Between the covers book club + SPOILER-filled Darker review

Hello there, lovely ladies 🤗

Well, what a week it’s been. With the movie premiere here in Brisvegas, and a house full of guests, my free time for reading went out the window. Aww, well. Perhaps this week things will return to normal. 😜

Before I start with my review, let’s take a look at the news:

  • If you want to see MORE of the glamorous L.A. Darker premiere, check out this link from Sharon on the Any Second Now site.
  • USA Today reports on 7 secrets from the set of Darker.
  • Marie Claire features 11 behind the scenes facts about the film.
  • And if you want a vacation package to make your kinky Fifty fantasies come true, see what Cosmo has to say about this “clothing optional” resort in Mexico. Oh my…

The final clip is not related to FSOG, but I couldn’t help sharing this absolutely ESSENTIAL training app that will get your man up to speed on his lingus technique – lickety split!

Wahahahahaha! 😂😂 Thank you, Sharon for making me spray tea all over my phone! Though I’m a little concerned about the hygiene of this tongue-in-cheek (or is it somewhere else??) app, I do appreciate a man that can give a good tongue lashing! 😉

Okay then, let’s get on to the main event of today’s post: the Fifty Shades Darker movie review. I made an effort NOT to read any reviews before the film or before I posted my own. I didn’t want anything to influence my thoughts while I took in Erika’s vision. The only bits I caught was of the ladies raving in general about the L.A. premiere.

Again, if you DO NOT WANT TO SEE EVERY STITCH AND DETAIL UNRAVEL, skip this bit! Also, this review reflects my personal opinion only. Please feel free to disagree, but as I mentioned last week, let’s play nice 😉 

Spoiler alert  Spoiler alert

So, I’ll start with the things I DID like. This time around the movie was MUCH more accurate, the flow and events treated with a sensitivity that reflected Erika’s wish to do right by the fans. Little details like clothes choices, etc. might not have been strictly adhered to, but as far as the BIG details were concerned, it was true to the book. And if I had to venture a guess, the folks who did not read the book would probably find this movie more appealing than FSOG.

I enjoyed Ana’s smart mouth, her quips often funny and a great replacement for her inner goddess.

Also, I think her hubby did a great job adapting the book to the screenplay. Naturally there are a lot of things that can be done in writing that won’t translate to film, and with the first movie, I felt that some of those additions took away from the general veracity. This time, I didn’t sit in my seat, slack jawed and outraged at sudden new scenes that seemed senseless in its place. The one scene that did leave me frowning, (and this brings us to my list of grievances), was the masquerade ball bit: in the book as well as the movie, when Ana prepares for the night, she looks through her sexy new undies and selects a fetching number that leaves CG speechless. The Ben Wa balls follow, and then, off she goes to be the belle of the ball with a side helping of sexual frustration that leaves her breathless and achy. Later, when Christian buys her for the first dance auction and they steal away to his childhood bedroom, he strips her of that silver dress, but in the movie, she’s wearing nothing underneath. It made the whole flow seem ridiculously pointless. Why get dressed in heartstopping lingerie, only to take it off before you slip on your dress? Strange. (And yes, I could tell that the undies she wore wouldn’t fit underneath the cut and style of the dress, but the two acts are one in the book. A little finer planning would have gone a long way to ensure continuity here).


