**spoiler alert** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, YO.
I have waited six years to write this review. And in my mind, this was never the kind of review I**spoiler alert** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, YO.
I have waited six years to write this review. And in my mind, this was never the kind of review I imagined I'd post.
The thing is that Qhuinn and Blay were pretty much ready to be together many books ago. JRW just kept coming up with plot devices and excuses to keep them apart. And the same happened in this book. They could have gotten together right when Qhuinn begged Blay to have sex with him.
Instead, Blay lied through the whole book about Saxton. And Qhuinn settled for the easy way out. He had Blay without having to face his issues. It was anticlimactic, and honestly, JRW had a long book to pace things right. But she decided to hold them back with a million different excuses and then wrap it all up in 10 pages. The flow was all over the place. I wonder what her editors do, tbh.
They told each other some pretty awful things that never got solved later on, too. There were attacks and accusations, but not real talking and development. It all happened off page. We were told they were talking a lot now, but we didn’t get to read these conversations.
We all knew this would be a filler book, something easy to skip if you didn't want to read the "gay book". But honestly, romance aside, what else happened?
Also: "Back at the Mansion..." Really? Really? The amateurish bull in this book is unbearable. And the slang was out of control. I wonder if anyone working on this series still takes it seriously, tbh.
There were parallels between Qhuinn and Blay through the whole book. Qhuinn's own demon was Saxton. And Blay's was Layla. And they both had similar thoughts in similar situations about them. The first time they had sex, Blay thought of Layla. And Qhuinn thought of Saxton the second time.
I still think this is a bigger issue than it transpired in the book. And that it's coming back in future books, considering how they share house with these people.
I'm glad JRW decided to show us how the night of the Honor Guard had bigger consequences. They were two kids in a sudden grown-up situation and no one made sure they were okay afterwards. They kept it all inside and things were never going to work out for them if they didn't talk about it.
He said so himself: His relationship with Qhuinn has always been under Qhuinn's terms. Blay places Qhuinn before anyone else, included himself. He sacrificed his own feelings to help Layla’s pregnancy. It's not the first time he ignores what he wants to favor Qhuinn.
When has Qhuinn done this for him? JRW doesn’t seem to care about Blay. And that’s a terrible thing. The same way she tried so hard with Layla, I could tell she barely tried at all with Blay.
His development in this book barely scratched the surface. It felt flat and uninterested. His coming out to his parents was emotional but also cliché and an easy way out when everything was instantly acceptance and love. It lacked deep.
Blay lying through the whole book about he and Saxton still being together was a cheap plot device to help drag the inevitable. A clear example of how little JRW thinks of him.
Blay's character has always been defined by his sexual orientation. His plot line has always been about it and Qhuinn. He's never gotten anything else. His only other plot was Saxton, and still, that was just part of the "gay character" plot.
I've always seen something in Blay. Something that goes beyond his sexual orientation. I've seen him. His personality. The way he's strong, smart and compassionate. The way he places the people he cares about first. He sacrifices himself no matter the consequences. He's a fighter, but he's much more than that. He's genuine and kind. He's fierce and funny. And I'm pissed off he didn't receive what he deserves. Which is creating a family with his mate in his own fucking terms.
He's unselfish, he loves Qhuinn so much, I know he will accept Layla and love Qhuinn's baby. I know JRW is going to write him ultimately being a close parental figure to Qhuinn's daughter. And being happy.
JRW shoved a heteronormativity family crap down our throats and Blay's. The character defined by his own sexual orientation, the token gay character, he will always have to share his mate with a woman and a kid. Why? Because JRW wanted Blay "to be a daddy." And, let’s face it. She always placed Qhuinn first. After all, this is not Qhuay’s book, but Qhuinn’s, right?
I finally understood Qhuinn a little bit more. As a character he always felt incomplete and unstable, as if JRW was still working on him.
We find out he had suicidal tendencies back when he lived with his family. And Blay saved him in several occasions. I thought it was inexcusable to keep this fact for 6-7 books. It's too big of a deal to drop the boom like that and then never deal with it again.
