After Perrin’s giggle fit, there’s some obvious flirting, which then moves straight into kissing.
I guess this is okay, since this is supposed to be sex therapy and all, but this scene doesn’t feel like therapy at all. This is straight up first-date makeout. Just like when Gillian made out with Tanis and then Aleksei, she stands there “passively” while he kisses her, just to add an extra layer of gross. Does standing there like a blowup doll make this therapeutic?
While they’re kissing, Gillian wonders whether his gargoyle blood just affected his face (hence the mask) or whether “he [has] more disfigurements beneath his clothing.” You’re a class act, Gillian. Worrying about whether his dick is ugly is exactly what you should be thinking about when you’re ostensibly making out in a professional capacity.
They make out some more and we’re informed that Perrin has been starved for touch most of his life, which is his real problem. “He radiated need, want, desire, longing…most of it wasn’t even sexual.” Then why is this sex therapy? It seems to me like sex is the last thing she should be doing. I don’t need to be a therapist to know this. Sex is not the only way to fulfill the need for touch. It’s a good way and there’s nothing wrong with it, don’t get me wrong, but seriously, why is that the first place a therapist goes to? Is she not sexualizing touch for him in a way that will become unhealthy?
I know, too nuanced a question for these garbage books.
Predictably, she’s having a hard time controlling her emotions around him. This is when a GOOD therapist and a reasonable person would step away and ask someone else to take over Perrin’s case, isn’t it? But no, of course she won’t, because that would eliminate the love triangle tension and make Gillian and Aleksei have to work out their conflict like fucking adults.
….y’all, I found the best meme for Gillian ever.
This is exactly how she is. She actually gives zero shits about her clients, despite every effort by the narrative, other characters, and herself to convince me that she does. When she’s with male clients, all she can think about is her personal humidity index, and when she’s with the one female client she’s ever had, Bullwinkle, she constantly dehumanizes her by calling her a “creature.” Lest it seem like I’m harping on the therapist stuff, I’ll remind you that Gryphon is apparently a mental health professional herself. She knows this shit, or she should. It personally offends me when someone portrays their own profession, which is one most people have misconceptions about anyway, in such a bullshit manner. It would be like me writing the worst, laziest, least ethical teacher I could possibly write.
Perrin jumps on the diminutive nickname train and calls her “Gilliana.” This guy is seriously a milder-mannered cipher of Aleksei. This is just lazy writing, but it also doesn’t take a genius to realize how unhealthy it is for Gillian to be fucking a nicer version of her abusive boyfriend.
Of course, we all know this pattern by now: Gillian displays a moment of wisdom and insight, and Helmut swoops in to reassure her that her reasonable instincts are silly and she should continue anyway. He tells her since he’s part Sidhe, Perrin emanates sex vibes, which he can’t control, so it’s not her fault that she can’t control her own emotions. Which we already knew, because Gillian spent several paragraphs describing his sex appeal in previous chapters, plus every dick-wielding asshole in this book has preternatural sex appeal anyway. This is not a fucking surprise, but she acts like Helmut just told her there’s evidence of life on Mars.
Now she talks about setting boundaries for Perrin. While I’m actually kind of proud of her for this attempt, it’s a little late for that. She should have done that from the outset, especially if sex is supposed to be involved. You don’t just wing that shit. Of course, this is really indicative of how Gillian lives her life in general: a complete lack of planning that inevitably results in disaster. She would be a terrible road trip buddy. You’d get a hundred miles down the road and she’d realize she has no idea where she’s going, doesn’t have a map, forgot her cell phone, forgot to fill up the tank, and doesn’t have any money left for gas because she blew all of her money on pork rinds, Doritos, and Mountain Dew. And then she throws up all over the car because she forgot she gets carsick. And then she wants to stop at a rest area in the middle of nowhere so she can have a serious conversation with you about planning the trip. And then she wants to borrow your cell phone to call Helmut, who assures her that she’s doing great and is right on track.
Which is exactly what he does, saying, “You’re doing our profession proud and lending credibility to it.” I know I’ve said I’d avoid ad hominem attacks, but I’m so fucking annoyed I’m going to throw one out anyway: I’m sure this is what Gryphon tells herself when she’s writing this trash.