Personally I felt that CG came across as unlikable, an asshole even, in the first movie, something that I NEVER thought of him in the books. I understand that he was closed-off and broken, but his beauty – inside and out – shone through even in the earliest of chapters. I also understand that in Darker he came around to “the light” – as Ana calls it, but he NEVER became Mr. Straight-Laced-Vanilla-Nice-Guy. Certainly he had moments of playful, boyish charm and a sense of humour, but Fifty ALWAYS lurked in the background, whether it was in the sternness of a command, a searing look, his mercurial mood switches, or his jealous growls. And further, I get that they had to find a visual way to portray his transformation, however, THIS movie painted him as an all-round teddy bear, a picture perfect boyfriend. It’s probably the part of the movie I disliked the most. Where was our Dom, not the belt wielding one, but the one that LOVED with his domination rather than hurt? I missed the dark looks, the brooding pouting, his trademark distraught hands shoving through his unruly hair in exasperation, and that sexy, OTT jealousy. Over and over he tells her that he’ll never change, that his controlling, overbearing nature will always keep her on her toes. And we see that in the book too, even in moments where they are blissfully happy. In Darker they fight so much as they forge their way, as they come to grips with loving each other in the infancy of their relationship, but the film shows them resolving conflict too easily, like a well-adjusted couple with years of compromising experience. It took so much away in terms of the chemistry between them, the anger, the passion, the deep; new feelings that they both struggled to deal with. You have to ask yourself if the outrageous cries of abuse from the ill-informed public steered their decision to make him sweet as apple pie.

As far as the sex was concerned, there was definitely more, but with markedly less skin. I didn’t mind the more tasteful version of the bedroom antics, but, I’m sad to say, it contained little heat. In fact, the audience in the movie theater giggled through so many of the sexy scenes because the acts seemed stilted in their heavily edited state. And having been edited so harshly, it left no time for you to feel the connection between them, to see the desire building into the beautiful crescendo that is their strong bond. We saw a LOT of Ana’s reactions, and, in my opinion, way too little of Christian’s, especially considering that the movie’s demographic is overwhelmingly female. One of the most appealing things about him is the way he turns her on with just a look, the intensity of his desire evident in those deep, gray depths. Those heated gazes are, instead, replaced with playful smirks that yet again hint at well-adjusted guy, rather than the broken MAN using his exceptional skills to win his girl ANY way he can.

The sex scenes were not the only parts of the film that bent under the pressure of time constraints. At a supposed 118 minutes, I was hopeful that MORE time would give us, well, MORE, but the fact of the matter is that it went by in a blink of an eye. One of the biggest criticisms of the first movie was that it lacked some pivotal scenes. This time the director took that to heart and decided to include EVERY crucial moment, but – and this is a big BUT – it left the movie feeling like a reel of highlights, a montage of clips, a photo album of the book, rather than the full story itself. Rushed does not begin to describe the unnatural jumps from act to act. Vital, story-changing scenes like when Christian admits that he loves Ana, the bit where he goes full Dom on Leila to get her to heel, and then, the most important one of all, where CG lets Ana touch him for the first time, was devoid of emotion because they felt so abrupt. If you didn’t have the book as reference I have no idea how you would interpret these flash-card moments as significant. It is my understanding that more than expected landed on the cutting room floor (including the pool table shenanigans that we saw in more than one trailer), however, personally, I could have lived with less in terms of sequential accuracy, but more of their love and connection.

Wow, looking back at all that gabbing, I suspect you think that I hated it, but that’s not the case. I just wish that they would stop to think about the true essence of the story rather than the blatantly obvious charms. Would I go see it again? For sure, if only in hope of seeing some new insights and perspectives. Perhaps now that I know what to expect I might see the MORE that I crave.

And for those of you curious about the Easter Egg at the end of the film: if you stayed until after the roll of credits, you would have gotten a tiny taste of Freed! It was a lovely teaser showing bits of their wedding and honeymoon.

————— END OF SPOILERS —————


Currently I’m reading:


Raw Deal by Cherrie Lynn, book one in the Larson Brothers series. Don’t mistake my snail’s pace for disinterest. I just had NO time to read this week.

