Smoulder: Anita Blake 29 (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Novels) by Laurell K. Hamilton
‘Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, goes up against an ancient evil set on destroying all she holds dear in the new book in the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling series.
My name is Anita Blake and I’m no stranger to killing monsters. But this time, it’s personal…
The wedding of the century is almost here. My wedding – to Jean-Claude, the new vampire king of America. But not everyone wishes us well. Humans think I’m on the side of the monsters. And the vampires fear their king is under the spell of the most powerful necromancer in a thousand years – me.
When the St. Louis police summon me to a brutal murder scene linked a nationwide slaughter of vampires and humans, I know there is more than just a killer to catch. An ancient evil has arrived in town, hell bent on destroying everything – and everyone – I love.
Even I cannot face this alone. Jean-Claude and I must embrace our triumvirate to save both vampires and humans, and to prove that love conquers all.
Publication Date 21/3/2023
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Edward stood in front of the half circle of mirrors getting fitted for the wedding clothes he’d be wearing as best man in my wedding. I’d been his best man/person less than a year ago, so turnabout was fair play. He was even hating the clothes almost as much as I hated the formal-length dress that his bride had forced me to wear at the last moment when I thought I’d get away with a tux like the men. Now it was his turn to think he’d get to wear a tux and find out he was half right. Since I was marrying someone who either designed or helped design most of his own clothes, Jean-Claude had ideas for spicing up the traditional boring clothes that most modern men wore. Normally his fashion sense wouldn’t have bothered Edward, who had a very traditional style, but now as he glared at himself in the mirror he was bothered, very bothered.
“You have got to be kidding me,” he said. His blue eyes were already starting to turn pale like winter skies, which usually meant he was about to kill something, or that he wanted to kill something.
Peter, his very grown-up son, and I sat in little chairs that were usually reserved for mothers of the bride, or other members of the female side of the wedding, because men didn’t have to come to the designer wedding couture side-ever. Edward was my bestest friend, but I grinned at him, because I was enjoying the men getting outfitted in something they hated so much more than any normal tux.
“You look great,” I said, smiling, and that at least was true, unlike me in every bridesmaid dress I’d ever been forced to wear.
He looked to Peter for a different opinion. “This is ridiculous.” He spread his arms out to his sides so that Peter could get the full effect of the black leather and cloth tailcoat with its high, stiff collar that framed about half of Edward’s head. His blond hair looked brighter yellow than I’d ever seen it, maybe it was the black leather framing it? Or maybe it was his desert tan, which wasn’t tanned by most standards, but it was the most color I’d ever seen on Edward’s skin.
“Except for the collar, the jacket looks great on you, and the collar isn’t bad, it’s just”-Peter made a waffling motion with his hand-“it’s odd, like it shouldn’t be there, but I really like the leather over the shoulders, and the scalloped leather over the forearm looks like a leather bracer from armor. It’s really cool, Ted.” Peter’s desert tan was a lot darker than Edward’s; technically they were stepson and stepfather, but for them it wasn’t about genetics, it was about love.
Edward’s glare softened a little and turned back to the mirrors. He took a visible deep breath and let it out slowly as if he were counting to ten. He pulled on the edges of the jacket as if it needed to be settled in place, but it fit him perfectly; the little bump of the tails on the coat actually drew the eyes to his ass, and since we had never ever been anything but friends I didn’t usually notice Edward’s body like that. I’d thought of tailcoats as old-fashioned until I saw the first of our wedding party in them and realized that they actually accentuated everyone’s booty a lot more than modern jackets did.
“Why do I hate this so much, besides the stand-up collar?” he asked.
“Maybe it’s just so different from your usual cowboy-U.S. Marshal aesthetic?” Peter suggested.
I looked at Edward, and finally said, “It’s the most fitted thing I’ve seen you in since you slimmed down for your wedding. You look slender, more . . . delicate almost, and in all the years we’ve been friends, delicate has never been a word I used for you.”
He nodded at himself in the mirror. “That’s what it is, I look smaller even to me.”
“You’re in the fiercest shape I’ve ever seen you in, unless you’ve put on weight since I saw you at the pool during the wedding trip. You’re all muscle. Hell, Ed”-and I had to stop and force myself to say, “Ted, I didn’t even know you had a six-pack under there until that weekend.”
