mlady_rebecca's Reviews > Kiss the Dead

Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton
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I read an ARC of "Kiss the Dead" in order to review it for the book blog Fiction Vixen. Here's my review. I've been told it should be up on the website on Monday, June 4th.

(Note: I initially read the book on April 22. This review was finished by May 7th, just after I finished my first re-read.)


"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention."

-- Sir Francis Bacon
English author, courtier, and philosopher (1561 - 1626)

I ran across this quote the other day. For me Laurell K. Hamilton's "Anita Blake" series is one to be chewed and digested. That and the fact that we're twenty-one books in makes it hard to write an impartial spoiler free review, but I've tried my best.



"Kiss the Dead" is the 21st book in the "Anita Blake" series by Laurell K. Hamilton. In a genre where most series find a natural ending around 12 books, if not earlier, 21 is quite a feat. For those unfamiliar with the series, know that this is one of those series where you definitely want to read the books in the order they were published. The first book is "Guilty Pleasures".

Around the time "Incubus Dreams" (book 12) came out, I noticed that the overall story shifted direction about every three books. If you treat the novellas ("Micah" and "Flirt") as "extras", we're now entering the 7th "trilogy" in the series. (See the reading order below.)

1. Guilty Pleasures
2. Laughing Corpse
3. Circus of the Damned

4. Lunatic Cafe
5. Bloody Bones
6. Killing Dance

7. Burnt Offerings
8. Blue Moon
9. Obsidian Butterfly

10. Narcissus in Chains
11. Cerulean Sins
12. Incubus Dreams

13. Micah (a novella)
14. Danse Macabre
15. The Harlequin
16. Blood Noir

17. Skin Trade
18. Flirt (a novella)
19. Bullet
20. Hit List

21. Kiss the Dead

(By the way, if you're not up to date with the series, stop reading now. *g*)

As "Kiss the Dead" opens, Anita is back in the middle of a case with RPIT and the local SWAT team. It feels to me like it's been quite a few books since we've had a meaty case at home in St. Louis. I want to say since they went after Vittorio and crew in "Incubus Dreams". Of the eight books between "Incubus Dreams" and "Kiss the Dead", four were out of town, and I believe the other four were all vampire/furry politics. So it really has been some time since we've seen Anita playing Federal Marshall on her own turf.

The first half of the book is all vampire hunting with RPIT. Zerbrowski and Anita are now basically working as partners. Dolph is back and has worked out most of his issues with Anita. We also meet the newest vampire executioner, U.S. Marshal Arlen Brice. I really like Brice. If he stays around long term, I think he'll be a nice addition to the overall cast. (FYI: Brice is the only new character that shows any signs of sticking around.)

Plot wise, RPIT is looking for a group of vampires who kidnapped a child and are planning to turn her. The vampires they find are a hodgepodge of young vampires (under 50 years dead), most of whom were turned when they were physically too young or too old. The other thing that stands out about the vampires is that they're not tied to a master, and they're not in any way connected to the Church of Eternal Life.

On the more personal side of things, it's been a year since the tigers came to St. Louis in "Bullet". Crispen, Domino, Jade, and the gold tigers (Envy, Devil, Pride, and Wrath) are all still living in the Circus. Cynric has moved back home with Anita, Nathaniel, and Micah.

Cynric and Nathaniel have bonded like brothers and, aside from his innocence, Cynric is starting to hit Anita's radar the way Nathaniel once did. (My impression, not something spelled out in the text.) If I had to guess, I'd say Cynric will stay around, if only for Nathaniel's sake.

For those who like statistics, the only "main" characters which were not on stage were the werewolves. While Richard doesn't usually hang around the Circus, it felt odd not to even see Jason in passing. (I adore Jason.)

As to sexual content, there were three sex scenes in the book. Of the three, one disturbed me a bit. Not the physical sex, but the emotional connection. I thought this was one of the men only there to feed the ardeur, someone Anita tolerated, but didn't particularly like. Well, suddenly he's being mentioned among the list of men Anita loves. I feel like I missed something. Of all the newer men, this is the last person I would have thought Anita would have bonded with.

My biggest wish list for future books is to see some of the recently added werecats sent on their way, including the man I was just discussing. I enjoy Anita's unconventional love life, but there are just too many men hovering in the wings. I just hope the one man who showed signs of leaving isn't one who stays gone.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The writing style of this series is among the most immersive I've come across. I always enjoy getting lost in an Anita Blake book. I was particularly happy that we were back in St. Louis. Unless at least one of the major cast members comes along, I never really enjoy the out-of-town books as much. It was a pleasure to get some quality time with both Anita's RPIT family and her vampire/lycanthrope family.

