From the Publisher
As consultant to the Regional Preternatural Crime Investigation Unit,
Anita’s called in on what appears to be a case involving a serial killer - a
vampire serial killer - who may be preying on strippers. She’s sure that none
of the local vamps are responsible - but her judgment may be clouded by a
conflict of interest. For she is, after all, the consort of Jean-Claude, the
ever-intoxicating Master Vampire of the City - something that both her human
friends and her ex, the alpha werewolf Richard, are quick to point out.
Surrounded by suspicion, overwhelmed by her attempts to control the primal lusts that continue to wrack her as a result of her passionate contacts with vampire, werewolf, and the shapeshifter Micah, Anita does something unprecedented. She calls for help…
Fans of bestseller Hamilton's vampire hunter Anita Blake will be thrilled with at least one aspect of this transitional 12th installment (after 2003's Cerulean Sins): Anita finally resolves her relationships with werewolf ex-boyfriend Richard Zeeman and vampire boyfriend Jean-Claude. They'll also be pleased to see Anita finally get comfortable with her own behavior, despite crossing many lines-sexual, psychological, professional, paranormal-that she previously thought uncrossable. In her role as vampire-executioner and preternatural-crime investigator, Anita pursues a band of serial-killing vampires who prey on female strippers, but much of the novel focuses on her responsibilities as a leader in St. Louis's vampiric-lycanthropic community. Those obligations are often intertwined with sex, the basic tool of her ever-growing magical powers. The ardeur that compels her to have sex in order to fuel her two "power triumvirates" must now be fed with increasing frequency. Old foes threaten as new enemies emerge. There's plenty of life (and undeath) left in this series, and Hamilton's imagination is apparently as inexhaustible as her heroine's supernatural capacity for coupling. Agent, Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House. (Oct. 5) Forecast: The trend toward emphasizing the erotic may lose some established fans, but is likely to gain the author many more new readers. A 14-city author tour will help keep the momentum going. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Anita Blake returns in this third series entry, still the same gutsy, no-nonsense female unafraid to take on anything that the preternatural world throws her way. Her sex life is as extraordinary as ever: one lover, Richard, is leader of a werewolf pack, while another, Jean-Claude, is the vampire Master of the City. These and other complex physical relationships strengthen Anita's psychic powers and enable her to help the cops track down a gang of serial killers; strippers from local clubs have been murdered, their blood-drained bodies covered with multiple vampire bites. The final chapters become a page-turning adventure as Anita and the police zero in on the perpetrators. Fans of the series will not be disappointed; recommended where the series is popular.-Patricia Altner, Information Seekers, Columbia, MD Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Twelfth entry and fourth hardcover in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. Vampires now have rights and restrictions. But it's amazing how so many humans survive in an alternate-world St. Louis, what with all the vamp packs, wereleopards, werewolves, the lone werefox, and animated zombies bleeding folks dry or ripping up bodies. Supernatural serial killers have become Blake's stock-in-trade (Seduced by Moonlight, 2003, etc.) while she tries to straighten out her romantic sex life (when she's not celibate). Sexy Anita has three otherworldly boyfriends, since Richard Zeeman, the Wolf-King to whom she was engaged, dumped her because she's homier with monsters than he. She and Micah Callahan are Queen and King of the wereleopards, though she's more consort than wife until the climactic sex scene. Strippers are being murdered by rogue vamps while Anita suffers endlessly from her complicated love life, chastely sleeping with handsome 20-year-old Nathaniel, her pomme de sang, while fighting off her ardeur, or beastly libido. Under the ardeur when her beloved Master Vampire, Jean-Claude, feeds, she tastes the blood, and when Richard brings down a deer, its meat slides down her throat. The ardeur also leads to plenty of hot sex, all steam and mind-pumping passion, but often leading to metaphysical whammies. Heading the killer pack is older Vittorio, who is strong enough to hide his acts from the Church of Eternal Rest and even from the Master of the City, ex-lover Jean-Claude. At this length, Hamilton goes really big time. But between spells of grisly melodrama and enjoyable monsterology, the main device here is that irritable Anita gets along with nobody and bitches at great length with everyone she meets, at times for whole chapters of filler-and it's not even midlife crisis. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz/Writers House
Paul Goat Allen: I wanted to talk about the incredible longevity of Anita Blake. When many series -- especially in the fantasy genre -- get past the fifth or sixth installment, the plotlines are usually rehashed and lack the fiery creativity that started the saga in the first place. Your series is just the opposite: With every new novel, it seems you dramatically increase readership while continuing to breathe new life into Anita and her friends. Two questions: Why do you think your Anita Blake novels are continuing to gain new readers? And when you started writing about Anita, did you ever dream that you would be publishing your 12th Anita Blake novel?
