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REVIEW: Mistral’s Kiss by Laurell K Hamilton

Dear Ms. Hamilton:

Mistrals KissOther than really funny (albeit unintentionally so) excerpts from your blog, I haven’t read anything by you in a year. Unlike other readers who can’t quit you, I have weaned myself off the Anita series. I haven’t read the last two books. This is quite an accomplishment for me. Unfortunately, despite my desire to free myself from your clutches entirely particularly given that the Merry Gentry series is now expanded to 15 books and not the original 8, I am still a helpless fly on your terrible, sperm covered web which is why in a weak ebook shopping moment, I bought Mistral’s Kiss in ebook format. damn that one click shopping anyway.

This book has no plot and consists of four episodes or scenes, three of which are sex scenes. I read that you couldn’t figure out what genre you were writing in. It’s erotica. E-R-O-T-I-C-A. It’s not, as you put it, “more like hard-boiled mysteries, or horror novels in tone of writing, but the romance and the magic … there, too.” Say it with me, erotica. See, a mystery requires some sleuthing. Horror novels generally aren’t filled with everyone’s spunk everywhere. Romance really doesn’t come into play when the main character is having public sex with all of her hot bodyguards standing around. There is lots of magic because I can’t quite figure out how Merry can walk after her continuous bouts of sex.

Because there is no plot, the book is short, and the entirety of the story takes place over less than a day, I hardly know what to write as a synopsis. Let’s see the timeline goes as follows: Merry wakes up in bed with some of her men. Another lost artifact appears. Gives all of her people more power. Aunt Andais is not happy, but like all of the evils in your books, she’s emasculated (I think this is a masculine adjective, but don’t know what the feminine counterpart is). Andais lets Merry do everything that Merry wants. Merry goes on to have sex with Abeloec, Mistral, and one other character. There is a run in with Sholto. Something paranormal ensues. It’s easily resolved. Everyone is happy.

This “book” (and I use that term loosely and defined as words bound and sold with a cover from a NY publisher) is nothing more than a series of scenes. It cannot work as a stand alone novel. It has virtually no relation to the previous book (i.e., what happened with the accusation against Rhys of raping the Seelie woman? Or the ball that Taranis is holding? or anything). It has no resolution. No crescendo and denouement unless we can count each orgasm as a mini story. It’s short. My Silhouette Nocture ebooks had about the same length as Mistral’s Kiss ebook.

The saving grace is that there are tender moments between Frost and Merry and Doyle and Merry which almost makes it worthwhile. What am I saying? Of course, paying $17.95 for this pap isn’t worthwhile unless the reader is a sick addict. I don’t really have any confidence that you won’t totally ruin Doyle’s character as you have Jean Claude and Richard and kind of Frost. I’m putting in a spoiler here just in case others have been successful in the LKH 12 step recovery program. Merry admits that she loves Doyle and that she wants him to be king.. I don’t really know how to grade this book. I read it one sitting, but it lacks any elements of a real story. The sex isn’t really that good. I just am so invested in the original series with Doyle, Frost and Merry, that any tiny scrap makes me happy. Sick. I am sick. I need help. I guess its a D.

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

30 Comments

  1. jmc
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 08:51:24

    Thanks for the funny and yet sad sort of review, Jane. I’ve given up on Anita Blake entirely, but was thinking about reading this Merry book. Now I don’t need to. I’m not sure I’ve read the last one, though, since I don’t recall anything about Rhys and a Seelie girl.

    I don’t have a problem with erotica or with porn, but I think LKH needs to learn to call a spade a spade. She’s not writing mysteries or magic; she’s writing plotless, squooshy sex scenes and they are boring.

  2. Jane
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 09:21:36

    In Stroke of Midnight, Merry and her band of men are attacked by Seelie guards. The accusation is that Rhys defiled a Seelie girl.

    “Why would Taranis risk war between our courts over a lie? Why would his men attack my men, over the lie of some Seelie strumpet?"

    There were other dangling plot threads, like another of Cel’s guards coming into Merry’s coterie.

  3. Angie
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 09:33:26

    In defense of erotica everywhere, some of it does have plot. It really does.

    With every review I read, I feel my chances of staying on the LKH wagon are higher. But truthfully, I just can’t see sinking money into an author until I hear from somebody that she’s actually learned to craft a book together again. This makes me really, really sad because her books at one time were so freaking good, with Anita kicking ass. Now we have Anita and Merry both acting as sperm receptacles for various and sundry men. And that’s about the only thing we can say about them. They have sex. They have some powers. They have more sex. A problem crops up. Oops, two dicks slipped in. Oh good, problem solved thanks to those tricky dicks. *sigh*

    Maybe her books are a way for people who scorn erotica to actually read it without admitting they do. They can point to the bestseller lists and say it must be good if it’s there.

