Stitch Reads Smolder (Anita Blake #29) – Chapters 4-7

Chapter 4 begins with Anita complaining about the stress of her life in the upcoming wedding. it also includes one of the worst sentences I’ve ever read. after Anita talks about walking into the bridal gallery making her feel bad she talks about what had briefly made it okay:

Edward trying on clothes had made it fun again, and seeing Peter be a better adult than some of the immortals I knew, and Asher trying, and Kane getting his ass kicked by Peter. Everything fun was associated with the people, none of it with the bridal shop and clothes.

This is not a good sentence and I don’t want to pretend that it is. 

Anyways, the initial paragraph ends with  Anita asking herself, “how was I getting married to someone who thought a wedding started at opulent and went up from there?”

The convenient person who answers that question is the Viking vampire Damian. I haven’t seen Damian in a while because I disassociate heavily while reading these books every single time so he could have been in Rafael, I wouldn’t know.

However I think Hamilton plans for that because every time an old character is reintroduced for the first time in a novel she gives us the same description that she always does. a paragraph of perception. Here’s Damian’s:

He was six feet of Danish Viking glory but to say he was red-haired, green-eyed, and pale didn’t really cover it. He was what happens to a redhead when they can’t be in the sunlight for over a thousand years. Hair the bright red of fresh blood, skin that was truly milk white, paler even than Jean-Claude’s Snow White coloring, or my own pasty whiteness.

One of the things that stands out to me as I read the reveal that both Anita and Damian are minor celebrities – and Damian more so than her in this moment – is the fact that none of these people should be famous according to the rules of their world. Every major metropolitan area has a master vampire already. On top of that, several smaller towns including backwater Southern towns that barely have a main street have Master vampires. And yea, these vampires can range from regular normalish vampires to really famous hotties like Jean-Claude or the master vampire of LA who has a stated connection to Hollywood and the film industry. 

This is a world where vampires are normal and famous vampires are very normal so a vampire that’s also a nightclub owner isn’t abnormal in any way. 

It’s also doesn’t make sense that St Louis, Missouri would have the first supernatural nightclub (that lets regular humans in) in the United States when New York, Miami, New Orleans, and Los Angeles exist. 

St Louis is in the middle of nowhere and there’s nothing about that part of the country that is any more predisposed to vampires and other supernatural creatures than any place else in the United States. 

Not only does New Orleans exist in this series – obviously – it’s actually still a site for in-universe supernatural shenanigans. Anita just doesn’t travel and has no reason to go there, but we had multiple mentions of a thriving powerful supernatural community down there early on in the series. As tourism is a huge aspect of New Orleans’ income? Why is it that New Orleans isn’t a hub of supernatural fame and tourism? 

I just don’t understand why Anita is famous. I don’t understand why she’s famous and I don’t understand, now, why Damian is famous. 

Jean-Claude makes sense because he’s trying to become the vampire king of North America or whatever, and as ridiculous as that is and as unlikely as that is to happen, someone declaring himself a ruler of a country definitely is worth some news. but again hot French vampires are a dime a dozen in this universe even though she’s carefully strayed away from New Orleans and channeling the Specter of Anne Rice. 

Hamilton absolutely is trying to make us believe that any of these vampires would be famous when none of them would be.

So Damian has women taking photos with him and being really excited to see him. He’s not even a stripper anymore so I really don’t know what the appeal is about a nightclub manager. Anyway, then we get some early misogyny in the chapter. and it reminds me that Anita Blake and Laurel K Hamilton are incredibly miserable misogynists. 

I was debating on rescuing Damian from his fans, or just waving as I went for my car and the crime scene, when they finally moved on, giggling again. I’d never been the kind of woman who giggled much, and it was usually done in private if it had to be done at all.

Be fucking for real.

Right before this like the literal paragraph before, we get the “not like other girls” thing where Hamilton describes Anita’s outfit and how she’s loaded for bear – or werebear – underneath her comfy casual “tactical pants, an oversized zippered sweatshirt, and cross-trainers”. She has so many weapons on and the paragraph makes it clear that this is all part of her being Not Like the giggling women swooning over Damian. 

But okay, let’s get back to the misogyny of it all. 

Giggling – something exclusively linked with girls/young women – is bad to Anita. I reckon that if Hamilton were a little more up to date on slang, she’d call it “cringe”. Except, the cringe thing is that Anita’s internal monologue can’t give her a second’s break from hating on other women. She can’t smile, fondly and a little amused, at the excitement as she watches other women get giddy over a local celebrity out and about amongst them.


She has to make a point in her mind about the giggling.

She’s so miserable.

