Fifty Shades Darker

 

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Grade: F

Doing it at:  no early and often doing it can save this book. The sex scenes were so repetitive that I was high speed skimming through, just trying to find the end of this.

Catnip: BDSM; Hate Read; Controlling Sociopath; Bad Writing; Dom Jeans; Stalkers; Abusive Relationship; Fan Fiction

Shame Scale: Red hot burning shame, this is the most shameful thing a romance reader can be caught reading, because this crap is what everyone derivitively thinks we are reading

Fantasy Cast:  Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan

Book Description:

Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house.

But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.

While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.


I know that I am like six years late to this garbage heap of a book. I started reading it way back when the Fifty Shades craze was just sweeping the country (complete with sex toy product tie ins!), but it was just so badly written that I couldn’t finish it and moved on to actual GOOD romance. Flash foward to January 2017, the Fifty Shades Darker movie is set for a Valentine’s Day release, and Mary and I are planning another installment of Drunk at the Movies! Somehow Mary decided that she didn’t want to be the only one who had read this horrible thing, and told me if I didn’t read it, I couldn’t accompany her to the movie. And I love movies with my bae. So here we are, guys. Here. We. Are.

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Grey, by E.L. James

Grey

Grade: D-

Doing it at: 20%

Catnip: Panty Sniffing; Nipple Orgasm; Light Bondage; BDSM; Hate Read; WTF

Shame Scale: If you make it all the way through this book it’s because you really loved the first one and needed more, or you’re masochists like us. Either way: Red Hot Burning Shame

Fantasy Cast: We’re going to be safe and just go with Dornan and Dakota.

What do we taste like: Mint and tea and an orchard of mellow fruitfulness

Book Description:

See the world of Fifty Shades of Grey anew through the eyes of Christian Grey.

In Christian’s own words, and through his thoughts, reflections, and dreams, E L James offers a fresh perspective on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the world.

Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.  

Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?

This book is intended for mature audiences.

Disclaimer: We love romance, the trashier the better generally. We love formulaic plots and alpha heroes. We love accidental pregnancies and #teamanal threesomes. We are in no way book snobs: check out some of our top rated reviews. So if we say this book is capital B Bad, you should probably trust us.

Mary: Alright friends. We sucked it up and read this fucking horrible book for YOU, and as much as we’d like to never give it another thought, it’s time to put on our DJ’s (our Dom Jeans) and get this over with.

I confess that I read the original trilogy, and while the writing was terrible, I did actually enjoy the plot. #sorrynotsorry. There’s a stalker! Kidnapping! A Virgin! A helicopter crash and missing hero! Accidental Pregnancy! All the catnip. The story as a whole is dare I say it, kind of enjoyable? It’s tempered with some of the most WTF dialogue we’ve ever read, but I don’t think it’s fair to categorically write this series off. What I’m saying is that if you enjoyed the original Fifty Shades series, I’m not judging. I kind of did too.

And of course, C and I saw the movie. It was our very first Drinking at the Movies, the very first time we ruined a movie for an entire theatre, even before we had a blog. It’s how we fell in <3.

C: I made it through the first book, and a few chapters into the second one and then I just couldn’t finish. To me, the Fifty Shades trilogy, is the definition of Can’t Even. When we pre-ordered Grey, I thought that it would be ok. We could mock it, I could take one for the team. It surely wouldn’t drag endlessly and make me contemplate what exactly I was doing with my life. It wouldn’t make me yearn for Faulkner and consider writing hate mail to E.L. James, counting her piles of money on her full-sized bed made up with Shabby Chic sheets. But it did. It made all those things reality.

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M: This book was a complete verbatim 576 page rehash of the original book – with ALL of the dialogue, ALL of the emails, ALL of the contracts. The only difference really is that instead of hearing about Anastasia’s stupid inner goddess doing gymnastics moves on the pommel horse, we get Christian Grey’s obnoxious inner monologue and notification every time his dick twitches.

And I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that having him clarify his inner thoughts was completely unnecessary. It’s not like anything he was feeling wasn’t completely obvious the first time around. E.L. James is probably a lovely woman, but subtlety is not one of her strengths. We were hoping we’d get some new insight to the series. I actually had just assumed that this would be Christian’s perspective for the whole trilogy. But Grey only covers the material in the first book – none of the fun action-y parts. Not even any butt stuff. I was hoping that in the time since her arrival on the writing scene, we’d see some improvement in James’s style at least. Tragically, not the case.

