Category Archives: Laurell K. Hamilton

Review: Hit List (The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series #20), by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

The mother of all darkness may have been destroyed in body, but her spirit still lives and has taken control of the Harlequin, the most feared, respected, and skilled group of spies and assassins ever trained.  With assistance from these vampire boogeymen, Mommy Dearest is gunning for Anita, to possess her body and control her abilities.  The Harlequin have laid a clever trap for Anita, separated from her support animals and sweeties, and will stop at nothing to acquire her for their master.  With only Edward and her own preternatural skills to protect her, will Anita survive Seattle or will Mommy Dearest win at long last?

    • Title: Hit List
    • Series: The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series – book #20
    • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
    • Prominent Characters: Anita, Edward, Bernardo, Ethan, Nicki
    • Recommended reader age: 18+
    • Sexual content level: light-to-moderate (explicit)

***** Slight spoilers ahead.  Read at your own risk.  =) *****

Thoughts:

This book has gotten a lot of negative reviews, for various reasons, so I fully expected to be disappointed and not enjoy reading it.  So let me just say first that I DID enjoy it and I’m glad I didn’t let the disgruntled reviewers scare me off!  I’m a fan of the ABVH series, but it’s not really enough to say “I like the series” because the series changes so drastically over the course of the impressive 20-book run.  Considering Ms. Hamilton (LKH) started work on the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter (ABVH) series in the early 1990s and has managed to successfully continue it through today, some changes in the characters and the plots should be expected.  Just like people change in real life, book characters should change as well, especially when they face as much trauma, violence, and loss in their lives as Anita and crew do.  If you’re not familiar with the series, the first 10 or so books are “one of the humans” stories for Anita, while the remaining books are “one of the monster” tales.  Anita is extremely verbose and is a master of talking circles around just about any other character I’ve seen in any book or series.  That’s not always a good thing, as the books tend to be dialogue-heavy, and the later books tend to be sex-dialogue-heavy (sometimes you feel like “OMG just get to it already!”), but it does give her character a more personal feel, as if she’s a girlfriend who’s relaying a story and walking you through her thought process.  It’s the way I tend to think, so I like it.

So… Hit List.  Part of the reason for explaining all that above is to say this…

Fans of the ABVH series for its explicit sexual content (let’s be honest with ourselves – she has a harem) and Anita’s acquisition of superhero-like powers, are the fans who enjoy the second half of the series.  Readers who enjoyed the crime-solving and horror elements of the beginning half of the series are less impressed with all the solve-everything-with-sex attitude that is so prevalent in the later books.  Given that, I’d expect that this novel would satisfy both camps, a) because there’s noticeably less sex in Hit List, and b) because she’s going back to her crime-solving roots.  This is an “Edward” book.  If you’re a reader of the series, then that alone should tell you whether or not you’re going to like this one.  Almost none of her harem of men are present in this adventure, leaving the story open for more focus on crime-solving.  However, something different between this and the previous “Edward” books is that he’s not nearly as I-could-kill-you-anytime and more I-think-I-want-you-to-stick-around, which is very un-Edward-like.  I chalk it up to part of her charm and maybe some of the metaphysics.  Men just like Anita, so it’s a natural progression to me.  Still, the crime-solving in this story is less about the horrendous gory crime scenes (thankfully!) and more about the hunt for the Harlequin, our newest big-bad since Mommy Dearest awoke.

Also, is it just me, or is LKH’s grammar improving noticably?  In the start of the book, I noticed several paragraphs with normal sentence structure, places where she’d usually run-on or fragment.  I wonder if the lack of sex in this book is indicative of LKH moving past her obsession with it (not that I’m complaining about said obsession – I find it entertaining), or if it is a vehicle for coming back to it stronger in the next one as she reunites with her many sweeties.  Of course, she could just skip that return-to-St-Louis period all together now that the next big bad seems like it will be Olaf, and if so, all bets are off.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  =)

Memorable quotes:

When does Anita have time to read Harry Potter?

“We settled this, Anita.  The… ones who can’t be named-” He glared at me.  “I really hate that we can’t even say their names out loud.  It feels like we’re in a Harry Potter book talking about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

Anger management, Jack… get some.

I resisted a terrible urge to say, “You can’t handle the truth,” but the thought helped kill some of the anger.  I gave him calmer eyes and said, “The truth about what exactly?”

Hearts broken, lessons learned…

I learned a long time ago that being physically intimidating didn’t keep you from getting your feelings hurt.  Everyone’s heart is the same size.

Home is where your sweeties are.

It wasn’t about being the prettiest, or the best, it was about enjoying it.  It was about loving the men who were with you, while they were with you, and valuing every last one of them.  The love of a lover, of friends, and of partners, of people that I never wanted to lose, and wanted to wake up beside every damn day.  It was about home.  Home wasn’t a place, or a building, or a tropical night full of flowers and rain.  Love made home not out of boards and walls and furniture, but of hands to hold, and smiles to share, and the warmth of that body cuddled around you in the dark.

If you like Hit List of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series…

If you enjoyed Hit List for the paranormal aspect of it, check out the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and the Feral Warriors series by Pamela Palmer.  The Fever series is a 5-book set of consecutive stories, told from female first-perspective, about the Fae and the epic consequences of their civil war on our world.  There’s also the side benefit of experiencing Barrons, the male lead in the Fever series, whom you will ever want more of once you meet him! The Feral Warriors are a (so far) 5 book series about a group of shape-shifters who are spirit warriors protecting their race from their mortal enemies.  The stories are all told from the 3rd person, focusing mostly on the primary couple for each story.  These books are pretty steamy.  *grin*

If you liked Hit List (and the last half of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series) for the intimate connections between Anita and her harem of sweeties, you’ll probably also enjoy The Meredith Gentry series, also by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Told from Merry’s perspective, it’s a series of stories full of love, sex, magic, fae, and battles.  Many fans of the ABVH series have reviewed positively about the Merry Gentry series, and it is one of my personal favorites.

Final thoughts:

As far as ABVH books go, Hit List is pretty tame, but I think it stays true to the story path and style that LKH has precedented in the previous few books.  I found it an enjoyable (and quick!) read and, while I probably won’t read it again for a while, may come back to it sometime in the future when I re-read the entire series again.

Rating:
4.25 fangs: Bite it!

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/ (The Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series website – finally updated and easier to use!)

http://www.karenmoning.com/ (The Fever series website)

http://www.pamelapalmer.net/ (The Feral Warriors series website)

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Fangtastic Friday: The Alpha Showdown is ON! Bones & Cat go fang-to-fang!

I came across this great review blog last week via Facebook and LOVE the Alpha Showdown idea!  The Vampire Book Club has set up a tournament bracket, pitting some of our favorite heroes and heroines of paranormal romance & urban fantasy against each other.  The contest is billed as an “alpha” showdown, implying it’s about strength of leadership but it’s feeling more like a “who could kick whose ass in a fight” sort of thing.  Really either way is fun, so no complaint here!  In the first two showdowns, one of my personal favorite paranormal romance couples, the Night Huntress series’ Cat & Bones, won their respective matches and are moving on to the next round… to fight EACH OTHER!  *gasp*

Soooooo, this is either some really bad bracket seeding or a nice ironic jab at the power couple.  Now there’s a tough choice for voters: powerful, sexy, badass, dirty-fighting Bones or his one-of-a-kind vampire-blood-drinking mate, whom he trained personally.  My first instinct is “Bones, hands down”.  He’s got at least a century on Cat, extra strength and abilities, and knows all her weaknesses.  That said, she knows all of his weaknesses too, and she tops his list of “people I’d rather die for than sneeze at”.  She also could drain him of all his blood and absorb some of his powers… if she could hold him down long enough.  Mmmm, toss -up.

Now, that said, this is the showdown doesn’t necessarily have to involve fighting.  When it comes to straight leadership, it’s still a tight race, with both of them having headed up separate successful and powerful organizations, but I think the scales tip a little to Bones on that front.  She does allow him to dominate her though (well, moreso than the other way around at least), and that’s what being “alpha” is about – convincing others to accept you as their leader, whether through fighting, love,  loyalty, or manipulation.  Who will win?  You’ll have to check back and see!