And again, this explains why Anita doesn’t have any female friends she’s not also fucking – and they’re barely her friends at that point – and makes me think Hamilton doesn’t have many female friends either. Because it takes a special type of internalized misogyny to write that kind of internal monologue… 

Moments later, Damian grabs Anita and pulls her into an alley so they’re not dragged into a photo session with even more of his fans. Again, Anita makes a note about giggling in this section: 

Damian grabbed my arm and pulled me into the alley out of sight from the sidewalk.

I was laughing by the time he had us tucked back into a well of deeper shadows. It was not a giggle, but the laugh was a little higher than normal.

See, Anita didn’t giggle. 

She just laughed a little higher than usual.

Anita also doesn’t giggle when she thinks Damian is propositioning her for a quick fuck in an alley. 

I laughed again, and this one was definitely not a giggle, but the kind of laugh that makes men turn their heads in bars to locate the woman who made it. Boy, would they be disappointed to see me dressed like this.

This time, the not-giggle can be assumed to be a husky, sexy chuckle. Think about the kind of laugh you’d hear from Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist.

Not a giggle.

This is Sexy Laughter™.

Anyway, we’re then subject to Anita and Damian making out in the alley and trying to convince each other that they can’t do the feed-and-fuck routine because they’ve both got work to do. After Anita waxes poetic about how beautiful his TRUE GREEN eyes are, they then just talk about how they’ve got a date night scheduled and plans for a future foursome with Angel – one of the weretigers they’ve enfolded into the ever-expanded polycule. 

It’s just mind-boggling how boring Hamilton makes polyamory and the idea of a MMFF foursome? Like If one of my friends put a hint that they’d be writing a Vash/Meryl/Nicholas/Milly foursome in one of their Trigun Stampede fics (and friends… get on that), I would be sat. I would be ready. I might even be drooling. 

Here? As with the incredibly awful orgy in Jason, what I feel is dread. I feel bored.

I cannot stand the mundanity around Anita’s sex-romance life? 

Like this?

“I didn’t say no. I said I wanted it to be a foursome with you and Nathaniel, which means we’re working around all our schedules.”

“The cry of real polyamory is ‘Let me check my calendar,’ ” I said.

We both laughed. Then we were left looking at each other.

This is physically painful in how boring it is and if she ever writes that foursome, it’ll probably leave me unmoved entirely. Which is wild because if you told me at 14 when I was reading Incubus Dreams and panting over Damian and Nathaniel that they’d be going to poundtown with Anita and another woman? I would’ve lost my mind.

Also this chapter kind of ends with a reminder that like… Nathaniel really did mind-control Damian, who had legitimate trauma around sexual assault as a survivor of M/M assault, into being down with fucking him and like… I still hate that for all of us. I hate that Nathaniel’s character has been warped so badly and that we’re just supposed to pretend it didn’t happen?

Thankfully, there’s no Nathaniel when we start chapter five… just Anita, her old boss-ish Captain Dolph Storr, and a burnt up vampire corpse. Like, I really have to say that I felt this instinctive pang of excitement over the potential here because I want supernatural casefic. I always get my hopes up for some reason…

Anyway, this chapter is our first “visual” of the victims of what Anitaverse journalists are dubbing the “Sunshine Murders” and this latest victim was a vampire who was found burnt to a crisp in a local hotel. So of course, what then happens is that Anita, Dolph, and a DC dude – McKinnon – who previously showed up in an earlier Anita Blake book (the one with the fires, perhaps?) start talking about Anita’s wedding


Because there’s a credible threat against Anita and Jean-Claude that makes the US government think the Sunshine Murders are connected to them. Like it’s someone trying to stop the new Vampire King of North America from getting his wedding on.

It’s terrorism time.

I’m sorry.

I had to say it. 

But like, this is such a boring chapter so far. I think it could’ve been interesting if it’d been written differently, but Hamilton has McKinnon kind of soft-shoe Anita into the realization that there’s a credible terrorist threat due to land that week and disrupt their wedding and the words it takes to get there?

Too many. 

 One thing I will give Hamilton? With the terrorists behind The Sunshine Murderers using the internet to plot their evil deeds, it’s one of her first times really utilizing updated technology? The series can’t age well, it’s too poorly written for that, but this actually made me go “wait, is LKH finally remembering things happen on the internet?”

Anita agrees that they need to fix things and get security tightened ASAP… so she links up with Jean-Claude mentally,,, as he’s getting ready to go onstage at Guilty Pleasures, the titular strip club in the first book. 

He usually just introduced the acts and spoke with the crowd in between the other dancers taking the stage, but once a month he took center stage. It had been about every three to four months, but some of the older vampires had complained he was their king and kings shouldn’t shake their booty onstage, but since they bitched, he did it once a month instead of four times a year.

