Last time, Dickfacehead and Ana went shopping, had sex, had dinner, probably had some more sex (I wasn’t really paying attention), had a dream to help the plot along, talked about Dickfacehead’s crazy ex-girlfriend, had some more sex, had a stupid argument about money, had an even stupider argument about haircuts when he took her to a salon he co-owned with a child-molester, then she found out he had a dossier on her and that was whack, but he’s damaged and that makes her squirrelly in the panties.
(Takes deep breath.)
Then they negotiated more boring sex scenarios, she drew on him with lipstick and then he gave her diamond earrings and they’re currently at a plutocrats masked ball in aid of some fictional charity for drug abusers, so it’s good news for filthy rich cokeheads and bad news for geese. (There was a menu.)
And it’s early evening. Yes – all of this takes place in twenty four hours.
And the day isn’t over yet.
Welcome back to the kleptocrats-only masked ball, where Ana has just spaffed twenty four grand on a week in Aspen. Dickfacehead is furious because he gave her that money as a gift and threatens to spank her. She gets excited because she has ben-wa balls up her bloodless, hyperactive clunge and the rest of us die quietly in the corner with boredom because the last thing this book needs is another pointless sex scene.
But wait! What bullshit from yonder stage spews forth? It’s the First Dance Auction!
The ladies are going up for grabs and the men are going to bid on them. Since Ana has been in the throes of a full-blown attack of the Bellas since they arrived, you can probably guess what’s going to happen now. She’s going to mope, chew her lip and complain about people paying attention to her and men finding her attractive.
She does not disappoint.
The M.C provides a supposedly funny preamble about the ladies’ various talents –
(“Jada speaks fluent Japanese, is a qualified fighter pilot, and an Olympic gymnast…”) and I have fun for the first time since cracking this tiresome stale fart of a book.
“Lovely Ana is a badly drawn fictional character ripped from the pages of someone else’s lousy novel. Sullen, unfriendly and pretentious, she is also an accomplished whiner and a Weapons Grade Mary Sue. Her hobbies include Staring at her Thumbs for hours on end, complaining when people pay her compliments and flicking herself off to the Twilight series.”
Naturally she is the most expensive prize in the whole auction, because a mystery man wearing a mask emblazoned with the word FORESHADOWING keeps on bumping up the bidding. Dickfacehead blows a hundred grand on her skinny ass and then he takes her up to his bedroom…?
Oh. Okay. Apparently this whole thing was taking place at his parents’ place. I didn’t know that. I must have missed it somewhere among the ‘And then he begins to move – really move’s and all the shatterings and explosions and general copypasta that ensues whenever these shitbirds get pelvic with one another.
And they’re about to do it again. He spanks her and we get a glimpse of a what a really thrilling lover Dickfacehead must be.
“Open your legs,” he growls, and I comply. He strokes my behind and eases into me.
“This is going to be quick, baby,” he murmurs and grabbing my hips, he eases out then slams into me.
No wonder he was amazed to discover she was a virgin who didn’t even know how to masturbate. Mr. Two-Pump Chump must have thought all his Christmases had come at once – she’s got no frame of reference and no idea that he’s crap.
Then they come and nobody explodes or shatters this time but instead ‘spiraling into a healing orgasm that goes on and on and wrings me out and leaves me spent and breathless.’ Rather like that sentence.
They go downstairs for their one hundred thousand dollar first dance. The band plays ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin.’
“I love this song,” Christian murmurs, gazing down at me. “Seems very fitting.”
I agree. They both remind me of scabies.
Ana meets Dickfacehead’s therapist, Dr. Flynn. He thinks she’s great because like I say – baaaad attack of the Bellas. Then she meets Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Robinson thinks she’s great too, and also mentions that Dickfacehead is in love with her.
“A hundred images dance through my head: the iPad, the gliding, flying to see me, all his actions, his possessiveness, $100,000 for a dance. Is this love?”
How about the time he said he loved you? A large part of this book hangs upon Ana not remembering the time he said he loved her. This is ridiculous enough but is made even more absurd by the fact that she made a big deal of that little word – it was the only thing keeping her from running screaming when she found out he had a stalkeriffic dossier on her. Oh, and also it took place less than twenty four hours ago.
