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REVIEW: Bared to You by Sylvia Day

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 by Sylvia DayBared 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.

“Well, then.”

“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-

Best regards

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

39 Comments

  1. Marc
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 14:40:44

    Fifty Shades of Gray and other erotic romance reads have made the main Chapter’s advertising banner on their site. While I don’t plan to read FSoG I have to think that there might still be a silver lining for the romance community.

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  2. Sunita
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 14:55:27

    Wow, I can see why this would be an instant recommendation.

    And what is it about elevator door scenes?

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  3. Janine
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 15:15:03

    This book sounds really good, and I want to read it now. Except for this part:

    Gideon buys a vodka company just so that he could hire Eva’s advertising firm and thus come in contact with Eva.

    No one would ever do this in real life. This kind of thing is one of the reasons I don’t read as many contemporaries as I do historicals and paranormals. I just know the world I live in too well to suspend disbelief when characters make dumb business decisions for reasons that have nothing to do with their work.

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  4. Jane
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 15:16:24

    @Janine: This does not seem unbelievable to me at all. Gideon is a billionaire. He buys a small liquor business. Hires a marketing firm. Seems reasonable to me.

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  5. Jane
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 15:17:40

    @Sunita: There are several elevator scenes. The elevator plays a big role in their courtship but primarily because Eva works in the building that headquarters Gideon’s business.

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  6. Elyssa
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 15:47:55

    I like the sound of this book. And I am always game for a hot, sexy contemporary. Confession: I’m a sucker for a hero named Gideon. (Just like I am with Grey/Gray or Jack.) There’s just something inherently sexy about those names to me. And I’m with Sunita on elevator scenes. I don’t find it unbelievable that he’d buy a liquor company…he has lots of money and it’s chump change to him.

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  7. Dabney
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 16:20:24

    It is interesting how wealthy the two are. I found Gideon’s and Eva’s ability to do anything–ANYTHING–they wanted to wearing. For me, it almost cheapened their encounters. It is a hot book, though, and it did shimmer with real emotion.

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  8. cbackson
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 16:22:00

    @Jane: To me, the unbelievable bit is “billionaire under 30.” Although this seems extremely common in romances, it’s so far to the unrealistic that it always makes me laugh. My job is such that I have a lot of exposure to high-income individuals, and under-30 (or even under-40) billionaires are virtually nonexistent, particularly in the occupations that romance heroes typically have. Essentially, to get that rich that young, you need to be an entertainer, a star athlete, the heir to something, or Mark Zuckerberg. Typical romance-novel-hero jobs (real estate developer, industrial entrepreneur, corporate raider) aren’t going to get you there by thirty (or in some cases, at all – the era of the real estate billionaire is definitely waning).

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  9. Jane
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 16:30:29

    @cbackson: Yes, I agree that the under 30 billionaire is far less believable and making Gideon under 30 is a bit strange, in my opinion, but similar to the 50 Shades dynamic. I mentioned Gideon’s age specifically because his youthfulness in years was meaningful (it didn’t match, in other words).

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  10. Jill Sorenson
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 17:33:03

    I love the cover and the excerpts. I’m not big on business settings or billionaires, but what the heck. I like Day’s writing.

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  11. Cara
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 17:51:57

    Is it wrong that I purchased this probably more out of an act of rebellion against 50 Shades than anything? I mean, it’s not like my TBR list is five miles long as it is…

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  12. Janine
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 19:14:21

    @Jane & @Elyssa: Sorry, unless it also happens to be a sound business decision I don’t buy it. Billionaires don’t get to be billionaires because they let their penises make their business decisions for them. They have a responsibility to their shareholders or employees to be smarter than that.

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  13. Jenny Lyn
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 20:03:37

    I’m with Jill. That cover is just stunning and so different. The positives outweigh the negatives for me so this one goes in the TBR stack. There’s just not enough full-length angsty contemporaries out there to not give it a shot, and this will be my first by Ms. Day.

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  14. SHZ
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 00:52:06

    I might have to have an “anti 50” moment and buy it too. Plus, I generally like Sylvia Day’s writing a lot.
    BTW it’s “Fifty Shades of GREY” guys. I know the British author of 50 should have known better about how Americans spell things, but she didn’t and that’s the name of the book.

