When we last left Anita and her unwieldy polycule + Claudia and Benito, they were being homophobic as hell over one challenger to Rafael’s throne (the hella homophobic Nestor) and Rafael just dropped the bombshell that another, Hector, might be his long lost son. This, by the way, should be impossible as born-shifters are incredibly unlikely because of Hamilton’s own worldbuilding.
Either they kill the human mother partway through gestation and work sort of like a chestburster… or the shifter mother shifts during the full moon early on and just… has a period. It’s only recently (the Las Vegas book) where we found out that tiger shifters can “take pregnant women’s beasts” so they don’t shift and miscarry at any point. They only just started teaching other shifters how to do that.
Anwyay, Hector’s mom Suelita hit Rafael with the “hey I got pregnant and the kid is yours” surprise twenty something years after the fact… but she doesn’t want to tell Hector. For some reason. Anyway, this triggered a bunch of “women lie about paternity” dialogue before Anita brings up the fact that Rafael, like 4 chapters before, had told her to sleep with Hector if Hector wins and kills him.
“You told me in the showers that you wanted me to seduce Hector if you die; are you seriously saying you’d want your lover to sleep with your son? That’s a little too . . . I don’t know . . . creepy.”
“I didn’t mean to tell you. I know it will make it harder for you to sleep with him.”
I grabbed his arm and made him look at me. “Win the fight tonight and I sleep with only you.”
He looked past me to Micah and Nathaniel. “Never just me, Anita.”
I wanted to shake him so badly that I had to let go and step back. “You know what I meant, Rafael. Hector’s mom is screwing with your head before the fight, and you’re letting her do it.”
“You may be right, but I cannot ignore that he could be mine, that I could have more than one son.”
“You asked me to come watch you fight tonight; well, I won’t come just to watch you give up and die.”
“I am not giving up,” he said.
“It sure sounds like it.”
So Anita is right. It’s creepy to tell your lover to fuck your son in the event that your son kills you in rat shifter royal combat. For once, Anita is not wrong. I sincerely would like to know why Rafael didn’t just ignore what Suelita asked of him and instead went “hey Hector, you’re actually my son and so I not only won’t fight you, I’ll install you as my actual heir since I make the rules up as king”.
Also, every single man Anita sleeps with has a fragile ego. We are constantly rehashing the fact that everyone’s insecure over not being the only person in Anita’s bed and heart and it makes zero sense because it’s a longterm polyamorous relationship. No one should be surprised by this and then, if they still don’t like the polyamory, they can just… leave. Hamilton should worldbuild her way to a bond breaker and fix that crap because it’s repetitive and beyond annoying.
There’s then Paternity Problems 2.0 with Benito, Claudia, and Rafael talking over each other in order to make claims about what Suelita must have wanted and how she’s absolutely a powerhungry gold digger trying to get Rafael killed. The misogyny leaps out at you as you read this because this is how women who aren’t useful in the Anitaverse are treated. Like they’re automatically incredibly awful people.
But Rafael puts an end to the conversation for now and I guess I should be grateful for that…
Except I’m not.
“Enough!” Rafael yelled it, and both Benito and Claudia stopped arguing with him. He turned to me. “First I remind you of the Master of Beasts and his tortures and now this. If I were not walking the sands tonight, I would not try for sex with you, but time is running out, Gatito Negra.” It was Spanish for black kitten and the honor name the local wererats had given me, acknowledging that I was small, but a predator that might eat them. For Rafael and me it had become his nickname for me. It rolled off his tongue sounding sexy and endearing like a lover’s pet name should be. Just that sped my pulse, caught my breath in my throat and turned it shallow. I hadn’t realized that he’d conditioned me so that just him saying the name a certain way was a turn-on. You never know what seemingly innocent things will become foreplay.
First – Gatito Negra is not a nickname anyone would give someone. This is like… Baby’s First Fan Fiction Character Nickname. This is what I would’ve nicknamed a small black leopard shifter when I wrote Anitaverse fan fiction as a high schooler. “Gatita” would’ve sufficed.
Second – it’s also not that sexy so Anita’s hair trigger needs to be checked. There’s no reason that him saying that should get this girlie all hot to trot in part because remember, Rafael does not have a sexy accent. He sounds as midwestern as he is. That was made very clear in the first book. She’s eroticizing an exoticness that literally doesn’t exist.
Off they go to the bedroom and actually there’s something here that Hamilton does that I do and I wonder if I learned it from her. (It is not a good thing.) So the set up is that Rafael wants to play sexy hide-and-seek with Anita and this dialogue follows:
“What did you have in mind?” I asked.
