Ironically enough, what I've spent my time reading for the past week is my own work. I've been editing Heart of the Warrior, the release of which is fast-approaching in twenty-one days. I finally finished that yesterday, only to receive back from Silver Publishing a manuscript I sent them back in November, which they accepted in January. It seems that The Arms of Winter is nearing publication, as well. So, I've also been editing that manuscript.
However, I have been trying to work in a little pleasure reading. I am ever-faithfully attempting to work through the Fifty Shades trilogy and my pleasure-reading is currently Fifty Shades Darker.
I was thrilled at the end of Fifty Shades of Grey to see the characters separated, even if I wasn't thrilled with how Fifty Shades of Grey ended (it didn't so much as end as just...trail off). So, I went in to Fifty Shades Darker thinking, "Woo-hoo! All right! These characters are gonna have to fight to be back together. Rock on!" Boy was I disappointed. We're barely into the story, and already Ana is throwing herself into Christian's arms again.
What a waste of a good story. Oh, the fun I could have had writing these two apart until they were practically bursting to be back inside each other's arms again. As it is, I'm frowning at Christian and asking, "Dude, you do know you two broke up, don't you?" He's almost acting like one of those guys who a woman breaks up with, yet he selectively doesn't hear it and continues to act and behave as if they're still together. It's a little unnerving. He came off as a sex addict in book one, and in book two, he's already coming off like a psycho stalker who hears only what he wants to hear. In the real world, I would be raising my eyebrows at his behavior, saying "ooookaaaaaayyy," and wondering what kind of mental case I had on my hands. But, no, Ana takes it all in stride, as if it's perfectly normally to receive extravagant gifts from your ex and be bossed around by him. And she blindly accepts the behavior that caused her to break up with him in the first place. Grrrrr! Grow some balls, Ana! I keep waiting for her to yell at him, "This is why I broke up with you in the first place, Christian! Because you do shit like this! Until you stop, I'm not getting back together with you." Instead, she lets him boss her around and play possessive boyfriend when they're not even dating, anymore. And she just goes along with it like a weakling. Whatever.
The good news is that I'm sixty-one pages into the book and there's been no sex, yet, although I think that's about to change. I feel the first sex scene coming on. Sigh again. All sighing aside, I think I understand why there's so much sex in the books. In fan fiction and role play circles, sex is what drives each scene. I know. I used to role play on Facebook, and if a scene didn't have some sexual tension, it didn't get "likes." And you want to see likes on your scenes.
However, this is now a book. It is not fan fiction or role play. I don't blame the author for the shortcomings in the story or the book's production. The story and premise are actually quite good. But the publisher rushed the books into publication. In my opinion, the publisher failed to make this book series more than just a passing phase. They literally picked up the rights to publish the books, and then published them a month or so later. They did not edit. They didn't take the time to produce quality covers (mine are peeling on the edges like they are only cheaply laminated). They didn't put the story through the paces to ensure its mechanics and content were correct. The publisher should have taken their time to properly process this manuscript to make sure the print books were better than the ebooks and worth the hefty price tag they placed on it. I've paid a LOT less for better books, both in story and physical quality. I mean, this is the first book I've bought where the lamination on the cover actually began to peel off. Hell, it might be the first book I've bought with a laminated, almost poster-like, cover.
My point? And this is just my opinion, but I feel like the publisher simply used the author and her story to make a quick buck. Instead of putting a quality product into the hands of the public, they rushed it out. This book series had the potential to be iconic, and I fear it will simply be a blip and a passing phase that will eventually become the punchline to a million bad jokes, where people who are reading the book will do so with embarrassment.
And, seriously, where's all the big-time BDSM this series was touted for? I thought the premise of these books was that he was a dom and she became his submissive, but I've seen very little of that, and it looks like as book two progresses, there won't be much of it because, well, Ana can't take it. There are other BDSM stories out there that dwell in this world better than this book does. A lot better. But Fifty Shades was supposed to be all about BDSM. This is a catch an editor should have fixed if they'd taken the time to treat this manuscript the way a print book manuscript should be treated.
Again, please don't misinterpret what I'm saying here. I'm not saying that the Fifty Shades stories are bad. They aren't. The story is actually quite good, and I like the idea of seeing these characters grow and discover , almost therapeutically, who they are. The sex is creative, even though there is far too much of it at the sacrifice of juicy story. And the characters, at least up to this point, seem realistic and are represented well throughout. But I think the publisher short-changed E.L. James. I don't think they did right by her. And I think that will come back to haunt both her and them in the long run. People don't like greed, after all, and it certainly appears that greed motivated the publisher to put out such a poor quality product for too high a price.