At the end of the book, Blay says something about therapy with Mary. And for the love of the Scribe Virgin I hope this happens. Because Qhuinn needs professional help.
His issues run deeper than we can see. Even now, we can't fully see the scars because he's still discovering them himself. He hide from the world, from himself so much, we still don't know him fully. And I think that realization made me empathic toward him.
He realized he had lived a lie without even knowing it. He thought he had things under control, he thought he knew what he wanted, who he was, and then boom. His life is upside down. Forever changed. He finally saw it. All thanks to Blay. Again.
My concern? JRW had six books, Qhuinn’s book include, to develop this. And she chose to do so in the last twenty pages of LAL. She had a few great opportunities, life changing events where Qhuinn could have seen all this. There were many ways to develop this character right, but like anything else lately with this series: Badly Executed.
I can’t believe 20 pages before the ending of their book, Qhuinn was still saying he was not gay. What the actual fuck. He had admitted this to himself back in Lover Mine, ffs! Making Qhuinn realize he’s gay in two pages after “decades of lying to himself” is not the best way to develop such an important character’s trail. It also means JRW forgot her own plot, again.
Qhuinn's anchor is Blay. He needs Blay, he needs Blay's strength to be able to face his issues. He couldn't do it alone. I see why Qhuinn loves Blay. But I still can’t see why Blay feels the same way. And that’s a big flaw to the book.
I felt truly sorry for Saxton. He was only a classy and respectful gentleman to Blay and Qhuinn. He broke up with Blay and stepped back, disappearing to let things happen between them.
I know no one gives a crap about him. JRW included. But I think it's so unfair. He took care of Blay when Blay needed someone. He knew where he was getting himself into and even then, he was good to Blay. Always. He fell in love, that’s his only mistake. And now that he’s hurting, there is no one in that house to support him.
I guess I must be grateful he's not dead (yet!).
SAXTON AND QHUINN
I thought what Qhuinn did was fucked up. It was not romantic, nor a great gesture. He nearly killed his COUSIN. Even if Saxton had cheated on Blay, NOTHING justifies what Qhuinn did.
Yes, bonded males are possessive and all that bullcrap. I just don't find the bonded males thing hot, at all. That was violent and psycho. And it did not show how much Qhuinn loves Blay. Trust me, it didn't.
Qhuinn never apologized to Saxton for what he did, too. They didn’t have a proper talk in this book. And they are family. This really upsets me.
Nope. Still not liking her.
It's obvious through the whole book how hard JRW tried to make us like her. But the more she tries, the more I dislike her. All her ordeal with her miscarriage, and Harves… I just don’t care.
I hated the fact that she told Blay about Qhuinn being in love with him. And then, when she realized her mistake she did nothing about it. And later on, when she wanted a male to tell her if she smelled pregnant again, she went to Blay!!! She’s so incredible selfish, wow.
And no matter her epic Romeo and Juliet love with Xcor, I'll never believe Layla doesn't have feelings for Qhuinn. He was her first love. He took her virginity. And he's the father of her daughter. It's impossible she fully moved on. I find this a case of the "Because the Author says so." (BTASS from now on.)
To be honest, I'm just angry I had to include her at all in the review of QHUAY's book.
Apart from the ridiculous name, I'm glad he's finally back because that means more Qhuinn (and hopefully Blay) in the future. It was, however, very anticlimactic. He's not a lesser or an asshole. I guess being kept in Omega blood for years makes someone look at their life, look at their choices.
THE OTHER CHARACTERS
So, what did the rest of the mansion think of Qhuinn and Blay? I was rooting for a similar scene to the one in LRb, where Tohr and what-was-her-name-again were at First Meal, and everyone was like "omg new gossip yay". Everyone assumed Qhuinn was with Layla, and Blay was with Saxton! So where is the gossip? Where are the stares? The whispers? The funny scenes? Goddammit, I'm so disappointed.
