Let’s look at the two books individually and then I will make some general observations:
Bared to You
Our journey began in fire...
Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness—beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily...
Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other's most private wounds... and desires.
The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart..
When Eva Tramell meets Gideon Cross she is literally knocked off her feet, and then figuratively knocked off her feet at how good looking and how sexually appealing he is! Gideon is the head of Cross Industries and owner of the Crossfire building in which Eva works. It doesn’t take him long at all to find out who she is and where she works and to manipulate things so that they meet again. Gideon’s business interests are varied and he isn’t afraid to use whatever he can to manufacture meetings with Eva, no matter how coincidental she thinks they might be. Yes, it is a bit, make that a lot, stalkerish.
Eva has just moved to New York and started a new job in an advertising agency. She is keen to work hard, to be successful on her own merits and to find her place in the city. She has a disturbing and troubled past but she has done the hard work of trying to get herself into a good place mentally and now she wants to build on that to make a good life for herself.
The attraction between them both is strong and instantaneous and it isn’t long before the two are involved in mind blowing, passionate sex. Even from early on though, it is clear that the two of them are developing unhealthy tendencies. Eva is jealous, Gideon is controlling and there are times when they inadvertently say or do exactly the wrong thing to set each other off with their individual issues. While the sexual attraction between them is white hot and explosive, there is every chance that within their relationship they could well implode from one moment to the next. They are on a roller coaster road of emotions – one minute they can’t live without each other and the next they are on the brink of disaster.
Whilst Gideon is uber-successful in business and at most things he attempts, it is clear that he is just as emotionally damaged as Eva is. The difference is that as a reader we are exposed to at least some of her history. Gideon’s history is very much a closed book. We know that he has difficult family relationships but we don’t really know why. I did find myself wondering how on earth Gideon and Eva functioned physically in their jobs given that they were constantly up half the night having sex!
I think it really depends on how you react to Gideon and Eva as to whether you like this book or not. I have seen reviews which talk about the fact that the reader could not like Gideon or could not like Eva and therefore could not like the book. I was warned that Eva’s story could push my own hot button issues, but I did feel like I could relate just a little bit to the way that she had reacted to her past.
Reflected in You
THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Gideon Cross. As beautiful and flawless on the outside as he was damaged and tormented on the inside. He was a bright, scorching flame that singed me with the darkest of pleasures. I couldn't stay away. I didn't want to. He was my addiction... my every desire... mine.
My past was as violent as his, and I was just as broken. We’d never work. It was too hard, too painful... except when it was perfect. Those moments when the driving hunger and desperate love were the most exquisite insanity. We were bound by our need. And our passion would take us beyond our limits to the sweetest, sharpest edge of obsession...
In terms of my process of writing this post, I have written the intro and general thoughts, and then my specific thoughts on Bared to You leaving my specific thoughts on Reflected in You as the last part to be written. I have suddenly got to the point of writing about Reflected in You and realised that I could just say … more of the same. That would be an over-generalisation though because the story does move forward, but there are plenty more examples of Gideon’s controlling nature and Eva's jealousy. As an example, Eva goes to a hotel in Las Vegas and when she starts talking to another man the security staff come and escort her away making Eva realize that Gideon is controlling her even when they are apart. There are more examples of Eva running away from Gideon as soon as issues arise between them and then yet more examples of Eva being crazy jealous. To be fair though, Gideon has his own jealousy issues, as emphasized when Eva runs into an old boyfriend and things get just a little out of hand all round. The fact of the matter is that they are both as obsessed as each other which makes it a bit easier to deal with the way that both of them act.
Even though they have only been together a few weeks, Gideon and Eva end up going to see her therapist which I found kind of eye opening. I haven’t been in a relationship for years (no exaggeration) so I know that I am not the best person to judge other relationships but to me if you end up going to couples therapy within weeks it doesn’t seem like a functional, healthy relationship to me. Then again, I didn’t do couples therapy at all in the long term relationship I was in so what do I know!
We do get to see some more glimpses into Gideon’s history but it is just glimpses. There is presumably a lot of ground to be covered in the next Crossfire books when it comes to his past.
Where this book does vary from the first is that there is a point in the story, Gideon backs completely away from Eva, starts spending time with other women and Eva is totally confused about what is going on. This is especially true as there will be other times when Gideon asks her to trust him and to trust them but then he then pushes her away again. Talk about mixed messages.
My biggest issue with this book is the ending. It would be a huge spoiler to tell you why so I won’t but it left me shaking my head wondering how it could be thought to be okay. I get that what was done was done out of a desire to protect but still….. I have discussed this aspect briefly with a couple of people who have read the book but it’s not something that can be discussed openly in this kind of blog post. Even with these kinds of issues, I am on board for the next Crossfire book. I can’t imagine that it will ever get to the point where Eva and Gideon will have an even-keeled, happy, healthy and functional relationship, but I want to be reading on to see if they can at least become a little bit more normal!
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy of this.
So, some general thoughts about both books.
It is difficult not to compare these books to Fifty Shades of Grey, especially given that the cover and marketing are very much targeted in this direction as well. I guess I should issue a disclaimer at this point though. My comparison is based on having read both of Sylvia Day’s books, but I have actually only read the first Fifty Shades book and I have no intention of reading more (even if this intention has my sister calling me a book snob!) because I just didn’t like it and I didn’t think it was well written at all.
The similarities are definitely there. The main male character, Gideon Cross is a multi millionaire, successful businessman, knee jarringly good looking, very controlling with stalkerish tendencies, emotionally damaged. Sounds very similar to Christian Grey in a lot of ways.
The main female character is different to Ana though. Where Ana is all virginal innocence and naivety, Eva is very much a damaged woman and she has spent some times in her life reacting to that damage and so at times has been promiscuous and undertaken addictive behaviour. She has spent time in therapy, which is where she met her also-messed up best friend Cary who shares her apartment. Eva is the step-daughter of a wealthy business man and her mother and step father are now determined to always ensure that she is protected and so she lives in a big New York apartment and has quite a well-to- do lifestyle with expensive clothes and spa days quite normal for her. Eva is also independently wealthy but it is only as the story progresses that we find out where at least some of that wealth comes from. She does at least know to appreciate her life though as her father is more middle class and in some ways he provides a touchstone for Eva, but he doesn’t know about her past so it is only a partial touchstone.
When you put Gideon and Eva together on the page, the chemistry is explosive, but they both have significant emotional and sexual issues to work through, and this is where most of the conflict in the novels comes from.
In case you are wondering though, there are differences. Whilst Gideon is very much controlling and at one point in Reflected in You he talks about being Eva’s dominant, there is none of the BDSM-lite that features in FSOG – no red room of pain, no spanking, none of that kind of stuff.
The writing in these two books is much better than that we see in FSOG. No repetitive phraseology all the time, no inner goddess squealing in delight, or any of the other things that annoyed me. The story is tight, with strong characterization and plots that made this a much more pleasurable reading experience for the most part.
I would definitely recommend these books, and the Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz (which I must get around to reviewing soon and are more BDSM oriented) if you are wanting to give this new genre sensation a go but don’t necessarily want to go down the Fifty Shades route.