  4. ames
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 10:59:48

    I am trying to quit LKH, especially after that mess called Danse Macabre-but reading that spoiler makes me want to read this book, especially since I was rooting for Doyle, back in earlier, slightly better, days.

    Mind you, I’m going to get my copy from the library.

  5. Robin
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 11:21:19

    Well, Now I’m conflicted. I’ve already bought the darn book but haven’t read it yet. I was such a fan of LKH when she began her career with Guilty Pleasures – it really was a guilty pleasure to read each and every book (repeatedly) back then. I loved Richard and Jean-Claude and so many other characters. But the Anita from those first wonderful books would NEVER do the things that Anita now does. And it’s not called growing up either. It’s called a total waste of a good character. I recommended her books to so many of my friends who became great admirers as well. Now, I hate to admit buying her books and believe me, I’m not ashamed of reading erotica. I have books and ebooks from just about any erotica publisher you can name. I know that erotica has plots and great characters and interesting stories. There are many, many erotica authors on my must buy list. That said, I’m disappointed in LKH. She did not have to sacrifice story for smut and I’m sorry to say, that’s what the Anita Blake series has descended into. I loved Merry Gentry in the first 2 books of her series and there was a highly erotic and sexual air to each of those books – but, they had a plot as well.
    Come back to us LKH – give us better plots please! I beg you.

  6. bam
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 11:30:38

    Yeah… I have this on ebook form in my reader and I feel it’s dirtying my other books. Like it’s a virus or something. Gross.

    I started reading it (mind you, I’ve never finished any of the Merry Gentry books) and I had no idea what the hell was going on. There was a dream and a wild boar and blood-soaked cookies and… whuh?

    I stopped. I’ll pick it up again… Not.

  7. Jana J. Hanson
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 12:57:01

    Thank goodness for my local library.

    I’ve read all of the Merry Gentry books (though I cannot for the life of me actually remember the plot for the 4th book — I skimmed the sex scenes beginning with Chapter 4, if memory serves).

    I’ll probably speed-read this one. If the series has now been expanded to 15 books, well, I’m not certain I’ll hang around for that long.

  8. Keishon
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 13:56:55

    Hey, wait, wasn’t this the series you told me to try reading? I never started this series but I have the first book on my Pocket PC. I was thinking about giving it a try. See, the problem with the Anita Blake stories is that she didn’t start it as erotica but I felt or thought the Merry Gentry series did start with that premise, didn’t it? I just hooked a co-worker on the Anita Blake series. Is that a bad thing? Hey, the first eight books were awesome.

  9. Teddy Pig
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 14:24:05

    Woohoo!

    Lynn Flewelling just leaked a small scene from her untitled 4th Nightrunner book, work in progress. Now that was a Merry Christmas present.

  10. Josie
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 16:46:12

    Is she really going to write 15 Merry books? The premise was flimsy enough as it was so no wonder you found the story line for this quite spare Jane. That’s a whole lot of nothing to stretch over so many books. Imagine if she had of written this as a trilogy! It probably would have been awesome.

    I feel so burnt by LKH that I have decided to never read anything of hers again… It’s tough, I’ve picked up Danse Macabre over a dozen times and put it back down again and I’m sure I’ll do the same with this one too. I can’t handle the disappointment anymore. *sigh*

  11. Joy
    Dec 19, 2006 @ 22:11:10

    I was soo looking forward to this book (and had just refreshed my memory with audio books of the last 2)…but it was a disappointment. It’s short with little plot development and answers none of my open questions! Granted, Taranis apparently did something else to risk war, but we are NEVER going to get to the Seelie court ball at this rate.

    I can’t break my LKH addiction – but I did not run out to buy this one on the release date; I waited til Saturday when it was convenient

  12. Jane
    Dec 20, 2006 @ 00:12:13

    Josie, yes, apparently the 8 books are now 15. Link.

  13. Miki
    Dec 20, 2006 @ 00:34:24

    I am … ambivalent … about posting. I actually enjoyed reading this “book”, despite the fact that it really couldn’t be read as a standalone novel by someone not already familiar with the series.

    In some ones, it seemed to be a collection of “deleted scenes” from the last book! And it seemed to me this book does have a definite ending, unlike the last book.