Other notable match-ups are…

  • Anita Blake vs Eugenie Markham
  • Zsadist vs Curran (I’d have rather seen Vishous here! /pout)
  • Eric Northman vs Raphael (this one should be interesting)
To follow the action, check out The Vampire Book Club and cast your vote!  The competition bracket is below, if you want a sneak peek…
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Fangtastic Friday: Hot summer reads, Romantic Times awards, & Mr. Romance 2011

When the heat of summer hits (especially in the south!) and all you can think of as you pour yourself out of your car is how fast you can get into an air-conditioned building, relax & chill out with a steamy little story or four.  *grin*  Yeah yeah, I know there are TONS of great books that are probably releasing this summer that I’m not mentioning here.  Hey, I can’t read all the time – I gotta eat and sleep and work too!  =P  These are the upcoming sequels to the stories I’ve reviewed (and intend to continue reading) on this site:

  • May 3: Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris – read an excerpt here
  • May 31: The Reluctant Vampire (Argeneau Vampires #15) by Lynsay Sands – read an excerpt here
  • May 31: Kiss of Snow (Changeling/Psy #10) by Nalini Singh – read an exerpt here
  • June 7: Hunt the Moon (Cassie Palmer #5) by Karen Chance – read an excerpt here
  • June 7: Hit List (Anita Blake #20) by Laurell K. Hamilton – read an excerpt here
  • June 28th: Deeper than Midnight (Midnight Breed #9) by Lara Adrian – read an excerpt here

The famous Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention was held earlier this month, and a few of my favorite authors were honored.  Here are some of the award nominees and winners:

Career Achievement Best Author Awards (winner in bold):
  • Urban Fantasy: Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Rachel Caine, P.N. Elrod, Simon R. Green
  • Paranormal: Amanda Ashley, Rebecca York, Maggie Shayne, MaryJanice Davidson, L.A. Banks
Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Awards (winner in bold):
  • Vampire Romance: Blood Born (Linda Howard, Linda Jones), Lover Mine (J.R. Ward), Eternal Kiss of Darkness (Jeaniene Frost), Cross Your Heart (Michele Bardsley), Devoured by Darkness (Alexandra Ivy)
  • Shapeshifter Romance: Serpent Moon (C.T. Adams, Cathy Clamp), Touch of Seduction (Rhyannon Byrd), Whisper Kiss (Deborah Cooke), Play of Passion (Nalini Singh), In the Dark of Dreams (Marjorie M. Liu), Day of the Dragon (Rebecca York)
  • Paranormal Romance: Lion’s Heat (Lora Leigh), Bonds of Justice (Nalini Singh), Water Bound (Christine Feehan), Bayou Moon (Ilona Andrews), The Iron Duke (Meljean Brook), Living Nightmare (Shannon K. Butcher)
  • Paranormal Fiction: Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever (Molly Harper), Truly, Madly (Heather Webber), Undead and Unfinished (MaryJanice Davidson), My Way to Hell (Dakota Cassidy), Something Wicked (Michelle Rowen), Haunted Honeymoon (Marta Acosta)
  • Urban Fantasy Novel: Magic Bleeds (Ilona Andrews), Total Eclipse (Rachel Caine), Chosen (Jeanne C. Stein), Dust (Joan Frances Turner), Mob Rules (Cameron Haley), Double Cross (Carolyn Crane)
  • Urban Fantasy Protaganist: Archangel’s Kiss (Nalini Singh), Spider’s Bite (Jennifer Estep), Battle of the Network Zombies (Mark Henry), Death Blows (DD Barant), Stormwalker (Allyson James), Red Hot Fury (Kasey Mackenzie)
  • Scotland-Set Historical Romance: Seduced by a Rogue (Amanda Scott), Taming the Highland Bride (Lynsay Sands), The Chief (Monica McCarty), Seduced by a Highlander (Paula Quinn), The Devil Wears Plaid (Teresa Medeiros), One Night in Scotland (Karen Hawkins)

And of course, it wouldn’t be a RT convention without the annual crowning of Mr. Romance.

