After the emotional roller coaster ride I experienced while reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I was rather surprised with the lack of intensity I felt during Fifty Shades Darker. I will admit that I was quite disappointed on the whole with this second book in the trilogy. The pace that James set was much slower than the previous book, and it really seemed as if nothing really happened in the plot. The first book spanned a shorter time period than this one, but it felt so much more fulfilling and just so much "more". It's hard to put my finger on it.
While Grey was full of Ana's awakening and her discoveries of her "inner goddess" and contained many sexual scenes which bordered right on the edge of what I felt comfortable reading, Darker was tame in comparison and rather dull. The whirlwind courtship of Grey was super exciting and took me, emotionally, from one end of the spectrum of emotions, clear to the opposite end. I experienced everything from pure elation to deepest despair, along with every emotion in between.
The one thing I truly did enjoy from Darker was the way James began to show how Christian became who he was. Throughout this second book, James takes us deeper and deeper into the mind of Christian and you really begin to see how damaged he was by his past, and just who was to blame for his worst domineering characteristics. We also begin to understand why he is the way he is, as he begins to understand who Ana is and why she cannot "fall in line".
Ana really grew in her independence and in her confidence in Darker. She "came into her own", so to speak. The only real problem I had with her blossoming is that it seemed rushed. She went from this inexperienced virgin to virtual sex goddess seemingly overnight. I thought that was rather unrealistic. Generally it takes women some time to grow confident in their sexuality, even with a partner they've had for a long time before sexual relations, they need time to become truly comfortable in their new role.
The other bright spot in this dragging middle book was the growth Christian showed. He began to make changes in how he dealt with the world, changes for the better, because of Ana's influence. This was a delight to see. I am still hoping the final book in the trilogy will save the series.