Friday, June 06, 2008

Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton

Anita is finally enjoying her life. She's a triple vampire-marked servant of Jean-Claude, master of the city, and is living with Nathaniel, the nineteen year old shapeshifter, and Micah, also a shapeshifter, both of whom she loves. She is a necromancer and has the ardeur, although unlike Jean-Claude, not only can she feed on lust and passion, but friendship and love.

One day, a friend named Jason Schuyler visits her. Jason is a werewolf who works as a stripper at Guilty Pleasures, Jean-Claude's club. Jason has a problem... two problems, actually, and he's feeling down.

First, he and his girlfriend Perdita recently broke up, because she was certain he was cheating on her with Jean-Claude and Ascher, another vampire who is Jean-Claude's friend and lover from early in his undead days. She was also certain that Jason and Anita were still lovers, as Anita used to use him to feed her Ardeur, but Anita had actually stopped using Jason when she realized that Perdita was extremely uncomfortable with the situation. Jason had quickly gotten fed up with Perdita putting him in extreme discomfort because of her insane jealousy, but she broke off with him first.

Second, Jason's father is dying. Not that he and Jason have a close relationship. Both Jason's father and older sister believe that Jason is Gay, which makes them look down upon him. Especially that Jason wasn't into sports, took lots of dance classes and ended up becoming a dancer has settled the label "Gay" on him in their minds. But Jason certainly isn't gay. He's much too interested in women for that. He also feels attracted to certain men, but he won't mention that around his family, as his Dad and older sister view bisexuality as "Gay lite". But now that his Dad may be not much longer for this world, his mother suggests Jason visit, along with his girlfriend, to finally prove to his Dad once and for all that he isn't Gay.

Anita, after a sexual session with Jason and Nathaniel, decides to travel to his hometown with Jason. She may not be his "girlfriend", but she is his lover, and his good friend, and she cares about him. Enough to even travel by airplane, which is almost a fate worse than death to Anita. She clears the trip with Jean-Claude, and they travel to Jason's hometown, and directly into trouble.

It seems that Jason is a dead ringer for the soon to be married son of a senator about to make a bid for President, and when he shows up with Anita in tow, nobody wants to believe that he isn't the bridegroom just being crass enough to show up at his own wedding with a mistress in tow. When they finally get the local servants of Senator Summerland to realize that Jason is not Keith Summerland, all the men are concerned about is how to head off a potentially explosive situation at the source.

Jason is mistaken for Keith Summerland continually, by the servants of the Summerlands, by the Presss, and by the management of the hotel. But even when they try to set the situation right, the rumors of Anita Blake, Servant of Jean-Claude, running off to marry one of the dancers at the Master of the City's strip clubs, are too delicious to ignore, and stir up even more trouble.

Jason finally gets to see his father, and his father declares that Anita is lying to him about being Jason's lover, or that she is stupid and he is simply fooling her. Jason washes his hands of the situation, angry at the father who has verbally and physically abused him most of his life, but his mother and Anita convinces him to stick around, for another day at least.

They go back to the hotel and have sex to feed Anita's Ardeur and to relax from the many stresses of the day, only to be interrupted by Keith's drunken fianceé, who once again believes that Jason is Keith and that he is hiding a mistress in his room. Once that is cleared up, Lisa, his fianceé, and her best friend, invite Anita and Jason to the bachelorette party, and don't give them much room to refuse. Reluctantly, they go upstairs, where Anita verbally jousts with the Summerlands' security guys as Jason flirts with the bridal party.

When the scheduled entertainment arrives, however, Marmee Noir takes control of Anita and pushes the essence of Weretiger through her, making her "call" all the Weretigers in America, amking them Anita's animal to call. Anita barely makes it to her room before Marmee Noir subsumes her completely and Anita loses almost two days in a frenzied orgy with Jason and two Weretigers.

When she finally awakens, Anita is shaken and afraid for her sanity. Richard, her ex-fianceé and Ulfric of the Werewolves, has shown up with some of his pack at Jean-Claude's request to try and help her. Anita realizes that his constant anger is actually something of hers, and draws it back into herself, using the anger to feed the Ardeur. She also learns that Keith Summerland has eloped with the wife of a Master of the City, a vampire, and now the Master's minions are searching for them both... and they believe that Anita and Jason are Keith and Lorna, the Master's wife. Can Anita deal with the fallout from Marmee Noir's attack and keep herself and Jason safe from the vampires coming to kill him for Keith's actions, or will she finally succumb to the attack when she is emotionally drained and distraught? And what will happen to Richard when he finally inherits Jean-Claude's Ardeur for his own?

I enjoyed this book for both parts, both the family, human troubles part, and for the later, supernatural troubles part. In a way, this is a step backwards for Anita, who finally believed that she had the whole Ardeur mess dealt with and under control, but with Marmee Noir, she is way out of her depth, and she gets rolled like a cheap cigarette and doesn't enjoy the experience one bit. Of course, life never seems to get better for her, but she is going to have to grow a great deal, as will Richard and Jean-Claude, if she hopes to deal with Marmee Noir and win, as Marmee Noir is the oldest and first vampire.

Can Anita actually prevail? The future seems up in doubt, and only time will tell. But I'll be there to see where this goes, as the fascination isn't gone for me yet.

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