Jason’s dad is dying – he has to go home to try and make amends. And make sure his dad knows how very straight he is.
Unfortunately, a case of mistaken identity gets him and Anita drawn into far more drama than expected. And with the Mother of All Darkness popping up at random to play with Anita, some drama is always going to follow Anita around.
Oh lordy, this one’s a doosey, even by the standards set by this series. Cover me, I’m going in.
The book opens with a heavy wollop of ridiculousness. Jason is sad. He is doubly sad. One, the girl he likes/loves/is in a relationship with has dumped him because she wants to be monogamous (how dare she). Two, his dad is dying of cancer
Anita and Nathaniel deal with this by having a threesome with Jason. Of course they do. I mean, when one of your best friends says “my dad is dying” it’s perfect natural to have sex with them, right?
Also because Perdy (Jason’s ex who is female and near one of Anita’s love interests so is obviously EVIL) is the worst person at sex EVER (unlike Anita) and so boring and pedestrian and limited (unlike Anita – though you may prefer Perdy if you prefer your lovers not to shred your skin to the bone with their nails and not to shriek like a chainsawed banshee while having a seizure at orgasm. You may find these things not sexy. In fact Perdy is so boring in bed she is “killing his soul.” No, really, your lover not wanting to be polygamous and have sex on the television is soul killing). So they decide to really go to town – by having sex not in a bed and using Velcro cuffs (OH HOW VERY NAUGHTY!). If this is your definition of edgy kink then you are more vanilla than an ice cream truck. This stands out as especially ridiculous because one of the many many many many oh-gods-so-many angst moments in this book is how desperate Nathaniel was for someone to push his kinky buttons… and this is it?
This is the opening scene and in addition to be especially ridiculous even for an Anita Blake novel contained all of the long standing Anita Blake stalwarts – long windedness, angst, ridiculous description and even when Jason is describing his issues having to take time out to calm down Anita’s ruffled feathers.
Right with that due warning of the ridiculousness within let us delve into the plot. This won’t take long. Jason wants Anita to go with him to see his dying dad (I’ll get back to why in a bit), this is a moment that will be used in a later book with Micah. In both cases Anita actually spends almost no time at all on the grieving loved one and dying relative (Jason actually begs her not to go chasing issues so he can actually focus on his family for five minutes). Unfortunately, Jason looks EXACTLY LIKE another guy who is up to all kinds of naughty shenanigans and is also son of a US presidential candidate who is in town to get married. Hijinks ensue. And by “hijinks” I mean lots of complaining at said candidates security/press detail, before some actual action tucked in at the very end of the book when it turns out said shenanigans are dangerous (and ridiculous).
This is a plot line that your average soap would look at and say “no, this is far too ludicrous.”
The B plot involves the Mother of All Darkness appearing, briefly, again. She does this over several books, she’ll rise, say “boo” magic will be described at vast length, she’ll be described as smelling of Jasmine then Anita will have sex. It happens book after book after book. I actually think Anita isn’t Marmee Noir’s ticket to power or freedom – Anita’s her personal porn channel. She’s sat back in her darkened room in France feverishly masturbating and muttering “work it Anita, now with another wereleopard! Ugh and some tigers! Ohhhh yeah….”. Yes if I have to live with this mental image, so do you. Anyway she appears, she uses her woo-woo on Anita who now has WERETIGER POWERS which involve having sex with weretigers (this would be the pattern I mentioned). Weretiger queens apparently have the woo-woo ability to send out a psychic, country wide cry that tells all weretiger men “come and shag me!” and they’re compelled to do so unless super powerful. Because there is no group of supernatural creatures in this world that don’t have special sex powers.
Consent being considered highly unnecessary in these books, the weretiger orgy happens while Anita, the tigers and Jason are all whammied by magic, unable to resist and afterwards can’t even remember what they did to each other except that it lasted for over a day. It’s possible it only lasted minutes but because of the way sex scenes are written in this series, everyone just assumed it took a full day. Oh and the young weretiger (Anita likes them young) becomes (another of) her mystical sex slaves. Yay sexual agency.
Once Anita has finished the sexing, the Mother of All Darkness is quiet for the rest of the book. I tell you, she uses Anita for porn, that’s why there’s such breaks between her actually paying attention to Anita.
Back to Jason’s issue – see, his dad thinks he’s gay because Jason is short, has female friends and likes dance. His dad is a homophobe so we’re treated to lots of very not fun homophobia in a book that has one walk-on lesbian who appears for maybe 2 pages: Jean-Claude has been put in that “heteroflexible” box Laurell K Hamilton loves so much and both Jason and Nathaniel overtly confirm straightness in this book – what starts out to be some kind of clumsy object lesson on bisexuality instead ends up just being a useful tool for everyone to assert the essential straightness (and it is really clumsy, because they use Nathaniel to assert that bisexuality exists… then overtly label him as as straight). To bring comfort to this dying man Anita agrees to pretend to be Jason’s girlfriend. No, really, this isn’t a bad soap storyline, it’s in the book.