “told to not let your britches bunch on the way out”.
Yet, I consider myself a patient reader. You could hand me twenty templates of a story, and somehow – someway – if it sounds interesting enough to carry itself into something unique – through the writing, through the characters, through the plot, among other dimensions – it’s something I would likely look into, if not read. I’ve been bitten by the curiosity bug too many times to count. My biggest concern picking up this novel wasn’t the claim of similarities to a certain other erotic novel that people have compared this to (which after reading “Bared to You,” I do beg to differ), it was more that I would read something that would thoroughly disappoint me on the level of glorifying some of the cliches I mentioned previously. So I picked up this novel with low expectations. I’d read a few of Day’s short stories/novellas in other compilations and thought of them well enough, but never read a full novel of hers until now.
I emerged from this experience pleasantly surprised, though with mixed sentiments.
“Bared to You” actually does a decent job of developing two equally flawed protagonists trying to cultivate a relationship together. I won’t say it’s perfectly drawn, but it’s at the very least palpable in spurts. Not to mention that the heroine (Eva) has a backbone to boot! She says no, she’s willing to assert her boundaries. Of course, she has her flaws in the form of a jealous streak and bearing the scars of a painful past, but both of those are developed in the heart of the storyline.
I’ll confess that I’m not attracted to Gideon Cross. Nope, not attracted to him in any capacity whatsoever. Some of you are probably looking at my words with Roger Rabbit levels of shock, but I felt like while I adapted to his character on some levels in this work – there wasn’t anything that really drew me to him on an intimate scale (and I mean in the framework of character intimacy). I see his flaws, I get his attraction to Eva (and certainly her attraction to him) and even see a surface level of his workload, but I really couldn’t say I aligned with his experiences or sentiments. Eva’s character was a little easier to follow since she’s the viewpoint character. I actually didn’t mind her character that much, but I could easily see where people would be either frustrated or annoyed with her in the way she comes across. Arguably, I would say the same about Gideon. They’re not practically perfect people, and I appreciated that – from the get-go, we see that they’re dealing with a lot of internal and external demons they have to overcome.
I’ll say as far as the narrative flow goes with this book – it was good, easy to follow, well-edited for the most part. The actual storyline took a while to pick up speed and I’ll admit before the 30% mark, I found I had a hard time getting into – but once I found a point to click to – I ran with it. But there were other things about this novel that bothered me.
There’s an instalust factor that people will have to adjust to between Gideon and Eva – I knew I had to. It’s not unreasonable, but for a person like me who craves character development and naturally built chemistry alongside shaping the individual characters themselves – something felt like it was missing here that I couldn’t quite put a finger on. I think that might’ve been part of my problem with Gideon among a few other attributes. Another thing was that in spite of all that happens, this doesn’t quite answer all of the questions it sets up in the narrative to a fuller point. I felt coming out of it there were still things that needed to be tied off and had come to a quicker resolution than expected. I couldn’t really believe that Eva would let go of her jealousy so easily in certain cases nor could I believe that Gideon’s hinted troubled past had as full of a development as there could’ve been in the progression. Not to mention some introductory points of his previous love life. Still, I suppose those are potential jumping points for the upcoming books, and I’ll admit I’m intrigued enough to see where it goes.
Another thing about this that bothered me was (believe it or not) the sex dialogue. I thought it was a little too overdone in spurts. It’s like when someone writes “ums” and “ahs” in written dialogue – you don’t need a lot of them to get the point across as far as being intimate to the scene you’re showing and true to the character speak. Sometimes they were all right and other times it felt like it could’ve been clipped a bit for better flow.
Still, even in the aftermath of reading it, this really drew me into the narrative far more than I thought it would’ve, and I’m interested in seeing where Day takes these characters. I’m not sure where they’ll end up, but I’m hopping on for the journey.
Overall score: 2.5/5