Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Redemption, Chapter 22 (NSFW)

96%. I hope to everything this is the last chapter.

We start out in Drangal’s head, and I guess we’re still meant to think this guy is just some schlub and not the villain we’ve ostensibly been chasing for three books. The narrative gymnastics continue, though this time it’s with all the grace of a mating giraffe:

Csangal had not been in the area for over a century but he was certain that the Vampire Lord would remember him so it was best to keep a low profile. No use in spreading the word around that a formerly local Vampire was crazy enough to be availing himself of Dr. Key’s skill.

giraffes mating

None of that is even necessary. Just show us he’s familiar with the area. You don’t have to jump up and down screaming “DON’T LOOK OVER HERE! NOTHING TO SEE HERE!”

After some more stumbling, we switch to Aleksei and Perrin saying goodbye. They’re all chummy now, which is sort of refreshing; at least the two points of the love triangle aren’t still dick-fencing, though of course it’s just to avoid any conflict in the resolution of this useless plot. Perrin will scuttle offscreen, and the only sort-of genuine relationship Gillian has will be gone. Perrin plans to seek Gillian out after the requisite year of no contact has passed, but I very much doubt we’ll see him again. Can’t wait for another book of this shit!

What’s a scene between Gillian and a man without some gross sexism? Perrin, who’s been the least sexist man in the books, tells her “You still need looking after, sweetheart,” and calls her a brat like she’s a ten-year-old who’s too big for her britches. All of a sudden this is more like an older brother saying goodbye to his kid sister. Charming!

Gillian and Aleksei remind us that Gillian’s mentor, Cassiopeia, will be visiting (probably on the last page if the fine tradition of everything-is-wrong-about-this pacing in these books), then Aleksei asks Gillian to fly with him. Oh look, it’s time for Puff the Magic Vampire!

puff the magic dragon

Sigh. I’d almost forgotten about this stupid shit.

So Gillian’s riding on his arm when they fly into the Cloud of Info Dump. We’re told all about Gillian’s career before meeting Aleksei for some goddamn reason, information I’m not going to bother sharing with you because it’s convoluted and pointless.

Scanning…scanning…I feel like a meteorologist staring at the Dopplar radar desperately hoping to see an interesting storm, but I don’t see a single cloud.

Oh boy! More sex. And pointless relationship talk. Yay. As a side note, “with blurring speed” is my least favorite of Gryphon’s favorite phrases. There’s some awkward back and forth and Aleksei claims, “We have never had a problem communicating before, Gillian.”

"O rly?" owl meme

When haven’t they had problems communicating? Even ignoring the forced nature of their relationship, their breakup was caused by bad communication (and Aleksei being a total twatwaffle). I don’t know wtf this scene is trying to be, other than another tacked-on sex scene to drag the book out a little longer.

Allow me to animate the sex scene thusly:


animation of an erection

caution heavy equipment

wet cat.gif


an old car buried front down in a dirt pile and a stop sign

So he starts to put it in her, and it hurts. He puts his fingers in her and figures out what’s wrong.

“You seem to have regained what you lost a long time ago.” Aleksei leaned over and retrieved her pants, handing them to her as he rose and lifted her from the ground.

“What the fuck are you talking about? What did I lose?”

“Your virginity, dolcezza.” The smile he gave her wasn’t mocking; it was sweet and tender.

He wasn’t making fun of her, but it took a moment for what he said to sink in. “My virgini— You mean . . . ?”

“Indeed I do. You are intact once more.”

that's not how this works. that's not how any of this works.

4 Myths About Virginity – Everyday Feminism

Your hymen is not your virginity. Losing it does not make you NOT a virgin. Regaining the hymen, even though technically it’s possible (wtf?), will not re-virginize you. You cannot regain your virginity! That includes whatever fucking “spiritual virginity” bullshit religion tries to throw at you.

I cannot fathom why this appears in a book that is written by a fucking adult human being who is apparently educated. At this point, I thought I was beyond surprise at what these books could throw at me. I am not.


Help, I've fallen and I can't get up

Let’s stop for a minute and talk about the sheer disgusting bullshit that is this whole idea, too. Gillian is supposed to be a sexually empowered woman. She has sex a lot and is supposedly allowed to choose her partners (though as we know the reality is more stupid and complicated). WHY THE FUCK do you need to re-virginize her?!

Oh, right, because she has to be pure again and shit so Aleksei can pop her cherry. Do I need to enumerate the reasons why that is unbelievably disgusting? Maybe not, BUT I WILL.

I understand the motive behind this shitty plot point all too well. It’s written this way so Gillian’s “promiscuity,” the thing everyone complains about in this book’s reviews, can come out in the wash. I can just see the thought process behind that: “She’s having sex an awful lot in this book with multiple people. Romance readers won’t want to read about a slut. Better re-virginize her so it all goes away.”

Why, you ask? Because of course a woman’s worth is determined by her purity, which is determined solely by her virginity, which is determined by her hymen, which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with virginity, i.e. the state of not having engaged in sexual activity, i.e. THE ACTIVITY SHE HAS BEEN ENGAGING IN THROUGHOUT THIS PILE OF WORTHLESS SHIT.

shit rainbow

Thirdly, I’d like to just mention how gross the idea of “taking” and “losing” virginity is, as if virginity, whatever the fuck that even means, is a possession that can be lost like a stray sock or taken like your wallet. It implies that, like that sock, once you lose your virginity, it’s lost to the dryer gremlins forever. Except, no, that’s not an appropriate metaphor, because unlike a sock, virginity is supposed to be a girl’s most prized possession, so losing it or having it taken is more like losing a priceless relic that can never be replaced.

Except it can regain your spiritual virginity if God says so…? Who even knows. Note to self: Googling “spiritual virginity” will not actually give you an objective description of that bullshit. So here’s this, in case you’re interested.

looks like it's fuck this shit o'clock

Oh, fuck me with a chainsaw. Aleksei now won’t fuck her outside now that she’s a virgin again, even though they were just about to fuck five minutes ago. 

AAAHHH GOD I need to chew an aspirin before I go on with this shit

Aleksei says Perrin was right about her needing to be taken care of and that “you need to be straightened out on a number of things, piccola.”

“Gillian, being the first man to be with a young woman is a special thing for them both. I want to treat you as I would have treated you if I truly had been your first lover. Why is that so hard for you to understand? Will you not allow me to treat you with the respect this situation deserves? Like the woman I love?

