Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #10) - Laurell K. Hamilton Anita Blake is spending some much needed time with her friend, Veronica "Ronnie" Sims, when she gets a call. Apparently, submissive Nathaniel went to the club, Narcissus in Chains, and got into some BIG TIME trouble. Against the wishes of Ronnie, Anita calls Jean-Claude to give her an assist. At the club, she reunites with her other lover, Richard. From there, BIG changes happen.

NOTE: For some odd reason, the only audiobook version I could find is the abridgement. So I'm sure there are tons of nuances and scenes I've missed.

If you gave me this book with no cover, no indication that this was part of the Anita Blake series, I probably would have thought this was part of a spin-off series or fanfiction or some crazy "What If?" book, so little connection does it have with any of the previous books. I've been very open that I have never been a huge fan of this series; it's had many faults, the number one being Anita Blake herself, another being the misogynistic view of women, another being pacing, writing, etc. But this book is so completely different, I am at a loss for words to describe how DIFFERENT it is.

Ever since Anita slept with Jean-Claude in The Killing Dance, sexuality has been increasing in the series. A couple of sex scenes, lots more discussions of BDSM, weird sexual acts, and of course, a hearty helping of rape. And honestly, I really didn't mind it (well, minus the rape part--honestly, you don't need rape to make things Serious Business). The series was kinda moving in that direction and after all those books of dancing around the sex issue, we really needed some bedroom action, if you catch my drift.

But this...this is just one long sex scene. I mean, Anita has sex at least THREE TIMES in this book. That doesn't include her makeout session with Jean-Claude and Richard at the beginning of the book nor all the mentions of the "ardeur". The previous books might have ONE sex scene, if you were really looking. Here? You have to try hard NOT to find the sex.

But the amount of sex isn't even the real problem; the real problem is the lack of a STORY. Now, I realize I listened to an abridgement, so I'm missing story details, but halfway through the book, there WAS no story, no plot. And then, at the 3/4 mark, LKH realized that she needed to toss one in for kicks, so we get a showdown with Anita and Chimera. Even with all my complaints to the previous books (mostly about Anita wasting time arguing with people), at least the previous books HAD a plot, HAD a story and a focus, HAD something they were building to. Here? It was just about the sex. And the thing is, the sex isn't sexy; it's over-the-top, extravagant, silly sex. That is, when we aren't talking about rape. Because LKH Rule #31: Great way to tell people who the bad guy is is to have him rape or talk about liking rape:

"'I enjoy rape. Adds spice.'"

I can't complain too much about LKH's fetish for over-describing clothes, but I attribute that one more to the abridgment than her toning it down. Because we still get gems like:

"He was dressed in a black vinyl shirt that looked poured on."


"Knee-high leather boots completed his outfit."

I didn't find Anita so b!tchy and unlikable here, but again, gotta wonder how much got cut out in the abridgment. Does Anita really tone back on the p!ssing contests with everyone and his mother or did that end up on the cutting room floor? As for the notorious "ardeur" thing--on one hand, the previous books set it up. On the other, it just sounds like an excuse so that Anita can have as much sex as she wants and not be considered a slut. Which, if Anita wants to have sex, she shouldn't need some gorram "ardeur" to make her not a slut. And if the "ardeur" is supposed to make her more comfortable with having sex, why is every sex session like pulling teeth, one where she is constantly protesting it?

And what the hell is up with Anita's obsession with handshakes?

"She offered me a hand and gave me one of the best handshakes I've ever had from another woman."

The other characters are meh. Nathaniel makes me want to break something; he is not a "submissive", he is a doormat. Micah needs to learn that "No means no"; and that when a woman doesn't want sex, he needs to back the frak off. Jean-Claude was barely present; Richard was grouchy the entire time; Ronnie has resorted to being one note: angry that Anita is dating Jean-Claude. No sign of Larry, Anita's daytime job, or a woman that isn't easily pushed around by the rapey men in this series.

By far, the most hilarious part of the book is the God-Awful writing. LKH has NEVER been the best writer in the world, but she is at her absolute worst here. Did an editor even SEE this book? Or did it go directly to publishing once LKH had finished typing?

Take a peek at some of these and you tell me:

"His eyes had gone drowning blue."

And what color is that exactly?

"He kissed me hard enough to bruise, hard enough to force my mouth open, then he crawled inside."

It's Aliens!!! Quick, get Sigourney Weaver!!

"The POWAH didn't just build; it exploded. It was like lying at ground zero of a nuclear explosion, the shockwaves shooting out, out, out into the room, while we melted together in the center."

Aren't similes typically supposed to compare something less tangible with something more tangible? Now answer this question honestly, Anita: How many nuclear explosions have YOU been through?

"He literally breathed, bit, ate the healing into me."

I "literally" have a hard time believing you understand how to use the word "literally".

"Someone was making small animal noises...and it was me."

If you can't tell you are making noises, you might want to see someone for that.

"It deepened my breathing, made me have to swallow my pulse."

Careful doing that, I've heard that can hurt!

"I found my voice, shaky, but mine."

Good thing, we'd hate to have you be silent for the rest of the series. We got more cop p!ssing matches to get into!

"I drank him in as he exploded inside me."

Quick, someone call 911!

"And I spasmed underneath him, bodies slamming against the bed, not from Richard's thrusts, but from the power of the orgasm itself. Screams spilled from my throat."

Things I've learned about sex from Anita Blake: 1) Spasming during sex is normal, 2) Orgasms are strong enough to slam bodies into bed, 3) screams spill from throats like milk from a glass (that's how you write a simile!).

“’Lovers?’ I made it a question.”

Good thing you let us know that was a question; I would never have been able to tell. I mean, aren’t questions marks meant to be thrown in at random? (BTW, that last part was a question.)

"The room was black, utterly black, like being flung into blindness, nothingness, like a cave."

Why chose one adjective when you could use twenty and destroy more trees?"

If it hadn't been for all these unintentionally hilarious quotes, I would have been bored stiff. This book isn't interesting, doesn't really push Anita into having to face the problems of the previous books, and isn't sexy. If I had been an actual fan of this series, I would have been VERY disappointed; even as a non-fan, *I* felt betrayed by this book. If you have been a fan of the books up to this point, I recommend stopping before you pick this up and really consider whether you want to continue. Of course, if you want to read some hilariously bad writing, read on!!