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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Assassin’s Lover by Emma Holly

The Assassin’s Lover by Emma Holly
Publisher: Smashwords
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (232 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, M/M, F/M/M, Ménage, Multiple Partners, Anal Play, Forced Seduction, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

In the alternate Victorian earth the Yama live in, this supposedly demonic race doesn’t believe in giving their hearts away - or in letting out emotion.

Assassin-guards Ciran and Hattori were bred to live by that code, until Hattori's too-moral twin is imprisoned, and Ciran falls in love with the grieving man. Both have illegally altered genes that heighten sexual needs, which seemingly makes them perfect for each other.

Then they get orders to kill Katsu Shinobi. Katsu isn’t your typical demon princess. Tender-hearted and lovely, she’s an unlikely match for these dangerous men. Too bad this threesome can’t forget the erotic interlude they once shared. They’ll need every scrap of courage they possess to build a future together.

This story is an erotic powerhouse that dives right into what readers love best about the demon world created by the amazing mind of Ms. Holly. For readers who may feel that they don’t or can’t get enough of those scenes that the author does so well, The Assassin’s Lover is a bonanza.

What always amazes and delights me is the raw emotion and need that Ms. Holly imbues her characters with. I don’t know how she does it, but every erotic scene has meaning to the characters and brings depth to the story without ever seeming gratuitous or for the sake of sex itself.

The conflicts are varied. There’s the external threat of assassins going after the assassins, the idea of vengeance, and the most important and relevant issue is the balancing of three lives into a cohesive and healthy relationship. Feelings are hurt, soothed, explored and exposed. The dynamics of bringing together three such diverse and unlikely characters and making them fall in love was tricky and fascinating. To add spice and suspense there was an additional goal or plot -- to rescue a relative from an unspeakable and well guarded place. Put it all together and readers are in for a roller coaster of drama, uncertainty, daring-do and a romance that defies the odds.

Kat is an exiled princess. The best description I can come up with to refer to her is ‘survivor’. There’s a bow to the tale of Cinderella regarding the heroine. The unfair attacks against her haven’t broken her but made her stronger, more determined and more appreciative of the gifts that come her way. I loved that she could be haughty and prim, wild and devious, and sexually bold -- truly a mate worthy of the strong men in her life.

Those manly men come in the yummy packages of Hattori and Ciran. A reader will first meet them in an innocent setting. What’s genius about that is its showing of a simple and uncomplicated time in all of their lives. The author sets up the future by looking briefly into the past. By doing so, I understood better about what they lost, what they struggled to overcome and what they eventually will fight for. It’s a hard road but the men are harder.

Hattori is the main focus of Kat’s desire. Ciran is the unfortunate third wheel whose emotions and feelings are locked inside. His yearning is what endeared him to me. He was trying so hard to be selfless and it was killing me. I believe that he needed to love and be loved most of all. Hattori and Kat’s eventual realization of that truth enhanced the telling of this fascinating tale. Sure, it’s full of bumps and bruises, but a lot of hot loving is what eventually takes the blinders off allowing Hattori and Kat to let go of their ingrained reserve and finally reveal the true love they all share. It’s beautiful; their passion has an incendiary quality that had me having to fan myself a few times. Okay, more than a few.

As I said before, one of the plot goals was to rescue a family member. What the trio had to do in order to be successful had me shivering and perspiring. It’s intense, it’s a bit rough and it’s well written. The saying is, when you love someone, you’ll do anything for them. Ms. Holly explored it in a way only she can. Get ready for a wild ride.

The thing that made me tap my chin in thought was the family member. The blurb doesn’t say anything about it and neither will I. I will only say that I wished the character was fleshed out more. I understand that trauma will affect a person but it was hard for me to really truly care when the person came across as cardboard and stiff. Something was missing but I can’t put my finger on it. Out of the whole book, this is the only thing that I felt let me down.

The Assassin’s Lover is a complicated love story, rich in emotion, conflict and heart. Ms. Holly is known for her well written scenes when it comes to skin on skin action and this book certainly delivers with explosive results. The intricacy of the plot takes its toll on the main characters and a reader will be hard pressed to put this book down until the very end. I am satisfied with the happily ever after but I get the feeling it has an attached ‘for now’ somewhere. I don’t believe they’re completely out of danger and I also think the person they rescued now needs some emotional TLC as well. What this means is that the next story set in this alternate Victorian world is going to be an auto-buy for me. I simply have to know.

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