Somewhere during the Anita Blake series, Laurell K. Hamilton decided to change the focus from horror/fantasy to sex, all the time and everyplace. With the newer Merry Gentry series, she cuts right to the chase.
"A Caress of Twilight" doesn't bother to follow up on its predecessor's sex-choked promise -- okay, we've got scheming and magic and urban fairies. But the second book only brings up a few interesting plot points, before tossing them away in favour of Merry's latest quickie.
In the previous book, faerie princess Merry Gentry is given a challenge by her aunt, the Queen: If she doesn't produce a kid before evil cousin Cel does, then Cel gets the throne. Outside the bedroom, however, things are getting messy: A mysterious force has left hundreds in California dead, and Merry has to find out why and who.
Coincidentally, an L.A. actress/fay-in-exile is seeking Merry's help for something that might be dangerous for them both, even as Merry learns that a bizarre, ancient power has been unleashed for murder. And what's more, Merry's very presence is beginning to awaken the godlike powers that the sidhe thought they had lost.
There's no point in beating about the bush -- this isn't a sex fantasy for the readers, but for the author. At least 90% of it is about sex in one way or another, and it's all centered on the beautiful, sexy, superpowerful, divinely-chosen Merry. Yes, it's really that bad.
Hamilton does reveal some interesting facets in this book, with a few new twists on the urban fantasy genre. The idea of the Starving Ones is simply astonishing. But none of those ideas are done justice here, because of the lackluster plotting and terrible writing. She repeats her own phrasing endlessly ("Hey, that sounds cool! I should use it again"), especially in the oddly dull sex scenes. They're explicit, yes, but also clinical and weirdly passionless. And sometimes simply weird.
Another example: her sexy male characters look alike -- flowing rainbow hair, odd colouring, poetry-laden powers. This would be okay, if they had individual personalities. Which they don't -- in fact, as her harem grows, the guys blend together even further. For that matter, they don't really do much except service Merry every so many pages.
Merry, of course, is the worst of all. She's an obvious fantasy alter ego for Hamilton. She's also chosen by the goddess, gauns superpowers casually, has every man panting with lust, and is (as Mary Poppins says) "practically perfect in every way." For a better writer than Hamilton, such a character might be appealing -- but Merry's arrogance is just nauseating.
"Caress of Twilight" is a cold caress. With lackluster writing and a heroine you can't help but loathe, the second book of the Merry Gentry series doesn't bode well for the future books.
on July 14, 2004
This is my least favorite book by LKH thus far. Thats not to say that A Caress of Twilight was a bad book, but it was nowhere near as entertaining as I wanted it to be. It defnitely had the feel of an in between book. It wouldnt really stand alone and I dont think I would have tolerated it as well if I wasnt already so deeply rooted in the story from the previous book. I felt that the lack of characterization was very apparent in this second title. LKH depended too heavily upon physical descriptions and didnt delve deep enough into the core of the main characters IMO. As for the plot, it basically is still following what began in the first installment, but nothing really happens in ACOT until the ending. Still, I cant stop here. I plan on reading the 3rd book ASAP and I also am anxiously awaiting the next installment in the Anita Blake series which I think is far superior to the Merry Gentry books. Basically, this wasnt a keeper, but it is a definite must read for any fan of the series.
on July 13, 2004
I sort of abandoned this series when I discovered Anita Blake's world, so reading about Merry Gentry after reading five Anita Blake novels was a refreshing change of pace. Merry Gentry, the sexy, sassy faerie princess-slash-L.A. private detective, is back for another dangerous and erotic adventure. Bearing a child is the only way Merry can beat Prince Cel to the thrown, so she sets out to conceive a baby with various warriors of her royal guard. If her life weren't complicated enough, there is a series of mysterious, gruesome deaths that endanger the faerie world. Could the deaths be connected with the exiled Hollywood faerie goddess Merry has agreed to help? And will Merry bear the child that's needed to be Queen? There are various twists throughout the novel...