“Must you always be the brash Marine and make light of something that could be so exceptional for us both? This is a miracle for you, cuore dolce, your own sort of rebirth. Do you want to just give it away to a Vampire you have already broken up with on a mountainside or would you like it to be a beautiful, special event?”


Answer me honestly. For whom was first-time sex a “beautiful, special event?” I won’t say mine was awful or traumatizing, but there was nothing grand or profound about it. The circumstances were actually kind of embarrassing. But what the fuck ever! Virginity wasn’t a profound thing for me anyway. Maybe it is for other people. I’m not disparaging that. But it wasn’t for Gillian either:

“My first experience was at three o’clock in the morning on a deserted construction site when I was eighteen,” she snapped, still coming to terms with where this had degenerated to. “I can’t believe you are stopping in the middle of sex because I grew back an insignificant piece of flesh thanks to Perrin and his musical mojo!”


But Aleksei is insisting that it has to be special, and it makes my fucking skin crawl to read this shit. She is trying to make choices she has every right to make, and he is trying to determine when and where it will happen. He has control over her virginity right now even though he’s aggressively gaslighting her:

I presumed too much. Of course it is your choice as to who will be the honored man, and when it will happen.” He turned away from her. “Perhaps Perrin would oblige if you are in a hurry to get on with it.”

Ouch. That hurt, but she really couldn’t blame him. “Perrin has nothing to do with this.”

“Neither do I, apparently,” he said softly, still with his back to her.


He manipulates her into agreeing to let him de-virginize her. Then there’s this bullshit:

Allowing herself a moment of honest vulnerability, she responded, “I know. I always wished that the first time could have been different. I just never admitted it to myself before.”

Smiling and stroking her hair, Aleksei whispered, almost to himself, “And we reach another milestone in the growth and development of Gillian Key.”

He tells her he loves her. End book.


rage flame

giphy (1).gif

flipping off webcomic

disembodied hand flipping off

squidward: fuck you

little girl flipping off

I’ll leave you with one final thought before moving on to the next book: at least her cervix has ostensibly been repaired. Poor cervix.

Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Redemption, Chapter 21

89% of the way through the book, and the plot, having blown its wad a hundred pages ago, continues to be flop flaccidly around like this poor guy’s trunk:


This chapter begins with some supremely awkward writing. Aleksei needs healers, so Gillian runs off to find some, meeting Luis, Oscar, Trocar, and Finian along the way. It’s two pages of “hey, I need healers! Oh look, healers!” that could be summarized in about two sentences. She picks up “two or three spriggans, it was hard to tell” along the way. More Jim Butcher-style raiding of the D&D Monster Manual, I see. She recruits Perrin to use his magic, minus the erotic part, to help with healing. This is actually kind of interesting.

Gillian makes a shitty joke about not wanting “a bunch of bloody, dismembered people trying to screw each other,” which upsets Perrin. She tries to excuse herself by explaining gallows humor, but he’s unamused, saying he doesn’t like joking about pain. Which Gillian ought to have picked up on. She just goes,

oh well

“Dammit, I keep forgetting he’s not used to us.” She raked her hair back. “He just fits in now, you know?”

“Yeah, he does, honey, but you know you can’t think like that.” Kimber was right, as usual.

Yes, indeed, Kimber is right. Maybe Kimber ought to be the therapist, since she seems to have more emotional maturity on the whole. Rather than calling her on her shit, Trocar is like, “Oh, it’s fine, you just made a boo boo,” like she couldn’t have just damaged Perrin’s trust in her by being an insensitive asshole. If my therapist ever made a joke that implied I might cause someone pain by trying to help them (on her suggestion), I would never go back to her.

Team Shit for Brains gets a makeshift infirmary ready. One would suppose, being in the middle of a war, they might already have an infirmary, but whatevs. Gillian suggests to Finian et. al that they use Perrin’s music to bind their magic together, which is a decent idea. Perrin seems surprised, somehow, that she wants him to play his piano (which Pavel and another werewolf carried in, just to make things extra ridiculous).

Aleksei comes back with a bunch of wounded magical people. I think this is the first time in 2.9 books that we’ve seen the aftermath of a battle, though we don’t know what actually happened. Aleksei explains that he’s going to link everyone to Gillian. O…kay? She’s not an actual healer, but…okay.

Perrin starts playing and Aleksei mind-links everyone. The description is decent, though a bit like this:

hand mixer getting batter all over the kitchen

Here’s an example of this shining prose:

Aleksei felt the surge through their own link and reached for her free hand, putting his other on the piano beside hers, and completing the circuit. Mentally he reached for Perrin, drawing the masked man’s phenomenally brilliant mind to him. He couldn’t waver his concentration from the vast array of life forms whose thoughts and abilities he kept. There was no way for him to shield either Gillian or himself or warn her away from what she was gathering her strength to do.

Listen, writers. You don’t need to use more or fancier words to get your message across. Aleksei touches the piano, links their minds, and he can’t shield Gillian from whatever she’s about to do. It doesn’t have to be that dry, but it does need to be that clear (or clearer, since I have no idea wtf Gillian is trying to do). This reads like the kind of writing I’d expect to see from my teenage English 101 students. No judgment on them; purple prose is one of those things you have to get over when you’re learning to write. But this clumsiness does not belong in a published book.

Gillian does…something…and “the two hundred or more occupants jerked and rebounded in a cataclysmic paroxysm of absolute ecstasy and warm bliss.” So everyone has a simultaneous orgasm? Everyone flops to the ground, and “there was a deep, throbbing warmth between her legs that she couldn’t explain.”

I’m…pretty sure we can all explain that, Gillian.


So everyone’s piled on top of each other like a snake mating ball, but Perrin is in agony and is clutching his mask. The healing spell is healing over his fucked-up face. Astonishingly, he still has scar tissue. Oh my, will we actually have a less-than-physically-perfect character?

