I don’t know how we’re going to follow the circus that was the previous chapter. I really don’t. Let’s find out!
Gillian’s clothes are shredded, so Aleksei gives her his shirt, which is long enough to be a dress. They discover Tuuli has returned to her fey form but apparently doesn’t mind being called “Moose” because objectification is fine and dandy. Tuuli’s curse was broken because she’s “loved by one lesser than herself,” whatever the fuck that means. Dalton is allegedly a fey prince, so I’m not sure how that counts as lesser than a creature who has been described as ugly, tragic, hideous, disfigured, etc. Since they fucked once, they’re totes in love and going to get married.
They’ve apparently been fucking for four or five hours? While the three mysterious beings have been chilling nearby, I guess? And Oscar is still in the house, presumably. REMEMBER HIM?
The resolution of that situation is predictably anticlimactic. Oscar is trying to “distance himself from Dracula,” and after Aleksei extracts a blood oath from him, everything is fine and dandy. Why should we have any tension whatsoever in this damn book when we can have a series of increasingly absurd sex scenes?
What is the plot trying to do again? I have honestly 100% forgotten. Dracula something vampires something something, wasn’t there Jack the Ripper?
La la la, everything’s fine with Gillian and Aleksei now, and Gillian finally remembers she was going to check out the disturbance on the ground. Mysterious creatures? Hello? They’re right there? HELLO?
They run into Trocar, who “was in a tangled mass of tentacles, attached to . . . Dear Zeus, she couldn’t even look at it. Sluagh. It had to be. Nothing else could possibly be that repulsive. In the faint light from the parking lot, it was part fuchsia colored, part pond scum green and in between— yuck! She couldn’t even tell its gender when it drew back from their approach in a rolling movement that nearly turned her stomach.”
So, just to be clear, Trocar is getting blown by a sluagh. Apparently the three creatures Gillian summoned with her sex vibes were sluagh, so again, nothing to be worried about. Trocar and Gillian smart off at each other and everyone is giggling despite none of this being particularly amusing and definitely not witty enough to match the glory of provocative honking. Aleksei is trying to hold her gun arm down so she doesn’t shoot anyone. This is so fucking surreal.
Welp, here comes Perrin, plus the requisite description of what he’s wearing. She’s used the word “yummy” at least twice in the same scene to describe both Aleksei and Perrin, like this is a supernatural version of one of those god-awful sex tips articles from Cosmo. Sigh.
Now the “oppressive air” is back. Where the fuck was this coming from, then? I assumed it was from the mystery figures, which were apparently (?) sluagh, but now it’s something else? The frequency of question marks in this post cannot properly express my confusion.
Gillian tells Aleksei to protect Perrin and recruits Trocar to help. Trocar pulls out a stiletto, and while I know this is a knife, it’s much more entertaining (and also sexier) to picture this:
Anyway, Trocar calls her “Kynzare” again, which apparently means “soul healer.”
Trocar senses something and breaks off from Gillian; Perrin has a hissy fit that Gillian is alone; Aleksei assures her she’ll be fine. I assume this is shoehorned in here because Aleksei has to be portrayed as the more reasonable point on this love triangle. Perrin continues pitching his hissy because every goddamn man in these books has to question her competency under the guise of being overprotective, despite the fact that Perrin claimed he was perfectly confident in her competency earlier. It doesn’t even matter that they’re all right to question her because she’s a fucking idiot; the fact that everyone does it because she’s a teeny womanz is fucking annoying.
Let me also point out that there are three POVs within one page: Trocar’s, Gillian’s, then Aleksei’s. Unlike most contemporary readers, maybe, I don’t really have a problem with omniscient POV, but this isn’t even that. There’s no rhyme or reason to the POV switches; they don’t add anything, and it would honestly be a thousand percent easier to write if there was only one. …or maybe I’m just wishing for a POV character I didn’t absolutely despise. You know. Whatever.
Perrin tells Aleksei to keep her safe, and Aleksei says she doesn’t need him to stay safe. This is a genuine moment of revelation for him, but predictably, he turns it into a moment of whinging self-pity:
She didn’t need him. She was perfectly capable and had other perfectly capable friends. What else could he offer her other than his protection, all that he owned and his love? Was it enough for her? Did she really want it? Any of it?
I mean, the reader is meant to believe that yes, she wants it, because Gaslighting Gremlin says so. The reality is that she’s had almost no choice in staying here. She’s been held hostage by plot situations. This honestly a complex question and one I wish more fictional romances would address: when two people are pushed together by circumstance and develop feelings for each other, how do they then navigate what comes after, when the crisis is gone? What the fuck do they even have in common aside from a desire to hump each other? I can’t answer this question because we really know fuck all about Aleksei other than he’s a giant cock, literally and figuratively. I’ve wished since like the second chapter of Key to Conflict that Gillian would GTFO, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that she won’t by now.
Aleksei realizes Perrin is in love with Gillian, blah blah blah, and he also realizes Perrin is an “elegant, lonely, tormented soul” who desperately needs Gillian’s help, blah blah blah, so he shouldn’t come between them. At this point, I’m fairly convinced the author is tired of writing about Aleksei, because she has a pretty obvious author hard-on (down to her knees, perhaps?) for Perrin. I mean, speaking as an author, we all have those characters we fall in love with, but when writing a love triangle in a cis-het traditional romance, the convention is that the female character is supposed to stay with her initial love interest despite the temptation of the second dude. Gryphon is not giving me an excellent case for that here. Could she be doing something new and different?
By the way, Gillian and Trocar are still off investigating the mysterious bad out there. I’m picturing all action stopping Matrix-style so these two douchebags can stare at each other and think about “a certain little blonde.”
Tanis joins Gillian, swooping in like the Rape Culture Vulture he is, to chastise her for putting off sex vibes. He tells her to “not let it happen again.”
DON’T LET ME ALMOST RAPE YOU AGAIN
Thankfully that conversation is interrupted by a twig snap and…giggling? Jesus Christ, is this yet another aborted attempt at tension that will turn out to be something really stupid? Is this number three or number four?
Oh, fuck me. (Consensually.) It sure is.
Samuel, aka Frankenstein’s monster, shows up with “an attractive older Human woman.” Instead of hideous and deformed–you know, two of the most important characteristics of Frankenstein’s monster–he looks “like a great, hulking, plain Romanian farmer. But he wasn’t ugly.”
The woman is apparently Samuel’s girlfriend, he says, “I think I am in loooove!” I feel the need to point out that I am quoting here. I did not add the extra O’s. That sentence made it into a published book. A book published by a well-known press. That you can buy in a book store. When anybody complains about how indie/self publishing is dragging down the quality of literature, you can point them directly to this shit.
Well, it seems the Bad Shit wasn’t Samuel and his girlfriend either. Gillian, Trocar, and Tanis move on. Finian and the other fey are gathered around a dead body. Everyone (everyone) asks Gillian whether she really wants to see it, like she’s a wilting flower who’s never seen a dead body before and might get the vapors.
The description of the body is decent; you get the sense of the grotesque nature of death. It’s the best couple of paragraphs I’ve read from these books in a long time. Somehow she knows enough about crime scenes to put together that the girl was killed by….dun dun DUN
You know, sometimes when I don’t know what to write, I just start typing the random ideas that fall out of my brain like a flock of pigeons all shitting at once. I figure, at least I’m writing, and I can probably salvage something from it later. I think that’s what I’m reading right now, except nobody ever bothered to power-wash the pigeon shit away.
That’s all I have to say about that.
P.S., there is a real life person named Gillian Key. I am so sorry for her.