Given my earlier naughtiness with Sir Guy, I will be a proper lady once more and bring you our romantic hero, Mr. Thornton. A man who had to deal with a lot of angst and heartache before that train station scene, thank goodness he got a happy ending with the woman he loved. We get so little of that with our TDHBEW’s ChaRActers. Time for lunch and then an afternoon nap. Later I will catch up with comments and emails, ladies.
Her Twilight story, Masters of the Universe, was also an erotic romance. The writer had read 800 to 900 of such books on her commutes to work and wanted to try her hand at something similar with her favorite fictional characters. And so her fan fiction, about a young whiz kid Super Executive and his innocent and naïve love interest was a steamy, sexy tale that included B*D*S*M. Yup, kinky sexy as in handcuffing ankles and wrists together and using riding crops and canes and . . . you get the idea. It went places a lot of us have never gone.
Word-of-mouth made the fan fiction very popular online, and EL James—the pseudonym taken by the fanfic writer—eventually changed the names and other aspects of the story, renamed it 50 Shades of Grey, and published it as a trilogy for profit in England.
Vintage Books, an American publisher, heard the enormous buzz and inked a seven-figure deal with James, who went on to sell the film rights for $5 million and to secure casting and script approval. Not bad for a debut author.
50 Shades have been featured on the front page of Entertainment Weekly, written up in numerous print and online media and creating all sorts of buzz over who will play the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the upcoming film.
But—is it any good? Is it worth your while (and your $30 for the three Kindle editions or paperbacks) to read? What are the strengths of Fifty Shades and what are its weaknesses?
Having read the entire trilogy now and discussed it a bit with dearest Dr. Servetus from Me+Richard Armitage, I am ready to share more of my thoughts and impressions. I won’t do it nearly so eruditely as she, but one can only try.
Popularity, of course, in books, films, television, art and music, does not necessarily equal worthiness or quality. We all know that. How else do you explain the cult of the Kardashians?
Mediocre writers end up on bestsellers lists. Artists who can’t hit a note without Autotune have gold records. Go figure.
First of all, let’s get the sex out of the way. There is a lot of it, and it is frequently very, very hot, and I enjoyed that. I like to read and write erotic romance and I’ve been told I am pretty good at penning it.
However, I should also point out I am not into Pain + Sex = Pleasure. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom is their business. I can get into naughty and playful. A little light bondage, blindfolding and fun with sex toys is one thing; achieving sexual gratification from beating someone else is quite another and I can’t quite get my head around that. There’s consensual rough sex and then there’s–abuse? What do you call it if it’s consensual but obviously harmful?
Those darker, more twisted aspects of Fifty Shades I did find very disturbing. On a more light-hearted but nonetheless irritating note I quickly tired of the constant referrals to my “inner goddess” and all that she was getting up to anticipation of sexy time. You could build a drinking game around all the appearances of the IG. There is also a tremendous amount of eye rolling taking place by various characters. I keep expecting them to say, “WhatEVER.”
Some who have harshly criticized the trilogy seemed to have been most troubled by the graphic sex. However, from my POV, that sex scenes were actually one of the better-written aspects of the story (minus IG) and the best reason to read it.
Certainly neither the plot nor character development are particularly strong. If you are looking for consistency, logic and psychological insight, hmmmmm—there could be a problem.
Let me introduce you to the hero and heroine of our tale. Christian Grey is a copper-haired, grey-eyed 27-year-old filthy rich business mogul in Seattle and the middle of three children adopted by the Greys.
He’s handsome, he’s fit, he’s smart, he’s sexy and every female who isn’t a lesbian will start blushing and stammering the moment they are in his presence. His family thinks he’s gay because he’s never seen in public with a woman or had a girlfriend as far as they know.
In fact, he always has a woman at his beck and call—literally. Christian is a dominant and he makes plain the fact he doesn’t do hearts and flowers, vanilla sex or “make love”. He “f**ks hard” and he gets off on “beating the s**t out of pretty little brown-haired girls.”
