(Directory of recap links)

We start with a sentence no one in the Portland-Vancouver area would ever say.

With Moby blasting in my ears I run down Southwest Salmon Street toward the Willamette River.

What?  Just…what?  I live in Vancouver, and am in Portland almost every day.  My husband works downtown, and I’m down there a great deal.  We say, “toward the river.”  Know why?  There’s only ONE river you’d run toward.  It’s not like there are options.  That’s just logic.  We DO have tons of bridges.  Portland is known as the Bridge City (other nickname is Rose City) because of how many bridges there are.  We specify the bridge we’re going to (Morrison has become a terrible speed trap, and Steel is just plain scary), but don’t need to specify the river name, and so don’t.

The Heathman is at the grey circle on Broadway between Salmon and Main.  Notice how I didn’t bother telling you it’s SW.  That’s a given downtown.  It’s redundant when literally every street is SW.  She couldn’t bother to find that out, and yet I had someone check out the topography for Sacred Blood to make sure a character really walked downhill to the beach from when he drove, and had a couple people from an archery range clear the archery scenes.  So is it too much to hope for for a multi-millionaire to have someone local read the book to find out if people here really speak the way she thinks?

Downtown Portland

Oh, yeah, I’m going to go hard on thinks like this.  James is rich enough that she could make a lot of trips here to make sure she gets it right.  Curiously, she avoids coming here.  The Vancouver she visits all the time is in British Columbia, Canada.  Vancouver, Washington doesn’t want her.  Portland doesn’t want her.

By the way, Couch Street is pronounced “Cooch,” like Mooch.  And Willamette is now “WILL-uh-met.”  It’s “Will-A-mit,” dammit!  Now you’ll sound like less of a tourist if you ever come to town.  You’re welcome.

Grey goes for a jog, and we get dull details about running past a coffee shop and thinking about making asking her for a coffee date.  He eats breakfast, showers, and it’s utterly dull.  Once dressed, he meets with Ana for the photos.  He immediately comments on how her hair is longer than her breasts (I don’t think any guy thinks about hair length in relation to where a woman’s nipples are) and how her legs look.

He meets Kate, and shakes her hand.

She has a firm, confident handshake, and I doubt she’s ever faced a day of hardship in her privileged life. I wonder why these women are friends. They have nothing in common.

How does he know?  Seriously.  What does he know about them?  He knows what they look like, and that Kate wants to be a reporter.  He literally knows nothing else about who they are.  As for a day of hardship?  After being adopted at the age of 4 into an extremely wealthy family, he’s known no hardship.

But what gets me more than that is how her handshake being firm and confident means she’s had it easy.  Does this mean that a woman who has deal with hardship is weakened by it, and will hand a noodly handshake?  Yes.  Yes, it does.

Enter meeting Jose, a friend of Ana’s from childhood, who is also a professional photographer.

Shit. Is this the boyfriend?
Rodriguez blooms under Ana’s sweet smile.
Are they fucking?
“Mr. Grey.” Rodriguez gives me a dark look as we shake hands. It’s a warning. He’s telling me to back off. He likes her. He likes her a lot.
Well, game on, kid.
“Mr. Rodriguez, where would you like me?” My tone is a challenge, and he hears it…

Bloody fantastic.  Not only is Grey convinced he’s a personal threat to everyone, as if he’s so certain every woman wants him, but his first thought is that Ana is his personal property, and to get angry over the thought that she might be fucking someone else.  His response is at the level of maturity I expect from him, which isn’t much.  How childish to immediately make a game out of it, with a human being as the prize.

Grey looks for Ana, sees her standing off to the side, out of the way, which is obviously so Kate and Jose can work.  He decides this means she likes to be in the background, and thinks about how she’s a “natural submissive.”  That’s right.  Who cares about getting to know her.  He’s already thinking about what he can do to her body.  It’s not like she’s a human who might say no.

Filler about the photo shoot with mundane details so boring that I forgot what I read, despite literally just reading it.  Something about reconsidering asking her out, but she bites her lip and he’s horny.  I just reread it, and that sums it up.

After the shoot, he asks her to walk with him.  In the first book, this scene led to him emotionally jerking her around until she collapsed in a garage, sobbing and confused.

When other reviewers have commented about how this book is just the scenes in the trilogy retold, with nothing new, they weren’t kidding.  His only spoken words here are what he said within Ana’s earshot.  We know he was saying something to Taylor, but we still don’t know what since we skip right to his “I’ll call you, Taylor” line from the first book.

Once he’s shoo’d Taylor away, Ana is by his side, and she’s nervous.  For good reason, if I do say so myself.  See, he’s thinking about the sexual ways he could stop her fidgeting.  Rather than force her against a wall, he asks her if she wants some coffee.  She stutters.

Shit. It’s a “no.” I’m going to lose this deal.

