Case in point? The whole "Addicted to the ardeur" thing.
There is one thing in this universe I get really, really well, and that's addiction and recovery. I grew up around it. A typical sunday afternoon conversation with my Dad would be about how cocaine works and why it was so hard for Person X to not relapse. The "Come to Jesus" talks that my dad had with several people in our living room. I overheard that. And then I went off my own deep end and still have to deal with it every day. The other day I found out a couple really upsetting things involving my artwork and how someone I kind of trusted and liked has been using it, and my first impulse was not ranting and raging, but rather "I want to go cut." And it's not flamboyant and dramatic and full of screaming. It's still and quiet and very, VERY hard to resist. Having an addiction, chemical or psychological, means either spending the rest of your life sitting on the edge of your seat, wanting something you didn't ever want to want again, or it means dying. Unfettered addiction is a terminal disease. You will always escalate. Where you are right now is not where you will be next year. You'll either be sober, or you'll have taken things two or three steps further.
Requiem is lying on the bed staring at Anita with unfettered longing and everyone else is talking about how he's an addict and so are London and Auggie and how the only solution is avoidance, and it suddenly hit me that the ONLY reason this shit is here is to make Anita Blake an addictive substance. To make her more desirable and more better and just...well, MORE. The current conflict here is between Anita and Meng Die, and so Meng is suddenly an uncontrollable danger and Requiem is so addicted to Anita he'd leave Meng for her...and it's just to make Anita look good.
“He is an addict, ma petite, an addict to the ardeur. I saved him from Belle Morte, who would have addicted him again, but London and I discussed that even your ardeur, and mine, might be too much for him. If it is”— he gave that graceful shrug—“ I will find him some place far away from such temptations, but it will take time to find a home for someone as potentially powerful as London.I'm not even going to say that this could be a good plot. No. No it can't. LKH doesn't have the ability to handle it right. I probably don't either. And the fact that it's here just to make Anita look prettier than the other females in the series is absolutely fucking wrong.
Anita Blake is so powerful she erases other people's personalities without intending to.
I shook my head, because this wasn’t him. It was his body, but whatever made Requiem who he was, that wasn’t in his eyes. It was a stranger’s face. What makes people people is not just bone structure and eye color, but the force of their personalities. The years of experience painted on their faces. Them, for lack of a better word. Them.
And the point where this all falls apart? Anita is trying to bring Requiem "back" from his addiction by using the ardeur.
Because addiction totally works like that.
They kiss and cuddle and lots of spilling happens and Anita gives back what she took away in the first place because she totally can do that. Using addictive behavior to showcase how powerful and motherly and good natured your main character is isn't an issue at all.
Anita's necromancy goes haywire, and she tastes all the vampires psychically. Apparently Jean Claude is running an ice cream shop. She stops because this is bad...somehow...and Wicked reminds her to "bind" him the way she bound Truth, or else undo it. She says "Well, I didn't know it would do that" because that TOTALLY fixes everything (Did Anita/LKH skip kindergarten or something?) and that kind of goes nowhere.
Requiem reminds Anita she needs to feed, because we haven't totally already done that. Anita demands that everyone else leave the room, and Elinor is all "But the test won't work if we're not here" which has to be the dumbest excuse to watch public sex in the history of intercourse, and Jean Claude says "We've failed" which means nothing whatsoever to me.
Anita needs gauze because Requiem fed on her. Random Person named Cisco gives her a piece of gauze and starts staring at her chest, because we needed to be reminded Anita's done all this in a bathrobe.
Jean Claude then gets pissy that Anita is bandaging her wound because it's a "mark of favor" and that means she must be ashamed of it rather than, you know, be bleeding from an open wound on an expensive fucking bathrobe. He talks her out of getting proper medical attention because bandaging it means she doesn't love him anymore.
I am dead fucking serious.
Then he licks her blood off his fingers and goes in to kiss her, and she isn't completely sold on the kiss (probably because he just manipulated her out of medical care) and he pouts because she's not enthusiastic enough.
“I want you and Richard to embrace yourselves, and I am out of time to await this miracle.”