Anastasia Steele is the pretty little brown-haired girl with the bright blue eyes whom Christian meets cute at an interview where a nervous, blushing Ana is filling in for her ailing roommate, a journalism major on the staff of the college newspaper.
Ana, a bookish and self-described “scruffy” literature major, has hopes of pursuing a career as an editor with a publishing house.
Christian, on the other hand, has hopes of grooming Ana as his next submissive. His controlling, sadistic ways are attributed to some early trauma that happened before he was adopted and which he doesn’t want to talk about. There is also his “f**ked up” relationship with his mother’s friend that started when he was 15 and “Mrs. Robinson” not only seduced him, she started beating him. Talk about carrying around some emotional baggage.
He’s an angry guy with violent tendencies, a hair-trigger temper of volcanic proportions and a control freak without parallel. And yet he is able to be the calm, cool and collected self-made multi-millionaire who has thousands of employees and can buy corporations at the drop of a hat—all this at an age when some men are still living with their moms.
How does he manage it? The problem is, James never really satisfactorily explains that. I find it hard to believe this stuck-in-adolescence fellow who sometimes suffers from debilitating panic attacks, who is completely self-loathing and flies into rages over pretty insignificant matters is also able to be such a competent and successful businessman. It just doesn’t compute.
And then we have virginal Anastasia who adores Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and who is a complete innocent when it comes to sex.
Apparently she has only kissed a guy once or twice in her entire life and never experienced “tingles.”. She hasn’t even attempted to self-pleasure. She’s got more than one good-looking young man who is interested in her romantically, but it is as if her libido is completely in hibernation.
Only super sexy (and kinky) Christian can unleash her passions, it seems.
This isn’t the Victorian era and Anastasia isn’t Margaret Hale. It’s hard to believe she is as naïve as she is written here.
Nor am I convinced someone so innocent would agree to even consider becoming Christian’s submissive and signing a contract stating in great detail all his expectations of her, right down to how often she eats, how much sleep she gets, personal grooming habits, workout schedules and so forth. Granted, she never does actually sign it and she makes clear she has some limits—but I think I would have taken one look at all that frankly creepy fine print and headed for the door.
(She also doesn’t own a computer of any kind. I know she isn’t from a privileged background like her stereotypical gorgeous-and- popular roommate-who-makes-her-feel-scruffy, but nearly all college kids have a least a cheap laptop or desktop nowadays, don’t they?)
Sometimes Ana comes across as level-headed and prudent and other times she behaves in a very rash, immature manner. Her anger flares quite often. In fact, the couple seems to be arguing, screaming, sulking, brooding or fuming over something constantly. They use emails to converse and they both flirt and fume there, too.
It’s like kids in middle school who bicker and break up, and then make up, and then bicker . . . it’s exhausting to read it all. I found myself growing impatient and wanting to say, “Oh, grow up already. Snap out of it!!”
We seem to have two adolescents here with raging hormones and tremendous mood swings. And access to handcuffs and weapons. It’s not really the healthiest of relationships.
They both can be quite charming and tender and flirtatious and they have a lot of hot and mutually satisfying sex, but what they can’t seem to do is to sit down and have a reasonable, rational conversation with one another.
There is plenty of physical intimacy, but very little communication and constant misunderstandings arise . . . but after some more implausible plot twists (think heavy-duty soap opera), they get their happily (and kinkily) ever after. Apparently the love of a good woman (who likes it rough) turns Christian’s life around.
There are several unsavory and/or just plain sad supporting characters in the story. And there’s Christian’s shrink whom I am not altogether sure is providing the proper treatment for his very troubled patient.
Christian has some serious issues and maintains some toxic relationships over the course of the three books. For a long while, he claims the woman who manipulated and sexually abused him “saved” him.
I don’t understand Christian. I am not sure the author understands him and therein lies a big problem.
She just keeps throwing new personality traits into the mix along with his ability to fly helicopters and play classical music. Will he be sweet, loving and tender, overly possessive and demonically controlling or just plain mean and scary? Wait five minutes or a couple of pages and who knows which Christian you will get.