Deal.  Yet again, we see that she isn’t a human.  She’s an object to be had.  When she says yes, he considers it a victory as he has a date.  Except…no.  She interviewed him, and he sat for photos.  At best, this is a faux-professional relationship, and any coffee meeting would be seen as a chance to talk over the article.  Coffee shops are very common here, and so are a common place to sit and talk business.

Ana goes to let her friends know she won’t be leaving with him, and Grey makes clear she’s his.

How long is Anastasia going to be? I check my watch. She must be negotiating the car swap with Katherine. Or she’s talking to Rodriguez, explaining that she’s just going for coffee to placate me and keep me sweet for the article. My thoughts darken. Maybe she’s kissing him good-bye.
Damn.
She emerges a moment later, and I’m pleased. She doesn’t look like she’s just been kissed.

Even if she was kissing Jose, so what?  Or is this an instance of how dare she use her autonomy and kiss who she wants to kiss?

He asks how long she’s known Kate (four years), and decides she’s devoted to her friend, and tells himself Kate better be treating Ana right.  She is, Bro.  Very well.  Kate supports Ana (a part time job at a hardware store isn’t covering half the rent as well as clothes from H&M, not in this areas, believe you me), and is always there for her, like when you leave Ana in pieces, and she needs support for it.

He decides to grab her hand, while thinking that she’s “young” and “very inexperienced.”  Because his 27 years to her 21 means he’s so much more mature?  I have close friends who are more than six years younger than me, more than ten, and I don’t think about how young they are.  But we’ll see later how he loves calling Jose “boy.”  I think this whole issue is a throw-back to Twilight and Edward appearing 17, but being over a century.  He’s an old soul in a body that appears to be young, though his experience puts him in a sort of position of authority.  Grey is supposed to be that old soul.  It doesn’t carry over well.  He comes across as pompous for it.

They go to a coffee shop, where Ana orders “bag-out tea,” which is something Grey says is new to him, yet is the only way tea is served here.  You get a cup or pot of hot water, and a selection of tea bags, usually by the brand Stash, which is a local company.  Ana gets Twinings.

Then Grey gets annoyed that the “matronly women” running the shop actually care to talk to “all their customers.”  How dare they not ignore people for him!  The Britishisms run strong with this one.  The “FP ladies” credited with helping James with Americanisms must be British.  There are enough Britishisms that I’m craving scones.

He’s also convinced the ladies running the joint are crushing on him.  Hate to break it to him, but women in this area tend to find face hair hot.  And men grow it competitively, especially in tech fields.  No, I’m not kidding.

city-of-portland-hosts-world-beard-and-moustache-championships

It’s a real thing.  And Portland did host it.

When Ana gets her tea, she manages to make a mess of it.  As someone who drinks four pots of Stash’s Earl Grey a day, I don’t understand how this is messy.

As she tells me she likes her tea weak and black, for a moment I think she’s describing what she likes in a man.

Of course.  I can’t read this as anything but veiled racism. Moving on.

He jumps right into her private life, demanding to know of Jose is her boyfriend.  No, he’s not.  He’s just a friend.

Okay, so the lust is one-sided, and for a moment I wonder if she realizes how lovely she is. She eyes the blueberry muffin as I peel back the paper, and for a moment I imagine her on her knees beside me as I feed her, a morsel at a time. The thought is diverting—and arousing.

How does he manage to make literally everything about sex?

Jose’s not a boyfriend, and so he starts grilling her about Paul.  Friend.  In the lack of other men to quiz her on, he tells her she’s nervous around me.  No, she’s nervous because of YOU.

“I find you intimidating,” she says, and looks down, fidgeting once more with her fingers. On the one hand she’s so submissive, but on the other she’s…challenging.
“You should find me intimidating.”

If a guy every wants you to be intimidated, run.  Intimidation is no way to run a relationship.  Respect should be freely given, not given because one party is too intimidated.  I briefly dated a guy like this.  Really good-looking, rich even by the standards of San Francisco and Silicon Valley.  One particular date, he let me know he liked being intimidating, and back as his car, he pushed me up against it, figuring I’d say yes, I suppose.  I froze, then shoved him away and got on the overnight express bus home.  Guys who say you should be intimidated, or who like to intimidate you, should always be avoided.  ALWAYS.

In another throwback to Twilight, when Edward was exceedingly frustrated that he couldn’t read Bella’s thoughts, Grey’s annoyed he can’t read Ana’s mind.  He decides to try flattering her.

“I think you’re very self-contained.” Like any good submissive. “Except when you blush, of course, which is often. I just wish I knew what you were blushing about.” There. That will goad her into a response. Popping a small piece of the blueberry muffin into my mouth, I await her reply.
“Do you always make such personal observations?”

He doesn’t see how this is inappropriate to say to someone he doesn’t know.  He can make all the observations he wants, but he crosses the line when he speaks them.  He thinks he has a right to know why she’s blushing.

I’m used to getting my own way, Anastasia. In all things.”
“I don’t doubt it,” she mutters…

Another warning sign to run.

