Ok let's do this. Like ripping off a plaster.
(Recaps for books 1 and 2 are here.)
We begin with a prologue from the perspective of baby Christian Grey, just like the last time around and it's just as immediately fucking annoying to read. In this pointless flashback that adds absolutely nothing to the story, Christian's mother is dead on the floor while baby Christian narrates such improbable lines as "I fetch my blankie", as if an American toddler has ever said the word fetch.
Cops arrive and baby Christian is shouting "Mommy!" (the word Mommy is used 20 times within this one relatively short paragraph and I already need a drink) and suddenly adult Christian wakes up, as again, just like last time, t'was all a dream. The point of view then clumsily switches to third person and describes Christian saying "let's not fight" to Ana.
"The vows. No obeying. I can do that. We'll find a way."
Sure, here's a way, just leave that bit out at the wedding. Done. Next.
CHAPTER ONE! Christian and Ana are on honeymoon in Monaco, the sky is blue, Christian is hot, they're sunbathing on the beach.
We are staying, of course, on board a luxury motor yacht.
Of course. Because hotels are for peasants. Christian pulls Ana's sun lounger into the shade, telling her she'll get sunburned and "If you burn, I won't be able to touch you" because remember, Christian's boner is more important than Ana's well-being. Ana floats the idea of her going topless on the beach, like all the other women there and in a move that will shock absolutely no one, Christian is having none of it.
"I'm not very happy about you wearing so little right now." He leans down and whispers in my ear. "Don't push your luck."
SO SEXY. SO ROMANTIC. SO THE PREAMBLE TO BEING FUCKING MURDERED ON YOUR HONEYMOON.
Ana seems to take this as a playful challenge, rather than the bone-chilling warning sign of an abusive relationship that it is, and while Christian goes for a swim, Ana whips off her bikini top, lies on her front and dozes off in the heat.
And just when we thought we'd get away with not having to endure their wedding, boom, flashback, right in the face. Christian has just kissed his bride and one of the first things he says to his new wife is...
"Don't let anyone take that dress off but me, understand?"
DUDE. The priest and all of your respective parents are RIGHT THERE. Christian Grey is so unbearably devoid of chill. Later on, when the party is in full swing, Christian tells Ana it's time to go, because they're going to do that thing where the couple leave their wedding halfway through the night, y'know that thing that no one has done since the mid-80s, because your wedding day is supposed to be a super fun party with all your favourite people. However, they get intercepted by Christian's grandparents.
I groan inwardly...Grace's mother has found us.
It's kind of hilarious how much Ana seems to hate this woman and for literally no reason, like she has been nothing but lovely to her and doesn't even want to bone Christian, like every other woman/threat in this series and every interaction they have is just Ana thinking "UGH, this old bitch again". Eventually they get going and head to the airport and onto Christian's Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. jet and laugh about misusing company property like the rich assholes they are. There are two other women on board though, First Officer Beighley and Natalia the flight attendant, so naturally, Ana hates them both. Christian has a quick conversation with the pilot (a dude called Stephan, so at least they're not at risk of Ana scratching his eyes out for looking at Christian) and I'm only including their interaction here, because Ana sounds like such a fucking halfwit during it.
"We have the all clear. Weather is good from here to Boston."
"Not before Boston. There's a weather front over Shannon that might give us a rough ride."
"I see. Well, I hope to sleep through it all," says Christian matter-of-factly.
See, Ana doesn't know where they're going on their honeymoon (of course she wasn't allowed to make any decisions), but surely it's possible for a writer to convey their protagonist piecing together clues in a way that doesn't involve them dumbly repeating what their horrible fuckturnip of a husband has just said.
Anyway, it turns out that they're going to London, Paris and the south of France, and stopping to refuel in Shannon. Even though planes stop in Shannon to fly to the US. I mean, if you can get across the Atlantic but need to stop to refuel before a bunch of little flights that take no more than an hour each, then that's just bad planning. Makes as much sense as a billionaire in his twenties that's supposed to have built an entire empire out of nothing but doesn't appear to do any actual work.
They have dinner on board followed by some airborne banging, before which Ana treats us to such timeless newlywed bride quotes as "Jeez...a bedroom." and "...the mile high club. I’ve heard about this." Insightful as ever. Throughout the whole sex scene, Christian says "mine" eight times and it's WILD creepy, particularly because we know he feels like he actually owns Ana's body.
