WITH Fifty Shades, author EL James’ latest book has finally arrived, titled “Freed,” die-hard fans of the franchise deliver their verdict on what will be the final installment in the series of novels.
From finding her “sexually provocative and deeply emotional” to downright “awkward and predictable,” here Natasha Harding, book columnist, Jo Hemmings, relationship psychologist, Amanda Prowse, author, and Alix Fox, an “expert” reveal what ‘they liked (and didn’t like) in the book.
“I loved going into his head”
Natasha Harding – Book Columnist
It was obvious that from the moment Anastasia Steele met Christian Gray, he was a man used to getting what he wanted. . . and he wanted Anastasia.
Now, in this latest book told from her perspective, they are married. You would like to think that he can relax and enjoy his beautiful wife.
But in reality, the first days of their marriage are far from ideal, as newlyweds move from crisis to crisis. All of this makes Christian more worried and more in control.
Fortunately, in addition to the arson, illness, and attempted kidnapping, they still find enough time for plenty of sex.
Highlights include a quick bang in a car and ‘punitive sex’ on his boat. Their appetites for each other are enviable and although Christian is in control sexually, he is more fragile than ever emotionally, which explains his sometimes bizarre behavior.
In the throes of nightmares, Christian offloads his weekly therapy sessions, giving readers new insight into his troubled mind.
Her life is governed by the fear triggered by a traumatic childhood.
However, this book is not all pessimism. There are a lot of light-hearted and narrated moments from Christian’s point of view, the glass sex toy, harness, and handcuffs almost seem romantic.
I loved getting inside Christian’s head and while Ana’s voice creaks sometimes – I struggled when she “channeled her inner goddess” and tried to be “mean” – I thought Christian had a bit more depth even when he played the “poor me” card.
By the end of the book, their previously one-sided relationship is much closer to the 50-50.
Ana has pocketed the job of her dreams, the house of her dreams and the husband of her dreams, with a sex life to die for. . . if you like that sort of thing.
The young couple are now parents to baby Teddy, who even sleeps in their bed.
So maybe they’ll hang up the keys to their “playroom”, at least for now.
Finally, Ana is in control. . . everywhere except in the bedroom.
“Sexually provocative and deeply emotional”
Jo Hemmings – Relationship Psychologist
FINALLY we can read what life is like from Christian Gray’s perspective, both as he approaches his marriage to Anastasia and its aftermath.
We recognize how complex it is. His raw vulnerability, insecurity, and anxiety are revealed in ways we’ve never seen before.
As Anastasia matures, there is a sense of role reversal.
Not only is she the one in control – pretty much anywhere other than the bedroom – Christian’s need and his insecure attachment style become almost unbearable for her. He becomes desperate to marry her as soon as possible – to own her and possess her.
His child abandonment issues and his experiences before he met Ana really come back to haunt him, both in his imagination and in his dreams.
As his troubled past and promising future begin to fade, Christian becomes more and more possessive and protective of Ana, a situation that threatens to sabotage their relationship.
OVERVIEW OF ITS FRAGILITY
As Ana grows up in her own person, Christian feels threatened by her.
He is constantly afraid that she will leave him, but even more so that she will see through him and see the guilt and shame he tries so hard to hide.
No freebies on the latter part of the book, but Christian has a revelation that gives him the freedom to find some perspective and peace within himself.
Sensitively written, sexually provocative, and deeply emotional – hallmarks of the Fifty Shades series – this is the book that finally gives us remarkable insight into Christian’s fragility, vulnerability, and ultimate self-awareness.
“Awkward and predictable sex”
Amanda Prowse – Author
THESE books are basically stories about the intense love between Anastasia and Christian with a big dollop of BDSM added. . . and, IMHO, almost emotionless sex, which can often feel like you’re reading cheap, awkward porn.
Do you know those books that you can give to your Grandma or Aunt Mavis when you’re done?
The kind of books you can leave open on the kitchen table while you go to do your laundry, knowing there’s nothing in the pages that you wouldn’t want your little ones to read?
Good . . . this book is definitely NOT that. The sex scenes weren’t so exciting as they were rather awkward and predictable. Told from Christian’s point of view, I had hoped for a little more insight into what drives man and what shapes his sometimes questionable desires.
There are a few glimpses of the nightmares of his childhood and the torments of his youth. And more of his point of view is shared through his inner monologue.
But in all fairness, I don’t think I learned much more about human motivations than in the previous books.
It’s full of everything fans expect – doubts, old rivalries, graphic descriptions of body parts, and all the associated pulses, contortions, moans and spanks.
If you are looking for a literary masterpiece, you might be a bit disappointed.
However, for fans of the franchise, this will hit the spot, providing them with another solution to turn the pages.
This is the skill of EL James: she draws you into this world and suddenly you no longer notice the naive prose, the repetitive narrative or even Christian’s “screaming” sister, Mia.
This will more than scratch your Fifty Shades itchy rash.
And while we’ve been told this is the end of the series, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more to follow – delivering the same erotic promise that EL James won’t disappoint.
“Scary descriptions are unintentionally funny”
Alix Fox – Sexpert
FOR starters, Freed reveals that Gray is such a petulant kid that it’s amazing he can do anything in bed except demand another read of We’re Going On A Bearhunt and a sip hot cup of milk.
He constantly has unreasonable temper tantrums – although as a toddler he may be distracted by a new toy, such as an expensive German glider.
He throws his teddy bears out of the pram when his wife takes a topless sunbathing on their honeymoon, covering Anastasia’s breasts in bruises to prevent her from doing it again.
He storms out when he finds out about her pregnancy, smoking: “How could she do this to me?”
Then he calls her a “slut” when she is understandably upset that he is going to get drunk with his ex. Gray even complains that he is “left to struggle with the childproof lid” and that his drink is lukewarm when given pain relievers and water to deal with his hangover.
Somehow, he thinks it’s a sign that he’s “growing up” when he’s not “punishing” Ana when she’s drunk herself. Someone make this man a star map and give him a sticker every time they DON’T DO something that belongs to a jar!
We’re meant to take pity on Gray, attributing his bad temper and abuse to a terrible childhood. But his willingness to perpetuate the trauma by behaving badly towards others while taking little responsibility for his actions is hard to love.
If that’s not enough to spoil the sexiness, the squeaky descriptions are often unintentionally funny.
The weird page got me hot under the collar, like using a magic wand vibrator – though even then I was worried that holding it against Ana’s breastbone would make Christian vomit, because strong vibrations too close to the throat can cause a vomiting reflex. Mine started at least once per chapter.
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Christian’s mother mentions that her wedding planner helped organize something called the âCoping Together Ballâ. All Freed readers should receive an invitation.
On the last page, Mr. Gray is touted as “the cure for cancer”! Still, his thoughts are more likely to give you a migraine. And a dry bellows.