Berkley, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-425-26391-4
Contemporary Erotica, 2012
Ah yes, Sylvia Day’s Reflected in You. This is the sequel to Bared to You, which was a big hit that was not at all inspired in any way by EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey. Now, you may think I’m being facetious, but I’m not. If this one is anything to go by, Ms Day has decided that, now that she has reeled in all those fans, she will spin her own take on the crazy asshole fanfare. If anything, Gideon Cross gets an upgrade here, from barbaric sexual predator to full-blown bloody out of his mind insane.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot. You can read this book without having read the previous book, I feel, as this book is just one long failed therapy session with two crazy people, but I can’t imagine why you would want to miss out on Ms Day’s admirable impersonation of EL James and her many, many copycats.
Now, the synopsis of this story. Basically, now that Eva Tramell and Gideon Cross are finally having sex – at least twice a day, if they can help it – Gideon mellows considerably when it comes to the “put out or I will pout… sternly!” drama. Unfortunately, Eva still has to deal with some haters who think she is not supposed to be with Gideon, and then there’s Gideon. Oh boy, while Gideon has become considerably less ridiculous now that he’s getting his pipes cleaned on a regular basis, his psychosis shoots up the scales of the crazy factor. There’s a morality tale here about how crazy people shouldn’t be having sex. So, despite having breathlessly insisted to everyone that she loves him, Eva is only now discovering how demented her true love is. She can sleep with him, but will she be able to live with him?
The angst spikes up in this one. Eva and Gideon are both… well, the official word is “damaged”, which is a sexy romance-novel way of saying that nobody should be surprised if these two end up one day on America’s Most Wanted, either for joint suicide or killing each other during a passionate love-hate fight. These two play a pretty mean game of seeing who is better when it comes to being petty, passive aggressive, whiny, and crazy. It gets to a point when I’m starting to wonder whether it’s the author’s intention to have me viewing Gideon as this manipulative son of a bitch who deliberately uses his sad childhood to make Eva stay with him. Eva talks the big one about leaving him, but she’s not going to let herself off that easy. She’s crazy enough to want to be dragged down with Gideon into the abyss, so to speak.
At the end of the day, you won’t find me wanting to share oxygen with these two for even five seconds. They are both out of their minds, and, judging from this book, therapy won’t help them one bit. Maybe it’s time to try shock treatment instead.
While I’d hate to let all those irate fans of the authors gloat, as this would only encourage them to write emails devoid of proper punctuation, I have to confess that I find myself lapping up every single drop of the crazy here. While Bared to You is a lifeless and contrived paint-by-numbers effort to replicate the formula of EL James, here, Ms Day pretty much says screw it to the formula and goes all out with the crazy. I actually approve of this, as, since the characters are already nuts, Ms Day may as well go for gold and create two people who bring out the worst from each other in such a glorious manner, so much so that they are perfect together. The whole thing is so compelling and addictive, like a drug that I can’t help enjoying despite knowing that it is bad for me.
While the relationship in this book has not reached truly toxic levels of dysfunction yet, it’s getting there. I actually punch the air and say “Yes!” when I come to the denouement at the end of the book, because that is such a promising development for even more crazy in the next book. I hate to say this, but I actually look forward to it with a morbid kind of anticipation. I want to see a grand finale where Eva and Gideon smack and pummel each other, screaming that they love each other while the house burns down around them. If they can’t live with, or without, each other, then let them kill each other. We can have Eminem’s Love the Way You Lie play over the rolling credits.
Hmm, maybe I should write a fanfiction of this series. I hear there are some publishers waving million-dollar contracts for this sort of thing.