Here’s this year’s winner, Len Gunn…

And the rest of the hotties…

Hope you enjoyed the eye candy… see you next week!

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Review: Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake series novel #10), by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

Anita reconnects with Jean-Claude and Richard to finally “marry” the vampire marks that bind them as a triumvirate.  Meanwhile, a brand new sweetie and a nasty new big bad hit town, as Anita fights her way from one crisis to the next in true ABVH style.

    • Title: Narcissus in Chains
    • Series: The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series – book #10
    • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
    • Prominent Characters: Anita, Jean-Claude, Richard, Nathaniel, Micah
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate, but fairly explicit

*** Spoiler alert! ***

If you have not read the first 9 books of the ABVH series and still plan to, OR if you do not want to know ANYTHING about the major events that will happen in Narcissus in Chains, stop reading now and come back once you’ve read it.  If you want some insight into the happenings of the novel, read on!  =) 

Premise & overview:

Anita, Richard, and Jean Claude finally marry their vampire marks, resulting in increased powers and new, although not necessarily desirable, abilities for each of them.  Anita & Richard are on-again off-again before Anita meets a new main squeeze and has to deal with the possibility of being Nimir-Ra of the leopards for real.  Furry politics takes a nasty turn when a new mystery alpha comes to town.

Thoughts:

It’s been a while since I read an Anita Blake book, but since I’ve never reviewed one and I really enjoyed this re-read, I figured it was a good time to put this one out there.  Narcissus in Chains is the book where Anita becomes “one of the monsters” and the series turns from being a mostly horror/thriller crime-solving drama to focusing on Anita’s new arduous power & burgeoning bevy of lovers and vamp/furry politics.

I’m a big fan of the Anita Blake series.  There are definitely things that annoy me, and the pace seems to spontaneously switch from super-slow to super-speed, but somehow I keep coming back for more even though I’ve read all the later books at least a few times.  The first 9 books mostly focus on Anita’s work as a necromancer (raising zombies for a living) and her side-job as a licensed vampire executioner and police correspondent, while developing the foundations of her relationships with Jean-Claude and Richard.  Because these early books were written nearly 20 years ago, there are a lot of references to now-antiquated technology and fashions that make it difficult to stay immersed in the story.  For example, any talk of shoulderpads automatically gives me visions of the 80s and 90s and really, to be completely honest, puts me off.  Let’s face it: shoulderpads are just NOT that attractive in normal clothes and I don’t want to read about them on my supposedly cute & kick-ass heroine!  Also, not having access to a cell phone, or having any references to cell phones, makes me think “why doesn’t she just get a cell phone?!” because mobile phones are one of the most, if not the absolute most, common personal accessory in our society today.  The early books also make a lot of references to Anita’s Nike shoes: what color they are, how many pairs she has, how often she wears them.  I don’t know why, I just find that really annoying.  It’s almost like Ms. Hamilton had some sort of advertising deal with Nike.  Of course, it could just be that she likes to thoroughly describe people, items, and events in her novels…

That is actually one of the things that annoys me most yet I like the most about Anita – she has a tendency to chat up little details regardless of their significance to the plot.  It’s sort of how people notice the things happening around them in real-time and the thoughts that pass through our heads – sometimes these thoughts are pertinent to the situation at hand and sometimes they’re superfluous, but including these little blurbs definitely helps the readers immerse themselves in the story and feel a closer connection to the main character.  The down-side to this is that there’s apparently no limit to what Ms. Hamilton is willing to talk circles around, including her sex scenes.  LKH writes some of the most steamy & gutsy sex scenes of all the authors I read, but sometimes it takes her forever to get down to it.  Sometimes, the characters actually talk themselves OUT of having sex during chapters-long dialogues that end in arguments (usually involving Richard – shocker, I know).  This is less of an issue in the later books, once Anita and Richard come more to grips with what they have become.