My favorite quote:

(Part of a conversation between Anita and Jean-Claude.)

"Americans, living and undead, are an odd lot. They value their ideal of freedom beyond anything the rest of us would dream of."

"We're a young country," I said.

"Yes, in another day and age, America would be in their expansive, empire-building stage, but you came of age too late. The world leaders, and military, would never allow such conquest now."

"It would be nice to start keeping some of the land and resources that our soldiers are dying for," I said.

"Ma petite, are you a secret imperialist?"

"Just tired of watching our guys and girls die on the news, and have nothing to show for it except body bags."

"You have the freedom and gratitude of the people you are helping," he said, voice very mild.

I laughed. "Yeah, they're so grateful they keep trying to blow us up."

"It is an odd moment in history that America comes of age, that I will agree."
(pg 61)

Rating: B (or 4 stars out of 5)
Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton
June 5, 2012 by Berkley Hardcover
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Got a copy of the actual published book. The cover is prettier than some of the recent covers. I like the text in the background, and I like the blue that dominates the color scheme.

Unfortunately, the single page error I passed onto Laurell (on April 22nd) wasn't corrected. On page 158 (of the hardcover) Vivian is referred to as Vanessa twice.
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Comments (showing 1-33 of 33) (33 new)

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message 1: by mlady_rebecca (last edited Apr 22, 2012 06:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

mlady_rebecca Hmmm, it amazes me the sheer number of "reviews" for this. It's like a thread discussing the books in general, and who is (or is not) looking forward to the book. And the first "review", a "no way will I read this", already has 40+ likes. That's sad.

Apparently no one has reviewed the ARC yet.

Got a response from Laurell. I sent her a tweet mentioning Vivian was mistakenly being called Vanessa. Her response was "Where did you get an ARC?" Hard to tell the tone online, but it sounded accusatory. So much for trying to help point out an easily correctable mistake. My point about tribes stands.

(Editing to add: a "thank you" would have been nice.)

Finished the book. Not sure how to write a review yet. My private info dump was much too spoilery. I've always said, it's harder to review something you care about. And I still care about this series.

Hmmm, reminds me of Bethenny Frankel. The part of marriage after the honeymoon bliss has worn off.

message 2: by Suz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suz I'm jealous.

message 3: by Lucy (last edited May 01, 2012 04:41PM) (new)

Lucy It's now 53 for the record.

message 4: by Suz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suz I just got cursed at by someone who actually wrote an animated gif review to say they would not be reading the series. And when I said "why put so much energy into not reviewing something you intend to ignore" her response was that I should go fuck myself and she closed comments to me so that I couldn't respond.

Hysterical! Seriously. Who are these little girls and didn't their mothers teach them any manners at all?

Amazing. Anyway, I'd love to read this and am looking forward to your review.

mlady_rebecca Sorry I didn't respond sooner. Looks like I forgot to follow my own book discussion.

I can understand some level of constructive criticism after investing in a 20 book series, but negatively pre-reviewing a book you refuse to read is a bit much for me.

I found this quote the other day:

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention." -- Sir Francis Bacon

I think part of the reason Laurell's books get such strong (positive or negative) reactions is that most of us learned to not only chew and digest the books, but devour them. I don't read any other urban fantasy series this deeply.

With Anita Blake, I learned to step into the story and be Anita. We meshed well for a lot of the books. So when her decisions started to conflict with mine, it rubbed me a bit wrong. When there were continuity issues with the books it rubbed me wrong.

I don't identify with Anita like I once did. I don't enjoy the stories as much as I once did. But I realize I judge them on a higher standard compared to other urban fantasy books, because I invested so much in them in the past.

If I just read the books, rather than chewed and digested them, I think I'd still be enjoying the series at near the same level. But I've delved so deeply into the books, I find myself nitpicking a lot more.

"Hit List" is really the first book I dropped my rating on, but from "Skin Trade" on, I've enjoyed the books quite a bit less. They don't stick in the mind as much anymore, and there seem to be more continuity errors. Not to mention way too many men. *g*

"Narcissus in Chains" is still my personal favorite. So I like a little crazy in her sex life, just not this much.

message 6: by Suz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suz Narcissus in Chains is still my favorite, too. You've hit on a lot of things that are certainly worth considering when it comes to the extremes in reviews. I am in agreement with you regarding negatively pre-viewing a book you don't even intend to read. But then I curl my lip when people put 5 star ratings for books that haven't been written yet, too.