His hands travel around to my behind.
“Mine,” he breathes as his hands spread across my backside.
Although it also makes him sound like a seagull from Finding Nemo.
|Talk dirty to me.|
Christian continues to be furious and then shames Ana when she protests that no one is looking.
“Trust me. They’re looking. I’m sure Taylor and the security crew are enjoying the show!” he snarls.
For fuck's sake, you would think that he'd trust his security team enough to do their jobs and not be distracted by his wife's tits, but of course Ana is the most special lady with the most special boobs ever, and the entirety of Monaco probably ground to a halt so everyone could rush over for a look.
Apparently paparazzi are also a concern, because Christian is suddenly Kate Middleton and they were besieged when news of their engagement got out. Grumpy Christian packs everything up because they're heading back to the boat, now that Ana has ruined everything by thinking she had bodily autonomy. Also, he puts on his t-shirt and then a pair of shorts over his swimming trunks and it makes him sound like such a massive fucking nerd. I mean, men's swimming trunks are, by their very nature, shorts. Idiot.
|"Hey baby. Wanna fuck?"|
...he signals up to Taylor and his two sidekicks, the French security officers Philippe and Gaston. Weirdly, they are identical twins.
Ohmygod this is even better than Ryan and Reynolds from the second book! Sometimes EL James's complete lack of imagination can result in actual giddy delight. "I've totally researched France for this part of the book, I mean I watched Beauty and the Beast like SEVEN TIMES!" Christian takes Ana to the boat on a jetski and the spin across the water seems to snap him out of his bad mood. When they get back on board, they have a drink and he chastises her, saying that she wouldn't want her mother and Ray to see her boobs all over the tabloids. BECAUSE SHE'S THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE WORLD TO HAVE BOOBS, YOU KNOW. Ana tries her "patented distraction technique", (because she invented distractions) by asking about who owns the boat.
“A British knight. Sir Somebody-or-Other. His great-grandfather started a grocery store. His daughter’s married to one of the Crown Princes of Europe.”
So Christian can't remember the guy's name but knows his fucking family tree? Okay cool.
The conversation turns to the fact that Ana is now super rich as well and her insisting that she'll never get used to her sudden wealth, and there's a TOTALLY SEAMLESS transition to another fucking flashback. They're all done the exact same way, with Ana remembering something that previously happened and then
This time, it's to an argument over getting a prenup. Ana was having breakfast with Christian and his family, when Mia read out a gossip item about their engagement that finished with "Bet she’s reading one helluva prenup!", kicking off a row because Carrick thinks Christian should get one, at which point Christian actually shouts "No prenup!" at his father, like a fucking teenager. Anyway, all we actually learn here is that they didn't get a prenup. So that was totally worth our time and energy.
Back to the boat, and Christian wants to bang. He tells Ana they're going to bed and tells her not to pee beforehand.
My subconscious looks up from her book - The Complete Works of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1 - with alarm.
Really? REALLY? The Complete Works of Charles Dickens, and not just any volume, but Vol. 1? Was that detail TOTALLY NECESSARY?
Anyway, Christian tells her it's not what she thinks, god forbid they engage in any actual kink or fetish, other than vanilla sex and being tied up the odd time. He removes his trunks and shorts "in one
graceful move" which just doesn't sound possible and produces two pairs of handcuffs. He then cuffs each wrist to an ankle so she can't move and rides her while demanding to know why she defies him, even though he already told her she's not his sub anymore, so shut up Christian. Ana has the most intense orgasm is the history of orgasms (because of her full bladder, apparently), in fact she's left sobbing after it and describes it as being ripped apart, and really, you can keep it Ana.
Afterwards, Ana gets up to go to the bathroom and gets a shock when she sees her reflection, BECAUSE CHRISTIAN HAS BITTEN HICKEYS ALL OVER HER BOOBS. HE HAS BRUISED HER TITS SO SHE WILL LEARN HER LESSON. FUCK THIS FUCKING GUY ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS BULLSHIT.
|Me and Christian, hangin' out.|
AND WE'RE GOING TO LEAVE IT HERE FOR NOW WHILE I GO FIND A WALL TO PUNCH.