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Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton
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As expected this was not a good book but strangely it also didn't feel like the worst, that title went to the last two Anita adventures.

First of all, I could not believe the opening scene was a sex scene and it was so long I got bored and started to read only the speech and none of the descriptions.

Secondly, there was also a lot of repetitiveness of certain words and phrases mainly with sex scenes -the way the men are described and the way other marshals/cops/bodyguards react to Anita, both within the book and the last few books.

Thirdly, there was barely any plot. Basically Jason's father is dying of cancer and Jason wants to make peace with him and have his 'Hallmark moment' before he dies but his father is a homophobe and believes his son is gay so Anita goes with him as his girlfriend. Jason has twin cousins who look exactly like him and is mistaken for the cousin who is about to get married but has run off with some Master of the City's wife, he's kidnapped and tortured by the Master of the City's flunkies to the point of death. Oh and we have a visit from Marmee Noir which seemed forced and more than a little confusing. That's about it.

The only scene that I was only vaguely interested in was the one with Richard in it, where Anita fed on and took his (formerly her) anger/rage and he received the ardeur or at least his version of the ardeur. Does this spell the end of Anita's sluttish behaviour? Please tell me it does. If she can feed on anger rather than lust she can cut down on the men right?

I'm beginning to believe Hamilton has lost her touch and will never get it back again. I hope I'm wrong and will continue to read her Anita books but I will not be buying them. I pray that Skin Trade will focus more on the plot and less on the sex. ( )
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
Jason’s dad is dying – he has to go home to try and make amends. And make sure his dad knows how very straight he is.

Unfortunately, a case of mistaken identity gets him and Anita drawn into far more drama than expected. And with the Mother of All Darkness popping up at random to play with Anita, some drama is always going to follow Anita around.

Oh lordy, this one’s a doosey, even by the standards set by this series. Cover me, I’m going in.

The book opens with a heavy wollop of ridiculousness. Jason is sad. He is doubly sad. One, the girl he likes/loves/is in a relationship with has dumped him because she wants to be monogamous (how dare she). Two, his dad is dying of cancer

Anita and Nathaniel deal with this by having a threesome with Jason. Of course they do. I mean, when one of your best friends says “my dad is dying” it’s perfect natural to have sex with them, right?

Also because Perdy (Jason’s ex who is female and near one of Anita’s love interests so is obviously EVIL) is the worst person at sex EVER (unlike Anita) and so boring and pedestrian and limited (unlike Anita – though you may prefer Perdy if you prefer your lovers not to shred your skin to the bone with their nails and not to shriek like a chainsawed banshee while having a seizure at orgasm. You may find these things not sexy. In fact Perdy is so boring in bed she is “killing his soul.” No, really, your lover not wanting to be polygamous and have sex on the television is soul killing). So they decide to really go to town – by having sex not in a bed and using Velcro cuffs (OH HOW VERY NAUGHTY!). If this is your definition of edgy kink then you are more vanilla than an ice cream truck. This stands out as especially ridiculous because one of the many many many many oh-gods-so-many angst moments in this book is how desperate Nathaniel was for someone to push his kinky buttons… and this is it?

This is the opening scene and in addition to be especially ridiculous even for an Anita Blake novel contained all of the long standing Anita Blake stalwarts – long windedness, angst, ridiculous description and even when Jason is describing his issues having to take time out to calm down Anita’s ruffled feathers.

Right with that due warning of the ridiculousness within let us delve into the plot. This won’t take long. Jason wants Anita to go with him to see his dying dad (I’ll get back to why in a bit), this is a moment that will be used in a later book with Micah. In both cases Anita actually spends almost no time at all on the grieving loved one and dying relative (Jason actually begs her not to go chasing issues so he can actually focus on his family for five minutes). Unfortunately, Jason looks EXACTLY LIKE another guy who is up to all kinds of naughty shenanigans and is also son of a US presidential candidate who is in town to get married. Hijinks ensue. And by “hijinks” I mean lots of complaining at said candidates security/press detail, before some actual action tucked in at the very end of the book when it turns out said shenanigans are dangerous (and ridiculous).

This is a plot line that your average soap would look at and say “no, this is far too ludicrous.”

