Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Merry Gentry #1
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Princess Meredith of the Fey has been on the run from the Unseelie Court for several years, having taken the human identity of Meredith (Merry) Gentry and working as a private eye who handles cases with a supernatural bent. During a case involving a bizarre cult and Faerie artifacts, Meredith is forced to use her magic. She is immediately noticed by her aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, who resolves to have Meredith brought back to the Court.The Queen seeks to find an heir to the throne because she feels her resentful and sadistic son, Prince Cel, isn't suitable to rule. She devises a strange contest between Meredith and Cel, decreeing that the first to bear a child shall have the crown. Thus begins a violent struggle between the rivals that involves unbridled passions, malicious attacks, and bitter betrayals.
I absolutely love this series. The funny thing about it, was that it was my first real introduction to adult literature, urban fantasy, erotic fantasy, and paranormal romance. I read it when I was 14. For those of you who have read anything by Laurell in the past, you are probably gasping and appalled right now. I will tell you, that it was a definite shock to go from reading kid's books and pre-teen books to reading Laurell. I swear that this woman has the sexual imagination of the original makers of the Kama Sutra. I went from reading books where the most intimate sexual act was kissing ( and not very descriptively either..) to reading full out, explicit, vigorous sex scenes with multiple faerie men...some with tentacles...To say that my entrance to the world of adult literature with this series was a culture shock is an understatement of epic proportions, but for better or worse, it was how I began my long time obsession with Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, etc. I'm not quite sure what it says about me, but this series has shaped my reading tastes, preferences, and choices since the time that I actively began developing my *ahem* romantic interests...So I like reading about orgies with lots of hot fey men...sue me :P
There is a LOT of sex in this series. I think that's only logical. After all, the premise for the whole thing is that a fairy princess is in a race to get pregnant so she can steal the throne from her deranged cousin. When the whole point of a series is to make babies...well there's bound to be a lot of babymaking activities right? Right. This first book has mostly strait-laced (though certainly very hot) sex. As the series progresses, Merry and her guard get a little more...frisky, shall we say? But in this book, the sex scenes aren't too outrageous...they are just hot as hell. I swear...if this book isn't making you take a cold shower every half an hour...nothing will. The best thing about it though, is that even the sex has a purpose. It isn't gratouitous...it isn't meaningless. It is a means to further the story, to break down barriers between characters, and to grow as a series. Even when the characters aren't having sex, they can be doing nothing more intimate than giving a kiss on the cheek or hand...there is such a sensuality in the character's actions that you get the shivers.
Laurell's work isn't simply telling a story. She breathes life into her characters until she leaves no room to argue that they aren't real. In fact, I know more about these characters after one book than some people I've known in real life for 5 years. The characters, the story, the court politics, the cultures of all the different fey races are simply fantastic. There is such vitality, meaning, and life in the whole entire world that just for the time your reading, you forget about this world and actually believe in Merry's. The difference between other author's novels and Laurell's are as dramatic as the difference between a pencil sketch and a full color digital photograph. Even the single most irrelevant character (a childhood friend, nameless uncles, etc) have enough depth and history to make them a main character in their own book. (Seriously...if Laurell went back and wrote a back story for every event, character, etc that is mentioned once and dissapears, she would have like...4-5 collections of amazing short stories.) All this vivid imagery, discription, etc. is so well interwoven into the storyline that you barely feel like you are learning about the character. Every move, every action, every single little thing that the characters do builds up an image of who they are as people. Reading this story and bonding with the characters was as easy for me as breathing.
The ending was amazing. The last chapter, the very last page holds you close and grips you up so that you are literally in pain until you get the next book in the series. I could try to sum up it's awesomeness, but I am feeling lazy today and feel like Laurell can do her own work justice much better than I can...so here is a paragraph from the last chapter of the book.
I don't want the throne if I have to climb over the bodies of my friends and lovers to get to it. I always thought love was more important than power, but sometimes you cant have love without the power to keep it safe...I can't be queen while Cel lives, no matter what my aunt believes. I pray for the safety of those I care about, and what I'm really asking for is power, the throne, and my cousin's death. Because those three things must happen to give us all safety. They say, be careful what you wish for. Well, be even more cautious with your prayers. Make sure, very sure, it's what you want. You never know when a deity may give you exactly what you ask for.