A Caress of Twilight, like A Kiss of Shadows, is full of erotic scenes and wonderful suspense. Merry is quite an earnest female character that isn't afraid of her sexuality and of acknowledging her harem. I do like this heroine very much. She isn't as tough as Anita Blake, but she isn't as self-righteous as the aforementioned character either, which is refreshing. I was also glad to get reacquainted with her bodyguards, especially Doyle and Rhys. I've noticed that Doyle is the Jean-Claude of this series -- a dark and sensual character whose feelings for Merry are noble. He is quite irresistible. Laurell K. Hamilton has once again written an enthralling fantasy novel that I couldn't put down. I cannot recommend A Caress of Twilight enough!
on June 28, 2004
So here's the second book in LKH's series about fairy princess Merry Gentry. She was blackballed once from the fairy court but she'll be welcomed back with open arms and the throne provided she wins a conception race with her cousin. When she's not seeking the lucky farmer, she assists a fellow fey that was blackballed from the court for mysterious reasons, navigates Seelie and Unseelie court intrigues and searches for a legendary big bad-The Nameless, a repository of old magic and evil who has been set loose by some naughty fairy (less cornball than it sounds.) But the plot goes into effect only when the bedroom door is open.
Which brings us to the problem here. Does something have to go tight in the lower regions of Merry's body in every chapter? I sometimes wonder if Hamilton mourns the death of hair metal. Every man has washboard abs and long, flowing locks that would make the lads from Poison weep with envy. To be fair, she does run with a supernatural crowd-it's just the repeated, predictable characteristics of every male that grow wearisome. This is made less tolerable with all the sex. Normally I'm not one to complain about this subject. But, again personal taste, I either wanna read pages devoted solely to mindless sex or I wanna read a work of fiction. Combining the two can be a losing proposition as far as plot is concerned. Not to mention that many of the encounters in the book are a little....off-putting (Amazon's rules necessitate that I omit the details but they involve pain and sex with goblins and a teensy fairy guy. Seriously.)
But I keep reading these books nonetheless. Hamilton's alternate universe is artfully constructed. Merry's character is engaging and has some fine moments, such as the moment when she realizes the real reason her Mother truly dislikes her. Recommended with caveats noted.
on April 28, 2004
Well, first off I should mention that I make it a regular habit (not on purpose mind you!) to read series out of order. I pick up a book read the back cover and think "hey this sounds great" only to be maybe two chapters in only to find out I'm reading book 3 out of 4! Well, this time is no different and I still found that yes, I want to read the next book in the series and even more important the first book. With that said this is the first time I've ever read anything by Ms. Hamilton and I found her writing to be very entertaining and her little world to be fun. Merry continues on in her quest to not only remain alive (despite her cousin's attempts on her life), but to try and conceive the future heir of the sidhe. With her bodyguards, Doyle, Frost, and Rhys, as well as goblin Kitto we follow this very sassy princess as she does her best to walk a very thin line between two different rulers. If you are not a fan of fantasy (like me) I still think you will find Ms. Hamilton's fantasy world fun and a worth while way to pass the time
on March 18, 2004
Have you read A Kiss of Shadows? If you have not, do not read this book because it is the second book of the Merry Gentry Series and it is not a great stand-alone novel.
Having already read A Kiss of Shadows, I read this book under the notion that the series could possibly get better. I was wrong. The characters do not go through any sort of interesting or believable character development; in fact, they go through no development at all! They are the same unconvincing and stagnant characters they were before. Merry is a pain in the buttocks and the rest of the herd just pacifies the annoying and licentious woman. The plot is of similar lurid caliber as the first book, just slightly worse.
If you thought that the first book was (at the very least) just OK, I do not recommend you read this book because it just gets worse.
If you though that the first book was marvelous and spectacular, then our tastes in books is likely greatly different; go for it!! You will probably enjoy it despite my opinion. :-)
If you thought that the first book was one of, if not, "THE" worst books you've ever read ... need I say more? ... (skip this one)
on August 17, 2003
A Caress of Twilight picks up the story of Meredith, Princess of Flesh, several months after she had been elevated to co-heir of the Unseelie Court. She will be Queen of the court if she has a child before her cousin does, and she has a six month's lead on him, as he's being "punished" for six months. She is back in California, with her own court of various men, ranging from Sidhe bodyguards from the Queen's court to a representative of the Goblin Court.
Hamilton fans may be a bit disappointed: the sex is not as frequent as in the first book or as raunchy as has become the standard in the Anita Blake series. Which is a bit surprising, as Meredith's bloodlines are rich in fertility goddesses and sexual healing.
It feels like a transitional book. Storylines continue from the first book, and are still incomplete in this one. But there is progression. Meredith continues to consolidate her power base among the demi-fey courts, forging short-term (and uneasy) alliances. She also learns a fair amount about being a leader, a needed lesson surrounded by strong men who tend to dominate any situation. As whoever fathers her future child will become her King, she juggles her feelings for some who would make disastrous kings, and those who would be strong kings, if perhaps uneasy longterm companions. And her second Gift, the Hand of Blood, manifests itself in a battle against a lethal magical foe, resulting in Wild Magic being released and many of the Sidhe regaining powers they had once sacrificed to emigrate to America.
