My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Actual rating of a strong 4.5
Anita, Micah, Nathaniel, Nicky, Bram, Ru, and Rodina are heading to the key islands for Ted’s (read Edward’s) marriage to Donna, FINALLY. Micah has been to the area on coalition business which has to do with a local family, Greek descendants, who believe their family was cursed by an angry God, many moons ago. They suffer with an odd form of lychanthropy, parts of them turn into a clutch of writhing, angry, real life snakes, with minds of their own. It’s not an exact science as to how it all works, but it has Micah pretty spooked, once Anita and Nathaniel see the photos, they are also freaked out. Anita wants to help Micah help this family but for now, they all need to get through this wedding. Nathaniel is excited for a real, honest to God holiday together, for the first time, but is quickly disappointed when, once again business interferes. First, its having to collect a drunk family member of the snake people when they arrive, then, it’s the disappearance of two women, one is a wedding party member, the other is a member of another wedding happening at the hotel.
Throw in trouble in Anita’s love life, and it’s the same series that we’ve come to know and love/hate.
So this is the 26th installment of Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, I have to admit, I was excited about this book, but at the same time a little apprehensive. Crimson Death left a lot to be desired for me, though I still enjoyed it somewhat, this one was definitely a lot better.
The story opens with Anita having a bridesmaid fitting for Donna’s wedding, where it becomes incredibly clear that one of the other bridesmaids has a series issue with Anita (surprise, surprise), one thing that is a running theme with this series, is Anita having to defend her sensibilities in one way or another, whether it be because she’s part of a poly group so people think she’s a slut, or whether it’s women being jealous because she has so many people on her arm. In this case, it’s due to a secret that she had with Edward, agreeing to go along with a story he created in order to save his relationship with Donna. Anyway! During this fitting she gets a call from Micah who is down in the Key Islands on coalition business, she receives photos of some of the family members who have an extremely odd form of lycanthropy, to the point that the guys aren’t even sure if it really IS a form of lycanthropy or something completely different. Once all this is done, the guys fly back to the circus of the damned, where we get a brief sexy time encounter with everyone’s favourite Master of the City, Jean-Claude. Once again he is sort of pushed to the back burner for this story, I’m missing our Jean-Claude interactions a bit. He does have another small bit part later on in the book but for the most part he is absent and not included in the wedding.
Nathaniel is super excited for him, Micah, and Anita to be going on their first real vacation as a threesome, however he ends up showing us some of that learned Nathaniel spunk when he gets incredibly angry at Anita and Micah for ending up involved in work related business once they arrive at the island. I love that Nathaniel has grown from the soft, submissive man that we first met, he now has a voice and isn’t afraid to use it. Though at times, I felt he was being a little irrational with his anger, however, I was privy to information that he was not, so I can forgive that. Nathaniel is still one of my favourite characters, I can never stay mad at him.
As we are now so far down the Anita Blake rabbit hole, the books are no longer case driven, so to speak. Now days, a lot of the stories focus around the characters and the relationships that have grown over such an impressive span of books. I know that a lot of people have an issue with this, they want the rough and tumble, hardcore big bads in each book, with Anita and Co. stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run. However, the story is no longer just about each new villian that we encounter, the relationships that have been created along with the issues the relationships encounter, is just as much of the story, as the case, or villian or whathaveyou that pops up to ruin Anita’s day is. To me anyway. I’ve become so invested in these characters that I really enjoy the in depth look into their crazy lifestyle.
I felt that this story had a better flow and I was able to power through it, unlike Crimson Death, which took 3/4 of the book before they actually GOT to Ireland. The case of the missing women in this one, doesn’t come to light until nearly half way through the book, but there is other stuff going on, and we are introduced to another issue they are facing in the form of the strange lycanthropy that Micah has encountered.
It’s quite funny, I’m actually a little proud of Anita after reading this, gone are the days when she felt she had to show that her dick was just as big, when Dixie, Donna’s friend is giving Anita lip, which happens throughout majority of the book, Anita doesn’t immediately react with violence or the need to prove that she’s the biggest, baddest, best out there. So I guess she’s learning, it’s not all about proving yourself, some people won’t listen anyway. So that was a nice little touch. However, I was a bit annoyed because let’s be honest, Dixie deserved to have her arse kicked, however, I understand that that was not Anita’s fight to have, as you will find out later in the book.
So, overall, I really enjoyed this installment, and I’m so hoping that the next one is just as satisfying as this one. If you’re more about plot driven, big bads, and the cases etc. this one may annoy you, as I said earlier, these books have now become about so much more than just the case and the villain, Hamilton is now delving into the mechanics of a poly relationship (relationships?) and how they are dealing with their relationship issues. It’s about the characters, not just what is happening to them. So if you want the old formula from say, Guilty Pleasures, where the case pops up, people are in danger, and Anita saves the day, with a little teasing, and flirting involved, you may not enjoy where the series has gone. Another thing that surprised me, there were only two shortish sex scenes in this book, though I kinda prefer it this way because it’s not all about Anita’s vagina, it was well placed, and needed in the story line for the characters.