Narcissus in Chains marks the turning point in the series, where the books go from being widely classified as “thrillers” or “horror/crime drama” to “erotica” and “paranormal romance”.  The further into the series you get, the more appropriate the erotica label becomes.  I imagine bookstores have a tough time classifying this series – what section do you shelve it in when it’s pretty much split in two?

Memorable quotes:

Finally one of the monsters…

I’d tried not to be one of the monsters for so long, and now, in one fell swoop I was them, both of them.  You couldn’t be a bloodsucking vampire and be a lycanthrope at the same time.  They cancelled each other out as a disease or a curse… I’d always thought I’d have to drink blood to be one of them.  But I had been wrong about so many things.

Direct?  Who, me?

“You are simultaneously one of the most direct women I know, and one of the most self-deluding.”

“I am really not liking where this conversation is going.”

A lesson in BDSM…

I kept equating submissiveness with being inferior, and that wasn’t really the case.  Some people choose to be bottoms, to serve; it doesn’t make them less, just different.

Is there such a thing as too much firepower?

The doorbell rang again.  I didn’t jump this time.  I hung the Uzi over my shoulder by its strap and settled the Browning more comfortably in my hand.  The Uzi was really an emergency weapon.  The fact that I’d even thought about answering my door with it on my person was probably a bad sign.  If I needed more than a 9mm to answer my own front door, I should just leave town.

If you like…

If you like Narcissus in Chains and the Anita Blake series, you will almost certainly like the Meredith Gentry series, also written by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Unlike the ABVH series, which takes 10 books to really get into the steamy stuff, Merry Gentry focuses on sex as a central plot device starting with the first book.  MG also has some crime-solving elements in its plots, making it pretty damn near the fae version of an Anita Blake clone series, harem of hunky men included.

You might also like the Sookie Stackhouse (South Vampire Chronicles) series by Charlaine Harris and the Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series by Jeaniene Frost.  Both of these are told from the same first person heroine perspective and involve plenty of vamps and other supes.  The Night Huntress series is probably closer to ABVH than Sookie Stackhouse since the main character is also a fighter, but be aware that while both these series have some excellent steamy moments, they are not nearly as close to being classified as erotica as ABVH is.

Final thoughts:

LKH has created a world where the heroine is kick-ass, attractive, intelligent, capable, and gains power constantly.  Anita attracts men and trouble like flies to honey, and since the stories are all told in first person, the reader really gets to feel immersed in the crazy happenings and goings on.  We also get to see the plots of the entire series unfold through the eyes of one person (Anita), instead of from a third person view of whatever the marquee couple is for a particular book.  To have a successful series dedicated to one main voice that has lasted for this long is a fairly rare accomplishment in the Paranormal Romance genre, and I’m excited to see a few new series coming along a similar path.

I personally found the first few books, and a few of the non-St. Louis books (featuring Edward), very difficult to read.  I’m not into excessive gore or horror or thrillers, and some of the crime scene content in the first half of the series really left me troubled (especially considering LKH has stated that she gets her ideas from actual crimes!).  For readers with more sensitive psyches I’d like to recommend just skipping those first 9 books and starting with Narcissus in Chains.  However, if you do that, you’re going to miss out on all the groundwork for the Anita/Jean-Claude/Richard relationships and a lot of the events that shape Anita into who she becomes.  If you decide to start the series with NiC, find a good wiki and read cliff-note versions of the stories so you at least have an idea of what happened.  Read the entire series if you can, and stick it out through all the horror content if that’s not your bag, until at least NiC… skip through parts if you need to!  I’ve included some helpful wiki links below.  Be very careful what you click on with these, as you could inadvertently spoil some of the book 11+ storylines.   *wink*

Maybe I just really identify with Anita’s personality, or maybe it’s just that engrossing (I think the frequent random details and descriptions probably help with that more than they hurt) , but this series definitely has a permanent place on my bookshelf.

