Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > A Caress of Twilight

A Caress of Twilight by Laurell K. Hamilton
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's review
Jul 18, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: urban-fantasy, audiobook, erotica, hello-my-name-is-mary-sue, editor-wanted, abs
Read from July 18 to 22, 2012

"Quit drawing out the story"

Merry Gentry is Princess of the Unseelie Court and co-heir to the throne--if she can get pregnant. Which she and her harem of interchangeable men are trying very hard to accomplish.

One fine day at the Detective Agency that Merry works (despite being royalty that attracts paparazzi easier than a bald Britney Spears), a man enters. After lots of hemming and hawing--a standard LKH practice to pad out the story and make her MC look supa amazing--Merry finds out the guy is representing Maeve Reeds, a Faerie super star who was banished from the courts 100 years ago.

One chapter is dedicated to Merry and her men driving to Maeve's house. (I would have thought that by going to her house, they had already decided to talk to her, but what do I know.)

Two chapters are dedicated to Merry and her men arguing with Maeve's bodyguards to be let in.

One chapter is dedicated to Merry and her men entering the house, meeting Maeve, who runs off to the backyard.

Another couple of chapters pass before Merry finally nails Maeve to the floor (figuratively), and they FINALLY talk about the whole point of Maeve's request. What is this request? Maeve wants children; problem is, her husband is dying. Also, Maeve believes the Seelie infertility is due to King Taranis' own infertility.

"It was dark by the time we arrived back to my apartment." Well, after how long it took to freakin' get INTO THE HOUSE and how much time you wasted tip-toeing around Maeve, I'm somehow not surprised. Actually, no, I am surprised: how did you get home IN THE SAME DAY?

Most of the actual solution to the mystery involves Merry turning to one of her guards and asking questions. Some of the questions include:

"What does that mean?"

"Are you saying...?"




I think Merry really should switch fields. She'd make a good investigative reporter.

But the job with Maeve takes a backseat. Merry and Doyle finally get their freak on--and fade-to-black. Yes, in a supposed erotica book, we get a fade-to-black between two of the characters. Lemme tell you, I wasn't happy. In fact, I was so surprised/shocked/horrified, that I checked with a print copy to make sure I hadn't somehow gotten a hold of an abridged audiobook.

In between lots and lots of flirtation, talking about her love with all her men, Merry has a few other things on her mind: repairing Galan's junk, having sex with a butterfly-like man, Sage (at least, I pictured him as a butterfly), arguing with her mother (whom she hates, of course), arguing with Nicoden, arguing with Rosmerta, arguing with a guy named Hedwig, arguing with King Taranis...actually, if there is someone Merry can argue with in this book, she does it.

FINALLY, after what seems like forever, Merry does end up doing something about Maeve's infertility (which produces the most AMAZING quote EVAH: "More sex. We must have more sex"). And she and her Deus Ex Machina bodyguards find the solution to a bunch of murders that abruptly appear halfway through the novel. Oh, and Merry and her men level up.

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Gratuitous cute cat image.

I'm really disappointed in this book for quite a few reasons:

1) For an erotica book, there is a severe lack of sex. There are maybe three sex scenes in this book--maybe. One sex scene is fade-to-black. Even Auel's "Plains of Passage", a historical fiction novel, had more sex than this book.

2) The sex scenes aren't sexy. If reading/hearing "spilling power" makes you all tingly, these are your books; otherwise, they are going to have you bored.

3) There is a ton of time wasting. It's like LKH knew she didn't have much of a story and included her characters arguing a lot to make up for the lack of pages. One of the more ridiculous cases is the beginning. The beginning interview with Maeve takes up a good half dozen chapters, which amounts to a couple of hours listening time. If there had been actual content to back up this usage, then maybe I wouldn't complain. But when Merry argues with her boys for a chapter over what they are going to do now that they are at Maeve's house, I can't see it as anything more than shameless padding.

4) The murders don't occur until about halfway through the book. How can you solve a mystery in half a book? And not make the solution sound cheap?

5) Merry's men know everything. Merry figures out who the murderer is by asking one of her men, who conveniently knows about the Elder Man. This is a guardsman she is talking to; not that he wouldn't know, but half the fun with the mystery is INVESTIGATING, not having solutions fall into the character's lap.

6) Merry comes off as an idiot. Merry will waste time by asking for clarification on the smallest things. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed; I've been called "gullible" and "dense" before. And yet *I* could figure out what was being said easier than Merry.