Boop. Beep. Boop.
Then she dances with Dickfacehead’s dad, who asks her to call him Carrick, because that is his name. If my name was Carrick I’d ask people to call me Rick. Or Rocky. Or Trimalchio Thundercat Big Daddy Pumpington. Anything that wasn’t Carrick, basically.
Anyway, T.T. Big Daddy Pumpington tells Ana that Dickfacehead was a skinny little thing when they bought him at the crack baby sale, and that he didn’t speak for two years and only said his first word when his adopted sister Mia arrived. I don’t care because I’m marvelling at the fact that there is yet another section ahead of me. This party isn’t over yet. There’s a fireworks display that has to be narrated, in case you weren’t clear on the fact that fireworks are loud, colourful and explosive.
Also, Taylor – Dickfacehead’s bodyguard – is possibly the most interesting character in this book.
“…Taylor wants us to wait until the crowd disperses.”
“I think that fireworks display probably aged him a hundred years,” he adds.
“Doesn’t he like fireworks?”
Christian gazes down at me fondly and shakes his head but doesn’t elaborate.
“So, Aspen…” he says…
Oh, isn’t she just precious when she doesn’t understand PTSD? And she’s so warm-hearted, caring about the staff like that. It’s alright, darling – whenever there are fireworks we lock Taylor in the boathouse and stuff cotton balls in his ears, same thing we do with the dog. He’ll be fine. The lower orders don’t feel things as keenly as we do. So…Aspen?
I don’t care how much these shitbirds raised for charity – they are still terrible, terrible people.
I think the party is finally over. “Anastasia’s tired. We’re going home. Besides, we have a big day tomorrow.”
I hate to think what a big day looks like if this wasn’t one.
Oh, fucking hell. They’re still hanging around yacking about how great Ana is. Oh, and that big day? He’s called the gynecologist.
“Because I hate condoms,” he says, quietly. His eyes glint in the soft light from the paper lanterns, gauging my reaction.
“It’s my body,” I mutter, annoyed that he hasn’t asked me.
“It’s mine too,” he whispers.
Yeah. No. Deep breath. Hands off the capslock key.
Also bear in mind that they have been back together for less than forty eight hours, and already he wants to shoot her full of hormones that might cause bloodclots, mood-swings, weight-gain and also possibly nuke her libido from orbit. For his convenience.
And he’s not even an inventive enough lover to know that there are many, many ways to fuck that don’t involve vaginal penetration.
I really, really, really hate this man.
Then Ana finds a note from Mrs. Robinson and I have no fucks left to give. Then they drive home.
“It’s been a long day, eh, Anastasia?”
I’ll say. If it was any longer they’d be on fucking Venus, which has the longest ‘day’ of any planet in our solar system, taking two hundred and forty three of our Earth days to complete one rotation. With an average temperature of round about 460C, if this book took place on Venus, the characters would be bien cuit by now, if they hadn’t already been crushed by the atmospheric pressure (92 times that of Earth) or choked by the boiling clouds of sulphuric acid. Unfortunately, the book takes place on Earth and this endless chapter has one last stupid fucking trick to pull on us. It’s a cliffhanger, everyone!
“Mr. Grey, the tires on Ms. Steele’s Audi have been slashed and paint thrown all over it.”
Holy shit! My car! Who would do that? And I know the answer as soon as the question materialises in my mind. Leila.
Boop. Beep. Bloop.
Dickfacehead’s security team are now on high alert and prowling around the apartment looking worried and important. Leila (AKA Golumette) probably has a gun – it’s part of the plot. Remember the plot? No, me neither.
For some reason Ana starts packing her things, and does so in another part of Dickfacehead’s Tardis-like apartment that the writer was too lazy to introduce in book one.
I begin packing around the table in the foyer and examine the paintings on the wall to distract myself.
I’ve never really looked at them before: all figurative paintings, all religious – the Madonna and child, all sixteen of them. How odd.
Relax. It’s probably just a heavily crowbarred hint at the Mommy issues flashback he was having in the prologue.
