I have never so anxiously awaited for a sequel like I have for this one. It is no understatement when I say that I was literally counting down the hours to its release date, desperately clinging onto the little snippets that the author fed us along the way. And, for me, it was definitely worth the wait.
Eva and Gideon’s relationship is still relatively in its early stages. Their love for each other is all-consuming, possessive, raw, almost primal in so many ways – they constantly crave each other’s touch, presence, affection. The intensity of their connection might make it appear like they have been together for a while but the issues before them are those of a new couple. Trust is their biggest hurdle at this point, giving rise to endless scenes of jealousy and bouts of self-doubt. Their insecurities make them explosive with one another, violently addicted to each other and yet endlessly passionate.
“Most couples didn’t spend every free moment together, but we weren’t like most people. We both had hang-ups, insecurities, and an addiction to each other that required regular contact to keep us functioning properly. I hated being apart from him. I rarely went more than a couple of hours without thinking of him. … We were together because we were addicted to each other. I was never as intoxicated as I was when we were happy together, and I knew it was the same for him. We were putting ourselves through the wringer for those moments of perfection between us, but they were so tenuous that only our stubbornness, determination, and love kept us fighting for them.”
But their story is definitely not a Hallmark movie. It does not take a psychiatrist to see how unhealthy their almost-symbiotic relationship really is. We see all its faults, all its destructive streaks, and yet we can’t help ourselves from wanting to give them their happy ending. We want them to make it, to overcome their hideous pasts and mend their broken souls. In any other scenario, we would be cringing at some of their interactions, but when it comes to Eva and Gideon, we just want to accept the dysfunctionality of their relationship for what it is, pat them on the shoulder and cheer them on. If you can just allow yourself not to over-analyze the toxic nature of some of the scenes, if you can become blindly consumed by the magnetism between Eva and Gideon, if you can take the raw pull and sexual chemistry first and everything you might believe makes a healthy relationship second, then this story will take you on quite an emotional ride.
“Angel, if I needed you more, I couldn’t function. And I don’t care what anyone else thinks. We’ve got our own rhythm and it works for us.”
The attraction between the main characters is compelling, sizzling, irresistible in its intensity. These are ‘faulty’ characters completely aware of the obsessive and borderline-destructive nature of their relationship but fully embracing it as neither of them is willing to step away from one another – “Failure isn’t an option.” The events unfolding in this book show us just how far they are willing to go to protect each other. Their tragic pasts inevitably made them as they are – I’m almost surprised neither of them have become abusers themselves but I guess abuse comes in all shapes and sizes. They are ultimately abusive towards themselves and I believe this is where their relationship redeems itself by breaking that pattern of abuse and offering an alternative. They are in a way each other’s punching bags, if by ‘punching’ you mean really really hot sex. Sex is used as a currency between them, both to express feelings as well as to punish one another. They heal each other in their own messed-up ways, offering the kind of comfort and solace that they are unable to find anywhere else. They are raw before one another, totally stripped from protective façades and emotional defenses. They have a direct ‘feed’ into each other’s most primal selves and they definitely speak the same language.
Eva brings the tender and vulnerable man in Gideon, she is his one and only weakness – “I loved the powerful businessman in the suit and the dominant lover in my bed and the broken child who couldn’t hide his tears and the tender partner who held me when I cried.” Gideon makes Eva feel safe enough in his care to be able to do the one thing she has never been able to do – give up control. I never felt that Gideon’s caveman tendencies made Eva any less his ‘equal’ in their own dysfunctional equation. She doesn’t just lay back and take it, she pounces on him, takes control, makes demands, sets her own boundaries and rules and is never ever afraid of just walking away if that is what she truly wants. They are each other’s perfect match in every single way and equally the worse possible one as well.
“People get over love. They can live without it, they can move on. Love can be lost and found again. But that won’t happen for me. I won’t survive you, Eva. … I’m obsessed with you, angel. Addicted to you. You’re everything I’ve ever wanted or needed, everything I’ve ever dreamed of. You’re everything. I live and breathe you. For you. … I don’t need anything else. I get out of bed every morning and face the world because you’re in it. … Because of you, the world makes sense to me in a way it didn’t before. I have a place now, with you.”
Eva And Gideon’s insatiable relationship is not meant to be pretty. It is not romantic in the traditional sense of the word and it is as far from ordinary as it gets. This is not the kind of relationship you would brag about to your hairdresser. This is the kind of relationship you would discuss with your shrink. Daily.
So, give the rational part of your brain a holiday, take a seat, make yourself comfortable and dive in expecting lots and lots of hot lovin’, drama, misunderstandings, jealousy, obsessive behaviour, addictive personalities and … have I mentioned hot lovin’? Simply switch off your brain and allow other parts of your anatomy to take over. Advocates of healthy relationships have no place here. Fairy-tale romantics have no place here. Heck, 99% of my brain had no place here but that shameless little 1% was happy as a clam. I LOVED this book. It was everything I expected it to be, nothing more and nothing less. I expected the level of obsessiveness between them to be even more amplified in this sequel. I counted on it. The development of these characters in Bared to You did not allow for anything different. I felt there was growth in their relationship, there was change in their dynamic and they are ultimately moving forward as a couple. This book brings some new problems to the table, takes a few away but it never stops being interesting or unpredictable. It explores human obsession and extreme emotional addiction just perfectly.
The characters might drive you mad at times, you might want to shake them or even slap them into oblivion, you might not agree with parts of the storyline or some of the things that Gideon and Eva do ‘in the name of love’, but your addiction to this series will stay intact if you are anything like me. I personally have an unhealthy love affair with this trilogy and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It does exactly what it promises to do, no unrealistic premises, no false pretenses. These books are not how-to guides on functional relationships, they are literary crack in its purest and most delicious form, and I have no desire to kick the habit any time soon.
“People get over love. They can live without it, they can move on. Love can be lost and found again. But that won't happen for me. I won't survive you, Eva.”