SPOILER WARNING: This review contains SPOILERS. (This is what you came for…) But if you want a non-spoilery review – 2 stars. Some things I liked; a lot I didn’t.
One with You (Crossfire, Book 5)
Macmillan St. Martin’s Griffin (US: 5th April 2016); Penguin (UK: 4th April 2016; AU: 5th April 2016)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Paperback) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Paperback) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Paperback) Buy (Worldwide)
CONTENT WARNING: Flashbacks/details of rape and sexual abuse (including that of children), demonising of mental healthcare professionals, ableism/mentalism, fat-phobia.
“Not what you expect. Everything you want.” So says the novel’s ads, but it turns out I’m not the “you” in question. It is what I expected, and not what I wanted. (I hoped Eva and Gideon would break up and never get back together.)
You can so tell the author wrote this book with a TV adaptation in mind. Most characters have their own subplots, but we don’t see them through to conclusion, so they come across as filler. Not really a surprise that this is the longest novel the author’s written – it didn’t need to be.
So much repetition about how much Eva and Gideon love each other, how attractive they find each other. There’s a lot of emphasis on Eva’s chest and posterior. Not just from Gideon’s POV but also Eva’s. Ireland speaks up, too. Though Eva’s “curvy”, we are constantly reminded. There’s fat-phobia here, when at first Eva doesn’t want to be photographed in a bikini after “pigging out” at lunch. (Her words, not mine.) At first I wondered if all the prose about Eva’s body was foreshadowing a maybe-pregnancy (like how I thought all the period talk in a previous episode would lead to; I was wrong), but of course not. Gideon’s not willing to share Eva with anyone, not even a child. Same reason he doesn’t want Eva to hang out with her family and friends.
And for a supposedly “erotic” novel, the shagging is actually…really boring. Except for one scene with brief rimming and thumb play. But kudos to the author: at least she’s given up on the D/s thing she forced into earlier episodes, back when this series was trying to be an up-market FSOG. Sylvia Day even included E. L. James in the dedication or acknowledgements for Bared to You.
So what actually happens here? Eva resigns from her job. Undecided whether to work for Gideon or not, she concentrates on arranging their second wedding. They plan to sell the event photos, and give the money to charity. Only it doesn’t sound charitable if you’re donating the money to your own foundation, just saying.
Eva decides they shouldn’t have sex until the wedding. Gideon says no. Eva says, “You can’t say no.” Gideon says, “You can’t say no.” Those are direct quotes, by the way. Gideon may not be a rapist, but he sure as hell sounds like one. (SPOILER: the chastity vow doesn’t last. And they can’t even spend their bachelor(ette) weekend apart, so Eva flies from Ibiza to Rio after a photo scandal. Melodrama.)
Meanwhile, Eva’s being a pain, getting Cary to schedule appointments for her and use his contacts to get her a custom-made wedding dress. And she does a really irresponsible thing: gifts Gideon a puppy. NO. People, you can’t just gift people with pets if they never showed any interest in wanting one. And if they do want one, take them to a shelter where they can meet a variety of individuals and choose their OWN new best friend, rather than YOU choosing one for them.
Gideon gets back at Eva by gifting a creepy bracelet. It comes in halves, and has to be screwed on with a special screwdriver, which he’s keeping so she can’t remove this…manacle. Because nothing says “I love you” more than “I want to trap you”. *head-desk*
Eva does not have good relationships with other women. Key example: her mother controlled and stalked her, and Eva’s husband controls and stalks her. Mommy issues! Eva also judges a woman for considering abortion, saying she’s just manipulating a guy. And here’s the charming thing she says to Gideon in regards to another woman: “Just imagining you flirting with her, giving her the idea you’d like to screw her, makes me want to break stuff – including her face.” Uh, why not blame HIM instead? Wonder if Eva’s got some internalised misogyny going on.
OK, we have to talk about how this series treats mental healthcare professionals. They’re demonised; the cause of Gideon’s trauma – except for Dr. Petersen, the BEST CHARACTER in Crossfire, the voice of reason who gives good advice. He’s awesome. But it’s uncomfortable that Gideon and Eva keep using the ableist/mentalist terms “crazy”, “nuts”, and “insane”, and no one calls them out on it.
As for the others (I warned you there’d be SPOILERS): Hugh raped Gideon, who was a child. Terry helped cover it up. Anne’s the villain in Crossfire, getting back at Gideon for the shoddy way he treated her. And here’s the MEGA-SPOILER: she hires a patient to shoot Eva. Only Monica is hit instead, and dies.
This is weird, considering an odd subplot is based on Monica, and I waited for Gideon to confront her. That never happens. And though her back-story seems strangely just thrown in at first, it’s actually the most interesting part of the entire novel. Of the entire SERIES. If only we’d had a book all about Monica instead… Anyway, we find out why she’s so obsessed with money.
Gideon plays a major part in both these SPOILERS: he withholds information from Eva. When Monica dies, he doesn’t tell Eva until the next day. (If he’d shagged her before he did that, I would’ve had a temper tantrum. He didn’t, but I’m still pretty angry.) And when he receives the information that the investigation into Monica’s life revealed…he doesn’t tell Eva straight away, either. He’ll tell her “when the time is right”, or some shiz. I also would’ve blown a gasket there, but in the next chapter – the epilogue – he and Eva make plans regarding the care of, and visits to, Eva’s aunt.
And that’s what you missed in One with You.