It has seemed to me like there was a thread of inability to process disappointment in the negative reviews. As if folks have really taken the departures from what they knew and loves personally. I suppose I can relate to that as I wasn't that thrilled with the last installment and the folks who generally sing the "hate all the men" song were then singing the "back to the roots and lovin' it" song. I thought it was boring.

I, too, devour them. It's also fair to say that I was ready for less new cats and more new story. There are some things I'd love to see in the story, but as ever we must wait to see how the muse moves LKH. :)

mlady_rebecca I don't understand the "back to the roots" type comments. What do they want to go back to?

The more black and white idea that all the vampires are evil?

A concentration on Federal Marshall cases? Edward centric books?

Little to no mention of Anita's love life? Or maybe Anita isn't allowed to have a love life at all; maybe they want Sigmund back as the only man in her bed?

At one point along the line there might have been just two distinct camps as to where people wanted to see the series go, but I think it's fractured into as many "camps" as there are readers and former readers who are still paying attention to the books.

message 8: by Suz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suz mlady_rebecca wrote: "I don't understand the "back to the roots" type comments. What do they want to go back to? ..."

It's always the "crime solving, ass kicking, no-sex having Anita" or so it seems to me. "The early books." I have to be honest, that Anita was not may favorite Anita. I found her emotionally unavailable, more than a little sociopathic, bigoted, frigid - I could go on. Moreover, most police procedurals bore me to tears. It's like watching CSI every night of the week (I stopped watching TV a very long time ago because it's all the same to me). As you might imagine, the early Anita didn't hold a lot of allure for me.

In fact, I had to open Guilty Pleasures a couple of times and really push myself into it to get carried away by the story. I actually enjoy hand guns, but there are only so many descriptions of hand guns and holsters I want to read.

mlady_rebecca I started the series with "Obsidian Butterfly", then went back and marathon read the first eight books. By that time, "Narcissus in Chains" was already out. So the first time I paused in reading, it was after "Narcissus in Chains".

So "early Anita" was always a stepping stone for me. I enjoyed going on the journey with her. Seeing her worldview go from black and white to shades of grey. Seeing her realize that humans can be monsters, and vampires and lycanthropes can be human.

It was never about the individual RPIT or Animators Inc cases for me. It was the greater journey.

The biggest similarity I had with early Anita was a skewed work/life balance. Too much work. Living alone. Only a few close friends. All I was missing was my own Sigmund. Oh, and being a female in a male dominated field. In my case, engineering.

So it was a thrill to see her find not just one, but several men who adored her for exactly who she was. I like that she made all the core men work for her affection. Jean-Claude who made her feel safe. Jason who made her examine her own life. Nathaniel who brought out the nurturer in her. (Those being my favorite of the men.)

Now that I think that through, that's part of what the recent books have been missing. She doesn't feel like she's growing any more. She feels static. Most of the recent men are bed partners, not people she wants to share part of her soul with.

And the feelings of work burn out are resurfacing. But, hey, with all the men she now juggles, her love life adds stress, rather than relieves it.

I guess you can't build continuously. For the series to last, there has to be ebb and flow. But I feel like I've been in "Guilty Pleasures" era Anita's shoes. I envy "Narcissus in Chains" era Anita the new life she was discovering. I don't want to step into Anita's shoes post-"Blood Noir". It's all too much.

Wow, that was a bit of a tangent. *g*

message 10: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Penguin didn't send out ARCs, did they? I just received a hardcover in the mail yesterday for review.

mlady_rebecca John wrote: "Penguin didn't send out ARCs, did they? I just received a hardcover in the mail yesterday for review."

I have an ARC. Yellow cover - Uncorrected Proof for Limited Distribution. Maybe they wanted more reviews than they had ARCs on hand.

On page 158, did they get a chance to correct the Vanessa/Vivian problem? I sent Laurell a twitter message about it, but she never said if there was time to make the correction before the print run.

In case you've forgotten, Stephen was dating Vivian. Twice in dialog (on the same page) Vivian was referred to as Vanessa.

message 12: by Roshio (new)

Roshio The quote you have in the review with JC and Anita honestly strikes me as uncomfortable. LKH seems to be sending a message that as long as you are getting land and resources, you can excuse wars. it's a bit of a nauseating message to be honest. And what "land" and "resources" does she even mean?

mlady_rebecca I'm not sure if you've read the book yet, or not, but that's the entirety of their tangent. Before and after they were discussing the vampires who wanted freedom from being blood oathed to a master vampire.

