This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Sixteen

Jason ogles Anita a bit. J.C. is on his way but Asher shows up first. Asher, whose most important character development trait is whether his penis works. Asher wants to touch Anita's face, presumably to give her another coating of Dorito dust. When he realizes she's got sex magic static cling, he switches to wanting to lick Nathaniel's wounds.

Now this interests the crap out of me. The protocol of how to treat someone else's blood slave (pomme de sang in AB slang) could be infinitely fascinating. I think protocol is cool. Also she mentions a little world building detail about how vampires have an anitcoagulant in their saliva. That's hardly anything but I am so starved for details I feel like I have the ardeur, except instead of craving anime dick I want a real story. 

Because Anita is Nimir-Ra she realizes she can force Nathaniel to change shape if she wants. Why? I hate this so much. 

Asher and Anita lick at Nathaniel's wounds and I guess this is supposed to be sexy and creepy and vampire-y and I just find it incredibly tame. The childishness of these books upsets me. It's like listening to five year olds play doctor, what with all the talk of butts and no no places. On top of that, the things they actually do are so boring and vanilla. If LKH wants to write nasty five way wereanimal porn then by god, write it. Hell, monster porn is a thing. I have a book on my to read list called Boffing Bigfoot, for fuck's sake. This shit is not new. Turn the dials up to eleven, dammit! 

J.C. shows up in a black fur lined robe. I don't know why he keeps wearing black when he has black hair, but okay. He must look like an animate ink puddle slithering across a white tablecloth.

J.C. gets on the bed with her and once again Anita craves that alabaster divining wand (hint: it only finds pussy these days, because Anita is a homophobe). But OMG she doesn't want to have sex in front of the others, because Modesty. The modest part of her "was a razor-thin part, something that glittered in the darkness but didn't quite believe itself anymore."

I'd love to know what sort of thing is razor-thin, capable of belief, and glittery. 

Asher and J.C. natter on about whether the ardeur means Belle Morte can control Anita or not. Belle Morte, if I recall rightly, is the progenitor of J.C. and Asher's bloodline because women are afforded only a couple of choices in the AB verse as far as characterization, and BM falls right in to evil whore with a beautiful face territory. 

In the middle of this Anita shouts "open the robe" at J.C, presumably in Regan MacNeil's Exorcist voice. 


Jason is not only one of J.C.'s animals to call, but his pomme de sang. There's a lot of deeply mediocre writing about how Jason moves like water and Anita can taste his pulse and absolutely none of it is memorable or interesting. She gets memories from Asher about being with Belle Morte, who has eyes that are at once light and dark. ...Okay. Belle Morte rejects Asher because his face has been ruined.

I feel very weird about all of this. On the one hand being disfigured is a terrible thing that can devastate a person and their identity. Whether it's right or not, we put a very high value on appearance and it's flippant and cruel to insist that people like Asher should just get right to the part where we all hug and talk about unrealistic standards of beauty blah blah. 

For example in some disability communities this is a particularly prevalent, gross thought process which IMO doesn't allow people to grieve. Because no matter how much some activists would like to pretend otherwise, many disabled people grieve what they (we) had, or even what they never had. I was born blind and my other problems have been with me for a long time, but I still grieve. I'm still not anywhere done with that process, and it's a real, very powerful thing. So even though Asher's issues are mostly cosmetic, that's still a huge life event and a huge blow, probably, to his self-concept. 

On the OTHER hand I HATE how this one loss makes up the entirety of his character. It makes the world feel even more superficial than it already does, because it floats the idea that looks are the most important thing. Anita is gorgeous, Micah and Caleb are beautiful. Nathaniel? Lovely. Belle Morte? The most beautiful woman Anita has ever seen. Beyond this and beyond Asher's one time relationship with J.C., well, what does that leave? He doesn't have a character other than those things. 

We learn that when Belle Morte rejected him, Asher assumed he wouldn't be welcome with J.C. either. I realize vampires are often portrayed as superficial shits, but wow. These guys live forever and are no longer, as far as I know, under Belle Morte's thumb, but they can't have a good heart to heart about this bullshit? It also has to do with Julianna's death, I guess, a woman who used to be their third. Anita wants to comfort Asher which would be nice, except by the way it's written it just seems like she's now a container holding all of J.C.'s desires. 

Anita keeps trying to touch Asher and press against him, presumably because she'd like to give him the ritual oil slick he's been giving her by touching her face all the time. I'm starting to think it's how people in this universe greet each other. If you really like someone you make sure to properly lube them up with a stick of butter. 

Again. HE IS NOT IN TO IT BUT SHE KEEPS FUCKING TOUCHING HIM, INCLUDING HIS SCARS. This is distasteful. It just reminds me of how able people always want to touch you and/or your mobility/assistance devices without permission. She has no business putting her hands on him, and she ESPECIALLY has no business showing his scars to everyone else in the room (by moving his hair away from his face).

Anita conveniently realizes she has feelings for Asher. She says maybe those feelings are founded on J.C.'s, but then she tells me that no, the feelings are all hers. Well, which is it? 

Oh, the heart reading powers gives her magical insight in to herself too. LKH can't write humans in general or emotional evolution in specific, so ONCE AGAIN she's invented another bullshit magical power to replace the character maturation that should be there. 

Hey you know what? This whole time, Gregory is probably being tortured. 

