Fifty Shades of Grey-In My Opinion

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

Fifty Shades of Grey-The Trilogy

Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed make up the trilogy written by E L James. At this point, the reviews are numerous, merciless, angry and seductive. I had planned to write a review based on the storyline, but I think I shall divert down a different path. But I must say that without a doubt, the media hype and categorization of the trilogy as ‘mommy porn’ is what brought these books to the forefront of reader curiosity and at the time, I hadn’t thought about reading any or all of the books. But a couple of emails from a marketing director, and an agent (requesting my thoughts) brought me up short. Maybe I should read the books and see what all the fuss is about? So $30 and 3 nights later, I had completed the trilogy and now I offer my opinion-because yes-everything I have read about the series is strictly an opinion based on personal views. Descriptions from erotica, erotic romance,romance, soft to hard core porn and BDSM have been used to categorize the genre, but in my opinion, the truth may very well lie somewhere in between or in a combination of descriptive titles and subjects.

Many reviewers opposed to the storyline content have attacked the quality of the writing comparing it to fan fiction and drivel. I will not address quality, as many other books I have read and reviewed, have been of a much poorer quality than this particular series, and yet the storylines have been interesting. As well, I have read many comments from those who have NOT read the series,and I find it rather amusing and sad, that although everyone is entitled to an opinion, it is those who have not read the book, post some of the most negative comments.  

Erotic Adult Fiction: Erotic adult fiction is now a female driven genre both as a reader and an author. Once the domain of men, women writer’s (usually under author pseudonyms or initials only) are pushing the envelope of erotic fiction. Once considered written porn, the genre of erotic fiction is fast becoming main-stream adult literature.

Why the rise in popularity? Several reasons.

The popularity has increased with the advent of ebooks. The anonymity for the reader, hidden behind the electronic age of virtual books, allows for anyone to purchase a book, without the fear of retribution, side-long glances from the 18 year old store clerk or 60 year old librarian, and instant gratification (so to speak) for availability. Similar to the days of Playboy and Hustler wrapped in brown paper on the upper shelves in the magazine section at the local corner store. Women and men no longer have to fear being judged by a stranger for their choices in reading material.

Society’s Moral Values

Over the years, society has eased up on what they perceive to be a ‘more’. What was once considered ‘deviant’ are quite diverse and can range from murder to rape, too fat to too thin, etiquette faux pas, and fetishes to perversions. Fetishes are usually harmless-an odd attraction -voyeurism e.g.. Many people believe as long as no one is hurt or being forced, and everyone is over 18, who are we to judge. But there is always the fine line.

But if a fetish escalates into perversions or something illegal e.g. whereby voyeurism leads to sexual assault, rape or murder, then society has laws and treatments for people with this kind of deviant behavior. Once thought as deviant behavior, especially for women…..reading erotic literature was considered immoral and in some cases, a sin (for those who follow religious dictates)….they would have hidden an erotic novel, tucked the book away in a sock drawer. But many of society’s mores have become the norm. What was once unacceptable as reading material, is now a main stream best seller.

Many erotic storylines involve explicit sexual descriptive narration. The language is graphic and there is virtually nothing off limits except children and incest (but not always). Many women are now reading novels or series of novels featuring homosexual storylines. And of course, many of today’s erotic fantasy novels involve MMF storylines-with multiple partners at one time. Again…fantasy is the operative word. Some of the Harlequin Romance novels are considered tame with their ‘suggestive or implied’ sex as compared to most of the romantic/erotic adult storylines released today.

Author JR Ward addresses some issues of BDSM with her character of Vishous.  Tortured and maimed, V has a ‘playroom’ that he frequents when his life in the ‘brotherhood’ begins to swallow and bury (him).  And yet, this particular storyline has not received the same attention as EL James-Fifty Shades of Grey.

Television and the film industry have long had a rating system for what is perceived as appropriate for different age groups. Now the ‘rating system’ has been applied to many of the different books and novels, due to the ‘graphic nature’ of the content. And saying that….the ebook revolution does not discriminate against the virtual shopper. Identification is not required when ordering a book online from most of the websites…..all that is required is a valid charge card or pay pal account, and an email address (for ebooks).  I wonder how many minors (under 16) are reading erotica, BDSM and sexually explicit storylines-all because of the advent of the e-book?

Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy

Yes, there is some BDSM (BDSM is a term that stands for such patterns in sexual behavior as Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. –bdsmguide.org). Like everything in life, there are degrees and valuations, and varying shades of grey (pun intended). Like a sliding color wheel, the BDSM content is revealed in shades and degrees. But the author never crosses the imaginary ‘hard-line’ into true hard-core savagery. The ‘heroine’ is never forced or coerced, she is aware at all times and enters into the relationship wholly aware. The storyline Dom/Sub relationship is never carried over into a public social context and the practice is always safe and consensual. Yes, there are times when a soft-line is pushed, but it is addressed throughout the story.

Now to backtrack slightly-this series is NOT about BDSM. This story is about addressing the truth, acknowledging responsibility, the loss of power and control, and the fight to gain it all back. This story is also about acceptance, finding love, losing and taking steps towards recovery. The BDSM content is minimal, but has apparently caught the interest of the public, as does anything that goes against the ‘norm’.

In reality the practice of BDSM is wide ranging and is often misinterpreted by the lay-people not involved in the practice. BDSM has been labeled everything from a fetish to a perversion, but when the people involved are consenting adults, wholly aware of the circumstances and the situation, the behavior or role-playing is acted out according to a specific script of behaviors and actions. There are rules, agreements, safety words, consequences and varying degrees of pleasure (all safe and legal)-to which a question must be addressed-Who are we to judge a lifestyle (between consenting adults) that is different from our own? And herein lies the fine-line-consent.

Informed Consent-Psychological Definition:  

Informed consent is a legal procedure to ensure that a patient or client knows all of the risks and costs involved in a treatment. The elements of informed consents include informing the client of the nature of the treatment, possible alternative treatments, and the potential risks and benefits of the treatment.

In order for informed consent to be considered valid, the client must be competent and the consent should be given voluntarily.(about.com/psychology)

Should we apply the definition of INFORMED CONSENT to all actions between consenting adults?  Within the context of The Fifty Shades trilogy, a NDA (a non-disclosure agreement) or contract is a major premise that is addressed throughout the storyline.


The Fifty Shades series is about a man with demons buried so deep he turns to BDSM for control. But the underlying current of BDSM becomes blurred when the title character of Christian Grey, at 15years old, unknowingly becomes the submissive to a woman several years older. It is something the young teen now craves and requires to control the demons: it becomes his therapy. As a sexual predator, the woman holds power and control of the teenage boy, shaping him into the man who would one day run a billion dollar enterprise. And it is this relationship that directs and controls all of his future endeavors and needs. Even in the world of high finance and business, power and control is the ultimate aim.

The series is written from the ‘heroine’s’ point of view. We are privy to Anastasia Steele’s intimate thoughts and ideas, as well as her fears and worries about the man she has fallen in love (with). And she is NOT without some power of her own. As the story progresses, the lines of control slowly blur, until it is Ana who has the ultimate control – of a man’s heart and his soul. It is her unconditional acceptance (within the boundaries of a relationship) of Christian Grey that will begin the healing process once thought not possible.

I guess like everything in life, we must make decisions based on research, trial and error, and public opinion.  And in the end, sometimes the only opinion that counts, is your own.  If you are asking me “Would I recommend reading the series?”, I would have to say yes.  Not  because it will qualify for a Nobel Prize in Literature, but because it is, in all honesty, a love story with a HEA.  And I for one, ALWAYS want a HEA (Happily Ever After) and Fifty Shades delivers.

Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey?  What do you think?  Do you have an opinion?

In My Opinion-Sandy

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31 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey-In My Opinion

  1. I have read and am reading now a series that has BDSM as the main topic of the relationships. Although it is not something I would go whole hog with, a little pain is alright depending. LOL Laurel K Hamilton’s Anita Blake likes some pain, and I love her two series best next to Christine Feehan. It seems most erotic fiction has some BDSM in in . I love erotic fiction and don’t care who knows it. Yes E-books have saved my daughter some blushes when I buy books as she ids the one who takes me. Good review Sandy.

  2. Awesome review Sandy! I’ve read the hype about the series calling it “mommy-porn”, the pros and cons. If going only based on the reviews out there, I probably would have not considered the books worthwhile, only after reading an excerpt of the books, I could make up my mind if I want to read the series. Like with everything else in life, we have to form my opinion based on our likes or dislikes.

    • Hi Eniko…I too was reading the ‘hype’ and thought I didn’t want to read this particular series. Not that I don’t read erotica etc, it was becoming tiresome the constant criticisms and ‘opinions’ from people who had never read the series….so I thought….why not dive in and experience Fifty Shades of Grey myself.

  3. Sandy, what an awesome review this is. It is more then a review, it is a full article about this series and the fuss that it has created. Well done, Sandy. This article should be put on the news or magazine articles.