Then she goes to bed alone and he goes off with the security team. Then she wakes up with a dark figure staring at her. Spoiler – it’s Golumette. Dickfacehead’s security team aren’t very good at their jobs, but given how sweet he is to his minions I could totally forgive them slacking off and leaving him to get killed.
Ana gets out of bed and goes to find Dickfacehead, who is infodumping over the phone as usual, this time on Mrs. Robinson. Ana decides it’s Fuck O’Clock but then mentions she saw a weird shadow in the bedroom and that the balcony door is open. It suddenly occurs to these two rocket scientists that Golumette is still in the building, although I have no idea how she got onto the balcony. Maybe she’s Spiderman. Who gives a shit at this point? I just want them to go the fuck to sleep so that time can pass normally again.
Dickfacehead then decides to do a dramatic moonlight flit from the apartment, which was why Ana was packing at the beginning of the chapter. Unfortunately he hadn’t decided he was taking her away from the apartment at that point and nobody has thought to catch this continuity error, presumably because by this point the editor at Random House was picking out the font for her suicide note.
They drive. And talk about themselves. Then they go to a fancy hotel.
He…leads me into the main room where the fire is burning brightly. It’s a welcome sight. I stand and warm my hands while Christain fixes us both a drink.
Meh. Fuck it. Further proof that the editor was at this point dangling from the light fitting. Oh, and it really is Fuck O’Clock now. That or they’re just hot and need to remove their clothes, since they’re drinking cognac beside a blazing fire in the middle of fucking June.
Interestingly, it’s officially the twelfth of June now. Isn’t that interesting?
Oh, and it wasn’t Fuck O’Clock at all – in fact they made love. Because they forged such a deep and lasting connection with each other throughout the Eleventh of June. Apparently it’s not vacuous if it’s True Love. Also they boned about three times in the previous day, assuming the ice-cream crotch incident occurred after midnight. I was surprised to find it was only three times, largely because when they’re not fucking they’re usually talking about fucking…oh beg pardon…making love.
Twee and shallow – two repulsive qualities for the price of one.
The next day he announces they’re going to get some fresh air and Ana asks if it’s safe. Of course it’s safe – the author has plans for you and they don’t involve hanging around with your boyfriend’s security detail as if there’s an unhinged woman with a gun after you. How on earth are the bookclub set going to masturbate to that?
The gynecologist comes round and gives Ana a hormone shot. She also checks her ears for mites, clips her claws and prescribes a course of worming pills. Goddamn, don’t you just love a man who treats you like livestock? Oh, and she has Ana do a pregnancy test, even though there’s little to no chance that Ana could be pregnant but hey, drama is drama, right?
Then Dickfacehead and Ana take a shower and she washes off the remnants of the lipstick she put on his body yesterday afternoon? Ew. Gross. Then he starts crying in the shower because she touches him and he’s so moved by the power of her deep, meaningful love, which is currently less than forty eight hours old and largely based on frequent but unimaginative sex. He wangsts loudly that he’s not worthy of her love. Personally, I think he almost deserves it.
“I can’t hear this, Anastasia. I’m nothing. I’m a husk of a man…”
Oh, come on now Dickfacehead. You’re far worse than that.
Then he tells her he loves her and in a shocking twist, the chapter ends.
…opens with our ghastly heroine jubilant that Dickfacehead loves her.
His soft, sweet confession calls to me on some deep elemental level, as if he’s seeking absolution; his three small words are my manna from heaven. Tears prick my eyes once more…
It’s such a liberating realisation, as if a crushing millstone had been tossed aside. This beautiful, fucked-up man, whom I once thought of as my romantic hero – strong, solitary, mysterious – possesses all these traits, but he’s also fragile and alienated and full of self-loathing. My heart swells with joy but also pain for his suffering. And I know in this moment that my heart is big enough for the both of us. I hope it’s big enough for the both of us.
You’ve spent…what? A total of about two weeks together, all told? If this had been written by William Shakespeare by this point there would have been several swordfights, numerous bodies and you two losers would be face down in the family vault. Also it wouldn’t have been written like some artifacted dumbassery that thick people share on Facebook. Liek dis if U aggree.