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  15. Janet W
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 18:12:03

    Why “should” the author of Fifty Shades have “known better about how Americans spell things”? I grew up in Canada and I like the way grey looks, as a colour and as a word. I know America is a huge book buying market but I gather Fifty Shades is selling ok around the world too. In the same way that British author J K Rowling insisted that Ron’s mum be “mum” and not “mom”, even in the American version of Harry Potter, what is the intrinsic problem with Christian Grey’s book — he’s the hero — being Fifty Shades of Grey? It is an easy way, I suppose, to identify folks who haven’t read Fifty Shades but have lots to say about it when they refer to it as “Gray” …

    I read the sample chapter of this book and it seems like a fun ride. I especially liked the friendship of the heroine and her gorgeous roomie. Nice boss too! Altho I would buy it because I liked it, not in protest against another book. I enjoyed Fifty Shades — I’d like to see some of the things in it bleed into contemporary romance (like an array of contraceptive choices, just to give one example). If romance readers are going to look for realistic business decisions from their contemporary heroes — or for billionaires below 30 not to make the editorial cut — a lot of books are going to come up for criticism. Just saying.

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  16. Loosheesh
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 20:46:41

    Weird off-topic story: I’m thinking of getting this one so I tried to buy it at Kobo with one of their coupons and I got an “Invalid …” message (probably I already used that particular coupon), so I put off buying till I could try another code. This morning I get an email from Kobo, headed “Take a second look at: Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel”. The email itself reads “See Something You Like? It’s not too late to take a second peek!” and goes on to give a description of the book. So, is Kobo spying on me? ;-)

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  17. cbackson
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 21:00:09

    So I bought this and read it last night, and I feel decidedly mixed about it. On the one hand, I really, really liked how self-possessed the heroine is. And the fact that when the hero comes onto her, she’s not so dazzled by his smoking hotness that she can’t put the brakes on and establish her own basis for what she wants. I liked her and I identified with her. And I was glad to see a heroine with her particular trauma who was still portrayed as a sexual person – something many authors don’t know how to handle.

    That said, there were some things that I definitely strongly disliked. First off, the book isn’t a complete story – it definitely breaks in media res. I didn’t feel like heroine and hero had come to a moment of emotional catharsis that was distinct from their other breakthroughs. It just cut off. Second, I found this to be a bit like sitting in on someone’s therapy session (at times, literally – and there’s nothing I find so excruciating, as someone who spent years in therapy, as reading an account of someone else’s therapy session). There isn’t much external conflict – this is a story about two people working through their emotional problems, and it can get kind of boring to be along for that ride. The push-pull dynamic was repetitive and I started skimming from time to time.

    Finally, I had some trouble suspending my disbelief: just make the damn hero 40, okay? The idea that he was a 28-year-old billionaire wasn’t just ridiculous from an external perspective. It also didn’t quite work within the logic of the story: the hero talks about his college life as if it were a decade or more in his past, when logically, it was only four or five years ago. As I commented above: I’m familiar with this income bracket. The characterization was pretty good, but for the age issue, which just made me laugh. Although not as much as the fact that the hero is always making plans to meet the heroine at 5 PM. Nobody makes that kind of money by leaving work at 5 PM, and take it from a recovering private equity wife: no matter when he left work, his Blackberry would go everywhere with him, and would get far more attention than any woman.

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  18. pamelia
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 21:00:33

    Reading this now. It’s really quite good although it seems to me to be if not fanfiction of FSOG (fanfiction of fanfiction? how meta!) then perhaps written in response to FSOG as in: “let me show you how I would write this kind of story, E.L. James!” Much of the structuring and many of the key moments are eerily similar although Eva is much different from Ana. I really like the emotional maturity Eva possesses. I really like the fact that she is definitely no blank-slate heroine. I’ll likely stay up past my bedtime tonight to finish it. Thanks for the review!

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  19. Jane
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 21:02:53

    @cbackson: I thought the repetitiveness of the push/pull dynamic was the weakest part of the book and I’m a bit concerned about the follow up story. I’m worried that Day will unnaturally drag this out as it has already been drug out. That said, I’m willing to climb on board for the second book.

    As for Gideon as a 28 year old billionaire, that was definitely a flaw, but one I could forgive. In my mind, he was definitely late 30s!

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  20. Jane
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 21:04:31

    @pamelia: I don’t know if it is FSOG fan fiction (although it would be hilarious if it was), but I definitely felt like there were echoes of sentiment and moments that harkened back to FSOG. Nonetheless, so much better written.

