Review: Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

Format read: Trade paperback provided by the publisher
Formats available: Trade Paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Contemporary romance, Erotic romance
Series: Crossfire #2
Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Date Released: October 23, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Gideon Cross. As beautiful and flawless on the outside as he was damaged and tormented on the inside. He was a bright, scorching flame that singed me with the darkest of pleasures. I couldn’t stay away. I didn’t want to. He was my addiction… my every desire… mine.

My past was as violent as his, and I was just as broken. We’d never work. It was too hard, too painful… except when it was perfect. Those moments when the driving hunger and desperate love were the most exquisite insanity.

We were bound by our need. And our passion would take us beyond our limits to the sweetest, sharpest edge of obsession…

Most reviewers are going to talk about the sex. And yes, there’s a lot of it.

The main characters in Reflected in You, (and in the first book in the Crossfire series, Bared to You) are both survivors of sexual abuse. Eva was abused by her stepbrother for four years, from when she was ten until the age of fourteen, when she had a miscarriage. Nathan, shamed her into keeping it a secret from her mother and his father. She was ten, she was a child.

Eva still has nightmares and she’s still recovering. She probably always will be. But she’s healing.

Whatever happened to Gideon, we don’t know. But he was definitely sexually abused by someone in some way. He just won’t talk about it. He certainly has the nightmares to prove it happened. The one thing that is clear is that no one believed him at the time. Not even his parents.

Unlike Eva, Gideon was betrayed by the adults who should have stood by him without question.

This is the crucial difference. Eva does trust some people. She has a damn hard time trusting men in relationships. Those go wrong for her. And she sabotages them because her history confuses sex and trust and pain in a lot of understandable ways.  But she does know how to have other kinds of relationships that involve love and trust.

Gideon doesn’t.

Reflected in You is the angst book. Everything in their relationship seems to be going wrong. These two broken people are addicted to each other. Emotionally and very definitely sexually. They seem to need to be together to be functional.

Except that Gideon has always kept secrets. He can’t or won’t tell Eva much about himself, and certainly nothing about what happened to him. Then he pulls away from her. Almost completely.

And Eva spends a good bit of the book going not so quietly nuts. She learns to function. She does her job and starts healing all over again. But we see a lot in her head and it’s an extremely angsty place.

It’s only at the end of the book that we find out why Gideon pulled away, and what he was taking care of while he was emotionally offstage and driving Eva crazy.

And the story ends in the middle of Gideon just barely beginning to finally tell his story to Eva. Just barely beginning to tell. And then it ends.

Escape Rating B: Reflected In You spent way too much time angsting and not nearly enough time doing things. Most of the book followed Eva dealing with the shock of Gideon pulling away from her. While it was important for her psychological health, it wasn’t as fascinating as what Gideon was actually doing, which we don’t find out until the very end.

What bothers me is that the real action in this story is offstage, and wraps up in relatively few pages. It becomes anti-climactic by the way it’s handled, and it unfortunately needs to be, because of what it is. There is too much that can’t be confessed. Reflected In You would have been a lot more interesting (and suspenseful) to this reader if it had followed what Gideon thought, or particularly did, instead of just Eva.

And if Eva is really going to be the heroine of her own life story, and not the protected princess, she needs to hear about the actual dangers that surround her when they happen, not after the fact.

***Disclaimer: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

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.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 11-4-12

We cleaned out the closet yesterday. The walk-in closet in the master bedroom. There was crap in there that we’ve moved 6, count ’em, 6 times. Possibly 15,000 miles. From Chicago to Anchorage to Tallahassee to Chicago to Gainesville to Atlanta. And no, it wasn’t all my junk, either. But whew, what a job.

Movers will pack for you. We’ve learned this. What they won’t do is throw out for you. They pack everything. Oh do they ever.

We had a totally brilliant, or insane, flash when we decided what to concentrate on tossing out this time. We’ll deal with the books at the other end. Why? Because Seattle is only 3 hours from Portland, Oregon. Home of one of the truly great bookstores. That’s right. Powell’s City of Books. Anything we’re not keeping, we’ll see if they’ll take. For store credit. Which, of course, we’ll use to buy more books. The ultimate in recycling.

And we’ll listen to an audiobook on the trip.

But it’s a long time between here and there. We still have to find a place to live. Still, it’s fun to anticipate the good stuff waiting on the other side.

Speaking of the good stuff, let’s announce some winners! Donna Simmonds won the Jessica Scott giveaway, so Donna will receive ebook copies of Jessica Scott’s military-themed romances, Because of You and Until There Was You, just in time for Veterans’ Day. Jo Jones won the Wild Encounter giveaway, so she will get an ebook copy of Nikki Logan’s Wild Encounter from Entangled Publishing. Enjoy!

Plenty happened this week, too. There’s even a giveaway that still has time left!

Ebook Review Central, Multi-publisher, August 2012: #1 Love, Hypothetically by Anne Tenino (Riptide), #2 Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov (Riptide), #3 Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux (Riptide)
Cover Reveal: Mystically Bound by Stacey Kennedy
B+ Review: Night Thief by Lisa Kessler
Guest Post: Halloween and Paranormal Romance by Lisa Kessler + Giveaway
A- Review: The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux
A- Review: Kilts & Kraken by Cindy Spencer Pape
A Review: Moonlight & Mechanicals by Cindy Spencer Pape
Interview with Cindy Spencer Pape
A- Review: First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher
Stacking the Shelves (22)

Last week at this time we were looking at the Frankenstorm coming our way. For those affected by Hurricane Sandy, I hope that your problems were few and are now solved, or will be  soon.

It’s going to be another busy week at Reading Reality. Is it ever!

Monday’s Ebook Review Central will feature the Carina Press titles from September 2012. ERC started, all the way back in 2011, with Carina, and with their September 2011 titles. It’s been a whole year! Wow!

Tuesday we’ll have a guest, a giveaway and a review. Samantha Kane will be here to talk about her new historical romance, The Devil’s Thief. Romance at Random has graciously agreed to give away 2 NetGalley ebook ARCs of the book. And just to top things off, I’m going to have a review.

Wednesday my guest will be Aubrie Dionne, the author of the science fiction romance series, A New Dawn. I reviewed the first book in the series, Paradise 18, a few weeks agao here at Reading Reality, and Has and I dual reviewed the rest of the series (Tundra 37, A Hero Rising and Haven 6) over at Book Lovers Inc. Since SFR is one of my favorite genres, it was terrific to interview a fellow SFR Brigade member about her series.

Courtesy of the BlogHer Book Club, Thursday I’ll have a review of one of the hottest books around, Sylvia Day’s Reflected in You.

This Friday will really be a TGIF Friday, because this Friday is the first day of the Autumn’s Harvest Blog Hop. Make sure to check in for details on all the bookish treats at all the hop stops.

There is more coming the following week, I promise. But I’m exhausted just looking at this week. You’ll just have to come back next Sunday to find out what happens next!

What are you up to this week?