I can only guess what Laurell meant, but I interpreted it as frustration that we keep sending soldiers off to die in the Middle East, and yet nothing seems to change. All of the atrocities that occur in that region. And not just in the hands of extremists, but common everyday attitudes towards women and gays. Worse yet, they'll still kill you for thought crimes. How Orwellian.

In the age of empire building, winning a war would mean defeating an enemy and starting to mold them in your image. In this day and age, it seems like we are picking off the head bully again and again, but leaving the environment in place that creates the bullies.

I don't think she literally meant seizing land, but that's just my interpretation.

message 14: by Roshio (new)

Roshio sorry for turning your review into politics, its just when i see a justification for wars it sends my antenna whirling. I suppose I think until everyone in the US has equal rights it is entirely unfair and unjust to think you can change another country. Look and see on the news there are people still fighting to get married and we think we can call other people unjust? Rather focus perhaps on making your own country better and not spend trillions of millions of money of soldiers. And also true there are atrocities in the Middle East but many there would also claim their lives have been only worse off since the war.

its saddens me i suppose that's why I commented. also no i haven't read the book so i'll take your explanation as you would have a better idea of where she was coming from.

mlady_rebecca It is a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black. I fully admit that. I just read something comparing the U.S. Ultra Conservatives' views with the Taliban's views. It's scary how similar they are. I guess if we didn't have Liberals moderating them, the U.S. would be a very different country. A throw back to the 1950's, at least.

But in the end liberal America is trying to get gay marriage legalized, and fighting attempts to overturn or undermine Roe vs Wade (abortion rights). In the Middle East they're strapping on suicide bombs, and sending planes to crash into the twin towers. We're not quite as virulently violent.

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm liberal and I live in a dominantly liberal state. We just had gay marriage signed into law. I like to think we represent the better side of the U.S. Please excuse our less evolved cousins. *g*

A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol) Picked up the book yesterday at B&N and the Vivian/Vanessa thing was not fixed. So irritating! And another that really pissed me off was the whole Bride issue with Belle Morte. In all the books before this one, Belle did NOT have brides. That was not part of her line. It was...whose line was it? The Traveller's, maybe? Anyway, it wasn't Belle's.

mlady_rebecca Carol ~ I'm A Voracious Reader wrote: "And another that really pissed me off was the whole Bride issue with Belle Morte. In all the books before this one, Belle did NOT have brides. That was not part of her line. It was...whose line was it? The Traveller's, maybe? Anyway, it wasn't Belle's."

I missed that one. I guess I never paid much attention to the brides. I remember Belle draining humans completely -- that's when Jean-Claude and Asher first thought about leaving Belle (specifically, the human tied to the bedpost while the three of them were having an orgy) -- but now that you mention it, I don't recall brides coming up until "Flirt".

It annoyed me how much Nicky suddenly meant to Anita in this book. Wait, this is the psychopath, right? You think you love him? God, that's almost as bad as loving Olaf. Creepy as hell. I was actually okay with the idea of Nicky dying. There must have been some serious "between the books" bonding going on there, because I never got the impression before this book that Anita did more than tolerate Nicky.

Danced around that in the review, as I was trying to stay mostly spoiler free.

message 18: by A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol) (last edited Jun 07, 2012 07:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol) Belle drained humans for sex and power, but they weren't Brides. The inconsistencies from book to book are so annoying. And I'm getting very tired of so much stuff happening off page and then being a throwaway line or two mentioned in an aside. Plus, we have more dangling plotlines than Anita's boitois have dangling delicate bits. Also annoying! It's getting to the point I'm actually thinking of writing my own fanfic just to make the Anitaverse a tidier place. Really, I couldn't do any worse.

mlady_rebecca The scary part is she just got a continuity editor for this book. Apparently that editor isn't up to snuff. Up to maybe "Blood Noir", I would have made an excellent continuity editor. I don't know the more recent books that well.

I agree about the "off the page" events, and the bigger time gaps between books are making it worse. We've had two big time gaps recently, and the only one before that was prior to "Obsidian Butterfly", when Anita was avoiding Jean-Claude and Richard. For that matter, having too many out of town books is also making things worse.