    Maybe it’s as you said, and I’m just so invested in the characters that I’m happy with scenic “scraps”…and perhaps because I never was hooked on the Anita Blake series, I’ve never minded the sex in this book. (Although I’ve occasionally thought some of the scenes had way too much description of what goes where).

    But imagine cutting and pasting this book together with Stroke of Midnight. (For example, in one scene in this book, Nicca is still described as having his tatoo wings, rather than real ones!)

    Maybe it’s also because I don’t keep track of a lot of the little details that make other readers so crazy. I’d forgotten about the accusation against Rhys. I’ll admit I did wonder about her promise to the goblins, though!

    Anyway, I guess I wanted there to be at least one comment that wasn’t negative!

  14. Keishon
    Dec 20, 2006 @ 09:40:38

    Anyway, I guess I wanted there to be at least one comment that wasn’t negative!

    I like other perspectives on things and ultimately, you have to decide for yourself. So, I’m glad you piped up and shared your thoughts on this book.

  15. FerfelaBat
    Dec 20, 2006 @ 10:41:09

    (For example, in one scene in this book, Nicca is still described as having his tatoo wings, rather than real ones!) ~ Miki

    ::Primal Scream::

    Why? Why, god? Why? This is what we’ve come to? And now Karen Marie Moning’s current HC is also a book “scrap”. RT magazing has an article on it indicating that LKH and KMM share the same editor. (It’s at home or I would give the exact quote.) If we merge KMM’s books with LKH’s will we have enough scraps to sew a wedding ring quilt and get an eventual fucking happy ending? Because I*can’t*Sew! K? I can’t. It’s winter and I want the whole goddamned book all at once.

    /rant

    Sorry. I’m suffering withdrawls in the Twelve Step plan.

    And…

    I just hooked a co-worker on the Anita Blake series. Is that a bad thing? ~ Keishon

    Yes. Yes it is.

  16. FerfelaBat
    Dec 20, 2006 @ 10:43:40

    Sorry for the typos & link screw up. Shakes are a bitch. I’ll just go back to work now and try to recover.

  17. kardis
    Dec 20, 2006 @ 10:55:23

    My God, I read this book in 3 hours or so. I knew that this series would start to suck when it was expanded to 15 books. I just didn’t realize how quickly it would suck. I completely agree with your review Jane. Oh, and this is the second LKH book I’ve managed to avoid buying. I think I’m finally kicking this bad habit!

  18. sybil
    Dec 20, 2006 @ 17:06:48

    [quote comment="14941"]I just hooked a co-worker on the Anita Blake series. Is that a bad thing? Hey, the first eight books were awesome.[/quote]

    Well tell us the whole story! What did the co-worker do to piss you off?

  19. Jo
    Dec 21, 2006 @ 01:58:03

    Thank you for this, you are letting me cut my ties to Merry Gentry. I gave up on Anita Blake oh 3 books ago [thank god] but had rather liked the way that Merry was an honest slut rather than Anita’s “the ardeur made me do it” nonsense.

    Of course, in the last book LKH realised that there were too many sex scenes to plausibly fit into the timeframe so had time SLOW DOWN so more shagging could fit in [a-hem].

  20. Devon
    Dec 21, 2006 @ 08:32:46

    I almost thought I might not read this one after all, until the spoiler. Dang! Now I’ve gotta read just for that. Don’t know why it had to be expanded to 47 guards or whatever. The original eight was enough. Now I just can’t keep track. And can’t care enough to. Still no Sholto sex? How long will she make me wait for poorly written sex with tentacles? Is each book going to take place in the span of a day? I was still enjoying this series, but the last one was pretty weak, and if the “plot” keeps moving at this pace, it may be easy to leave behind after all.

  21. Jane
    Dec 21, 2006 @ 08:49:50

    S
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    There is Sholto sex but LKH wimps out and there is not a tentacle to be seen.
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  22. Devon
    Dec 21, 2006 @ 14:25:44

    re: Jane’s spoiler

    That gets a big boo from me, but it’s not surprising. For an author who seems to take great glee in her new down and dirty “erotic” style, she wimps out an awful lot. This is why I dislike her so much–LKH wants to have it both ways. She wants to be a badass, doesn’t give a damn writer of smut, but there’s always this ambivalence too. She wimps on the kink, or makes it bad or a sign of damage (see Nathaniel, the ardeur etc.)

  23. Devon
    Dec 21, 2006 @ 14:26:29

    Maybe I should’ve put in a spoiler space. Can’t decide.

  24. leah
    Dec 21, 2006 @ 17:19:18

    I feel the same way. LKH has really taken a detour from the paranormal mystery thriller all the way to porn. I would like to see more character developement. And I miss Edward.

