Hidden Currents by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is probably one of the toughest reviews I've ever written, because of the very sensitive subject relating to what Elle endures in this book. I write this review with all due respect to other friends who have read this book and had issues and serious objections to the depiction of rape and abuse that occurs. I also write a disclaimer that I am not qualified to say what a rape victim can go through and how soon she can recover to move onto a normal life. All I can do is say what I personally think of the book. I know that some will disagree, but we all see things differently, and that's okay.
I thought this book was a very intense and moving story. I went into reading it with a heavy stone in my gut, afraid that I couldn't handle the events that occurred. In my humble opinion, I thought Ms. Feehan wrote those events tastefully, and she showed just enough for you to realize what a terrible ordeal Elle went through. I really was expecting to see minute by minute, scene by scene descriptions of what this psychopath did to her. It wasn't written like that, thankfully. However, there are a couple of real time scenes that are hard to read. But I think they could have been much, much worse. I came through those pages with a feeling of strange relief. I did make it through and I didn't break down.
Now some readers question why Ms. Feehan felt she had to put Elle through this. Why does crap happen in life? I think we all ask ourselves that. Should a character in a romance novel be immune from the horrors of life that occur? I don't think so. Are there some horrors I can't bear reading about in a romance novel? Yes, indeed. For myself, I can read about a character who has been raped in a romance novel. It's a rough thing and a touchy subject. But if it is approached with sensitivity, I can deal with it. I have other subjects I don't want to touch with a ten foot pole. That doesn't mean that those who don't want to read about rape or abuse are wrong or right. It's just different comfort levels.
I don't know what Ms. Feehan was thinking when she plotted out this novel. What I suspect is that she wanted to show the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst events possible. I think she wanted to have her character go down to the pits of despair and realize that she could rise above it. Maybe she wanted to have Elle and Jackson be on completely equal footing. It is not said explicitly, but it's clear that Jackson was also raped when he was kept as a prisoner by enemies during his time in Special Forces. I have a feeling that she wanted us to see how Elle has to come to the realization and acceptance of her destiny as the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter, and all the burdens that come along with that. Maybe she wanted the bridge between Elle and her destined mate Jackson to be that much stronger for what they have suffered together, and the kinship that formed when Elle made contact mentally with Jackson when he was being held prisoner and tortured. And conversely, how he refused to give up and moved mountains to get her back and to help her recover. Frankly, I think she was very brave to write this. Considering the backlash she's gotten, she really took a chance with this story.
In all honesty, I didn't feel that the ugly events that occurred to Elle was a huge diversion from the original books. In my opinion, this is a series with fairly dark subject matter from the beginning. I think the events in this book were slightly, but only slightly harder to read then when Hannah was savaged by the crazy man with a knife. Sexual violence hits home much worse, but the cruelty and horror of being violently attacked is bad, period. I have read all but two of the Drake stories, and they were all somewhat grim in some aspects of the storyline. But, this grimness is contrasted to the power of the love and sisterhood of the Drake women, and the men they love.
Do I feel that Elle recovered pretty fast from her ordeal? Maybe. But, I have to take into consideration that she's not an average woman. She is a woman blessed with powerful gifts and surrounded by other women with incredible gifts of their own. I also think that the bond she forms with Jackson helps her to heal faster. Should she have been ready to plunge into a normal sex life? I can't really answer that question either. I forced myself not to think of this as a normal, real life situation, because this is a paranormal romance novel. The time line did seem very fast, I don't deny that. I'm not sure why Ms. Feehan decided to have this story occur over a matter of days. Those are questions I turned around in my mind. I do have to say that, given the fact that Jackson and Elle had a very intimate association on the mental and emotional level from the beginning, allowed me to accept that they would be able to pursue an intimate physical relationship perhaps faster than a woman who has been sexually assaulted might do in real life. Again, I can't say because I don't have a real life scenario to apply it to, and I won't make any judgments on any women (or men) who suffered this way.