As for specific off the page events:

I was so excited when Anita agreed to dominate Nathaniel in "The Harlequin". The next thing we get? Nathaniel and Jason dominating Anita in the beginning of "Blood Noir". Ummm, what happened to Nathaniel being the submissive? We never did see that. Or even Asher teaching them. That I would have loved to see.

And "Blood Noir" had so many delicious possibilities that never came to fruition. All we got in "Skin Trade" was a throw away that they were living at the Circus and Jason trying to flirt with Anita to get her to stay. I wanted to see the dynamic of them all at the Circus, and the guys pretending to be Jean-Claude's lovers.

By the time we got to "Bullet" we had too many other characters on stage to appreciate Anita finally giving in on the m/m issue. Not to mention Richard jumping into the middle of the Jean-Claude/Asher dynamic. And now with "Kiss the Dead", they've given up that subterfuge, and Anita has moved home.

I loved seeing how much closer Anita, Nathaniel, and Micah were in this book, but most of the other relationship changes needed more explanation. Why couldn't we see Nathaniel and Cynric becoming like brothers. That would have been sweet. Presumably because Laurell needed to age Cynric before showing anything else on screen. Although, all they did in this book was kiss and argue.

And I would have loved to see more of Asher and Devil before Asher's latest little hissy fit. Or even see how Jean-Claude and Asher were together now that Anita was okay with them being lovers.

It used to feel like we got to see all the firsts. Now it's like, everything is old hat. And not just the relationship stuff. Things don't move Anita like they once did - scare her, amaze her, fascinate her, .... Early in the series I adored the way Jean-Claude was such a dangerous attraction.

*thinks* Has she come full circle? The Anita in "Guilty Pleasures" acted like she had seen it all and done it all. Then she goes on this grand adventure, learns to see the vampires and lycanthropes as individuals, finds love and acceptance. Now she's feeling cynical and back to seen it all, done it all. I hope not. Unless a shake up is in the works. Part of the joy of the bulk of the series was seeing her loose that jaded edge.

Wow. That became quite a tangent. Sorry I got so long winded. Haven't had a detailed discussion of the books for some time.

Back to your comments....

*g* I actually wrote fanfic for awhile, around the time "Cerulean Sins" came out. If you want I'll send you a PM with the links. I don't know that I could write fanfic again. I'd have to set it earlier in the series or send a lot of characters away before the dynamic felt right again.

And I guess I had an idea where the series should go for awhile there. I have no idea what Laurell plans to do with it anymore.

message 20: by Suz (new) - rated it 4 stars


I just finished. I liked the book over all, my complaints with the writing were fairly minimal (there was a bit of redundancy here and there that stood out), and I enjoyed this being a combination of vampire politics, relationships, and police procedural, all with the at-home setting.

I have to admit that I'm a bit befuddled with the off the page changes too. I feel like I missed a novel or novella in between or something. I suffered through Dolph being such an ass. I want the reward of seeing him get over himself, too, not just hear about it after the fact. "He got some therapy and he's better now." WHAT? And instead of giving us closure with that we get Larry and whatsherface have gone their own brands of crazy instead. I feel a bit cheated.

I was surprised at the sudden emotional investment in Nicky, too, but I think it's part of the set-up for dealing with Olaf. I could be wrong but imagine if Olaf hooks up with Nicky's previous pride and then uses that pride to hunt Anita. Prior to this book we wouldn't have cared much. Nicky is just a serial killer to us who happened to get in the way and we had no emotional investment in him. LKH is starting to create an investment there in preparation for some conflict with him and I'm betting it'll be Olaf conflict. The psycho and the socio. Throughout this series LKH has presented us with opportunities to turn our perceptions of people and types upside down. She's setting us up for the same with Nicky, I think, but for it to work we have to think he's redeemable in some way first.

I think Brice is a set up for either Dev, Asher, or both. I hope Dev but we'll see. I can see how a 3 way with them could bring its own form of angst as I got the impression that Brice is coming off of a disappointing situation in which he was the 3rd wheel and it didn't go well for him so it's bound to have left him with baggage. It could also bring an interesting dynamic into the RPIT mix, having one of Anita's guys being involved with one of the other RPIT members. But that's a guess.

I think there was a lot of laying the foundation for the next books in this book. I think she paid more attention to laying the foundation for the long arc that is going to be about creating the American Vampire Council. The bit with Asher? Easy to think in terms of "he's a whiny bitch" because he often is, but thinking ahead it's easier to see him as an MoC and ally - but then wondering if he'll remain an ally because he's such a whiny bitch, which has it's own brand of deliciousness, too.

