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REVIEW: Lick of Frost by Laurell K Hamilton

Dear Ms. Hamilton:

I specifically requested this book despite the fact that I have not read the Anita series since Obsidian Butterfly. I am somewhat of an apologistBook Cover for the Merry Gentry series. I actually had to create my own mythology regarding the characters in this series in order for me to continue enjoying the series. My frame is that – Merry Gentry has been picked to be the goddess incarnate to bring life back to the Sidhe. The whys and wherefors haven’t really been worked out in my mind (and I haven’t had alot of help from you on this either), but it is the one way I could get over the Mary Sue-ish issues and enjoy the fantasy aspects.

I think its also important that I began reading the Merry Gentry series at a time that there wasn’t alot of mix between fantasy and romance. You’ve really been a genre leader in some respects.

The star in the Merry Gentry series is the first book, followed closely behind by the second. The next two books began to show some wear in the story and while Lick of Frost has more substantial plot and less reliance on group sex scenes, it still lacks the power and verve of the introductory books in the series.

Merry Gentry and several guards (too many to count at this point) are housed in the residence of former Sidhe goddess and current movie star, Maeve Reed (I always read Maeve Binchy but I doubt she’d like the idea I was placing Binchy in your books although Reed is the wickedly awesome and beautiful movie star in the books and there are far less flattering creatures I could append to the name Maeve). Maeve has gone off to Ireland on an extended vacation while Merry and her band of men make free with the estate. Despite the fact that Merry has dozens of men, they are all holed up in a tiny cottage, sleeping sometimes many to a room. If the men are as you describe them, I can only imagine the state of that tiny little house.

The story opens with Merry and Doyle and Frost in a conference room to discuss the allegations of rape against three of Merry’s men: Rhys, Galen, and Abe. While it is pointedly clear that Merry and her followers are there simply as a courtesy since they have diplomatic immunity, the scene goes on and on for no other reason but to set up the basic plot conflict and that is Taranis, the King of the Seelie Sidhe, is using his powerful glamour to induce Merry to come to his side. He is desperate to have a child and believes Merry, with her fertility lineage, will bring him what he needs for if King Taranis is infertile, it means infertility to all the Seelie Sidhe.

As a plot, this is a compelling storyline and provides ample reason for some of the Seelie Sidhe to align themselves with Merry (the need for procreation is apparently universal) despite their disdian for Merry’s half human blood which continues to be a barrier between acceptance and rejection for other Seelie Sidhe.

Ultimately the problem is that most of the story is tell and no show. Merry and her followers engage in several conversations with each other to debate the purpose of King Taranis misuse of his power. It is through these “As you know, Bob” conversations, that we readers find out more about the world and the internal conflicts between the Sidhe and the political ramifications of a future with King Taranis.

There is little to be learned that the reader doesn’t already know unless the reader is a new one. But for new readers, the past relationships are so complex that I suspect one would be lost within a few pages despite the amount of info dumping that occurs to bring everyone up to speed.

Further, this book goes almost nowhere. For example, a quarter of the book (first 7 chapters) are essentially the scene in the conference room with one entire chapter where Merry goes all Ayn Rand on us and tries to teach us how those who don’t believe in free sex, sex several times a day with several parties, are narrowed minded humans.

The story stalled in alot of parts as there was little action until the last couple of chapters. I know that in the past I haven’t loved the books, but I’ve always found them readable. This one, though, was a struggle to finish. In some ways, though, I am glad to have read it. There is sufficient resolution in this story for the Frost and Doyle fans, fans who are wondering about Merry’s pregnancy and so forth, to read this entry in the series and not need to go forward. C-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in hardcover or ebook format.

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

27 Comments

  1. K. Z. Snow
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 16:38:02

    Sounds like your grade was rather generous, Jane. ;-)

    You know, I’ve been hearing about so many books this year that seem so intriguing–well crafted, richly imagined, “impossible to put down”–that I cannot for the life of me understand why anybody would sink money and time into one of Hamilton’s tomes. Out of curiosity, I read two Anita Blake titles back-to-back and, I’ll tell ya, they cured me forever of any interest in LKH’s work. It truly boggles the mind that readers find sloppy writing, odious, unbelievable characters, and the same old tired plotlines preferable to more worthy fictional territory.

    Besides–and I kid you not–if I had to put up with another “heroine” who bore even the slightest resemblance to Almighty Anita, I would do some serious damage to many things in the vicinity of my reading area!

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  2. Jane
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 16:49:01

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s a D. It’s hard to give grades at times. It’s below average but is it unprintable? I don’t think so.

