At first, I wasn’t going to read Fifty Shades of Grey because everyone was reading it. And it started out as fan fiction- Twilight fan fiction at that. Nope, not going to touch it.

Then, my friend Ann posted about it on Facebook. And my friend Ashby said she liked the trilogy, too. My ears perked up. Ashby liked it? Now, granted, Ashby is a big Britney Spears fan, but aside from that, I trust her opinion in books. So I asked Ashby and Ann if they really liked the books. And would I?

Ann asked if I knew what the books were about. Erotica and BDSM Smuttiness, yes, I had caught that in the Entertainment Weekly article. And while BDSM doesn’t particularly flip my switch, I figured there had to be something to the books for two of my friends to be raving about them.

I fired up the trusty Nook and downloaded it. And while this wasn’t a book that kept me turning the pages at an incessant pace, I found myself totally sucked in.

The writing is not particularly great. I don’t really buy Christian Grey as a character- all that money in his mid-twenties? And the way he talks? Not like any twenty something I know. But he’s set up to be a dark romantic hero, a more sinister Mr. Darcy, perhaps. The language he uses is certainly more Austen than 2012. But he’s meant to be irresistible to Anastasia (Ana), and with her fondness for the British classics, the particular drawing of Grey as this type of hero must be deliberate. He’s irritatingly controlling. I feel confined as I read him. At the same time, like Ana, I want to know what it is that makes him tick.  I find Ana more believable, although her thoughts and speech are peppered so constantly with “Holy Cow’s” and “Boy’s!” that I still debate internally if this is a product of loose writing or a deliberate contrast to Christian Grey’s sophistication.

And the smut? Well, frankly, after the build up, some of it didn’t quite live up to expectations.  The first half of the book is fairly vanilla, and I reserved judgement on the more controversial items until I finished the book.  Fifty Shades  is a fascinating glimpse into the BDSM world. Judging by the descriptions  EL James provides, I would not make a good Submissive. Or a Domme, for that matter.  It’s just not my thing.  I was worried the story would go so far into this world that it would be off-putting for those of us that are “meh” about the lifestyle.  It isn’t.

Because what I found as I read is that I really wanted to know more about these characters. I may not understand (yet, as I think it will be revealed in the rest of the trilogy) why Christian is the way he is, and I may think he’s way too controlling, but I still actually care about him. And Ana. And I want to know what happens to them. I’m rooting for them to sort through their issues and their differences and find a mutually satisfying way to be together.

That was totally unexpected, and it’s what made me download Fifty Shades Darker to continue reading the story.  Mediocre writing aside, I really want EL James to do bring this couple their own happy ending.