“A little game of hide-and-seek.”
I frowned at him. “You’re a wererat; even in human form you’d smell me or hear my heartbeat from yards away. I can’t hide from you.”
“If I truly wanted you to hide, no, but I want to find you.”
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean?”
“Hide under a bed and I will pull you out and ravish you.” He wiggled his eyebrows at me.
I shook my head. “Nope, sorry, I’ve had too many real bad guys drag me out of hiding. It would be more trigger for me than foreplay.”
He stopped so abruptly that it almost made me stumble with his hand in mine, pulling me up short. “I am so sorry, Anita, I forget for you some of the bondage games are too close to your reality.”
“It’s okay, you asked, I said no, we move on to a new idea.”
He looked away and his face was serious again. If this kept up and short of releasing the ardeur, we weren’t having sex today. I touched his face lightly and turned him back to look at me. “Tell me what you want, Rafael. If it’s a chase and takedown, we can figure it out.”
She basically wrote this moment to kill Rafael’s boner. It means something to her but it does nothing to serve the plot or get them to the sex.
In fact, it’s acknowledged in-text that this is a boner killer that Anita might have to fix with supernatural help. And this is a thing I do. My Emotional Support Omegaverse story (long, strange, stressful story) does this. I did this on purpose. I broke up the sexy moment with a literal biology lesson and worldbuilding. I’ve done other stories where the sexy time is disrupted by something I find absolutely hilarious – queefing, an attempt at a move that falls flat, etc – but also a trauma dump.
And it is so not necessary.
People talk a lot about how sex scenes should be relevant to the story and blah blah blah but sometimes, the emotional exposition mid-sex scene or pre-foreplay should also be relevant to the story.
Why does she do this?
This is then followed by a whole like “I want to make love to you anita”, “no Rafael, I fuck, I don’t make love” dialogue that frankly makes me want to lift and throw someone over it. This is ridiculous. I’m embarrassed for everyone involved, even y’all reading me reading this.
But finally, supposedly, chapter eight ends with these two about to fuck –
I mean “make love”.
I am going to have mercy on you all and refrain from a play-by-play of the actual sex scene because we all deserve better than that. But I will do my best to convey the scene to follow…
“Your hands are so small, but you are the only woman that I have ever undressed whose pile of weapons beside the bed is larger than mine.” He smiled at the end of the sentence and raised my hands up so that he could lay soft kisses on my palms.
“You knew I wasn’t like all the other girls before you got me out of my clothes.”
How you get a “not like all the other girls” moment into a sex scene is beyond me but apparently Hamilton can do everything!
Except write a cohesive and sexy oral sex scene, of course. Because she still really sucks at that. Pun not intended. Like there’s literally no sense of place in this scene and I’m like “where does this man have his mouth” because the first two times it’s not where you think!
The sex scene is bad, obviously. It ends quickly. She then eats the energy of all the wererats everywhere and hits a wall that’s hector shaped and we learn something new about Hector – who is full of surprises! Hector happens to be the animal to call (basically a familiar you fuck and/or feed on) for a master vampire that does not belong to Jean-Claude, master vampire of St. Louis and future vampire King of North America.
I pushed at them, concentrated all that power on just that one . . . he was twenty-something, handsome, smooth-featured, pale brown skin with greenish-gray eyes. If I hadn’t had Micah’s eyes to compare to, I’d have said they looked exotic. They were arrogant, defiant, enraged, but under that was . . . fear, and . . . something . . . something else. I dived deep into those forest-green, gray-mist eyes, I flew straight into his gaze and traced that something. Hector’s energy pulsed, because of course that was who it was; he tried to push me out of him, tried to shield something from me, from us, I wasn’t even sure which us I was referring to, and I didn’t care. The energy was only warm on top, like icing on a cake, but what was underneath was cold, so much colder than a shapeshifter. He tried to push us out, and he was able to shove us to the surface almost. We were back staring into Hector’s face, his eyes like forests and mist, and then they filled with brown light so dark it was almost black, as if night fell on the forest and started to burn it down. Hector was the moitié bête of a master vampire. A vampire that didn’t belong to Jean-Claude.
My thoughts on these two chapters are… Hamilton really wastes a lot of time on emotional nonsense that should’ve been handled several books ago, she shouldn’t be worse at writing sex scenes than I am, and no duh Hector was actually someone super shady. I’m willing to bet that Nestor is going to turn around and be Rafael’s real secret son at this point.
Anyway, I love/am mess and that’s all that awaits us in the next… 20 chapters of this book.