Rating:

4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Rating:

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/

http://www.anitablakewiki.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Blake

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Review: Divine Misdemeanors (Meredith Gentry series novel #8) by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

The princess is back to her L.A. private eye roots in this 8th installment in the Meredith Gentry series.  Less faerie politics and more detective horror mystery is what you’ll find in Divine Misdemeanors.  Merry has finally settled down in L.A. (sort of) with her 6 baby daddies… and assorted other guards and entourage… to await the birth of their twins and to take a few detective consults on the side.  The band is back together and the inter-personal drama is as rich as the crime mystery.  This is a great read and a good return to the Merry Gentry detective series after its recent departure into deep faerie politics and the pregnancy race.

  • Title: Divine Misdemeanors
  • Series: Meredith Gentry – book #8
  • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Recommended reader age: 18+
  • Sexual content level: Heavy
  • Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
  • Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse, Anita Blake

Premise:

Meredith Gentry, recently crowned queen of the slaugh and of the Unseelie Court by faerie itself, has sacrificed her crown to bring back her lost love Frost and to settle down in Los Angeles with her men to await the birth of their twins.  With 6 fathers for the 2 babies, the inter-personal drama is lively and definitely has potential for exciting future scuffles, while Merry’s entourage continues to grow (even her list of lovers, if you can believe it!) to over 100 fey living with her in exile!  No, they aren’t ALL lovers (although it is easy to lose count at times) and luckily LKH does not try to juggle all 100+ of these personalities in the story, but we do get to see some past characters brought more into the spotlight and we get some updates on some of our old friends.

A nasty string of fey murders is the central plotline for this book, while some personal drama and some political maneuvering are starting to brew in the background.  It’s back to her horror & detective roots for Laurell K. Hamilton with this one, with less emphasis on sex and more (respective to the past 3 novels in this series) on solving the crimes.

Thoughts:

You might be thinking… ‘Hey, you missed some books!’.  I skipped reviewing books 5-7 in this series because they all felt like one massive story split into 3 covers.  I don’t want to give away too much of the story in these reviews, so it was safer to just skip them.  They’re good, so if you were debating on finishing the series and you’ve made it happily through book 4, the next 3 are a quick & fun read.

This book, #8, reminds me a lot of the early Anita Blake novels.  Actually, the first half reminds me of those and the second half reminds me of the later Anita Blake novels.  It’s all crime-solving, crime-solving, crime-solving, then sex, sex, sex, then the book wraps up neatly (and predictably).  Considering the extremely heavy sexual content of the past several novels in this series, this one is a breath of fresh air and a fun read all around.  I would not recommend reading this unless you’ve read the rest of the series though… way too much history and too many characters to keep you confused!

You might also like…

If you’ve read the rest of the books in the Meredith Gentry series and liked them, you should check out the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  The Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance is similar in adventure style (and by the fact that someone is ALWAYS trying to kill the main character!), but the charged sexual atmosphere now resembles Anita Blake more than Cassie Palmer.

Memorable quotes:

The first crime scene…

The spicy smell of Eucalyptus could almost hide the scent of blood.  If it had been this many adult human-sized bodies the Eucalyptus wouldn’t have had a chance, but they weren’t adult-sized.  They were tiny by human standards, so tiny, the size of dolls; none of the corpses were even a foot tall, and some were less than five inches.  They lay on the ground with their bright butterfly wings frozen as if in mid-movement.  Their dead hands were wrapped around wilted flowers like a cheerful game gone horribly wrong.  They looked like so many broken Barbie dolls, except Barbie dolls never lay so lifelike, or so perfectly poised.  No matter how hard I’d tried as a little girl, their limbs remained stiff and unyielding.  The bodies on the ground were stiff with rigor mortis, but they’d been laid out carefully, so they had stiffened in strangely graceful, almost dancing poses.

Final thoughts:

LKH has stated that the crime scenes she writes about are all based on true crime.  That made it tough for me to read some of the early Anita Blake novels, due not just to the level of violence and gore, but to the mental knowlege that somewhere these terrible things (or something similar to them) actually happened to someone.  There are scenes in this book that are serial killer spooky, but luckily the gore is toned WAY down.  Maybe I’m desensitized from the ABVH books, but these scenes really didn’t bother me much at all.

