Oh, Laurell K. Hamilton… Why do you have this hold on me? Why can’t I quit you? I just finished reading her new novel, Smolder. It is the 29th installment in her best-selling Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Y’all. It is nothing but an endless series of relationship therapy and sex scenes during the course of one night.
Some of Hamilton’s more recent entries in the series have been more of a return to form, more actual problem solving and monster hunting. Some have even been a pretty good balance of both. This one, though? Back to the perils of being polyamory when you’re human and everyone else around you is either a vampire or a therianthrope. (That’s a fancy, all-inclusive word for shapeshifter. I’m glad Hamilton explained that, because I was confused. I legitimately thought it was yet another kind of shapeshifter being added to Anita’s circle of lovers.)
There is a very brief introduction of a big bad, but Smolder doesn’t even have further interactions with the new villain. The new villain is Deimos, a dragon-shifter vampire hybrid. After his initial attack, we learn more about the vulnerabilities of Anita’s triumvirate with her vampire fiance Jean Claude and the werewolf Ulfric, Richard. Then hundreds of page of them working out their shit, collectively and individually.
Basically, this one is for hardcore fans of the series. It would be a terrible entry point for a new reader. Is it the worst book I’ve ever read? Not even close. Is it a novel that I’d ever recommend to someone? Not in a million years. To be honest, though, it really feels like it’s incomplete at best or a money grab at worst. I read the preview chapter from her next book and it included things that I thought would be in this one. Things that very easily could have been included in this installment if she had an editor and/or wasn’t trying to stretch out storylines across multiple novels.
In other words, don’t pay for this one. Get it from the library.