Dottie's break down is here
Rafael the rat king shows up in a limo because he doesn't want to make a spectacle. The point of a limo is to draw attention. Why the hell do people rent them for weddings otherwise? At least Merle is here. Even Anita loves him, because he's so practical just like her.
Anita complains about elitism, because she's still making a cursory effort to appear as though she is a complete and functional human being. Oh weird, Anita is uncomfortable around Micah now, probably because he is a rapist and, on top of that, no one acts like he is one. She blathers on about love and Richard and how breaking up is hard, and we get a rotten cherry on the sundae of Attempting to Be Deep with this one:
..."part of me wasn't at all sure that dating Richard was healthy for either of us. We weren't really good for each other. Love is like that sometimes."
We get introduced to Donovan Reese, the swan king, who despite being able to turn in to a bird that can kill a grown man will from here on out be referred to as food. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Rafael is described as "strongly Mexican."
Donovan goes on to describe "his girls" as potential meat in a gathering full of predators.
This is so stupid I'm having a hard time slogging through their stupid nattering about whether Donovan can fight. Never mind that he turns in to a creature capable of breaking bones with a flick of his wing, or that he has bone spurs that can fuck up your shit and your day. No, because he's a bird, he's meat and food and essentially a non-entity in Anita's mind.
I know LKH loves to go on about her biology degree, but if I recall correctly it is just a BA. Getting a BA is an accomplishment, yes, but it's just the foundation. It's meant, in many fields, to prepare you for graduate school. So her claiming she has some kind of special knowledge about not just biology but zoology, is laughable and frighteningly arrogant.
Donovan smells like meat and blood, oh woe.
"I knew by the gentle scent of him that Reece's beast was something soft and easily killed."
Anita wants to eat him because he is a cream filled swan shaped man cake.
Micah tells her it's a shape shifter thing. Uh, why? Why in the hell do shapeshifters want to eat each other and drink blood? And how does this work for Rafael, who is an omnivore? Is he only food sometimes? God, this is stupid. This is some low effort bullshit. Not a single moment of research or planning went in to this.
Oh hey even Reece points out that rats are omnivores and Rafael says some crap about how they're predators anyway because they know the taste of flesh or some dumb shit like that. I can't even be bothered.
"I didn't say anything because the scent of his flesh so close was intoxicating. It was like the most exotic perfume spread across silk sheets, with an undertone of fresh baked bread and some sweet jelly spread over flesh."
Also everyone in this book is once again too stupid to live, because they all know Anita is going to have trouble with this hunger yet they put her in the car with Donovan anyway.
I like Donovan though, because he won't let their display scare him off and he insists on going to the lupanar anyway. Sometimes you do the right thing even if it puts you at risk, and for some ungodly reason he thinks supporting Anita is the right thing. I can respect that.
Turns out the last swan prince was indebted to Raina. Anita describes her torture snuff films as "dirty movies" and I want to drive a drinking straw through both her eyes. Shit, it's happening to me now. I AM TEH SOCIOPATHSZ GUIZE SEND HELPZ.
Now again I haven't read anything after Guilty Pleasures, but am I to understand that Raina was regularly raping, torturing, and killing innocent people on the regular and no one thought to stop her immediately?
You deserve rage baby for that one, LKH.
It's implied that there's a single male swan king who rules over all the female swans. Sense, you make none. Most swans are highly monogamous and some mated pairs stay mated for life. Why the fuck are shapeshifters based on swans set up in the kind of dominance hierarchy LKH is trying to foist on the reader? It's not that a writer can't make these creatures behave differently than their natural counterparts but at least have the decency to tell the reader why.
Turns out the former swan king Kaspar was also a heartless torturer, rapist, and murderer. It's almost as if absolute power corrupts absolutely! Or like LKH can't come up with a type of evil that doesn't involve rape, because the first explanation would require her to have one single shred of self insight, and I think the self insight train has long ago left the station.
Also for fuck's sake LKH, sexual sadism is not always expressed in a non-consensual fashion. I don't think she actually knows this, and I think this is why she has to put Anita through the ringer every time Anita dares to want something that isn't vanilla. She thinks it means Anita has to descend further in to callous sociopathy, because that's the only explanation for wanting to give or receive pain.
IT IS PERFECTLY POSSIBLE TO BE A SEXUAL SADIST WITHOUT ALSO BEING A PSYCHOPATH. It's as if LKH has never done a moment's reading about BDSM, edge play in particular, so she's still burdened with the notion that if you want to hurt someone else you are always a broken, hateful shell of a human being. This is not a good attitude for an erotica writer to have, which is what she is at this point.
Donovan is so white you guys, that Anita can't resist him. She realizes he has down feathers instead of body hair and she wants to "...roll my body across the feathers and the heat of his skin." This image makes me laugh every single time. Just imagine Anita nude, rolling over and over her lover like a barrel while he just sits there glassy eyed and confused.
"I could hear his heart in his chest..."
I sure hope so!
Being a swan is either a curse of inherited. Whatever.
Rafael and Micah are worried about her having her first change in the back of the limo. This is dumb. They haven't planned for this in the slightest despite everyone knowing better, because planning would limit the amount of wangst LKH could shove in to this scene.