Rating:
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


Review: A Stroke of Midnight (Meredith Gentry series novel #4) by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

A double homicide that exposes the human police to the new-and-improved Unseelie sithen, assassination attemps galore, even more guards for Merry, and an increasingly unstable Queen are the ingredients for a fun and frantic race through Ms. Hamilton’s world.  Great read!

  • Title: A Stroke of Midnight
  • Series: Meredith Gentry – book #4
  • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Recommended reader age: 18+
  • Sexual content level: Heavy
  • Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
  • Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse, Anita Blake

Premise:

Being in prison isn’t stopping Prince Cel from trying to assasinate his cousin, Princess Meredith Gentry, and it doesn’t seem to be deterring anyone else either.  Assasination attempts on Merry, her guard, and the Queen abound in this fourth offering of the Meredith Gentry series.  With this novel, LKH turns up the heat on Merry and her band of guards.  Doyle and Frost are still her favorite honeys, but Galen gets some attention here too, and she brings a slew of new guards to the group.  We also get a healthy helping of Rhys, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.

Time runs a little strangely in this novel, so what passes in mere minutes just outside the doors of faerie, takes hours to unfold inside.  The result being a jam-packed adventure with sexual encounters imbedded in just about every possible situation.  Faerie itself is becoming more friendly with Meredith, and gifting her with all sorts of new abilities… if only the residents of faerie were so friendly!

Thoughts:

This book and the next in the series (Mistral’s Kiss) are almost one story split into two novels.  The timeline is so close that if you aren’t reading these back-to-back, you might be confused.  It also very closely relates to book 3, Seduced By Moonlight.  LKH has stated that she doesn’t like cliffhangers and she tries at the end of each novel to nicely wrap up the story.  I’m finding that with the way these novels are starting to bleed together, I can’t remember where one ended and another started.  If I weren’t reading these in such quick succession, I might feel like they really were cliffhangers.

The sex in this book (and, presumably, all the ones that will follow it) is seriously amped up from what we saw in the first few novels.  It reminds me of the break in the Anita Blake series where the novels go from adventure/horror focused with a dash of romance to sex-centric with a frame of a story to support the advancement of the overarching AB series plotline.  It’s more detailed, definitely feels more “erotica” than “romance” in nature, and the scenes occur more predictably (and often).  If you’ve read the AB series and didn’t enjoy the switch in focus, you may want to stop reading Merry Gentry about now as well.  If it follows the Anita Blake trend, the story will start to become the accent to the romantic encounters, instead of the other way around, so consider yourself duly warned (or encouraged)!  *wink*

You might also like…

If you’ve read A Stroke of Midnight and Mistral’s Kiss and liked them, you should check out the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  The Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance is similar in adventure style (and by the fact that someone is ALWAYS trying to kill the main character!), but the charged sexual atmosphere is beginning to more resemble Anita Blake than Cassie Palmer.

Memorable quotes:

On political interactions…

I put the phone back in the cradle.  Too nice to be true.  My father had taught me to be nice first, because you can always be mean later, but once you’ve been mean to someone, they won’t believe the nice anymore.  So be nice, be nice, until it’s time to stop being nice, then destroy them.

Final thoughts:

When I first started reading LKH, the bad grammar made me a little crazy.  I guess somewhere on my path through 19 Anita Blake books, it either grew on me or I became desensitized to it, because when I started reading the Merry Gentry series, I thought to myself “hey, that grammar thing must have just been a literary vehicle for Anita Blake’s character!”.  Only now, 5 books in, do I realize it’s been there along and I’m just reading through it instead of around it.  Oh well, so much for my dreams of becoming a print editor!  =P

Rating:
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


Review: Seduced by Moonlight (Meredith Gentry series novel #3) by Laurell K. Hamilton

  • Title: Seduced by Moonlight
  • Series: Meredith Gentry – book #3
  • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Recommended reader age: 18+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate
  • Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
  • Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse, Anita Blake

Premise:

Princess Meredith is set to inherit the throne of the Unseelie (dark fae) court… all she has to do is conceive a child with one of her fae guards, the Queen’s Ravens.  Even though she’s decended from 5 different fertility gods, this is a lot harder than it sounds.  Harder, but not a hardship.  *wink*  Merry’s little band (*ahem* harem) of 5 guards is quickly becoming less of a band and more of a company.  She’s due to appear in three fae courts soon- the Seelie, Unseelie, and Goblin- and keeping her alive through all that may be challenging, since her cousin Prince Cel’s supporters still want to see him on the throne instead of Merry.  As she starts her tour of the courts, long-lost fae powers begin returning to her warriors (and herself), and the action heats up!