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M: I don’t think there’s a person alive who doesn’t already know this story from pop culture osmosis. Anastasia is a plucky, young virgin, who captures the eye of Seattle’s most eligible billionaire when she literally stumbles into his office for an interview for her college newspaper. Christian is pretty much instantly enamored with her; she bit her lip, his palm twitched, we all know the rest.

C: I thought we might get some interesting (what, it could happen) insights into Christian’s past and motivations and why exactly he’s fifty shades of fucked up. Instead it was mostly dream sequences in faked, twee little kid voice and his cock’s internal monologue:

My green car is fuzzy. Covered in gray fur and dirt. I want it back. But I can’t reach it. I can never reach it. My green car is lost. Lost. And I can never play with it again.

…..

The sweet appreciative noises echo through me– to the end of my cock.

M: This was the hardest book we’ve ever read. It dragged. I dreaded picking it back up and forcing myself to read a few more chapters. James is verbose and redundant, frequently repeating things in triplicate:

I run my nose from her ear to her shoulder and back again, inhaling her heavenly scent.

Fuck, she smells good.

You smell as divine as ever, Anastasia.”

I inhale her heavenly scent. She smells good. You smell good! We get it, she smells good. If we hadn’t absorbed the fact that Christian loves the way Anna smells of apples and autumn approximately each chapter, we sure fucking get it now. For the love of god please stop talking about her smell. The whole book is like though: Something happens. We hear his feelings. And then sometimes he repeats them out loud. It’s painful.

C: She also has the characters fondly remember things that happened in “happier times” meanwhile the entirety of the book takes place over a month. Thanks for the reminder E.L.,  but I think we remember the painstakingly boring thing we just read two chapters before.

M: There’s so much that’s cringe-worthy about this book. It’s easy to see why the movie was such a bomb, because there isn’t an actor alive who can deliver these lines:

“No fisting, you say. Anything else you object to?” I ask.

She swallows. “Anal intercourse doesn’t exactly float my boat.”

“I’ll agree to the fisting, but I’d really like to claim your ass, Anastasia.”

C: There is nothing likable about Christian. He’s a smirking jerk who wants to fuck and beat Anastasia because she smells like apples and reminds him of happier times — that’s me giving him a motive. I just delved deeper into his psyche than the book ever does. You can all thank me. Seriously, these quotes:

“Are you gay Mr. Grey?” What the hell! I cannot believe she’d said that out loud! Ironically, the question even my own family will not ask. How dare she! I have a sudden urge to drag her out of her seat, bend her over my knee, spank her, and then fuck her over my desk with her hands tied behind her back. That would answer her ridiculous question.

Important lesson, gentlemen of the world, brutal fucking is the only way to prove to women that you aren’t gay. I hope E.L. has some sons.

I’ll fuck her in time. I’ll fuck her bound and with her smart mouth gagged.

What? Me? Make love? Oh, Grey, let’s disabuse her of this straightaway. “No, Anastasia, it doesn’t. First, I don’t make love. I fuck, hard.”

C: At least Mary and I went through this together and got to text through our frustrations

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C: Christian’s insane obsession with Ana’s eating somehow felt even more annoying from his point of view. We should have kept count how often this comes up. I’d go back and count but I love myself too much.

M: Right? We get it, he was starved as a kid and has weird food issues. Ugh, get over it already. Somehow this book managed to make me feel unsympathetic about an abused child, and that’s saying something.

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C: Pretty sure that Christian has the worst internal monologue of any person we’ve ever read. And we read Beautiful Disaster from Travis’ perspective. I read the online only leaked draft of Twilight from Edward’s perspective. We aren’t novice trash readers. We are experts and this was so so bad. SO SO.

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(wanna know something we do like? Orange is the New Black!)

M: A Baby for my Billionaire Stepbrother was better than this, and we’re pretty sure that was some creepy coded incest fetish shit.

C: At least the billionaire in that book didn’t have special jeans he wore just for spanking-sexy times

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C: The most shameful thing of all about reading this book? I had to look up a word. This horribly written book used a word I didn’t know and now I have to do penance by admitting this on the internet for all to know. (The word was louche)

M: hahahahahhaaaah #bookshame

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C: It’s all lowered expectations from here though. Other authors can thank E.L. for our gentler reviews of THEIR crappy books. And we never have to read what Mr. Grey is thinking again. Unless they release the whole trilogy from his perspective. I’ve just jinxed us, haven’t I? We’re fifty shades of fucked.