I've always said that JC is much more pragmatic than most folks give him credit for, and that he's always been in it for the long game but he does it so quietly and subtly that most folks miss it. I've seen reviews in which disappointment about JC going to Asher in this book was voiced, but if you think in terms of long game and setting up the vampire council, then sending Asher to be a MoC and parting on good terms, or as smooth a terms as possible with him, was really quite pragmatic.

message 21: by A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol) (last edited Jun 07, 2012 07:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol) I've read all the books, the good, bad or just plain ugly *cough Hit List cough* because I so love the world in which Anita lives. Not so much the world that's painted in the books, but what I've built in my mind off LKH's creation. I also love Anita as whiny as she is. People with baggage and complications can be interesting though the whiny angsting (the whangsting) has gone on far far too long. But I do love that she's a strong personality.

Asher is one of the most honest characters there is. I love him even though I want to smack the piss out of his difficult ass. He provides conflict in Anita's world and would be much more interesting if written by someone who could put some depth into the character. From the few glimpses we've seen I think Asher has been this way since he was human. He's got a sadistic side that was allowed to be set free those first ten years as Belle's beautiful weapon. Then along comes JC, another beautiful man who Belle suddenly wants and Asher feels pushed to the side. But as much as he resents the attention JC gets he falls in love with him and he wants JC to love him (because JC is not sadistic by nature), so he pushes down/buries that side of himself (as much as Belle allows him) thus setting the tone for Asher's conflicted personality for over 600 years. That's a long time to hate yourself which is what it really boils down to. The scars are just a physical manifistation of how he feels about himself. He's ugly and beautiful at the same time. He's scared to remove the scars because then he would have to admit to himself and others that he's got an ugly side and it's not the scars talking. It's just the way I see him. Does that make any sense?

I'm worried that Asher will take that month from them and come to resent that they sent him away. He could be not an ally, but a danger and I'm very afraid that's where LKH is heading with him. I mean, Anita and Company have fought the big baddies many times, but how do you fight for your life against someone you loved and trusted and can't imagine killing?

Anyway, I think the offstage stuff is just that (offstage) because LKH can't write it or is bored with it, so it just gets a bone thown in a sentence or two.

RE: the continuity editor, I thought the same thing.

We started to see how much Nicky was coming to mean to her in Hit List. Her Bride that she viciously rolled to save herself and her sweeties was an interesting confict of interest. He was a bad guy and she had the right to do what she could to protect herself, but now she's stuck with this guy. Great story arc! But, of course, lurve wins the day as it always does with Anita. See the amazingly ridiculous defeat of Marme Noir, biggest baddie of them all, built up in multiple books, brought down by luuuuurrrvveee (in one page no less!). Gag me!

So, now that your review has been hijacked into a thread worthy discussion *lol* let me just say that someone needs to do some serious editing of her books. Really. The inconsistencies, the repetition and the redundancy combined with some plain bad writing are embarrassing to the reader and should be embarrassing to the publisher, editor AND the author. There is a story in every book. There really is. They just need more polishing than other authors require and LKH's ego won't let the editors do their job.

Oh, and I'd love to see your fanfic mlady. Send me the links in a PM. :)

mlady_rebecca In reply to Suz:

Yes, Dolph's change for the better followed by Larry's change for the worse would have both been better with more transitional material.

I like Brice, but I didn't think about him getting involved with one or more of Anita's men. But that sounds like it has potential. Nice squirmy potential. *g* You know Anita likes to keep her worlds separate.

I had a feeling Jean-Claude had more than one reason to send Asher away. Requiem moved to a different city, as another vampire's second. And I believe one of the female vamps from London became a MOTC. Jean-Claude's slowly building a web of allies.

If Asher does become a MOTC, then our next out of town book can be a visit to his city. Might actually make me enjoy an out of town book.

Never thought about Nicky in relation to Olaf. But now that you explain that, the transition makes a lot more sense.

I like seeing characters change and grow, but I had the (perhaps mistaken) understanding that psychopaths/sociopaths don't change. They are missing empathy, and nothing can replace that lack. I suppose I wrote off both characters as irredeemable.

(With a quick Wikipedia search, I'm not sure I can even distinguish psychopath vs sociopath. They're both classified as anti-social personalty disorders.)