    I started reading the series in 2000. There just weren’t alot of crossovers at the time. (or at least that I knew of). Once you become invested in a series, it’s hard habit to shake. I mean, I knew the Anita series was going downhill after blue moon, but it took three more books for me to give up.

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  3. TeddyPig
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 16:51:06

    I read two Anita Blake titles back-to-back and, I'll tell ya, they cured me forever of any interest in LKH's work.

    Same here. I was late to the Anita Blake loving and when I did read a couple of books which I guess were some of the worst I was just not impressed.

    That for me is the weakness of a writer that really orients on series with very few standalone titles. If I know the series goes bad then I will not likely start reading it even if the first books are good because if I do end up liking it then I will only be frustrated.

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  4. Angela James
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 17:32:21

    I went to read the reviews on Amazon and one of the 2 star reviews totally ridicules something that happens in the book. Actually, the negative reviews are amusing and somewhat lengthy. The positive reviews…not so lengthy. More like… This book is great! LKH 4EVAH!

    I think, at this point, since I gave up on this series two books ago (along with the Anita Blake series) you should just tell me what happens. Doyle or Frost? Pregnant or not?

    Oh, and I felt guilty a few weeks ago. I included Anita Blake in a list of book recommendations and my friend ended up reading and really loving the first book. I did include a lot of warnings about how I don’t read the series any longer and that she can’t blame me if she ends up disgusted with them somewhere after Obsidian Butterfly. It’s not my fault! It’s just one of my biggest disappointments in a book series, ever :(

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  5. Has
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 18:06:28

    I gave up finally about two books ago, with both series- They started like good crack then it went way way south and it turned quickly like into bad crack. You know when your reading a series -something that use to be addictive and fun and then it was like it can get better- oh I hope it gets better then its like nope not getting better. I hope one day I can get back into the books it was through LKH that I got into this genre but I cant bring myself to finish her last book let alone buy her latest.

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  6. K. Z. Snow
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 18:06:33

    Jane, I know what you mean about the lure of the “crossover” (guess that’s why Shomi titles have really taken off). Any author who tries to break new ground deserves snaps. Anne Rice did it with Interview…but it was also Anne Rice who cured me of making an investment in a series.

    I understand why authors keep cranking out series books. Not only do they become deeply, and sometimes obsessively, attached to their characters and worlds, but readers tend to clamor for more. And more. And still more. Needless to say, responding to that clamor can result in BIG bucks.

    I’m just tired of being disappointed, though. The longer a series goes on, the more likely it’s going to degenerate.

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  7. Charity
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 18:10:30

    I’ve been trying to talk myself into buying this one. I LOVED this series at first, and I started just before the third book came out, I had grown weary of Anita and wanted something new. The last one was just, so…I think I’ll have to go ahead an buy it now, just because I started the series, so dagnabit, I want to continue it.

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  8. Angela James
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 18:15:02

    The longer a series goes on, the more likely it's going to degenerate.

    Unless it’s written by my MD BFF Nora Roberts aka JD Robb ;) I still point to that as an example of a series that’s done it and done it well. What are we at now, 30 books? So it can be done and I’m sure there’s someone out there who’s not Nora Roberts who can also do it. Just not LKH, much to my everlasting dismay.

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  9. freecia
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 18:30:07

    Hm, perhaps there should be spoiler websites for former LKH Anita/Merry Fans. Something like TelevisionWithoutPity, except make it LKJWithoutPity.

    Loved the early LKH but the later ones just make me start a boink count and rooting for specific characters to get some corner of her bed. After all, there’s not much plot going on to interest readers…

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  10. Kalen Hughes
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 19:00:06

    I love some of the world building in her books (like the whole bit with the male werehyenas all wearing drag; did most readers even get that?) but the books don’t seem to have much of a plot anymore (beyond group sex, good; Mary Sue [take your pick of heroine here] make it all better by bumping uglies).

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  11. veinglory
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 19:53:41

    Still reading LKH. Wow, that’s taking one for the team (or is it *from* the team…)

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  12. Joy
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 20:00:07

    There was less sex in this one – but I agree the story was thin. I believe the last few books have been lacking in part because LKH decided to expand the number of books in the series. Really Mistral’s Kiss and Lick of Frost could have been one book. Sadly, i am addicted and bought this during the release week.

    I no longer buy the Anita books new but I can’t give up the series. Although I got the last one on my trading group site, I have not read it yet.

