Thursday, August 6, 2015

Key To Conflict Chapter 3

So when we last left deranged violent rageaholic Gillian Key, she just physically assaulted the brother of her new hawthawt patient. And since he's a vampire in a masturbatory Mary Sue fantasy, Tanis also megahawt and smells great.

Aleksei discreetly covered his mouth with his hand, hiding the smile that suddenly widened on his face. He didn’t think Tanis had ever experienced being knocked on his rear end by anyone, let alone a small Human female.

Oh how funny and cute it is when Mary Sue tries to murder someone for entering without knocking! Nice brother Tanis has got. If Mary Sue had actually killed his brother, that would have been simply ADORABLE.

And since Gillian is sprawled over Tanis, she takes to opportunity to ogle his hawtness, his golden eyes, and his big manly hands. And oh horrorz, he's actually physically restraining the clearly insane person who tried to knife him! THE NERVE! So before somebody gets crazy-violent, Aleksei picks Gillian UP (what respect!) and takes away her knife, then asks her if his brother might come in.

Having some level of control unexpectedly put back in her hands, Gillian recovered instantly, now realizing why Tanis had hit that invisible wall when she kicked him.

Houston! We have a real genius here - after lecturing us about how vampires need to be invited in, yada yada yada, she now REALIZES why he couldn't come in. Wow this is supposed to be an expert. It's Anita Blake all over again. Pass the vodka.

“Enter and be welcome, Count Rachlav, if you truly mean me no harm.”

If I were him, I'd want some confirmation that SHE truly meant ME no harm.

Also, I don't know if magic door barriers can read minds and thus figure out his motivations... IDIOT.

Those gold eyes should have been warm, but they were chilly.

.... and why should they be warm? He was just assaulted by a knife-swinging lunatic who's now acting like HE attacked HER. Is he supposed to melt with adoration over her nasty personality?

Instead, he further angers the tiny crazy lady by saying what any sane person has been thinking all along: “I mean you no harm, but you are sorely in need of manners, piccola.” Well, except for calling her "piccola." Which, unless I'm mistaken, is NOT Romanian.

Damn, his voice was as good as Aleksei’s. Too bad he’d just pissed her off.

The nerve! How dare he imply that it wasn't HIS fault that she attacked him for daring to enter the room.

Gillian liked anger.

We noticed. She likes it even more than Anita Blake likes penises... and anger.

It was better than being scared, except that it dropped her IQ by several points.

Can you really drop what is already sitting on the rock-bottom? Oh wait, this is another page from the "LKH Book of Uber Tuffness."

And no, being angry is not better than being scared, unless you're merely posing as a hardass and think being angry makes you look tuffer. Being scared has benefits as well - for one thing it makes you more alert. For another, it tells you when you shouldn't do certain stuff... such as, say, pissing off an already pissed-off vampire who could flick off your head with a wave of his hand.

It was times like this that her inner Marine Corps hardass went head to head with her inner Gandhi. Today the marine won.

... I suspect the inner Gandhi has been dead for some time, because the inner Marine Corps hardass murdered him for daring to look at him funny. Since, y'know, obviously ALL soldiers are demented homicidal lunatics.

Fueled by adrenaline, her professional demeanor was shot to hell.

... yeah, this is what a professional headshrinker acts like when someone is the slightest bit snippy with them.

“I beg your pardon, you ignorant ass, don’t lecture me about needing manners when you tried to barrel in here uninvited during a session with my client and scaring everyone half to death.”

... yeah, nice save. Not. Exactly how does being attacked make him an ignorant ass? Does she think that mugging victims deserve it if they walk near an alley?

  1. Apparently nobody told Tanis that his brother was having sex... er, therapy with a crazy lady.
  2. The brothers can apparently sense one another, so why bother knocking? The whole point of knocking is to let the other person know you're there and that you want to come in.
  3. He didn't barrel in - he opened the door.
  4. If he didn't know his brother had lent the cottage out, why would he assume that it was "barreling in" rather than just entering his brother's HOUSE?
  5. "Scaring everyone half to death"? Okay, first off there's only two people there, and they were more apprehensive than scared. And it lasted one, two seconds?

Her drill instructor would have laughed her ass off. Dr. Gerhardt, her IPPA contact, would have killed her on the spot. Major Daedelus Aristophenes, her commanding officer, would have laughed his ass off, then killed her.

