Apparently the IPPA and Marine Corps also don’t want Gillian to do her job but instead want her to “keep her pretty ass right where it was.” From their perspective, I actually see the sense. Kinda. I doubt they know very much about what the vampires are doing or planning, so why should she go out and risk herself? On the other hand, they sure don’t seem to trust their operative. Oh, yeah, and let’s also not forget that any time someone else (the author included) refers to Gillian, it has to be couched in objectifying remarks about her looks. CHARMING.
She decides to go talk to Dante. It turns out there’s a party of some kind at the castle. During tense wartime. Okay. Gillian decides she has to go, so she gets dressed up to “pass for an affluent American psychologist.” She’s wearing a dress that’s “almost sheer” and relatively short, because that’s exactly how I would picture an affluent American psychologist looking. It actually sounds like kind of a nice dress, which means that of course she hates it because it’s “idiotic,” meaning feminine, and she hates
women anything feminine.
For fuck’s sake. The idea that a woman has to dress, act, and be exactly like an emotionally constipated man or she’s disgust-worthy is fucking galling. Swinging to the opposite side of the pendulum and telling women that the only way they can gain legitimacy is to reject everything that’s considered stereotypically female like it’s suddenly tainted does not help anyone. And then there’s the weird messages we get from the other people in the book, who constantly refer to her as pretty and small and blonde and delicate. If you set up your protagonist’s milieu such that feminine is bad but everyone keeps referring to her in very feminine terms, what the fuck are you trying to do?
At this point, Talia Gryphon has completely lost control of the book and is merrily riding this doomed shit train to its painful conclusion. And so am I.
I have no idea how she thinks she’s going to get away with this when the vampires shit bricks whenever she even takes a walk, but strangely, they’re pretty sanguine with the idea, even though she basically tells Cezar, the werewolf alpha, that she’s talking one of his wolves. Without his permission.
Aleksei thinks she looks so hot “his body clenched.” Mine really only does that when I’m about to have terrible diarrhea. He compliments her and gets her “wet and tingly,” which is really the most benign description of arousal I’ve yet read. “She had a clear, vivid sensation of cool sheets sliding over sensitive heated flesh, of large strong hands caressing, of a thick male arousal poised to penetrate.” This might just be my personal taste, but I really hate the word “penetrate” in reference to sex. It’s like the word “penis.” You should never say either unless you’re talking to your doctor. Of course, I would prefer either over the phrase “thick, engorged outline laying against his thigh.” You use the word “engorged” when talking about a tick that’s about to pop, not a penis that wants to penetrate you.
All this makes her go “creamy with need.”
How amazingly gross is this descriptor? If your panties are creamy, ladies, it’s time to visit a doctor about that infection. Aleksei doesn’t seem to mind, since “fangs burst forth inside his mouth as his traitorous body demanded her penetration and claiming.”
They both Want Each Other Real Bad, but she flees with Pavel, the allergic werewolf who almost ate her face. Aleksei looks after them with memories of her nipples “pebbling…needing his penetration…” The phrasing leaves much to be desired. I’m picturing either nipple piercing or titty fuck, neither of which I’m sure the author meant.
Thank God his pants were tight and held his erection down or he’d have a tenting problem that would not easily be explained to anyone who should find him here, panting against the wall. Moving was a very bad idea. Tight as his pants were, the material would shift over him…the slightest brush against his distended flesh right then and he would have exploded like a randy, untried youth in a tidal pulsing flood.
There is nothing I can say to make fun of that paragraph.
So Gillian, trying to save Pavel from being involved in whatever she’s about to do, tells him to go home once they get to the party. Pavel says he’s loyal to her etc. etc. he’s a mook and he’s probably going to die. At the castle, she gets in contact with Dante, who’s predictably pissed by Pavel being there. Dante says Tanis has been taken to Finland. Gillian types this email:
Lugosi rises. Require stake. Availability now. Fellowship rejoined. Middle Earth?
If this is some kind of code, it’s fucking stupid and really fucking obvious.
The proprietor of the castle tells Gillian she has visitors. It seems Dionysus and Maeti have come along, probably because she’s not goddamn fooling anybody by waltzing off mostly alone. They say they want to help her. Huh? Dionysus has said at least a couple of times that she shouldn’t go rescue Tanis. Maeti says,
“Tanis is special to you, but you care for Aleksei more…. You want Tanis back for him, more than for yourself, because you care about Aleksei’s feelings more than you fear his anger.”
Maeti’s sole purpose is “Let me tell you the plot, just in case you didn’t know already!” But oh, she’s apparently taught Dionysus a few things, because he wants to tell her all about her commitment phobia. Maeti and Dionysus are in love now, I guess.
Dionysus and Maeti ask her what her plans are, which we’re not told. She gets an email from her buddies with more stupid Tolkien references. She gets a hold of someone and speaks…wait for it…
…Elvish. Given the Tolkien references, I can only imagine this is Middle Earth Elvish.
She translates her Elvish as, “I request to speak to the tall, dark-haired warrior, the hero prince who is the friend of the gold-braided female soldier at the Elven home near the Bothil River regarding a hidden blood drinker.“
Is this really the best attempt at a code she can come up with?
Apparently, she really is contacting an elf, who lives in Finland and can find out what’s up with Tanis. Dionysus wants to know if the elf will understand the message. Apparently he thinks the elf is dumb as rocks to not understand what the fuck “hidden blood drinker” means. Gillian cheerfully assures him, “Oh, absolutely. Elves are highly intelligent and very literal.” I guess high intelligence and the inability to be abstract are required to understand that mind-rendingly complex message.
This is a hell of a lot of explanation for what she just did. The clunkiness of exposition in this novel is amazing sometimes. There is absolutely zero grace in diction or phrasing, just an endless trail of turds ranging from hard and pebbly (like Gillian’s nipples) to giant puddles of liquid horror.
Gillian changes and gets ready to go, and only then does everyone realize they have to figure out how to get out of Romania and back under Dracula’s nose.
Dionysus has a private jet, because that’s not obvious at all if they’re being tracked and doesn’t open the possibility to, you know, hijacking and death at 30,000 feet. Gillian also calls in favors to get clearance to leave the country by air. Sweet motherfuck is this stupid.
So they leave. At least they’re finally fucking doing something.
This chapter was a combination of frustrated perplexity and hysterical laughter. Is the author even trying anymore? I really can’t tell if she’s trying really hard or has surrendered herself utterly to this book’s demise. Gee, that sure does give me confidence for the next three or however many books there are in this series.
Stay tuned for the next episode of Hotdogs and Cream!