|Author||Laurell K. Hamilton|
|Series||Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter|
|Genre(s)||Horror, Mystery, Erotic novel|
|Publication date||December 2, 2014|
|Preceded by||Shutdown (eShort)|
|Followed by||Dead Ice|
"Enjoying pain with your pleasure is something you either get, or you don't. If you get it, then you don't really need it explained, because you know how good it feels, and if you don't get it then no amount of talking is going to convince you it makes sense."
But sometimes you have to explain the unexplainable, especially if the love of your life needs to understand, or she'll leave you. Jason Schuyler is one of Anita Blake's best friends and favorite werewolves, with benefits. J.J. is his lady love, an old flame from childhood who dances at one of the top ballet companies in New York. She's accomplished, beautiful, and she's crazy about him, too. Neither of them wants to be monogamous, so what could go wrong?
J.J. is enthusiastically bisexual, with an emphasis on the female side of things. She plans to keep sleeping with women, because Jason can't meet that need, just like she can't meet Jason's need for rough sex and bondage. J.J. doesn't understand why Jason isn’t content to go elsewhere for a need she can’t fulfil, so Jason asks Anita to help him explain.
Anita is having her own relationship growing pains with her only female lover ever, Jade. Jason suggests that J.J. might be able to help Anita with her girl problem, while she helps him with his kinky explanations. With some encouragement from a few other lovers in Anita's life she reluctantly agrees, and J. J. makes plans to fly into town for an experience that none of them will ever forget.
Nathaniel, Jason, Domino, and Envy arrange things so that they are all at the house in Jefferson County at the beginning of the book, in order to discuss some issues with Anita. Anita isn't thrilled by having been ambushed with the meeting, but manages to not run from it. First they talk about Envy's issues with Richard, and what made Anita to drop him as one of her main lovers, although that's prompted by an unpleasant date Envy just had with Richard the night before, rather than one of the scheduled discussion points. We learn that Envy is fed up with Richard pushing for rougher sex than she likes, and ended things with him.
The first actual point on agenda is Anita's relationship with Jade, which doesn't give either of them as much as they'd want it to. They keep getting distracted from this discussion, however, and later in the book Anita comes to realize that what they want from each other are completely different things that are inherently incompatible.
The second point on agenda is Jason's relationship with J.J., which isn't monogamous on either side. He has trouble explaining to J.J. what he means with rough sex and it being a need he can't live without and has to fulfill with someone else than J.J., just the same as Jason can't meet J.J.'s need for female parts. We also learn that J.J. is talking to her dance company about Jason trying out, which would make him the first lycanthrope in an all-human dance company.
After some discussion of different options, the solution for both issues on agenda is to invite J.J. over so that she, Jason, Anita, and Nathaniel can all have sex with each other, so that J.J. sees how rough Jason and Anita are together, and Anita can learn from J.J.'s experience with women to be a better lover to Jade.
Two weeks later the visit actually happens, and after some initial awkwardness Jason and Anita have sex with J.J. and Nathaniel watching, and it really opens J.J.'s eyes to the fact that she can't ever offer that kind of sex to Jason. J.J. is initially unhappy with this, but willing to talk things out. Nathaniel, as another bisexual, manages to explain to her that it's not just different parts that make different people meet different needs and perform different roles in a polygamous relationship. J.J. is still a bit uncomfortable with Jason having sex with Anita, but not enough to make him give her up.
They discuss Anita's issues with Jade and Jade's issues in general, and they come to the conclusion that J.J. is willing to join Anita and Jade for a practical demonstration if both Nathaniel and Jason are present, if Jade will agree to it. During the discussion Anita learns that Jade is a much better fighter and more dangerous than she's ever let Anita or Nicky to see, and Jason isn't willing to be tied up and be at Jade's mercy. Anita goes to negotiate with Jade about the demonstration, and after some tears and emotional manipulation while she tries to avoid having the men present (Anita throws in Domino as well for her own emotional comfort), Jade agrees to having Domino and Jason present but not on the bed, and Nathaniel tied down on the bed.
Following night they do that, and Jade makes a lot of effort. She starts crying when J.J. bites Anita, but they manage to calm her down again for a cunilingus practice. With J.J.'s demonstration and guidance, Anita learns a lot about going down on a woman. In the end they wear out Jade and move on to Nathaniel, at which point Jade wants some privacy and Domino carries her out, leaving the foursome alone.