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  13. Jana J. Hanson
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 20:19:43

    The previous Merry Gentry cured me of my LKH is Crack! feelings, though I never read any Anita books — thanks to my lovely friends who issued warnings. Unfortunately, my need for Frost and Doyle caused me to reserve this book at the library. It’s very good to know the pregnancy and Frost or Doyle will be resolved so I can make another book series my crack.

    Thanks, Jane!!

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  14. Lynne
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 20:49:51

    I can’t bear to read this series anymore. The author created two truly memorable characters — Frost and Doyle — and I don’t trust her not to completely fuck them up. I’d rather read Frost and Doyle fanfic written by a reasonably articulate teenager than anything else by LKH.

    Yeah, I’m THAT done with it. :-)

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  15. Angela James
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 21:05:02

    OT and sorry to post this here but I keep forgetting to email when I’m not mobile (and I am now) but what happened to the mobile friendly code?

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  16. Jane
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 21:06:40

    Is it not working? Bah.

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  17. Jane
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 21:24:51

    was the thing that they made fun of at Amazon a big “R” thing? Because, yeah, that was totally contrived.

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  18. Angela James
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 21:26:07

    It works now! Yay! Thank you, much better on the blackberry.

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  19. Angela James
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 21:51:46

    And now it’s not. Sigh.

    Yes. It was how it came about and how it didn’t make a bit of sense.

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  20. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 22:47:25

    I never followed the MG series that much. I read the first two and then lost interest. Although I do like Frost and Doyle.

    I’ll confess, though, I was an AB junkie…up until NiC. I loved Obsidian Butterfly…and Blue Moon. Loved Blue Moon.

    I keep hearing that the latest AB wasn’t so bad, but I just haven’t had the desire to pick it up.

    Anybody here read Wars for the Oaks? It’s an older urban fantasy tale… not so much romance, but it’s one fantastic story of the Sidhe.

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  21. Jane
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 22:51:37

    Emma Bull is a goddess. It is not really a romance but it is beautifully written.

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  22. Ann Bruce
    Nov 14, 2007 @ 23:50:12

    I broke myself of the buying habit 2 ABs and 1 MG ago. But I still reserve them at the library because I keep hoping that LKH will get off whatever she’s on and go back to writing the series I fell in love with. I never thought I’d say this about any female character, but I want AB to go back to being a prude. Or maybe LKH can divorce the current boy-toy and make up with the ex-husband, who, rumor has it, plotted the first 7 AB books.

    Ultimately the problem is that most of the story is tell and no show.

    Is this because of the first person format? I guess it would be kind of difficult for MG to show stuff that happened well before she was born.

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  23. Lynne
    Nov 15, 2007 @ 19:26:28

    War for the Oaks is, for me, THE definitive urban fantasy. It’s one of my favorite books, ever.

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  24. Kinda
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 15:52:19

    I really liked it…if you dont like LKHs stuff anymore dont read it and stop complaining.

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  25. Renee
    Dec 21, 2007 @ 15:33:10

    Alright… am I the only one who’s noticed that the titles have almost nothing to do with the books? I haven’t made it as far as this book. I’m just starting “Mistral’s Kiss”; however, “Mistral’s Kiss” is the first book to even hint at having a relevant title. It’s just… I dunno… I’m out and looking for different authors to read in the same genre. I like the idea of the MG series… And I dont mind the Erotica-Nature of the writing. (that’s actually a plus in my book. I usually read more than one book at a time. One that is at least slightly intellectually stimulating and the other to read when my brain won’t slow down enough to concentrate on anything but the erotica.) I’m just getting frustrating that the plot isn’t going anywhere. I’m a college student. I haven’t taken any english classes yet because I’m a slacker. And it seems as if LKH has never heard of a plot organizer. Maybe we should all pitch in and get her some high school workbooks on creative writing for christmas.

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  26. Angie
    Feb 15, 2008 @ 01:16:49

    Hey there! This is my first post. :) I too was on the LKH Crack.:) Thinking it has to get better , it cannot get worse, then I read Micah and that was it. lol. Any ways just wanted to let anyone who was interested know that there is a new series By Vicki Pettersson. It starts out slow(this is her first book) but progressively gets better.(No orgies either!)By end of first book you will be hooked. Second gets better even. My sister started out trying to get into it, but by the end she was like “Wow that was good!” Anyways gotta go to bed. Enjoy!

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  27. Jane
    Feb 15, 2008 @ 09:54:43

    Thanks for commenting! I’ve heard really mixed reports about Pettersson but I may have to give her a try.

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