Well, yeah, but he’ll still wear the mask in public because heaven forbid he actually show he’s less than physically perfect. Perrin thanks everyone, everyone loves him, he leaves. Now everyone has to pledge fealty to Aleksei because he’s The Best Vampire Lord Ever for healing them. They all kneel to him and Gillian says, “Good grief, it’s fanged obsequiousness!”

eye roll arrested development

Aleksei is The Best because he’s so humble about this, y’all. He wants to be partners and shit. Presumably he just saved everyone’s asses, so maybe he ought to be like, “Yeah, you should be on your knees, motherfuckers.” Even another vampire in the group points out that in the vampire world, they’re supposed to pledge fealty rather than be equal partners. Gillian pressures Aleksei to accept their oaths but won’t accept them herself, saying she just works there. Aleksei says,

“While Gillian does work for the Institute in her capacity as psychologist, she will continue to be an invaluable resource in tactical and military matters. I encourage all of you to seek her out for her wisdom and advice should you require it. You may speak to either her or myself if you wish to organize any offensive effort. I trust her and so should you.”

  1. lolololol
  2. What an asshole. He’s basically volunteered Gillian for a position she didn’t ask for or expect.

She’s understandably pissed about this, so he backs off and says she’ll be there for however long she wants and do whatever she wants. The crowd eventually pledges their loyalty to Aleksei and the chapter ends.


Despite the potentially-interesting magic stuff here, this chapter is boring as fuck. I thought everyone was pretty loyal to Aleksei already, so none of this has any significance because there was never any tension or uncertainty.






Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Redemption, Chapter 20

It just occurred to me that the title of this book actually makes sense, given Perrin’s redemption and all. Too bad the book itself is utterly beyond redemption.

Gillian, Daedalus, and Trocar go to the village inn to meet Dracula the client, and we’re treated to a paragraph of POV from Sexual Harassment Panda Daedalus telling us Aleksei should be “on her ass” about smoking. Nah, that was Tanis’s job back in the first book.

Daedalus tells her to be careful because “the Prince is not the forgiving type,” by which I assume he means Dracula. Gillian has this head-scratcher of a line: “That individual has probably forgotten all about me by now.” Even for Gillian, this is amazingly stupid, not to mention contradictory to all of the caution they’ve been exercising.

An open letter to everyone working with Gillian:

newspaper headline: working with idiots can kill you!

Daedalus has this genuinely brilliant line in response:

“Darlin’, you are the boob that fell out of Janet Jackson’s top, the bullet that shot J. R. Ewing and the pretzel that choked a president. You are not forgettable.”

I actually LOL’ed. Well done, Gryphon. Well done.

Gillian and Daedalus have some back and forth, by which I mean Daedalus is Sexual Harassment Panda some more and Gillian laughs it off. Ugh.

Finally the client makes his appearance. He’s described in the same purple prose as every other goddamn dick-swinger in the books, and apparently he is The Most Beautiful Vampire Evar. He gives his name as Csangal, which I assume is Romanian for “I’m a hot predatory sexist dick-swinger.” He gives off lots of sex vibes, so I guess he’s like an evil Perrin. Daedalus is affected by the sex vibes but HE’S NOT GAY Y’ALL NOT GAY NOT GAY NOT GAY. He “wasn’t homophobic, but, being heterosexual, anything besides a female was a nonoptional choice.”

Okay…let’s take a look at that last phrase again, shall we? “Anything besides a female was a nonoptional choice.” So basically he’s saying females are an optional choice, but anything besides that is compulsory. Yes, clearly that is the definition of heterosexuality.

word choice: use of precise and specific words

Dracula Csangal Drangal tries to convince Gillian she doesn’t need to shield with him, and thankfully she’s not as big an idiot as her earlier comment to Daedalus would imply. His smile “literally [lights] up the booth they[‘re] in.”

What it means when you say “literally”

He’s gorgeous, you guys. SO UNBEARABLY GORGEOUS. She’s distracted by it, which actually makes it a pretty effective power. Where Jack was aggressively nondescript (at least at first), Drangal is blow-your-mind beautiful. Interesting contrast. I don’t get why everyone in the bar isn’t trampling and tearing each other apart like rival tribes of chimpanzees to blow him all at once, though.

They have some pseudo-philosophical conversation about whether paranormal beings are people, and Gillian is nervous because of how distracting he is, inexplicably using the word “crikey” like she’s an extra in Crocodile Dundee.

At this point, any sane woman would be doing this:

a woman diving out of a car and running away

But not our Gillian. Oh, no. Despite all evidence that this motherfucker is way too dangerous to deal with, she has to put up some “I can’t do that I have to be his therapist” bullshit. I’ve mentioned this in other chapters, but I’ll say it again: a therapist is under no obligation–legal, ethical, or otherwise–to take a client that is so clearly a threat to them. I want her to run screaming from this so badly and for Dracula to become a threat in a different way.


There’s about a page of boring, standard “why are you seeking therapy” intake bullshit, then this description of his issues:

He was paranoid in the extreme, believing he was being targeted for murder by stalker or stalkers unknown. Another reason for his request for total secrecy. He had anger issues, some body dysmorphic problems, which she had found hard to believe at first, but he did— he was convinced there was something seriously wrong with his height. His sense of self, paradoxically, was fine, if you called bordering on megalomania “fine.”

what the fuck are you talking about?

He’s paranoid about being targeted for murder, but he wants to keep meeting at the inn. Oookay. Megalomania, fine. Sounds like a certain US presidential candidate. Body dysmorphia? Where the fuck does that come in? This is, as my two-degrees-in-forensic-psychology partner points out, a diagnosis salad. The dysmorphia thing comes off as a “hurr durr wouldn’t it be funny if Dracula thought he was too short?”

He had amassed a lot of money over the years in various enterprises and traveled a great deal, leading the quiet life of the fabulously wealthy immortal. He didn’t like attracting attention to himself, the exception being with prey; kept little to no company with anyone; and generally spent his time researching ancient religious art and artifacts.

A megalomaniac who doesn’t like attracting attention. He’s also sad because he has no friends.


Guys. Gryphon. Is. A. Licensed. Counselor. HOW IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.

on a scale of one to even i can't

At this point you might be saying, “Jesus, Avery, we get it. What’s the BFD? It’s just a stupid novel. A really stupid novel.” Yes, it is. But here’s why this upsets me:

  1. The lack of professional pride displayed in the careless depiction of one’s profession is troubling. If I, a layperson, can break down this pile of bullshit, you’re doing it all wrong.
  2. If it’s not laziness, it’s incompetence, and that is fucking terrifying.
  3. Like it or not, people learn from what they read, including stupid novels. Factual inaccuracies or misrepresentations to this level are not acceptable. It’s the same reason why Fifty Shades of Grey makes me foam at the mouth.
  4. Misrepresenting things that are already stigmatized, like mental illness and (in the case of Fifty Shades, BDSM) is offensive to the real-world people who are affected by them. Representation, accurate and equitable representation, matters.