  1. I'm with the last one. Laugh at her, then kill her. 
  2. Of course she wussifies said commanding officer in the next book by insisting that he's a publicity-craving prettyboy who can be threatened whenever Gillian Drippyparts wants.
  3. Daedalus Aristophenes? Really? Am I supposed to take that name seriously?!

Oops. Her cover. Right. Dammit.

Wouldn't you just rush to send this crazy person on a sensitive reconnaissance missions requiring subtlety and intelligence? She reminds me of what people said about Hitler during World War I - that he was a little too gung-ho to be really sane.

Tanis had been around for the same four hundred years Aleksei had, but he had never met a woman as cheeky as this one.

Oh how speshul she is! In four hundred years, there's never been anyone as awesome as she is! Marvel at her Snappy Sueness! Oh, and cheeky is not usually a compliment when someone is raging - it means impudent and insolent.

Certainly not a combat vet marine with a low tolerance for snarky chauvinists of any variety.

And precisely how is he snarky or a chauvinist? It's not like he yelled, "How dare you venture out of the kitchen wearing shoes?! Get me a sandwich, woman! Then it's time for some rape!" All he did was say she had bad manners, which she does.

So according to Gryphon, a man is a "snarky chauvinist" if he dares to criticize any aspect of a woman's personality, even if he's totally right. Of course, in her third book she insists that being paid to have sex doesn't count as prostitution, and that any man who has a problem with his girlfriend hooking must be an evil sexist pig.

“The women I am used to, Dr. Key, are less sarcastic to guests in their home.”
“Obviously you’ve been hanging around with the wrong women,” Gillian snapped back.

No, I'd say he's being hanging around the RIGHT women, since apparently the women he's used to don't charge at people and try to knife them, then blame the victim.

Unsurprisingly, her nasty little outburst leads to an awkward silence, and Aleksei starts trying to wheedle his brother to not be so menacing to the crazy violent lady. He points out that Tanis is scaring his therapist, and Tanis points out what the readers have probably noticed already.

“She needs to be scared. You should have left her where she was: bent over my knee for a lesson in manners."

If I couldn't already predict that Gillian's swampy netherbits are going to consume Tanis' bulging crotch, I'd start to like this guy. But for some reason a lot of urban fantasy authors think that The Taming of the Shrew is a legitimate source of relationship guidance - except the man doesn't browbeat the woman with schizoid weirdness as in Shakespeare's play, he sexes her into blissful acceptance.

This was not going well. Aleksei thought that Gillian might punch a hole in Tanis with her shiny blade if he tried to make good on his threat.

And wouldn't that be Tewwibly Scawy, since Gillian is just a short crazy woman with no speshul powers in battle?

So Gillian finally realizes that maybe she shouldn't knife her client's brother, despite having already tried to do just that. I hope Aleksei doesn't have a lot of buddies popping in for Bloody Marys, or he'll have a heap of corpses in the foyer. So she manages to put a lid on her Fuming Rage of Deathly Anger!, and lets him in.

There. That was so polite it made her teeth hurt. Stupid Vampire Rules.

Isn't it annoying when other people demand that you not treat them badly?

Unsurprisingly, Tanis doesn't suddenly become all warm and cuddly, and threatens to spank her if she doesn't quit with the psychobitch act.

Diplomacy, Gill reminded herself, blushing at his implication.

Ooooh, teehee, he talked about SPANKING! How naughty! Gillian can tell all the other thirteen-year-olds all about it!

Yup. Diplomacy. The art of saying “nice Vampire” before you found a stake and a mallet.

So... she's admitting she's planning to kill Tanis? What a lovely villain. Wait, you mean she's the HEROINE?

She gritted her teeth and waited for the next glass coffin to shatter.

... what the fuck does that even mean?

Aleksei finally gets around to asking what Tanis is doing there, and since Gillian feels like slaughtering some peasants, she says that they should have a chitchat while she goes to the pub. Do they call those things "pubs" in Romania? Or is this the modern equivalent of Generic Medieval Fantasyland, hereafter called Generic Cultureless PseudoEuropean Country?

Oh, and I googled it. The Romanian word for a pub is "cârciumă." Don't ask me to define the pronunciation.

