Gillian muses about where she’s heard the name Oscar Gray. I, who have much less invested in this bullshit than she does, remember the name, especially since they found Tanis in Oscar’s house, so I assume she doesn’t remember because this quarter-assed dramatic irony is literally the only thing producing any semblance of plot at the moment.
Gillian drinks French Roast. I stick my Seattle nose up at her for drinking dark sludge.
Gillian apparently feels the need to wear this to see Perrin:
a slinky black velvet and lace shirt with buttery soft leggings, both of which hugged her curves; flat, calf-high, black velvet boots; and a matching ribbon woven through the braid that hung down her back. Looking at her reflection in the full-length mirror, she thought something was missing. Makeup. Sighing, she relented, slapping some mascara and blush on for good measure. She hated lipstick so didn’t bother with it.
Is there a single person in these fucking books who dresses like it’s the 21st century, or does everyone have stock in Hot Topic? Let’s not even get started wondering why she needs to dress up like (the book’s words, not mine) “a pint-sized musketeer” to conduct a therapy session. Even she reflects that she doesn’t usually fuss over her appearance. I assume this is a PNR version of the “tomboy gets turned into a fox” scene from mid-90s movies. Or something.
She finally connects the name “Gray” with something Tanis mentioned and goes in search of him. She calls Aleksei on the brain phone, thinking Tanis might be with him; there is no reason this has to be the case except to shoehorn in some more awkwardness between her and Aleksei.
We have a short interaction between Tanis and Jenna, who can sense something is up with him but gives up pursuing it when he smiles, which “drop[s] her IQ by several points.” Ah, my old friend blatant misogyny, you haven’t shown your face in a couple of chapters. Nice to see you again…? And glad to know pretty men can still make allegedly badass women stupider.
Also, Tanis is apparently in an affectionate, presumably committed relationship with Jenna now. RUN AWAY, JENNA. RUN AWAY NOW.
Apparently this conversation necessitates the whole gang being present, so we have Gillian, Aleksei, Tanis, Jenna, Pavel, and Kimber, presumably to remind us that the latter three still exist. Gillian asks Tanis about where he and Luis were taken. Notice she didn’t just come right out and ask him if he knew someone named Oscar Gray, because we have to hold on to a modicum of tension just a few seconds longer.
Apparently no one knew Luis was there? Yeah, apparently in the middle of a goddamn war, people are free to come and go at will from the house of the so-called majordomo of Eastern Europe. There was at least a couple of pages referencing all the security Aleksei et. al were building.
Luis’s presence is apparently a bad thing, which Gillian doesn’t know but everyone else seems to. Gillian looks like a fucking idiot here, and this time it’s the narrative’s fault rather than anything particular she did. God, the way these books have of creating tension is just so ineffective and silly.
After everyone has a GILLIAN OH MY GOD reaction, like you would if you just found out enemy agents were in your damn house, Tanis and Aleksei proceed to very calmly inform Gillian that Oscar is Dracula’s agent.
Gillian says, “Dammit, I hate being right all the time.”
It’s been a while. Someone remind me of the last time Gillian was factually correct about ANYTHING. The statement doesn’t even make sense, given her confusion about who Oscar Gray was in the first place.
She does ask a reasonable question next, though, which is why the fuck neither Aleksei nor Tanis didn’t sense a master vampire nearby. I actually made the effort (i.e. pressed the back button like ten times) to check whether any mention was made that Oscar is a master vampire. None. Sooo, that’s why?
But nope. Aleksei says he and Tanis slept away from the castle. Apparently the family crypts are away from the castle?
Actually, what it smells like is another editor note that made it into the text. I can just hear the “OH FINE, HERE’S YOUR GODDAMN EXPLANATION” tone radiating from the page.
There’s an attempt to make this into a plot point, for which I have to give the author credit. I guess. There’s another comment about the dampening fields, which received a vague mention earlier in the book, and Gillian asks,
“Well, for crissakes, Aleksei, don’t you people have a bad-Vampire distant early warning system? Or some kind of a force field?”
What an excellent question! You’d fucking think so, wouldn’t you, given that we’re ostensibly still in the middle of the most sluggish, low-stakes war in history?
Then, Jenna goes, “Oops.” Apparently she invited Oscar in along with Luis. What a bunch of complete numbskulls these people are. I guess that’s to be expected of a team headed by the oh-so-brilliant Gillian. It does make me wonder what the rest of the military is like, if this is a crack team of paranormal special ops.
Jenna gets super defensive at her completely idiotic, dangerous mistake, complaining that there was “no one around to ask” when Luis arrived. If she had two brain cells to run together, she’d have questioned why her formerly comatose friend showed up unannounced in the middle of a fucking war, much less with a friend in tow, but I digress. Tanis is all sweet to her and says she didn’t do anything wrong.
