Imagine the horribly malformed love-child of "Days Of Our Lives," Anne Rice and some really bad Mary Sue fan fiction.
That is the most accurate description I can think of for "Blood Noir," the fifteenth novel in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. Since it's a rather lame little novella pumped up to novel size, Laurell K. Hamilton spins up artificial drama and endless sexual angst that never really goes anywhere or does anything, but fills up plenty of pages. By the end, you'll be wondering what the point is.
Werewolf stripper Jason drops by Anita's house to whine that his estranged dad is dying, and he's broken up with his girlfriend because she wanted monogamy. Three guesses which is considered more traumatic -- monogamy or cancer.
So Anita comforts him the only way she knows how, and then agrees to pose as his girlfriend so he can prove to his dad that he isn't gay. Apparently his family is more worried about his sexuality than about his being a werewolf. But when they arrive, Anita finds that Jason is one of several look-alike men in his hometown, and one of them is a wealthy engaged stud who is having an affair with the wife of a local Master vampire. This, needless to say, stokes up lots of bad feelings.
It also causes a few personal crises, as Anita finds out that weird tabloid rumors in St. Louis are jeopardizing Jean-Claude's position, and local vampires are gunning for Jason because he looks just like his cousin. Unfortunately this is only the start of her problems, since the ancient vampire matriarch Mother of All Darkness is waking up -- or I should say, STILL waking up after several books -- and causing yet more trouble for Anita.
For your information, "Blood Noir" was originally a novella. But while the page-count has expanded to that of a full-length novel, Laurell K. Hamilton fails to expand the story along with it -- it still has a novella-sized plot, which appears to have been cribbed from the wastepaper basket of a hack TV writer. We've got lookalikes, confusion, family drama, and embarrassing headlines. Even the name of Jason's cousin -- Keith Summerland -- sounds lifted from a soap.
And Hamilton is pretty clearly making it up as she goes along, throwing in plot twists and contrived crises whenever the slow-moving plot starts lagging. Unfortunately she doesn't actually deal with the fallout of these twists -- most of them just putter out and never really get dealt with. Presumably Hamilton either got tired of writing and wanted to wrap up the book, or she didn't want to write any dramatic scenes that don't involve lots of orgasms and bodily fluids.
While there isn't as much plotless sex as in some of Hamilton's other books, sex is still the sole driving force of "Blood Noir." Breakups, personal crises, metaphysical problems and threats are all handled by Anita having sex with somebody -- and even in the sex-free portions of the book, the characters' sex lives are what propel things onward.
Anita continues to be a standard Mary Sue self-insert -- she's abrasive as a power sander, smart as a cinder block, adored and feared by all around her, and develops a new supernatural power every time she sneezes. Comically enough, her sex life is apparently the stuff of national interest now, despite the fact that she basically doesn't do anything to warrant anyone's interest except collect vampires and werebeasties for her expansive harem.
Thankfully that harem is rarely glimpsed in this book, and it's soon obvious why this is a good thing. The supposedly suave Jean-Claude has become needy and clingy, the appallingly creepy Nathaniel acts like a pimp, and Jason has been transformed into a self-absorbed slut who treats non-Anita women like sex toys. And Hamilton takes yet another pot-shot at Richard, dragging him into the plot just so Anita can remind us why we are supposed to hate him. Doesn't work.
"Blood Noir" is neither noir nor bloody, and the thin plot is stretched to the breaking point with lots of bad sex, whining, and plot twists that stupefy rather than shock. Truly ghastly -- and not the good way either.