Anita and Reece give their best Oppression Olympics oneupmanship performances over who has it worse, Reece because he was born a swan or Anita because her necromancy powers developed early. Rafael tries to tell Anita she's being a dumb asshole but as usual he backs down because even he doesn't want to tell her any hard truths.
Oh my god, Anita and Micah are fated to have true, perfect love. Because rape is love. Because this is apparently a novel from the 1900s. Everyone argues over whether Anita has the right to sleep with Micah, seeing as how Richard dumped her, because this is a highschool fanfic from the early 90s. Don't feel too sorry for Anita though, because she wants to hurt Richard for daring to leave her. Because Richard is an object that Anita possesses, and she is genuinely shocked every time one of her pretty little toys develops a will of its own.
Oh but you guys, it's because he's endangered his pack with his naive ideas about how everyone should think for themselves. But that makes him a "Boy Scout" who isn't as practical as the almighty Anita.
Serious question, what is Anita's moral code? Because on the one hand she wangsts constantly about becoming a sociopath, yet continues to do callous things. She didn't like what Raina and Gabriel were doing, what with all their raping and torturing, but she doesn't like Richard's leadership either because he's not brutal enough. So which is it? She isn't a consistent character in the slightest, and thus she can never evolve and change no matter what happens to her.
It boils down to the fact that Anita is angry about Richard endangering her and J.C. by putting himself in a situation where he might get himself killed, as his death would rebound on them. You are a hypocritical snot bag, Anita. You are like one of those little jointed dolls artists use to learn to draw movement, except your featureless face is always jammed straight between your own asscheeks.
Rafael tries his best to knock some sense in to Anita's skull, though he thinks the "experiment in democracy" is also bad. Someone ought to point out that oligarchy and democracy are not the only political structures at work in the world. It's not like the choice is absolute power or absolute chaos. Even children are more imaginative than that.
They're trying to have some kind of serious political talk but it's really all about who Anita is dating. Micah is a saint, apparently, and Richard is a dumby dumb dumb poopyhead meanie.
This is more like a group of girlfriends in a bad sitcom, you know, where the one girlfriend has just been dumped and all the others show up with ice cream and they cry and watch bad movies, except they all have perfect hair and makeup. It's essentially a war room meeting about Anita's love life. Not to mention even if it were a legit talk about politics, on the way to the lupanar is a piss poor time to have it. At most they should be recapping what they've already planned.
I hope rocks fall on the lupanar and everyone dies. I can dream.
Info dumping about how all shapeshifters regardless of type have a group mind with their pack, pard or whatever. I hate it when all the examples of a type, like vampries or shapeshifters, behave and believe in the exact same ways and in the exact same things. That makes no sense.
Since the dawn of time, man has looked up at the sun and known how important it was to our survival. He has gazed on it in awe and felt his spirit move. But exactly what each group of humans thought the sun was, was different. Ra, Lugh, Anyanwu, Amaterasu, whatever. Even though the names listed all represent solar deities, their mythology was (and is) unique. It isn't as if all the humans on earth got together and agreed on one solar deity, with the same characteristics. So why do shifter groups, for example, work like that? They're all shifters, yes, but the way they explain their abilities should vary quite a bit.
Anita's beast has chosen Micah and his pard and there's nothing she can do about it so tough titty if you don't want to marry the guy. Anita tries to get under Micah's skin by bringing up Gina, the woman he was towing around before. She's obviously been abused because abused = weakness in the AB verse, and she has the GIANT BRASS BALLS to accuse Micah of not protecting his leopards properly.
Micah is also obviously traumatized by whatever the situation with Gina is, but because Anita is a emotionless robot she continues to prod Micah about it. She tries to mime human feelings by speaking gently for a total of thirty seconds. Turns out Micah's pard also had a rapist torturer for a leader. What the fuck?
"Trouble is my middle name."
Rafael gets in on the group therapy by revealing that his wife left him and took his kid away because she couldn't handle him being a rat. This makes her "weak." He has supervised visits with his kid, which is implied to be because his wife is a manipulative bitch. Doubtful. If he's only allowed two supervised visits a year, he almost surely did something terrible to that child. Of course because this is a horrible book, everything in it is meant to be taken at face value. LKH doesn't realize that she can't just tell the reader what to think and feel.
Oh my god here comes the college boyfriend bullshit. His mom found out Anita's mom was Mexican and made the boy break up with her. Not that Anita is Mexican, mind you. Mom is. If this were a nuanced story I'd be very in to reading about her obvious self hate, but because it isn't this is just another offensive, tired example of how Anita only brings up anything that could possibly Other her when it's convenient.
Anita goes on about Richard's dumb rules again. Actually, Anita, this whole mess is your fault. You left for six months without so much as a note, when you're supposed to be the fucking lupa. You begged Richard to take control of the werewolves, but when he did you ran away, despite using worse methods than eating someone on a regular basis. You are a nasty, disgusting, two faced piece of narcissistic waste and I loathe every fiber of your non being.
..."the true way to a man's heart is six inches of metal between the ribs. Sometimes four inches will do the job, but to be really sure, I like to have six."
All of her attempts at badassery come across as someone performing the Eye of Argon out loud.