At the start of the month I came across an Instagram post by @silkreads where she was asking her followers how they organise their books and discussing whether she should re-organise her books in to shelves of read and to be read (TBR). This isn’t something I’d ever considered and it inspired me to go home and sort through my own collection. Once I had done this I realised just how many books I owned that I hadn’t even read yet – about 50% of them! – shame on me. So I’ve put myself on a [somewhat] strict book-buying ban and decided to crack on with reducing the pile of TBR ones I already own.
I decided to go on a Sylvia Day gorge-fest; provocative romance novels galore! These type of books are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine; the type I can’t get enough of but don’t like to read out in public for fear of people thinking I’m a Fifty Shades-esque sex-fiend. If you haven’t heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James, then I can only assume you were abducted by aliens in 2012 and haven’t caught up with pop-culture from that time yet. The trilogy, published in 2011 and early 2012, absolutely BLEW UP in the summer of 2012 (in the UK) and almost everyone I know read them, or at least attempted to. For me, I read them whilst travelling in Thailand and on one particular bus journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai I was among around 10-11 people on the coach reading one of the books!
Soon after the Fifty Shades series had been published, Sylvia Day published her first book in the “Crossfire” series; “Bared to You”. Riding the wave of hype around the Fifty Shades series, Bared to You was advertised in my local WH Smith as “The next Fifty Shades of Grey”. In some ways they were right but in many ways they were so very wrong.
In actual fact, whilst the Crossfire series hasn’t had the same mass-publicity as Fifty Shades, it is WAY better. The characters are more believable, the writing style is so much more eloquent and less repetitive and the storyline has a depth that makes it both gripping and relatable. Alongside that, the book isn’t about BDSM or fuelled predominantly by sex scenes. Whilst sex does play a heavy part in their relationship; the Crossfire series is fundamentally about the unbridled, rocky relationship between Gideon Cross and Eva Tramell. Their relationship is constantly being hindered by both their obsessive, controlling pull to each other and their individual inability to really deal with the deep emotional scars they both carry.
The first 3 books in the Crossfire series were published in around a year and then Sylvia teasingly made us wait around 18 months between books 3 and 4 and another 18 months between books 4 and 5. It was absolute agony. The series finished last year with 5 books and I can whole-heartedly say I was devastated when I finished the final one and realised there would be no more Gideon and Eva in my life…sob. But that was it, I was hooked on Sylvia Day. I collected up a pile of her books but, only from going through my TBR pile, have just realised I didn’t read many of them. So this month I dedicated to Sylvia and her compelling characters.
However, I’ve been galavanting with work a lot lately (we’re entering a crazy busy summer of events!) so my reading time has been limited and, unfortunately, I didn’t get to read as many books as I wanted. Whilst I only actually managed the time to read one book, it was definitely a good one! The first book of the pile that I picked up was a stand-alone story entitled “The Stranger I Married”. This is a historical romance, set in Victorian England, which follows the relationship of “Pel”, Lady Isabel Pelham, and “Gray”, Gerard Faulkner, the Marquess of Grayson. For different reasons, neither one wanted to fall in love and therefore favoured less emotional relationships such as one-night stands and non-committal lovers. They both, however, were constantly being pressured to settle down, by lovers and/or family, and in the end decided to marry each other out of convenience, believing their platonic friendship to be the best solution to their problems.
Unforeseen circumstances took Gray away for several years, leaving Pel alone to live without her husband and she carried on as she had always done before. However when Gray finally returns, he is a different man and wants different things; her! She is inexplicably drawn to him and, to her surprise, powerfully attracted to him which confuses her to no end. Her pursues her enthusiastically, refusing to accept any ounce of her rejection. The overpowering sexual attraction between them leads to deeper feelings developing and their budding romance causes strains in other areas of their lives. They both try to fight this thing between them and struggle to accept the new dynamic of their relationship; and they both make mistakes in the process.
Will they give in to their feelings and accept their new relationship or will they run and hide from the pressures it brings? Their story is gripping and the historical differences in culture make the book a fascinating read. Do yourself a favour and give this one a go, you won’t be disappointed!
Have you read this book, or any others of Sylvia’s before? What did you think? Or if not, does it sound like the kind of thing you’d enjoy? Drop me a message as I’d love to chat about it…