Drangal makes dumb jokes about how if he were less attractive he might have more friends, and Gillian reflects on what an egotistical bastard he is, but she puts up with it without challenging him. And she doesn’t feel any duplicity from him. If you think about it, a villain who can make people think he’s guileless is a terrifying one.

Drangal leaves, and Trocar shows up to get all handsy with Gillian. He says,

“We must leave, Gillyflower. The Vampire’s visage and touch have left you quite ripe for the picking. I caught your scent as I came into the bar, and I believe the various other night walkers are making the same observation. You are advertising your need for sex with your scent, blush and body, Captain. I am staking my claim so the others will not bother you as we leave.”

Michelle Obama says eww

little girl crushing soda can in anger

God, not this again. “You’re too hot, let’s leave before these dick-swingers can’t resist you and have to rape you!”

Csangal had some powerful sex foo going on there, and despite how much she’d blocked, some of it had leaked through. Speaking of leaking . . .

Tim Gunn shuddering

If you’re going to use “leaking” in a sexual context, use it very carefully. VERY carefully.

Trocar gets Gillian back to the car (she says he can’t drive despite noting him driving earlier) and tells her to “take care of [her] need” immediately. So basically he’s demanding that she get off in the back seat.


God, why. WHY does this need to happen? Is this supposed to be titillating? Awkward?

Gillian calls Aleksei on the brain phone and wants to bone, but he says he can’t help her and wants her to go to Perrin. Failing in that, he wants her to fuck Trocar. Okay, fine. I’ve read criticisms of this book that are mostly concerned with her promiscuity, but I don’t have a problem with the protagonist banging a bunch of people. Let her bang everyone she comes across. Don’t care. But she tries to draw the line at banging Trocar because he’s her friend.

And he KEEPS TRYING TO GET HER TO DO IT ANYWAY. This motherfucker.

After a mere two refusals, he offers to get her off using the brain phone to “take the edge off” so she can shield. Why he didn’t fucking offer that in the first place, I don’t know. Trocar leaves, Aleksei gets her off telepathically, and she goes back to the castle.

As a side note, in case it becomes relevant later (50/50 chance), Aleksei tells her she’s having trouble shielding because she was around Perrin for so long, and this must be a super old, super powerful vampire. Again, this doesn’t seem to set off any alarm bells.

Gillian goes back to the castle and finds Team Shit for Brains lounging around like nothing is the matter despite the vampire attacks Aleksei is dealing with. She goes to the computer to chat with her mentor from the “Miller-Jackson Center for Intimacy” (the sex therapist organization), Cassiopeia, about struggling to maintain her shields. Cassiopeia has annoying speech affectations like calling Gillian “Ducks” and saying “yester eve” rather than “yesterday night.” This is going to get old in a hurry.

After some useless info-dump about Cassiopeia’s characteristics and some self-talk, the chapter ends.


Ah, Sexual Harassment Panda and Rape Culture Vulture have joined forces. AWESOME.

I get that sex and sexuality is the theme in this book. And it could work pretty well if it was an honest exploration of sexuality, sex positivity, and consent. It ain’t that.

I like that Dracula uses sexuality as a weapon. That’s interesting, and it has the potential to be deeply disturbing in an effective way rather than just by accident. Jacqueline Carey’s Phèdre trilogy is an excellent example of how sex and love can be used both as weapons and as healing. Phèdre consents to a lot of sexual activity the average person wouldn’t, but there are also a number of rape scenes that are handled in a fascinatingly nuanced way. She finds pleasure in pain and humiliation, so when she’s assaulted, she finds pleasure in it. This causes deep emotional scars.

I bring this up because the Phèdre books are examples of forced sexuality or sexual pleasure done well. If Gillian were helplessly aroused around Dracula but was deeply disturbed by it because she doesn’t want to feel that way and doesn’t want to have to bang the first person she stumbles across to blow off some steam, that would be one thing. I want to be as genuinely creeped out as I was when Jack was masturbating in front of her. Instead, I’m just pissed. Forced masturbation (because it is forced even if no one is physically making her do it) is treated as a throwaway scene with zero emotional consequences.

When you fuck with someone’s sexuality, you are going to fuck them up. This is clearly a message we’re supposed to understand when Gillian is dealing with Perrin. Once he’s able to have sex, he’s able to be emotionally intimate outside of sex. But apparently the reverse isn’t true in these books. People are forced over and over again to have sex because of magic, but everybody is fine with it. This is so disturbing! I know it’s an LKH ass-lick emulation of the ardeur and whatnot, but let me tell you, that is not something that needs to be emulated the way it’s written. It’s basically a rape machine built into the plot, and that’s what this “sex aura” thing is turning into in Gillian Key’s world.

So. Gross.


Gillian Key: The Hateread: Key to Redemption, Chapter 19 (NSFW)

So while Gillian and Perrin were banging in an alleyway, they were being spied on by an unnamed vampire.

a book titled Who Could it Be, Pooh?

Dracula is “Gillian’s mystery patient.” Wait…what? I have a vague recollection of a mystery patient, but it sure hasn’t been mentioned since.

Oh, ew.

The man she’d coupled with was a monster, yet she had been docile, compliant, a lovely receptacle for the semen that the Vampire knew had been expelled.

I wish I could say this was purposefully gross, but I’m not sure it is, word choice aside. Every dick-swinger in this book has, at one point, seen her as tiny, petite, etc., which is code for “I can do whatever I want to her.” This is just a more explicit version of said same idea. Gillian smells like “snow on mountain clover, sunshine and wet, hot sex,” in case you needed a reminder. That sounds like the mix of odors that hits you in the mall whenever you pass a Bath and Body Works and a Yankee Candle Company right next to each other.

Dracula decides he’s going to visit her as a potential client. Why not start an entirely different plot 80% of the way through the book? It’s actually an improvement over the first two books books, starting the second book in the last 3% of the first one. He turns into a “night-flying raptor” (soooo, an owl?) and flies away.

We hop into Aleksei’s head now. He’s jealous, “but not because she’d had sex with Perrin in the alley.” He’s jealous because Perrin can spend all night with her and he can’t (because vampires sleep in the ground and shit). How does he know she had sex in the alley?


