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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon February 22, 2007
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.
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on March 28, 2002
"A Caress of Twilight", by Laurell K. Hamilton is fantastic! I love Ms. Hamilton's writing, her Anita Blake stories are great, but I must say I, (and I think the author) are getting a bit bored with her. So, I am thrilled to see a second book in a new series featuring Princess Meredith.
"A Caress of Twilight" shows Hamilton at her creative best. It is the ultimate in female fantasy. Princess Meredith, a half human fairy princess, must conceive a child before her cousin does to gain the fairy throne and keep her crazy cousin, who wants to kill her, from becoming King. To do that, she must sleep with all her guards, as often as possible, until she becomes pregnant. Cool huh?
There is a mass murder mystery to solve, a curse to overcome, and enough royal intrigue to rival even the House of Windsor. I can't recommend this book enough, it is a fun -- gobble it up in one sitting read - and I eagerly await the next installment.
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on February 11, 2003
Before I get serious, I must say that Doyle would make the best consort for Meredith. He knows the Unsidhe Court better than anyone, and is intelligent enough to know when to use his power and when to use diplomacy. Frost is too much like the nickname bestowed upon him by Andais. Rhys still has issues with Goblins, and Galen, while cute, would be nothing more than a boy toy.
Not to get racial or anything, but there's something rather cutting edge about a dark-skinned fae character. Most writers (save Emma Bull), tend to stick closely with the typical Celtic-looking faerie folk.
I have to admit, Merry was hard to take in the first book, especially for those of us used to the kick-butt attitude of Ms. Hamilton's Anita Blake. However, Meredith has come into her own, and she is definitely not one to be tread upon lightly, as a few of her encounters with The Queen of Air and Darkness show.
What I really love about this series is that the fae are NOT these cute little people who help humans in need. In fact, these fae are rather dismissive (and in some cases hostile)to mankind. These fae are far closer literature-wise than the Disney-fied versions that we're familiar with. Some of their actions in the book definitely make one squirm. Even Doyle and Frost, as close to heroes as a character can be, remind the reader in some startling ways not to use human benchmarks to judge their actions.
And yes, there is sex in the book--but it does not detract from the gist of the story. After all, Merry does need to get an heir before her psychotic cousin Prince Cel does. However, just as she does in her characterizations of the fae, Ms. Hamilton is trying to get the reader to look beyond our notions of what sex is and isn't. She wants us to see it through the eyes of the fae, who lack all the cultural taboos that humans seem to possess.
I also like the subtle discussion of the attitudes of the Sidhe in regards to other faerie beings.
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I give this and the previous novel A Kiss of Shadows..5 ***** firstly I would add unlike some of the reviewers I actually enjoyed both books more than the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series.. Firstly I found both books funny and I loved all the characters.. I says its every womans fantasy to have a guard of men.. who you can take to bed with you every night.. I found it refreshing change to one woman one man senario.. so Merry and her Raven Guards and her various contacts..all have interesting personality trates..
Its also gruesome in places.. If you want something totally different and total fantasy.. here is the books for you but you really need to read A Kiss of Shadows first.. I for one can not wait for the next installment.. I shall say no as I do not want to give away the story... But this series is one I shall continue purchasing and on my keeper shelf to re-read at a later date....
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on June 10, 2002
Laurell Hamilton, if you haven't heard, has created a new heroine, so she can write about something besides Anita Blake and vamps. Of course, Merry Gentry pretty much IS Anita Blake. She talks tough. SHe's short. She's cold-hearted, so they say. She even uses the EXACT same lines like "Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn't do yourself." The focus is just a bit more on magic.
Oh yeah--she also has this obsession with kinky and rather incessant, promiscuous sex, just like Anita. While Anita came slowly into sleeping around, Hamilton solves this problem for Gentry by a simple device: Her Queen orders Gentry to sleep around. Therefore, the whole book becomes Gentry's amorous adventures. And it has to be deemed plot related because the whole plot is basically how many studs she can sleep with. Oh, yeah. As with Anita, all the studs are very studly, with washboard abs, incredibly handsome and, um, well hung, which Hamilton usually makes graphically clear.
