REVIEW: Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James

Posted February 14th, 2015 by in Blog, Erotic Romance, HJ Recommends, ionR, Review / 23 comments



Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James

Fifty-Shades-TrilogyOkay, so here we go. Fifty Shades by E.L. James. The trilogy that sparked a frenzy and created millions of fans and haters alike is now a major motion picture coming out on Valentine’s Day 2015.
So in honor of that, this review will simply be my honest and humble opinion about each of the three books with a few quotes thrown in for fun.
I have to say that this was the first erotica/BDSM I had ever read at the time (a couple of years ago), so this trilogy is what introduced me to a genre of which I am now a big fan. What a way to start, right? So without further adieu, we will begin at the beginning.
Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1): My overall favorite out of the three. This was where Ana and Christian obviously Fifty Shades of Greymet and entered into their arrangement as Dom & sub.

I really liked that Christian was as thrown off-balance by their intense chemistry as Ana was, given how much more experience he’d had in physical relationships. She was also a lot stronger and braver than I think people have given her credit for in reviews. There were a lot of times when Ana stood up to Christian when no one else would have dared to…or would have gotten away with it. Of course their initial love scenes–both vanilla and BDSM–were extremely detailed in relation to Ana’s emotions and portrayed both her confusion and longing for Christian.

One of my favorite quirky parts of this book? The emails they send back and forth. Quite amusing and very charming.

“You are one brave young woman,” he whispers. “I am in awe of you.”
His words are like some kind of incendiary device; my blood flames. He leans down and kisses my lips gently, and he sucks at my lower lip.
“I want to bite this lip,” he murmurs against my mouth, and carefully he tugs at it with his teeth. I moan, and he smiles.
“Please, Ana, let me make love to you.”


Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James:  Probably my least favorite of the bunch. Don’t get me wrong. This was a very, very Fifty Shades Darkerimportant book in the series. But the second book of a trilogy a lot of times is the transitional story, where the characters clash or a big secret is revealed and then doesn’t get resolved until the final installment.

In this case, Ana began to find out the details behind why Christian was Dominant and why he chose certain types of women as his subs. I’ll admit that at that point, which is a little more than halfway through the book, I almost stopped reading. That shocking revelation bothered me at first. However, as I progressed further into Christian’s life and realized how much having Ana in his life was changing him for the better, I was okay with it. All of the books are highly emotional, but this one in particular seemed even more so. Definitely was aptly named as it had a darker tone to it as well.

“Christian? What are you doing?” My voice is high-pitched. He doesn’t move. “Christian, look at me!” I command in panic.
His head sweeps up without hesitation, and he regards me passively with his cool gray gaze – he’s almost serene…expectant.
Holy Fuck…Christian, The Submissive.


Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James: My second favorite book. Everything wrapped up nicely by the end of this one and the Fifty Shades Freedthread of mystery surrounding all the issues happening to Ana and Christian were solved. And honestly, I figured out who was behind everything but SO did not see the reason. Loved that surprise! The tone was not as dark as book two but still had an edge to it.

I think my favorite part, though, was how Ana really came in to her own here. She had more confidence in herself and started demanding respect from certain people. Her relationship with Christian was just as complicated, if not even more so. But things worked out better than I could have ever foreseen. And to top it all off, in many versions of this book, there is a bonus at the end entitled: Shades of Christian, which is basically his POV for the first chapter or so of book one. There’s also a scene detailing his first Christmas with his new family. What an eye-opener that was. Poor Fifty…his astonishingly harsh childhood before he was adopted still breaks my heart.

“My world was ordered, calm, and controlled, then you came into my life with your smart mouth, your innocence, your beauty, and your quiet temerity…and everything before you was just dull, empty, mediocre…it was nothing.”

So those are my thoughts in a nutshell.
Like I said before, this was my first foray into the erotica genre and it made a huge impression on me. I personally enjoyed E.L. James’s writing style very much and thought she did a great job showcasing the difference between Ana’s naivete and Christian’s controlling ways.
Now, I know everyone out there reading this will have some opinions on the whole 50 Shades experience…and I welcome them all. Good. Bad. Indifferent. Just no book slamming or author slamming, please.
And if you happen to see the movie this Valentine’s Day, please stop by and give us your opinion on that as well!