Remember back in the first couple of chapters of the first book, when this guy was rightfully questioning Gillian’s competence? He was an abusive rapist back then, but he was also the only person who was right about Gillian’s idiocy. Now, he’s apparently flipped and become a tutting boyfriend who is just sure his lady is right about everything. I might credit this to character development, except that these books have long since destroyed my belief in the ability for these characters to develop. They just act in whatever way is expedient to the random shit that’s going on for the next three paragraphs.
Jenna has a meltdown, but everyone assures her it’s okay that she let one of Dracula’s henchmen into the house. HE IS STILL IN THE HOUSE BY THE WAY. Everyone is remarkably calm about this after a single exclamation point from Tanis, like Jenna just broke a nice vase in the hallway or something.
Kimber, who I’ve always liked just a bit more than the others, points out that nobody knows what the hell the rules of the house are.
Editor, is that you again? Too little, too late, my friend, but thanks for the effort.
Pavel, the other somewhat reasonable part of Team Shit for Brains, points out that Luis was with Dionysus all this time, so why didn’t Dionysus tell them Luis was coming back? Excellent question!
To find out, Aleksei calls Dionysus on the brain phone. Their conversation references rules of propriety that make no sense. Apparently Aleksei has to ask Dionysus for permission to judge Luis’s “true intentions” because Dionysus is the head of Luis’s bloodline, except he doesn’t because now he’s the head of his own bloodline, or something.
Dionysus says his motives with Oscar are “truly personal,” which makes me wonder if Luis is boning Oscar? Holy Christ, will we have a gay relationship in this book? I’m guessing not, because that would be interesting, and we can’t have that.
Dionysus abruptly hangs up the brain phone, and Aleksei and Tanis decide the situation needs to be dealt with immediately. Now, in my mind, “immediately” means as soon as they hear the name Oscar Gray, they need to grab the guy and figure out what the fuck is going on, but apparently their definition is more leisurely. How long did this conversation take? Ten minutes? Six months? Given the warp in space-time these books are perpetually stuck in, who knows.
There’s some discussion about who’s going to go, because we need to drag this out just a little bit longer. Jenna is going with her flame thrower (Gillian says, “It’s a Marine thing. You name your weapon,” and apparently traipsing through someone’s home with a flame thrower is also a Marine thing), Gillian says Pavel doesn’t need to go, and Aleksei says they can handle this and Gillian doesn’t need to go because she has a session with Perrin.
So, is this an emergency or not? Gillian points out she can cancel, but Trocar says,
“Gillyflower, what the fanged one means is that you rant about being pulled into soldier mode when you would rather heal the mind, yet you continually step forward and volunteer your services when they are better used elsewhere.”
“I know you are not telling me to stay somewhere safe when my people are walking into a potentially bad situation.” Gillian stared at him.
“You have a patient and they are no longer ‘your people’ since you have officially retired… again. A patient, I might add, that you were willing to sacrifice our relationship for, because it was so important to you to help him.”
Trocar! Suddenly we’re friends again.
I don’t recall any mention of Gillian officially retiring, though admittedly I’ve stopped paying attention to details at this point, but I appreciate Trocar’s bluntness here in his last statement. It’s somewhat contextually inappropriate, but what isn’t in this book? I can’t say Gillian’s services are better used elsewhere, however, since I can’t decide whether she’s less incompetent at being a soldier or a therapist. I assume this move is just to get her offscreen while the action happens.
tl;dr everyone in the group has decided Gillian doesn’t get to participate in this one and turns away like they’re all on a playground and she’s the stinky kid in the corner. I actually feel sorry for her for a second here because she’s clearly confused about why she can’t do all and be all, and if I had any confidence whatsoever that this moment would have a positive effect on her character, I’d give it a thumbs-up.
Gillian stomps off to her
date therapy session with Perrin. The last couple of sentences are, “A slight movement from the porch of the guesthouse caught her eye. Perrin? Outside? Holy shit.”
At the tail end of the chapter, there’s one of those rare moments where this is trying to be a better book. It’s like someone (I suspect my poor friend Editor) is trying to wrangle some logical character development out of this thing. Key word here in both cases being “trying.”
Even more than the other books, this reads like the author’s jumbled notes and random ideas scribbled on notecards without much attempt to actually make it into a book. My comment about the bitterness radiating from the page trying to explain away Aleksei’s and Tanis’s ignorance of Oscar’s presence really encompasses this whole book so far. It reminds me an awful lot of this bit from Patton Oswalt about an angry magician hate-fucking the audience with his performance. At this point, the text just reads like Gryphon hurling things on the page with a mixture of resentment and regret for this multi-book deal and screaming, “OKAY?!” Except, unlike the magician, I can’t credit the level of skill.