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The Master, by Kresley Cole

the master

Grade: A

Doing it at: 9%

Catnip: Alpha Hero; Strong Female Lead; Russians Mobsters; BDSM; Pretty Woman; Funny Girls; He’s basically a criminal; Deep Dark Secret; Secret Identity; Chastity Belt; #Teamanal; Wall Sex; Dick Glamoured

Shame Scale: You do NOT want to read this one anywhere where ANYONE minus one of your very special book-shame-sharing-friends might see the text. There is so much doin’ it, this is a magnificently high shame book, book snobs would not endorse this. We endorse it though, strongly

Fantasy Cast: Clive Standen and Gina Rodriguez

Book Description:

“A need colder than Siberian winter meets an attitude hotter than the Florida sun in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s sultry new Game Maker novel.

Everyone fears the Master…
Rich, irresistible politician/Mafiya boss Maksimilian Sevastyan prefers tall, obedient blondes to fulfill his…complicated desires. That is, until the icy Russian encounters a disobedient brunette whose exquisite little body threatens his legendary restraint.

Except her.

Catarina Marín was a well-off young wife until her world fell apart. Now she’s hiding out, forced to start working as an escort in Miami. Her very first client is beyond gorgeous, but when he tells her what he plans to do to her, Cat almost walks out of the door.

If pleasure is a game, play to win.
After their mind-blowing encounter burns out of control, the lovers crave more. If they escape the deadly threats surrounding them, can Maksim overcome his past–to offer Cat his future? Only then will she tempt him with what he really wants: her, all tied up with a bow.”


I’m going to tell this recap like Stefan describing the hottest new nightclub in NYC, because this book?

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Secret identities, prostitution, murder, chastity belts, sex in quaint covered bridges, nipple clamps, Russians with troubled childhoods, private jets, a makeover montage. EVERYTHING. If you, like me and all my 10-year-old friends, saw Pretty Woman as a kid and thought it was terrifically romantic you are going to love this book. It has everything you loved about Pretty Woman with 100% more deep throating and anal shower sex. Richard Gere would definitely approve.

The Master opens with Cat Marin, nee Ana Lucia, on her way to Maksim Sevastyan’s swanky penthouse to serve as his “date” for the night. Cat has never done this before, she’s been on the run from her nefarious-attempted murderer-gold digging-grifter-husband for three years, moving from city to city, working jobs that don’t require a real ID, and plotting to finish school and finally run far enough that he’ll never find her. To get out of Miami she needs some serious cash. One of the people whose house she cleans (her actual job) is an escort, and has been trying to convince the young, gorgeous, bootylicious Cat to do the same. Cat had been waffling until she spotted someone who she’s fairly certain is her scary ex, Edward in town; so when Ivana calls and asks Cat to cover a “date” that she has to cancel on with a high-rolling Russian, Cat agrees. The Russian is a “hobbyist” in escort speak and a high roller to boot, Ivana tells Cat that this one job could earn her like 10 grand and our Cat is no dummy so of course she goes. Plus she figures, maybe he’ll be hot and give her the schtupping she’s been needing because she hasn’t had sex in YEARS.

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Cat almost backs out at the last-minute, but she balls up and knocks on his door; and is majorly rewarded, because Maksim Sevastyan is HOT. Like Cat is thanking Jesus Cristo in her native Spanish. Maksim however is less pleased, he was expecting his usual type: tall, blonde, thin. Instead he got Cat: short, curvy, dark-haired, and with a grande culo that does not quit. At first he wants to immediately send her on her way for not being as requested. But then he sees that ass (this is really what happens, I’m not just being a jerk) and changes his mind; maybe she can stay after all. Maksim offers her 3K to “be amenable to his interests” which equals him tying his partner up, gagging her, beating her with a crop, and taking her from behind. Cat is all “That sounds…interesting…lets do it my way instead” – I’m paraphrasing that- So they do do it her way and he loves it, but afterward he goes stone cold. Cat’s not up for his asshole bullshit (Go Cat!), so she struts her sweet ass out of there and pretty much wins book reader hearts forever:

Mocking sneer in place, he said, “You’re supposed to tell me how I moved heaven and earth for you. You’re supposed to fawn over me, increasing your chances that I’ll book you again.”

…..

“Oh, baby boy, don’t you know statistics? Chances can’t be improved from one hundred percent.”