7) Political machinations r coolz. Well, they would be if they weren't intertwined with the 1 billion needless conversations that pad out this book.

8) Interchangeable men. There is little distinction between the men. Not that I exactly blame LKH: when you have 6 men, it's pretty hard to make each one a different unique character. So most of them are identifiable (if that) by one trait:
Galen -> Green eunuch *snipsnip*
Doyle -> Queen's "Darkness"
Frost -> Eyepatch
Nicca -> Long hair????
Kitto -> Small, childish, creepy goblin
Rhys -> Uhhhhhh...


There are a few things that make this feel less like a sexy, erotica novel and more like the wet dreams of a 13 year old girl. The super long hair of the men. How every one is ripped and has a perfect body. Instead of reading this and being turned on, I feel like I'm walking in on...something...that...well...I think you get my point.

10) Show not Tell. Hand in hand with pretty much every point on this list is the "Show not tell" rule. In fact, if LKH had employed "Show not tell" more, I'll bet I wouldn't have 75% of the complaints. Because you can cut down on conversations, characters knowing things conveniently, etc. if you have your character DOING something, instead of sitting around talking about it.

11. Clothes porn. As with the Anita Blake series, the story stops to update the reader on what everyone is wearing. Apparently, this also includes hair and makeup now, because, in the beginning, we get a long explanation of what sort of makeup Merry is wearing :P

And because that has been a lot of negativity, let me tell you some things I DID like:

1) Merry is a much more likable character than Anita. She is still painfully similar to AB, but there were some significant differences. Merry isn't ashamed of sex; in fact, she enjoys it. She comes off commanding and powerful instead of b!tchy and belligerent. And I feel she has more respect for her clients and people around her, which in turn makes me respect her more.

2) Faerie. While the political machinations were tedious this time around, I am still impressed with how unique and varied they are. And I think, for the most part, they seem to be consistent and make sense.

While I am hugely disappointed in this particular entry, I am not abandoning Merry. She's a pretty decent character and the land of Faerie is pretty interesting. And I need to read that tentacle sex scene!
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Quotes Crystal Starr Light Liked

Laurell K. Hamilton
“Quit drawing out the story”
Laurell K. Hamilton, A Caress of Twilight

Laurell K. Hamilton
“More sex. We must have more sex.”
Laurell K. Hamilton, A Caress of Twilight

