Fifty Shades: Darker
by E. L. James
(Vintage, $15.95, NC-17) 978-1-61213-0583
E. L. James has written the second part of her trilogy in a way that pulls the reader in, and engages all of their emotions. I laughed and cried, among other things while reading this book. I could not put it down! Fifty Shades: Darker takes us more in depth to Christian Grey’s world and after being there, one no longer wonders why he has the issues he has.

Part II picks us where the first part left off, with Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele at odds. It isn’t long before they reconnect, each feeling lost, hurt and a bit betrayed. But once they get back together, their feelings grow stronger. They fight, they argue, they banter and they love. But it is even more powerful than before. And they work through a bit of terror, when one of Christian’s previous subs begins to stalk them and poses a real threat. Through it all Ana is determined to learn Christian’s secrets so she can understand and he has to go through a transformation that allows him to trust. They have many “firsts” with each other and this just adds to their connection.

We also meet some other players. We meet Christian’s family – the family who took in a young boy and helped him live a normal life. We finally get to meet “Mrs. Robinson,” the older family friend who “helped” a fifteen year old and at the same time, used him worse than his crack-head biological mother. We meet more of Ana’s family. And we get to know Ana’s need for control and her own issues. In many ways, she has as complicated an inferiority complex as Christian. And we meet Ana’s new boss, Jack, who it appears will play a large role in the final chapter.

Once again, the best part of the story is the combination between the intensity in their love making and the intensity in the humor they share. The series of emails between them is so fun and romantic. It is hard to give more without giving away the essence and heart of the story, but I can say that this was more of a romance because they were really getting to know each other in this one. The lovemaking scenes are intense. Suffice to say, I will never think about playing billiards without seeing the erotic scene played out in this story and trust me, it is not as crass as one may be thinking.

You must read Fifty Shades of Grey to have any semblance of understanding Fifty Shades Darker. But once you do, you will be looking for the final part just like I am.

--Shirley Lyons

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