Laurell K. Hamilton: I'll answer the second question first -- and that is I hoped but I did not know. There's no way to be sure that a series is going to have this kind of longevity. I knew I had enough tentative plot outlines and I knew that I had certainly built a world big enough to play in this long -- but that doesn't mean that you'll get the chance. Publishing is really tough right now. The other question about gaining readership -- it's one of those things where I'm still having more people in line at signings (even as the crowds grow and grow) that say my sister, my coworker, my friend, the librarian, the person at the bookstore, recommended these books to me. I'm still getting that word-of-mouth. The fans have been great about spreading the word. I've jokingly said that we should get buttons that say "LKH PUSHER" -- except that we're afraid that people will misconstrue it. The Web has definitely played a part. Truthfully, I would not be as popular, especially worldwide, if I did not have, I think, over 1,000 sites (I don't even know how many sites are out there now) that either have something to do with me or my books. The biggest [reason] why the readership continues to grow is the fact that I am still having an absolutely wonderful time, that I am still enjoying myself immensely. It's not just fantasy series that peter out around the fifth or sixth book; many mystery series seem to lose steam around there, too. It's hard to sustain your vision, hard to sustain why you originally sat down to write this series in the first place.
For me, with Anita, I'm very lucky that I still remember what sat me down to write this and why I wanted to play in this world. Anita's world is not static at all -- and Anita is not static. I think a lot of series make the mistake of not letting their characters grow. Because Anita grows and changes and the people in her life grow and change, it means that I am never bored. In fact, I find myself often surprising myself and saying, "Oh my God, you're not really going to do that!"
PGA: When we last talked, I asked you about the difficulties associated with writing a novel so incredibly dense in plot. Of all the Anita Blake novels thus far, Incubus Dreams is easily the most complex. With all the life-altering changes occurring with Anita and her relationships, were the numerous plotlines in this novel more difficult to weave together than those in any other Anita Blake novel?
LKH: This was one of the hardest Anita novels to write because, as you said, it was so packed. There was nothing left out that I wanted to do in this book. Due to the time constraints of doing two series, with such big books in each, I've sort of -- not shortchanged, but I've sat there and said that I'll put some of the "personal stuff that can wait kind of thing" in the next book. For Incubus Dreams, I included everything. In this book I did not shortchange anything I wanted to do. I indulged. And it was a great deal more fun because of that. The book was a great deal of fun for me as a writer. And from what I've been hearing back from early readers, they're feeling the same way, too.
PGA: Any comments about all the novels being published now that are extremely similar to your Anita Blake sequence? Irritated or flattered?
LKH: Well, here's a word for you that I did not coin, this was coined by people in New York that are not my editors: Hamiltonesque. After I first hit big, I heard from several writers, editors, and other people in the business that people were saying, "I thought it would be more Hamiltonesque" or "I want Hamiltonesque." Literally, people were requesting books, and the description of them was Hamiltonesque! I'm neither irritated nor flattered -- [I was] puzzled at first. People who have read my stuff and have felt truly inspired to write something comparable with ideas of their own, to take something that spoke to their heart and make it their own, I'm cool with that. The people who are just jumping on the bandwagon, I don't care who they're imitating, that's just sad.