Cat, of course is correct, Maksim goes to great lengths to book her again and when he gets her back to his penthouse playground he has booked her for a full night. He has the intention to fuck her right out of his system. She has told him before that he’s her first client, but he doesn’t believe her, you know because he’s a world-weary Russian billionaire who had a really bad childhood. So he doesn’t believe anything she tells him. But he’s dying to know more about her because she’s giving him things sexually that he never knew he needed. In his attempt to fuck her right out of his hair they have wall sex, and pool sex, and he performs oral on her multiple times (even though he’s NEVER done that before, but don’t worry guys he’s super good at it because they always are, right), and she lets him have sex with her without a condom because she’s drunk on champagne and his cock. In the morning Maksim is all happy-go-lucky and tells Cat he wants to keep her the rest of his time in Miami and she agrees; after some negotiating and offering of large sums of money that will enable her to get far far away from her murderous ex after Maksim leaves town. But, since nothing in a romance novel can run smooth, Maxim decides that Cat was trying to trick him into getting her pregnant. Which she wasn’t, our girl is way better than that and she agrees to let the Dr. whom Maksim summons give her both the morning-after-pill AND an IUD. Cat is a much better woman than I, if a guy who was paying me for sex called a strange doctor to a hotel room to insert an IUD into my uterus I would holler HARD LIMIT and flee.

After the forced birth control Maksim essentially kidnaps Cat and makes her his sex slave for the next week.

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The next 60% of the book is just sex scenes, with some shopping–Cat orders the most room service ever (just lobster on top of lobster por favor), a treadmill, tons of new clothes, a manicurist, etc–, and travel, and murder confessions thrown in for good measure. So. Much. Sex. With so much vivid writing about the sex, some highlights because sharing is caring:

“Uhhn!” His mighty thighs quaked around my ears.”You’re taking my cum before I’m ready!”

“Semen shot so forcefully into my sheath, I whimpered; liquid heat bathed it like a balm”

“As he moved to the top of the bed, his huge shaft wagged, catching my gaze and making me want”

Even for a trashy romance there’s a surprising amount of oral in this book, it led to this actual messenger conversation between the mybookshame gals:

C: I’m reading a book where so much cum has been swallowed and I’m only at 42%

M: She’s basically surviving on cum and lobster

C: Yes. She’s doing OK!

PP: That diet’s gonna give her gout

The Master also has a real live chastity belt that the heroine wears (and likes), anal sex that makes Maksim so proud of Cat, and Cat being a general sassy bad ass who Mary and I like a million times more than any wishy-washy heroine we’ve encountered lately. This book features characters from The Professional, book one in Cole’s Game Maker series, including Jess! Jess is the sassy out of hand best friend of every girl’s dreams— well if you’re the kind of girl who can forgive your best friend for giving your mom an accidental Molly on your wedding day. Who cares if mom’s rolling! This girl is fun! Mary and I have high hopes that Jess is going to be the girl to conquer the third Sevastyan brother’s heart in an upcoming book.

If you’re looking for a light, sex-heavy, fun read, and aren’t squeamish about a teensy bit of kidnapping and spanking and forced gyno exam giving, then I gleefully recommend The Master.

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The Professional, by Kresley Cole

The Professional

Grade: A

Doing it at: 54% – but this book gets seriously hot starting around 15%

Catnip: Russian Mobsters; Mafia; Virgin; Overprotective men; He’s basically a criminal; BDSM; Sex Club; Kidnapping; Rags to Riches; “Your first and your last”; Russian Pillow Talk; International Romance; Dick-Glamoured; #TeamAnal; Guffaw

Shame Scale: This is a WONDERFUL shame read. The cover is mildly shameful, the book is all the shame. The plot is absurd, and filled with sex. The swoon-worthy hero is literally a killer who wants to own the heroine. And yet it’s genuinely funny, and pretty hot.

Fantasy Casting: Jason Momoa and Emma Stone

Book Description:

“He makes the rules…

Mafiya enforcer Aleksei “The Siberian” Sevastyan’s loyalty to his boss knows no bounds, until he meets the boss’s long-lost daughter, a curvy, feisty redhead who haunts his mind and heats his blood like no other. Ordered to protect her, Aleksei will do anything to possess her as well—on his own wicked terms.

Rules are made to be broken…

Grad student Natalie Porter had barely recovered from her first sight of the dark and breathtaking Sevastyan before the professional enforcer whisks her away to Russia, thrusting her into a world of extreme wealth and wanton pleasures. Every day under his protection leads her deeper under his masterful spell.