  25. Meljean
    Dec 21, 2006 @ 20:26:53

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    There is Sholto sex but LKH wimps out and there is not a tentacle to be seen.

    Oh, man. I haven’t read any LKH but the first Anita book like ten years ago, but I would have picked this one up for the tentacle sex.
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  26. skatergurljubulee
    Mar 17, 2007 @ 01:11:10

    Thanks for the review. I felt the same way. I haven’t bought a LKH book in two years. After the said years, I went to the library and borrowed these books. I know that I should buy books, ( I do in most cases ) but I only support writers that actually write books. I figured after 2 years maybe the writing will have recovered, but alas no. I’ll give LKH another 2 year break and see how she is with her “books” then.

  27. Jess
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 04:33:55

    i enjoyed the book and i thought what little of it was good and even well written it was just way to short, its not even novella sized..

    i agree that she didnt address any of her problems and only had the two scenes i wouldnt even call it 4 scenes.

    i really think LKH pushed herself to much with all she released last year and even though it cuts me to say it, im willing to read 1 book a year if its a great book then 2 so so books

    but i have to say i actually like the anita blake series still, alot have hated the new take that the series is having and her writing/plot but i dont mind it

    i love micah and nate
    i love JC and Asher
    i love damien
    i love richard
    i love Jason

    so its ok for anita to as well LOLOLOLOL

  28. Tessa Colby
    Apr 03, 2007 @ 23:16:14

    At one time…in the beginning, I was a Hamilton fan. Normally I don’t like first person narrations, but she hooked me with the early Anita Blake series.
    Right around Obsidian Butterfly I started loosing interest. It struck me as a F—Fest. Still I read on…hoping she would get a grip and start actually having a plot again…or solving a crime…Please Gawd…anything but more sex. It seems that now all she ever does is feed or discus feeding the magic that has invaded her body that must feed on sex every two hours or everyone bound to her will die. Huh???

    I started reading the Merry Gentry Novels…Hoping…
    She just changed scenery.
    Despite what some people might think…sex can…and does get boring if there is nothing else of substance around it.

    It has been so long since there has been an actual plot. Just when I say…”That is it…no more.” She tempts me with “Edward” he always seemed to have a level head…a no nonsense kind of guy. She probably brought him back so she can get in bed with him.

    Laurel…if you are reading this…Please go back to where you started and rethink where you are going. All it is now is porn…strewn with characters that once had character. Help…please…save them.

  29. MEGAN (AUSTRALIA)
    Mar 06, 2008 @ 00:42:45

    *giggle*snerk*humph*deep breath….

    I agree. I agree with everyone about everything.
    LKH’s books are like a huge bowl of triple chocolate trifle – a yummy, slightly sick indulgence; that is best enjoyed alone (or in understanding company)
    Don’t give me a single spoonful at a time! Where’s my satisfying serve?
    *LKH is spending too much time being a “horror/detective/erotica” media darling and diva – (maybe her publisher finally made her stump up with some thing for the demanding public – hence the short serve?)
    *I also wonder what would happen if Anita from Guilty Pleasures met Anita from the latest book? Cat fight? Contempt? The change in the character does seem to be based in LKH’s need to justify Anita’s sexual antics and her apparently unthinking need to overpower all opposition or threat to her menage-a-harem.
    *Truthfully- if I want fantasy based erotica (or just plain old magic smut)- I turn to Fanfiction, it runs the gamut from terrible to pretty terrific. The things that can happen when *interesting* writers (weirdos/kinks/kooks/etc) take over an established universe are amazing! I highly recommend http://www.restrictedsection.org (harry potter stuff)
    * Finally – AAARRGHH!! I know I’m technically on the other side of the world, but I swear it’s like everything has to be shipped by paddle steamer and donkey cart – even with the internet, getting info or new work by a favourite author is like pulling teeth.
    What is this – the 20th century?
    I spend half my time online doubling/tripling prices or just salivating at all the things I can’t get here, afford, get to, have never seen/heard of before and have to explain in detail to friends, just because we apparently live at the wrong end of a black hole/cul-de-sac.
    *gasp*
    here ends the rant -thanks

  30. Nicki
    Jun 30, 2012 @ 14:56:27

    I haven’t read anything since Bloody Bones. Literally…that was the one LKH book I’ve read. And after seeing this post, I will never read another one. I’m too busy writing to read any more books, anyway…*shameface*

    But yeah…I think you guys cut me off cold turkey. I’m never picking up LKH again.

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