Review: Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Format read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: Trade Paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Series: Crossfire #1
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Date Released: June 12, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Our journey began in fire…

Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness—beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily…

Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other’s most private wounds… and desires.

The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart…

There’s a temptation to call Bared to You a grown-up version of Fifty Shades of Grey, but that’s not quite the right metaphor.

Yes, I read the Fifty Shades Trilogy, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, or the greatest romance since Romeo and Juliet (probably a good thing, considering the way that one ended) but it was fun to read. It did read a lot like good fanfiction, but that’s okay. I like good fanfiction. Sometimes quite a lot.

One of my pet-peeves about Fifty Shades revolved around the character of Ana. I couldn’t imagine someone Ana’s age being quite as innocent as she was, and yet, managing to deal with Christian’s demands as well as she does. The opposites don’t quite gel into one person. Either she knows what she’s doing or she doesn’t.

In Bared to You, Eva is no innocent. She’s young, but she’s been battered by life in some of the worst ways possible. Also, even though Gideon Cross, like Christian Grey, is mega-rich, so is Eva. Whatever seductive qualities Cross has, the ability to support her in the style to which she wishes to become accustomed is not one of them. Eva’s already lived that life with her succession of rich stepfathers.

The other way in which Eva and Gideon are equals, and where Ana and Christian were not, is that both of them have demons in their past. The difference is that by the end of Bared to You, we know what Eva’s are, but Gideon is still hiding from his, and hiding them from Eva.

In Bared to You, a lot of the edginess in the relationship comes from both of them knowing that what they are is co-dependent. They are obsessed with and addicted to each other. This is not necessarily a good thing. Or a healthy thing. It has the potential of working for them because it’s the first time either of them has had a relationship where they’ve taken off the masks they wear to the rest of the world.

It’s the first relationship they’ve had where they both admit that they are broken. It’s also the first real relationship that Gideon Cross seems to have had at all. Whatever his successes are in the corporate world, on the inside, he is one very messed-up man. The question that remains at the end of the book is what made him that way?

And can he let Eva in close enough for their relationship to work? Or will his damage derail the healing journey that she has managed so far?

Escape Rating A-: To me, this works better as a story than Fifty Shades, because Eva and Gideon make more sense as characters. There’s still a certain amount of wish-fulfillment, in that both of them are young and gorgeous, but that’s often true of romance in general. (I do wonder about the trend for über-rich and specifically 28-year-old mega-rich entrepreneurs, but that’s a minor quibble.)

While it is less clear at the beginning why Gideon is so instantly attracted to Eva that he will change all of his coping mechanisms for her, she is an adult in this relationship, and reasonably equal. They’re both rich, and they’re both damaged goods. They’re also both controlling, obsessive and scared of real relationships.

The difference is that Eva manages to have real relationships. Maybe not romantic ones, but other kinds. Her best friend Cory, with whom she shares a different kind of co-dependency. Her mother and stepfather. Her dad. She is healing.

Gideon is just covering up what’s wrong with him. And that’s the tension in the relationship. She’s trying to get better. He hasn’t been. Now they’re either going to go down together, or get up together. Two steps forward and sometimes three steps back. Sometimes only one.

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