Here be spoilers! If you’re unfamiliar with the trilogy, start with my Bared to You review.
But to Reflected in You. The first half of the novel does not have a plot; it’s just sex, wangst, and the same old arguments repeated countless times. The highlight of this half – and the whole book, and the entire trilogy to date – is Dr Petersen, whom Eva Tramell and Gideon Cross visit for couples therapy.
“How often is sex used to resolve disagreements?” ALL THE TIME, DOC! I don’t know why they bother with therapy, because they clearly don’t want to change for the better. Dr Petersen barely features, but what he says makes perfect sense: other than sex, Eva and Gideon don’t really have a relationship worth continuing. In fact, sex is not enough – ’tis better to be single and celibate than in a relationship with an offensive douchebag. Even if he is ridiculously wealthy and attractive. Then again, I have standards – not everyone does. Dr Petersen doesn’t say this, of course, because he’s more subtle and professional than I.
They do one thing he suggests, though: sleep in separate rooms. Eva has rape-nightmares involving Gideon. When you have rape-nightmares involving your current lover, this is your subconscious’ way of telling you to DUMP THE BASTARD. She chooses to ignore this. In real-time, he very nearly sleep-rapes her, yet Eva thinks, “He’s saving me.”
When younger, Eva was raped by her stepbrother. Gideon was raped by someone else. Eva copes by submitting to Gideon. Gideon copes by dominating Eva. If you’ve been raped, reasoning goes that you never want to be dominated again. Yet Eva hooks up with Gideon and stays with him against all odds (more on that later). That sounds like she needs way more counselling.
In my Goodreads status updates, I referred to this novel as “Republican porn”. Imagine the campaign: “Republiporn – Sex for the One-Percenters”. Do you like equality in your relationship? “You’re not going to get a hundred percent equality in this relationship.” Gideon’s as big on feminism as he is not a creepy stalker, put it that way. Why are all the chicks fighting over this douchebag? “That’s your place, awkward or not!” Don’t forget: “Trust me to know what you need, even when you think I’m wrong.” Because Gideon wants his sex-mate stupid enough to not think for herself.
Random WTF: Mentions of Eva’s period. There are ten, someone counted for me. I thought that was rather heavy-handed foreshadowing for a pregnancy scare later in the novel, but I was wrong. A Twitter friend remarked that I’d made the mistake of thinking that things in novels mean something. But even though Eva and Gideon weren’t shagging during this time, they were still doing sexual stuff, which leads me to believe that Eva has bloodless periods. I don’t get it.
So there’s this band called Six-Ninths, whom I would’ve called Two-Thirds because I know basic fractions. The lead vocalist is Brett, who reminds me of Poison’s Bret Michaels. He brings out the acoustic guitar and does a song (let’s pretend it’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”). Remarks Gideon: “That song reminds me of you.” Because Eva used to fuck the vocalist, and the name “Eva” is in the lyrics? NO SHIT, SHERLOCK-GIDEON!
Gideon shuts off Eva’s communication with the outside world. Which reminds me of the plotline I imagined this story to have (before I started reading): Gideon would break Eva’s legs, she would let him, he’d keep her trapped in an attic with no contact with the outside world, she’d let him… But in the end, Eva would murder him. I wish that would happen here. It does not. Hopefully it will in Book 3.
This is all just the first half: stuff, but not really a plot. And so the second half begins: Eva returns home to learn that her roommate Cary has been attacked and is in the hospital. It’s almost like Gideon knew Cary had been attacked but is too selfish to let Eva be with her injured friend. Because this is what psychotic boyfriends do.
At the time I thought Gideon was somewhat responsible for the attack on Cary. But that’s before we learn of Nathan Barker’s murder – he’s the stepbrother who raped Eva. Immediately, I thought Gideon had called a hit on him.
MAJOR SPOILER: Gideon actually killed Nathan himself, instead of hiring someone else to do it. The novel seems to be about, “How far would you go out of love and obsession?” The answer is murder, but there are no consequences. Instead there’s this bloody incompetent, corrupt policewoman who burns all her investigative notes linking Gideon to the murder, because she wants Gideon to get away with it. And let’s not forget that he’s a one-percenter, and they generally do get away with murder, anyway. And of course Eva will not break up with a murderer.
If this series is meant to be a romance, the author has failed. You’re supposed to make us like the characters and want them to be together. I don’t, on either account. Crossfire is much better read as a psychological thriller, but without the payoff. This series is offensive for many reasons. Also, being a victim of child abuse and sexual abuse does NOT excuse one from mistreating others when older. THERE IS NO EXCUSE. Gideon’s just a dick.
-References to Google Alerts. Google Alerts hasn’t worked properly for yonks, yet works perfectly here. Don’t insult me with your lies, fiction!
-Eva tells Gideon to stop being grumpy. Imagine this face during the sex scenes.
-”Don’t treat me like a whore.” He treats you like a whore because you let him, instead of dumping him. And because you chose to resolve this latest argument with sex. DID YOU NOT LEARN ANYTHING IN THERAPY? Also, she’s not allowed to walk to work, and must have lunch only at her desk. Because Eva is a doormat, and doormats acquiesce to complete and utter feckwits. She acknowledges this to Dr Petersen, even mentions a “sinking ship”. Doesn’t stop her from becoming pissweak whenever Gideon’s around, though.