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  21. cbackson
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 21:09:00

    @Jane: Yeah, when I saw how long it was, I thought for sure it would be wrapped up in one book. Re-reading my comment, I feel like I paid short shrift to what I liked about it – in generally, I thought it was far better than almost any erotic romance I’ve read lately. The characterization, not just of the hero and heroine, was really good – they felt like real people (although her mother was maybe a smidge too over-the-top). But yeah, I don’t want to see this go to three books.

    I just elided over the age, mentally. The 5 PM thing was harder, because MAN, was that the source of a lot of arguments between me and my ex-husband (I don’t think he ever came home at 5 PM in our entire marriage). But I suspect that’s a pet peeve that won’t even raise an eyebrow for most readers.

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  22. Jane
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 21:12:25

    @cbackson: Yes, I grappled with my grade but I’ve read so many really terrible erotic romances in the last 12 months that I feel a) erotic romance must be really difficult to write in a novel length form and b) despite this one’s problems I was really engaged despite the length.

    Some of the sex scenes were incredibly sexy, particularly the library one and I thought the sexual tension/chemistry was crackling.

    I’m not sure where Day is taking us. I think that Gideon’s emotional problems are going to take center stage and that BDSM will be a stronger component. I don’t see Eva as a submissive, but clearly Day wants to take us there.

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  23. Elyssa
    Apr 09, 2012 @ 02:01:15

    @Janine your response made me LOL. I just finished reading the book and it made more sense (of him buying the company) on the page. It did have a smart business move attached to it, at least I thought so.

    I also didn’t know that this was going to be a series book so when I got to the end, I went NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    Jane, I didn’t see Eve as submissive either. And I agree that his story will probably take center stage in next book. I almost wonder if the next book will be written solely in his pov? And he definitely read as if he were 35-38 age range to me–but I guess if you have that much wealth and power at 28, you do come across older. How old is Eva supposed to be? 23? 24? I kept reading her as 25, but I’m sure I’m wrong about this.

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  24. Ellie
    Apr 09, 2012 @ 05:51:00

    I LOVED this book because Ana gave me fits in 50 Shades. I found her so annoying and so completely immature that it just killed the book for me. And I really don’t like BDSM. So this book was a breath of fresh air … until it too seems headed in that direction. And it’s going to be at least another book. Sigh.

    BUT – the writing, excellent. The characters, excellent. Loved Eva’s backbone. Loved that she walked away from him. Yeah, it hurt, so what, life goes on. Loved that she had a job and would focus on it, rather than sending him clever emails all day on the company computer. See, smarter than Ana.

    I loved that she had sexual experience too, some of it really bad, but that they were both survivors was something new to me. Damaged people love differently. Most of us think we can’t love at all. And I love that she captured the “I’m a freak and only my best friend who has gone through it too understands me” mentality, because that is real. I think a lot of survivors do seek out damaged people because we don’t want to inflict our problems on the normals. But that makes it twice as hard for a relationship to work. So while it became laborious to read, it rang true.

    I’m disappointed it will drag on for another book, or more, but yeah, I’ll check out the next one. The characters were that compelling for me.

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  25. Kati
    Apr 09, 2012 @ 07:28:54

    I’m late to the party because I was offline this weekend. I’m really glad you reviewed this one, Jane. As you said, this is now my go to book if someone asks me about 50 Shades. I found it to be extremely well written, and I thought that the tension between the characters rang far truer than the tension in 50 Shades.

    I was truly astounded when I first read it because it read so much like 50 Shades to me. I was sure that Ms. Day was capitalizing on the phenomenon. But when I chatted w/her on Twitter about it, it sounds like this book was written before the phenomenon hit. Either way, the sex scenes and the characters’ motivations worked for me, as does Ms. Day’s contemporary voice. So I’ll definitely be picking up the next one.

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  26. KMont
    Apr 10, 2012 @ 13:02:33

    I haven’t been interested in this kind of romance in a long while (just not much of an erotic romance reader these days, especially /BDSM), but I’ve enjoyed some of Day’s historical romances. I also admit to having 50 Shades of Grey on my kindle (thanks to the generosity of someone letting me borrow it) but I still have no desire to read it thanks to all the good reviews I’ve seen and people I trust thinking it’s a horrible read. This book however sounds more like it. Thanks.

    I’m with Janine that it doesn’t sound like a believable scenario for the hero to buy a vodka company merely to get close to the heroine, but if there’s a plausible logic to it in the story, fair enough.