The B plot involves the Mother of All Darkness appearing, briefly, again. She does this over several books, she’ll rise, say “boo” magic will be described at vast length, she’ll be described as smelling of Jasmine then Anita will have sex. It happens book after book after book. I actually think Anita isn’t Marmee Noir’s ticket to power or freedom – Anita’s her personal porn channel. She’s sat back in her darkened room in France feverishly masturbating and muttering “work it Anita, now with another wereleopard! Ugh and some tigers! Ohhhh yeah….”. Yes if I have to live with this mental image, so do you. Anyway she appears, she uses her woo-woo on Anita who now has WERETIGER POWERS which involve having sex with weretigers (this would be the pattern I mentioned). Weretiger queens apparently have the woo-woo ability to send out a psychic, country wide cry that tells all weretiger men “come and shag me!” and they’re compelled to do so unless super powerful. Because there is no group of supernatural creatures in this world that don’t have special sex powers.

Consent being considered highly unnecessary in these books, the weretiger orgy happens while Anita, the tigers and Jason are all whammied by magic, unable to resist and afterwards can’t even remember what they did to each other except that it lasted for over a day. It’s possible it only lasted minutes but because of the way sex scenes are written in this series, everyone just assumed it took a full day. Oh and the young weretiger (Anita likes them young) becomes (another of) her mystical sex slaves. Yay sexual agency.

Once Anita has finished the sexing, the Mother of All Darkness is quiet for the rest of the book. I tell you, she uses Anita for porn, that’s why there’s such breaks between her actually paying attention to Anita.

Back to Jason’s issue – see, his dad thinks he’s gay because Jason is short, has female friends and likes dance. His dad is a homophobe so we’re treated to lots of very not fun homophobia in a book that has one walk-on lesbian who appears for maybe 2 pages: Jean-Claude has been put in that “heteroflexible” box Laurell K Hamilton loves so much and both Jason and Nathaniel overtly confirm straightness in this book – what starts out to be some kind of clumsy object lesson on bisexuality instead ends up just being a useful tool for everyone to assert the essential straightness (and it is really clumsy, because they use Nathaniel to assert that bisexuality exists… then overtly label him as as straight). To bring comfort to this dying man Anita agrees to pretend to be Jason’s girlfriend. No, really, this isn’t a bad soap storyline, it’s in the book.

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1 vote FangsfortheFantasy | Jul 13, 2014 |
On Amazon this book got really bad reviews and I can't figure out why. There's a whole lot of new plot to the series so I don't get it. Its been at least a few books since she had a great Anita book. I definitely like this one a lot. ( )
  MerryMeerkat | Sep 26, 2013 |
Jason is a werewolf, Master vampire Jean-Claude's pomme de sang, one of Anita's friends, and also one of Anita's lovers. Not long after Jason's girlfriend breaks up with him, he finds out that his father has maybe weeks to live. Jason's family, especially his father, believes he's gay, because to them there's no such thing as being bisexual. If his girlfriend hadn't just broken up with him, Jason could have taken her with him to see his father. Without her, however, he's got nothing but his word to prove that he's not gay. Anita agrees to go with Jason and let his family think she's his girlfriend - she's a girl, she's his friend, and they're lovers, so it's not exactly lying. Unfortunately, Jason bears a striking resemblance to Keith, the son of a senator who'll be running for president and Jason's cousin. Since Keith is supposed to be getting married in a few days, it looks really bad when reporters see someone they think is Keith (Jason) cuddling up with a strange woman (Anita). To make things even worse, Anita's ardeur is acting up, as is the tiger lycanthropy inside her, Keith, and therefore Jason, is in trouble, and the Mother of All Darkness (the most powerful vampire in existence) is focused on Anita.

I'll start this off by admitting that I was one of the readers who was really upset when Hamilton introduced the ardeur (which I still see as a convenient excuse for rough, orgy sex scenes), shifted the tone of the series into something very different from what the series was originally like but remarkably similar to her Meredith Gentry series, and started writing long, graphic sex scenes. I read a lot of romance, so I'm no stranger to sex scenes, but these are more like what you might get in an erotica novel.

