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Friday, November 25, 2011

Hidden Depths by Emma Holly

Hidden Depths by Emma Holly
Publisher: Smashwords
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (242 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, M/M, F/M/M, F/M/M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Forced Seduction, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

James and Olivia Forster have been happily married for many years. A harmless kink here or there spices up their love life, but they can’t imagine the kinks they’ll encounter while sneaking off to their beach house for a long hot weekend.

Anso Vitul has ruled the wereseals for one short month. He hardly needs his authority questioned because he’s going crazy from mating heat. Anso’s best friend and male lover Ty volunteers to help him find the human mate his genes are seeking. To Ty’s amazement, Anso’s quest leads him claim not one partner but a pair. Ty would object, except he too finds the Forsters hopelessly attractive.

If a reader is looking for a happy ever after that leaves scorch marks on the sheets, flushed cheeks and fluttering heartbeats, then this latest sensual adventure by Ms. Holly is sure to please. The title, Hidden Depths, has a subtext to it that my brain appreciated. I believe it refers to where the action takes place and what is hidden in the hearts of the initial two main protagonists, Olivia and James. Later on, it delves into the hidden yearnings of the two other heroes. No one is quite what they at first appear – if that makes any sense. Every person is multi-layered and this book takes the time to find and explore those layers in each of its characters.

I valued the detailed approach the author took in giving me insights into what made the relationship between Olivia and James work so well. The set up gave me a solid foundation in understanding just how strong and pure their love for each other was before Ms Holly set the first lure. You see, most people have sexual fantasies, whether they admit to them or not. The most amazing kind of relationships are those where the couple can talk to and share with their partner about even the kinky kinds that makes them blush and stutter. Not only that, but actually explore them within the framework of their marriage – making it more vibrant and healthy. But some fantasies, those in the deepest, darkest part of us, are still considered too potent for exploring because of the possibility that they might take on a life of their own. What would happen if the opportunity to experience such a thing presented itself? What would happen if it turned out that what was feared as being ‘too much’ ends up being not only a sexual high for one but for both? How far would they explore it? Where then would the boundaries be? The author leaves no skin untouched, no emotion unfelt and no heart unaffected in the telling of Hidden Depths as those questions get answered and more.

The dynamics between Anso and Ty, the other protagonists in the story, is another intricately woven relationship. Anso is royalty and Ty is …not. I intuited early on that Ty and Anso actually loved each other but they were blinded by expectations, perceptions and position. It was very sad. I felt the most emotion for Ty because he was so hard on himself. It didn’t help matters any that there was a secondary character that dismissed him and reinforced his belief that he was less.

Truly, Ms. Holly knows how to engage a reader. Each character has something that needs healing, that needs loving and their own insecurities and worries seem like insurmountable stumbling blocks. Singly, with only Anso and Ty, or Olivia and James, that is true. But when the author gets all four together, it’s emotional magic.

Erotic romance readers are in for a thrill that satisfies on every level. Every little thing that can hobble a relationship is brought out into the light and explored until all the shadows are dispelled and the power of their love is proven. I thrilled to that little eye trick that proved just how perfect and right the ménage ends up being. Out of all of them, I was happiest for Ty. Very romantic and so perfect, I sniffled just a bit.

There were some important secondary characters, one being a troublemaker and the other, Violet, Olivia and Jame’s daughter. Violet doesn’t affect too much but she’s part of the healthy family portrait and the author was very respectful of that.

One thing Ms. Holly does is mix great emotional conflict with external drama and suspense. Readers will find that aspect in this story as well with the plot to overthrow the current king. Thing is, this is a paranormal so the machinations behind it all were fascinating and really cool. The descriptions were very well done and action packed. The only thing I was mad about was Olivia’s continued thinking about leaving. Even I could see that wasn’t going to work – she was in LOVE! Good thing her heart was stronger than her manipulated brain – it proved crucial.

Hidden Depths takes a reader on an exciting journey of sexual and romantic explorations; a feast of the senses that teases, pleases and satisfies a reader’s cravings for a well told tale. I had a ton of fun reading this story and didn’t want to stop reading for anything. Each character, Olivia, James, Anso and Ty, found a place in my heart and in my dreams. This is one ménage that has a depth of character with a sturdy foundation I could believe in. The happily ever after included every possible thread being tied up in perfect harmony and and it made me feel sentimental and gooey. Thank you, Ms. Holly, for writing another winner!

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