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  27. Janine
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 00:36:04

    @Elyssa:

    @Janine your response made me LOL. I just finished reading the book and it made more sense (of him buying the company) on the page. It did have a smart business move attached to it, at least I thought so.

    Thanks, that’s good to know. That makes me more interested in reading it.

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  28. Janine
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 00:38:42

    @cbackson:

    The characterization was pretty good, but for the age issue, which just made me laugh. Although not as much as the fact that the hero is always making plans to meet the heroine at 5 PM. Nobody makes that kind of money by leaving work at 5 PM, and take it from a recovering private equity wife: no matter when he left work, his Blackberry would go everywhere with him, and would get far more attention than any woman.

    LOL! I agree meeting at 5 PM is a bit much.

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  29. Patti (Caught in a FAB Romance)
    Apr 14, 2012 @ 22:34:49

    I bought this book b/c I loved 50 Shades and I kept hearing “if you liked 50, you’ll like this”. While the stories are really similar (seriously, did they work on their plot outlines together?), I’m at 80% and I don’t really care for it. Which surprises me because I loved Ms. Day’s Marked series, so I figured there was no way I could miss. I’m hoping the last 20% will win me over.

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  30. Augusta Carver
    Apr 15, 2012 @ 21:48:27

    I bought this book over the weekend after reading the review on it. Normally I do not go for romance books too often, but I really enjoyed it. Even though it is a bit long, I got through it fairly quickly. I loved Eva’s character and strength. I look forward to the second book.

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  31. Smexy’s Top Ten–April 27th | Smexy Books
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 12:01:20

    [...] about, but I have to read it. I have to know why Gideon Cross is so tortured, yet so damn sexy. Dear Author has a nice review of it. It’s currently $3.82 at Amazon (Full length novel) and $4.99 at [...]

  32. Is this the next “50 Shades of Grey”? — paidContent
    May 25, 2012 @ 08:16:44

    [...] for seven figures in March. Jane Litte, who runs the romance blog “Dear Author,” writes that “if I were to recommend any book today to readers who enjoyed 50 Shades and was [...]

  33. Kelly
    Jul 05, 2012 @ 00:34:39

    Haven’t read this but plan to in the near future. I did read FSOG and loved it! That being said who cares if it’s about a billionaire and he’s under 30 and whether it’s believable or not. It’s a story use your imagination.

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  34. REVIEW: Bared to You by Sylvia Day
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 12:02:30

    [...] to try your immensely popular erotic romance, Bared to You. Jane had recommended the book both here and in the podcast, and Bared to You sounded like it had the whole package – a sexy, magnetic [...]

  35. Cristy
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 12:44:50

    Ok, i read 50 shades, then Bare to you, so What’s next? I’m new to these books. I really like the aspect of men who u think wouldnt like that shy girl & a bit of BDSM, can anyone recommend others like this to read?

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  36. Jane
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 17:54:51

    @Cristy: Hi Christy, you can check out our list here. Maybe Wicked Burn by Beth Kery.

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  37. Missy
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 23:54:07

    It’s certainly a lot better than Fifty Shades. Better writing and Eva had some back bone, she also actually had a phone, a laptop and a vibrator … all things that our poor little Anastasia somehow missed out on. I liked Gideon a lot better than Chedward too, he was a much more normal person, well, you know, for a 20 something billionaire but he definitely wasn’t a repulsive dickhead the way Christian was.

    The writing is better, the sex is better and the word clitoris is used! Hallelujah!

    But I did get bored. After the garden party bit I basically skimmed it, there just wasn’t much plot and the sex scenes got repetitive.

    Better than Fifty Shades, definitely, but not as good as Eloisa or Lisa. I don’t think this erotica malarkey is really for me, I like a bit more of a plot!

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  38. deadhera
    May 18, 2013 @ 00:44:21

    i notice so many lines, copied from FSOG, so many lines, and scenes! its sad. i didnt want to finish it either because the female lead is stupid and needy, and pretty much forced the guy to commit, luckily the author made him so into her. but i didnt really know why at first, she was just a running blonde, who stumbled on their first meet( copied from fifty shades again) shes nothing special at all!.

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  39. REVIEW: With or Without Him by Barbara Elsborg
    Nov 28, 2013 @ 11:01:14

    […] some ways, this book was a little reminiscent of Sylvia Day’s Bared to You except with gay male characters and it’s a stand alone book.  It may well also be […]

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