I'm not even talking about what the Brothers think of a gay couple. Fuck that. They don't give a crap. And neither do I. That's not the question. They are just a bunch of old gossiping ladies!
Btw, where was JM in all this????? THE FUCK?
FEEDING WITH SELENA
I imagine people found this hot? Sure, there was no contact with her. They were both fixed in each other. It was never about her. But... er, it just made me uncomfortable when Qhuinn had an orgasm while still feeding from her wrist. I just don’t know why they couldn’t wait to start with the sex until she had left. It bothers me because this is an example of their future feedings and just… Nope.
I found the whole thing so gratuitous and cheapening for Qhuay. I felt I was reading an "insert yourself" scene. I can imagine the future "lucky Selena”, “wish I was her", etc comments. I feel like JRW used Qhuay to give certain readers what they wanted. I'm sure someone may even suggest they should have a trio at some point. And we'll go back to why not an OT3 HEA? I had enough of that crap for the rest of my life, tbfqh.
The baby clusterfuck still makes no sense in all this. Not even once did Qhuinn indicate he wanted kids in the series. When he talked about having a shellan, he was talking in terms of the far future. He's still young in vampire age. No one wants to be a daddy when they are 12, so to speak.
What hurts the most is reading him saying he wanted a family. Blay should have been his family. But Qhuinn picked a female and having a kid before Blay as his family. He didn't fight for Blay, he decided he wanted to pass his genes (one of his biggest issues, but who cares, right? BTASS) to a child because he always had wanted to be a daddy BTASS.
Gay couples are a family, too. Gay couples can have children. And not all couples (gay or straight) need to have children to be a family.
JRW wanted Qhuay to be daddies. And that's the only reason all this happened. Plot wise, it still makes no sense. And when it comes to the pregnancy none of the characters act IC or logically. Everything is a big BTASS.
Am I the only one who noticed how, when Qhuinn explained he wanted a kid, Blay did never question him why. WHY did Qhuinn want a baby? No one questioned this. Because the moment you do, you realize there is no reason. It's all a big JUST BECAUSE.
GAY SEX SCENES
WHY NOT LUBE?!?
I'm still not sure, but I guess they used their own sperm as lubricant? Which is still a big NO, btw. I just - Women have anuses, too. We know it hurts if you don't lubricate the area. And as far as I know, this is not Yaoi-land, where Ukes “get went” and have self-lubricating asses.
This is one of my greatest pet peeve when I read m/m.
In my understanding, JRW didn't want to get into too many details from the waist down. And it’s quite hard not to be too explicit when anal prep and lube are involved, I guess. But that’s such a letdown. I had to read some very detailed hetero sex in her books before. Sex I didn't care about. Naughty, dirty, detailed sex. And with Qhuay, she was so afraid of going too far, she even messed up the emotional factor.
Also, there are other things in this life besides penetration. That's such a heteronormativity point of view. Penis goes into vagina, yadda yadda yadda. A lot of gay men are not into anal penetration. It's still sex and it's still good sex without penetration. I just- gurl, if you don't want to write in the lube, then google some stuff. What about intercrural sex? Should I send JRW some links? What about the Non-Penetrative Sex page on Wikipedia?
They always had penetrative sex doggy style, too. (At least, I think so?? At some point I wasn't sure of their position, tbh. So much like a newbie fic writer.) This bugged me so much. There are other positions, okay? I missed a face-to-face full of emotions sex scene. Their sex was usually quick, without foreplay, emotions or much detail. Yes, Blay didn’t want intimacy because he was scared (plot device BTASS). But after their love confession, I was expecting a highly charted intimate sex scene.
What I found hot was their talk, especially Qhuinn's. Totally my type of dirty talking. But the gay sex was meh. I cried because AFTER SIX YEARS I WAS FINALLY READING A QHUAY SEX SCENE. But if you changed their names, the sex would have been pretty bad. Maybe it works for people who have never read M/M. I imagine some people will be outraged, even. I know that not all her readers are into M/M. But as an usual M/M reader, I have to say: Qhuay sex was so-so.
