NB. Contains minor spoilers.
One With You by Sylvia Day is the fifth and final instalment to conclude Eva and Gideon’s whirlwind and extremely intense relationship begun in Bared To You.
Published just at the height of FSOG billionaire playboy mania, Bared to You kicked off a series of books that were the real deal in terms of love, sex, trust, boundaries, healing old wounds, luxury and fantasy. Always well-written, the books hooked you quickly and dragged you deep. Of all the many, many billionaire playboy books I’ve read in the last four years, this series is the best.
“Gideon Cross. Falling in love with him was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It happened instantly. Completely. Irrevocably. Marrying him was a dream come true. Staying married to him is the fight of my life. Love transforms. Ours is both a refuge from the storm and the most violent of tempests. Two damaged souls entwined as one.”
This book sees Eva and Gideon at their strongest and most stable phase. The previous books all ended with some sort of crisis they had to overcome and seeing them happy and in love was very satisfying as we all want the Happy Ever After. One With You continues the alternate chapter viewpoint between Eva and Gideon that we saw first in Captivated By You (the first three books are all from Eva’s POV only). I’ve enjoyed seeing things through Gideon’s eyes as it provides a welcome balance to the novel. I’m never sure how realistic women are when writing a male POV but this allows us to see and believe in Gideon’s sincerity, absolving any doubts presented by Eva’s POV regarding his absolute commitment to her.
The first half of the book was slow (although well-written). It just wasn’t as compelling as I’m used to from Sylvia’s novels and didn’t reel me in and grab my attention in the same way that the previous four books did. It definitely picked up in the second half, particularly the very unexpected twist that I never saw coming. Whether it was something that evolved only in the writing of this novel or not, the whole presentation of the storyline for this character in this book did appear rather extraneous and made me wonder if it had been included for shock value only. It was executed with the good writing I’d come to expect but I wasn’t convinced it was strictly necessary for the plot. However, it did allow Gideon to make another communication and trust mistake with Eva, despite their newfound stability, which I quite liked because it proved that he was fallible like the rest of us which made him more realistic and gave his character more depth.
I can see why some fans are disappointed with this conclusion. There were a lot of unanswered questions, mainly with the supporting characters, that weren’t addressed. There definitely should have been uncontroversial DNA proof that Cary was the father of Tatania’s baby (if such a thing is possible with a live foetus) and the charges levelled at Anne Lucas should have been spelled out, rather than just the police’s theories and that they hoped to prosecute her. However, unlike some fans, I don’t think that there were many other important unaddressed points. I think Sylvia gave the hints and nudges required and left the rest to our imaginations. I’m HEA inclined so I think Trey and Cary worked things out but, more negatively, I believe that the showdown in Gideon’s office with his mother was the termination of their relationship and that there was no HEA there. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know if Deanna took the job Gideon offered, if Corrine’s book were published, if Gideon managed to overcome his nightmares to sleep beside Eva or what job Eva would do for the Crossroads Foundation. The cementing of the foundations of the Eva and Gideon team meant that these things were now actually largely immaterial. Even though they were still figuring what their future partnership roles would be, their strength as a couple, not seen in previous books, meant they could handle whatever shit life would throw at them. There’s nothing wrong with a HEA – it’s pretty much all I read! – but somehow a HEA always feels more realistic and satisfying when there are still kinks to be worked out, unknown obstacles to overcome, or the knowledge that some things just can’t be fixed and that you have to walk away for your own sanity. The fact that even though the characters have grown during the story to be able to have the HEA, they can still mess up and make mistakes lowers it (ever so slightly) from the fantasy world to what a reader might be able to achieve in their personal HEA.
I’ve been a Sylvia Day fan for many, many years, long before Penguin picked her up in the UK and this book hasn’t changed that. Her books are always flame hot with sex scorching off the pages, and whilst somewhat absent at the beginning of the book, there wasn’t any lack of this in the second half. Her characters are always compelling and some fans frustration at the lack of conclusions for supporting characters says to me that Sylvia has succeeded extremely well in building Eva and Gideon’s world so completely that we care so much about the supporting characters’ future’s too. And, to be honest, anyone who can make the name ‘Gideon’ sexy is always going to be a winner for me.
Review © Eleanor Small