I HAD A blurred image of black marble, glass. A second to realize that I was about to hit the mirrors around Jean-Claude’s tub.Big strong powerful vampire hunter.
Cannot get out of a bathtub without seriously injuring herself. Anita Blake is outclassed by Buffy. (...actually most human beings are outclassed by Buffy)
A random fucking werewolf--Jake. Never introduced before this moment, and we take a break to info-dump about him for a sec--gets between Anita and the mirrors. It's official, sports fans. Anita Blake is the AU Bella. She's got an Edward, she's got a Jake, and they both have to come and rescue her FROM HERSELF all the fucking time.
Jake knocks himself out falling into the glass. Werewolf who can bench-press a truck and recover from nearly any wound knocks himself out falling into a mirror. Anita realizes that a big piece of glass is about to fall on them both and drags him away from the wall, and they both go into the tub.
Claudia pulls Anita out. I have no idea where Jean Claude's gone, and I actually feel like I missed something between chapters.
Claudia half-led, half-pulled me into the bedroom. The room was nearly black with bodyguards. A handful of red shirts stood out like berries in a muffin.Well, we know what LKH had for breakfast that morning. Also, given that this is the FIFTH TIME the t-shirt thing is mentioned--black shirts are bodyguards, red shirts are food--I'm beginning to suspect LKH's merch shop got launched around the time she was writing this. It's reading like an advertisement, not a novel.
Jake is still bleeding profusely while they pick the glass out of his back. Meanwhile I'm thinking "I thought that shapeshifters healed very fast...why is he still bleeding?" and I guess LKH's editor/assistant/Jon HHJ called attention to it because all of a sudden Jake is the fastest healer in all the werewolves and they can't pick the glass out fast enough. PANIC PANIC PANIC.
Then there's an actual, honest-to-God GOOD SCENE while Juanito (New character, never mentioned before) Claudia and Anita discuss what the Harlequin are doing while Juanito cuts the remaining glass bits out of Jake's back. The rhythm is slightly off but the cutting bit makes my skin crawl. Laurell, you CAN still do this shit. THIS is the shit I came to the dance for. WHY ARE YOU NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE.
Anita then discusses the wolf smell she got when Mask Guy was fucking with her. She thinks that the only vampires she knows that smelled like their Animal to Call were Auggie and the MOAD, which makes this guy potentially powerful and dangerous as fuck. Which she doesn't say out loud because, she thinks, nobody needs to know.
Jake asks her what she's thinking about and she tells him the only people she knows who smelled like their AtC were Auggie and the MOAD.
This repetition, I shit you not, happens within three paragraphs. NOBODY is editing this shit anymore. The chapter ends with everybody hauling Jake off to Lillian.
Next chapter. More on the fucking shirts.
THIS TIME I chose a black shirt, because my last clean bra was hanging up to dry in the bathroom. I was never entirely comfortable without a bra. I wasn’t sure whether the fact that the black baby-doll shirt was tight enough that it helped support my breasts was a good thing or not. I think I would have preferred the shirt to be looser.
Anita's breasts are, according to Nate in Affliction, EEE breasts. Which means her boobs are bigger than her head. Lots of women have boobs bigger than their head, but usually not when they weigh less than 120, see as much excercise as Anita does and eats as seldom as Anita eats. No. There isn't a T-shirt on earth firm enough to support her boobs without a bra.
Also, that sentence gives me a migrane.
Also, braless the shoulder holster fit, but if I had to draw the gun I’d brush the edge of my breast. It was a small irritation, but it could make you hesitate for a second.
Anita has difficulty shooting when her nipples rub against something.
I dried my hair a little more with a towel and actually scrunched some hair-care product in the curls. I was half embarrassed that I used stuff on my hair, but Jean-Claude had convinced me there was no shame to a little pampering. It still felt girlie to do it. Should you be worried about your hair frizzing when you wear a gun at least twelve of any given twenty-four hours? Seemed like you shouldn’t.FOR. FUCK'S. SAKE. EVERYBODY puts shit in their hair. Guys. Girls. Folks who are neither. It's called "TAKING CARE OF YOUR HAIR" and, in the case of friz, LOOKING PROFESSIONAL. When did caring about your appearance become a gender thing?
Anita finally stops looking at herself in the mirror and goes into the sitting room...and Sampson is there.