It turns out that the four of them have a lot of fun together and that Anita's issues with dating Jade aren't actually caused by her gender at all. J.J. decides she wants to get rid of Freda, although she'd prefer if Freda left her in a huff instead of having to leave herself because finding an apartment in New York is a real pain. Anita almost decides to break up with Jade as well, because they really aren't compatible, but then can't punish her like that after she tried so hard and allowed more men near her during sex than ever before. They talk about it some more, and in the end decide Anita won't cut Jade off sex completely, but won't try to date her. They also make potential plans for more sex between the four of them on the following day, and fall asleep in a puppy pile.
Jason Schuyler: Anita's friend and wolf to call
J.J.: Jason's girlfriend, who doesn't understand why Jason would need to have regular sex with another woman
Nathaniel Graison: Anita's lover and Jason's best friend
Jade: Anita's black tiger to call and her first female lover, who isn't a good match to her, partially thanks to Jade's multitude of issues she refuses to work on
Domino: Anita's white-and-black tiger to call, guard, and one of Anita's lovers who isn't entirely satisfied with the amount of attention he gets from Anita although he tries not to push, and the only man Jade allows sexual contact with
Envy: golden tiger, who ended things with Richard because she doesn't like her sex as rough as he does, and spokeperson to Jade as her friend
Anita's family - in relation to her appearance
Richard Zeeman - as Envy's ex-lover since the night preceding the book, and one of Anita's occasional lovers, who hasn't had time to have sex with her in maybe six weeks because he's dating a human woman and his parents and siblings are in town
Dev - as Envy's cousin and one of Anita's lovers, and as another truly bisexual man in Nathaniel's life
Jean-Claude - as Envy's other lover, Anita's fiancé, Jason's master, and the vampire king of the United States
Ares - as a guard who died recently, which messed up the guard schedules, which Anita thought was the reason that Domino slept at the house the night preceding the book
Micah Callahan - as Nathaniel and Anita's third, who is away on business, and one of the people Richard resents for having won Anita
Anita's therapist - in relation to her issues
Nicky - as one of Anita's other lovers, and someone Nathaniel likes to co-top Anita with, as well as his friend and a brother-figure
Jade's old master - as the source of her issues thanks to centuries of abuse, which is why he's being hunted down by guards who are also ancient vampires and know him of old
Queen of All Darkness - as the only other being in history before Anita who could break bonds between vampire masters and their servants.
Requiem - as someone who was detoxed from ardeur addiction
Freda - as J.J.'s jealous girlfriend, who tries to force J.J. into being monogamous to the point of distancing her from her friends, and sees her dating a man as a betrayal for lesbianism
Asher - as Nathaniel's dominant
Cynric - as one of Anita's lovers Nathaniel likes to share Anita with, despite also seeing him as the little brother Nathaniel never had
Raina Wallis - as the sadistic former lupa of the local werewolf pack, who turned Jason into a werewolf by almost killing him during sex, and who went further than even Nathaniel was comfortable with, even if he still misses her sometimes
Gabriel - as Raina's partner in sadistic sex and snuff film business, whom Nathaniel also still misses sometimes
Damian - as Anita's ex-lover who got tied to her at the same time Nathaniel did but never was as good match for her
Cardinale - as Damian's current lover
|Anita Blake Series|
|Novels||Guilty Pleasures • The Laughing Corpse • Circus of the Damned • The Lunatic Cafe • Bloody Bones • The Killing Dance • Burnt Offerings • Blue Moon • Obsidian Butterfly • Narcissus in Chains • Cerulean Sins • Incubus Dreams • Micah • Danse Macabre • The Harlequin • Blood Noir • Skin Trade • Flirt • Bullet • Hit List • Kiss the Dead • Affliction • Jason • Dead Ice • Crimson Death • Serpentine|
|Short Stories||Magic Like Heat Across My Skin • Blood Upon My Lips • The Girl who was Infatuated with Death • Those Who Seek Forgiveness • Selling Houses • Beauty • Dancing • Shutdown • A Girl, a Goat, and a Zombie • Wounded|
|Comics||The First Death • Guilty Pleasures & Handbook • The Laughing Corpse • Circus of the Damned|