“Tell me about your parents.”
She rolls her eyes and I have to fight the compulsion to scold her”

See?  She doesn’t respond as he expected, and he wants to punish her.  Despite knowing when her father died, he plays dumb and asks about him.  Another personal moment from me–my dad died in 2003.  Anyone who plays stupid about it will get the boot from my life.  It’s disrespectful and hurtful to use a dead parent as a part of any game.

Ana doesn’t know what he knows, and so tells him.  She tells him her mom remarried.  Her answers are short.  She does give in and tell him more about her parents, including where they live, and he tells us that, thanks to that background check, he already knows all of it.  She falls quiet.

She’s one of the few women I’ve met who can sit in silence. Which is great, but not what I want at the moment.

Women are to be seen, not heard, you know.  Speak when he wants, shut up otherwise.  Since he wants her to speak, he decides “Game on.”

To any of you fellas reading this: Err on the side of presuming women don’t like playing games like this.  It’s juvenile, immature, and disrespectful.  If you want to play games, ask if we want to play some Mario Kart, or check out the new version Final Fantasy VII, or maybe play Monopoly.  Head-games suck.

Just to make her uncomfortable on purpose, he reminds her that she asked if he was gay.  This yields the result he wants of getting her to spill info she didn’t want to give.

And this is a running them in this book.  He wants, who cares what she wants.  He wants, and so he will have, no matter how he has to coerce, manipulate, or otherwise force.

After she tells Grey information down to parental hobbies (Hey, James!  Yeah, you.  Listen up.  We Americans don’t call it European soccer.  We just call it SOCCER.  We’ll joke about European football, but soccer itself ALWAYS refers to the game with the white and black round ball that gets kicked around.), he had the audacity to get indignant when she asks about his siblings.  How dare she!  SO he gives short answers, such as his sister is studying culinary in Paris.  Ah, so she’s Sabrina!

Audrey-Hepburn-sabrina-1954-12036996-1621-2064

Mia even has short hair and is petite.  But Sabrina Fairchild (portrayed by the lovely Audrey Hepburn) she ain’t.

Ana sighs that she’s never left “mainland USA.”  Again, whoever those ladies were who supposedly helped with the Americanisms…  You know what?  Nevermind.  Basically, she’s “never been outside the US.”  Fixed that for you, James.

But she really wants to see England because of the authors who came from there, such as Jane Austen, and the Brontë sisters.  Grey whines that he’s competing with the likes of Darcy.  Does he even realize that Darcy was a jerk?  We modern Austen-lovers who like Darcy acknowledge that, but what makes him so intriguing is that he realized his errors in a time when his jerkish behavior was acceptable and common.

Basically he’s competing with a jerk.  Or so be believes, since he thinks liking those books means she’s an “incurable romantic,” which she is not.  Not like he’ll ever care to find out.

One glance at her aromantic watch, and he decides he’s “blown this deal.”  I can’t get over how he sees her body the object of a transaction.

She tells him she has homework to do.  He tells us, though not her, that he found their 20 minutes together enjoyable.  Sure.  He spent the time playing games with her.  Fun.

On the walk back, he asks if she always wears jeans, and she tells him she “mostly” does.  He decide this is two strikes, the first being that “incurable romantic” part.  Jeans?  A strike?

I like my women in skirts. I like them accessible.

ARGH!!!!  Women are NOT possession, you idiot!  I’m talking to YOU, James!  I seriously hope this isn’t the crap you’re teaching your sons!!

Well, we’re hitting the infamous Bike of Doom.  She nearly steps into the path of an oncoming cyclists, and at worst, might have been knocked on her butt.  There’s too much traffic downtown to ever get up much speed on a bike.  Grey overreacts though, and yanks her out of the way, like she was about to get his by a semi.

She stares at him, startled.  In the first book, she’s terrified that she nearly died.  From being hit by a bicycle….  Here, her lack of attention to the bike, even not, indicates that she’s startled because she’s suddenly being help up against a man who is horny as hell for her.  And yes, he tells us as much.

In the heat of the moment, she wants to be kissed.

Something left out of this book is how much he’s pushed and pulled her.  A lot of his actions were left out, actions that would be seen as flirty.  So when he pulled her against his body, then refused to kiss her (I’m not saying anyone should be required to kiss, but I do think it’s cruel to intentionally lead someone on when you know you have no intention of going further), she took it hard. I’m surprised he realized she was humiliated by his rejection.  He thinks to himself that he didn’t mean to hurt her.

I don’t believe that.  Not with his actions in the first book where his signals were clearly flirting.  Running your thumb across your bottom lip while staring intently into someone’s eyes, as he did, is flirting.  Among other actions.

The chapter ends on Grey regretting pushing her too far too fast because he believes he’s lost the chance to get into her pants, thereby failing to close out the transaction and losing the deal.  How will he ever get to have sex with her now?

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