Remember what I said last chapter about not having anything to snark because Aleksei and Tanis were well-behaved?
I should’ve known that wouldn’t last.
TW: lots of mentions of rape plus some absolutely reprehensible abusive behavior.
Gillian is upset and understandably furious about the horrifyingly creepy painting. Once again, I feel for her, and more and more I’m starting to understand her plight. But once again, the narrative treats this situation as if she just needs to come to terms with her feelings for Aleksei, not that he’s an abusive dickbag creeper. Because this is a romance novel, I know she’s going to stay with him, so I know I’m supposed to believe Anubis and Gaslighting Gremlin, not Gillian.
Aleksei comes in and tells her, “You need to stop being afraid, piccola,” to which she tells him to fuck off: “I don’t need some wiseass fossil from the Old World telling me what to think or feel.”
GO GILLIAN. But then there’s this. If you’re drinking or eating anything right now, I recommend you set it aside.
The little twerp had just called him a fossil. And here he’d been prepared to be understanding and patient.
“Fossil?” he repeated. “Perhaps Tanis was correct about you needing better manners.”
Wow, Aleksei, you’re so beleaguered by Gillian and her completely valid point. Why does she make you treat her like this? Maybe it would be a good idea to fucking SPANK HER AGAIN, amirite?
Oh, no, he wants to “kiss some sense into her” instead, because it’s not abusive if it’s sexual.
They’re interrupted when Trocar barges in. Thank fuck for Trocar. My digestive system can’t handle any more of this.
Aleksei tells Trocar that he better protect Gillian when they go deal with Dante. Gillian notes that she hasn’t told Aleksei about Dante’s “sexual escapades”
IT WAS RAPE IT WAS RAPE IT WAS RAPE JUST CALL IT RAPE
(Hint: THE ANSWER IS YES GILLIAN YOU WERE RAPED)
…which might actually have been a good move considering that it would probably just add more fuel to Dickbag Rachlav’s abusive, stifling “protectiveness.”
Trocar replies, “Of course, with my last breath, I will protect her. Not that I have noticed she needs protecting, mind you.”
Now, Trocar is wrong because Gillian is utterly incompetent at everything, but I’m glad SOMEONE is pointing out that she doesn’t necessarily need teh menz to fucking babysit her all the fucking time. I actually kind of like Trocar despite his Darky McDarkerson persona. He’s the least patronizing man in Gillian’s immediate circle (that is a low fucking bar, granted). Why doesn’t Gillian end up with him instead?
Because this is romance and Gillian is Meant for Aleksei. Of course.
Gillian marches out of the room and Aleksei says,
“I love her and want to understand her, but I find myself torn between wanting to cherish her such as she deserves or simply putting her across my knee for how she behaves.”
You disgusting twatwaffle. I hate you.
My goodwill for Trocar evaporates with his next remark: “She has been known to bring that type of confusion to males of many species, Vampire. It is a gift of hers, really.”
Oh yes, because being pissed off about how she’s being treated means she deserves more patronizing abuse.
Gillian and Trocar are going to “a client’s home,” which is confusing considering I thought they were going to deal with Dante. Maybe they’re going to deposit him back in his castle? I dunno. Anyway, we bounce into Trocar’s head and he’s wondering who could have created a “dampening field,” which I assume was the thing that was keeping Aleksei from his vampire s00p3rp0w3rz. This is an interesting thought that demonstrates Trocar’s knowledge of and interest in magic, though I do wonder why the hell Dracula doesn’t immediately spring to mind as the culprit.
Apparently they are indeed bringing Dante back to the castle he was haunting because “If we disassociate a spirit from their haunt willingly, it’s the same as murder.” Uh…why? Of course we’re not told. There’s a paragraph that mentions debates about whether a ghost can legally be considered a living being, which would be mildly interesting if it actually constituted a reason for why disassociation would be equivalent to murder. Especially since Dante proved he’s not bound to the castle because he followed Gillian around to rape her while she sleeps.
Trocar wants to destroy Dante, but Gillian thinks “the Ghost needed further therapy and a chance to get past his crime.” Okay…fine. If her professional opinion is that Dante’s sexually abusive behavior can be stopped with therapy, that’s fine. But if that’s so, she should be the last person in the universe to continue that therapy. He. Raped. Her. If that is not a fucking conflict of interest, I don’t know what the hell is.
