A few things happen to push Anita along on her emotional journey. She's still struggling with the Ardeur and has sex with Jason. He uses the opportunity to talk with her about how she withholds herself from all her men. It of course goes back to losing her mother, who she loved with her whole heart, and how she's never been truly accepted since then. From her stepmother, to the college fiance, to Richard, and now Dolph's continued badgering. But something else comes out: she doesn't really truly accept others either. She does it because she's trying to protect herself from loss - she doesn't really believe anyone will stay with her. It's not that these are new revelations (I've always maintained Anita is brutally honest with herself), it's that this is the first time she's admitted it out loud. She accepts people in the sense that she doesn't think less of them for who they are, but she can't allow herself to accept them enough to trust them with herself, with her heart, if you want to be sappy.
There's also a big change in Anita's relationship with JC: they take Asher into their bed. Unfortunately, Asher gets a bit carried away when Anita tells him to feed. Well, let me back up. The ardeur needs to be fed, and if they don't "claim" Asher, he's vulnerable to Belle Morte's delegation. Anita knows JC loves Asher, and she loves him, too, but her morals - or should I say her upbringing - has made it difficult for her to be ok with becoming a menage a trois. She agrees, and she convinces Asher that she does love him, but that's she's cautious. Then, in the throes of passion(or the ardeur) so-to-speak, she tells Asher to feed. He does and gets carried away. When she wakes to a call to see a crime scene, she's sick. Like throw up, pass out, have the shakes kind of sick.
So, later when she sees Asher again and has concerns, Asher takes it as rejection. Luckily, Asher finally understands how sick Anita actually was, and they come to a truce. Or an understanding. But before that, Anita gave me a Richard moment: She admits to allowing Asher to feed, but is mad at him because he did. Where I can see her point is her concern that his access to her mind will forever make her unsure of her feeling for him. But between her emotional issues and Asher's, it's a complete clusterfuck.
What makes the Asher situation even more disappointing is that just before he wakes up, Anita's ready for JC to take blood. She genuinely takes her conversation with Jason to heart and tells him she's ready. But she's wearing a cross because of Belle Morte. Anita realizes that it's never glowed for JC and tries to explain it to him. He thinks she's making excuses to back out. Then Asher walks in covered in Anita's blood and it's all over. However, I have a lot of hope that it's just on hold - even if we don't see it in this book.
On the Richard front, things have not gotten better, but they do by the end. They acknowledge to each other the need to talk, but put it on the other to initiate. Richard, when he's ready to talk instead of fight; and Anita when she's willing to give it her time. Richard also has decided to live, thank god. He also acknowledges that his morals would have resulted in Asher's death or his being at belle Morte's mercy (of which there is none). He seems to be finally acknowledging that his morals do not always lead to the right decision. The path to hell, and all that.
I've always been advocate for Richard despite my irritation with him. And I do want everything to work out NOW, I'm just a happy ending type of girl, but as much as I want to rush things, I like that Hamilton has decided to have Anita and Richard find themselves - and each other - separately. They both have a lot of work to do: Richard needs to accept himself completely and Anita needs allow herself to accept others. Or is it to BE accepted?
The problem is, Anita is continually assaulted with people she cares about who want her to be something else. Dolph is the prime example of this. He's like father and friend, but he's been getting more and more out of hand. It all stems from his son's decision to first marry and then become a vampire. Unfortunately, he takes it out on Anita. He becomes more and more bigoted. It gets to the point when he manhandles Anita at a crime scene. Later he calls her a whore. Thing is, he would never have reacted this way if it was a male, officer or civilian. He ends up on enforced leave. I like Dolph and I really hope he becomes more tolerant and Anita can reclaim their friendship. I honestly don't know though.
There are more of those feminist moments Hamilton seems so fond of - and I love. They seem to be slightly less pervasive, but more powerful when they happen. There's the moment with Asher, JC and her in bed in which she calls the boys out on assuming a man taught her to be good in bed. There's the scene in the bathroom after Anita throws up when she's talking to the only other female, a detective, who's just found out she's pregnant and is concerned with her career and how throwing up at the scene will undermine her to the other officers. And there's the moment where Anita is thinking about how legends say Amazons cut off their breasts to be better warriors being a male construction because they think women can only be good warriors if they cut out their femininity. There are more, but I don't want to harp. I just can't help but pointing out these moments.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I'm liking the attempts by Anita to be more - to be better - to take what she doesn't like and change it. She wants to be happy, to have love in her life, and she's starting to try to have that. I'm even leaving with hope for her and Richard. Not soon, maybe, but eventually. ....God, I hope she doesn't wait till the end.