CARESS OF TWILIGHT IS WORSE THAN NARCISSUS IN CHAINS.
Holy. Fuck. how did I read this the first time and not be completely disgusted by it? And it's Kitto. It's all on Kitto. I had a lot of reactions to NIC but never once did I actively want to flush my brain out to make the image go away. Possibly because Anita Blake is a horrible world of torture and madness, and Merry Gentry is one sparkle away from being an episode of My Little Pony. Only with blood in it.
Ugh. Let's just get this over with.
Now. In a normal book we'd be meeting Maeve Reed. We'd be meeting Maeve Reed because meeting a new character is supposed to set a plot in motion, and we need to save room for that plot to happen. Instead, we're going to do the same thing we did last chapter.
Second verse same as the first, Ethan follows Merry into Maeve's living room. It's big and white and shiny and designed by a decorator and, oh yeah, IT IS CHRISTMAS. There were no christmas lights before now, or presents, or carols, and I don't remember there being too many after this (in fact, in a couple chapters Merry and Maeve will be debating bikini tops) so my theory is this book was started in November, this chapter was written in December, and by the time we make it out to the pool, it's May.
I've dropped by LKH's website a couple times and read the many, many, MANY "WHERE IS THE NEXT MERRY GENTRY BOOK" questions from fans, and LKH's "Uh........" reactions to those questions (The deadline, if I remember right, was back in 2011) and I have this to say: The woman writes slower than continental drift. She says that she writes in 12 point Times New Roman, double spaced, one inch margins, but that's what I work with (that's basically industry standard. Most agents/publishers will accept that), and my novel's first draft, when it was 190K, was about six hundred pages. If I remember right, LKH's books number in the eight hundred pages, because pages are all she talks about, and I do not think her books are anywhere near the 200K range. And I don't see how she'd have an editor toss 50-100k worth of book and not pitch Kitto out with it.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe her output is roughly 2K a day. Moving on.
Marie, Maeve's servant/secretary, is potentially a brown person. She'd be the first human brown person we've encountered in the book so far. Just...making a note of it. She offers Merry a drink.
Merry thinks it could be poison and refuses, but manages to do so politely.
Frankly, I think her primary motive in refusing booze shouldn't be "it could be poisoned" but rather "I'm trying to make a baby in my off hours, and I could be preggers now, so no thanks." But that's just me. Maybe Faerie babies don't get Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
The men are all glaring at each other, because testosterone. Merry tries to make them sit down. Hey, what's Kitto doing?
The big white living room seemed to have triggered his agoraphobia. He sat pressed up against my legs, one small arm encircling them like I was his teddy bear.
No. I'm sorry. If you go out of your way to make a character thousands of years old, and then spend every single fucking second after that infantasizing the guy, you are not writing a meaningful character. You are providing fap fuel for pedophiles and you're trying to do it in a way that won't get you signed up as a Registered Sex Offender.
I absolutely despise Piers Anthony for his pedophile male leads (the guy does a lot for new writers, but it can't make up for how many of his novels contain twenty+ year old male leads and fourteen year old females.) but you know what? At least he was fucking honest about it. At least he's not like "No. This character is a legal adult older than China, Who also happens to be wearing a power-ranger's T-shirt and light up flashy Nikes. Want me to talk about his 'teddy bear' again?"
Guys, if it looks like a duck, acts like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. And Kitto looks, acts and quacks like an abused and traumatized child. He should not be in this book at all.
Meanwhile, the bodyguards are overcompensating because Merry is Unseelie Fae and thus is dangerous to be around.
I agree with this 100%. They're people who consider having your eye ripped out during rape so your rapist can keep it in a jar for later a simple failure to properly negotiate a safeword. (Green=go, Red=stop, so would Holy fuck you tore my eye out be purple? How about "Lovely shade of char--HOLY FUCK YOU JUST RIPPED MY EYE OUT!")
But Merry starts up a debate with Ethan about how this is prejudice and wrong.