But hey, he sure looks great with his “just-f**ked” hair, those luminous grey eyes darkening with lust, those acid-washed jeans with the top button undone and the way they hang on his hips in such a tantalizing manner . . . I told you the sexy parts were the best thing about the books.
It isn’t great literature but it never aspired to be.
James has said she didn’t have high expectations when she wrote the fan fic or published the novel and “it is what it is.”
And I respect her for being candid about it. One thing she doesn’t appear to be is pretentious.
But I have to agree with Servetus: 50 Shades’ fanfic roots are definitely showing. As the mistress of my fanfic universe I can do anything I want to with the characters and it doesn’t have to be plausible or logical.
But when you move into the realm of mainstream fiction, little things like plausibility and logic and consistency of characterization and a strong story arc are important, at least they are to me. You also need to be engaged with the characters and care about what happens to them. That didn’t really happen for me. I read all three books in hopes of getting more involved with the characters but to no avail.
I would have liked to have seen a good copy editor tighten up those indulgent references to “inner goddesses” and the much-repeated use of “holy crap” and “holy sh*t” throughout by Ana, who tells the story in the first person.
Not to mention removing all the Britishisms that don’t fit properly in a book about Americans living in an American city ( I haven’t seen the Vintage paperback versions of 50 Shades but I understand it has been tweaked since the Kindle edition).
One thing that I am wondering about is how many 50 Shades wanna-bes are going to be written in hopes of winning the jackpot? And how are they going to adapt 50 Shades for the big screen without it being borderline porn and possibly unintentionally hilarious? In order to draw in a lot of the Twihards, won’t they need to tone down the sex in order to get a less restrictive rating?
There’s a lot more I could go into, but I am already at over 1,700 words and will save further discussion on the matter for another post.
Here’s my advice: if you were thinking of purchasing it, save your money. I think it would be worth purchasing for, say, $3.99 an installment but not for $9.99. There are better reads you can get for $30.
As a matter of fact, there are better reads you can get right here in the RA community that include hot and steamy erotic romance coupled with a good story and engaging characters and not pay a dime.
If you’ve got it and you haven’t read it yet, by all means, do. It’s not terrible. I just want you to go in forewarned. It is what it is.
But that’s just my two cents. I would love to hear from anyone else who has read it and may have a very different spin on things.
- So, I finished reading the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy on my Kindle . . . more to come (thearmitageeffect.wordpress.com)
I look at beautiful spring flowers and I smile. Every time I look at Harry Kennedy I can’t help smiling. And every time I think of the fact Richard said his real personality is most like Harry’s, well–I start feeling positively ooey-gooey inside.
Because bookish, sweet, sunny, funny, sexy Harry is a darling, and he reminds me of my own dear fella. How can you NOT love Harry? The vicar certainly can’t. Lucky, lucky lady to win this Handsome Stranger’s beautiful heart!
Some VoD vids to celebrate their love, and some screencaps of Harry, surely a lad who believes in nourish and nurture, too, and Mr. A himself having a very good time of it on the VoD set. We really need a few more light-hearted roles along the way, Mr. A. Because you CAN do funny, on top of being a great kisser, a charmer and, well–everything else. *sigh* And how nice for you to get to laugh out loud as you obviously love to do . . .
When today’s word popped up in my email, I could only say, “One of those perfect words for Mr. A!” Just look at the definition . . .
adroit (adjective): (1) Cleverly skillful, resourceful or ingenious. (2) Expert or nimble in use of the hands or body.
See what I mean? 😀 Here are just a few of the many, many examples of Mr. A being adroit.
Hooray for Adroit Armitage!
(screencaps courtesy of Richard Armitage Net)
What an effect Richard Armitage addiction can have on one’s musical tastes.
Like many of you, I have always loved music; my older sister was a marvelously talented pianist and I spent many happy hours listening to her play. I sing and have performed as a soloist for everything from weddings to Christmas parties to singing the National Anthem for an institute-wide convocation. But, as in so many other areas, the life-altering experience that is the Armitage Effect brought me a whole new perspective on music.
