The Deep End by Kristen Ashley
2 Star Review
There is no way to review this book for me without including a few spoilers about the contents, because I have to get down to the nitty-gritty details about what I liked and didn't like in order to write a detailed review. If you don't want to read spoilers, skip this review! Read at your own risk!
The Deep End is Amelie and Olivier (Olly)'s story. Amelie is the best domme at the BDSM club, The Bee's Honey. She has been wanting to find a long term male submissive that could also be her partner in life, with marriage and kids at some point, for many years. Her tastes run to the alpha-sub variety, meaning she likes manly men that like to be submissive in the bedroom/club but are Alphas in everyday life. She feels like she's never going to meet the perfect guy that can match her in the bedroom and out. Until Olivier joins the club, that is. They meet and feel a connection right away. There kinks match up in the best ways. They begins spending lots of time together in the club, but Amelie wants more. She wants to date Olly, but he struggles with accepting his submissive side outside of the club. Also they have to work through feelings of class difference. Amelie has family money and is independently wealthy. She doesn't have to work. Olivier is a fireman and has a hard time with her being rich and feeling inadequate. They take some time to work things out, but eventually, get their HEA.
This was an interesting read. There were things I liked about the book, but the things I did not like were more plentiful.
I went into this book with a totally OPEN MIND. I have read everything Kristen Ashley has written (most of them multiple times) and loved 95% of them. She is one of my favorite authors. I have met KA and fangirled over her, gotten books signed, and met a lot of other awesome Rock Chicks in the process. I also read and enjoy a lot of all kinds of BDSM and erotica books. I was really hoping that I was going to love this one. I have nothing against BDSM, alpha-subs, dommes, or any other prejudices that would have influenced my feelings about this book.
Things that I did like:
Olivier- I liked Olly in general, although I would have liked to know more about him. He does seem to be an Alpha in most ways, but every time he is with Amelie, he's a sub. Even in the little time they spent outside of the club at Amelie's ranch, he was a sub the whole time. I think for me to truly get an idea of his Alpha-subness, I would have needed to see more of them together doing non-sexual things where he was being Alpha.
Alpha-sub- I was not bothered by the Alpha-sub aspect.
The story- The story had potential, but I would have liked to see way more of who the characters were outside of the club and in their daily lives. The side characters were interesting. I would love to have known more about them.
No cheating, sharing, or OW drama.
Things that did not work for me:
Amelie- She is a difficult heroine to identify with. The 3rd person POV combined with her formality and stiff, formal dialogue made it hard to like her. She is a good person, but I just didn't feel a connection to her. She never seemed to relax or let down her guard. She didn't seem like a real person. Amelie is French and often speaks in French, which I do not speak. Also, I didn't feel like I knew enough about her, except for her sexual preferences. How does she spend her days, etc. She sometimes came off as cold and had a "poor little rich girl" attitude at times, as well
BDSM in this book- It was different than any other BDSM books I have ever read (and I do read a lot of them). Amelie is very attracted to Olivier. She can orgasm just from watching him without even touching him in a scene. That didn't feel true to life. Often times, Amelie worked Olivier to orgasm in a scene, but much of the time she didn't participate herself or have him touch her to orgasm herself. Olly came like 500 times in this book to Amelie's 10. There is no aftercare in the book either. Often times scenes are set up and cleaned up by club staff, including strapping the subs into equipment so they are ready and waiting for their domme. None of this seemed like normal BDSM protocal like I have read in other books. There is also so much anal play, not to mention the pony play (see below). I had no idea male subs were all about anal play. There is way more anal play than real sex in the book. I also felt like there was a lot of strapping down and harnassing into apparati that came off as clinical at times. None of it came off as sexy to me. Not because I don't like BDSM; I just didn't like this version of BDSM very much.
Awkward and Cheesy language- Some of the language in scenes between Olly and Amelie was eye-rolling, in my opinion. ex."Fuck my hand with that brute". "But here, down here, the seat of his meat, he smelled divine." (referring to his genitals) , etc.
Olivier's speech- He seems extra uncouth, especially next to Amelie. He calls her speech "uppity, hot-chick speak". His is the opposite. His favorite term used in this book is "Jack my shit" or "Jack my dick". He must say that 100 times. He speaks in the usual KA Alpha speak, only amplified and with even less full sentences.
Lack of description- There are not usual Kristen Ashley style descriptions of everything. There is some description but not a ton. At times, I definitely needed more. I didn't know Amelie's hair color until 68%. This may not have bothered me if it wasn't such a big departure from her normal writing.
Pony Play- Pony Play is Amelie's specialty. She has a personal horse themed room at the club, complete with stalls. She also brushes Olly with horse grooming brushes. She buys and uses on him a horse tail vibrating anal plug that wags and everything. She calls him my "steed", "beast", and "stallion". Pony play is not my thing. It's not sexy to me. There is a lot of it. It's a theme in the book. I just found it repetitive and at times boring. It is just odd to me that in Ms. Ashley's first foray into BDSM, she chose such a specific sub-culture to focus on.
The mystery- There is a side mystery story line going on in the book. I felt like it was just thrown in unnecessarily to add extra drama, right at the end of the book, and then cleared up very quickly. I think there could have been more focus on the couple, especially with them doing normal couple-y things outside of the club, instead of an unnecessary mystery.
The romance- I did feel like Amelie and Olivier liked each other. I felt their connection. But they are not shown outside of the club very much. There is hardly any non-play time. They didn't go on any dates. They never went to each others' homes (although they did have a "play" weekend at Amelie's ranch). I just felt like they didn't show each other their real selves, flaws and all, what everyday life is like, etc. I didn't feel like ever really relaxed with each other. Even at the very end, they were so formal with each other. They have no real life experiences together. I wasn't at all assured they could mix the BDSM stuff with everyday life and have a HEA, because we aren't shown it.
The sexy times- I just did not find their scenes in the club or bedroom sexy or hot at all. Nothing about them turned me on. I read them all in detail with curiosity but they did nothing for me. but I did not find the amount of sexy times too much. I'm don't mind books with lots of sex, which this one has a lot of. So the quantity of sex was just fine, I just didn't enjoy the
quality of them.
I have read and enjoy Domme/sub books in the past. Some of them worked for me and some of them didn't. This one did not, unfortunately. I just could not connect to Amelie at all. I probably would not have bought a Domme book from any other author beside Kristen Ashley because it is not my favorite genre but I love her books so much that I never considered not reading it . I expected a KA style romance and KA style characters, just set in a BDSM club. Her Fantasyland and Three series books are still KA style romances, just set in a different world. But what I read was not a KA style romance. I would have never guessed that Kristen Ashley wrote this if I didn't know it. It is a totally different writing style- very flowery and wordy. The usual KA friendships, the characters, the descriptions, the romance, the sex- everything was different.
I can let a lot of things slide, even pony play, if there are characters I love and a great connection, but this book just didn't have that. It just felt like a kind of extreme BDSM book that could have been written by any other author. It is not poorly written, it just isn't the usual KA style readers know and love.
Maybe other readers will feel differently than me. I still love Kristen Ashley's books, in general, especially her older books. I will still always be a fan. I am glad she is trying new things and branching out. I fully support her right to do that. I just don't think her style of BDSM books are for me. I am glad I gave it try though and I encourage anyone who is curious to give it a try as well, especially if you like extreme BDSM books. Just be prepared for something totally new and different than the usual Kristen Ashley you know and love and be prepared to have your boundaries pushed.
Just a little note: