Saturday, April 20, 2013
The Harlequin, Laurell K. Hamilton
This one was much more along the lines of what I'd come to expect from the series. There's a new big bad in town, and Anita and company have to deal with it.
The Harlequin are the police of the vampire world - a completely neutral (supposedly) entity from the Vampire Council. They've come to town bearing white masks. White means they're there to observe, red means pain, black is death. Anita and Jean-Claude just get white, yet someone keeps messing with them – enhancing emotions to the point of being out of control. It gets to the point where Richard tries to turn Anita into a wolf, almost kills JC and gets himself mortally wounded in the process. Anita manages to save them all, of course.
I had really hoped this near death experience would help Richard…and maybe it does to an extent. When Anita and the gang first hear the Harlequin are in town, they call everyone in. Richard has to cancel a date and ends up actually acting like a lycanthrope and sleeps, naked, with Anita, Micah and Nathaniel. No sex. Let's be clear. I mean literally sleeps. He even helps protect Anita while they sleep from Mommie Dearest, the mother of all vampires. He also tries to accept Micah by trying to check with him before volunteering to feed the ardeur. Anita tries by going to Richard first when she sees him again and sitting with him on the couch. Unfortunately, this is right before the bad guys start messing with him and he almost kills them all.
All that gave me hope that Richard was accepting – or at least trying to accept – Anita and her life as it is, instead of as he wants it to be. I had hoped when he showed up at JC's side to battle the Harlequin that it meant he was accepting his role, even if he hid his face to protect his identity. But no, Richard disappointed me, and Anita, again. He disappointed them all. They're winning. They're fighting this immense power, and they're winning. To seal the deal, they have to raise the ardeur. Aaaaaaand Richard comes through with the rejection again. Sigh.
He literally steps away from them during a battle to leave them to fight, and possibly die, alone. The power of the bad guys is in part to cause doubt. Or maybe to enhance the doubt. Either way, Anita and company touch Richard to protect him from the doubt, to protect him from the attack. Richard, ungrateful bastard that he is, complains. He doesn't complain about being protected. He complains about joining the group that's protecting him. He even has the audacity to call those who protect him evil. No immoral, E-V-I-L. Even Malcolm, the leader of the vampire church tries to explain to Richard. Malcolm says he judged Anita and the gang, called her a whore, called them evil, called them corrupting, but only in that moment realized that he was wrong. He tried to explain that the ardeur Anita offered to his followers was only friendship, and Richard still refused to see it. He admits that he doesn't include Anita and JC in his list of people he cares about, the people he tried to do right by. He begs Anita not to remove the protection she's giving him, but won't help her maintain it. JC tells him that Richard judges them continually – vilifies them, really. He admits to Richard that he cares for Richard. Still Richard will not budge. They leave it up to Richard. If they are evil to him, then he should step away from their protection.
When the ardeur rises, it's not lust but love. Micah , who is not bound to Anita or JC, manages to amplify their power because Anita loves him. Richard, realizing that it's not lust, that he doesn't have to "fuck" everyone as he accused them of (I believe his comment was they they were going to "fuck, like you always do."), tries to return. Only, when he touches Anita, the power doesn't jump. It doesn't work for him. When he questions it, Anita tells him "You said we were nothing to you." He's never understood that it's not just about sex for Anita. Malcolm tried to explain to Richard, he just is too attached to what he thinks are morals.
As irritated as I've been with Richard, I'm sad that he might have finally gotten Anita to fall out of love with him. He might have really finished it this time. I won't know till I keep reading, but I still hope he learns. I hope he learns because I think Anita is the only one who can love him. She's the only one who would completely accept him, if only he can accept himself. Richard is the poster child for "you can't love someone else until you love yourself." And I think she wants to love him, always will to an extent.
And I hope when he does learn he can make it up to her. Because when he does learn, he's going to realize what he gave up.