Frankly, I never considered myself to be much of a Britney Spears fan until Richard Armitage and Heathra’s “Womanizer” came into my life, along with Principessa’s “Kill the Lights” and “Break the Ice.” Maddeningly catchy songs tied to a maddeningly irresistible man.
I became a massive Lady Gaga fan because of RA and Delicateblossom’s “Poker Face.” DB likes to say she has no shame when crafting these delightful vids; I think she need not feel a moment of trepidation. And the woman really CAN sing.
It’s more than just Troubled Pop Tarts and Bizarre Divas I came to appreciate. I also discovered the Kings of Leon and Muse and gained a greater appreciation for the vocal stylings of Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry. My love for classical compositions, torch songs and the old standards was re-ignited. From Adele and AC/DC to Yo-Yo Ma and ZZ Top, Richard + music+ vidders=expanded horizons for Richard Armitage fans.
Amongst my favorites are a variety of fanvids, a little something for all my moods: funny, sexy, sweet, angsty, heart-wrenching, thoughtful. But the common denominator that seals the deal for me (other than the presence of Richard Armitage, of course) is the music.
Which comes first–the song or the concept for the video?
Now that I make my own captioned slideshow vids, more than ever I find myself keying in on songs that capture my attention and asking myself, “Would this make a good RA vid? Which character (s) would it suit best? Can I craft a story around it?”
At times a song gets stuck in my head and just won’t get out of it until I do make a video. I also take suggestions from fellow RA fans, which led me to make “He’s So Shy” and “Dirrty,” amongst other vids. And who amongst us can hear “Sexyback” and not think of Heather’s fabulous trio of vids set to the Justin Timberlake song? WE all know who really brought sexy back, and, sorry, JT, it ain’t you.
This infectious current pop hit is one of those that stuck in my head. Like “Womanizer,” the real RA seems so completely the opposite of these lyrics. It’s one of my favs when I want something funny, upbeat and sexy.
Sometimes a certain genre of music seems to perfectly fit a character. Guy seems to fare particularly well with hard-rocking 80’s metal, perhaps because of that “face like thunder” and the fact our dark knight with his Guyliner, leather and sexy swagger looks not unlike a rock god from the past. I admit I have fun being tongue-in-cheek with Guy quite often and with the whole spirit of Robin Hood 2006, with its rampant anachronisms and improbable plots. So–why NOT create a medieval disco in Nottingham Castle as I did in one of my vids?.
Lucas. Ah, poignant, introspective, enigmatic, a haunted man. A man of thought and action. So complex a character that music in a variety of styles suits. Spy series themes, Coldpay, Kevin Rudolf. I love this vid, also from Heathdances, featuring Muse.
John Porter of Strike Back. Brave, resourceful, tough-as-nails, yet tender and gentle, too–and sexy as hell. A hero to admire and lust after. Who better than Nine Inch Nails and Delicateblossom to bring us hard-driving Porter goodness?
For a character like Claude Monet, the passionate, incandescent artist, I wanted an instrumental, something with a classical feel. Master cellist Yo-Yo Ma and friends and this tune “First Impressions” from the “Appalachian Waltz” album was my choice.
Fanvids can vary from the sublime to the ridiculous. Thorin. Regal, heroic, masterful–and very, very hairy. So why not this fun vid celebrating perhaps his most distinctive feature–all that long, beautiful hair?
And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get in the mood for something steamy. And Mr. A and his chaRActers can definitely inspire me. I think Servetus described this song as “ridiculously sexy.” See what you think.
Last of all, this video celebrating our lovely Richard’s career and his bright future, set to the soaring, ethereal soprano of Elizaveta, operatic singer turned pop chanteuse. I think it’s a bit like looking through a colorful scrapbook set to music, the scrapbook of someone much loved and admired.