PGA: You talked briefly in your acknowledgements about visiting strip clubs while doing research for Incubus Dreams. What was the most memorable experience you had during those outings?
LKH: Hmm…I don't know, it's a very weird Miss Manners moment to be in a place where people are nude and trying to be attractive and, ah, my take on it very often was, "Oh my God!" I just…I do not want anybody else's genitals near my face unless they are part of my personal life!
Read an ExcerptI was in the kitchen eating biscuits with butter and honey slathered all over them. The biscuits were good, but the show was Gregory. He was still in leopardman form, but he was eating biscuits. Have you ever watched someone eat bread with teeth that are designed for tearing out the throats of gazelles? It was interesting. If he'd just put the whole biscuit in his mouth at once it would have been okay, but he didn't. He ate the rounds of bread dripping with butter and red-currant jelly in pieces, delicately. Except that his jaws weren't made for delicate, so his fur was spotted with reddish jelly, and he kept licking it off with an impossibly long tongue. It was disturbing, distracting, and vaguely fascinating. Like a combination of Animal Planet and Food Network.
It was good that I had something to amuse me, because Nathaniel was being very unamused. I'd known he would be upset about me marking Micah's neck, when he'd practically begged me to do it to him, and I'd refused, but I had no real clue how upset. He'd been banging things around the kitchen. A cabinet door didn't just close, it slammed. Opening the refrigerator was a chorus of bangs, slaps, etc...I didn't even know that plastic food containers could make that much noise.
In between slamming things around, he was agreeing with everything Gregory said, but his tone of voice sounded like he was fighting. "We've been advertising a leopard for tonight, if they can't have me, you're it," Gregory said, then licked that long pink tongue all the way around his 'muzzle.'
"Fine, it's not like I'll be doing anything else tonight." Somehow I thought that last was directed at me.
Micah was giving me the look, the once that said as clearly as if he'd spoken, fix this. Why was it always me that had to fix it? Because I was usually the one who screwed it up in the first place. Oh, that was why.
My teeth marks were imprinted in Micah's neck, the edges had been smeared with neosporin, but he hadn't had to bandage it. Good for him, and for me. I'd stopped before I'd hurt him too badly. It was actually less bloody than the one and only time I'd let myself mark Nathaniel. It had been when the arduer was new and I was still trying to find ways to feed it that didn't involve intercourse. Silly me.
The last straw was when Nathaniel took the butter dish off the table before everybody was finished with it. Gregory grabbed for it, and claws are wrong for grabbing china. The plate fell and broke all over the floor. The butter slid across the floor in a long yellow line, like a really nasty snail trail. I don't know what I would have said, probably something not very helpful, but the phone rang.
"Someone else get that," Nathaniel said from the floor where he was wiping up the mess, "I'm a little busy."
Micah just kept eating his breakfast, I think because he was upset with me for not saying something to help things with Nathaniel. Problem was I didn't know what to say. So I got the phone.
"Anita, it's Ronnie."
"Ronnie, hi," and I was thinking furiously. Oh, yeah, I wasn't the only one having personal problems. I still couldn't believe that Ronnie had turned down Louie's proposal. Out loud I said, "How ya doing?"
"Louie left a message on my phone, so I know you know." She sounded defensive.
"Okay, you want to talk about it?" I didn't take offense. It wasn't me she was mad at.
She blew out a loud breath. "Yes, no, I don't know."
"You can come here, or I'll meet you somewhere." I was using that careful voice, sort of the one Micah used so much with me.
"I'll bring bagels," she said.
"How about you can have homemade biscuits when you get here?" I said.
"Homemade biscuits? You didn't make them, did you?"
"No, Nathaniel did."
"Can he cook?"
I could almost feel her doubt wafting over the phone.