Book Info:

04.5SPublished January 20th 2012 by Vintage

Now available in a single volume, E L James’s New York Times #1 bestselling trilogy has been hailed by Entertainment Weekly as being “in a class by itself.” Beginning with the GoodReads Choice Award Romance Finalist Fifty Shades of Grey, the Fifty Shades Trilogy will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

This bundle includes the following novels:

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY: When college student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly Ana realizes she wants this man, and Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian’s secrets and explores her own desires.

FIFTY SHADES DARKER: Daunted by Christian’s dark secrets and singular tastes, Ana has broken off their relationship to start a new career. But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and while Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Ana is forced to make the most important decision of her life.

FIFTY SHADES FREED: Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to turn Ana’s deepest fears into reality.

This book is intended for mature audiences.


23 Responses to “REVIEW: Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James”

  1. frllarsson

    I fell for Fifty when it still was a WIP on fanfiction =) and I´m still in love <3
    No one is going to shame my reading, and I can´t understand all the hate SMH.
    Don´t like? Don´t read! Easy-peasy =)

  2. BSBbabe

    I didn’t like 50 Shades of Grey and couldn’t go on to the second book. However, I don’t slam anyway for reading it because I read it! lmao. It also got me into other sexier romance novels. And I can’t wait to see the movie (tonight). Jamie Dornan is yummy.

    • Michele H

      Thank you for being honest and giving feedback in a positive way! Also, you’ll have to let us know what you thought of the movie! Looks pretty darn good…

  3. Meridith

    This was also my first foray into erotica. I’m now hooked. I hemmed and hawed about reading this for almost two years, but once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. Christian and Ana were such a compelling couple to follow.

  4. Leanna

    I read all three books when they were discussed on the today show and they were probably the first erotic books that I read. I may see the movie when it is available on Netflix, I would rather watch movies at home.

  5. marcyshuler

    Thanks for the overview of the books, Michele. I haven’t read them, but have nothing against them either. This is the first I’ve even heard about the Shades of Christian segment in the final book. Now I’m intrigued even more.

    I’ll wait to see the movie when it comes out on cable, but that’s more because I have health issues and getting out to the theater isn’t easy for me.

    • Michele H

      Thanks for having an open mind about the series, Marcy! I totally understand…I’ll probably do the same and watch the movie when it comes out On Demand or dvd. 😉

  6. Jane Nelson

    Great review Michele! I LOVED FSOG! I had to laugh at your review of “Darker”, that was my favorite out of all three. I think it was because there was more substance to book #2 than ther was in the others. It was nice to see the other side. FSOG wasn’t my first foray into erotica but it was one that I could admit reading and be able to discuss with others. It amazes me the people that have nothing better to do than hate something they probably would never have read to begin with just because it was popular. I agree with your first commenter “if it’s not your thing don’t read it there is no reason to bash the books, author or her writing skills, or anything else. Not your thing? Leave it alone! How much simpler can it be! By the way, saw the movie on Friday and loved it! Dakota was awesome as Anna (and I had my doubts). Hahaha! Jamie I haven’t made up my mind about yet! He was good, please don’t get me wrong, but was it his best? I don’t know! I’m reserving the right to make that decision after “Darker” comes out. LOL! Now I will go back and re-read FSOG #1 to refresh my memory. 🙂

    • Michele H

      Thanks, Jane!! I love that your favorite is Darker. 😉 You’re definitely right that there was a lot of substance to that installment, for sure. I’m glad as well that the series at least brought this genre to light so readers can feel a bit more comfortable talking about it and comparing author preferences and the like. That’s awesome you’ve seen the movie! I think you’re right on the mark from what I’ve heard from other viewers: they were pleasantly surprised by Dakota and not too sure about Jamie. We’ll have to see what the future holds for the second movie…

  7. Michelle D

    I started reading BDSM erotica not by way of this book, my first was actually Club Shadowlands by Cherise Sinclair. It’s been a couple of years now and I think I’m finally interested in reading the FSOG trilogy, still not sure if I’ll be a fan or not.