If Laurell is setting the two of them up to fight, I'd almost prefer that neither of them leaves the battlefield. In other words, she has a lot more to do when it comes to convincing me to pull for Nicky.

But thanks for pointing that out. It was bugging the hell out of me.

message 23: by Suz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suz I don't know if I'm right about Nicky or not, it's just a potential scenario that came up in a conversation with a friend that feels like it fits. Also, with that little half sentence about this being the first family Nicky has ever had and him having some protective instinct about Nathaniel and Sin independent of Anita, as of yet unexplored, it lends itself to the possibility that Nicky may not be a "true" (I really hate it when anyone uses that adjective to describe someone - as if there could be an "untrue" anything) sociopath. Perhaps he's got his emotions buried so deeply underneath a pile of garbage that it's not a true disconnect. Or perhaps it was a trauma that created the disconnect and after he died and then got kick started again perhaps it rebooted the synapse. I could see an explanation like that coming up.

Frankly, I expected to be told that when he died it broke the bride connection. How would Anita know since the empathy is only one way - from Anita to him? I think that could still come up.

Just guesses.

mlady_rebecca Suz wrote: "Or perhaps it was a trauma that created the disconnect and after he died and then got kick started again perhaps it rebooted the synapse. I could see an explanation like that coming up."

Ugg. I hope not. Way to easy.

I have no idea what Nicky really is. I guess I shouldn't be throwing around psychological terms without having a better grasp on them.

And, yes, Nicky bonding to Nathaniel and Sin is another sign he's being set up to be redeemed in some way.

Yikes, if the bride bond is broken, they're relying on whatever empathy he's built up since he ended up with Anita. I'm don't think he's safe to be off his leash yet.

mlady_rebecca In reply to Carol:

Asher definitely has a dark side. You would have thought he would have been happy with Anita, Jean-Claude, Nathaniel, and Devil. Nathaniel is the most perfect BDSM partner he's ever going to get with respect to his sadistic tendencies. Nathaniel heals quickly and he's up for almost anything. But then we know Asher wants most what he can't have, as seen by the way he chases Micah and Richard. I guess that's Asher's masochistic side. Didn't Jean-Claude call him a switch?

And, let me say, I'm disappointed that we missed the honeymoon phase where Asher was happy. I would have loved to see how Jean-Claude and Asher changed after being lovers again. But all that was pushed offstage. *pout*

As for his scars, I think you're right. After so many years it's part of his persona. The dark and the light, the beautiful and the flawed.

Hard to know how Asher will react to an extended exile, because I'm sure that's how he sees it. Until the stakes get high, he's likely to be difficult.

Anyway, I think the offstage stuff is just that (offstage) because LKH can't write it or is bored with it, so it just gets a bone thown in a sentence or two.

Neither of those possibilities are promising. If she can't write it, is that just the underage stuff, or is she still fighting writing m/m? If she's bored with some of the core characters, that's not promising for the series' longevity.

If it's the newer characters, start cleaning house. Send a bunch off with Asher.

We started to see how much Nicky was coming to mean to her in Hit List.

We did? I blank on "Hit List". It's the only one of the books I've never re-read. I can write pages on the early books (for example: ), of "Hit List" I remember defeating Marmee Noir way too quickly using the marks, the federal marshall that got lycanthropy, and Edward being way too friendly. The rest is a blur.

LKH's ego won't let the editors do their job.

I think that's a big part of it. Somewhere along the line, she built a moat around herself and started ignoring the screaming peasants outside the gate.

I'm not saying she should listen to every complaint, but she needs someone who isn't a yes-man. Was that why Darla left? The timing would be about right.

I'll look for the fanfic links.

Chris From what I understand Darla didn't leave...LKH had posted something a while back when her new assistant took over. Something in regards to the 'person' that answered as her on FB and the forum's was saying and doing things against her (LKH's) wishes/knowledge.

I'm still about 100 pages away from finishing but so far I have the same feeling about Nicky. And I keep seeing Anita asking herself if she's doing what she did with Nathaniel and fighting her feelings for Sin and Nicky. I saw the build-up in Hit List with Nicky but it kind of left me feeling meh about him. I still don't have feelings about him one way or the other, even after what happened in the shower. Asher on the other hand, I've started to loose the adoration I had for him. He's become an utter self absorbed butthead. From what Anita and JC were saying he'd been abusing some of then men or getting pissed at them for sleeping with the women in the Circus. So...him being offstage for a while might be good, might be the catalyst for changes overall in Anita's relationships. Especially after all her thoughts and feelings about Nathaniel and Micah in this book.

