French Covers (which I prefer)
My rating: 5 stars
How can I review this Merry Gentry series who has been reviewed hundred times? How can I express with words how Laurel K. Hamilton takes me into another world every time I read and re-read her two series Merry Gentry and Anita Blake? I do not know but I am ready for the challenge.
First, I have to say that I am a complete OCD with Merry/Anita. I stopped counting reading the series. The thing is that each time there is a new release coming, I start to read from book 1 so when I have in hands the new release I am ready and right in the middle of the story. So make the maths with Merry. With Anita I only start from Narcissus in Chains . Can I also add that I do the same with the french translations? yeah yeah… I know, told you! OCD!
I am 100% for reading in the original language but I have to give kudos to Isabelle Troin who is the french translator of both series. She did an amazing job and nothing was lost in the translation: the humor, the slang, the atmosphere, the personalities… everything is there! This said. I am finishing the french tome 8 Divine Misdemeanors (Pêchés divins) since the tome just went out in Canada last week and I took this last week to have a marathon merry orgy books.
Laurell K. Hamilton said that book 9 will be published end of 2012. She took a break this year and decided to concentrate on Anita’s Kiss the Dead (or Dead Kiss since it seems there is a little hesitation about next title) instead which should be out next june 2012. A lot of fans of Merry were upset including me but sometimes it is good for the author to have a break most especially because LKH always put a lot of herself into each book. And this is very interesting. LKH is 48. She published her first Anita book in 1993, 18 years ago and her first merry book in 2000, 11 years ago. Dates are important because they explain the evolution of both series.
2000 was a huge turn for LKH. She was single, divorced with a young daughter. All her books before this period were pretty tame regarding the sex. In fact, in MY opinion, they were quite boring regarding the romance. uh… romance? pretty much non existent. The plots were good but after a couple of books it was all the same pattern: Anita, the heroine, was hurt badly (ex-husband), could not trust again, struggling to accept herself, showing an outside image of a bad ass woman to protect herself. So from book 1 (Guilty Pleasures) to book 8 (Blue Moon ) it was for me redundant. The only thing who kept me reading was Jean-Claude, Richard became annoying the more and more I read about him which is pretty much in ALL the books of the series.
Then happens a turn in her writing, probably the time of her divorce. She is trying to exorcize her past and she writes Obsidian Butterfly (book 9 Anita) and A Kiss of Shadows (book 1 Merry). Those 2 books are pretty cold, detached. Both the heroines are cold, detached, concentrated in their job. I always thought that it was the period she was trying to get rid of her past. In fact, in this video, she confirmed that A Kiss of Shadows was one year before she met her second husband Jonathan Green. For some reasons, Jean-Claude becomes less and less present (to my despair) and many other males characters take his place. Did LKH assimilated Jean-Claude with her ex-husband and Richard was the nasty other half part of him too? I always wondered. The sad fact is that Jean-Claude is no longer a main character.
Her fans split in 2 direction after book 9. I mean, I read here and there some comments on american and french forums and there is 2 obvious clans: the pro erotica and the non erotica. It is funny to notice that the french forums are repeating the same dramas today as it was done a couple years ago for the same books. Let me remind you that translation from english to french takes sometimes years! With Anita’s series which has now 20 books, the translation is now at book 14 Danse Macabre. So the French fans discovered the last 3 more erotic books (not counting Micah which is for me a novella unfortunately). And same old, same old. The fans from the the beginning do not understand and realize that an author grow older and her writing evolves with times and personal events. They expect their favorite author to never change. To remain in the same genre foreeeeeeeeeeever and eveeeeeeeeeeeeerr. Completely silly! Can a 50 years old person be the same as she was at 30? not likely. So why expecting LKH after 18 years to write the same writing over and over again? The funny image I have in mind is some kind of Elvis Presley’s fan who are wearing the same oily banana haircut with the same outfits today as it was 40 years ago!!! Oh sure you can still love the music and live the lifestyle but from the outside it is a wee ridiculous no? (for my Canadian friend… think Elvis Gratton! LOL)
After 2001, LKH writes completely differently. It is like meeting her new husband liberated her sexually. Anita and Merry heroines became polyamorous heroines. Anita and Merry collected men after men after men. The heroes had long hairs like her husband too. And in a lot of sex scenes we could see similarities as well: how both heroines loved to do BJ, loved to deep throat them, loved big big dicks and loved to be in control kinda dominatrix with only 1 exception on each series: Jean-Claude and Doyle.