The shame of it is that Hamilton is a compelling, page turning prose stylist. She's never boring. Yet, sometimes you look up and wonder, "Hmmm. Did I really want porn today?" Her books are increasingly kinky and non-stop, rather graphic, blow-by-blow sex. Not romance. Sex.
I'm no prude. I'd even enjoy one or two such scenes. But when they dominate the whole book, they cause the book to lose focus. They become the book--somewhere in here, there was the makings of a plot. It gets kinda derailed. I hope Laura isn't too frustrated at home. :)
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on March 30, 2002
Once again LKH has done it...not that there was any doubt though. I don't know which I liked more, this one or the first. One thing they both contained was the knack to survive...which I really liked. Merry and her boys are hell bent on one thing and that is keeping Merry alive...well okay two. The other is making her with child. Just as there was in the first, there is action, betrayal, romance, alliances, growing and development and tons of lust. Things that made me sit on the edge of my seat in the first one were quenched in this one and now I have new thirst and anticipations. If you liked the first you will like the development in this one was well. The only thing bad I can say was that it ended a little to easily, some parts seemed a little rushed and it wasn't long enough.
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on April 4, 2002
The simplest thing I can say about the book is that I loved it. But that is not nearly enough to convey how much I enjoyed reading this book. Ms. Hamilton has been my favorite author for some time now and I await each new novel with bated breath. I have not been disappointed. I recommend her books to my friends and have introduced many of my friends to her work. So far, each and every one that I have recommended her to has enjoyed the books and wanted to read everything she writes.
A Caress of Twilight's main character, Princess Meredith NicEssus (aka Merry Gentry or Meredith, Princess of Flesh and Blood), heir to the throne of the Unseelie Court, is written in such a way that you feel her loves, her pains and her hungers. The reader becomes involved in the lives of the characters. Ms. Hamilton writes about strong women who take control of their own lives and destinies. The characters are not perfect and make mistakes that are not always without serious consequences. Princess Meredith is strong, independent, and forges her own destiny. However, Ms. Hamilton has given her fears and insecurities which make her human and someone with whom the reader can identify. She loves strongly and not always wisely.
The men in Princess Meredith's life are also written in such a way that each one would appeal to different types of women. Doyle is the strong, silent type who feels things deeply and passionately. Frost appears more aloof but is sensitive and caring. Rhys is fun loving but whose core personality has a strength untapped. Nicca is sweet and young. Galen is gallant, protective and loving. Kitto is small, vulnerable and in need of love and protection. Princess Meredith cares deeply for all of these men and it shows in her interaction with each one. As a reader, it is hard for me to decide who I like best. I cannot imagine how difficult it is for the author to choose between them for her main character. Each character is important to the story and brings something unique and interesting to the story.
Even characters with smaller roles, such as King Kurag, Queen Andais, Queen Niceven, Sage, Prince Cel and Princess Besaba, are integral parts of the tale being told and each brings something unique and imaginative to the telling of Princess Meredith's story. In addition, the very minor charactors are written in such a way that the reader can visualize them. They are as "human" as the rest of us with the same character quirks and flaws, each an individual in thought and action.
In Ms. Hamilton's books, even weapons have distinct identities. For example, Frost's "Winter Kiss" sword has extraordinary powers, as does Doyle's "Black Madness". Each weapon was forged long ago with individual powers to be wielded by strong warriors. However, they are not merely weapons, they are a part of what makes each man an individual and are a part of their identity.
The main story line concerning Princess Meredith and her group of handsome Fae is written with compassion and heart. By itself, it makes for an interesting story. When combined with the other subplots in this book, it takes on deeper meanings and possibilities. The story line concerning Maeve Reed and King Taranis was definitely an interesting development in the series and I can't wait to see what happens in future novels. The weaving of this story line with that of both the hungry ghosts and the "Nameless" descending upon Los Angeles and wreaking havoc was imaginative and wonderfully entertaining.