This would be true IF the Unseelie had not introduced themselves to us through rape potions and rampaging monsters. Merry has proven herself to be a good person, but the men around her are killers. Two of them--Doyle and Frost--were Queen Psycopath's go-to guys for pain. Rhys just proved he can't contain himself around Kitto.
At the risk of inflaming social justice folk everywhere, a certain amount of prejudiced thinking is necessary for safety. Prejudice against a man because he is a man is just plain wrong. Prejudice against a man who is an obvious member of a violent gang is problematic, but something you have to account for in your thinking processes. Prejudice against a man who is an obvious member of a violent gang who also has a rap sheet of his own is something that you have to do because you cannot predict what he'll do. He might leave you alone, he might not, but he's proven that he'll hurt people if he has motive to do it. The issue is not the race or gender of the person, it is the fact that their friends are violent, and sometimes they themselves are violent. If I know a man has a best friend who is a registered sex offender, I'm not leaving my kid alone with them. If they are a registered sex offender I am not being alone with them. If the people this person associates are known to be violent, and if the person themselves is known to be violent, you have to take precautions. Especially if being a bodyguard is your job. Everybody Merry is sitting with, with the possible exception of Kitto, is a killer. If I were Ethan, I would not be comfortable being alone in that room, let alone with allowing my boss to come within six miles of it.
It's not a "We are the poor oppressed" issue. It's a "We are fucking scary, and you don't want to take chances with us" issue.
And then Julian, Ethan's partner, comes into the room. There's two twins here, Julian and Jordan, and Julian is dating Ethan's brother, Adam.
And he dresses normal. And as of Divine Misdemenors he has yet to be rescued from gayness by a vagina.
...it's an improvement. But I am not giving LKH Kudos for finally writing a gay character like a human being. It's like giving a dog cookies because it's not piddling on the floor right this minute.
Julian explains to Ethan (and thus to us) that the sidhe are stealing business from Ethan and Julian's agency because the sidhe are just prettier than anything their agency has on staff, and having a pretty fairy on their staff gaurentees the movie stars publicity.
And then Julian hits on all of Merry's men. All of them. Because he has a "special arrangement" with his boyfriend Adam.
Okay, look. I don't know why this annoys me, given that I have no problem with polyamory, but it does. Especially because the one nearly sane gay character I've met in LKH's writing so far is implied to be a tomcat of monumental proportions. I think because it's not polyamory implied here, but rather promiscuity. If you're in a major relationship, especially if it is with more than one person, you don't fool around. You just don't.
I think what bugs me is that, given the massive emphasis on monogamy in this book--technically ALL the guys are monogamous. It's Merry who is into polyandry here--is that it's implying the relationship between Julian and Adam isn't as "valid" as the relationship between Merry and her men. It's "Only" a gay relationship, so Julian can screw around whenever he wants. It doesn't "count".
I hate this book.
And then Doyle sits down so that his back is touching Julian's hand. And just in case you thought maybe the book was inadvertantly playing up the homoeroticism, there's a long screed about how Doyle's rules for touching are the same for boys and girls, because he's been celebate so long he'd rather not be teased. In fact all the guards are implied to have rules about touching, very un-Faerie like rules, which completely obliterates everything we've learned about Merry and her boys over the previous book.
It's like LKH read a book about fetishes and decided to do all of them. The only thing she hasn't done yet is feet, but I think that got handled in the last book, when Galen took Merry's silk stocking off with his teeth.
It's also a play up for how Merry is a monster just like Anita is a monster and she needs to give up her guns now. FUCK. THIS IS A BOOK. THAT HAS ALREADY DONE THIS ONCE BEFORE. CAN WE MOVE ON WITH THE BOOK? PLEASE?
And then Ethan implies something nasty about Julian and his brother Adam, and Julian says, basically, you're being an infant, grow up, fuck off and go home.
Nice going dude. You just called your boss, who was worshipped as a goddess for a couple centuries, an animal to her face.
The chapter ends before Maeve can turn the moron into strawberry jam.