So that paragraph? Objectively hilarious to me.

Anyway, Anita and Jean-Claude then basically swap bodies and like… she gives us a huge paragraph of how beautiful and perfect he is. 

God I really wish Hamilton could write. 

While they’re stuck in their heads, they come under a magical or metaphysical attack that causes her to be “rolled” by him and lose her sense of composure. So we get more infodumping and Anita expresses concern that she’ll have to call off the wedding because if she, with her extra special powers, can be rolled and captivated by another supernatural power, what hope do her other friends and family have? 

We then get the reveal that the United States government is using taxpayer dollars in order to develop tools that will work against vampires despite them being legal citizens of the country. I find it frustratingly naive that Anita Blake then asks McKinnon if researching how to harm them isn’t illegal. it just speaks to how little understanding Hamilton has about the world broadly, not just her world in this universe. The United States government has always used taxpayer dollars to illegally harm legal citizens. that they are vampires and shapeshifters in this world, isn’t abnormal. It doesn’t change the problem. 

There’s a sense that the US government is going to become The Real Big Bad after all the supernatural stuff is done and since I haven’t been wrong yet… let’s see how this goes.

And honestly, this entire chapter was a huge waste of time. Despite the fact that we are introduced to the first corpse in this murder that sets up the case aspect of the story, none of the people in the room examine it properly and come up with a theory about who is actually responsible or how they are able to set these vampires on fire. The entire chapter revolves around Anita and her relationship with Jean-Claude threatening the structural stability of the United States government and causing terrorists to attack St Louis Missouri. and it is relevant to the story as a whole, but they could have had this conversation in an office, they did not need to have it at a crime scene while standing over a dead body. 

The second chapter 6 begins, it proves me a liar. Up top where I said that Anita Blake doesn’t have any friends that are women who she’s not sleeping with? I always forget about Claudia,  which is wild, because Claudia is actually my favorite female character in the series – in part because she is six and a half feet tall.

In Rafael, we see a developing relationship between them that involves girl talk and then bonding over being nothing like the other girls that hang around the shapeshifters in their very insular supernatural community. in Smolder, that relationship is reconfirmed as she is in Anita Blake’s favorites in her phone. 

This chapter is also an incredible waste of space because the entire conversation is spent with Anita and Claudia talking in code to one another and then explaining the code for us the reader. I’ll put one example down there because I don’t feel like copying the entire conversation. It’s very bad. 

“Thanks for not making me be in the wedding; I’d have towered over everyone else like a giraffe.” The last word was the important part; she was asking if the danger was immediate somewhere else, as in did I know where the attack was coming or was it happening like now? How high was the threat level? Was it giraffe high?

I managed to laugh again. “Trust me, Claudia, I don’t want to play delicate gazelle in the damn dress.” Gazelle meant the threat wasn’t happening immediately. “We’re still arguing over the last details of my dress and the flowers. He wants all white flowers, but with us in white I want more color.” Color was code for chaos, or I don’t know, or I’m not a hundred percent sure that my gazelle isn’t a giraffe.

This is all this chapter was: Anita and Claudia using a verbal code to let Claudia know to boost the security measures immediately. I understand that it needed to happen but this could have actually been cut down to a section in a chapter where Anita just says “I called Claudia and told her, using our code, that we needed to boost security measures immediately even though we were not in immediate danger”. You know, rather than hundreds of words dedicated to a silly little code that they’re never going to bring up again and didn’t bring up before this chapter. 

The chapter ends because a female officer (Kay) shows up looking for Anita and it’s because, as we find out in the beginning of chapter 7, she’s on her period and to be relieved so that she can change her pad without leaving the witness (Mona) alone.

But from the jump, there’s something off about Mona when Anita asks her for details about how she found the vampire on fire and knew to put him out, the details she gives are wavering and delivered in an odd tone. 

This Sparks Anita’s suspicions and she calls for backup in order to then get a chance to look at the videos from the security system and figure out what actually happened because two plus two isn’t turning into four as far as this maid is concerned. 

I think that this book is incredibly frustrating because there’s always so many little parts that could be part of something good and then they’re not. I would not have guessed from the jump that the maid was going to be a potential suspect and part of the terrorism but here she is. and it’s something that I find interesting, the way that vampires can use other people to carry out their issues. because, like I suggested, I don’t think this is a human terrorist organization. I think this has to do with a fear of centralizing the vampire government underneath Jean-Claude and The Necromancer everybody thinks owns him. but we’ll see if Hamilton can keep this energy and if she’s as predictable as I think she is…

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