Sampson, if you remember, is the siren prince from Danse Macabre whose parents emotionally blackmailed Anita into sleeping with him. His mom wants to awaken his siren powers, the only way to do that is via another siren fucking you, and as Thea (Mom) is the only siren the only way to awaken her children is INCEST RAPE. Sampson is there to get it on with Anita because the alternative is that Mom rapes his two underaged brothers. Sampson doesn't want to sleep with Anita, Anita doesn't want to sleep with Sampson, but apparently the only way to have sex is to blackmail yourself into it.
Of course, I’d met his mother, Thea. She was like the ocean: calm one minute, rising up to kill you the next. I think she’d sort of broken him to the thought that women were moody.Jesus Christ, can we STOP with this gender shit? Anita's breasts are too big to go without a bra, she can't shoot if something is rubbing her bare nipples, using hair products is girly and now we've got WOMEN ARE MOODY. IT ISN'T STOPPING WHY IS IT NOT STOPPING.
Anita infodumps about the Family of the Year for a while. It ends with:
I mean, I was like their only chance to avoid a family tragedy of epic proportions. But it still made me feel squeachy.Anita has managed to take one of the, no shit, most fucked up situations in her book and turn it around so that it is (A. All about her and (B. a favor she's doing for a friend. And not, you know, EXTREMELY WRONG ON EVERY FUCKING LEVEL. My favorite part is how Thea isn't allowed to "approach" her sons for sex. Dance Macabre used language that made it clear "approaching" had nothing to do with it. She actively attempted to rape Sampson, and there are two underage children in their household. That's not "Favor" that's "CALL THE COPS".
Jake had a military background, so Richard had given him permission to carry weaponry. I’d asked Richard’s permission to take some of the wolf guards to the shooting range and see who could handle a gun. He’d said he’d think about it. I had no idea why he had a problem with the werewolves being armed, but he was Ulfric, wolf king, and his word was law.ANITA. HAVE YOU SEEN THE WOLF PACK LATELY? That's probably the first honest-to-god sensible thing Richard's done in five fucking books, other than dumping your ass. The wolf pack is on the verge of civil war, they've got hair-trigger tempers, there's WAY TOO FUCKING MANY OF THEM in the pack, and most of the reliable people were there during the Marcus and Rania era, so they've probably got PTSD up the yin-yang. NOBODY in that pack needs a gun.
I was lupa, but in wolf society that’s more like an uber-girlfriend. It’s not a queen, and it’s not equal. I preferred leopard society; it was less sexist. Nimir-Ra truly was equal to Nimir-Raj....this retconning is going to break my fucking brain I swear to god. ALSO, DOES LAURELL NOT KNOW THAT THE FEMALE WOLVES RUN THE PACK?
Sampson escorts Anita into a sitting room where Richard and Jean Claude are sitting on sofas across from each other. Jean Claude doesn't give a shit, Richard is jealous, and we're SO VERY OBVIOUSLY supposed to see how Richard is an evil wicked hater and Jean Claude is a cool loving manly man.
The other men are in the room too, so Anita goes from guy to guy to bestow morning kisses, starting with Richard.
This goes on in detail. Anita rambles about how she's violated traditional protocol by greeting Richard first, and not Jean Claude, and then this happens:
Old-school meant that no one was more important than the vampires. The exception to this rule at Sampson’s home was his mother, Thea. Technically she was Samuel’s animal to call, but if Sampson’s father had any weakness it was Thea, so you ignored her at your peril. She was queen to Samuel’s king no matter what vampire rules said.
Having read about Thea, I get the feeling you greet Thea first because you do not fuck with Thea. You do not slight Thea, you do not do anything to make Thea decide to hurt you. NOT because Samuel likes her so much. Thea get's instant respect because she is that fucking dangerous.
But of course, all female empowerment must come from a guy because the girl is either theirs, or she earned it by being one of the guys all the time.
Clothing descriptions. Jean Claude raided Jareth's closet again. (I want his coat. I want his coat. I WANT his coat.) His shoes, though...
The tight pants smoothed into thigh-high boots that were black and leather and had silver buckles up the side of them from ankle to midthigh.
Yeah. Jareth's got nothing to do with that shit. How can you WALK in those things?
Anyhoo, Anita figures that everybody's all spiffy because some shit's about to go down, and it turns out Rafael wants a meeting to discuss payment for providing bodyguards all the time. Ten bucks says that he's gonna pull their protection at some point in the book (And be completely justified in doing so. JEAN CLAUDE IS THE MOTHERFUCKING MAFIA)
Rafael has decided that he wants to be Anita's blood apple. Yeah, that plot thread is still unresolved.