I was a little worried by the way this book started. Basically, Anita, Nathaniel, and Jason negotiate the terms of a threesome (seriously, it's like some sort of business deal or something) and then actually have the threesome, in graphic detail. Hamilton uses this scene to remind readers that Anita had agreed to BDSM for Nathaniel - that kind of thing doesn't interest me, so it probably contributed to my dislike of this scene. In previous books, the sex scenes got so detailed and so lengthy that there wasn't always time for much plot, and I feared that this might be one of those books - it's gotten to the point where, although I used to buy Hamilton's books as soon as they came out, I no longer even feel the need to buy them used. As far as sex goes, this book wasn't that bad - if you actually liked the copious sex scenes in the last few books, you might feel differently. There are maybe three and a half sex scenes - the threesome I just mentioned, attempted sex between Jason and Anita that keeps getting interrupted by their need to chat with one another, sex between Anita and Jason, and an unintentional orgy that Hamilton thankfully never describes in detail. The biggest problem is that, although there aren't a lot of sex scenes, much of the book is still about sex in one way or another - Jason trying not to appear gay, Anita's ardeur, women drooling on Jason, etc.

Besides the way the sex scenes are written, I think one of the things that bothers me about them is Anita herself. Anita, to me, has always seemed like a thinly veiled stand-in for Laurell K. Hamilton. They look the same, they might dress the same if the author photos are anything to judge by, and, from what I've read of Hamilton's writings when she's writing as herself and not from the point of view of a character, they sound the same. I don't want to find myself trying to get through yet another graphic sex scene filled with bodily fluids of all sorts and find myself wondering if the recent shift in the tone of the Anita Blake series and in the kind of sex Anita has has anything to do with Hamilton's own sex life. I don't want to know about her sex life, and I'm hoping that Anita's sexual adventures are just Hamilton writing down her fantasies like some sort of lame fan fiction writer.

I enjoyed reading about Jason seeing his family - it wasn't a pleasant meeting, by any means, but it's always nice to read about the lives and families that characters have outside of all the supernatural weirdness that Anita lives around. In fact, I would have liked it if the book had been more about Jason's visit with his family and his attempts to connect with them. Hamilton is fond of having Anita analyze and painstakingly think through what's going on in all her relationships (sometimes only after things have already gone to hell), and I would have preferred it if Anita's analysis had been restricted to bad, but fairly ordinary family relationships (Jason's father was abusive and several of Jason's family members figure Anita is a whore who's just pretending to be his girlfriend so that they won't think he's gay, but all of that's more ordinary than Anita's metaphysical problems). Instead, readers are treated to pages and pages of Anita trying to think through and deal with relationship, political (vampire and lycanthrope politics, mainly), and metaphysical problems that she didn't even see coming.

Readers who enjoy shapeshifters may find something to like in this book. Anita meets several weretigers, the first natural-born weretigers she's ever met, and she learns a lot about how their society functions, mainly because there's a possibility that they might force her to abide by their societal rules because of the tiger insider her. A few werewolves do show up, like Jason (of course), Richard, Shang-Da, and Jamil, but weretigers are the primary lycanthropes in this book.

If you've read the past few books, which you really should before you start this book, you'll know that Richard has gone from being Anita's very nice boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend) to being an angry, unreasonable bastard. I can sympathize with some of his reactions to Anita and her ardeur - Anita's gone from being someone who resists sex in the earlier books to being someone who's regularly having sex with several different men, sometimes all at the same time. In this book, Anita does something that helps make Richard a little more like the guy he used to be, but the effects only last for a very short time. After that, he becomes a bastard of a different flavor, this time trying (and almost succeeding) to take Anita's choices about who she is with away.

One of the things I'm sort of sympathetic about with Richard is his attitudes towards Anita's fleet of lovers. I don't always like the way he deals with these feelings, but I can understand why it bothers him, even though the two of them aren't actually dating anymore. Personally, I feel like Anita's pretty hypocritical. Because she has to feed the ardeur, she has to have a bunch of lovers (like I said, it's an excuse for lots of sex with multiple partners), but I'm sure that even if she suddenly lost the ardeur she'd keep at least four or five of those lovers (Jean-Claude, Asher, Nathaniel, Micah, and maybe Jason - I can't remember if she and Damian are lovers). It's not so much the multiple lovers thing that bothers me as much as it is her rule that, although she's allowed to have multiple lovers, her lovers must in turn be monogamous. Anita gets to have her cake and eat it, too, and I'm never really quite sure why all her men put up with it. If Jean-Claude could just give her up, I wonder sometimes if he would, considering how much her "you must be monogamous while I sleep with everyone" rule hurts him politically.