Thoughts:

I really liked this one.  The first two were great reads – easy to get through and really grabbed my attention- but this one was hard to put down.  What power would she manifest next?  What new ability would one of her guards accidentally develop?  Who would she get to try her new Hand of Blood power on?

One of the things I really like about LKH is that she develops characters “for the long haul”, meaning she gives them depth and purpose but she doesn’t shove it all in your face the first time you meet them.  The introduction of the nuances of their personality and character (and abilities!) are woven into the storylines and are integral to the personal feel of the novels.  Her characters stick around (unless they die, and even then you may see them again) and you never know what she’s going to do with them.

I also love the dynamic between LKH’s strong female leads and her supporting male characters (and the females too, although there aren’t as many of those).  She’s put Merry (and Anita Blake, in her other series) in a situation where she must spend large amounts of time with a crowd of men.  That sets the scene for some great romantic encounters and for some stellar tension and drama.  Goodbye boring bodice rippers, hello magical 2, 3, & 4-way encounters!  And by magical, I mean actual magic…

In many respects, the Merry Gentry series is similar to the Anita Blake series – it has a strong central female character, who is a detective and is always in mortal danger, surrounded by a literal harem of men, and develops unique and impressive abilities as the series goes on.  However, Merry’s series is much more magically bent than Anita’s. Anita lives in a world of violence, where guns and swords and fangs are the biggest threats, with a side of magic here and there.  Merry’s whole life is based on magic.  She is so sensitive to it that she has to keep up a permanent shield to the latent magic that surrounds all fae and the environment of the fairy locales.  I’m a fan of fantasy as much as science fiction, and while I don’t care for straight up violence and gore (a few of the AB books gave me a rough time!), I actually enjoy it sometimes when it’s mixed with magic or high fantasy.  Maybe because it’s less real… I dunno, but I don’t question it!  😉

You might also like…

If you’ve read Seduced by Moonlight and liked it, you might check out the Cassandra Palmer series from Karen Chance and the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Merry’s adventure-style story and overall personality are closer to Cassie Palmer than to Anita Blake (especially with the magical elements), but the detective work relationships with all the men resembles Anita Blake as well.  This series (so far) also reminds me of Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles by Charlaine Harris) in the earlier novels, before the politics started taking over the plotlines, albeit with a more cosmopolitan attitude about sex.

Memorable quotes:

On being famous…

I caught a glimpse of the gun wrapped in (Doyle’s) towel.  The helicopter circling overhead never knew that any of us was armed.  They also couldn’t see Frost standing just inside the sliding glass doors, hidden by a spill of drapes.  He was fully dressed, and very fully armed.  I think the reason I didn’t mind the media games so much was that if no one tried to kill me, it was a good day.  When that’s your criterion for a good day, what’s a few helicopters and some racy photos?  Not much.

Final thoughts:

Hmmm I think I put all my “final thoughts” into my “thoughts” section!  Not much more to say about this one because I’m too eager to finish this so I can move on to the next!!  Loved it!  If you’re on the fence about reading Laurell K. Hamilton because of what you’ve heard about the Anita Blake series, give Merry Gentry a try.  It’s less violent (well, less gory), more romantically focused yet with a good mystery plot.  The sexual encounters (so far at least – in these first three books) are less detailed than the later Anita Blake books, but not boring in any respect, so if the voyeuristic nature of Anita’s lifestyle bothers you, you may feel more comfortable with Merry.  =)

Rating:
 

 
 
5 fangs: BITE IT!

 

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


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