"Honest, he's really good at the baking stuff."
"If you say so."
"Well, we'd starve if they waited for me to cook."
She laughed then. "Well, that is the God's honest truth. Okay, I'll be there soon, save some biscuits for me."
We hung up.
I stayed by the phone for a second or two, watching Nathaniel's angry back at the garbage can where he was disposing of the broken dish and dead butter. I'd never realized that a pony-tail could bob angrily.
Micah looked at me, and the look was eloquent, fix this, fix this or I'll be mad at you too. There are a few downsides to having two men living with you, when they both get pissed at you at the same time is one of them.
Nathaniel stayed by the cabinet, hands on the edge of it, his entire body radiating anger. I'd never seen him this angry. It should have made me angry, but it didn't. He could be angry if he wanted to be, I guess.
I tried to think of something useful to say. He'd gone from being happy as a domestic lark to being pissed as I'd ever seen him. The only thing that had changed was the mark on Micah's neck. He'd lived through Micah getting intercourse, orgasm, while he, Nathaniel, got almost nothing. So why was that one over-enthusiastic hickey the breaking point for him? I thought and thought until I could feel a headache beginning just between my eyes. Then I had a thought, a good one, it was almost insightful. I don't usually get to insightful without talking to smarter and wiser friends. But suddenly there it was, the truth, I think.
I walked over to him, and touched his shoulder. He jerked away from me. He'd never done that before. It scared me. I didn't want him that angry at me, ever. Micah was right, I had to fix this. But how?
"Nathaniel..." and it was as if saying his name opened the flood gates.
"I can't live like this. You give me an inch and then you take it away. Orgasm today, but only because of some metaphysical shit. You'll find an excuse not to do it again. You always do. He gets intercourse, and orgasm, and I get nothing. But you'd marked me, me, not him, me!" He was still staring at the cabinet, while he ranted louder and louder. "It was all I had. All I had!" He had to pause to take a breath and I rushed into that small silence.
"I'm sorry." I said fast before he could catch his breath.
"I don't know why I keep hoping..." He hesitated, stopped, then turned to me slowly. "What did you say?"
"I said, I'm sorry."
His face softened for a second, then hardened, and he narrowed his eyes at me. He looked positively suspicious. "What exactly are you sorry about?"
"I'm sorry you're upset."
"Oh..." and he was off again, ranting.
I touched his arm, and he didn't jerk away this time, but he kept listing all the things I wouldn't do for him, or with him. It might have been embarrassing if I hadn't been more worried about stopping the fight than almost anything else. "You have to go to work tonight," I said.
That stopped him because I think it made no sense, considering what we were talking about. "What? Yes, what about it?"
"If you didn't have to work tonight, I'd take you into the bedroom now and mark you, if that's what you wanted."
He pulled away again. "I don't want you to do it just because I'm mad. I want you to do it because you want to, because you'd enjoy it too."
God, he could be so demanding. I actually had to stop and count slowly in my head, because this whole dominant submission thing hit my buttons badly. I'd done enough research to understand that the world of dom and sub was a lot bigger and more varied than I'd believed. That there were people out there that considered my love of nails and teeth during sex and foreplay to be perverted. That even that was bondage to them. I liked teeth and nails during foreplay and sex, I really did. It wasn't pretend, and it wasn't just for Nathaniel's sake. Once I thought it through to that point, I wasn't angry with him. The anger came not from what he wanted, but from my discomfort that I would enjoy it. I knew that now, embracing it all the way through my head--well, I wasn't quite there yet.
I tried for honesty, with him, and myself. "I'd love the feel of your neck under my teeth. I'd love to sink my mouth around all the meaty parts of you, and bite down until I was afraid I'd hurt you." I felt heat rush up my face, and I had to close my eyes, to finish it. "I loved the feel of you in my mouth. I loved marking you, but I wasn't ready to admit it. And it still makes me uncomfortable, but it's not because it's you, it's because it just seems so...so, I don't know..."
