So far Reflected in You has taken what can be called the Fifty Shades of Sequel route, which – instead of continuing the story with another narrative arc that builds on the first story – merely continues the story from the first one and strings it along with fifty-odd b-plots. Amazingly enough, Reflected in You is actually worse because this narrative was concluded by the end of the first book (Eva and Gideon have their problems, but will work on them together FOR LOVE) and is now just sort of awkwardly ignoring that there is no reason for this story to continue. It’s like when a band releases a new album that’s exactly the same as its first album, and the first album wasn’t even that good to begin with.
For example, this chapter is all about what every single chapter of the first book was about: Eva and Gideon being paranoid and fighting.
The last chapter ended with Corinne – Gideon’s ex-fiance that he didn’t tell Eva about – suspiciously leaving Gideon’s office building looking like she just had sex, which is evidently a way that people can look from a distance. Eva storms in to confront Gideon about this. Megumi is apparently a character in this story.
“I’ll be back in five minutes, if anyone asks,” I told her, as she stepped off at Waters Field & Leaman.
“Give him a kiss for me, will you?” she said, playfully fanning herself. “Makes me hot just thinking about living vicariously through you.”
Eva enters Gideon’s office and finds all sorts of suspicious evidence, such as:
- The glass wall around Gideon’s office that can be clear or frosted at the touch of a button and is usually clear and we just learned all of this information right now IS FROSTED
- Indents in the area rug that indicate that a couch was moved recently! Because when you have sex on a piece of furniture, USUALLY IT MOVES.
- Gideon looks like he came out of the shower! Apparently he has a shower in his office! Maybe that’s why the couch was moved! They had sex on the couch in the shower in his office!
- Gideon’s “neck and upper chest were still flushed, as they became when he exerted himself physically”, in case you’ve forgotten this series is all about sex
- Gideon is wearing a different shirt!
- Gideon claims he got something on his shirt, and Eva finds a shirt in his wastebasket that has red lipstick smeared on it! Given that this is her most convincing evidence, she naturally immediately discards it and doesn’t mention it to Gideon when they fight about how she suspects him of cheating on her with Corinne. No, seriously. This is, like, seriously incriminating evidence, significantly more so than anything else she has, and she just saves it for last.
The fight begins!
“Eva!” he snapped as I hurried past him. “What the hell is the matter with you?”
“Fuck you, asswipe.”
Eva shows him the picture she took of Corinne and says, “Busted,” and Gideon’s like, “…of what?”, and then, lest you doubt that theirs is a healthy relationship not based on communication, Gideon gets physically abusive!
“I’m not spelling it out for you.”
His palm slapped against the glass, holding the door closed. Caging me with his body, he leaned down and hissed in my ear, “Yes. Yes, you goddamn will spell it out.”
The fight goes on for one page before it suddenly becomes a fight about the night at the party where Eva learned about Corinne, which is the topic of the fight (that didn’t happen in this book, in comparison to one that is currently happening) for two and a half. Finally, after backtracking to that, she brings up the lipstick on the shirt.
“I wouldn’t care if the ‘evidence’ included you finding me and her naked in a bed together. (Matthew’s note: also that is actual dialogue, let’s not forget that) I want to know if you think I fucked her. If you think I would. Or could. Do you?”
My foot began to tap, but I didn’t retreat. “Explain the lipstick on your shirt, Gideon.”
His jaw tightened. “No.”
Okay. This is my serious guess. We don’t actually explicitly know what Gideon’s issues are. Maybe part of his issues is that he dresses up like a woman sometimes, a la Psycho. I’m not even kidding, I seriously think this is a legitimate guess for why he doesn’t want to tell her about the lipstick. Of course, he could just be not telling her because he’s busy making his “I’ve given you no evidence” point (apparently being naked in bed with another woman would not count as evidence to Gideon, mind), but that’s bullshit, so my “Gideon dresses up like a woman” idea is way better.
Conveniently, Eva and Gideon have their first couples therapy that night.
“it doesn’t change the fact that you’re keeping secrets.”
“Secrets are something we can work through; cheating isn’t.”
Secrets like you secretly dress up like a woman. Gideon-dresses-up-as-a-woman theory. Right here.
They get to therapy, Dr. Petersen asks, “Shall we start with the cause of the tension between you?”, and there’s a page and a half of uninterrupted and rambling fighting between Eva and Gideon. This goes on for pages and pages, and Ariel put a great deal of it in yesterday’s post, and you really should read it: it is hilariously all over the place.
Although weirdly enough, there’s a part of me that not only doesn’t see a problem with this, but actually has to admit this is fairly realistic. When people get into fights – especially couples in dysfunctional relationships – they don’t always stay on top of what they’re actually fighting about, and often jump around between old and new fights, because there are just so many issues fueling the fire. I clearly recall having a number of fights like this with an ex-girlfriend towards the end of a relationship that had become incredibly dysfunctional, where everybody’s just so angry and emotional that they barely have any idea what they’re fighting about, just that there’s a lot of stuff to fight about. As a result, the arcs of these fights are recursive and incoherent and never get anywhere. So as irritating as a fight like this between these two characters in a clearly dysfunctional and codependent relationship is to actually read, there is a certain verisimilitude to it I have to give Sylvia Day credit for. So good job, Sylvia Day! Your novel has successfully emulated what it feels like to be in a terrible relationship! Get your copy now!
And then – incredibly – this happens:
Dr. Petersen sat back. “Eva has brought up concerns of infidelity and lack of communication in your relationship. How often is sex used to resolve disagreements?”
WHAT? OH MY GOD, THIS IS FINALLY HAPPENING.
“I’d like to discuss the possibility of abstinence while we-”
“There is not possibility,” Gideon interjected. “That’s a nonstarter. I suggest we focus on what’s not working without eliminating one of the few things that is.”
“I’m not sure it is working, Gideon.” Dr. Petersen said evenly.
Can this be happening? Is… Is Sylvia Day actually aware that she’s writing about a terrible, abusive, dysfunctional relationship? Has she actually known this whole time how unhealthy her characters’ behavior is?
“Doctor.” Gideon set one ankle on the opposite knee and settled back, creating a picture of unyielding decisiveness. “The only way I’m keeping my hands off her is if I’m dead. Find another way to fix us.”
Nope. She’s not. Turns out that was all setup for a joke. Yes, Sylvia Day. How ridiculous to suggest removing sex from this unhealthy relationship that is only held together by sex.