As much as I loved Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1), this book is where the series hooks you. We begin not only seeing but also becoming angry over every childhood tragedy behind the darkness plaguing Ana's beloved Christian. Believe me, it doesn't get much darker.
Christian was born and raised for the first four years of his life by a drug-addicted prostitute (left with her dead body for four days before being discovered), beaten and burned by his mother's pimp, and sexually abused as a teenager by one of his adopted mother's best friends. Man, who wouldn't be fifty shades of messed up after living through all that. (All of this comes to light in book one and pretty early in the second book. so I don't really consider this information a spoiler.)
Through Ana's non-stop probing, we find out all these things gently and gradually so that not one of them is too overwhelming. With his responses and her reaction to them, we understand completely how she can fall in love with such a domineering man. Like her, we accept 1) the fact that he still believes he is the little boy who was put in uncontrollable situations, 2) the reasons he never wants to go back, and 3) how difficult it is for him to understand that he must evolve if he wants kind, sweet, and gentle Ana to stay with him forever.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the slap heard around the world in this book. There will not be a reader who regrets the way E.L. James masterfully embeds it into the storyline.
One of the reasons this series is great is because there is always so much more to everything than that which meets the eye. There are reasons behind every action and reaction. I, as a lover of great books and an author, I adore books like this. I appreciate how difficult it is to write people, scenes, and settings that are this layered and complicated. This series is more than an erotica. It's a romance (which makes your heart race with love). It's an action and adventure (which makes your heart race with excitement). It's just plain amazing.
I'm left feeling pity for those who are superficial and can't appreciate the masterpiece created by E.L. James. It would be comparable to someone saying that they hate Pretty Woman because Julia Roberts was a prostitute. I promise you that if you say you like Pretty Woman...no one automatically assumes you want to be or bed a prostitute. It means that you like a good love story. That theory holds true with the entire Fifty Shades series. Take it for what it is and don't hate yourself for liking it.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again...I'm in awe of E.L. James and her ability to make this villainous man not only human but a lovable human.
I'm looking forward to writing my review of Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)...which will be posted soon.