Let me wish you well for the coming week with a VERY naughty pic from Katherine:


I don’t know how many of you are old enough to remember Morph, but my version obviously missed something vital! LOL! 😂

Monique kiss

31 thoughts on “Between the covers book club + SPOILER-filled Darker review

  1. Annie says:

    I saw the movie yesterday and share many of your opinions. There was a good amount of giggling in the theater. It did feel more like the book than the first movie did but I still found myself doing the same thing I did the first time I saw FSOG — “that’s not the way it was in the book”. It took seeing the movie a second time to stop doing that and just watch. I already look forward to seeing it again. I think it did miss the mark a bit in terms of retaining Christian’s dominance. We all love Ana’s journey to strength but we love our Dom too. Can’t wait to see it again. Don’t you wonder what someone who hasn’t read the book would make of it? That’s crazy — who hasn’t read the book?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. maggie says:

    I’ve not seen Darker and not sure I will. I only just saw the first film. I read the books and enjoyed them BUT IMO this movie was terribly miscast and I cannot get past the wooden performances, the lack of chemistry and the physical misfit of Dakota and Jamie. I’m sure they are both lovely people and Jamie has been excellent in other performances, but she was simply never nearly attractive enough to be Anastasia and she delivers every line (no matter the supposed emotion) in the same flat intonation…really? Jamie, again better in other things and certainly good looking, is just not physically dominating enough for this role. He always seemed sheepishly embarrassed to be in the movie and he certainly came off that way through all the PR work before both films. I’m thinking the books were better left in print and in our imaginations….sorry, folks, the acting, the scripts, it’s all terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • says:

      so. in reply to some of the above statements: Would we be able to do better? dealing with a mega corporation, trying to get your idea’s across…. often your hands are tied by corporate greed. I’m surprised Erika has stuck with it….she fought to get the books presented and was called names because of it after the first movie. It’s so easy to sit on the sidelines and make our all knowing comments. We should remember that we don’t know what she had to go through. money isn’t always everything to those who say she did it for the money. So its not perfect, but at least its an attempt…..she never said she wanted an academy award, she was trying to give us a visual interpretation of her story…….to please her fans…….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Esperanza Lovato says:

    I was really dissapointed that Ethan was completely removed from the movies. I was also really disappointed about the iPad! To me the iPad was the first gift he gave her that was for her. The books, the music that said what he couldn’t. Other than that I really enjoyed it! I would definitely go watch it agin! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sharon says:

      I would have also loved to see a little time with the ipad…all of his downloads were sooooo awesome and thoughtful. Guess it was a time issue with the movie. Maybe also royalties with the songs?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Katherine says:

    So despite my determination not to see this piece of rubbish I was bullied into it by the girls I bullied into seeing the first film 🙂 Here is what I liked about it:
    1. The Van Morrison song in the lift
    2. The free cocktails in the lobby of the cinema.

    The film was as bad as I thought it would be. Darker was my favourite of all 3 books but this was awful. Jamie’s performance was so wooden I could’ve been watching Pinocchio! his delivery of our favourite Don was truly awful. I really wanted to see the tortured Don fighting between what he thought was his true self and his developing feelings for Ana but no emotion ever appeared on his face.
    Ana actually bored me to tears with her monotonous delivery of every line, it sounds shallow but I really can’t get my head around how unattractive both Jamie and Dakota are as to what the book tells us about them, for me personally they just don’t work.
    My favourite scenes in the book were the Coping Together gala, Lelia getting into the apartment and when CG’s on his knees in front of Ana after she arrives back to Escala. I agree with you Monique that the most important scenes IMO were skipped over. They could have done so much more with the more important scenes. Even the sex was boring as hell. I found the set for the gala was tacky and over the top, remembering it was supposed to be in CG’s parents home.
    I went in and out a few times just to get away from it and met 4 girls who had left not even half way through.
    What struck me about the whole night was that when the first film was released you couldn’t move in the cinema with tipsy screaming LOG’s this time the cinema was eerily quiet and our screen wasn’t even a ¼ full. Luckily I had a bottle of Vodka in my bag to keep me going lol.
    Interestingly, only 1 of the girls I was with enjoyed the film and she was the only one who didn’t read the book.
    Anyway it’s done I had a great night out with the girls and a load of great craic but like the first film I will never watch this again.