“I hadn’t. Not since I was in the military twenty years ago, so never since you’ve known me.”
“All the moms and most of the daughters at martial arts class think I have the hottest dad and that includes the male instructors.” Peter said it with a touch of pride, unlike some twenty-year-old sons who would have felt competitive with their fathers. Of course, Edward had never been competitive with Peter either.
“High praise, I take it, since I haven’t seen your instructors,” I said.
Peter grinned. “Yep.”
“Since you’re one of the instructors now, very high praise,” Edward said, and he smiled at his son with a pride that I never thought I’d ever see in his eyes for anyone. When we first met, Edward and I had both been so alone, and neither of us had ever expected that to change. Now here we were, both of us happier than I’d ever seen us. Sometimes life was good.
Peter looked embarrassed but pleased.
“Why didn’t you tell me you’d made instructor, Peter? Congratulations.”
“It’s just part-time.”
“But you’re still in college, so part-time is all you can really do,” I said.
“There’s really not a lot of money in owning a good martial arts school, and instructors make less. You have to be a belt factory or offer kickboxing as a fitness class or something sell-out like that to earn enough money to pay full-time staff, full-time wages,” Peter said.
“You talked to Bill like I suggested,” Edward said.
“Bill owns the school,” Peter explained to me, “and yes, I talked to him. I’d need another job that paid better if I wanted to be full-time at the dojo.” He made quote marks with his fingers when he said full-time.
“How’s the double major going?” I asked.
“I’m really enjoying Preternatural Primates this semester. I never knew how many species of trolls there were, and did you hear new DNA testing split the Yeti into three species instead of just the two?”
“Really? I hadn’t heard about that.”
“I can send you the link to the article our prof shared with us.”
“Please,” I said.
“But now I want to see some of the trolls we have in this country in person.”
“I’ve seen the Lesser Smoky Mountain Trolls.” I almost added that I knew someone who had their doctorate on the trolls, but the person in question was my ex, Richard Zeeman, and the last time Peter had seen him, someone we both knew had died. Today was a good day; we didn’t need to rake up horrible memories and ruin it.
“They’re indigenous to the area of Tennessee where one of my mentors lives. I don’t remember if I’ve talked to you about Marianne.”
“The witch who helped you learn to control your magic, right?”
“Yeah, I guess I did talk about her.”
He shook his head. “Nathaniel told me after the trip when he went with you and Micah to try and learn how the magical energy worked between the three of you.”
I knew that Nathaniel talked to Peter even more than I did, and Marianne was out of the broom closet as a witch, so I guess it was okay that Nathaniel shared. Besides . . . I looked at his eager face so happy in college, learning new things that he’d call up to share, and realized that I trusted Peter. He knew how to keep secret whatever needed kept.
“Your face went all serious, Anita, what are you thinking about?” he asked.
I smiled. “My first thought was that what Nathaniel had shared could get Marianne in trouble, and then I realized that I trusted you. Trusted your judgment, trusted you to keep secret what needs keeping.”
He smiled at me like I’d said something wonderful; maybe I had, but it was one of the best smiles I’d seen on his face since he got to watch his parents walk down the aisle together. “Thanks, Anita, that means a lot.”
“You’ve earned it, Peter.”
“He’s starting to like his biology classes better than his criminal justice ones,” Edward said, still tugging at the perfectly tailored coat.
“Are you still fast-tracked for preternatural law enforcement, or did the trolls lure you to the biology side?”
“I still want to be a preternatural marshal like you and Ted, but I failed my blood test for lycanthropy so they’re letting me stay in the program, but they aren’t sure about my future in it.”
“I’m sorry, Peter, really,” I said, and patted his arm.
“It’s not your fault, Anita.”
“You got hurt protecting me.”
“If I hadn’t been there the weretiger would have killed you. I don’t regret what I did, and you shouldn’t either.”
I looked at that calm, wise face, and thought, When did he get so grown-up? “I’ll do my best to be all healthy and therapy-evolved, but I am sorry that you popping hot on the test is keeping you out of the military and law enforcement.”
“I don’t shift, and my test is undetermined just like Ted’s.”
“And it’s my fault both times.”
“I’m still a marshal, and that you and I got to keep our badges sets a good precedent for Peter to get into law enforcement.”