Well, Evolved Aleksei is now dialing back to Inferiority Complex Aleksei. He frets over whether she’s unhappy because he can’t sleep next to her, because you have to be unconscious next to each other to be in love, doncha know. I can’t share a bed with anyone for more than a couple of nights because I can’t sleep with someone in my bed, so clearly my partner and I aren’t properly in love.

He goes right on whinging.


He’s jealous. Fine. Jealousy happens. Constant worry about whether your partner really loves you is a mark of anxiety (no I will not say the f-word), which would also be fine, except every single time Aleksei thinks about their relationship, it always, always comes back to himself and how everything affects him. PS, Tanis and Jenna are in Egypt for some reason; just noting it in case it becomes important later (lolololol).

After three pages of whinging, Gillian comes in, and we hop to her head. Gillian thanks him for being “great” about letting her deal with Perrin. You say “great,” I say whining man-child. He runs her a shower and she invites him in so he can keep whining and then insisting he knows best about what she needs. They discuss her encounter with Perrin in a surprisingly reasonable manner, then go to bed.

Why not jump heads for a fourth time to Perrin? He lets us know how totally awesome and kind and amazing and super cool and great she is, and he reflects on how “utterly passive” she was until after they’d first had sex.

baby making an 'ew, gross' face

This whole page and a half is pretty much just Perrin summarizing what an amazing therapist Gillian is and how she helped him so he can go on with his life, as if we hadn’t read the same thing at least three times. He calls for a flight back to Paris…which I assumed he already had, but whatever.

We’re back with Gillian and Aleksei. Ooo, do we get to play Bad Sex Diction this time? Yup!

plundering her mouth

old illustration of p

his thickness, her opening, “being conjoined


“Penetrate me,” exploding fangs


swelling fuller and tighter, his seed’s explosive journey, imperative thrusts, heavy jets


Also, apparently his dick and his tongue are both velvety. That sounds like a medical problem.

Cut to later in the day/night/whatever, and Gillian’s gotten a call about Dracula her new patient. Aleksei wants to go with her, but the patient asked for “total anonymity,” so she says no, that she’ll take Trocar and Daedalus instead.

you keep using that word

Anonymity apparently means bring your friends, but just not the vampire because, get this, “With Aleksei’s newfound power level, he might recognize the individual and they couldn’t let that happen.”

By “they” you mean “the plot,” I assume. This is some Simone Biles-level narrative gymnastics. We can’t have Aleksei go with her because the minute he does, they’ll all know Dracula is her patient and that will mean the next book can’t happen, and Ace wants four books, so the next book has to happen.


Words words words, Aleksei needs to deal with a nearby vampire attack, words words, Trocar references banging the sluagh, words words. Gillian says, “I don’t want to get used to someone else watching my back. It’s not healthy for me if I get complacent.”

This is sad, and it’s also indicative of everything that’s wrong with urban fantasy/paranormal romance heroines. They have to be one-woman armies, or they’re complacent/weak/etc. Dear Gillian: it’s not complacent to have someone watch your back. It’s called being a reasonable person. Did all that badass Marine training fail to instill the idea that nobody is effective completely on their own?

Yes. I’m going to say yes. I fucking hate this trope so very much.

Daedalus the Sexual Harassment Panda dishes out some sexual harassment, and they all go off to meet Dracula the client. End chapter.


Eh. This was a boring transitional chapter. The most engaging part of it was finding the gifs to snark it with. I do hate Daedalus more every time I see him, however, and I hate Gryphon for portraying him as the loveable rogue team member rather than the awful asshole who constantly, obviously, and aggressively sexually harasses Gillian. In a series full of dick-swingers who are terrible in different ways, he’s a special kind of terrible because he’s so much like the men women have to deal with every day in the workplace. It’s just so gross.



Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Conflict, Chapter 18

Right, so, Aleksei invites Pavel, Kimber, Helmut, and Trocar to share in Gillian’s trauma help Gillian get over her trauma in five minutes. I just have to point out that Pavel, Kimber, and Trocar were also there and may also be traumatized by the event, but whatever, let’s not care about the effects of plot events on anyone but Gillian.

There’s a couple of paragraphs about what’s going on in the larger world. omg you guys, did you know that there’s still a war going on and other things are happening that don’t involve Gillian??

There was starting to be some pressure on all law enforcement, mental health professionals and even mercenaries to form a cooperative to share information and start second-guessing the attacks.

Another article announced that a few televangelists of varying denominations were reiterating their objections to legalizing the Paramortal community in general.

Tossing out the “ugh, these crazies are crazy” thing is cheap. Yeah, televangelists are bullshitters who object to everything, so it’s easy to discredit them. But you know, they’re right to be mad. I’m shocked all humans aren’t pitchforks-and-torches irate with Aleksei et. al at this point for doing fuck-all. I really don’t know how much time has passed since the beginning of this war because spacetime is warped in these books, but other than passing mentions of poking around and that treaty that’s only been mentioned two or three times, the alleged majordomo of Eastern Europe has been content to sit around with his thumb up his ass, and apparently so has everyone else.  It brings to mind FEMA’s response (or lack thereof) to Hurricane Katrina, among other things. And these are supposed to be the good guys!

Aleksei comes to find her and we get a description of what literally everyone is wearing that lasts a whole page. This shit reminds me of what every English 101 student ever has done to pad their essay to meet length requirements: just add unnecessary meaningless details! They invite Perrin along for the ride because he needs socialization. Is this a fucking party, or is Gillian about to face a traumatic event? All my faint hope that the coming scene will pack any emotional punch has faded.

Everyone is a goddamn therapist now, peppering Gillian with questions and telling her how to relive her time with Jack. Kimber, quite reasonably, tells them to back off and let her deal with her shit, but Trocar–dammit, Trocar!–ignores her and keeps pushing. Internal dialogue from Gillian:

For the first time that she could remember, she’d acted solely by relying on others to come and save the day. That wasn’t like her.

this bitch can't be serious

Okay, well, maybe this is the first time she relied on others to save the day. I’ll credit her for that. The rest of the dozen times other people have saved her it’s because the plot said so.

She also claims Jack didn’t unnerve her. I was about to quote about half of the scene with Jack, but Trocar–thanks, Trocar!–says, “Of course, Petal, keep talking and you will convince yourself eventually.” Trocar’s role as the friend who consistently calls Gillian on her bullshit is one of those things that show me that the author does have some narrative skill, which makes the rest of the awful even more disappointing.