Well, enough ranting. Overall, I think this book is an encouraging sign that future books will actually have time for a plot between sex scenes, although I doubt the series will ever go back to being what it once was. I no longer plan to buy any of the books in this series right when they come out, but I haven't yet gotten to the point where I'm just going to give them up. I didn't really like this book, but I didn't hate it either.

(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 24, 2013 |
It was nice getting to know Jason a bit more, but mostly it was just sex. The in-depth potential was wasted, as is par for the course lately.

o I am BEYOND sick of the ardeur.
o I am BEYOND sick of Richard's being a whiny little b! ch.
o "The look I gave him wasn't friendly." -- that's been used about 50 times in the past 2 books
o "I did/said the only thing I could think of." -- used multiple times in this book
o In the past few books, LKH has used "for real" a lot. It sounds annoyingly juvenile. "I want you to love me, for real." "You could have been my lupa, for real."
o I don't have the book in front of me so I can't quote directly, but I know there was a scene in which Anita learns about the weird customs of the weretigers. Then later in the book, she gets it explained to her again and apparently has no recollection of having learned this same info earlier in the book. There have been several cases of inconsistency in LKH's recent books. I can only attribute it to a lack of an editor.
o The past several books have had the SAME ANNOYING STORYLINE over and over and over. (a) Anita has sex, (b) Anita inexplicably gains a new power, (c) she must learn to control this new power, (d) in order to control her new beasts, she must call to local male were-animals of whatever form she needs.
o ANOTHER friggin' pregnancy scare. Seriously?
o Adverbs. LKH needs to learn when to add -ly to a word.

I'm sick of new men. I'm sick of the ardeur. I'm sick of her new powers.

I'm honestly at a loss as to how these books got published. ...Though at least it gives me hope that breaking into the publishing market isn't nearly as difficult as I once believed. ( )
  wispywillow | Sep 21, 2013 |
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To Jonathan, who loves me when I am at my most dark and helps me light a candle when it all grows too black to endure.
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I came home to find two men sitting at my kitchen table.
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Book description
A favor for Jason, vampire hunter Anita Blake’s werewolf lover, puts her in the center of a fullblown scandal that threatens master-vampire Jean- Claude’s reign—and makes her a pawn in an ancient vampire queen’s new rise to power.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425222195, Hardcover)

Jason Schuyler is a werewolf. He’s also one of Anita Blake’s best friends, and sometimes her lover. And right now he needs her – not to be a vampire hunter, or a federal marshal, or a necromancer, or even for her rank in the werewolf pack, but because his father is dying. He needs Anita because she’s a pretty woman who loves him, who can make him look like an everyday guy, who agrees to go home with him and help him say good-bye to the abusive father he never loved. The fact that Jason is about as much an everyday guy as Anita is a pretty woman is something they figure they can keep under wraps for a couple of days in a small town. How hard can that be? Really, by now, Anita Blake should know better. Marmee Noir, ancient mother of all vampires, picks this weekend to make a move. Somehow she has cut the connection that binds Anita and Jean-Claude, leaving Jean-Claude unable to sense what is happening. Dangerous even as she sleeps, buried in darkness for a thousand years somewhere beneath the old country of Europe, Marmee Noir reaches out toward power. She has attacked Anita before, but never like this. In Anita she senses what she needs to make her enemies tremble… “What The Da Vinci Code did for the religious thriller, the Anita Blake series has done for the vampire novel.” – USA Today “[A] wildly popular paranormal series.” – Entertainment Weekly

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:47 -0400)

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A favor for Jason, vampire hunter Anita Blake's werewolf lover, puts her in the center of a fullblown scandal that threatens master-vampire Jean-Claude's reign and makes her a pawn in an ancient vampire queen's new rise to power.

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