Rafael is probably the most underrated character in the book. He's hispanic, a demographic that's already shit upon by just about everybody in this country who isn't hispanic, and the only thing that gave the rats serious power was that rats were Nikolaus's AtC, and they allied with Anita because they didn't like Nikolaus that much anyway. He's managed to mantain his group's significance by providing security for JC and his crew, and he's worried that since he's a holdover from the last MotC and Asher now has wereheyenas as his Animal to Call, he'll get shoved out in the heyena's favor.
“Some in the shapeshifter community would like you to try to take on as many of their beasts as you can before you shift, so that they’ll have a tighter alliance with Jean-Claude.”
Oh god. Please. PLEASE tell me this does not happen. Anita is already a little too "ALL THE THINGS"-ish. WE DO NOT NEED HER COLLECTING MORE ANIMALS FOR THE INNER ZOO.
Sampson offers to pull info out of Rafael because he can use mermaid powers on them and...
...wait. I thought the whole point of the incest plot was that he didn't have mermaid powers. WHAT THE SHIT LAUREL.
CALL THE COPS. I am fucking serious. There has to be some cage, somewhere, that can hold Thea until her kids are of age and in hiding. And there's this awful veneer of nonchalance about all this. Like all they have to do is this this this and this and the damage won't happen. THEA IS THREATENING TO RAPE HER OWN CHILDREN. ALL THREE children need to be REMOVED from that situation NOW.
Sampson gave him a patient look with just an edge of impatience. “I have been here for months and not pushed my claim. Partly because, until Anita tries to bring me into my siren abilities, my mother will leave my brothers alone...She knows how much I want to avoid her doing anything that will force my father to kill her. He adores her, but if she forces sex on me or my brothers he will do what he vowed...It would destroy him, and our family.”
And of course now is when Richard has to go "you'll let him fuck you just like that? How'd you like it if I fucked a new woman every time you do a new man"
Rafael shows up. He's got Louie, Ronnie's boyfriend, with him. For some reason this makes LKH forget how to punctuate names. Also, apparently Ronnie does relationships wrong. She wants it to be about sex, and not an emotional connection.
Rafael greets all the wereleaders except Anita and Micah. Micah takes this as an insult. Rafael says "You're damn right it is" and points out that leopards aren't Animal to Call for anybody. Well, I don't think the rats are anymore either, but I don't care. I'm enjoying this sudden display of backbone too much.
Anita realizes that this means her bodyguards probably aren't on her side anymore, and demands that they get leopards and wolves into the room until the rats are outnumbered. So now we have lots of violent, possibly trigger happy people in a situation that was already tense as fuck.
For the record? My money's on the rats. NEVER underestimate a prey animal.
Rafael nodded and looked at the other man. “I am sorry, my friend, but if I cannot guarantee my people’s safety through strength of arms and traditional methods, then I am willing to whore myself for their safety.”
And that is a good leader. Not Jean Claude, not Anita, not Richard. Rafael has a position of authority and he understands that, to use that position correctly, his own needs are second. He's probably the ONLY were-leader in this series I'd be comfortable being under.
Anita keeps insisting that there's no problem, everything's fine, Rafael can just go home and forget about this. Rafael responds.
“If I had any liking for men, I’d offer myself to Jean-Claude and be done with it.”
They all move over to talk over food because Jean Claude thinks Narcissus has done something to Rafael and his people. I'm expecting some horrible inter-were war or something, but it's just a rehash of everything we already covered earlier in this LONG AS FUCK chapter. Rafael also brings up that Anita's lovers get more powerful after she fucks them.
Rafael finally demands to know if Jean Claude would have any of his rats and Claudia reacts with the psychic version of duck that.
We go back and forth on that for a while. Will you fuck me? No. Will you fuck any of my rats? Maybe. This cycles until Anita agrees to choose a couple rats and then Richard explodes and they have the usual fight. It's not fair that she sleeps with everyone else but him. He won't share.
It runs until Jean Claude gets sick of it and tells them "you know our pissed off ally is RIGHT THERE". He pulls out the psychic vampire powers and Anita does too, and the chapter closes with Anita's eyes turning black and Richard's randomly turning blue.