But then…dammit, Trocar. He keeps at it and starts outright taunting her. He toed the line with his snark already, but this is shameful. He wants her to remember that

her strength lay in her ability to use her anger productively, just as she had the night with Jack, to make judgment calls of her own accord, stand by them. Not feeling as though she had to make excuses for her actions. They owed her respect, not their mollycoddling.

You owe her some sensitivity at least, you cock. I’ll remind the reader that Jack masturbated in front of her and (I honestly didn’t catch this before) threatened to stick his knife in her vagina. Laws in the US vary about indecent exposure and sexual threats, but they’re all crimes because they’re all sexual assault. She was sexually assaulted. AGAIN. And now she’s reliving it, and the reader is being told that the way to handle this is to taunt her. Trocar is standing in for Tanis as Rape Culture Vulture in this scene and now I hate him.

What the actual fuck made Gryphon decide to handle Gillian’s trauma this way? Yes, there’s a difference between how the author would handle something and how the characters would, but this is just fucking stupid. This shit shouldn’t work. No real person says, “Thanks for being an asshole to me while I’m reliving my sexual assault, I’m all better now.”

a paper that's been marked with red pen and text saying "this is wrong! all wrong!" red pen massacre

…and now Kimber and Pavel ditch the group because Gillian is “wound up.” Doesn’t she just have the mostest excellent friends?

Gillian was wound up all right. Something cracked inside her. She was tired of having to defend her actions and choices in that situation. She was tired of thinking of Jack and how much he had bothered her. She was just plain tired and wanted everyone to leave her alone.

I CAN’T FUCKING BLAME HER. But are they going to leave her alone? Of course not.

Yet…somehow the tension in the scene just bleeds out for no reason, and everything is gravy. I need to stop thinking that surely, SURELY, this time we’ll see some Real Shit.

Gillian is over her trauma. “She would never be victimized in thought or in dreams by Jack the Ripper again.”

that's not how this works. that's not how any of this works.

Coping after a traumatic event

It takes time – weeks or months – to accept what has happened and to learn to live with it.

Everyone has a different timeline for dealing with trauma. Maybe Gillian isn’t one of those people for whom trauma results in long-term post-traumatic stress. But NO ONE can flip a switch from being filled with shame and guilt to totally over it.

denial: it's not just a river in Egypt

The “totally over it” trope in novels, especially SFF novels, pisses me right off. You don’t get to put your characters through some shit and then skip right past the hard emotional parts just because you don’t feel like dealing with them. Especially in a book about a fucking therapist!

Her “friends” spend about four pages telling her how awesome she is and how proud of her they are. For once I appreciate the affirmations, since that’s what she actually needs right now. Since she’s So Totally Over It, they all head to the bar to drink and tell stories and shit. Perrin realizes he has friends and it’s all butterflies and rainbows.

At the end of the night, Aleksei tells her to go fuck Perrin because he’s leaving soon, and Helmut jumps in to agree. Aleksei is very therapist-y about his reasoning despite Helmut actually being the therapist, because characters are assigned dialogue based on convenience rather than actual characterization. I’m fine with this, I guess. It shows Aleksei’s trust and lack of jealousy for Perrin. Again, though, this is a scene that should be at the end of the book rather than 76% in.

Gillian and Perrin go on a walk and discuss how well his therapy has gone and how he’ll be ready for “fun, friends, maybe dating . . . a few drinks, music, singing. All the things you enjoy and have become adept with, in an actual multibeing, social setting.”Well, we’ve only ever seen him with her until the last scene, but sure. She says she wishes she could have convinced him to take his Phantom of the Opera mask off because it means he’s vulnerable enough to get a girlfriend, basically.

He’s leaving soon, he says, and “There is only one thing left for me to do, one last hurdle. If you say you can take it . . . take me . . . as I truly am . . . I will indeed be a whole man.” Oh my, whatever could this mean?

I forgot they’re in the village, so he takes her to a corner that is “well secreted from the street.”

anatomical diagram of "secreted extracellular vesicles"

He waits until they’re fucking to take his mask off, which is kind of a dick move (pun intended). I mean, we know she’s going to be fine with it, but if you really want someone to accept you for who you are, maybe don’t do it when you’re balls deep in them. Basically, the masked half of his face is made of stone a la gargoyle, but predictably, she’s fine with it. It’s not a completely soulless moment, so I appreciate that.

Huh. I was all prepared to play the Bad Diction game with this sex scene, but it’s brief and surprisingly average as far as word choice goes. The next couple of pages is them talking about him leaving, which is surprisingly sweet. He asks to spend the night with her and she agrees…

…so he picks her up and slaps her ass as they go back inside. Why not. He wants to roleplay: “I think I will be the autocratic music teacher and you may be the young impetuous student.” We don’t get to see that intense awkwardness, thankfully, and the chapter ends.


Is Gryphon really a mental health professional? REALLY? Everything about this is a fucking travesty, and the couple of pages at the end do not come close to making up for the rest. That said, I feel like Perrin and Gillian have a more genuine connection that she and Aleksei do, but because Aleksei got his dick in her first, I guess he’s the one who gets to stay. Awesome.

punching computer monitor

Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Conflict, Chapter 17 (NSFW)

Another day, another sex scene, so fair warning.

Gillian is being massaged by a”strikingly handsome, naked man” after fencing practice.

Wait…fencing practice? And which man?

It’s Perrin, apparently, and four paragraphs later, we find out that “several weeks”  have passed. What an awkward time transition. We’re given a review of Perrin’s background in the story as if we’ve been asleep for the past several chapters, which…is plausible. Perrin is confident with sex now and everyone loves him. There’s some summary of the bullshit that’s happened off-camera that doesn’t really matter.

Perrin is worried about what his life will be like after his therapy ends because he won’t be able to have any contact with Gillian for at least a year, though he could always bend the very flexible narrative spacetime and make it three or four pages instead. Even if I hate these two assholes, it would be refreshing to see an actual polyamorous relationship at the end of this.

So we slide into a sex scene when Perrin “[teases] her coral nipple.”

pink coral

This is coral.


These are not.

Protip: when you use an adjective that doubles as a noun that references a plant or animal, use it carefully.

Let’s see how many clinical terms we can find, shall we?

semierect flesh, “battle bridge” (Gillian’s brilliant name for Perrin’s dick), penis enhanced by equidistant ridges, female superior (sex position?), canal, exploding, cervix (ouch)

Ooohhhh dear. He wants to “mate” without a condom. She agrees because narrative tells us she can’t get pregnant because she’s on the pill.

wrong try again

Okay, I can’t believe I’m really having to say this, but yes, you can fucking get pregnant when you’re on the pill. (PS, you can also get STDs!) Did she skip high school health class? I also find it pretty damn irresponsible for an author, especially a romance novel author, to blithely portray false information like this. I mean, no, authors aren’t responsible for readers’ decisions for good or for ill, but this is factually inaccurate and could have real-world consequences for another.

Maybe I’m overreacting, so I’ll just point out the stupidity and move on. Maybe she’ll get pregnant with his gargoyle baby and this will turn to a slightly different genre of romance book. It would be a more entertaining book than the rest of this one is sure to be.

Back to the awkward diction!

dark pink glistening folds, probing, unencumbered flesh, passage, emission of semen, cervix again (OUCH!), semen again, Human cervix (as opposed to what?), fluid

oh nononononono

“Ma passionnée, relax for me. The fluid will open your body to me. Trust me, I would never hurt you.” His voice shook, and his glamour flared, pouring into and over their bodies.

She felt him going deeper, then understood what he meant. Her cervix was softening and thinning, the result of his semen leaking into her. Her newly opening body was taking him in farther with each thrust.

badger nope


No no cat gif

no darth vader

Incredibly at that moment, her cervix acquiesced to the insistent probing and allowed him complete entrance to her womb. The imperative need to ejaculate slammed into him like a freight train as his ridged cock slipped through the widened opening.




Is it possible to penetrate the cervix during sex? Go Ask Alice

That is going to be in my search history. I did this for you guys. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I’m temporarily speechless, so I offer an interpretation of the rest of the scene in gifs.

louis ck thrusting


They’re apparently “welded together,” which makes me think of dogs getting stuck together after mating. I think adding that to my search history is a bridge too far, so I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Perrin says,

“In a short time, you’ll be ready for me again. Your body will want more sex. A gargoyle’s semen is like an aphrodisiac. It triggers need within the female, opens her to the male and ensures pregnancy.”

warning warning danger will robinson

But, you know, she’s on the pill, so it’s all gravy. She doesn’t even acknowledge the last part.

Perrin reflects on how their arrangement is temporary. Presumably he manages to get out of her “womb” eventually, but we switch scenes before that THANK GOD.

Dear Gillian:

seek medical help

Trocar disposes of Jack’s heart by burning it. It would be nice if I knew why or understood the significance. Gillian is withdrawn, which I understand a little better; she’s been through trauma, after all. Typical of him, Aleksei gives her “a gentle but firm talking-to” rather than, you know, giving her the space to process her emotions. He couches it in terms of being concerned that she’s “shutting them all out” and wants her to share. This is the exact wrong response to someone’s trauma, and it’s abusive as fuck to demand a certain response from a traumatized person.

Working on processing those unfamiliar feelings was unintentionally shutting them out.

Uh. No. Maybe she is withdrawing, but that is completely fucking understandable. It’s not her being an asshole, it’s…you know…her working on processing her feelings. Forcing someone to open up immediately following a traumatic event doesn’t work, and as a mental health professional, Gryphon should fucking know this. I’m starting to wonder if she isn’t deliberately ignoring her knowledge of psychology in order to write this dreck.

The next few pages reestablish that Gillian is emotionally stunted and can’t accept help. After Aleksei calls her a couple more stupid Italian endearments, she opens up about her family background. She was an only child, her family was rich, her parents were preoccupied with whatever, the family dynamic meant that anyone who fucked up was ostracized so she’s determined never to fuck up. This is pretty nuanced without being melodramatic, so kudos for that, but about that fucking up thing.

I don't know how to say this, but

Now, it would be interesting if Gryphon wrote Gillian as someone who was so afraid to fuck up that she constantly fucked up, but that would be a different book.

Aleksei is outraged that anyone would treat their family like that, because apparently one still has an idealized notion of family after 400 years. Basically he’s just a hamfisted stand-in for the reader to understand how terrible Gillian’s family is, as if the reader can’t figure it out for themselves.

I can’t decide whether this is the right place to reveal this. On the one hand, it’s meant to show Gillian’s growing trust in Aleksei (though god knows why she thinks she should trust him), but on the other hand, it would have made it easier to sympathize with her for the last 2.5 books if we knew where her complete inability to interact with people in a normal way came from. I’m not saying her behavior is excusable, but it would be more understandable. I’m all for writing fucked-up characters who can’t figure out how to deal with life. I do it all the time. Sometimes, my characters are not particularly likeable, but at least my reader can understand why they’re assholes. And, you know, they grow out of that.

I’ll just pause here to give you a brief run-down of all the pet names Aleksei has called her within the last four pages. Excuse the Google translations.

  • cara mia (my darling)
  • il mio amore (my love)
  • dolcezza (sweetness)
  • piccola (small)
  • innamorata (in love)
  • angela (angel)

A couple of gems here:

They kissed and he thought. He thought about what she’d said.


That is some especially awkward shit even for a book full of awkward shit.

Oh boy. Aleksei wants to help her “get over” her feelings about Jack. Apparently he is a fucking therapist now. And Gillian, like the idiot she is, agrees. End chapters.


This one was a doozy from beginning to end. The level of bullshit is rising by the minute. More awkward sexual description? Check. Anatomically impossible sex? Check. More emotionally abusive and inappropriate behavior from Aleksei? Check. Now we’re going to have a “protagonist gets over their trauma in five minutes” scene. Just you watch. Ugh.

Gillian Key: The Hateread – Key to Conflict, Chapter 16

The “Ripper Busters” head back to the castle. Apparently it’s “dangerously close to dawn.” This would be an interesting moment of urgency if it were actually followed through. Aleksei, Perrin, Daedalus, and Helmut (remember those two?)  come out to meet them and they seem upset, though Gillian doesn’t know why. Uh, presumably because everyone is dragging up to the castle covered in blood and injured? Just a thought.