"Perverted," Gregory suggested.
I opened my eyes to glare at him. "Don't help me, Gregory, okay."
"Do you mean what you just said?" Nathaniel asked, and his voice was oddly empty, as if he were trying very hard not to be angry or hopeful.
I met his face, and even his eyes were being careful. I hated to see him managing me that hard, as if he were afraid if he appeared too eager I'd run. And he might have been right. The thing was, I'd been doing my own version of what Richard was doing. I wasn't running from as much of myself, but if I hadn't had the arduer to push me, I might have been. If I could have pretended as cleanly as Richard could, I would have. That I could admit at least to myself. The arduer had made that impossible. But this wasn't about the arduer. This was about Nathaniel and me, and the happy little domestic arrangement that we had.
I'd waited too long to answer. Nathaniel's eyes filled with such sorrow, and he turned away. Oh, hell. I grabbed his face between my hands, and went up on tip-toes for that three inch height difference. I'd startled him so that he stumbled back into the cabinets. I plastered myself against the front of his body, and kissed him. I kissed him as if I were eating him. I set my teeth into that lovely lower lip and bit down, not enough to mark, but enough to draw a small sound from his throat. I leaned back from the kiss enough to see his eyes wide and unfocused. His hands gripped the cabinet behind him so tight his hands were mottled, as if he was afraid he'd fall.
I was breathing a little hard myself. My voice was shaky when I said, "That wasn't metaphysical shit. That was just me, just you."
His eyes closed, and a shudder ran through him from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. He swayed, and if I hadn't caught him around the waist, I think he'd have fallen. His arms slid around me, and he laid his head on my shoulder. He hadn't exactly fainted, but he was limp in my arms. I realized he was totally passive. I knew in that moment I could do anything I wanted to him. The thought didn't excite me, it scared me. I had enough trouble running my own life, I didn't want someone else's. But I kept my doubts to myself. He had enough of his own without me sharing.
"You promise," he whispered, "promise you'll mark me tonight."
He'd said the 'p' word. Shit. "I promise," I whispered it into the vanilla warmth of his hair.
He drew a deep breath that moved his bare chest up and down along my covered one. My body reacted to it, whether I wanted it to or not. Nipples hardening from the brush of him.
He drew back enough to see my face, and the look in his eyes was all male, and brought heat in a rush up my face again. It sped my pulse in my throat. He was submissive, but underneath all that was something that could have been very dangerous, and it was there in his eyes now, that promise of disaster.
"Come to the club tonight, see my act, please."
I shook my head. "I work tonight."
"Please." The please was more than just a word, it filled his eyes. He wanted me to see him on stage, surrounded by screaming fans. Maybe he wanted to impress on me that even if I didn't want him, others did. I guess I'd earned it, having my face rubbed in it.
"What time do you go on?"
He told me.
"I can catch some of your act, but probably not all."
He kissed me, hard and strangely chaste, and bounced towards the door. "I'll need to see if my costume is ready for tonight." He turned at the door with that eager look still on his face. "What if I turn furry, will you still mark me?"
"I don't do furry," I said.
He poked his lip out at me, like an imitation of a child.
"You are so damn pushy, you do know that, right?"
"I don't do furry."
"But if I'm not furry, you'll do it?" He asked it, and something about the way he said it made me suspicious, but I nodded. "Yes."
He vanished into the dimness of the living room. "I'll see you tonight at the club."
I yelled after him. "If there's another murder all bets are off. Murder takes precedence over watching my boyfriend strip." There was that word again, boyfriend.
I heard Nathaniel's laugh trail down the stairs. It reminded me of another man in my life, who'd left me with a laugh this morning. I was just amusing the hell out of everybody today.
Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (Paperback)
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 733
Published: October 2005
Dimensions (cm): 18.745 x 11.989 x 3.226
Weight (kg): 0.349