I want to say thanks to the many very talented vidders who have brought me hours of RA deliciousness, particularly to the two ladies whose work was spotlighted here, Delicateblossom and Heathra (Heathdances). My simple vids are a far, far cry from the complex and creative stuff these ladies do, but I have to say–it’s so much FUN! (And if I can do it, anyone can.)
So, vidders, what sort of music inspires you and how you do go about choosing the music for your fanvids? Fanfic viewers, what are some of your favorite RA videos and vidders? And do you find yourself forever after associating Richard with those fanvid songs?
For more Fandom topics on your Fanstrav 3 journey, check out my fellow tagteamers. For Day Two Fandom entries, visit Fabo at http://whiterosewritings.blogspot.com and Gratiana at http://gratianads90.blogspot.com . For Day Three entries, visit Rose Gisborne at http:/.diaryofanobsessedfanatic.blogspot.com . Tomorrow, Day Four, check out Fabo again at http://whiterosewritings.blogspot.com and IngeD3 at http://crispinseclipse.blogspot.com .
Richard Armitage encourages helping those in need. Sometimes those who need our assistance have no voice to speak for themselves. Animals can offer people unconditional love, serve as the eyes and ears of the disabled and help people live longer and happier lives. Consider adopting a shelter pet or donating pet food and supplies to a local shelter or humane society, or Google “animal welfare organizations” for your part of the world to discover more ways you can help.
It’s a Sunday morning. A soft rain is falling, the drops tapping against the windowpanes. The bed is so cozy, the freshly laundered sheets smelling of the sweetness of new-mown grass.
You stretch languorously, like a cat, and open your eyes. “Good morning,” the deep chocolate voice rumbles as you smile into his heavy-lidded blue gaze. You reach out a hand and let your fingertips dance along his jawline, heavy with dark stubble.
“Good morning to you, Mr. Gorgeous.”
He gives you a lazy smirk and captures one of your fingers in his mouth, his tongue slowly swirling around it, teeth lightly grazing your flesh.
“Are you hungry?” You say teasingly.
He slides your finger free, his tongue darting out to moisten his lips before he leans in and presses his mouth to yours. It is a soft, sweet, lingering kiss.
“I am very hungry,” he murmurs in your ear, giving your earlobe a quick nip.
“Hmmmm. For–blueberry pancakes?” You ask.
He lifts his disheveled head, his dark-lashed eyes glinting.
“No, not blueberry pancakes.” He nuzzles your neck, giving it warm, moist kisses as those broad, elegant hands move downwards. He’s very good with his hands.
You thread your fingers through his soft hair and drink in its fragrance. Your voice is a little breathless. “French toast?”
“No, not French toast . . .”
He raises his head, his mouth curving into a distinctly naughty smile. “But I do want breakfast in bed . . .”
*Screencap RANet, other images Wikipedia)
Can’t you just see RA dressed from head to toe in black,that lithe body moving with the stealth and grace of a great dark feline, slipping in and out of the bedchambers of the wealthy to relieve them of their precious jewels? Wooing the gems (and other articles of attire) right off some unsuspecting and enamored female?
Yes, I’ve been watching Turner Classic Movies again. I cannot begin to tell you how much I love TCM with its uncut, commercial-free films from silents to great movies of more recent vintage. I am always discovering some new gem I have never seen and happily revisiting favorites. Thank you, Ted Turner.
Tonight I re-watched Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. Set on the French Riveria in the mid 1950s, it offers witty dialogue, a romance complete with fireworks and plenty of pretty for the eyes: gorgeous location scenery, gorgeous attire worn by gorgeous Grace Kelly, not to mention Cary Grant looking suave–and quite gorgeous– in a tux. There is also a lavish masquerade ball sequence with attendees in 18th century attire including an anachronistic gold lame gown that must be seen to be believed.
Cary plays John Roby, a former trapeze artist turned jewel thief (“To my credit, I only stole from those who could afford it”). Roby has been paroled from prison for his service to the French resistance in WW II and grows grapes and flowers to earn his crust these days. Kelly is Frances, a spoiled, bored rich girl ( Frances’ mother: “I wish I hadn’t sent her to that finishing school. I think they did finish her off”) traveling with her delightfully down-to-earth mum.
