Reviewed in the United States on May 31, 2021
He Asks For Faith & Patience As He Tries Things Anastasia’s Way. Yes, This Is A Steamy Story. Christian & Anastasia Have Incredible Chemistry & Those Scenes Burn Up The Pages. But They Also Serve To Bring The Couple Closer, & Due To Their Dark Nature, They Promote Trust & Deepen Intimacy. That Carries Over Into The Rest Of The Story – And There Really Is A Story Here, Despite The Hype. The Characters Are Complex & Real, Even If The Story Itself Is A Fantasy. Christian May Be Dictatorial & Brash, But This Tells The Story Of A Boy & Teen Who Suffered From Abuse & Grew Into A Man Whose Self Worth Had Been Beaten Down.
ABOUT THE FIFTY SHADES AS TOLD BY CHRISTIAN SERIES:
Everyone is familiar with the Fifty Shades of Grey series. That is Anastasia Steele’s story. This is the second book in the series that tells the Fifty Shades of Grey story from the male point of view: this is Christian Grey’s story. Whether you have read the first series makes no difference here. It is essentially the same story, but here the reader gets to discover more about Christian, who is a far more fascinating character than Anastasia. Her story is captivating – makes no mistake – but hers is more of a dark coming of age story. Unlike Anastasia, Christian has a past – one that is out of the ordinary in almost every respect. He has demons. Combined with the power he has amassed, that makes him dangerous, especially to someone like Anastasia. Anastasia’s story has her finding her own power and her own voice when she finds herself swept into a whirlwind relationship with a dark and powerful man. Christian’s story obviously goes further to shed light on what he is feeling throughout Anastasia’s story, and it doesn’t disappoint. Christian is a broken and misunderstood man who believes himself both incapable and undeserving of love until an unassuming college senior stumbles into his office and has him rethinking all the rules in his well-ordered world.
Notably for fans, this book does not begin in the same place as Anastasia’s story in Fifty Shades Darker, her second book. The first book in her series ends Saturday, June 4. It has a devastating cliffhanger. The first book in Christian’s series, however, closes on the morning of Jose Rodriguez’s gallery opening – Thursday, June 9. By this time everyone knows Christian and Anastasia’s story doesn’t end on June 4. Fans also know that Christian undergoes a lot of soul searching between the first and second books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series. Finally getting to read Christian’s point of view and what he experienced when those elevator doors closed as well as the five subsequent days makes the first book in Christian’s series an essential read for fans.
Christian’s character is broken and compelling, and his story is well worth reading even if you already know Anastasia’s. This book picks up after some dark and lonely days for Christian. Anastasia walking out on him changed his life. It forced him to begin a process of earnestly confronting his demons and considering the possibility that he might be capable of a real relationship outside of the dom/sub contractual arrangements that have defined his interactions with women to date. His connection with Anastasia compelled him to begin the process of making the changes needed to enable him to have more with her. Here, he begins in earnest to win back her affections. He still has a lot to learn, however, as he works through the kinks (no pun intended).
Yes, this is a steamy story. Christian and Anastasia have incredible chemistry and those scenes burn up the pages. Christian is certainly well-educated in the playroom, and though they try out something more vanilla here, Anastasia is a willing student. Those scenes serve to bring the couple closer, and due to their dark nature, they serve to promote trust and deepen intimacy. That carries over into the rest of the story. And there really is a story here, despite the hype. The characters are complex and real, even if the story itself is a fantasy. Christian is a young billionaire and leads a life most could never attain. In that respect their story is a modern version of the classic fairy tales, such as a modern Cinderella story – or perhaps Beauty and the Beast would be more appropriate. But even if it were scaled down and Christian’s success moderated, the dynamics between him and Anastasia would still make for a great story.
FROM GREY: FIFTY SHADES AS TOLD BY CHRISTIAN
The first book in this series takes place between May 9, 2011 and June 9, 2011.
Christian Grey, twenty-seven, has a lot of rules. Rules keep his world safe and afford him the control he craves. He is CEO of Grey Enterprises Holding, Inc., the Seattle-based company he started after graduating from Harvard. He devotes himself to his work, and it has paid off well. He owes it to his discipline and drive – and that he owes to Elena. Without her he probably would have ended up like his mother – a druggie who overdosed when he was just four. He has horrible memories of those days, and the nightmares still haunt him. He barely spoke for a long time afterward, even after being adopted by his parents, Carrick and Grace. Despite all the support of his parents, Christian struggled with anger as a child. He was heading down an ugly road until Elena entered his life at age fifteen.
Elena introduced Christian to the BDSM lifestyle. Following her rules helped him channel his anger and gave him the ability to focus on goals. He stayed with her five years before spreading his wings. He works long hours and doesn’t have much down time, but in addition to flying and boating, he enjoys unwinding with a sub in his playroom. It is a secret pleasure – and he intends to keep it that way. His family hasn’t a clue – he has never brought a girl home before; Elliot thinks he is a monk. Christian has since gone through many submissives over the years. He always enters into contractual agreements with the women so there are never any misunderstandings. It is the only kind of relationship he is capable of, and once the women want more from him he cuts ties. Susannah was his latest, and that ended about two months ago.
