This chapter opens with the "He's so pretty he could be a girl if it weren't for his (insert facial feature here) being ever so slightly masculine." And you know what this reminds me of? Titanic era Leonardo DiCaprio. Specificially, how much I hated him as an actor. Right now...eh, he's okay, but I'd much rather be watching Joseph Gordon-Lewett. But back then? OH MY GOD. I DID NOT GET IT. I STILL DO NOT GET IT. Yes. He is very pretty. Very, very, very pretty. And I was not then, nor am I now, interested in having sex with somebody who was almost prettier than his female lead.
It's a personal pet peeve. Your milage may vary. Still, there's something...off about a continued stream of "OH HE IS SO PRETTY BUT HE ISN'T GIRL PRETTY BECAUSE HE'S GOT A MALE JAW LINE. AND THIS SOMEHOW ESTABLISHES SOMETHING IMPORTANT."
Also? It's creepy.
And then we discuss how Asher rolling Anita's mind during their previous sexing has somehow borked everything for everybody.
Now. If this were in the hands of a good author the preceeding scene (the cross flaring when Asher came in the room) would be the ground point for a storyline about balancing religion with Anita's lifestyle. Because the obvious solution (taking the cross off for sex and putting it back on) would not only be symbolic of a disrespectful attitude towards religon (replace "Cross" with "God" and you should see why that's not okay) it would deprive Anita, and by extension, Jean Claude and Asher, an important protection (It is established that if Anita goes down, JC goes too, so if Belle just waits for Anita to take the cross off before she rolls her, that'd be bad.) Anita would, then, have to find a balance that would allow her to maintain a meaningful connection with religion and a moral life with the lifestyle that the ardeur and Jean Claude now require of her, without losing either JC (Jean Claude or Jesus Christ) or her basic grounding in pay-the-bills reality. And if it were in the hands of a great author it would manage to be really good, not preachy, entertaining and drive-you-to-tears deep, all at the same time.
This is Anita Blake. Who wants to bet that it never comes up again?
Actually, it devolves into a conversation about how Anita's mores are keeping her from experiancing Jean Claude as he is meant to be experianced.
Need I remind you: THE RELIGIOUS JEWELRY IS THE ONLY THING KEEPING YOU SANE AND NOT ENSLAVED BY VAMPIRE MCDARKNESS EVILSTINE AKA THE MOAD. AND BY THE WAY, YOU THINK MAYBE JEAN CLAUDE WOULD BE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT ANCIENT LOVECRAFTIAN EVIL RISING THAN HE IS ABOUT WHERE A PENIS MIGHT GO TODAY? BECAUSE I THINK HE WOULD. THANK YOU.
Seriously. THere's like six plot points being sidelined right now so that Anita and Asher can negotiate sex. Not cool, book. Not cool.
Now Asher is whining--and it is whining--about how all ANita's words the night before was a lie and that she'll never accept sex with him ever. Which I would accept if it were not dripping with passive aggressive bullshit. I used to like Asher because he was tortured and I was about sixteen, but I'm calling it right now: Lock him and Anita into a room with a food slot under the door, and throw away the key. They deserve each other.
But the depressing thing is, it's not Anita Asher wants in this equation. Anita is not the goal. She's the hurdle he has to jump to get to the goal. Asher does not love Anita. He doesn't even like Anita. Asher is still in love with Jean Claude, and Jean Claude won't trade his power base for Asher.
“Fair! What is fair in being offered everything you ever wanted and thought never to have again, only to have it torn from your grasp? Torn from your grasp because you did exactly what you were told you could do, what was asked of you.” He didn’t yell, but his anger filled his voice, so every word was like a red-hot poker flung at my face.
And it goes on about how Anita needs to give herself over to the full and most profound measure of vampire sex, and that mantaining her mores is bad, and I'm beginning to suspect that a Jehova's Wittness pissed in LKH's cheerios. That's the only logical explination for harping on "YOU NEED TO HAVE MORE BETTER SEX" when something previously described as "primordial darkness" has taken an interest in you.
And just when I think Asher has no brains, he says this:
He put a hand on either of my shoulders, and the weight of his hands made my skin run warm. “If it’s not this, it will be something else. I have watched you with Richard, Jean-Claude, and now Micah. Micah wins his way through your maze by simply agreeing to everything you ask. Jean-Claude wins his place on the edges of your labyrinth by cutting himself off from unbelievable pleasure. Richard will not walk your maze, because he has his own, and only one person can be this confusing in a relationship at one time. Someone has to be willing to compromise, and neither you nor Richard will compromise enough.”
That's how abusive relationships work when you are the abuser.
Jean Claude then tells Anita to get the fuck out of his bedroom, politely. Anita is all like "WHY?" and the rest of us are all like "PLEASE TELL ME JEAN CLAUDE HAS SEEN THE LIGHT HERE IS THE PHONE NUMBER FOR A REALLY GOOD THERAPIST." and Jean Claude just says "I want to be alone and to not have to look at you."
And I would be more enthused if this drama were actually going anywhere.
The chapter ends with Anita meekly leaving the room. Because everybody knows Anita has always been meek and obediantly compliant.
And I would call bullshit characterization, but...uh, that's what abusers do. They sail right up to the point of no return, and then all of a sudden it's sunshine, rainbows, compliance and "you know I didn't mean that, darling." You know, just long enough to rope the Significant Other back into committment. The smart, manipulative abuser loves going to some form of treatment. They get to fuck with a councelor for a couple months AND if they stick with it however long you (or the court) demand? They've got a guilt trip that will last an entire year. "BUT DARLING I WENT TO COUNCILING YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE ME WHEN I HIT YOU".
Anita Blake is not a good person.