Especially compared to JRW's het sex scenes. I thought she was going to be so good at writing gay porn. After all, she's better at writing males. But she censured herself too much.
QHUINN BOTTOMED FOR BLAY.
I loved how Qhuinn felt well owned for the first time in his life. I loved that he considered he had lost his virginity. And how happy he was about giving it to Blay. But I was expecting him to tell Blay before, like he said he would. I’d have loved to see a more slow and detailed scene when Qhuinn bottomed. With more emotions involved.
I guess in general my biggest issue was the “surprise butt sex” penetration and the lack of an emotional connection between them while they were having sex.
Clearly this is a mainstream series aimed at a hetero market. So far, all we had were hetero couples. And it worked for them. But in the case of Blay and Qhuinn... There was no need to follow the same formula. None of them had to be "the girl" for their relationship to work.
In this verse, males do bond and are possessive. Females have control over males and get marked.
Qhuinn was possessive and marked Blay. Blay had control over him. Their roles fit in with male and female vampire roles. And that's just BS. We read Blay's bonding scent at the end. But we don't get an explanation of how it works now with two bonding scents. Or why Blay's bonding scent didn't show up first.
Blay never bit Qhuinn, either. And I really needed him to.
It just irritates me. The book tries to fight for equal rights. There are a lot of scenes where Blay wonders why he can't have what hetero couples take for granted. There is a coming out. There is a lot of talk of equality and love. And meanwhile, the gay couple follows heteronormativity roles.
It just makes me feel like JRW had good intentions but ultimately had no idea what she was doing.
Also, Qhuinn thinking of "turning Blay into a librarian, a hand model, hairdresser..." Are you fucking kidding me? Don't you see the problem in this statement?
THINGS I LIKED
• Blay giving Qhuinn his family ring. • Qhuinn. On his knees. Begging for it. • Blay saying he’s Qhuinn’s family and Qhuinn crying. • When they slow danced. • Blay playing with Qhuinn's PA piercing. • Qhuinn being a cuddler. • Qhuinn wanting to bottom for Blay. • “We are going to break the couch.” “What... Couch?” • Blay and his big boner at the gym. • Induction Ceremony. • V catching them and being fucking awesome about it. • The airplane plot. • Blay coming out to his parents. • “Always. Because family is an always kind of thing.” • Phury and Rehv bonding over the Tom Ford tuxedo. • “Are you kicking me out of the house?” “No, you idiot.” • Luchas apologizing to Qhuinn. • Qhuinn in a tuxedo. • “At the end of the night, will you come to me again?” “Yes, I will.” • Qhuinn teaching Havers a lesson. • Saxton being a classy slut. Wreck it, gurl. • “I still want to fuck you.” • Blay taking Qhuinn to visit his parents.
So, was that a proposal or a proposal and a mating ritual? And if there was a mating, why didn't we read it? After all, it's a gay mating ritual. We have never read one before. We knew how an induction ceremony worked and yet we read another one. (I’m not complaining, though. I loved the Induction Ceremony). We have read several mating ceremonies. But the first gay one was not included?
If it was a matter of space, Qhuay's mating ceremony should have had priority. It should have mattered more. If you want a book all about equality and such, show me a gay wedding. Stop chickening out midway. Make your gay men use lube and write their goddamn wedding!
I expect more Qhuay in future books without having to get more Layla by default. I refuse to value Qhuay having to include Layla and the baby. I'm not letting her ruin my OTP. I'm going to hold onto the moment Blay gave Qhuinn his family ring. To the moment when they slow danced together. To the moment when Blay said he was Qhuinn's family and Qhuinn cried. Because that's the core of the story, that's what all this was supposed to be about. Because Blay is Qhuinn's family.
Qhuay will always be my OTP. Because even with all the pregnancy crap and the many unresolved issues, when they are together, it's beautiful. It's like witnessing magic. And somehow it makes everything worth it.