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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 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)
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on May 17, 2002
yet entertaining enough that i read it straight through (though i'd have to say it's cuz i had nothing better to do, being stuck at the airport and all). even though i knew it was terrible even as i was reading it, i finished it because i just wanted to know what happens. so for that, it gets 1 star. but in terms of writing style and plot development and character development, LKH really didn't seem to give it much effort this time around. the characters are really weak and not developed. instead of showing us a character through his/her actions, Merry makes sweeping general statements and we're basically supposed to take her word for it. the whole plot is ridiculous - the Nameless, oh the horror, and then poof -i guess my main issue is that there is absolutely NO DEVELOPMENT in this book. things happen, but we don't even get to experience it. Merry is just like, "Yeah so then this is what happened and that's that, and now it's all settled but oh no, i still have to get pregnant and have sex with all these guys." the only people who are going to read this book and read it all the way through are hardcore LKH fans like myself who just have to read this stuff to keep up with the storyline in hopes that LKH will finish up her series with the same skills she started Anita Blake with.
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on May 11, 2002
Somebody pass the vasoline, because Merry has to be chaffing from all the free-lance humping going on in this book. This is not a novel...this is soft porn pulp, which is fine, but even as soft porn goes, I like a little PLOT to make the sex some how significant, take Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty series for example.
Not only does this book lack anything so extravagant as a cohesive plot, but it is so obviously the author's own gang-bang fantasy committed to paper that it's almost embarrassing. Hey, Merry is very petite...just like Ms. Hamilton! She is very very pale with dark dark hair, that is slightly curly....just like Ms. Hamilton! She has red red lips...My Laurell, that is quite a bright shade of red lipstick your wearing today!
And the character Doyle is so much the embodiment of a white woman's Big Black Well-Hung Buck rape fantasy that I wanted to gag. I'm all for artistic expression, the exploitation of archaic racial stereotypes under the guise of fantasy writing doesn't qualify as such. Here's a broadcast for Hamilton, INTERRACIAL SEX IS NO LONGER TABOO, and the generally educated public knows that dark skin doesn't = freakishly large sex organs. Maybe she should take a break from her fantasy writing for a bit and pick up a Newsweek.
Another sloppy cliché was to have Galen, the only eunuch in the crew, albeit, temporarily, sussued up in an apron cooking away at the stove. Come on...was this meant to be funny? Somehow I think it wasn't.
Beyond these obvious quirks, the characters are 2 dimensional hand puppets meant for one action and one action know it. Only Andeas and Frost were the least bit interesting, but even Frost's angst was beginning to grate on my nerves after an hour. Merry is insipid, and I don't see the so called strength some of the other readers claim to have seen her develop. She just insists upon bringing her "Princess" status into the light when her boys begin to knock heads over who's turn it is to sleep with her...what a power player!
This book iritated me, as is plainly obvious,but in a way, I admit it's my own fault. I'm use to reading the work of Octavia Butler, Gwyneth Jones and even Poppy Z. Brite (you want good dark fantasy? Try her). These authors books tend to feature "actual" strong and deep female characters, as opposed to what our Merry here is posing to be. I picked up the audio version of Kiss of Shadows on a whim from the library, so I decided to give the second book a go. First book was tolerable, but this one was just plain pathetic. I 'm guessing those who loved this series this much were either just accepting it for the low quality, mass produced, publishing house stock fodder that it is, or their social awareness is lacking.
Oh, and Anita Blake is another travesty...try Nancy A. Collins "Sonja Blue" series instead.
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on April 27, 2002
I've read everything Laurell K. Hamilton has published. All of it. I have my critisms of her writing -- but the only book by her that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed, the only book I have actively regret reading, is A CARESS OF TWILIGHT. It's got her trademark steamy sex (both physical and metaphysical), and lots of magic and magical warfare. What it doesn't have is a focus. Several scenes continue on for far too long, much of the dialogue is circumlocutory, and more than one storyline is started but not finished. I had similar complaints with NARCISSUS IN CHAINS (not to mention the shoddy copyediting in that one), but CARESS takes it a step further. If you must read it (and, of course, anyone truly addiction to Hamilton's writing, like me, must!), wait for the paperback.
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on April 1, 2002
Another disappointment from Laurell Hamilton! This is definitely not worth buying the can wait for this one in paperback! Lately, Ms. Hamilton's books are showing signs of being too popular. I can see an intent to draw out these stories - with each book only offering a peek into a few days - with an ending that implies that the reader must buy the next book. The mystery was not intriguing either, I fell asleep reading this one a number of times. Although the characters are basically the same (with many missing from this book by the way), the reader doesn't learn anything new about Merry and her beaus. Pity the reader that picks this book up before A Kiss in Shadows...they will be very confused. My only advice - wait for the paperback!
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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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on May 13, 2002
LKH let me down again. I second the opinions of sclark39 (a few reviews down) but I think I disliked it even more than that reviewer since I wouldn't even recommend the price of, or time wasted in reading, the paperback; however, I know Laurell's fans will ignore my remarks and some will probably even like the book. If you're new to LKH's work, I'd suggest her earlier Anita Blake works. Ms. Hamilton used to be my favorite author. She's been gradually replaced since the release of OBSIDIAN BUTTERFLY, my first disappointment. I thought, with the new Merry series, there was hope but, after this latest letdown, I'm convinced LKH has lost or, at the very least, misplaced her talent (temporarily I hope).
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on October 19, 2003
I couldn't wait to read one of Hamilton's books, as I had heard so many good things about her stories. I thought I would try her Faery World first as the Anita Blake series is very big and I am behind.I couldn't wait for this book to end. It had no plot and the characthers did nothing but sit around, or have sex. And I found the sex to be boring as well!Very good Idea that just did not pan out well. I may try another of her books, but so far I am not impressed. I felt like I was reading very bad fan fiction.
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on April 30, 2002
This book was a disapointment I should have been prepared for. Like so many other authors who have gained popularity,Hamilton has succumbed to the lure of quick money. No story line ,no character developement, but plenty of sex. Not interesting sex, with tension between characters, but BORING partner rotation to service Merry. Hey!! Hamilton ,just because a guy has long hair, it dosen't make him sexy. Did you forget Jean-Claude and Richard??? I won't spend any more of my money on this...
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