|+|Trigger Warnings: Torture, sexual assault (attempted and implied), possible others|+|
“There is always something fascinating about someone else’s death.” ~Anita Blake (Guilty Pleasures)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Adult Paranormal, Horror
Summary: Anita Blake may be small and young, but vampires call her the Executioner. Anita is a necromancer and vampire hunter in a time when vampires are protected by law—as long as they don’t get too nasty. Now someone’s killing innocent vampires and Anita agrees—with a bit of vampiric arm-twisting—to help figure out who and why.
Trust is a luxury Anita can’t afford when her allies aren’t human. The city’s most powerful vampire, Nikolaos, is 1,000 years old and looks like a 10-year-old girl. The second most powerful vampire, Jean-Claude, is interested in more than just Anita’s professional talents, but the feisty necromancer isn’t playing along—yet. This popular series has a wild energy and humor, and some very appealing characters—both dead and alive.
My Opinion: Ok. So…there are few things I love more than steamy paranormal mystery books. Which is what Guilty Pleasures promised to be. Good delivery on the paranormal and the mystery aspect, not so much on the steamy. The narration also got a little over the top at times. This was still an enjoyable book and I gave it 3 stars.
First things first, I really hate how this book was marketed. This book was marketed as an “R-rated Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, steamy, romantic, paranormal horror book. The cover has a naked woman on it. One of the, if not the biggest and most obvious way to market a book is by the cover. So from the cover, the back of the book and how the book is categorized you can expect paranormal-steamy-romance-horror and butt kicking. Like I said, good delivery on the paranormal/mystery aspect, but where was the rest of the stuff I was promised?
You see, horror has a very distinct feel to it. Not once did Guilty Pleasures feel like that. Which would have been fine if the book’s marketing hadn’t set me up for a horror story. Even so, this book had lovely suspense. I was surprised at how quickly I became invested in what was going to happen to Anita’s friend and what would happen to Anita, even if I wasn’t able to get 100% behind Anita herself. The pacing was perfect and kept me turning the pages. But during all that suspense I was never scared. I wasn’t peeking over my shoulder to make sure a vampire wasn’t going to bite me.
Along with the suspense, there was fantastic world building. The laws of the land were lovely and realistic. You could tell that the author really thought about how supernatural creatures such as vampires running around would impact things on a political and social level. Hamilton nailed this element and when the book faltered, the world building was what kept me going.
I completely agree with the author’s choice to make this series a first person narrative, but Anita is sarcastic. Heck, I’m sarcastic, but Anita was a bit much. Her sarcasm worked to add (or take away) tension, but it got to the point where I literally told the book “Ok, we get it, you’re sarcastic, move on!” At around the half way point the sarcasm got tiresome. It made Anita feel more like a jerk than someone I could get behind, despite all her butt kicking. Heck, I got more behind the minor character Edward, who was supposed to be a jerk, than I was able to get behind the narrator.
Now about that cover…I’ve already been over the fact that the book just doesn’t deliver on the steamy (which is apparently fixed later in the series). But what makes that strange are the unique and sensual (yet non-sexual) descriptions. Hamilton does a lovely job of linking physical and emotional sensations. Yet the most sexual part of the book was really…gross (and weird, so weird). Actually, all the sexual situations were kind of gross. And there was no romance. There was a guy having a crush on Anita, but she didn’t seem to return the feelings. The emotional connection wasn’t there romantically or physically between Anita or anyone. When sexual situations came around (note, there was no on-screen sex) they left me feeling pretty squicked out honestly. It’s not what I was looking for or was expecting. On the up side-any of those situations were called for what they were.
Despite not being what I expected (and I’m starting to think I had no idea what to expect), I did enjoy the book. I’ll continue the series cause I am stupidly attached to the world that Hamilton created and I really want to see what happens to some of those side characters which are promised bigger roles in the following books. I don’t know how long I’ll stick with this series, but I’m looking forward to whatever it brings. Call it a guilty pleasure series.
TL;DR: This book wasn’t what I was promised, but I wound up enjoying it anyway. Although Anita was too sarcastic which made her hard for me to fully get behind, there were plenty of interesting side characters and fantastic world building. The “steamy” parts were outright weird and squicked me out, so whatever steamy stuff this series is famous for, must come in the later books. I’ll continue on with the series to see what it brings, because Guilty Pleasures was a fun, suspenseful, and quick read with a fair amount of promise.