Naturally it’s Fuck O’Clock and so we are into the second shag of June 12th, which takes place off-screen because E.L. used up all her True Love cliches on the paragraphs above. Ana goes on about handsome he is because we had no idea up until now. Also he’s rich. Did we mention he was rich? And hot. So hot.
Because Dickfacehead is rich and hot he takes Ana to buy a car to replace the one that got Fatal Attractioned by his ex last night. You remember the ex – the crazy lady with a gun, who made them flee the apartment in the middle of the night about six hours ago. This is why Dickfacehead and his moronic consort are sporting gaily in the open without so much as a post-traumatic bodyguard to cover their asses.
I hope Golumette is a good shot.
They buy a car for about four pages and this time Ana doesn’t even complain about how much money he’s spending on her. Because they’re in love. Whatever. Then they get in the car and listen to Eva Cassidy for a meaningless section. Then they go to a marina for lunch and Ana is once again weird about black people. It’s an odd thing in these books but whenever there’s a black character (No – stop laughing, there were some. The guy in the lift in the first book – he had a whole line. And maybe the receptionist at Ana’s job?) Ana coos over them as if they were made of gingerbread. It’s especially weird when the character is a woman because Ana’s default setting on encountering other women is ‘catty and judgemental’.
Anyway, Dante is black and very good looking but don’t get attached to him because he’s only there to serve them lunch.
For once Ana and Dickfacehead have a normal conversation – you know, one of those things where you share information about one another. This gets summarised in a paragraph or two.
In turn he plagues me with questions about Ray and my Mom, about growing up in the lush forests of Montesano, and my brief stints in Texas and Vegas. He demands to know my favourite books and films, and I’m surprised by how much we had in common.
That’s really interesting. If only we could find out what you had in common via some other means…maybe…no, wait. It’ll come to me. I’m sure there’s another way to do this. I think it rhymes with ‘snory-helling’?
Really. Because we couldn’t have a romance novel where two people got to know each other by exchanging information about their lives and sharing their likes and dislikes. God no. That would be boring.
As we talk, it strikes me that he’s turned from Hardy’s Alec to Angel, debasement to high ideal in such a short space of time.
I knew it couldn’t last.
Anyway – he has a yacht. Like Angel Clare in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. He had a yacht too. Oh no. Wait – he didn’t. Actually he doesn’t resemble Dickfacehead at all. It’s almost as if this book is nothing like Tess of the D’Urbervilles and that these clunky lumps of intertexuality are hammered in there to make the author look clever.
Then they go sailing and have sex again – for the third time today.
They fuck about on the boat some more and talk about how great they are. It’s almost an art how they manage to moo at one another pretty much constantly without conveying anything of interest or anything that reveals character or moves the story along. Character revelations are usually marked by someone crying and it’s ALL VERY VERY DRAMATIC in a totally boring, self-indulgent way, and whenever the story needs a shot in the arm either Ana has a dream or someone phones Dickfacehead so that he can loudly say things like “KILLED IN A CAR CRASH, YOU SAY? MADWOMAN ON THE LOOSE WITH A GUN?” like a bad actor yelling over the sound of cutlery in a dinner-theatre.
Then in the evening they go for dinner, to engage in further meaningless mooing.
“Can I ask you something?” I decide on a fact-finding mission.
“Anything, Anastasia. You know that.” He cocks his head to one side, looking delicious.
“You don’t seem to have many friends. Why is that?”
He’s a horrible dickhole with less charm than a billboard sized, high definition photograph of an anal prolapse?
The conversation takes a turn for the even more boring with her worried that she’s not meeting his kinky needs. It’s dull but after the mindnumbing tedium of the neverending masked ball everything feels as though it’s moving along at a merry clip. After a short burst of mooing about neeeeeeeds and fifty shades of fuckedupness (TITLE DROP! \o/) …”We slip into an easier, happier conversation, talking about all the places he’s visited.”
I want to hear that conversation. Then I could learn things about the characters, maybe get an idea of their voices, their mannerisms, their interests and backgrounds. Goddamn it, E.L. THIS IS WHAT DIALOGUE IS FOR. The nonsense that Dickheadface and Ana regularly blart forth from their upper fuck-holes is like the opposite of dialogue – it’s anti-dialogue. It’s just noise. And dear sweet lace-trimmed tapdancing Christ, is it annoying.