So yes. LKH evolved with time. Some books (years) she was a complete sex kitten writer and other years she was more into plots. This is obvious with Anita. However, with Merry the evolution I felt was more from sexual to feelings.
So who is Merry Gentry?
Merry Gentry is a princess of Faerie and a private investigator. Being a Faerie princess isn’t all it is cracked up to be though because she is constantly dodging assassination attempts while juggling life in the “real world” where everyone knows faeries exist. As of September, 2011, there have been a total of 8 full length novels in this series, and there will be more.
What I loved about this series is that it is a dark series, a bloody one, sometimes even gory but not over too much. The good and the bad are not what it seems, they are worse what they seem. There is no line between them. Merry is the dark horse, the black sheep. Her sense of duty will be the center of her universe until she becomes pregnant and recognize that love overrules duty, not always honnor but definitely duty. The sex is hot but you will not read any dual penetration (nor in anita BTW). Voyeurism, tons and tons but LKH favors more one one one sex scenes or exceptionally a third has a BJ.
So I loved all the interaction between each characters. Yes. All the males are stereotypes of course but I loved how her love for each one was different. Yes I was relatively upset how she treated Rhys but in her last book LKH redeemed herself.
I am not completely blind. Many times, I raised my eyebrows and said: WTF? And this is where LKH is the most criticized so far. Her imagination brings her to a point, we follow her, closely and then BAM dead point. It seems like she wrote a couple of chapters, we were right there with her and then she put the story aside, took it much later and forgot what she was talking about or change her mind all of a sudden.
Like for example, Galen. Galen is the first love of Merry when she was a teen. She loved him all her life but when she turned 30 and when the story begins, she realizes that Galen, although sweet is not the love of her life. In a very detailed scene, her magic ring is supposed to show who is in love with her and not. Galen is not part of the ones in love with her. She accepts it. But then a book later, Galen become one of the father of her twins and one of her king… no logic. Many little details like this on Anita and merry series unfortunately.
In one of her old blog, she said that she uses a board with tons of stickers. But it looks like it is not that perfect because sometimes she misses very important details. In Anita for example, she made us fall in love with a character, Haven (cockie monster). He was supposed to be her king in one book. He was kind of in love with Anita, if not in love kinda obsessed and jealous of her other guys. He became a temporary food the next and after a while, we found out that he married and his bride was jealous of Anita. Then he was no longer married. WTF?
The main problem with so many characters is that LKH get lost herself. My major problem is that her assistant and editor’s staff who know her work so well do not catch the WTF. How come they could not see the flagrant “Haven” or “Galen” and many others like this? Either they do not do their job as they should or LKH just put her veto and they all decide it is not important int he big picture. I remember LKH writing a blog about Haven saying that haven was finally a bad guy but this did not explained that in one book he was married and the next no longer.
It seems that Merry Gentry series is way different for LKH.
Welcome to the inside of my head when I’m in the groove of writing an Anita book. Its like living in a world that is just a little brighter, a little scarier, a little more aware of all the awful, and wonderful possibilities that surround me. I don’t think like this when I’m writing a Merry Gentry novel; it’s only Anita that affects me quite this way. (August 26, 2011)
For a while, I started to read her blog. Many information that she is sharing about her current work on Anita or Merry, so it is always interesting to read her on top of knowing her a little better. This is where I got so many personal infos or I read between the lines. Of course I can be totally wrong and if I overstepped personal issues that are totally false, I apologize. My synthesis is only guesses: years + divorce + new husband + date of releases + different writing etc. I just tried to connect the dots with the years together and the personal events in her life by listening and reading her interviews and blog. But if I am making a buffoon of myself, so be it. That is the way I saw it.
I talked about Merry series to an online friend of mine. She loved and read many times Anita series but never read Merry. I told her that she would love Merry and she did. So even though, after hundred of reviews, interviews, ads etc… still some never read LKH or Merry Gentry series.
Without becoming an OCD like me, I am completely convinced that if you love erotica and dark fantasy, you will love Merry Gentry series.
And if you never read her and feel after this review like interested to do so… come back here and let me know what you think.. or you can also become a huge fan and share it among other fans in the official LKH forum or just follow the links related to LKH 🙂
Merry Gentry with her 6 men: Doyle, Frost, Mistral, Sholto, Galen and Rhys
(top left to bottom right)