Saturday, April 13, 2013

Incubus Dreams, Laurell K. Hamilton

This is the first book I've felt was really Romance. I guess the whole series would be considered Supernatural Romance, but it just didn't really feel that way – this one does. I'm not a huge Romance fan. I don't hate it when it's done right (or my version of right), but I'm not really into. I have the 60/40 rule: 60% needs to be plot (action, mystery, thriller, fantasy, whatever), and 40% can be all mushy. It's not that I dislike Romance, it adds most of the time, what I mind is when it ends up feeling like the whole plot is just there to serve the couple. Then I get bored. I will accept 50/50 occasionally too, if the plot is interesting enough.

In the other books, there's usually an over arching story, a case, a mystery, something. The council is there. A new pard comes to town and people are trying to kill/capture Anita. Richard is framed for rape. SOMETHING. Despite the lack of a strong over arching story, I still enjoyed this book. That's not to say there's nothing going on, just not the fast paced, action packed, mystery/thriller type story we normally get. Nor does it come to a conclusion. 

Strippers are dying. Vampires are killing them. Turns out, there's a new big bad in town, though it takes a while for that to come out. The Church of the Eternal Light, which teaches God's promise of eternal life isn't heaven, its vampirism, isn't using a blood oath. That means 100s of vamps have no master to a) keep them in check, and b) guide them and help them survive. If you're thinking, "Well, that sounds like a fucking disaster waiting to happen," Anita and I agree. Jean-Claude, too. Those things are happening, and yes, of course they're tied together, but they're background noise for this book. And Anita doesn't get the bad guy, which is actually not as disappointing as it sounds. It's part of her emotional growth, which I'll get deeper into in a second. What is disappointing is that no one gets the bad guys. This time, they just get away. Well, the cops know they're out and about now, but they're still alive and wandering.

So, as I said, more emotional growth for Anita. On that end, there's a ton going on. Let me start with Ronnie, since I'm glad she's back. Ronnie was Anita's best friend. Really her only female friend. There's a lawyer who pops up now and then, but she's married and they're just not quite besties. Ronnie is the one I mentioned in my review of Narcissus in Chains who had all those issues with JC. She's having trouble with her boyfriend, Louie, who (Gasp!!) asks her to marry him. She says no, she feels like things are going great and she's terrified they'll change. She doesn't even want to move in together. She just wants to be able to date. Ronnie uses sex like Anita uses anger: as a wall. They both had some shitty childhoods and Ronnie manages to keep men at arm's length so they won't hurt her by never really getting serious. She says she's worried if she marries Louie, she'll meet some hit guy and want to sleep with him.

It's not really her relationship with Louie that's important, it's that while Ronnie and Anita are discussing this horrible chain of events Anita starts to see her own way through. Anita still hasn't had sex with Nathaniel, the wereleopard who shares her med with Micah. She feeds the ardeur, but no intercourse. He's basically her wife though. And I mean wife in that sexist, 50's house wife way. He cooks, he cleans, he does the shopping. But no nookie. Anita starts working through these issues while talking to Ronnie. She also suggests Ronnie talk to a therapist and confides that Marianne, the psychic training her, acts as her therapist. As a psych nerd, I whole heartedly approve of therapy. I read so many books, see so many shows and movies, and think "that character would be a lot better off if he/she just went to therapy." It's so refreshing for an author to write that in and not try to make the characters push through issues and be "strong."

"I'd learned lately that truth is really the only way for a relationships to survive, let alone grow" (p 211)

It's not just Nathaniel that Anita starts working through with Ronnie. She finds out that Ronnie wasn't really mad about JC, she was for a while, but it was more that Anita had all these things and was happy that Ronnie was terrified of (read: living with someone). They start to heal their relationship  and come to some kind of understanding – Ronnie even learns how much of Anita's life she's missing when she cuts the vamps out.

Anita is making a concerted effort not to pick her relationships apart. If they work she's trying to let them work, regardless of which boyfriend it is. She's even starting to acknowledge that she's been brainwashed into believing sex is bad. That any kind of intimate touching is bad. She starts to acknowledge that it isn't true. She even gets to the point where she can say, out loud, that sex with 2 men at once "does it for her." Talk about a giant leap. The Anita from Guilty Pleasures, hell the Anita from The Killing Dance (my first review), wouldn't have admitted that. It would have made her feel like a slut. The fact that she said it to Richard is even more impressive (more of Richard later).

She even has sex with Nathaniel in his half-man form. Now, I'm really not sure how I feel about this. When it's happening, she's making really good points. She loves him, not just how he looks. And he's the same person in the half-man form, so…what's the problem? While I can suspend belief for so much of this series because it's not real, this one just tastes a bit too much of bestiality for me. Perhaps Hamilton felt the same because it's the briefest of moments before Richard busts in and breaks it up. I'll have to see if this happens again and what I think about it. Just not ready to call it out or defend it at this point.

So, yeah, Richard. He's back and as pissed off as ever. Turns out, we finally know what Richard got from Anita in their little triumvirate. She got some of his beast, we've known that for a while. He got some of her rage. She's quick to anger because she's basically grown around her rage. It's been there as long as she can remember. Now he's having more trouble controlling his own rage. However, he is trying. He tells her he wants her back in his life – wants her as lupa – but needs to keep dating. He's just not ready to give up his hope of a "normal" life. He still wants the picket fence and 2.5 kids. She's given that up. So, JC, Richard and Anita have a threesome. Through it we find one reason Richard is homophobic (not the mean kind, the uncomfortable kind) is because when he first joined the pack, Raina (the evil bitch) tried to have him raped by another male. But through this experience, he and JC become closer – even if it's still uncomfortable. Turns out, where Richard was able to escape the experience, JC did have to have sex with the same guy.

Richard still hates a lot about himself, and not just his beast, but he really is trying to make an effort. He also still doesn't want to share, but understands the time when he could make that demand is long gone. I'm as glad to see this emotional development in Richard as I am to see it in Anita. I'm still hoping he can be a regular boyfriend. They do make plans for him to "stop by" to feed the ardeur from time to time. Richard actually even gets to experience the ardeur for himself as Anita experiences it. It makes him understand a bit more.

I admit to feeling vindicated, however, when Anita acknowledges that the reason Richard turned the first time for her the way he did was to push her way. To make her disgusted and afraid of him. I said this back in my Killing Dance review! Honestly, I think Anita is the only one who CAN love and accept all of Richard. Maybe not…but I can't see a straight human doing it.

And you're feminist anecdote for this review: Tammy (a detective) and Larry (Anita's trainee) are getting married because Tammy is pregnant. It's one of those things where the plan was to get married eventually, it just got speed up. During the wedding, Anita notes how pissed Tammy's father is at Larry. Not at Tammy and Larry, just Larry. That she had no part in. That she, in fact, needed her virtue protected by her father. Now, I may get some heat for this one. "What's wrong with a father wanted to protect his daughter?" you may ask. That's not it. It's the idea that a woman needs someone to take care of her, to make those decisions for her. Tammy is clearly and adult – she's a detective for Christ's sake! I think she can make the decision to have sex or not. She wasn't, "snatched a virgin from her bed and brought back deflowered, and pregnant," as Anita so succinctly puts it.

There are always more, but that's all you get this round.

Incubus Dreams, Laurell K. Hamilton

No comments:

Post a Comment