Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades Darker - E.L. James For more reviews, see: Fantasy is More Fun My Initial Reaction...I'm glad I gave this book a chance after having very mixed feelings about the first book. Fifty Shades Darker, the second book in the series, is a big improvement on the first book. Everything I didn't like about the first book was improved upon in this one. The Characters...One of my biggest complaints about Fifty Shades of Grey was the characters - they seemed unbelievable and they didn't compel me to care about them. While I won't pretend that the characters have suddenly transformed into the most compelling every written, they do make leaps and bounds. The transformation of Christian is the most pronounced; we start to see him as more than a fantasy character (in that he's not just some incredible billionaire humanitarian with an incredibly troubled sexy side who never seems to work like in the first book). Instead we begin to see his vulnerable underbelly, especially as he tries to relinquish control a bit. Ana too develops as a character; she's coming into herself and starting to blossom from the innocent girl, so out of her element and completely drowning under the dominance of Christian, into an empowered young woman willing and ready to speak her mind. This came through best in their emails back and forth to each other; Ana clearly felt more daring with the distance emailing provided. It was a unique (and fairly dominant) element in this book that I really enjoyed. So much of their relationship's improvement and growth was through the communication these emails provide. The Story...The plot was much better than in book one as well. We pick up right were book one ended, with Ana feeling tortured by their breakup (even though she was the one who ended it). I can say, without spoiling anything for you, that they get back together because it happens very quickly. I have to admit to being a little skeptical at the speed of their reunion, but this is a romance dependent very much on their steamy encounters; the book would have probably dragged if they stayed apart too long. Their new relationship is different from the former, though. Because of the ways both Christian and Ana are growing as characters it's the start of a healthier relationship. Their sexual relationship has also grown (or perhaps the author has grown?); not only did it not overwhelm the pages but underwhelm me like before, the moments were more carefully chosen and much better written. There is an actual conflict this time too! I was pleasantly surprised to see people from Christian's past popping up to cause trouble for the couple to overcome, not to mention the semi-expected obstacle of Jack, Ana's boss. There's a mystery to solve and danger to overcome, making this a much more exciting read than the first book. Concluding Sentiments...I didn't expect it, but I'm now addicted to Ana and Charles. The growth in their characters is tremendous and the vulnerability that they both show is so endearing. It's an erotic story to be sure, but with this book I believe it's become something more. If you weren't sure after the first book, put aside your doubts; Christian and Ana will convince you that theirs is a love story you want to know.