Aleksei moves “with blurring speed” to scoop Gillian up and tut over her. Thankfully we don’t get an enumeration of his chastising. We get the roll call of all the characters staying in the castle who you’ve completely forgotten, including someone named Gunnolf Crosswind. I tend to write books with big casts, but I do my best to make each character distinct and, you know, use them. I have no fucking clue who these people are other than wink-wink-nudge-nudge references to pop culture. Yet another example of one of those “wouldn’t it be cool?” thoughts you get as an author in your first draft, which you usually end up trimming in subsequent drafts. I’m absolutely certain at this point that I’m reading Draft Zero of these books; they were published exactly how they fell out of the author’s head. See previous reference to a flock of pigeons shitting at the same time.
cartoon animation of a bird pooping cartoon animation of a bird pooping cartoon animation of a bird pooping cartoon animation of a bird pooping

In a passing reference to Luis and Oscar, the narrative makes it clear they’re actually lovers. I guess a background gay couple shoehorned in makes up for the homo- and transphobic bullshit.

Aleksei and Perrin are both mad at Gillian and Tanis for not letting them know they survived the fight with Jack, presumably via the brain phone. Anger out of fear might be a reasonable enough reaction if they weren’t mad at Gillian for literally everything she does, and if their anger wasn’t ripe with paternalism. Case in point:

Seeing her alive, seeing his brother walking strongly along, holding her petite bruised and battered body, had evoked a tapestry of emotions within his very soul. Deep dark impulses roared through him. She was his. He had the right and the glorious responsibility to protect her, shield her, cherish her . . . lock her up for her own good, if necessary. Civilized urges warred with those instincts. He respected her and her abilities. He wanted her to know that. That precluded any need he had about enforcing dominance. Gillian wanted a partner, a lover, not a keeper. He was going to have to deal with it, bottom line.

I don't believe you

Even if this were a book that didn’t have Gaslighting Gremlin and Rape Culture Vulture written all over it, the first 2/3 of this paragraph negates the last couple of sentences. IMO, you can’t have a character talk about locking his lover up for her own good and then just say, “nah, better not do that.” He evinces no self-awareness about why the fuck he feels like he even has the right to lock her up. This just tells me he has the right to, but he chooses not to. Fucking gross.

This doesn’t convince me, either.

His culture demanded that he take care of her— see her as a possession. His evolving relationship skills were allowing him to see her not only as a woman but as a partner. She was proud of the old fossil. He was trying.

show don't tell

Yeah. We’ll see.

Perrin will take care of Gillian during the day. He and Aleksei have come to a mutual understanding off-camera because god forbid we actually see some real connection between two characters. There’s about a page of description of what everyone is doing that’s about as interesting as watching paint dry.

look at all the fucks i give

Daedalus and Helmut dress Gillian down for…stuff. Stupid stuff. Helmut yells about how he and the IPPa can’t afford to lose Gillian blah blah. Gillian says, “We were rescuing Jenna, Helmut. There wasn’t time for a caucus on the situation.”

Ah yes, but there was time for 13 pages of chatting about Perrin’s abilities, etc. before rescuing her.

Gillian has to apologize again for not getting into contact after the Jack situation was resolved, because it’s not enough for her to apologize once for an understandable mistake. She has to be chewed out by every dick-swinger in the castle for it. So she apologizes and tries to explain herself. For an entire page. And, as if to make up for the relative lack of heart palpitation-inducing sexist bullshit in the last chapter, here comes plenty. Strap in.

Helmut and Daedalus swing back and forth between saying what an amazeballs soldier and psychologist she is and how everyone (and by everyone I mean men) wants to protect her because she’s a “lovely looking little thing.” The women in the room (Jenna, Tuuli, and Kimber) add some snark in return and Daedalus makes another reference to spanking. Helmut says he would pay to see that.

gross clint eastwood

I can’t figure out whether spanking for punishment is Gryphon’s fetish or whether it’s like…an anti-fetish. I have to think it’s one or the other, given the frequency and of spanking references. I have no problem with writing your fetishes (I do so with regularity and they are way more out there than spanking), but if it’s a fetish, it’s written in the dumbest way. Am I supposed to find it sexy or threatening?

Perrin bear-hugs her. She tells him to let her go. Fucking goddamn fuck.

“Never,” he said softly. “Now behave yourself and let me take care of you.” Without giving her a chance to protest, he pulled her farther onto his lap, then rose with her cradled in his arms.

“Put me down, goddammit, I can walk!” Gillian fairly snarled at him, embarrassed at being carried in front of everyone but a little grateful since her back was killing her.

“Now, baby, don’t you give that young man any trouble or I’ll have to fetch a switch, ya hear?” Daed’s smoky voice called to her. He’d just made the top of her “he needs killing” list.

“She will not,” Perrin assured him, not pausing in his stride, carrying her toward the staircase. “She is overtired and needs a hot bath and sleep. I will see to it that she gets some rest.”

woman flipping the camera off enthusiastically

She is now a fucking five-year-old, I guess! They are talking about her like she’s not even there, and like she definitely doesn’t have the ability to gauge her own needs. And of course she fucking takes it and makes excuses for Perrin’s reprehensible behavior in particular, telling herself that he’s doing well in his therapy.

Jim Carey gagging

National Domestic Abuse Hotline: Excuses Victims Make

Fuck. This. Shit.

So Perrin bathes her like she’s a fucking dog at the groomer and calls her lots of French endearments, then he puts her to bed. If he starts fucking her in her sleep like Tanis did, so help me I will throw this $2000 laptop against the wall simply as an outlet to my rage.

Thank god, he doesn’t. He just quotes Alfred Lord Tennyson at her and…lmao. A single tear.

single tear from Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball song

This video pretty well illustrates this book.

End chapter.


God. I haven’t had heartburn like this in a while. Okay, the protagonist is injured and her friends are concerned about her. I get that this chapter was supposed to illustrate her friendships, but all it did was reinforce the fact that she has really awful, abusive friends. I find this personally upsetting. When I was growing up, the family method of friendly teasing was actually mercilessly making fun of each other, brushing off hurt feelings or upset with a derisive scoff. I feel for Gillian here and wonder if she’s not trapped within these abusive relationships because this is all she knows. This disturbs me almost more than anything else in this book because it’s the origin of a lot of the other abuse inflicted upon her, like other people (by that I mean men) insisting they know what’s best for her, criticizing her every move, and controlling her physically.

I’m hoping at this point that the books will end with her having a revelation that she doesn’t have to put up with all this bullshit and skipping town to do her own thing. Ugh.

Just as an FYI, I’m going back to work on the 19th after my summer break. I’m going to be working ahead before that and will schedule posts to publish every other day.