Dear Ms. Day:
I requested this book from NetGalley after a prompt from KatiD. She enjoyed it and noted that it was reminiscent of the infamous erotic romance that is sweeping the book reading world, Fifty Shades of Grey. I have read your contemporary novella contributions to recent anthologies and really enjoyed them. I’ve often wished you would write full length contemporary romance instead of historicals or paranormals. After finishing Bared to You, I’m convinced that your voice is well suited to the contemporary romance arena.
Bared to You has an emotional feel similar to 50 Shades. In fact, if I were to recommend any book today to readers who enjoyed 50 Shades and was looking for another book like it, this would be the first one I would offer. However, Bared to You is far better written with much hotter sex scenes. Perhaps it is what 50 Shades could have been. This is not to say that Bared to You is without flaws. It is not. There is a certain repetitive emotional arc which became a little tiresome toward the end even though you provided a believable justification for the characters’ actions.
Eva Reyes is a new college graduate who has recently been hired to be an assistant to an up and coming ad executive at one of the preeminent advertising agencies in the U.S. She is also the step daughter of Richard Stanton, an immensely wealthy man. In other words, Eva is a woman of means because of her stepfather’s assistance. Endowing Eva with financial stability despite her young age and employment created more equality between her and the hero of the book, Gideon Crossfire, and allowed their power struggle to have less ominous tones.
Gideon Crossfire is one of the wealthiest men under 30 in the world. He owns the building where Eva works. He owns businesses all around the city and the world (including a chain of workout facilities). When Eva first sees Gideon, she is struck dumb by his dark beauty and his “vibrant and unrelenting power.” Eva will wax rhapsodic about Gideon’s maleness throughout the book. It is clear that Gideon is the incarnation of the ideal male. Just looking at the bare skin that peeks under the cuff of his pristine white shirt makes Eva squirm with pleasure.
While this story is told in the first person, it is clear that Eva’s fascination is returned. Gideon buys a vodka company just so that he could hire Eva’s advertising firm and thus come in contact with Eva.
“A moment, Eva,” Cross said smoothly, holding me back with a hand at my elbow. “She’ll be right down,” he told Mark, as the elevator doors closed on my boss’s astonished face.
Cross said nothing until the car was on its way down; then he pushed the call button again and asked, “Are you sleeping with anyone?”
The question was asked so casually it took a second to process what he’d said.
I inhaled sharply. “Why is that any business of yours?”
He looked at me and I saw what I’d seen the first time we’d met—tremendous power and steely control. Both of which had me taking an involuntary step back.
“Because I want to f___ you, Eva. I need to know what’s standing in my way, if anything.”
The sudden ache between my thighs had me reaching for the wall to maintain my balance. He reached out to steady me, but I held him at bay with an uplifted hand. “Maybe I’m just not interested, Mr. Cross.”
A ghost of a smile touched his lips and made him impossibly more handsome. Dear God …
The ding that signaled the approaching elevator made me jump, I was strung so tight. I’d never been so aroused. Never been so scorchingly attracted to another human being. Never been so offended by a person I lusted after.
I stepped into the elevator and faced him.
He smiled. “Until next time, Eva.”
Gideon’s pursuit of Eva is relentless even though Eva believes that Gideon would be her downfall. Eva is not someone who can just have a physical fling. She has a serious past trauma and through years of therapy has come to understand what some of her triggers are. Gideon, for all his masculine beauty and sexual magnetism, is just bad for her. She knows this but ultimately Gideon wears her down (primarily through his incredible stalking of her).
Eva does stand up for herself. She tells Gideon off. She refuses to come to him on his terms, particularly when his terms are negotiating for a sleeping partner like you would a business transaction.
“What do you think we’re going to work out?”
Sighing, he scooped me up like a bride and carried me over to the sofa. He dropped me on my butt; then sat next to me. “Your objections. What’s it going to take to get you beneath me?”
“A miracle.” I pushed back from him, widening the space between us. I tugged at the hem of my emerald green skirt, wishing I’d worn pants instead. “I find your approach crude and offensive.”
And a major turn-on, but I was never going to admit it.
He contemplated me with narrowed eyes. “It may be blunt, but it’s honest. You want bullshit and flattery instead?”
“I’d settle for being seen as having more to offer than an inflatable sex doll.” Cross’s brows shot up.
“Are we done?” I stood.
Wrapping my wrist with his fingers, he pulled me back down. “Hardly. We’ve established some talking points: we have an intense sexual attraction and neither of us wants to date. So what do you want—exactly? Seduction, Eva? Do you want to be seduced?”
I was equally fascinated and appalled by the conversation. And, yes, tempted. It was hard not to be while faced with such a gorgeous, virile male so determined to get hot and sweaty with me. Still, the dismay won out. “Sex that’s planned like a business transaction is a turnoff for me.”
“Establishing parameters in a merger makes it less likely that there’ll be exaggerated expectations and disappointment.”
“Are you kidding?” I scowled. “Listen to yourself. Why even call it a f___? Why not be clear and call it a seminal emission in a pre-approved orifice?”
Still, Eva’s capitulation is inevitable. Yet her acquiescence is met with a corresponding change in Gideon’s approach. He agrees to “get to know” Eva while engaging in a physical affair. She tells him straight out that she has issues and one of those issues is possessiveness and jealousy. These are issues that Gideon does not pay very good attention to and results in Eva running from Gideon, time and again. This pattern of behavior repeats itself several times throughout the book as Gideon triggers a negative emotional response in Eva by his carelessness.
While Eva’s character is fairly consistent (almost tiringly so because it became predictable), I felt Gideon’s was less so, changing according to the emotional winds. He was supposed to be a man of iron clad control but often was without it around Eva. Perhaps that was intentional but it made it hard to get a measure of him. Gideon’s own problems with relationships stem from a similarly troubled background. Someone abused him, although it is not completely clear who it was. Because of this, Gideon has physical manifestations of his emotional trauma that provide an impediment to the two being able to live and love together. While the end has some closure, it is clear that Gideon and Eva have a number of obstacles to overcome.
It’s unclear how many more books will come to complete this story. (I’m guessing a trilogy? LOL) In the recent years, full length contemporary erotic romances have been waning and so while this book is imperfect, it is a book that would be emotionally fulfilling. It is full of emotional angst, scorching love scenes, and a compelling storyline. B-