    I had a brilliant reading week which has more than made up for the crap I subjected my poor eyes too lol
    I finished Full Package by Lauren Blakely, I enjoyed it good fun and hot sex, a nice light read. I then read After We Fall my Melanie Harlow, this I would recommend I loved it. A damaged farmer and a Senator’s daughter, so good.
    I am currently reading Pennies by Pepper Winters, thanks for that recommendation Mon, I am half way through and I can’t say I love it but I don’t hate it either, It’s strange, though very dark subject matter, people trafficking, there are absolutely no details about the abuse Pim is going through, it says beating and rape but I like details……………..that sounds a bit weird to say the least but you know what I mean!. I hope to have it finished by tomorrow so I will decide then whether or not to get book 2.
    Have a great week and sorry about the length of my gurning lol x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sharon says:

    I agree with all of your comments, Monique.i did have great fun at the movie, as I did the first. I think the secret is not expecting too much and just enjoying the ride. Jamie definitely doesn’t even want to be in touch with his inner dom. Comes across crystal clear in his interviews, and apparent in the movie. However, I did enjoy his thrusting…quite enthusiastic I thought. Would have enjoyed more of his lovely tush. Fave scenes…Christian carrying Anna and the spreader bar past Mrs Jones, and thought the Elena slap was very nice, indeed!
    Thought Jack Hyde was just right in his scenes, but don’t understand why they changed the name of the bar. Thought the Ben-wa balls scenes were fun!
    I understand some theatres offer a virtual reality experience…our town is too small, but I plan to check some of the larger markets to see if I can check it out.
    The movie did feel rushed and scenes compressed. I don’t understand why they had to keep it to two hours…many movies are longer these days, and certainly this title is proven to bring in the bucks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hollie Calderon says:

    I sat through the movie twice because I really wanted to make sure my observation of one point was accurate. Did any one else notice that Christian never, unsolicited, tells Ana that he loves her. He skirts it with other phrases but never says “I love you”. I was really disappointed in that because it made all of the other efforts to transform their relationship, more about his needs that hers or theirs combined.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon says:

      Hollie, I don’t think Christian says I love you until he is talking Ana into moving in with him…but that is such a huge pivotal moment it would have really been important to include in the film. I didn’t think about it during the movie, but I agree with you. Those three little words are a big deal to us!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hollie says:

        Agreed, in the book that’s when he says the three little words but unless I totally missed it, he never says it in the movie. How do you propose marriage without having said “I love you “. Perhaps it is presumed and normally I could get past the issue however, it’s pivotal to the transformation of Christian and to their relationship versus his past.

        They easily could have included it in the scene in which Christian proposes in bed or the next morning when he puts Ana on the exercise horse and tells her that he wants to be her for the rest of his life.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Lisa Clark says:

    Hi Monique,

    I’ve read your review and everything that you’ve mentioned is right on the money. I though that Darker was good but didn’t fully exceed my expectations. I though the scenes were rushed through. I felt I didn’t have time to enjoy the scenes. I do u derdtand that the book includes a lot of content but the scenes left me wanting more. I remember one of the girls in our group said to me: “Is that it”?

    The sex scene didn’t leave me hot & bothered like in the book. I did feel a connection between C&A but it wasn’t a “I want to fuck you” right now kinda feeling. I found the sex scenes rough and not romantic & sensual. I was hoping for more slow “vanilla” sex encounters. I didn’t feel like he made love to her rather than fuck hard!

    I was disappointed that they left key scenes out. Re.: Dr. Flynn, Alley Kiss, Ben&Jerry, pi table scene, buying her a new car and the house on the sound. I hope that done of it shows up in the Special Edition DVD. The movie was 2 hours in Canada but could of easily been 3 hours and satisfy the viewers to its full potential.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. KereCB says:

    Hi Monique and lovely ladies. I did enjoyed the movie and liked it, as many was expecting more, for me important scenes were missing, but I could felt Jamie and Dakota chemestry, they were more in sync. I laugh a lot and cried a little, but I missed more of the Dominant distant enigmatic CG. I did came out of the movie with a huge smile on my face. I dont if was that we finally got to watch Darker or the glimpse to Freed. But I was happy at the end and for me that counts. I’ve been wondering since the 1st movie, Is Ethan going to appear in any of the movies?. What about Kate and her annoying questions all the time, here she seems to pleasant with Christian and Ana relationship. There are a couple of details, but all in all I liked it. And I really loved the music.. have a lovely week ladies. A huge hug for you Monique!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Lissa Jeri says:

    Howdy…have to get up in 5 hr for a flight to NYC, but just back in hotel after a long day and HAVE to make some preliminary comments. I saw the movie once in Cairns and plan to see it again in Times Square on Wednesday.