“True, but if it’s my blood getting all up in your wounds when we were both cut up by wereanimals, why don’t both of you show full-blown Therianthropy at least on the test? I mean I don’t change form either, but my test always comes back listing every type of Therianthropy I have inside me.”
“The doctors don’t know,” Ted said.
“They were interested in the fact that both Ted and I test the same because we were father and son and they thought they had a theory, until they found out we’re not genetically related.”
“I went in with Peter last time so the doctors could talk to us together.”
“And draw more blood,” Peter said.
Edward nodded. “And draw more blood.”
“Dr. Lillian wants to draw more blood tomorrow from both of you and from me so she can compare it. Sorry.”
“No, we came here to figure out what’s happening to us,” Edward said, then tugged on the jacket as if it didn’t fit right, but I’d never seen him in a piece of clothing that fit him better and that included the tux he’d worn for his own wedding.
“And to try on beautiful wedding clothes,” I said, smiling.
The seamstress rejoined us then; she had the pants that were supposed to go with the jacket instead of the temporary ones that she’d forced Edward into so she could see how the jacket fit. The pants were black leather.
“You are so going to owe me for this,” Edward said.
“One, I’ve seen you wear leather for undercover work before. Two, I wore a formal-length dress on a beach with bedazzled flip-flops for your wedding.”
“That was not this bad,” he said, motioning at the pants that the patient woman was holding up for him.
“I tried on dresses that were so low that I flashed an entire bridal store when I tripped over the hem.”
He grinned, then shook his head. “Okay, that’s fair.”
“If I said I’m sorry I missed you trying on dresses, would you be mad?” Peter asked.
“Yes,” I said firmly.
He and Edward both laughed. I tried to hold out, but I finally gave in, and we laughed until Edward had to go into the changing room and get into the freshly hemmed leather pants.
Smolder by Laurell K. Hamilton is the twenty-ninth book in the series with our Preternatural U.S. Marshal and vampire hunter Anita Blake.
It’s not necessary to read them all (it’s a pretty long series) but it does help a little. But saying that I’ve not read them all, I’ve only read her recent ones, and I managed to keep abreast of who is who and what is what 😉
Anita Blake is preparing for her wedding to the vampire king of America Jean-Claude. (They’ve been an item/couple for many years, and you’ll see their relationship in most of the books)
So the story starts with Anita’s best friend U.S. Marshall Ted Forrester. Whilst he is admiring himself in his best man clothing, Anita gets a phone call from the local police.
They think the Sunshine Murderer has hit again.
But, that’s not the only thing going on in St. Louis. An ancient being has arrived to challenge Jean-Claude for his vampire crown. And it’s not looking good for Jean-Claude! He might be the most powerful vampire around, but he’s still no match for the newcomer! Will he lose his crown?
Then you have both humans and vampires thinking neither one should be with the other! Humans think Anita will take the vampire’s side over theirs, and the vampires think Anita will eventually turn their king against them!
Although I’ve not read all the books in this series, the ones I’ve read have given me the impression Anita has become a pretty powerful entity, she has many powers at her fingertips, and this book sees her utilising most of them…..
So, what with keeping her vampire partner alive and on his thrown, she’s keeping humans happy, the vampires are needing constant reassurance she’s not out for his powers, she’s also trying to work out who the Sunshine murder is and can she catch them this time? Anita did seem to be juggling quite a few emotional balls in the air as well! Did she need to be? I didn’t think so! But that’s just me 🤷🏻♀️
There are a few spicy moments 😉 but they don’t slow us down too much (nothing as distracting when the MC’s getting carried away with page after page 😉)
I keep meaning to go to the beginning of this series, I’d love to read how far she’s come, and I’d like to know when Anita and Jean-Claude first met.
I’m also getting the feeling this was a set up for the next book! A few of the threads that could have been sorted weren’t! And I did feel the ending a little vague!
But I did enjoy the book immensely, the author can definitely weave a tale, twenty nine books in and the character still had plenty to give.
Will Anita and Jean-Claude get married or will the the Sunshine murderer take precedence? Will the vampires and humans get their wishes?
I’m definitely recommending this book if your a fan of the author, and I’m suggesting if you have the time, go to the start of the series and work your way through.