The thing about fiction, especially romantic or feel-good fiction, is that horrible, and seemingly insurmountable events occur, and good prevails. Some may not like this lack of realism. Myself, I am a believer in good prevailing ultimately. So I like my fiction that way. Christine Feehan seems like the kind of writer who believes that good will always triumph in the end, and her stories reflect that philosophy. Maybe this was her way of showing that there is hope for those who have gone through horrible experiences like Elle and Jackson underwent.
I felt that the end was a little rushed. However, I liked the fact that we got to see all the unmarried sisters get hitched at the same time. That was really nice. I loved the closing scene, where she shows all the couples in their own private places, enjoying each other and their love for each other. That put a smile on my face and was a nice thing to read before I went to sleep last night. In fact, I thought that was the perfect close for the story.
I really loved the strong bonds of family in this series. The mates for each sister became a part of the Drake family and are like brothers to each other. When I read stories, one of the best parts for me is the interactions between the characters. I think that Ms. Feehan does an exceptional job of writing these types of scenes. I like how she shows how unique each sister and her mate is from each other, yet how the men make perfect pairs with the individual sisters, and also bring different gifts to the table. The men work together to solve the problem in a way that will resolve the issue with Elle's crazed stalker and keep Jackson out of jail for killing him. They show a lot of understanding of each other and the way they think. The men are all strong, dominant fellows, but they treat the women with respect, and show a very high regard for them. Cherish is good word for this.
Another aspect I loved was the humor. For this to have such dark subject matter, it was nice to enjoy some really funny moments in this book.
Animal lovers will enjoy this story. Jackson's dog acts a sentinel and protector for the physically, mentally, and emotionally fragile Elle. There are also great depictions of sea creatures like dolphins (Abbey's loyal friends), whales, and seals. This animal lover was very happy, anyway.
I loved the fact that Ms. Feehan left us fans of Ilya (and the fact that he is the seventh son of a seventh son) a clue that we might get to see his brothers and what life has in store for him. I am eagerly awaiting their stories.
As usual, the magic parts were interesting and at times, eerie. The Drake house never fails to creep me out. It's a protective, benevolent house, but it's just kind of scary to accept that it's alive. I'm really glad I'm not the seventh Drake sister, but then, Elle's pretty used to that house. The scenes with the sisters chanting and using their gifts together tend to send a shiver down my spine. I'm not sure why. It's pretty interesting for me as a reader (and I don't really care for witch stories, so that says a lot).
Although this novel is not perfect (is anything in life perfect?), the power and message of it really hit home with me. Despite the fact that I think some aspects were left undone or dealt with perhaps a bit abruptly (maybe another 50 pages could have helped), it kept my interest, and I was invested in the characters. I felt that Christine Feehan did a really good job telling the last Drake sister's story. It wasn't easy to read at times, and it wasn't pretty (the depths of cruelty that humans are capable of never fails to disturb me). But at the same time, it showed that inner strength, faith, and the love of family and one's mate can really help to move mountains. A person who is wounded in such a way does have a long journey to recovery. I don't think Elle is fully recovered emotionally, but we see that she has the mental and emotional fortitude, and the support to get there someday.
Well, you might ask how I got a five star rating for this book. I'll tell you. I gave this one five stars because of the way it resonated with me emotionally. When I rate a book, I don't rate it on technical merit alone (that is a part of it, but I'm not overly critical on books in this way because the best technical writer can leave a reader bored and dissatisfied if the heart is not engaged). I rate books on the ability to tell the story well, but also on how it affects me as a reader and gets me involved. For me, Hidden Currents was a winner for its depiction of triumph of the human spirit in adversity, the power of love to heal the deepest wounds, the strength of the bonds of family, friendship, and one's spouse or mate, and good, involving storytelling. I also have to give it to Christine Feehan for not being afraid to go to the dark places, but also showing that where there is dark, there is also light. So, five stars it is.
PS. I had a disturbing moment when I thought I lost my review before saving it. God is good! It was still there. (Wiping forehead). Phew!
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