    So many things to say, but this time around will make one major comment. Assuming I heard correctly, I was horrified when they included a line (not in the book if I’m not wrong) where CG says that he’s a sadist and not a dominant. I physically cringed. This, I feel, is the result of the PC-ifying of the book in the film. There are so many screwy and incorrect reviews and comments in the press, especially repeating the canard that the book glorifies the abuse and subjugation of women They felt that HAD to include a mea culpa from CG that he was totally screwed up and simply wanted to hurt women. As if he were an alcoholic and was promising Ana that he’d stay on the wagon from now on. Despite the pages spent in FSOG about consent.

    Of course, we know that CG was not a sadist, that he rejected subs who wanted too much pain. He did have psychological issues related to his mother, etc, but quite frankly, we never read how he handled subs in punishment, etc. The strapping of Ana was initiated by her outside his routine of how he administered punishment. He had lost the context and he was dealing with (unknown to her) the worry of Leila. Read his internal monologue in Grey about how he realized he overdid it and advanced his plans too quickly.

    But to have him declare that he was a sadist knocks the entire theme of power exchange and dominance out of the book and movie. Subsequently, the sex scenes were devoid of the ying/yang of dominance without punishment now called kinky fuckery. Talk about topping from the bottom…Ana seemed the dominant thruout the movie with CG serving her, especially sexually.

    As far as Jamie Dornan’s performance, I have to think that he was directed to soften his tone and add in lots of smiling. He’s an actor. No matter what his personal experience or feelings…he was acting. If the director and/or the screenwriter (Erica’s dom?) and/or ELJ herself wanted Jamie’s performance to be as a dom, they would have provided him with real doms who would have critiqued his performance, both in speech and form. As it was, he was clearly coached (and very well) to get his American accent and nuance more on track…and overall, it was gratifying to see him develop as an actor. He played the role very well…just not the role that was in the book. And again, if the director and/or the studio didn’t want that, it would have been changed.

    Okay, as usual, too long…and I have lots more to say anyway, but will stop, other than mention the other Easter egg in the movie that I adored: when Dakota gave a little speech to her new PA…the exact speech, word for word, that her mother gave to her new PA in Working Girl in 1988. It was an amazing speech at the time…and it worked here…and I thought it absolutely adorable.

    Anyone else distracted by Ana’s lipstick…even when she woke up in the middle of the night? Were they trying to make it clear that she had a lipstick of that color to use on CG’s chest? But we know it wasn’t hers. Ana certainly was a lip gloss girl at that point without any doubt.

    What does all this stuff drive me so crazy? lol

    Will comment again (and prob again) if you’ll tolerate it.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon says:

      Lissa, agree on the lipstick. If it is on so much and so thick that it distracts you from the story, it’s too much. Especially when she wakes up in the middle of the night. It distracted me a few times.
      I also enjoyed the nod to Melanie Griffith, recognized it immediately. I find that Dakota’s speech delivery and breathing (the monotone others comment on) at times remind me very much of her mother’s same patterns.
      Christian does actually say he is a sadist in the book, and in the same place. He just isn’t correct, which all of the readers and Ana already know. I don’t remember him ever saying that he isn’t a dominant in the book. Book Christian would be a dominant even if he were celibate. It’s who he is. I think, it just came off strange in the movie because they left so much out of that scene. It didn’t have all the background that you get in the book.
      And….just sayin’, your “I saw the movie once in Cairns and plan to see it again in Times Square” would be a bucket list item for me, you lucky, lucky girl!!! What did your hubs think of the movie? I adore him for giving it a go!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lissa Jeri says:

        I stand corrected on the sadist thing…. with pun fully intended.
        Hubble is a totally love who would have never have thought he had a Dom bone in his body…. who loves the benefit of having a sub wife for his second go round. He is drop dead amazing and makes lots of comments that amuse me and keeps me on my toes. Flight just now to LAX I watched Marie Antoinette with a very young Jamie Dorman. Hubble who keeps tabs on me… very CG like in his attention… immediately saw I was watching JD and commented. Just fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Lissa Jeri says:

    PS: The sailing scene drove me absolutely crazy b/c it was so clearly British Columbia and not the area around Seattle. Even my husband thought they could have done more to film Vancouver to look like Seattle by using more subtle angles other than just throwing in a CGI of the Seattle tower.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon says:

      Also…just saying. Sailing around either Seattle or British Columbia would also be a bucket list item. How cool is it that you were able to tell the difference? Scenery looked awesome either way to this poor Florida girl. I wondered if the house they called attention to would be the home Christian buys for Freed.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Katherine says:

    Hi LOG’s just want to comment on Pennies which I just finished and Mac was asking about it last week, in the end I loved it and have already downloaded Dollars. Monique I don’t think you would get past the first few chapters but if you would I think you would finish the book. The author’s writing style and grammar was brilliant. Yeah despite my earlier reservations as to whether or not to continue its a massive yes from me for Pennies x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon says:

      I picked up Pennies when it was on sale…so may give it a go. Think it is still only .99. Of course, if I like it I have to buy 4 more books!! Keep us advised as you go, Katherine!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. gabyaveledo says:

    Hi Monique. I saw the movie saturday night, went with the hubby. I felt the same as you, with so many little things and not so little jumps in the story. Definitely, the movie felt better than the first, Jamie and Dakota felt more relax and with better chemistry in front of the camera, and the hotness was hotter, without being as explicit as the first time around.

    I liked that they let Jamie keep his five o clock shade, and the more relax dress code for this movie. But my husband kept asking me about things he didn´t get, because they were too rushed for someone who has not read the books.

    It is difficult to adapt from the book, any book, to a movie, and please everybody, but we have to admit, they did a better job this time around.

    PD: thanks for the call out to stay till the end of the credits. Only other two friends and us saw the trailer!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mark says:

    My words exactly I said it felt like it was in a mad rush to cover all the bases and left out the intimacy the connect the lust and the desires and I also agree that they took his stern mysterious character and made him to love struck the only true line. Was when when went out after she was confronted with Christian and leiha respect for one and other and she came back to his place and he said where the fuck of you been when he feel to his knees and fully let her in i wanted to say basically he has the hole movie it would have been much more believable if his mannerism would have been more appropriate. Would love to get your thoughts on this post


    • Monique Lain says:

      Hey Mark 🤗 Thanks for checking in. Yeah, it’s a great pity, but it must be such a hard decision to make. What do you sacrifice and what do you keep? How do you keep all the fans happy? But still, to me, the essence was the healing love, the compromise, forging a NEW way, and none of that shone through. And love struck is right! Though he was that, I feel that he was, at first, dumbfounded then awed by the whole love thing and how it opened new doors for him, but he was never ever a doe-eyed pup. I missed his firm handedness the most. And all the passion? From the delicious trysts to their constant fighting, there was one thing you could always tell: they FELT a lot of things, good, bad, intense and real, all a melting pot for potentially explosive moments, but alas, none translated into the movie. The most intense scene was when Jack was making his creepy move on Ana. I agree with you, CG would have been much more plausible had they directed him into a stronger Dom role. Aww well. Perhaps we’ll see him in the 3rd movie 😉


  14. Katherine says:

    Monique, have you heard that Jamie isn’t doing the 3rd film but someone from the vampire dairies?. My son told me and then my niece so fingers crossed it’s not just a rumour.


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