Not the strongest of Hamilton's books, but a good fix for the addict (to which I confess to being a charter member, starting with the first, Guilty Pleasures). I look forward to the next one.
on June 8, 2003
A Fair-Folk-in-modern-day fantasy, character-driven, with a lot of romance and a bit of darkness.
I actually really enjoyed both this book and its prequel.
Granted, this isn't great literature--it's definitely light entertainment. Though this volume doesn't have any scene as (inadvertently?) funny as the who's-going-to-clean-up-the-tentacles scene in the last one, Hamilton's thoroughly bizarre idea of what makes for attractive male clothing goes a long ways to add humor.
I like the "romantic" aspects of these books, and I actually think quite a few of the characters are well written, though there are a few too many so we don't get quite enough of each. I particularly liked the small and angstful Sage, but all Meredith's harem are appealing. There are interesting worldbuilding elements. Yeah, it's light stuff, romance fiction for fantasy readers, but there's a place in my world for that.
In this one, the plot wasn't great -- particularly the climax, which had promise but fell apart, segueing into an expository wrap-up. The ideas were good, but not developed. However, it did set up for a sequel, and if I see a third book I'll read it.
on May 4, 2003
I won't go into a description of the book. The other reviewers have done that in wonderful detail. What I will say is - THANK HEAVENS!! A Laurell K. Hamilton series with no guilt. Can it be true? After reading the Anita Blake series (all the way up to Cerulean Sins), I am SOOO sick of Anita's constant whining and moaning about killing and sex. She feels guilty - she doesn't mean to be a killing machine. She feels guilty - she doesn't mean to be the prime sleeze in fantasy world. Yet she continues to kill and you-know-what constantly and non-stop and she continues to feel guilty, guilty, guilty! Amazing. I'm to the point where I wish she would just shoot herself. However, Merry is an entirely different heroine all together. She is a half-fairy, completely sexual and almost completely without a conscience. It's wonderful. She does what she has to do and that's that. If it means sex or murder, well, oh, well. The two stories are simply wonderful. Fantastic writing, beautiful scenes, descriptive dialogue. Do yourself a huge favor and buy both books today and wait impatiently for the third - as I'm doing.
on April 25, 2003
Silly me. I waited until this book came out in paperback before I purchased it. I even waited a few weeks. And then it sat on my desk for days and days before I finally read it. Silly, silly me.
Wow. When I first read Kiss of Shadows years ago, I didn't really think anything of it. I thought, "Yeah, it was okay, but it was no Anita Blake book. Why is she making this new series, anyway?" A Caress of Twilight has completely changed my opinion of the Merry Gentry series. Do I now like them better than the Anita Blake books? Quite possibly.
A Caress of Twilight is one of the best books I've read so far this year. I can't even express what I liked so much about it. Sure, it does have a little too much in common with romance novels for my taste, but there is something else about the story that captured me. Now I'm eagerly awaiting for the next Merry Gentry novel. More so than the Anita Blake novels.
This book continues the story begun in A Kiss of Shadows. Merry Gentry, known to the faery court as Princess Meredith, Princess of Flesh, is on a mission to become pregnant so she can inherit the Unseelie throne from her Aunt Andais instead of her cousin, Prince Cel. Prince Cel (through his henchwomen) had tried to kill Meredith in A Kiss of Shadows, but he is locked away, being tortured for his crime. So Meredith is busy with her faery guardsmen, hoping that one of them can get her pregnant before Cel is released from his torture and tries to kill her again.
Meredith is hired by an exiled Seelie noble, now known as Maeve Reed, a famous actress, to help her become pregnant since her human husband is dying. But why has this Seelie been exiled? What does she know about Meredith's uncle, Taranis, king of the Seelie? And what is the supernatural force behind the gruesome murders in L.A.?
Merry is joined by the same bunch of Unseelie men that appeared in A Kiss of Shadows (Frost, Rhys, Doyle, Nicca, Galen) and her goblin Kitto, and although she doesn't travel back to the Unseelie court, her Aunt Andais does appear, and provides some comic relief. We also meet new characters, such as Sage, a demi-fey, and characters from the Seelie court, such as King Taranis himself. It was hard for me to stop reading this book; there was so much that happened in each chapter, more to add to the plots until the end, where they all connected in a surprising finale.
A wonderful book by Laurell K. Hamilton; I cannot wait until the next Merry Gentry novel is released.