In late 2011, author E.L. James took romance readers by surprise with the first two books of her Fifty Shades trilogy. I cannot remember the last time two books have been so hyped when I had not previously even heard of the author or the titles. Fifty, aka Christian Grey, was one of the most talked about romance heroes since maybe Barrons? Fifty Shades Freed is the third and final book to the trilogy and I was thrilled to get my greedy hands on the book.
In Fifty Shades of Grey, entrepreneur Christian Grey was the driving force. Ana was a young college student, very unsure of herself and where she wanted to go in life. We were presented with the contract and with the lifestyle that was Fifty. He was very much the aggressor and the Dom that he professed himself to be. Then in a dramatic turn of events everything changed at the end of the book.
In Fifty Shades Darker there was very much a turn of events. Ana was the one in control. In Grey we learned that Ana might not be Christian’s normal type of woman and that she would be the one to either heal or break him. Darker started that healing process for Christian however it came at a great cost. There were several scenes that made my heart ache for Christian. Several scenes where I wanted to reach through the pages and smack Ana when she would do or say things to Christian. Darker left us with a tentative understanding between Christian and Ana and a threatening force on the horizon.
Now for Fifty Shades Freed!! I cannot tell you how excited I was to open this book. Ms. James made it to where I was able to just step right back into Fifty’s world. There was little to no time passage from where Darker had left off. Ana and Christian have been married and are on their honeymoon. Ana, the girl who had barely left her hometown, was whisked away on a European honeymoon with the delicious Fifty. Initially we did not get to read about the wedding but later get a flashback. That is one that thing was different in this book. There were a lot of flashbacks and scene changes. At times I wanted to shake my book because I would be reading about the present and Ana would take me back to a previous event. This was very similar to when I first picked up Grey. It takes a bit to get used to the flow and the way Ms. James is working the story but once you get used to it, it reads like you are really living it with Ana.
I found the first half of the book to be, not slow, but slow? The first half of the book is almost tentative in the way that Ana and Christian are growing with each other. Not much is happening other than reading about them together, if that makes sense. Whereas the first two books are about Ana growing and Christian growing, respectively, this book is really about them growing together. There is a major shift in the way Ana looks, feels and acts when it comes to the Fifty lifestyle. After a particularly yummy scene in Christian’s Red Room of Pain Ana notes,
“The anxiety, the bad mood, the thrill, fear and excitement of the car chase have all gone. I’m relaxed- finally sated and calm. As we enter our bathroom, I yawn loudly and stretch…at ease with myself for a change.”
Before this Ana had been displaying real signs of anxiety and unease. It is almost like she is shifting to more of Christian’s way of thinking. And because that way of thinking is simply hot I can’t say that I was upset.
The threat that was looming at the end of Darker is very present in Freed. Certain things start to happen and there is an underlying tension to the story. Christian is over the top concerned about Ana and Ana is resistant, as always. In what was really not a shock, Jack, Ana’s old boss, is identified as the person behind some of the events. What was a shock was Jack’s tie to Christian’s past and also Jack’s tie to someone in Christian’s present. I am not going to spoil who and what but I will say I didn’t expect the way it played out.
In my previous paragraph I mention Christian’s need to control everything about Ana and how that leads to Ana’s resisting many things. If there was one thing I could change about the book it would be the over-emphasis on this part. We got in Darker that Ana was not Christian’s typical sub and actually not a sub at all. I felt that Ms. James almost made that point too loudly. Ana did things that annoyed even me. Unfortunately the thing that bothered me the most was done by Christian.
In Darker we read about Christian giving Leila a bath and that made my stomach turn. I was NOT happy with that part. I was so on board with how Ana reacted to it. A similar occurrence takes place in Freed. Ana and Christian have a major fight over something that is so incredibly intimate to a couple. For the first time, in my opinion, we see Christian almost lose his mind. He does something that made me ache. Because this is major to the story I will not spell it all out however Christian messes up. Ana’s reaction is very appropriate and we see the first real conflict between Ana and Christian that has to be worked out in a real relationship way. In the past, Christian had been able to sex Ana out of most of their conflicts. This was the first time they had to sit down and talk about the past and how it is affecting their future. Not since we saw Christian let Ana touch him has there been a moment this poignant for the two of them. Even though I hated what happened I could see the need for the event. It brought about the real coming together of the two as a couple.
Now, let’s talk about the good stuff; the emails and the sex. This review would not be complete if I didn’t talk about the sex. Holy smoke on a stick. Ms. James is one creative person. Even after all the smexy books I have read she still manages to teach me something new. Marriage has not slowed Ana and Christian down one bit. And Ana sure does love Fifty’s “kinky fuckery” just as much as she used to. There is a lot of sex in this book, yet I still found myself giggling when I knew a scene was coming up because I needed to see what Ms. James and Fifty had in store for me! I am not sure I will look at an Audi the same again. And of course we have their trademark emails. Those just do not get any better!
The book and the trilogy end in a good place. Some people might question how it ended but I can see why Ms. James did it. I am sad I will not get to read more Fifty and Ana but really look forward to what Ms. James has in store for us next. It is going to take a lot to live up to Fifty but hopefully she is up to the challenge. Final grade: A-
Favorite quotes/moments (where do I start??):
“Here.” Christian throws me the keys to the R8. “Don’t bend it” – he adds in all seriousness- “or I will be fucking pissed.”
My mouth goes dry. He’s letting me drive his car? My inner goddess whip on her leather driving gloves and flat shoes. Oh yes! she cries.
“Are you sure?” I mouth, stunned.
“Yes, before I change my mind.”
But he gazes down at me, implacable. He’s just going to continue. For how long? Can I play this game? No. No. No—I can’t do this. I know he’s not going to stop. He’s going to continue to torture me. His hand travels down my body once more. No . . . And the dam bursts—all the apprehension, the anxiety, and the fear from the last couple of days overwhelming me anew as tears spring to my eyes. I turn away from him. This is not love. It’s revenge.
“Red,” I whimper. “Red. Red.” The tears course down my face.
He stills. “No!” He gasps, stunned. “Jesus Christ, no.”
He moves quickly, unclipping my hands, clasping me around my waist and leaning down to unclip my ankles, while I put my head in my hands and weep.
“No, no, no. Ana, please. No.”
Picking me up, he moves to the bed, sitting down and cradling me in his lap while I sob inconsolably. I’m overwhelmed . . . my body wound up to breaking point, my mind a blank, and my emotions scattered to the wind. He reaches behind him, drags the satin sheet off the four-poster bed, and drapes it around me. The cool sheets feel alien and unwelcome against my sensitized skin. He wraps his arms around me, hugging me close, rocking me gently backward and forward.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” Christian murmurs, his voice raw. He kisses my hair over and over again. “Ana, forgive me, please.”
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