Reading Progress

1.0% "I had full intentions to start PG's "The Constant Princess"...and then I finished Benioff's "City of Thieves" way earlier than I expected and had no time to get the audiobook onto my iPod. Because it was a toss up between Merry and Anita, I chose life and picked Merry. ;)"
2.0% "OMG, LKH isn't happen enough with detailing everyone's clothes, she's now giving the 411 on Merry's makeup!! I can't wait to see what mascara the guys are using..."
3.0% ""If you don't breed, you don't get to marry." There is something soooo wrong about this mentality..." 2 comments
11.0% "What has happened so far: Merry's boyfriends are fighting with each other. Seriously, that's it."
13.0% "OMG!! Merry and gang spend an ENTIRE chapter, 15 min or so, fussing about what to do now that their van is parked outside Maeve's house and how much Merry loves so-and-so. GOOD GOD!! I would have thought, if you parked your van outside someone's home, you'd at least have an idea why the f@#$ you were there!!"
15.0% "And an entire chapter of Anita arguing with Ms. Reed's guards to let her in to talk to her. 1) Does EVERY LKH novel have to have this grandstanding and arguing? 2) Why didn't Ms. Reed let her guards know someone was coming? 3) There are other ways to drag out a story besides having characters argue or talk about their love lives. Just sayin'."
17.0% "This is the third chapter since Merry and boys headed out to talk to Ms. Reed and we STILL haven't met her. THIRD CHAPTER. And we are still arguing with the staff guards. Can we skip to the tentacle sex? :)"
22.0% "Four chapters. At least we finally met Ms. Reed--though what the hell we learned, I have no clue."
27.0% "We are still talking to Ms. Reed. And I am still clueless about what is going on. Gotta say, LKH knows how to drag out a story :P"
31.0% ""It was dark by the time we arrived back to my apartment." No sh!t, if it took me THAT long to decide to go up to the house, get past the guards, and then finally talk to Ms. Reed about the problem she hired me for, I wouldn't have been surprised if I didn't get home until the next morning!!"
36.0% "Okay, so hoping for more action today, even if only in the bedroom."
40.0% "Time for some bow-chicka-wow-wow!! FINALLY!! (Yes, I have no shame, I am reading these for the sex!)"
41.0% "Wait just a goddamn minute...where's the sex scene? Did I somehow get an abridged version where all the sex scenes got edited out?! *is furious*"
44.0% "I am so confused. A chapter less than 3 minutes long, Merry and Doyle bump uglies offscreen, and yet, the audiobook I have is the length of the unabridged (11 hours). So I have no idea what is going on here. There is more talking about sex and sexual organs than actual sex in this erotica. :("
46.0% "A corpse. And Merry arguing with her bodyguard/lovers over their behavior at a crime scene."
49.0% "And the lieutenant in charge is pissy to Merry. Though given how he was affected by Branwyn's Tears in the last book, I think he has something of a right to not want to touch Merry."
63.0% "And Merry argues Faerie politics with some guy called Hedwig. You know, there are other ways to info dump politics into your story without having your characters argue it. Just sayin'."
67.0% "Checked this with a print version--and apparently, I did not miss an explicit scene between Merry and Doyle. There has been so little actual sex (plenty of talking though!!) in this book, I'm surprised it is called "erotica"!"
68.0% "OMG, is this a SEX SCENE?! With a...butterfly? Oh, hell, the weirder the better!!"
70.0% ""Quit drawing out the story" This could be used to describe most of LKH's novels."
75.0% "I think I am beginning to see the problem, particularly in these later LKH books. A lot of the plot moves on conversations; the mystery is solved when Merry talks to one of her guards who conveniently knows more than she does about "X". And Merry acts as a reader insert by knowing virtually nothing and constantly asking, "What does that mean?" None of those make for particularly compelling reading."
77.0% ""I was too short, too human shaped, and my hair--dear Goddess, my hair--was blood auburn, a color that was found only in the Unseelie court." Yup, HIDEOUS. (of course, we are talking about Faerie so some differences are allowed)"
82.0% "Most people will ask if they can smoke in your home, or if they don't, they will stop if you tell them not to smoke in your house. A couple of exchanges. End of conversation. In Merry's world, people will argue about this for several minutes until Merry has to put her foot down and MAYBE the other person will shut up. This is a problem in most of LKH's books."
85.0% ""More sex. We must have more sex." This begs the question: how human is Merry? If she is like most human women, it's not necessarily more sex, but sex at the right time of the month. (In reality, this is a cheap ploy to excuse lots of sex in this book...NOT THAT I MIND!! I agree, there has been nowhere near enough sex and WAAAAY too much arguing.)"
89.0% "I can't believe we're still having a conversation about Merry attending King Taranis' Yule Ball/feast. There are so many needless conversations in this book--I can't think of really anyTHING that has happened :P"
93.0% "A convenient way to explain the murders--and the outcome isn't that surprising (Yes, Merry's men were correct in the immortal undead ghost thingie). Although, I'll say in this book's defense, Merry was never hired to investigate the murders."
96.0% "Nothing like a good, long argument while someone's life is on the line :)"
11/30/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Renee The first couple actually are not "erotica" books. It's like Antia, the TONS O SEX starts a few books in, don't gets there. :)

Crystal Starr Light AHHHHH!! That is my problem! I kinda thought the entire Merry series was erotica, so especially with this book, I was like, "Where is all the sex?!"

message 3: by Sai (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sai You just perfectly described every thing I liked and did not like about this book. I spent a good deal of time trying to sum up my feelings about this book to write a review and you did it, seemingly effortlessly. & I agree with you 100%, where is the tentacles?!

Crystal Starr Light Thank you for your kind words!! I was pretty disappointed with this one overall; if I get the inclination, I want to see if I get my tentacle sex scene in book 3!! I've waited long enough!

Spider the Doof Warrior Colour coding clothes too... and the incorrect use of the word SPILL. GAH

Crystal Starr Light LOL, yes!! Spill is a word you can use for ANYTHING!

I spilled up my coffee from Peet's this morning before I spilled into the office.

The car spilled into the parking spot.

The tree spilled from the ground and stood over 50 feet tall.

Spider the Doof Warrior HA! If one drank every time she used the word "spill" in a way other than spilling a liquid they'd spill over drunk and possibly dead too.

Stephanie Rodriguez Great Plains of Passage reference, I loved that series.

Mysgydid I agree with everything in this with one exception in your review....
Galen -> Greenman
Doyle -> Darkness
Frost -> Silver tinsel hair
Nicca-> brown with butterfly wing tattoos
Kitto -> Tiny almost man/creepy snake goblin
Rhys -> eyepatch

Otherwise, spot on. =)

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