Are you ready to play?

Yet all is not as it seems. To remove Natalie from an enemy’s reach, Sevastyan spirits her into hiding. From an opulent palace in Russia to the decadent playgrounds of the mega-wealthy in Paris, the two lovers will discover that even their darkest—and most forbidden—fantasies can come true…”


The Professional had the kind of plot one often finds in a good Shame Book: A ridiculous one involving kidnapping (to save her life!), the mafia, hit men, billionaires, international travel without a passport, high class BDSM sex clubs, a virgin, and tons of sex. I loved it. Kresley Cole managed to throw together all kinds of catnip and romance tropes and keep it fairly cohesive, and not too cliched. Also, our hero is constantly throwing out sexy phrases in Russian, and I learned that I find Russian pillow talk insanely hot.

Natalie is a poor, adopted college student who has been working two jobs to make enough money to search for her biological parents via DNA testing. Then one day a smoking hot Russian mafiya enforcer (because in Russia I guess it’s the mafiYa and not just the mafia) shows up and tells her she is the billionaire daughter of a big mafiya leader, and that she’s moving to Russia effective immediately because there’s a threat on her life. Natalie balks, as any smart modern woman would do when a strange man breaks into her house, watches her masturbate (aka “diddling the da, spelunking, dialing the pink telephone” lololol), and then tries to force her to move to Russia. So of course as they do in these kinds of books, Sevastyan kidnaps her, and puts her on a special plane to Russia where she apparently won’t need a passport. (Nope, sorry, I don’t believe that.) Natalie and Sevastyan find they have that instant inexplicable electric chemistry, which they explore on the plane with some 69’ing like one does. Sevastyan is shocked that she is a virgin, and vows that it won’t happen again, because she is not for him, he’s a bad guy and bla bla bla cliche.

They get to Russia, Natalie becomes Natalya – I love that name – and she meets her biological father who never knew she existed. He is a Mafiya don, but a kind one, who’s only doing it to protect his people, you guys. All he really wants to do is repair clocks. Her father and Sevastyan tell her that she’s going to have to stay at the compound till the threat on her life is eliminated, but that they hope she will consider moving there permanently and making Russia her new home. Natalya adjusts rather quickly and seems to love her new papa from the start. I don’t want to get any more into the plot because I’d just be getting spoiler-y, but it’s ridiculous, and fun, and blush inducing, and such a good shame-read.

I loved the romance between Natalie/Natalya and Sevastyan. He’s the brutish Russian killer alpha stereotype, but she is no blushing daisy – despite her virginal status. Sevastyan orders her around, and is overprotective and possessive like Cleone and I love (even though we know we shouldn’t), but Natalie actually manages to strike a good balance between giving it right back to him, and wilting when it would make for good sexy-time. And the sexy-time in this one is excellent. Well paced, descriptive but not cringe-inducing (no dripping, no loins, no fountains of love). And she loses her virginity in the shower, standing up. That pretty much never happens in these books, where virginity must be carefully and romantically claimed in a bed after copious “readying” oral.

My favorite character, however, was Jess, Natalie’s best friend, and I was terribly disappointed to learn that she is not the focus of the next book in the series, ‘The Master.’ She reminded me of my favorite friends, and had the best lines in the book by far — she refers to Natalie’s trip as a “gangster rumspringa,” and accuses Natalie of being “dick-glamoured.*” She had me guffawing at several points, for example:

“How the hell do you call Russia from Greece? It’s like trying to figure out real-fucking-tivity. And still, I gave it several shots. Of Ouzo. Seriously, you have no idea how much your situation is affecting me. I’ve been stress-eating my way across Greece.” I frowned. “You don’t stress-eat–” “Cock, Natalie. I was stress-eating cock. There, you made me say it, happy now?”

If anything, my big complaint was that there didn’t seem to be enough edge-of-my-seat conflict. The “danger” part of the plot wound down around the middle of the book, and the second half was pretty much all sex and relationship drama. Their big romantic challenge/conflict was that he didn’t share enough, and he was being too gentle with her. He refused to give her the anal she NEEDED, and she told him she might just have to go get it somewhere else. This was really hard for Sevastyan to overcome. Despite the absurdity of this entire book, it was really well written, and hilarious. I would have gone with an A-, but decided to bump it up to an A because I couldn’t stop laughing.

*Note: dick-glamouring is a real thing in Shame Books, and I’m definitely going to be using this phrase liberally from now on.

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