Woooooooooooooooo here we are again.
Jack says, “I look forward to teaching you better manners and vocabulary before you die.” In what way does that make him different from Tanis or Aleksei? Who needs enemies when you have friends like those two motherfuckers?
Gillian and Jack stand there talking like everyone goddamn else in this book, Gillian yelling for Jenna and the others and Jack being evasive about whether Jenna is still alive. Jack says, “I want you, Dr. Key” and is “sensual” about it, which creeps Gillian out. Because it’s not enough to be creeped out by the terrifying serial killer vampire; we have to add some creepy sex vibes too. They talk about whether Gillian will give herself over to Jack to save Jenna, blah blah blah. Gillian thinks,
When did he ever shut up long enough to kill anybody?
Jack is, like all vampires, drop-dead gorgeous. I like the idea of a villain who’s stunningly beautiful because it adds an extra creep factor, but I thought it was nondescript?
Gillian decides to keep talking at him and whips out her therapist hat. Sigh. When last they met, Jack seemed to be at least passingly familiar with psychology-speak, so I’m sure this will go swimmingly. She makes some half assed “I can help you get better” statements, to which he replies he has no desire to get better. I can’t tell whether she actually expects this to work or she’s just buying time. Since she pinned him as a sexual sadist, she ought to know sexual sadists don’t give a fuck about trying to get better.
Gillian all of a sudden turns from scared when we’re in her POV to cold when we abruptly switch to his in the next paragraph. Jack makes some genuinely creepy observations about her:
His eyes dilated as his gaze raked over her from head to foot, taking in the short skirt, her nipples visible under the white linen, the boots which made her legs look muscular and firm. The way she stood with her legs apart was tantalizing. He could detect her scent from where he was; smell the sex all over her.
She’d been with someone earlier when he’d come for her. He hadn’t been able to enter the castle compound, something had kept him out, but he could hear the cries. Yes, she and the dark-haired whore he held prisoner had been fucking tonight. Too bad he’d had to settle for the other one when he could finally enter the yard. Just seeing the foul-mouthed bitch standing with her legs apart, open to the night under that flimsy garment, knowing that someone had already put a cock up inside her tonight, excited him beyond what he thought possible.
Okay, you got me. Parts of this description would be kinda sexy if it were in a different context, which makes it super gross. I approve. He starts groping himself. Even more gross. He asks her if she’s really not wearing underwear, and to distract him:
“You bet, wanna peek?” Practically gagging but wanting to keep him doing anything except killing her or Jenna, she kept the gun trained on him with one hand, while she slid her hand suggestively down her breast, stomach and to the hem of the shirt, his widened eyes following her all the while he continued stimulating himself.
I’m pretty uncomfortable right now. And in a way I’m supposed to be uncomfortable. Yay!
He starts jerking it, and we have a truly remarkable line that completely ruins a good horror moment. When he comes, he “[empties] his seminal vesicles.”
She makes a smart remark, which pisses him off. He pulls out his scalpel, which has Jenna’s blood on it, and she shoots at him. He’s too fast, and he smacks her so she goes tumbling ass over teakettle. Gillian is actually getting into her own fight! Hooray!
The fight scene that follows is clumsy, but it’s there. An actual combat scene that’s more than two paragraphs! It only took three books!
Aaaaaaand Tanis shows up to ruin my party. Fuck.
Tanis grabs Jack by the neck like a misbehaving puppy, and that fight is over. Sigh. Folks, this the climax of the book, 62% in.
Gillian and Trocar rescue Jenna, who’s mostly fine, of course. Gillian has a cut on her leg and a bruise on her face, which are the first battle wounds she’s gotten outside of being spanked by her supposed allies. …that’s good, I guess.
When they go back downstairs, Tanis has let Jack go and is fighting him (????) “The problem was, Tanis was just too honorable simply to hold Jack helpless as he ripped him into pieces and was done with it, so he let the serial killer have some kind of a chance.”
Christ almighty. This guy has tried to kill basically everyone you care about, captured and tortured you, and you want to take the chance at letting him escape by brawling with him? I’m not sure how toying with him is being “honorable,” anyway.
Trocar, reasonable person that he is, wants to take care of things immediately. He hamstrings Jack and asks Gillian to return his garrote. Now, this is some good characterization of Trocar, if, as usual, clumsy execution. He’s probably the only person in these books who’s portrayed with reasonable consistency. He’s loyal, snarky, and ruthless. He’s a fantasy stereotype, but at this point I’ll take a consistent stereotype over…everyone else here. I would guess he has every intention of killing Jack in the most brutal way possible, which means we’re not going to get to see it.
Pavel the pony-sized wolf carries Jenna and Gillian back to the castle. They discuss the fact that Trocar is probably doing terrible things to Jack, but nope, we don’t get to see it.
The latter half of this chapter is definitely the best part of the book and maybe even the series in terms of description and action, even with the appearance of seminal vesicles. That doesn’t make it great, but comparatively, it’s a big improvement. But of course, of course Tanis shows up to end that action prematurely. Another pulled punch, and this one is pretty egregious.
I’m honestly just glad there’s not enough blatantly sexist bullshit to give me heart palpitations. There’s definitely some–Tanis coming to save the day–but at least he didn’t tell her she deserved getting beaten up because of what she was wearing or what the fuck ever, which is what I expected.
The biggest sin here is that it’s so early in the book yet, and what little tension was there is now gone. I now have over a hundred pages of god knows what to slog through. YOU’RE WELCOME.