I've said it before, I'll say it again: Protagonist Characters should solve problems, not cause them. There should be no aura of "this is your fault" attached to a character's actions. Even if you're writing about a serial killer avoiding the cops, the problems they're dealing with should come from an outside source. DO NOT MAKE THE WORLD REVOLVE AROUND THEM.
But no. Gregory cannot suffer because terrible things happened to him. He must suffer because Anita did terrible things and Anita now needs guilt to wallow in for a little while.
And then we have a long passage where Anita and Nathanial curl sexily around each other and Nathanial talks about the torture porn Rania forced him to participate in.
There is no way I could do that. None. Discussing trauma shuts me down so hard it's hard to talk, let alone entwine bodies with someone else. And apparently either I am dense, or this writing is really vague because I didn't realize until now that in the memory, Rania was eating Gregory's penis. It becomes clearer now because apparently she did the same thing to Nathanial. Only this time she ate it in little bites.
This requires a .gif.
Violence in books is hard to justify. Fight scenes are one thing. Abuse is something else entirely. It should always have a kind of emotional weight and realism. It shouldn't be trivialized. This passage? It's trivializing something so awful that my brain is having a lot of trouble processing it. There's so much awful packed into this book that I get the feeling you're supposed to breeze right past this and move on to Richard's arrival, and that all by itself is the wrong way to handle this. I'm trying to figure out how to pull something like that off so that the writing would work, and I'm failing. I would not want to write this. I think that John Ringo could pull it off, because he's really good at doing fucked up and giving it the right amount of weight. Yes. He writes severely fucked up material (the harem sequence in Council Wars makes Anita Blake look like My Little Pony, for example, and do not get me started on Ghost) but he does not excuse the wrongness of what he's writing. (Always excepting Ghost) and he usually has his victims endure, survive, and then kill the everloving fuck out of their abuser. But I don't think he'd cram that much terrible violence into so few chapters, and then add in "Oh, and a couple years ago I had my penis bitten off" as icing on the fun cake.
What are you supposed to DO with this? Everything is so fucked up that the main character is having screaming fits, and then you throw this into the mix? Why? There's no reason to have it here. Even with this awful book I've been able to get into the writing a little bit, and I'm so completely thrown out of it now, it's like...what the hell?
And then Anita feels guilty for biting him earlier.
And then Nathanial tells her that everything's alright, he really did like it, and she has nothing to feel guilty for. I'll give it a pass ONLY as long as they're discussing sex.
And you know what? I did it again. I got to thinking "Well, it can't get any worse."
Nope. It gets worse. Anita threatens to withhold sex from Nathanial because of the ardeur. And this conversation happens:
He held my hand so tight that it almost hurt. “Don’t do this to me.”
“Don’t punish me for telling you about how Raina hurt me.” “I’m not punishing you.” “I tell you this horrible thing, and you start feeling protective of me, and guilty. I know you, Anita, you’ll let your head get in the way of what we both need.”
I think the earlier trauma has burned out my outrage center, so here's the practical thing: If someone has to ask you not to punish them for giving you information, the relationship is not healthy. Either they are manipulating you, or you have a history of shutting down on them when they tell you something you don't want to hear. I'm calling bullshit on both sides of this one, because Nathanial is being more than a little manipulative here too.
Nathanial gets on his knees and begs to become Anita's pomme de sang for the ardeur. That way he will "belong" somewhere.
If Nathanial were a chick, he'd be Bella Swan. That's how very much not-healthy this shit is.
And while Nathanial is weeping and sobbing in her lap and begging her to feed on him, and Anita is kissing him and hugging him and offering him support, Richard shows up! Yay!
Meanwhile the traumatized, brutalized human being now on the verge of death is still lying out on the back porch, now with an IV in his arm to keep him alive.
And the chapter has ended.
I hate this book.