A series of jewel thefts is taking place on the Riveria and the authorities are sure Roby, “The Cat,” is back in business. Grant has to prove his innocence while trying to avoid the police . . .
It’s a very enjoyable movie and yet again, I found myself casting Richard in the lead role–elegant, intelligent, crafty, alluring with an interesting back story. And he gets the girl and lives past the final credits. I think you can see the appeal I find in that.
There’s been a lot of curiosity over the years about the women in Richard’s life. We all know he is a private person, and I certainly respect that. But I can say one woman, actress Annabel (Annie) Capper, has been identified as Richard’s (former) girlfriend.
The two apparently met while both were attending LAMDA and they still appear from time to time at functions together. They once lived together. Although the romantic part of their relationship seems to be over, RA and Capper appear to be supportive of one another’s careers with a strong friendship.
Annie is a striking woman with a lovely speaking voice. Much of her work has been on stage, but I have seen snippets of her acting roles on film and she’s very talented. I will say this: she looks refreshingly normal–not a skeletal plastic Hollywood bimbo with bolt-on breasts. Here are some photos of the two of them and some of just Annie. ( Photos courtesy of Richard Armitage Fan Blog)
I happened across this movie one weekend on TV a few years ago and fell in love with it. Made in 1997, it is not a particularly well-known film, but it is one I believe deserves a broader audience. If you love a well-acted period drama that is moving and achingly romantic at times, Firelight just might be the movie for you.
The film opens in 1838. A young Swiss governess, Elisabeth, who is trying to help her father out of his mounting debts, agrees to bear a child for an anonymous member of the English gentry. A tragic accident has prevented his wife from being capable of bearing him a child.
The two meet for three nights at an island hotel. It is meant to be a business transaction, a sort of surrogate motherhood with no attachment developing between the partners. The Englishman will pay off her father’s debts. Any child conceived will be surrendered to the father at birth.
However, things do not go as planned. Elisabeth and the Engishman are surprised to find themselves drawn to one another as they make love by firelight, developing a deep attachment as they converse at the hotel and during walks on the beach. Afterwards, they return to their normal lives.
Nine months later, Elisabeth gives birth to a daughter, and while she gives the baby away as promised to the Englishman, she never forgets her. Elisabeth begans keeping a journal filled with watercolor paintings of flowers and plants, making a new page for each holiday and birthday they are apart.
When the little girl turns seven, Elisabeth, heartsick for her child, decides she must see her daughter and manages to track her down. She is hired as the child’s governess by the Englishman’s sister-in-law. Constance. Her daughter has a loving relationship with her father, Charles, but is a willful, arrogant, spoiled child who has never been disciplined properly–and it shows.
In spite of neither Charles or the little girl wanting her there, Constance insists the governess be given one month at her post to give her time to look for another situation . . .
There is a story that Elisabeth shares with Louisa which becomes integral to the plot:
It’s a kind of magic. Firelight makes time stand still. When you put out the lamps and sit in the firelight’s glow there aren’t any rules any more. You can do what you want, say what you want, be what you want, and when the lamps are lit again, time starts again, and everything you said or did is forgotten. More than forgotten it never happened.
For those who have not seen the film, I do not want to say much more about the plot.
The love of a mother for a child who does not know their true relationship, the attraction between two people who are forbidden to share their feelings and the determination to tame a willful heart for its own good are all part of this engrossing story.
Sophie Marceau is incandescent as Elisabeth, her beautiful and expressive face sometimes speaking volumes without saying a word; Stephen Dillane is equally impressive as Charles, a country gentleman struggling to maintain his property in the face of a profligate father while at the same time dealing with a catatonic wife.
I purchased Firelight on DVD through Amazon’s Marketplace and I consider it a welcome addition to my period drama/romance collection. (The film is rated R for some brief nudity and sexual content).
(art by Google Images)