Then they go back to the apartment complex, which is now definitely clear of armed lunatic ex-girlfriends. Then in the elevator Ana comes over all Aerosmith and wants to get busy, but is distracted when she discovers that her clothes are now hanging in Dickfacehead’s closet. Apparently Taylor moved her in with Dickfacehead, for her own safety.
We’ll forget about the bit where they were merrily frolicking out in the open earlier, because he was there and he’s super strong and ice-cold and can run so fast he’s a blur and…oh no, wait. He can’t do that because of find/replace. So he was actually a sitting duck for most of the morning. Damn you, Golumette – I was rooting for you.
Then he yells at Ana for wanting to go to work the next day and says she doesn’t need to work for a living.
What does he mean? He’s going to support me? Oh, this is beyond ridiculous – I’ve known him for what – five weeks?
Every now and again, in the stygian hell of stupid that is Fifty Shades Darker, there is a rare and tiny spark of common fucking sense. Unfortunately it is usually snuffed when someone gets a boner, which is what happens here. Like every other time when some deal-breaking issue comes up (her right to choose her method of birth control, her consent to certain sexual practises, her right to work) they snarl at one another until Fuck O’Clock rolls around again and they can smug their way to the bedroom like this was an adorable romantic comedy, and not a horrible and regressive book that romanticises abusive relationships.
As usual, when a man tells you that he hates the fact that you have financial independence and aspects of your life that don’t revolve around his glans, Ana heads for the pool table. You remember. The one in the library. You know – the library, next to the swimming pool, opposite the art gallery. What do you mean, you don’t remember a swimming pool or an art gallery – they were totally there.
Anyway, she bends over the pool table and it’s probably Fuck O’Clock again but I don’t care because I have reached the final chapter I’m going to be doing today.
Further mooings around the pool table.
We’re lovers, Anastasia. Lovers don’t need safewords.
Oh dear. This has the ring of famous last words about it, doesn’t it? Like the last person to say this was found the next morning wearing fishnet stockings and a Tesco bag on their head.
Then he smacks her with a ruler and they fuck. For the fourth time that day. I don’t know why he’s so worried about birth control – by this point he’s probably coming nothing but air. And tonight’s orgasm is brought to you by the words ‘draining’ and ‘soul-grabbing.’
Then they go and take a bath together to moo at one another some more. He agrees to let her go to work as long as Taylor drives her right to the door of the building and watches her go in. Don’t know what he has planned for the rest of the day but he’s probably stuck a GPS tracker in her bra.
It’s only ten thirty, but it feels like three in the morning. This has to be one of the most exhausting weekends of my life.
I’m not fucking surprised. It was the length of the Late Triassic.
Then he asks if he could borrow her laptop and that might be significant but it’s impossible to tell plot points from meaningless jibber-jabber in this book.
Then they go to sleep and wake up and it’s morning and jibber-jabber time again. Yes, we need to know that Ana looks pretty in her Business Barbie clothes, and Dickfacehead approves, so long as she doesn’t get any ideas about actually working for a living. And we learn that Dickfacehead’s housekeeper makes his sandwiches every day and would Ana like one too? Yes please. Oh, it’s so much fun watching them say things like ‘Have a good day at the office dear,’ like they were an old married couple.
(It’s really not.)
Then she goes to work and Jack says “I have work for you to do,” because he is the boss and that’s what bosses say. I feel like I’m watching a four year old play dolls.
So, of course, the first thing Ana does is e-mail her boyfriend. Dickfacehead says he hopes she’ll never leave and she is astonished.
She e-mails back asking him if he is asking her to move in with him. He didn’t ask anything of the sort but the author knows he’s about to, so. Jack nearly catches her at it and asks her to a ‘Fiction Symposium’ in New York on Thursday. His eyes darken as he asks her, so he’s probably going to try and rape her, because every other male character in this book must be as rapey as possible, simply to make Dickfacehead look like a desirable alternative.
Needless to say, it doesn’t work.
Dickfacehead has got the memo from the author and asks Dumbass to move in with him. She tells him about New York and he predictably flips his wig about it. As you’ll remember – the last time she travelled cross country he stalked her every step of the way. So romantic.
