Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Harlequin--chapter 11

Oh god. I read ahead. OH GOD. WHY LAUREL. WHY.

So Anita goes back to the bedroom. It's Jean Claude's bed but he's not in it because Anita doesn't like sleeping with dead men. Nate is in the bed. The sheets are red and...sigh...silk.

I'm sorry, guys. I'm sure that silk sheets are wonderful, but I'm a fiber snob. You DO things in a bed, and silk is very, very, VERY easy to ruin. Every time I see "silk sheets" I think of the leigons of little baby moths that died so that Jean Claude could come on luxury.

We also find out that Jean Claude had the sheets changed because Anita looks best on red. Okay, the text says "The three of us" but we all know Nate and Micah don't matter a fart in a windstorm.

Micah shows up. We get several paragraphs about his kitty cat eyes. And how those eyes look. And how they got that way. And what various doctors have said about his eyes.

...I took my hand back and undid the robe’s sash. He lay back and watched me with that look a man can get— the look that is part sex, part possession, part just male. It’s not a look that has much to do with love, not the kind that includes hearts and flowers anyway, but it has everything to do with being together, being real. Edward was right. Micah was my lover. Not my boyfriend.
Translation: Micah objectifies Anita, which she's okay with, and she objectifies right back, while simultaneously withholding emotional intimacy because, you know, love's just icky.

 Anita thinks about when she and JC rolled Auggie. Hey, did ya'll know this is, like, ONE WEEK after Danse Macabre? It reads like it's months later but it's not. Anyhoo, Anita thinks about how she now knows her love for Nate and Micah is just vampire fuckery screwing with her mind, and she's okay with that:

When Micah had come to me, I’d needed a helpmate, someone to help me run the shapeshifter coalition that we’d just established.

And then he raped you within hours of meeting you. That's not how I'd define "helpmate". Sociopathic fuck, perhaps...

Nathaniel stirred in his sleep again. His face flexed, frowned. He made another small sound. It was his bad dream sound. He’d had more nightmares of late. His therapist said it was because he felt safe enough with us to explore his deeper pain.

Who the BLAZING BLUE FUCK would look at Nathanial's lifestyle and go "Yeah, this kid is fine where he's at?" Nathanial has a background of extremely horrible abuse, and of course, rape with extra rape, a side of rape and a supersized glass of rape to wash it all down. He should not be in this job with this boss or in this relationship with this girlfriend. Nate does not have the boundaries to keep himself safe at Guilty Pleasures. MAYBE he'd do well at a club that actively worked to keep its dancers safe, but Jean Claude blurs lines so frequently you'd think he was Robin Thicke. The ONLY thing keeping the dancers safe from Jean Claude's sexual proclivities is it'll get back to Anita and she'll dump him, and she's kind of his entire power base right now. Jean Claude rapes his entire customer base every single night. And Nathanial has no boundaries or survival instincts whatsoever. That is not a good thing. It is NOT good to look at a real abuser and think "sexy". Nate cannot separate play-acting from being abused. He plays without safewords for fuck's sake. I mean yeah, you can be turned on by your triggers but there's a difference between being turned on and consistantly placing yourself in dangerous situations because you literally cannot tell how dangerous it is! Nathanial being in this club, in this relationship with these people is like an alcoholic working bar when they've only got a month sobriety. Not only is it NOT a good idea, NO THERAPIST IN THE WORLD WOULD EVER CONSIDER IT SAFE.


I swear to fucking god I vomit a little every time he shows up. It's like when Anita says "When Micah came to me" when she actually means "When he raped me in the shower". Only it's from the POV of the rapist.

Richard looks at the bed full of Anita and her lovers and is...fine with that shit. Completely calm and cool and composed. And his hair has grown out just enough for LKH to give him a Christ-like golden halo, so we're going with "good" compliant Richard instead of Richard-who-wants-out-of-this-shit AKA the Realistic Portrayal of a Human Being.

He was as he had always been: six feet one inch of handsome masculinity. Perfect cheekbones and a nearly permanent tan showed that somewhere back in all that Dutch blood was something darker and less European. I’d always bet on American Indian, but they actually didn’t know. He was almost heartrendingly handsome. So why hadn’t my new vampire powers made us the perfect couple, too? Because for my abilities to work you had to know what you wanted, what you really wanted. Richard didn’t know that. He was too conflicted, too full of self-loathing, to know what his heart’s desire was.
Or, you know, you RAPED HIM and he's got the self-will and determination to dodge your powers because HELLO ANITA HE IS YOUR MOTHERFUCKING RAPE VICTIM, NOT YOUR EX-LOVER. Also: I love how not lusting after Anita means you don't know your heart's desire. Not wanting to sleep with an abusive rapist who happens to have a vagina instead of a penis seems like a perfectly reasonable desire to me.

Also-also: Europeans DO come in dark. I mean, I'm whiter than bedsheets, but we don't all come in perfect pearly princess.

Richard asks where everybody is, because he wants to sleep in a puppy pile tonight. (GAG ME). Jean Claude is with Asher, Jason is sleeping with his new girlfriend Perdita the Mermaid, a gift from Cape Cod AKA the Family of Potential Threatening Incest, and that means Richard has to sleep in a bed with Antia, Micah and Nathanial.