Christian is feeling restless and in need of a diversion when Miss Anastasia Steele stumbles into his office on an uneventful Monday. She is there to interview him for the WSU student newspaper, as he is giving the upcoming commence address. She is uncoordinated and lacks good fashion sense, and is someone he would normally dismiss, but something about her fascinates him. He finds humor where he would usually be irritated, and he sees possibility even though he knows he has no business pursuing her. Christian has never pursued a woman before – Elena has always helped him find a new sub. By the time Miss Steele bumbles through the interview, though, he is entirely lost to her unassuming beauty and klutzy charm.
As the couple tentatively moves forward, Christian hopes to establish boundaries and rules, bringing Anastasia into his world. She is open to trying new things but doesn’t hide the fact that she wants more. She wants a relationship. Christian knows he is holding back on her. She wants him to open up, but he only really shares with Dr. Flynn – and of course Elena. He has secrets that he cannot share with Anastasia because they would scare her away, and he is too selfish to let her go. This story ends in a cliffhanger, but it is one of hope.
IN THIS BOOK:
This book takes place between Jun 9.2011 and Jun 18, 2011.
Christian is more determined than ever to win Anastasia back. After speaking with Dr. Flynn and considerable self-reflection, he has a plan. He had hoped to win her over to his lifestyle, but that had been a colossal mistake. Ms. Steele, he learned, does not enjoy nor does she understand the mindset involved in severe punishments. Christian thought he needed that until she left, but now he will have her any way he can. He has discovered that he wants her more than he needs the safety of his playroom and the punishments he so enjoys administering. And most significantly, he wants more with her, too. He will do whatever it takes to keep her by his side.
Although Anastasia had been hurt by his actions, she had hurt him, too. Christian spent his entire life feeling lonely, but never really understood that until she left. Her love for him had become like a drug, and living without her again was not a choice for him. Yet he she had broken his trust when she failed to use her safe word, and Christian can no longer rely upon her to speak openly and honestly with him. He teeters nervously as he hedges every move, watching her reactions and praying she doesn’t suddenly run out on him again.
Yet even as he goes through the motions of winning her back and keeping her, Christian struggles with a lifetime of self-esteem issues. His childhood was horrendous, and its effects linger still. The nightmares and the self-loathing voice in his head are evidence of that. It also explains how he fell under Elena’s influence so easily, and why he continues to call her a friend. Christian knows he is a monster. He has secrets that he has not told Anastasia, but once she learns the truth he is convinced she will walk out of his life for good. He just wants to postpone that day for as long as possible. He is desperate to hold on until that awful day comes.
The couple works on building a vanilla relationship, but that is easier said than done. Christian remains a man that craves control in his life, and learning to let go is difficult for him. Anastasia is challenging, yet he enjoys the challenge (when he isn’t angry). But even as they begin to find happiness again, there are obstacles that threaten the couple. Leila Reed, his former sub, remains on the loose after her attempted suicide in his home. In her current state, Christian cannot be certain that she won’t cause further harm to herself or others – including Ana. And letting Anastasia go to work at her new job is hard enough for Christian to stomach, control freak that he is, but learning that her boss at SIP has a history of going through assistants is troubling. Christian has his eye the editor, but Jack Hyde doesn’t seem easily intimidated. Elena, too, seems insistent on making herself relevant at a most inconvenient time given Anastasia’s animosity towards her. Christian and Anastasia’s confusing relationship is thus further complicated, pushing them into situations they aren’t prepared to face just as they go public. Their relationship is put to the test over a very short period of time. This book has a happy for now ending, but there are still some rather unsettling questions that remain to be answered.
Christian’s story is dark, but it humanizes his brokenness. It is different than Anastasia’s story in that it takes the reader into his world, showing several of his nightmares and flashes of memory. Some of those reflect back on his childhood in Detroit, before he was adopted. Some are reflections of his childhood with the Greys, and there is a little with Elena and his submissives, too. There are also some scenes about his business dealings, giving a look at the confident and put-together man that has achieved so much success professionally. That view of him stands in stark contrast to the unsure man who fears opening himself up and becoming vulnerable. There are some fabulous scenes with Dr. John Flynn that shed more light on Christian’s inner fears, contrasting them with Flynn’s sound encouragement. Fans may be just a little surprised by some of Christian’s conversations with his mother. Getting a glimpse further into his family is worthwhile. The biggest bonus found in Christian’s story is simply getting to know his character intimately. In Anastasia’s story, it takes time to unravel his tragic past and the abuse he suffered. Here, readers get to see how he reflects back on those times and how it impacts his life. There are several things that he kept from Anastasia, and in reading this it explains a lot of his behavior and decisions.
This book is a deep and emotional read as Christian’s character really begins to come to life. He asks for faith and patience as he tries things Anastasia’s way. Christian Grey has become a household name. He represents the quintessential broken and reclusive billionaire who is incapable of a standard relationship or love. He lives a very private life – which had been necessary to keep his BDSM lifestyle under wraps. Christian may be dictatorial and brash, but this tells the story of a boy and teen who suffered from abuse and grew into a man whose self worth had been beaten down. His anger never left him; he just channels it into his work and his rules. He hides his vulnerability from the world, too afraid to open himself up to more pain. His story is wonderfully written. The plot is somewhat complex. The characters are carefully crafted and three dimensional. They feel very real. The story is written in first person in Christian’s POV. I rate this book five full stars.