    • Michele H

      Thanks, Michelle! It will be interesting to see how this series stands up where you’ve read erotica before, whereas so many of us were new to the genre when we picked it up. You’ll have to let us know what you think! 😉

  8. Kate

    50 Shades got everyone talking about women’s sexuality and that’s a good thing. I discuss this at length in my Romance Beat article “That Book and now That Movie… and what to do about it” (link below). I approached sex-perts (sex educators and an erotic romance authors for their viewpoint) as well. The gist of the article was, since I thought the book helped get us talking we should continue that by standing up and being counted, promising to see the movie, although I had low expectations given the movie trailers. So I went to opening night and was counted as a fan—not a screaming, cheering fan like the hordes that filled the theater, but I was there munching popcorn and hopeful.

    And that hope was fulfilled and then some. The movie was good, even great! A little slow at the beginning, but I think that’s because all the movies now move at such a hyper pace it’s unusual to watch a movie that takes it’s time. Then when it does ramp up… Wow! The director came through and made an enjoyable movie without the issues so problematic in the book.

    Even in the pivotal beating scene, I could feel Christian’s motivation, understand he was exercising his demons in the only way he knows how, and see his conflicting love for Ana even as he hits her. Doesn’t make it right that he does this, needs this—and Ana as we know from the book doesn’t put up with it. But it made sense to me, more than it did in the book. So congratulations to everyone involved in the movie.

    I had a second hope for the movie, that it would help move the discussion of women’s sexuality forward…I realized as I sat and watched that it won’t do this. The movie is good entertainment, the sex scenes artfully done, but the book’s ability to shock, to raise awareness about alternative lifestyles, to get people talking has already done it’s job—whether that was E L James’ intention or not—and the movie doesn’t really add to that, not when it’s so entertaining and fun. I think that was my mistake, layering too many hopes onto one film.

    So, I encourage anyone curious to go see it. You might even be inspired to buy a new toy to try it out. By the way, watch for the Bunny Flogger hanging in the Red Room of Pain…trust me, they’re sensual-icious.

    • Michele H

      Thank you so much, Kate! I will definitely be checking out your article, and think you have made some wonderful points. I’ve noticed so many of my own friends now talking more openly about not only the genre, but about alternative lifestyles in general. Discussions and knowledge–no matter the subject–to me, is a terrific thing.

      Just by reading your commentary on the movie, I think many of us will be waiting with bated breath for our turn to watch! It’s always nice when a movie can clarify a character’s motivation in particular scenes or even help us to relate to them a bit more. It sounds like this rings true for Christian. I can’t wait!!

    • Michele H

      Thanks, LuneBelle! Authors put so much time and work into their books that (I think) there’s almost always something positive that can be said about each title.

  9. Danielle

    I LOVE FSOG series!! I have nothing bad to say about it and only an intense anger for the “haters” of this genre in lifestyle!! I remain, however, respectful of everyone’s unique opinion. This wasn’t my first erotic series but it is definately one of my favorites. As for a favorite scene or book out of the series……I couldn’t pick. I t was a roller coaster of emotions…….there was a car chase……Christian going after another Dom for touching Ana………the emails back and forth……Fear of Christian being dead…….Joy he wasn’t………..just SO MUCH!!!! Also I think I’ll adopt “Laters, Baby” and “I died a thousand deaths today.” (hope the last one is correct)

    • Michele H

      Glad to hear you’re a fan as well, Danielle! I couldn’t agree more: There really were SO many emotions in this trilogy that it was one interesting ride. So it wasn’t just me who got a kick out of the emails/texts between them and the “Laters, Baby”? LOL! I loved those moments that made readers chuckle in among all the intense scenes. It made it seem more realistic somehow.

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