...and he's completely fine with that. NO. REALLY. HE'S COMPLETELY FINE WITH THAT.

 We must have looked surprised, though, because he said, “I’m a shapeshifter; we like big puppy piles for sleeping.”
 “Most of you guys do,” I said, “but you’ve never willingly slept with me and any of the other guys.” 
“This is who you are, Anita. This is who we both are.”
Alright, I kind of like that Richard isn't breaking things, but what the fucking shit, Laurel, one of Richard's main character traits is that he's monogamous, he doesn't like sharing, and he wants to be out of this bullshit relationship. I'll buy that he's come to terms with Anita's life choices (most of which suck) but WHY THE FUCKING SHIT is he getting in bed with them?

He asks everyone's permission to stay. Nathanial shows just how wonderful his therapist is:

“I’m not dominant to anyone in this room; I don’t get a vote.”
No. No no no no non o no NO NO. Dominance does not equal consent. DOMINANCE DOES NOT EQUAL CONSENT. It is ENTIRELY REASONABLE to ask permission to do something. And, for that matter, it's passive-aggressive as fuck to not give a yes/no answer to the question "Can I have intimate contact with you". Nathanial is not an inexperienced kid, and for him not to give a clear answer either means his boundaries are THAT fucked up, or he doesn't want Richard in bed with them and he doesn't want to get shit from Anita for telling Richard no.

Nate finally says it was Richard's bed first, and Richard says "Thanks for remembering that". I thought it was Jean Claude's bed? Richard did not do Jean Claude. Except under emotional duress from Anita and/or bad guys in the neighborhood.

They watch Richard unpack and then undress. It takes a paragraph to unpack, several paragraphs to undress. He gets into bed with Anita and Company and...oh god...they start making out.

On the one hand, we've waited until chapter eleven to have a sex scene. On the other hand, it's Richard, which means we're watching a rape victim make out with his abuser and HER abusers.

And then Richard and Nathanial start talking about Richard dating other women, which brings up Nathanial's request--that either Anita dominate him or he finds someone else who will, they just won't have sex. That leads to THIS:

 (Richard said) “I know. Raina talked about you a lot.” Raina had been the old lupa of the wolf pack. She’d taken Richard’s virginity and trained Nathaniel to be a good little pain slut.

good little pain slut.

  good little pain slut.

Nathanial is a slut because he likes pain. My issues with Nate's desire to be dominated has do with how he accepts all the pain, rather than restricting his activities to sex with people who are psychologically safe and who know how to use safewords. So thank you. Thank you, Anita, for finally being honest in your opinion of Nathanial's lifestyle. It's very gratifying. Also:

 The chapter of utterly horrible horribleness ends with everybody falling asleep.

I hate this book, I hate everyone involved in this book, I hate LKH for writing it and I hate Penguin for publishing it. In short:


  1. I think what LKH is going for regarding Nate is some kind of 24/7 slavery arrangement, or consensual nonconsent. I just get the impression that she hasn't done much research on those things and is going off of what her handful of friends who dabble in BDSM think they know about edge play, which apparently is almost nothing.

  2. Because if someone were a lifestyle slave, as in never or almost never breaks the submissive/dominant hierarchy, I could see them saying things like "I don't get a vote." In that kind of relationship, they don't. But it's all agreed to beforehand, and imo anyone who is responsible is open to contract negotiation even in a 24/7 arrangement.

    1. In case you haven't noticed, I find Nate's dynamic as a sub REALLY creepy. ALL of my red flags are going THIS IS NOT OKAY and I'm having a lot of trouble articulating why.

      I think that you CAN do this kind of lifestyle healthy, or at least do it in a way that won't damage the participants more than they might already be...but this CAN'T be how you do it. Especially if the relationship dynamic changes--even if you want to have a slave lifestyle, you still deserve the right to go "Not cool" and either back out or re-negotiate terms. I mean, people change, and sometimes change really rapidly. I mean, if you're in that lifestyle and your dom relapses on a drug or alcohol, you ABSOLUTELY have a vote on if you stay in the relationship (and my vote is GET THE FUCK OUT because nobody should be doing slave-play with an active addict. They will not respect your boundaries and you will not be safe anymore.)

      The idea that wanting to be in this lifestyle means you abdicate your body autonomy sounds like utter bullshit to me.

    2. I mean, that is basically what I was trying to say.

    3. "The idea that wanting to be in this lifestyle means you abdicate your body autonomy sounds like utter bullshit to me."

      It can mean that for some people. Not a lot of folks even do this, go this far, but it is out there and there are 24/7 slaves who will say they are happy. I've been around people who I thought were doing it in a responsible fashion, and people who I thought were borderline criminal. It's edge play for a reason.

  3. Rather than discuss how messed up Nathaniel is (because DEAR LORD is he messed up), I'm going to focus on how, once again the reason Anita and Richard's relationship didn't work out is all Richard's fault, even when it very clearly is Anita's. It's not mutual, it's not complicated, it's just Anita being unwilling to accept that anything could possibly be her fault.

    I can't help but wonder if LKH does the same thing with her first marriage - it couldn't possibly have fallen apart because of anything *she* did, because she's perfect and awesome and wonderful! No, it's all because her ex is horrible and the complete embodiment of everything bad in the world.