By Andrea McVeigh.
"I've been more turned on reading the sale pages on Topshop online."
"I want a Christian Grey in my life."
"I've had more fun reading an Ikea instruction leaflet."
"I'm totally addicted."
50 Shades of Grey, the everyday erotic tale of a virgin, Anastasia, and her billionaire BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) lover Christian Grey, has had readers divided. But one thing is for sure, the book and its two follow-ups, by former fan fiction writer E. L. James, have spawned headlines, sky-high sales and a literary genre - mummy porn. All three books are, at the time of writing, in the top three positions in the paperback fiction chart.
The Sugahfix gals aren't fans. "It's so badly-written," wail Maureen and Andrea (but being professional journos, they would say that, wouldn't they?) They're looking for missing commas where most of us just want multiple orgasms.
There's no doubt it's repetitive - all those oh mys, holy craps, holy cows. Christian's fingers (which seem to warrant a lot of mentions) are always 'long' and his mouth is invariably 'set in a grim line.' He 'cocks his head to one side' so often he must resemble one of those bobblehead dolls you see on car dashboards.
'Unlikely' has a role in romantic and soft porn fiction, but 'unbelievable'? Ana is like no 21-year-old university student we've ever met. The never-been-kissed (that's Never. Been. Properly. Kissed) 21-year-old has only held hands with two boys before and has never self-pleasured. What's more shocking is that she doesn't own a computer! (How did she get her degree then? What did she study? Semaphore?).
She's so coy she can only refer to 'down there' and 'my sex' yet she doesn't bat an eyelid while flicking through a contract that casually mentions butt plugs.
But hey, it turns out she's a natural at The Sex! She achieves her first orgasm after Christian tweeks her nipples for bit, like he's tuning in a radio. Is this soft porn or science-fiction? Maybe that's why women look so happy when they're out shopping - it's not the new season pastels that have turned them on, it's the chafing of their bras.
In the interests of full and honest disclosure, none of the Sugahfix gals have ever had an orgasm through nipple tweaking. If any of you ladies have, we salute you.
After one week, Ana trusts Christian enough to be willing to sign a slave contact and lie to her best friend about the nature of their dom-sub (dominant/submissive) relationship. And she doesn't seem to think it was at all scary that his stalker tendencies involve tracking her cell phone: "Somehow, because it's him, I don't mind." Crazy-lady alert!
Plus, she's not really into it - she wants cuddles, meet-the-parents date nights and teddy bears. He wants to hang her from the ceiling in his Red Room of Pain sex dungeon wearing nowt but a pair of nipple clamps (hope it's centrally heated). Um, conflict of interest? Even Paddy McGuinness blindfolded could see that in real life that would be a Take Me Out "no likey, no lighty."
But maybe we're just too uptight about what is, after all, not meant as a piece of classic literature, but more as a piece of lassie cliterature?
We asked our most valued critics - the Sugahfix readers - what they thought of it all. And, like Christian Grey administering a good spanking, you didn't hold back!
"Utter dross," says Lauren McLean. "Terrible writing; so repetitive with the constant blushing and lip biting and being 'spent'. Does E. L. James not own a thesaurus? All the references to her 'inner goddess' made me want to punch something." Perhaps not the S&M response E.L. James was hoping for.
"Badly written," say both Gemma-Louise Bond and Katie Kelly. But as Katie points out: "We're not reading it for the writing you know. At its core it's just an old fashioned fairytale romance...so bored by all the sex at the end I skipped pages!"
But like foreplay that leaves you so fed up you start to mentally compile shopping lists rather than concentrate on the man failing to find your erogenous zones, does it just take too long to get to the juicy bits?
"I am still wondering why it took eight chapters to get remotely filthy... it is supposed to be porn after all!" was the verdict of Kaz Lynas.
And as Lisa Mallon points out: "It's OK for a bit of a laugh." So maybe we're taking it too seriously, because it does have fans. Millions of them. Making it the fastest-selling paperback of all time.
Claire McFall thinks it's "amazing," while Bina Colhoun rated it "addictive." "Christian Grey, yes he's mad in the head, but you can't help but feel drawn in by him," adds Bina.
Laura McShane calls it "a sexy Twilight" while Karen Connor says: "Forgetting that he's psychologically damaged and over-controlling, he is mesmerising, rich, powerful, sexy, devoted and I want more!"
Lauren McLean and Becky Moore pulled no punches when it came to their criticism (and we're too polite to repeat it, but it gave us huge belly laughs in the office)
Then there's the male perspective and it was Paul Meekin who first waved the feminist flag: "It's a great blow for feminism to believe an attractive virgin will turn into a sex-crazed slut in a short period."
Sugahfix gal Maureen Coleman agreed: "What I've found with the book is that lots of young girls seem to like it and are posting things like 'I need a Christian Grey in my life'. So basically they want a sadistic control freak psycho who refuses to let them touch him during sex, gets his kick out of causing pain and has serious stalker tendencies to boot. Yeah right. Yawn yawn."
Of the 50 Shades refuseniks - those who haven't read it and don't plan to - Lorraine Kristel Anthony was one of many who made this point: "The openness around it is weird, if a dude was reading a porn mag on the train, imagine the outcry."
Fiona Hughes points out that if there was as much hype from men about a porn movie then women would be complaining while Lana Richardson has just had enough of its influence on our culture: "It's become a trend and adds to our already hyper-sexualised society...it makes people believe that we have to be thinking and talking, and now reading, about sex all the time."
But it's not racy enough for some. The coy 'my sex' references really annoyed Jenny Mahood, Jacqueline "Who ever says that?" Graham and Lee Montgomery. But Lee goes further to say: "It's fairly tame." Tell us more Lee! Or, better still, write your own book.
"Don't forget about the panting," says Aisling Carroll. "ALL that bloody panting. Hilarious books. Like bad Mills & Boon on steroids. One book I can vaguely understand. And the fact that it started off as Twilight fan fiction explains a lot too. But three books? Oh my!"