This is the result of any such road trip with Gillian:
The scene drones on and on. They talk about Perrin’s mask and how Gillian is going to let him determine when it comes off. Finally Gillian goes up to bed and runs into Aleksei, who…apologizes for his behavior. I wish I could muster some satisfaction from this, but I’m becoming inured to these moments by now. I certainly don’t trust any moment of wisdom or progress, knowing it won’t last more than a nanosecond. Indeed, Gillian stomps off to bed without bothering to have a discussion, and I’m sure that’s the end of that.
We jump into Puff the Magic Vampire’s head as he’s being all dragon-y and shit. There’s some garbled information about master vampires’ abilities and vampire lords and vampire lines that only half makes sense. We’re reminded that Aleksei is now the head of his own bloodline (pun intended), and he’s not sure what to do with that. It’s actually a halfway decent character conflict moment, which is followed by an equally decent thought train about how he needs to earn Gillian’s respect and trust and not be such a misogynist dickbag. Oh, Puff the Magic Vampire, if only I believed you’d actually succeed.
Aleksei goes to the nearest village to feed, though he doesn’t hunt; he has a list of willing “donors,” which apparently means he can roll into the cafe and pick out a human meal whenever he wants to. We pause for exposition again for several paragraphs, this time to assure us that the whole village loves the Rachlavs, and the whole arrangement between them and the townspeople sounds suspiciously like how a mob runs things. After chatting with the locals in the cafe, someone asks if he needs to feed, and a bunch of people stand up, unprompted, to offer to feed him.
I’m not sure if creating sycophants is a side effect of leveling up in vampiredom, or if this is unintentionally creepy as fuck. Aleksei protests that he doesn’t want to feed from his own people (then why was the donor list created? Who knows), but they insist, and he feeds from several of them. Apparently it “[makes] them feel like they [are] important enough to help their benefactor.” Jesus Christ this is right up there with the creepy sex painting. Maybe even worse. What’s especially creepy about it is that I’m sure we’re meant to see this as this wonderful, generous thing the townspeople are doing to demonstrate how awesome Aleksei and Tanis are.
Some weird summarized conversation happens between Aleksei and Tanis about Tanis wanting to be free from his bond with Dracula, so Aleksei is going to “treat him like a new conversion,” which I assume means treat him like he’s being turned into a vampire for the first time. I’m not sure where this is coming from or why it needs to happen now, but whatever. Blah blah blah, there’s some shit about how blood exchanges work that would be interesting somewhere else but is absolutely meaningless right now.
And now we’re back with Gillian, who is still calling Bullwinkle “the hideously ugly creature.” She leads a group therapy session with Bullwinkle, Samuel (Frankenstein’s monster) and some of the fey, then heads toward the Rachlavs’ guesthouse…wearing a sword, because she’s going to practice with Finian and Trocar lately. Okay. There’s a moment where it seems like something might happen, but it’s a false alarm, naturally. Jenna shows back up, and Gillian apologizes for being busy lately. Jenna tells her not to apologize and Gillian says, “I can’t help it. I’m Jewish, but heritage anyway. The guilt comes along with it. It’s like a legacy.”
….Why does this even need to be here? Why does she need to be Jewish, and what the fuck does it matter? WHY IS ANY OF THIS EVEN HAPPENING
Jenna makes a Friends reference I don’t get because I’m like the only American who never gave a shit about that show, and someone grabs Gillian from behind and throws her into the air. There’s this bit of anticlimactic brilliance:
Dimly she knew that if something really bad had been sneaking up on her, Jenna would have said something.
Well, that’s good to know. You’re a real pal, Jenna.
Well, unless Tanis or Josh Holloway from Lost were standing in her line of vision without their shirts while the sneaking was going on. Then she’d be screwed for sure.
JESUS CHRIST what is the point of all this shit? This is Gryphon and this book right now:
This is nothing but trying to toss words and ideas into random buckets in hopes of filling them enough to make books. At this point, I sense regret–which incidentally tastes like Five Hour Energy–pouring from Gryphon’s every keystroke at having signed a multi-book deal. I wonder if she realizes she has about a book and a half’s worth of C-grade material, and she’s trying to string it all together. It’s about as attractive and useful as Trump’s comb-over.