  4. Excellent article Sandy. I’ve seen and heard all the hype over this book/series and wondered what all the fuss was about. Now I know so thank you. I found your piece to be very informative and has given me some food for thought regarding this series.

  5. So here goes: I’m not done with the first book, but I am loving the layers of complexity. It is, at the heart, a love story, and that is what’s kept me riveted.

    As to the writing itself, I have read much worse. I think it’s written with a wonderful flare! Ana’s internal dialogue is neurotic and contemplative…I love it! Their easy banter is swoon-worthy and the sex scenes, still at the “vanilla stage”, have been steamy to say the least.

    It’s also heartbreaking. Reading these two push the boundaries of their personal normalcy is challenging. One is “innocent” and the other is considered “deviant”, but who says they can’t find a happy medium?? I am rooting for them! While terrified to comply with the others’ requests….they are more willing to compromise and that shows enormous potential. I’m enjoying it immensely.

    LAST comment….and I’m surprised you didn’t mention this, my dear Sandy: The writer used EDWARD and Bella as a reference. Having said that, you can clearly see the similarities between characters, don’t you? Although Christian pales in comparison to My beloved…. 😉

    Wonderful review, Sandy. Very insightful and inspiring. I also recommend it!

    • Hi Carmen

      I enjoyed the trilogy very much. Like I said in my post, this is above all else …a love story….regardless of the media frenzy surrounding the BDSM storyline…..the second book is even better…and the third, although a little slower at the start, due to flashbacks etc, wraps everything up in a nice neat package

      • I am bereft….I just finished the book and am dying to start the next. They obviously start up their affair again, but with new concessions, I’m sure. I did read the synopsis for Book 2 and I am thrilled to unravel the mystery behind Christian.

  6. Hi Sandy. I love your review. Amazon keeps on recommending toe to read and I was kind of scared of this book it seemed kind if taboo but after reading your review I am thinking maybe I might just pick up. Your review was awesome.. great job.

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more Sandy, I have only started book Three, the 1st book drew me in like a moth to a flame!! I could not put it down, the scond book I was laughing crying and just blown away!! People will have their opinios which they are entitled to. Sometimes you need to look past what is written and really see the words and the stroy it is telling! The Story is a beautiful love story and yes some of the things that go on, can be shocking to some, (not me I am a Vishous Girl myself) ! But in the end it’s about two people over coming huge obsticles in their lives, (Virginity, Damaged, unloved, unsure) and finding True Happiness and Love! Isn’t that what life and Love is all about? You did a great job on the review!! and Like you I would definately reccomend this book to people to read! Again great job with the review, if I had not already been reading the Trilogy, I would after reading your review!

  8. Sandy just to let you know, I am on my third Round with Christian and Ana, still makes me cry and Laugh!!! I threw some other books in between so this way ot was like reading the Story again for the 1st time!!! 🙂

  9. Sandy, I read your “review” back when you posted it. But shamefully, I felt I did not want to read it due to the uproar over the BDSM parts. However, I took vacation last week and went to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in too many years, and she handed me her Kindle and told me to just read while she was working. I fell in love, and ok maybe a little lust too, with Christian Grey. I love the story and I love Ana for how she helps him heal. Love, love, love this story!!
    Now, as I re-read your review, I can more fully understand what you were trying to say and I will never again choose to not read something based simply on brooha without at least checking it for myself first. I am ashamed of myself, an avid reader, for doing that in the first place.
    Yes, I read the entire trilogy and even better, bought them for myself. And yes I have already recommended them to friends. And, oh yeah, I will read them again and again and again….

    • Hi Kathie
      Part of what you said strikes a chord with what I had posted. So many people are judging this particular series based on ‘media hyper’ and ‘negative comment’ about mommy porn and BDSM.

      It is like a vicious lie about someone that continues to perpetuate until the truth is no longer visible. People should read the series before they make judgements and I am glad you enjoyed the books.

  10. Thank you Sandy, this is the best review of the 50 Shades Trilogy that I’ve read so far. In my opinion, E.L. James masterfully used the BSDM theme as ‘shock and awe’ to titillate us into reading a basically traditional- though highly adult- love story.

  11. I totally missed this review last year.

    I found it on Goodreads and was amazed at your take and opinion about the series. And you have nailed the storyline. It is not about the BDSM content-it is about acknowledging the truth, loss and forgiveness; acceptance, love and recovery. The readers who have refused to read the series based on the idea it is fan fiction, they are missing out and yet, like you said, it is the readers who have NOT read the story that give the most negative and terrible reviews. Well done.!

  12. Pingback: Grey (Fifty Shades #4) by E.L. James-a review | The Reading Cafe

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