The outcome of all storylines was satisfying and inventive. The ending of this book opened up wonderful possibilities for future novels. As a fan of Ms. Hamilton, I can't wait to see what comes next for Princess Meredith and her harem of men. I think it would be wonderful to live in Ms. Hamilton's version of our world (or at least take a long vacation there).
There are so many layers to Ms. Hamilton's story that it is impossible to simply say it is a story about a fairy princess. Although this is not a book I would recommend for young people because of the sex and violence necessary in the telling of this story, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good love story or a good fantasy novel. This is definitely a book for adults...
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on May 23, 2002
I first got into Laurell K. Hamilton when a friend passed me her 1st 3 Anita Blake novels in one HC edition. I was hooked. If you like the goth-vampire-Buffy/Angel scene then she is totally the writer for you.
I was impressed with her use of Faery lore (similar to another favorite author of mine, Patricia Morrison) in a modern day setting. She has created another terrific world and an engaging new series!
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on June 11, 2002
The previous novel in the series, Kiss of Shadows, establishd a scheming-court-politics set-up which was the backbone of its plot. Here the scheming is still mentioned and occasionally trotted out but it's overshadowed by the dozens and dozens of sex scenes. What thin continued-story/murder mystery there is is almost lost. Which is a shame, because that was the most engadging part of the book for me when it was there. The mass murder scene was eerily effective, especially coupled with the creepy reaction of one of Merry's guards. Unfortunately the murder and its culprit was essentially forgotten until the very end of the book. Arg. Prince Cel was a much more compelling villain in KoS, or at least a more constant threat. I would have welcomed his return since there's no real sense of danger in this book, spread out and resolved too rapidly as it is.
About the multiple gorgeous sex partners Merry has - if this was a series with a *man* being serviced by this many gorgeous women would I even bother with it? Maybe, if it was done with skill and wit. But not if they were written the way Merry's ravens are. Most of Merry's partners run together in my head after a while during any intimate scene, regardless of the painsaking lengths the author goes to describe them. Lots. Just in case you missed how beautiful they were the first time. After a while my reaction to any character description was "Yeah yeah, he has luscious locks running down to his waist and he has real funky eyes. You done yet?"
Merry's interaction with her guards is always more interesting outside of the bedroom. Of course the series is billed as an "erotic thriller" and I'm not surprised that there's a good dose of eroticism in it. It's just tedious after a while.
There's still some good things in the book. As mentioned above, anytime the plot really does surface I found myself paying attention. The author's also done some neat things with her fey's world - the goblin culture, some of the more bizzare creatures, etc... Unfortuantely there's not enough to make buying the book in hard cover worth it, especially in light of the ending, where -
Holy scha-*moly* do they ever get loaded up with powers. If you boil it down, basically Merry's guards reclaim god-like powers they had back when some of them were, well, Gods. The ones who weren't still get impressive new magic to call on (Even Kitto) and who knows what'll happen to Merry herself. It makes me wary because a common (and well founded) complaint about the Anita Blake series is Anita's stacking up of powers like there's no tomorrow. Is Merry's series going to dive down that road only 2 books in?
The first book's story had a lot of potential and this ending coupled with the fact nothing really changed worries me. Sure some other personal character developments popped up but nothing that couldn't have been done in a meatier story. If the next book is more plot intensive, you could probably skip this one and not have missed anything. Get it from the library if you can.
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on March 26, 2002
Bitterly, bitterly, bitterly disappointed.
Page 3 still has the WRONG colors for Nicca, even after an assurance from the publisher that the errors in the ARC would be corrected before publication. The ARC was more of the same from the first Merry Gentry and the last Anita Blake. *sigh*
Why should I waste my time and money on an author who can't be bothered to remember her own characters? And if the author's memory is that inept, shouldn't editors and proofreaders pick up on discrepancies?
Will I read this hardback edition that I made a special trip to the bookstore for? Probably not. It's lying on the floor in a corner from when I flung it across the room at page 3.
Sign me a disappointed, and vocal, FORMER fan.
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