Translation: You guys aren't completely happy being rapist serial killers yet, and it's dissapointing me.
Requiem then says that Anita is becoming like Belle Morte because she dangles the promise of arduer sex in front of vampires and then takes it back, because being called a cock-tease by a man who desperately wants sex is totally progressive and not at all the behavior of a manipulative douchebag.
Oh, hey, it's time to have the creepiest conversation in the book so far:
“Oui, Nikolaos feared what I would become if she allowed my powers full rein. The Master of the City that traded me to her feared me, as well. He sent me to Nikolaos because he knew that her child’s body would not be something I would willingly seduce.”
“She looked about twelve or thirteen; that’s legal in some places.”
He shook his head. “Not for me,” he said, then he shivered. “You met her, ma petite; could you ever see me purposefully doing anything to draw her attention to me in that way?”That bolded part? Anita says that. Ms. "Seventeen is too young" is now questioning Jean Claude's choice not to bang a thousand year old vampire in a child's body. And it's implied that the thing keeping Nikolaos safe from JC wasn't her age, it was her absolute bad-ass batshit murder-impulse insanity. THAT IF NIKOLAOS HAD BEEN LESS SCARY THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY HAVE HAPPENED.
Which also means at some point LKH sat down and thought "Hum. I need to explain why JC never fucked the thirteen year old villian who was technically his master."
Jean Claude then goes back to the test he said they failed, and explains that if Anita can roll Requiem without obliterating him again, than she'll be safe enough to take to the party:
“Then it is controllable, incredibly powerful, but controllable. It is something our enemies and allies will fear and lust after, but they will not fear us too much, or lust too greatly. It is the difference between having a weapon that one can use, and one that you dare never use.”We're finally there, folks. It's a weaponized vagina.
Anita then takes a second to piss on Ronnie:
If Ronnie had been there, she’d have shot herself, or maybe shot me.
Because "Good" (gag) girl Anita is refusing free sex.
Also, I think if Ronnie were there, she'd have dragged Anita's ass down to the nearest cult deprogrammer, and then gone back with a very large gun to turn Jean Claude into very small kibble.
Requiem and Anita stare at each other for a few minutes, with Requiem doing passive agressive little digs to try to get her to fuck him, and then Asher shows up.
Asher has been talking Meng Die down, apparently, and Meng has agreed to not kill Requiem as long as Anita keeps feeding Jean Claude more power. Well, there's that plot thread resolved. Nice to know it happened ENTIRELY OFFSCREEN.
We get a nice dose of Asher Scar Angst, and then he and Anita start making out.
This chapter will never end. It's still going on. END. END. EEEEEENNNNNNNNDDDDD.
Anita decides that Asher has rolled her and Jean Claude says that since everybody's gotten a level up, Asher's ability to facinate must have gone up a few notches (I wonder if they had to delete any abilities. I always hate it when I need to give somebody FLY and my choices come down to either a major attack or something like CUT or DIG). Anita demands that Asher try his gaze out on her while her sheilds are up. Everybody refuses to do it, so the conversation goes back to "Why Won't Anita Fuck Requiem," which in turns goes back to the pregnancy scare.
This then segues into "Anita won't let the two gay men have sex" with a nice helping of "You'll leave our powerbase I'm making myself miserable AND IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT."
Everyone in this book is horrible. EVERYONE.
Anita gives them her benediction to have a relationship. They're greatful. No, really. THEY'RE GREATFUL ANITA GAVE THEM PERMISSION TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP.
And of course, we have to bring up Juliana, JC and Asher's dead girlfriend.
Julianna regretted that she never gave me a child.”
Because it all revolves around babies and vaginas and reproduction and FUCK NO. One, I don't like that suddenly EVERYTHING IS CHILDREN. Two: No way in FUCK a reasonable person would bring a child of any kind into Belle Morte's court. NO FUCKING WAY. Just trying to think about that brings up so much nope it's traumatic.
The chapter FINALLY ends with everyone tummy-rubbing Anita and being blissfully happy and Anita realizing that she has to start "living for" the people she loves.
We are now sixty percent of the way through this book. HELP. ME.