So my computer ate most of the last review, and it took me ALL DAY to work this out. Crap. Well, that tells you how terrible things are in the Anitaverse. The Internet itself is trying to keep more of this shit from spewing out across its...uh...whatevers.
Ah well...where were we?
Anita grilling Bacchus. Well, while she's grilling Bacchus, the doorbell rings. Nathanial zips right up to answer it and Anita yells at him to see who it is first.
Yeah. How many home invasions did it take for us to learn THAT lesson, Ms. Heap Big Vampire Hunter.
Nathanial announces that it is Zeke, the werewolf from the club. Ya'll remember Zeke, right? The Werewolf who...uh...yeah, it's been two rescues, a LONG awaited gunfight and about four fucking...uh...fucking scenes for us to get here. We're not going to remember a wolf who was introduced WAY way back in chapter Something Before Ten. If this guy was major HE SHOULD BE IN MORE THAN ONE SCENE.
Fun fact: I've written two books now (This Found Thing and Gray Fox) in which I wrote the climax of the story in the middle of the first draft. Do you know what it feels like to realize the PERFECT ending conflict is occupying the middle third of your story? To realize that not only do you have to move things around, you have to remove conversations and in many, MANY cases invent new ones, you have to figure out how the fuck to foreshadow it, you have to figure out a new way to introduce a character or two, and then you have to re-read it about an extra ten times to make sure, absolutely sure, that you have removed every trace that the climax was actually the thing that happened after chapter two.
But you know what? You do it. And if you realize that you need to throw out two thirds of a book because your last third is actually the whole story you want to tell? You do that too. Because sometimes you can't write and you need to fuck around for a hundred pages before you find the sweet spot. I've done it. (Oh god do not get me started on what Starbleached is doing to me. DO. NOT. I beg you.) but the thing is? Laurel, darling? It should not be this clear that this is what you are doing. Your job is to make ME happy. Not you. This is called "Writing". Not "Masturbation."
Anita goes to the door with Bodyguard and a large number of weapons, which are carefully described. And when she glances out the window she discovers a bloody picture of Micah being chained up and tortured.
Anita decides to let Zeke in. Bodyguard says she can't kill him until they know what they're doing next. She says I know, thus establishing her cred as a bad ass. Then Bodyguard gives an "OMG you're so tough" speech that RUINS her cred as a bad ass.
Zeke also has a picture of Cherry being chained up and tortured.
This is how we know Anita is a horrible person. She has known Micah less than two days now? And Cherry is something like her ward. She's one of the leopards Anita has to care for (leaving aside the utter squickiness of a girl in this series, specifically, named "Cherry". It's like having a kid named "meat" in a room full of pit bulls) and Anita has known her for years.
MICAH is the one she freaks out over. MICAH. Not Cherry.
Anita also monologues about how her sitting there talking to Zeke calmly (about all the shit Bacchus just told us) is a sign that she is insane. Anita, babydoll, if you are insane than a police negotiator is a fucking psychopath. What you are is a human being who understands that emotions will not help. Normal people hit that stage all the time. Usually the first time they have both a major emergency and kids. The pard are kind of your kids. You have to function if you want to go rescue your kids.
Stop trying to make being crazy something sparkly and special.
There is discussion of what a panwere is. It's a were that is more than one animal. Chimera, IMHO, should shapeshift into an actual fucking Chimera for his late intro to be a forgivable thing, and he does not. I am pissed.
By the way, this is a HUGE thing. This is a universe breaker, game changer revelation. Shifters CANNOT become more than one thing up until now. Everything we understand about Anitaverse weres is now out the window.
And I have used more words talking about it than the actual book does.
So Chimera wants Anita as a mate because she's a panwere too. Okay. Yeah. Whatever.
Because Anita does not seemed convinced at Chimera's bad-ass cred (probably because he's existed as a thing for less than three chapters in a sixty-fucking-five-chapter book) so Zeke sends out for Gina. You remember Gina, right? Right? Because I sure don't. I *THINK* it's the chick Micah went back someplace for, but she's not on my radar. AT ALL.
Gina comes in. Gina is yet ANOTHER victim in this book. She's been tortured. Zeke tells Anita that Chimera is unstable and is attacking people, and he wants to start a palace coup and get Chimera out. He has a history of going into other people's territories and killing the alphas so he can take them over and rule as top...uh...whatever. And it's a problem because the big guys--wolves and whatever--don't protect the little guys, and am I going too fast for you? Oh, I'm sorry. MAYBE IT IS BECAUSE THE ACTUAL PLOT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN FUCKING AWESOME IS BEING DUMPED ON MY PLATE AS I AM TYPING THIS.
This was the book that could have been, people. Infiltration. Investigation. Gunfights. Admittedly with heyna analogues who are Everything Straight People Fear About Gay Guys, but as non PC as that sounds even THAT would have been better than watching our main character MIND RAPE PEOPLE SHE SHOULD CARE ABOUT. This could have been a good--if horrifically everything-ist--book, and instead we got the crap I've been slogging through for two months.
So we get a list of what Chimera is: Wolf, leopard, lion, bear, snake, heyena. Goody. That explains where all the alphas are going. Chimera is a sexual sadist, though, and he only kills people after he breaks them. "Break" is defined as "forced to shapeshift" because the breaking point of the human soul is something easily identified, and the concept of "give a little bit until the son of a bitch lets his guard down" is obviously something that nobody employs, ever. He hasn't been able to force the lion or dog to shift, and Narcissus isn't broken either, so all three are still alive.
And hey, you remember Jason and Paris from Richard's pack? The dude who wanted to beat Richard and the chick that wanted to screw him? They're with Chimera too. Because RICHARD is WEEEEAAAAAAAK, folks. As if this hasn't been pounded into our brains six thousand times already.
And Micah is with Chimera too. He was supposed to get the leopards the way Jason was supposed to get the wolves, but he didn't count on Anita being there.
Which means that the guy that raped Anita, let us not forget that, is allied with the big bad of this book, and everybody will be okay with that forever. Probably because Chimera is doing awful things to everybody.
Gina goes on a monologue about how Micah is now being tortured because Micah betrayed Chimera and protected Anita, and how that means Anita stole him from Chimera, and I am trying REALLY HARD not to read gay/bi subtext into this, because I already did that once and my brain does not like going in the Hole of Homophobia that is at the core of this book. But it's not working real well.
Finally, after monologuing more about how wonderful the traitor-rapist POS Micah is, Anita agrees to go rescue him and kill Chimera.