They e-mail back and forth for long enough for several more mind-numbing pages and then Mrs. Robinson e-mails asking Ana to lunch. Then Dickfacehead phones to complain about her last e-mail and to be ‘a little more circumspect in the language you use in your work e-mail’, because apparently her e-mails are being monitored and the world will be scandalised, I say, scandalised if it gets out that Dickfacehead has a taste for unexciting S&M and is in a (sort of) consensual relationship with a (sort of) actual human woman.
Then Jack pitches a fit because someone has placed a moratorium on all spending at the company and he can’t go to New York. (Spoiler – it was Dickfacehead.)
Dickfacehead then says he is “just protecting what is mine,” which is odd because although I don’t know nearly as much American History as I should, I’m pretty sure they had this big thing that made it illegal for one human being to own another. He also complains that he knows “how effective you are at fighting off unwanted attention,” based on the time he rescued her from a handsy drunk photographer.
Well, he says ‘rescued’. Legally I think one might refer to what he did to her that night as ‘kidnapping’ but hey, he’s really, really hot you guys, so we’ll let that one small major felony slide.
Then Ana, who can totally take care of herself, forwards Mrs. Robinson’s e-mail to Dickfacehead asking for advice, and then snippily tells him she’s trying to work.
Of course she is.
By the way, Jack is also having a pastrami sandwich for lunch today. On rye, no mustard. I wonder if this is significant. Also he is having a Coke with his sandwich and will reimburse Ana when she comes back from the sandwich shop.
Are you enlighted and excited by this information?
Of course you are. If I’m privy to any more of these thrilling details I may very well have to go and have a lie down.
I sit and eat the chicken salad sandwich Mrs. Jones made for me. It’s delicious. She makes a mean sandwich.
THE CONTROVERSIAL INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING TRILOGY – CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT KNOWING HOW THE CHICKEN SANDWICH WAS FOR ANA?
Ana has to work late. Because Jack is a mean boss. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that she spent all morning dicking about e-mailing her boyfriend and didn’t do any work.
Jack gets handsy, as we knew he would, but she escapes for now and meets Dickfacehead.
…for the first time since he left for work this morning, I begin to relax. Just being in his company is a soothing balm…
Yeah. Because Dickfacehead is soooo relaxing, isn’t he? He’s so fucking chilled he makes The Dude look stressed and edgy.
Will you listen to yourself? This is the guy who hauls you from pillar to post at the slightest sign of danger (except when the plot demands otherwise), has an armed lunatic following him, cries in the shower when you tell him you love him and BUYS THE COMPANY WHERE YOU WORK SO HE CAN KEEP AN EYE ON YOU.
Even on his own, he is the least relaxing person in existence, but with you in tow we get double the fun because you stupid fucking bastards can’t go five minutes without inventing some other imaginary drama to squeal about. No, honestly – that is literally all you do together, even when you’re posing prettily in whatever expensive location the author has picked out for your current backdrop. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a yacht, at a party, in a hotel room, in his apartment, on the pool table or in his sex dungeon – if there is the slightest possibility that for a single fraction of a second you might find yourself chilling out or God motherfucking forbid, enjoying one another’s company, then you start up again. The whining, the moaning, the endless blue-faced bitching about how he’s too rich, too handsome, too complicated. Can you handle his past? Can you handle his exes?
God damn it, this book is getting to me. But seriously – words mean things. That’s kind of the whole idea of writing. If you wanted me to believe that life with Dickfacehead was relaxing then you would presumably use words to show Ana and Dickfacehead chilling out in vibrating lounge chairs while sipping perfectly chilled White Russians and smoking something really nice he picked up on his last trip to Hawaii.
Don’t fucking tell me he’s a soothing balm to the soul after showing me a weekend that went on for about a fortnight in real time and featured stalkers, paedophile exes, creepy beauty salons and panic stricken midnight flights because you thought someone was trying to kill you.
Anyway. It’s Fuck O’Clock. Mazeltov.
Then he complains he wants her safe and I just want Golumette to come in and shoot the both of them. Then Mrs. Robinson turns up and the chapter ends, rather like my desire to read any more of this godawful crap.