Don't get me wrong, kids. They both suck. They both are frustrating mashups of really shitty porn and an episode of Buffy. But the primary difference between Anita Blake and Merry is, Merry Gentry was never actually any good. The sex in Merry Gentry was there from the beginning. The first book is the same as the latest book.
Exactly the same. The only difference between Kiss of Shadows and Divine Misdemenors, the latest Merry book, is that the so-called "plot" has evolved a little bit, a couple plot points have been resolved, and the number of people in Merry's bed has expanded exponentially. Also, Merry Gentry and Anita Blake might both collect men like the crazy cat lady does kitties, but at least Merry Gentry's men aren't actually cats.
But because you're not expecting anything good? The books are actually enjoyable. It's like when you pick up a Paladin of Shadows book. You are not exactly expecting respectful represenations of women. (...actually if you are sensative re: rape and women's issues and you pick up a John Ringo book you're pretty much doomed to downing scotch with a bleach chaser. It's just that he's probably going to be sitting there with you muttering "I'm sorry" over and over again that makes the whole thing kind of redeemable) So you know there will be painful sex scenes, bad descriptions, and "plot" that got attacked by the porn-moths when LKH left the thing out to dry.
The first chapter opens with Merry in bed with two men.
We're not wasting any time with this one.
The men are Rhys and Nicca. FYI most of the Sidhe court nobles are Welsh and/or Celtic gods that LKH read about on wikipedia. Neil Gaiman she is not, folks. (...I could be reading American Gods. Or better, Anansi Boys. I need to stop overthinking this). Merry then describes her bed, the moonlight, the moonlight's effect on the bed (...moonlight bleaches things.) the ocean, how much she's missed her home, and how she's more famous than Elvis.
Yes, folks. LKH's main character is a fairy princess who is more famous than Elvis. We are not even pretending this isn't self insert porn. Also: Bondage Disney Princess, we meet again.
Rys is a white person. Nicca is brown. He's brown. Did you get it, yet people? He's Brown:
Most of Nicca was shades of brown. His skin was the color of pale milk chocolate, and the hair that fell in a straight fall to his knees was a rich, dark true brown. Not brunette, but the color of fresh turned leaves that had lain a long, long time on the forest floor until when stirred they were a rich, moist brown, something you could plunge your hands into and come away wet and smelling of new life.
This is a prime example of the Overly Specific Romantic Descriptions we're going to be bombarded with. It's not enough that the character has red hair. No. It's red like rubies spun out into hair. Everything gets this super-uber-ducky cutesy wootsy treatment that would work for the magical folk if the entire fucking main cast were not magical folk. The fucking weather gets the melodrama spooned on. It goes way past bad writing, through annoying, and all the way back into "MY GOD ITS FULL OF STARS"
Also: I do not like LKH describing anything as wet. Ever.
And then we get a description of the uber-special magical wing tattoo Nicca has, which we can't see because the dude is sleeping on his back.
And then Doyle comes into the room.
Guys, I do have one tiny little confession to make. I could have cared less for shape shifting kitty cats but there is a reason I've spent four years working on a fairy urban fantasy thing of my very own. Suffice to say that this time around, most of the guys in the room are my type.
And the sex is still unsexy.
Anyhoo, Doyle is a big black man. Not black as in human brown, black as in pitch, tar, and outerspace. He can heal things with his tongue, and he has a braid that goes down to his fucking ankles, I shit you not. He's a warrior. With a convenient six feet of rope dangling from his scalp begging to be yanked on.
All I can hear is the costume designer from the Incredibles ranting about why capes are out. Specifically, the part where a dude gets sucked into the intake on a jet engine.
Doyle's other nickname is "Darkness", he served the batshit insane Unseelie queen as her guard for a thousand years, and because the Queen is batshit insane, he hasn't had sex the entire time. His two purposes in life are to keep Merry alive, and to get her pregnant. Folks, I do not understand how this man can walk. There are a bunch of other men here to try to get her pregnant, and whoever does it gets to be her future King and they'll be monogamous for all eternity and we're going to stop the ride right here.
Apparently the big crisis for the Faerie is infertility. Which is good, because they are immortal fuck machines. Seriously. That's all they do, care about, think about, talk about. That and sadistic power plays, but more often than not these involve sex. So if these immortal fuck machines could also reproduce effeciently, non-magical humanity would be utterly fucked. So apparently love matches that don't produce children are out, and a young faerie is to cat around until they either impregnante or become pregnant, depending on if they're tab A or slot B...and then they are to get married and fuck only each other for the rest of their long, long, long, long lives.
This is not how you manage an infertility crisis.
The way you manage an infertility crisis is, once someone is proven to be fertile you have them screw as many people as possible. The men should be making the beast with two backs with a different chick every night, the women should have their cycles timed down to the second, and there should be either massive orgies or prolonged uses of turkey basters. Or IVF, which saves us all from the porny, messy part. But the people with functioning ova and testies should be doing everything they can to make absolutely sure their genes get passed around to as many people as much as they possibly can.
I have the same issue with Save the Pearls, a deplorable book that fails to do anything other than suck. If the problem is your species is dying out, then the fertile members of it cannot afford monogamy. You cannot even afford to let them limit themselves to two kids, because that just replenishes the population, it doesn't help it actually grow. You can apologize to each other and buy each other flowers after the species-saving orgies. Or the IVF treatments, which would save everybody a lot of hassle.
Back to book.
Doyle spends a few minutes sex-talking to Merry about how he could kill all three of them right then. The other two men react by pulling guns out. Merry does not do the obvious Mae West imitation involving pockets, and instead tells them to knock it off.
They do not. In fact, the "I'm a bigger badass than you" shit goes on for several more pages, until Doyle points out that somebody has tested Merry's magical wards around the place and has probably roasted its poor little hand. Then we get exposition about how Merry's cousin Cel wants to kill her, but he's being punished for his last attempt (the punishment is being coated in the Magical Potion of Sex until his eyes melt, and then being locked away from every woman ever for six months.) and he won't try to kill her until he's done being sexually deprived. They have six months to get her pregnant and secure her safety and the throne.
And they are sitting around talking.
Logic. We do not have it here.
Finally Merry points out that Doyle only found the handprint because he saw the unidentified Fairy Object test the wards himself. Doyle implies strongly that somebody might be trying to wipe out Cel, Merry and the Queen of Crazy herself, because why the fuck not? Merry insists that anybody trying to kill her will just be her cousin. Everybody kind of stands around looking at the window while Merry has a cool-sounding inner monologue, and the chapter ends.
Next chapter: Merry goes to work. And you know what? Much as I hate Sookie Stackhouse (I HATE Sookie. Everybody else in Bon Temps is cool but I have a passionate utter loathing for Sookie) at least she had a real job.