Trocar and Gillian do a ritual to un-bind Dante from the stones, and in the middle we’re treated to some explanation of their professional and personal relationship, something that would’ve been appropriate in the last book. Better yet….
Gillian tells Trocar not to kill or castrate Dante and they finish the ritual. Then, in the book’s words, “everything went to hell.”
And immediately in the next paragraph–no section or chapter break, nothing–we’re in Pavel’s head. We’re reminded of how gorgeous he is. He wants to learn to learn how to use the computer, because why not interrupt the beginning of a tense scene with something as mundane as a computer lesson?
Kimber is Pavel’s “lady love,” which I either forgot or didn’t know, but I should have guessed considering no one is allowed to stay single in this universe. While Pavel is getting his lesson, he mentions he’s glad Gillian is getting rid of Dante because he “molested” her
IT WAS RAPE
Oh, I see. The purpose of this scene is to incite Aleksei’s righteous anger over the loss of His Woman’s virtue or some shit. He gets taller and more gorgeous, which is apparently meant to indicate that he’s leveled up to his full powers. I’m sure this means he’s going to storm in and save the day.
Osiris calls him on the brain phone and shows him how to use his new powers…
He is a dragon. He is a motherfucking vampire DRAGON.
Thank god for the semi-regular bouncing between rage-inducing paternalism and patently ridiculous shit. It plays havoc on my bipolar brain, but at least I’m not forced to sustain bile-producing rage.
Dracula is the next person to call him on the brain phone, and he’s able to sever his link to Dracula (who you might remember is his vampire sire). He’s a Badassy Badass, yo. As I suspected, this scene is solely to let Puff the Magic Vampire swing his giant dick. He lands at the castle and the owner is just like, “Oh hey what up.” Then they hear a scream and Aleksei “blurred with speed” (blur is not a verb goddammit) up to her.
But Gillian and Trocar apparently aren’t actually in any danger because there’s just some ridiculous comedy of errors going on. Apparently Gillian left Grace, the other ghost, in the bag with Dante, and Trocar’s spell released her too. Trocar is yelling at her for the boneheaded move, QUITE REASONABLY I feel, and they’re arguing about whose fault it is.
Aleksei wants to know what’s going on and threatens Gillian yet again. He’s mad at her for not telling him Dante raped her because “You are supposed to share your feelings with me. Not just your body.“
No. NO NO NO. She is under no fucking obligation to tell you SHIT, you absolute slimeball. She says she didn’t know how he would react, and I bet she was afraid he’d be pissed because he is twice her fucking size and he has been repeatedly violent with her. She’s afraid of him! Jesus fucking Christ THIS IS A ROMANCE NOVEL.
I really do not understand why these situations are set up this way and why Gryphon keeps making Aleksei behave in such reprehensible ways. Is it because she wants Gillian to assert her independence? Are there not a million better ways to do that that DO NOT make the male romantic lead into a terrible person?
Oh my god. Now apparently it’s a violation of confidentiality if she tells him Dante raped her.
Let me remind you that Gryphon is apparently a therapist herself. If she thinks a therapist is violating confidentiality by telling someone a client raped her, this is something SERIOUSLY wrong. And now she’s insisting that Dante didn’t hurt her!!
I need to hit something.
Aleksei manipulates the situation by saying he loves her. Die. DIE MOTHERFUCKER. She’s startled as fuck because being pissed at someone for not revealing their rape is the absolute worst fucking moment to say “love” for the first time. Trocar basically shoves her out the door with him and oh my god if my blood pressure gets any higher my heart might give out.
End chapter. Thank god.
At 75% of the way through the book, I suppose we were long overdue for some unforgivable vampire behavior. It sure didn’t fucking take long after the vampires rolled back into the picture, did it?
Christ, these books were written like they took a stock romance novel template and crammed as much horse shit in as possible, then laced it with poison, and reading it is like smearing it on your face and up your nose. Well, gotta have a scene where the hero blows up because he has to save the heroine, so better have him swoop in as a dragon, except he didn’t really need to, and better have him confess his love for her except in the worst moment and the most manipulative way possible. It’s full of superlatives, but all the wrong ones.