I'm more annoyed overall that LKH has delayed the next merry book indefinitely. It's been 2 years since we had a new Merry book and I want to see more of her and Doyle/Frost and the babies.

mlady_rebecca Chris wrote: "And I keep seeing Anita asking herself if she's doing what she did with Nathaniel and fighting her feelings for Sin and Nicky."

I was buying it with Cynric. Like Nathaniel and Jason, Cynric starts out as someone Anita feels like she should be protecting, but he ends up wearing away at her barriers. That alone makes Cynric Anita's type, or one of Anita's types. And if you add to that Nathaniel and Cynric bonding as brothers, Cynric really seems to fit into their lives.

It's hard to say, since so much of their early story was offstage, but I believe she avoided having sex with Cynric for quite awhile (aside from that first time). Wasn't there almost a year between meeting him in Vegas and the tigers coming to St. Louis? That too follows closer to the pattern Anita had with the men she knew before the ardeur. She doesn't naturally fall in love with, or into bed with, men easily.

If you think about it, Jade is probably in that same category. Someone Anita is protecting, but who is slowly becoming more intimate with.

Nicky just doesn't fit, in my opinion. At his worst, he's like Olaf, a good tool, but not to be trusted at all. At his best, he's like some of the less ethical wererats, trusted as bodyguards, but otherwise kept at arm's length.

Nicky isn't Anita's type, any of her types. I mean superficially, I guess he's supposed to fit in with Richard, Micah, and Jean-Claude, who are all leaders of their respective groups. But Richard, Micah, and Jean-Claude are all ethical in their own ways. Nicky is still depending on Anita's ethics. His vague fondness for Nathaniel and Cynric isn't enough for me.

I'm more annoyed overall that LKH has delayed the next merry book indefinitely.

Even with my disappointment with some of the recent twists in the Anita universe, I still prefer Anita to Merry. Makes it hard to be disappointed that she's writing Anita instead of Merry.

message 28: by Aisha (new) - added it

Aisha Oaktree what happened with the Mother of them all? I stopped reading after the Harlequin (which I'm sad to say I no longer remember the plot to, but can quote all the books up to Narcissus in Chains ~ scary thought) I'm trying to decide if i should catch up and read I want to know if anything happened or is she still out there in the ether with Anita in her sites??

mlady_rebecca Aisha wrote: "what happened with the Mother of them all? "

They defeated Marmee Noir at the end of "Hit List", the 20th book. Not sure what level of spoilers you want, so I'll stop there. Feel free to ask more questions if you want more detailed spoilers.

message 30: by Aisha (new) - added it

Aisha Oaktree see, i was kinda hoping there would be someone out there who could continually role Anita's ass when she felt like it, just so Anita would know she's not the baddest bitch out there. Now I'm kinda hoping the Faerie Queen comes calling and kicks her butt, we all need to know there is someone bigger and badder, it helps us grow. Who is Anita going to go up against now?? Also I need the Mermaid to come back and drop kick Anita into some serious mess. Maybe I'm just mean but I liked that sometimes she didn't win them all, Like with Obsidian, that was clearly a draw for Anita and a full on win for Obsidian.

message 31: by Suz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suz do realize that Obsidian was book 9 and this latest release was book 21, so there's been a bit of story in between, right?

message 32: by Aisha (new) - added it

Aisha Oaktree @Suz, I have read EVERYTHING that LKH has put out. I used to stalk her website and then it got a makeover that wasn't as awesome as the old site so I don't stalk her as much. Out of all the monsters Anita has faced only a few have truly incited fear in her, 1 of which was Obsidian, the other being the Mermaid/Siren who was married to the vamp master of Mass, and another the Fae from Bloody Bones. Since these are the only things that scare her it would be nice to see another monster like those. One that when the fight is over Anita isn't the clear winner, she just manages to keep her people alive long enough for a treaty to be made or for the people to get bored. Obsidian used her and gave her a new gift, but didn't really hunt her, which is why Anita walked away.

After D.M. i stopped reading, i didn't like the thought of anita taking on more men, she barely could handle those she had at the moment and still call it love. When it looked like she was going to add Rafael to her harem I was done. That proud Rat king at Anita's beck and call??? NAh so I stopped, but i still wanted to know if Mama Noire slapped her back into her place.

message 33: by Suz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suz I stand corrected. Dance Macabre was book 14. You've missed 7 books.

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