Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton

Anita Blake is back at work at her job in Reanimators, Inc. However, the clients who have been coming to her lately are more than a little... disturbing. The first is Tony Bennington, a man who wants his wife brought back from the dead. But he's evasive about why he wants her brought back exactly, and Anita must ask the hard questions until she gets the impression thathe wants his wife brought back from the dead for good. He wants to turn her into a vampire, and Anita tells him that what he wants is impossible. His wife would have had to be bitten several times before she died, and since she died in a fire and not all of her is even there any more, that would have killed even a prospective vampire.

Benningtone isn't happy with the truth, but he goes, and when he gets outside, he sees several of Anita's housemates waiting for her, to take her to lunch. He recognizes them from Guilty Pleasures. His wife went there on a girls only party. She introduces them as the names they use at the club, and the men, when they realize why he came to see Anita, commiserate with him over the loss of his wife. None of them claim to remember her from the club.

But when they go out to the restaurant, they tell her that they remember the wife, alright. She is a fur-fucker, a woman who wants to do it with a Lycanthrope because of the animal inside of them. She wanted to have sex right in the club, and got angry and obstreperous when none of the dancers would do her. One of the guards offered to, at his place, but she turned that down, and was eventually shown the door.

Nathaniel finds that their waiter is attracted to him, and when he just looks at the man, the waiter nearly goes to pieces. He asks if he can play with the waiter, but Anita says no, and ends up flirting with the waiter herself a little, also reducing him to blubbering incompetence.

Then, she is contacted by another client, Natalie Zell, who wants her husband raised from the dead. Her reason for doing so is even more extreme- she wants to chop him in pieces with an axe and bury the pieces separately. She knows that even if you dismember a zombie, it will continue to feel fear, and that's what she wants- because her husband lied to her about wanting kids, and went off and had a son with another woman- a woman he would have left his wife for if her prenup hadn't meant he would lose the company he'd worked so hard to build on her money.

Anita also turns her down, even though Natalie Zell offers her millions of dollars. Anita understands hurt and betrayal, but this just goes too far for her, and she's squicked out by the whole thing. She even tells Natalie Zell not to try and hurt her husband's son, and from her reaction, Anita knows she's done more than just thinking about it. Again, Anita warns her off, and escorts her out.

Taking lunch at the same café where she and her roommates had lunch weeks earlier, she is approached by two men. Two dangerous men... lion shifters. They want something from her, and claim she is in heat, and that it is driving them crazy. They want to claim her, but why they approached her is a different matter- they were hired by a client who wants her to raise someone from the dead, and they won't tell her who it is. Anita has a pretty good idea who- she's had two clients she turned down, and it has to be one of them.

Anita has no problems with shooting them to escape, but the men are threatening those she loves, and the entire group of people in the restaurant, so she has to bide her time until she can figure out how to keep the men she loves safe and hurt or kill the people who are threatening her. But can she make the decision to take her powers to the next level and win one of them to her side permanently to win her freedom, even if doing so is against all she holds dear?

This is a short little Anita Blake story, but I rather liked it. Sometimes, it seems that Anita has so many powers, and so many lovers that she insulated from the very bad things that might happen to her. But this story shows that's not the case. The villains use the fact that she has so many men that she loves against her, threatening to harm and/or kill them to make Anita cooperate with her own kidnapping. I liked that Anita was shown to still be vulnerable, and not to just some world-shaking cosmic threat- these were just a bunch of weres hired by a twisted human- but they totally owned her for a while.

Many Anita stories are unbelievable because it seems that all she does is have sex with someone to feed the ardeur, and voila, she gets shiny new powers that make her yet more invulnerable or add more shiny bits of tinsel to the powers she already has. This story sidestepped all that. Yes, Anita has sex in it, but it's to feed herself when she is dangerously low- real food won't do it for her by then, and she uses the sex to bind the Were doing it to her so completely that he is her creature.

Again, it was nice to see that Anita isn't all-powerful, because I find her more interesting when she's on the bottom and has to fight her way out with a true sense of "She could lose this. She could make the wrong decision and things could fall out badly. She could lose."

I liked this story, even though it was short, and I am hoping that Laurell K. Hamilton writes more stories like this one. Anita Blake is occasionally too powerful in her stories, and with the kind of things that she can do,you never get the feeling that she is in real danger, or that she can't simply blast her way out of it. This is a kind of story I think that Anita needs more of- ones where the force level is not overwhelming, but Anita still has to fight her way out of a losing position. Recommended.

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