E.L. James’ latest addition to the bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey franchise is here, people. Now you can read the erotic origin story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey through Christian’s eyes, and also his, er, other things. The story is the one you know: boy meets girl, boy unlocks girl’s “inner goddess.” This time, though, Christian’s deepest motivations and tics are revealed, and the story extends chronologically beyond where the first Ana-told Fifty Shades left off. A little shy about reading it, but curious what everyone who isn’t shy will be talking about? Here are some of the most blush-inducing, “eek!”-eliciting and often cringeworthy moments in Grey.
1. James’ opening dedication
Even the book’s dedication goes heavy on the innuendo, addressed to the readers “who asked… and asked …and asked… and asked” for Christian’s perspective on the story. “You rock my world every day,” James writes.
2. Ana and Christian’s initial meeting
Grey’s thoughts during the newspaper interview during which they meet are too graphic for a family publication. When he notices that Ana is gazing at him, he thinks: “Yeah, yeah, baby, it’s just a face, and it’s only skin deep.”
3. The incessant lip biting
Ana must have read Wikihow: How to Bite Your Lip Seductively, because she is really good at it. Enough that it’s constantly referenced. His reaction to it, how he can’t take his eyes off it, how he yells at her to stop doing it, how she doesn’t realize she’s doing it. (Right.)
4. Christian’s utter desperation
Christian constantly yells at himself to “keep it together,” then sighs with relief when she shows interest, like, “I’m still in the game.” From her side, the head games read as enticing; from his, it reads more like a creepy obsession. And he’s not just mad she’s “disrespecting” the dominance he’s used to having—he’s self-conscious and frantic about her interest in him.
5. Christian treating Ana like a (bad) business deal
“Get it done, Grey,” he thinks, when trying to lock her down. “How am I going to close this deal?” he thinks at another point. He does ponder the idea of being in an actual relationship with her, no paperwork or contracts included, but never goes through with what he knows she wants or deserves.
6. The sex scenes (NSFW, even in words)
ie. “I want to give her a brief, chaste kiss, but as our lips touch, she leans in to me, her hands suddenly fisting in my hair, her mouth opening to me, her tongue insistent”
“Finally, she stiffens once more and whimpers.”
“I love that she loves this. I do as I’m asked and she moans again, throwing back her head, her hair tumbling in a riot over her shoulders.
7. Christian’s dreams
Hardly the stuff of fantasy, they’re sad, not sexy. He recounts these emotional nightmares to his therapist when he’s trying to sort through his “fifty shades of f—-d up.” The dreams tend to focus on beatings he took as a child, or abuse that he witnessed, and usually feature him as powerless to do anything about it.
8. Christian’s lack of respect for Ana
We know that he has feelings for her, he just can’t control them. Despite constant worry that she’ll leave, he still thinks of how fun it will be to train her. He gets upset when she refers to herself as an occasional sex partner, his thinking spiraling into anger, him thinking: “What the hell? How dare she talk about herself like that? As my submissive she’ll be so much more than that. I’ll be devoted to her. Does she not realize this?” Then there’s also his appreciation for her trying out his “Red Room of Pain:” “She’s not in tears,” he thinks. “She did as she was asked. She’s faced every challenge I’ve thrown at her; she really is quite remarkable.”
9. The writing. The writing. The writing.
Exhibit A: “My campaign to win her back is under way. I feel elated; the small blossom of hope is now a Japanese flowering cherry.”
10. His reaction to good sex
When it’s not cherry blossoms and goddesses, it’s “F–k,” “whoa” and “oh, yes.”