Anita begs Asher to stay, because he quite reasonably is in fuck this shit mode. We get a little taste of what LKH surely finds to be a deep and amazing insight:

"Sometimes the greatest wounds are the ones we try the hardest not to inflict."

What the fuck is that. Seriously. What is that? What does it even mean? Usually I can kind of understand what LKH is aiming for, even if she fails, but that? I got nothing.

Anyway, the twu luv in Anita's expression makes Asher all wobbly, like a plate of Chinese buffet jello cubes. He sees Anita and J.C.'s feelings for him in Anita's eyes and--I shit you not--cries a single tear. I made a point awhile back how the men in this universe are usually only afforded a single tear. Well, consider my point validated.

"I looked across the room to Jean-Claude, and the look on his face was drowning deep..."

Both Asher and J.C. want Anita to be a stand in for Julianna, which is sad though understandable. Again, I'd like to see this explored. Grief experiences in books are few and far between, and when they are there they often feel superficial. We don't like to look at or talk about death, which leaves people in the lurch when it happens anyway. Trying to capture that is a high wire act, though, so I know LKH won't attempt it.

Another thing authors probably shouldn't use anymore? Eyes being like open wounds because of all the pain and angst in them.

J.C. and Anita want to bring the healing peen/vajay magic to bear on Asher, because things in this world are always solved by interminable boning.

..."knew that to be held in the circle of both our arms would heal something inside him that might never heal any other way." 

It bothers me that Anita has to be a part of this at all. J.C. and Asher have a history she can't hope to understand, and the fact is that even though both men are putting her in Juliana's role, she is not Juliana. It's important that she not try to take Juliana's place. This is something J.C. and Asher ought to work out for themselves.

Everyone is staring at her and she remembers she's naked. They're all in to her because of the ardeur. I think the ardeur is the saddest thing int his world. It reminds me of how very conventionally beautiful people have a difficult time making friends. Do people genuinely want to be around them, or is just because of the perceived status beauty confers? Anita will never know whether someone wants her just because of her. I don't buy the heart reading bullshit. I have no idea of its limitations and neither does Anita, because LKH doesn't seem to find that sort of thing important.

Anita is very tempted by all the hot men in her room but she doesn't want to have sex with any of them. I don't understand why not. She knows they all want to do it, even without the heart reading. Her and J.C. are already lovers. Nathaniel has always wanted to fuck her, as has Jason. Asher could be handled with a simple question as to whether he wants it. And Anita finds them all attractive and has feelings for at least two of them, yet she's fighting her own desire really hard for some reason. Maybe she doesn't want to feel compelled to have sex and that's fine, but again it feels like her reluctance is just there for the sake of it. It's as if LKH faintly remembers a time when people enjoyed Anita being a prude, so she feels like she has to make Anita in to the lady who protests too much in order to preserve her already quite thin characterization.

Anita talks like a Ren Faire reject again for a bit. She claims to have wanted Micah. This just makes me sad because Anita thinks it can't be rape if you have an orgasm during.

All authors are now banned from using "like a moth to a flame."

J.C. explains that it would be in Anita's best interest to feed the ardeur before the lupanar so she doesn't try and have nasty monkey sex with Richard in the middle of an important political event.

She asks Asher to join her and J.C. in bed. I think that's the first time Anita has shown that she does want sex, though even now it seems like part of her feelings and desires have come from J.C.

Asher treats us to another interesting tidbit of vampire lore when he explains that feeding from someone else's pomme de sang is considered very intimate.

Then a line that I almost like happens:

"Anita loves you as you are now, not as some ideal thing like a butterfly on a pin to be tossed aside if a wing falls away."

Not a bad line, though it could use some cleaning up. But IMO this should be coming from J.C., not Anita. It bugs me that she has to be involved every single time the people around her want sex or love.

I wonder if they're about to have more bullshit sex that isn't in the least bit exciting or naughty. I don't think you can just add more people as a shorthand for naughtiness. That's pretty vanilla these days, right? Are people really shocked by Anita having more than one lover at a time? It's not like she's a high ranking member of a fundamentalist church or something, or a GOP representative.

So Anita too wonders whether Asher's dick works and whether he can "function as a man" now. Did you guys hear that? TO FUNCTION AS A MAN YOU MUST HAVE A WORKING FACTORY INSTALLED PENIS. Yes. That is the entirety of manhood and masculinity in this world. Not to mention that there are many men out there who don't have a penis, don't have a penis that can get erect, don't have a cis penis etc etc. Nope. Not men. Sorry.

She describes Asher as "lying rampant" in one of the memories she shares with J.C. Um. I'm going to go ahead and call that a misuse of the word. Not to mention, this is another instance of Anita speaking in a weird stilted way. Why does she talk like this? She's an animator from St. Louis. There's no reason.

Anita trips on her way to the bed for the sole reason of falling against Asher, tee hee. That's the end of the chapter. Wut.


  1. She describes Asher as "lying rampant" in one of the memories she shares with J.C. Um. I'm going to go ahead and call that a misuse of the word.

    That's not simple misuse of the word - that's just flat-out wrong. "Rampant", in terms of position, means "rearing up" or "standing on hind legs". You literally cannot be "lying rampant".

    LKH fails at writing. Period.

    1. I believe it's also used in reference to something unpleasant or fearsome, but not in the way LKH thinks it is.


    *ignoring everything else in favor of this*

    1. Rats are such interesting little creatures, too. They pack so much personality in to such tiny bodies! It's really too bad their potential as weres is squandered.