So Gillian finally gets her crazy ass out of the building, and she lobs a couple of nasty remarks at Tanis and scuttles out before he can give as good as he gets. Remember, kids: if a man criticizes a woman, he's an evil chauvinist. If a woman randomly insults a man, it means she's just reacting to his evil chauvinism.

Sadly, we're not shown what Aleksei and Tanis are talking about, which is SURE to be more interesting than watching Gillian fellating a sausage. Instead, we have to follow Gillian to Generic Cultureless PseudoEuropean Village, which has a designated Quaint Inn complete with a Hot Innkeeper. I'm not sure why she makes a point of noting the guy's hawtness, except to emphasize that since he's on the side of the Hawt Vampires, he must also be attractive. After all, Attractive = Good.

After she freshened up, she went down to the pub and ordered food and plenty to drink.

This is interesting since there's no mention of her checking INTO the inn. So according to the book, the Sue simply charged in, went into a random room and took a bath, and to hell with anyone who dares to get in her way.

Somehow this doesn't surprise me.

Oh and another Sue trait: apparently she chugs booze, is constantly uptight and angry, and smokes a lot, yet she's sooooooo beyewtiful and fresh-looking.

Excuse me. I have to chug some booze myself.

Anyway, the Hot Innkeeper is practically tripping over himself, asking how they can make Gillian super-duper happy. Because of course, nobody's happiness matters as much as hers.

she asked, wrapping her mouth around a delicious smoked sausage.

And once she's done with that, she'll lick some meatballs, swallow some bananas and maybe gobble a taco or two. Seriously, who "wraps" their mouth around anything?

And while Gillian is giving a blowjob to her dinner, Hot Innkeeper further Suefies the vampires by announcing that the Brothers Nosferatu basically rule the village. And since they are Hot Immortals With Sue Powahz, they're morally perfect and all the little commonfolk Wuv Them.

Also, latest Sue quality: "steel trap memory." Steel traps rust, and they tend to be kind of illegal.
Really, this is one of the qualities I hate most in the current urban fantasy vampires - they're all pretty, immortal, rich and popular, and only the evillest of evil fanatical crazy people might possibly have a problem with them. Heaven forbid they actually be monstrous, selfish or frightening, since that would detract from their Suiness.

Anyway, Gryphon finally runs out of stuff on the 101 Sexy Food-Eating Techniques list, so she finally switches over to the slightly less boring side of things.

Back at the Rachlav compound, agitation reigned.

The word "compound" might be correct, but it just ends up sounding like a cult headquarters. And can agitation reign when there are only two people there?

Anyway, Tanis understandably was going to open a can of whupass on Gillian when his brother stopped him, because after all Aleksei can't shag somebody who's been torn to bits. Aleksei's also acting like a snotty ass: “What is so important that you unexpectedly come here after being gone for the last twenty years and arbitrarily reveal yourself to a Human, Tanis? Oh, and welcome home.”

I can see why Tanis doesn't come home so often. His brother's a whiny little bitch.

And why would a vampire care about someone being away for twenty years? They're IMMORTAL. By this point, that sort of time period shouldn't matter much to them.

So Tanis reveals that the ebil Prince Dracula is.... doing something. We aren't really told what.

Apparently this is something that's villainously impossible, since Urban Fantasy Vampires are aware of national borders and thus would notice if he came into the country. This is apparently enough to snap Aleksei out of his whiny obsession with Gillian's soggy privates.

Oh, and by the by: since every vampire must have a Deep Personal Tragedy to make them more sympathetic than usual, apparently Dracula killed their family and turned them into vampires. But apparently he's been MIA for three hundred years, which seems rather weird to me. Having read this series, I'm acutely aware that Gryphon tends to include all classic (and some nonclassic) fantasy fiction as being true in some form or another. Frankenstein, Phantom, elves, Anita Blake and so on. But somehow, Bram Stoker's novel is NOT real?

“We are going to gather whatever reinforcements we can, brother, and defeat this ancient evil."

Ancient evil? Wow, if it got any cheesier you could mix macaroni in it.

And since Gillian is Super-Tuff And Awesome, naturally Tanis decides that she's TOTALLY necessary for tactical advice and fighting... against the supremo vampire himself. Also, because she's there, she will automatically become Target No. 1 for Dracula. Well, technically the villagers are targets too, but since they're basically featureless mindless drones there to make the Brothers Nosferatu look good, I'm sure nothing will happen to them.



Here's a scintillating idea: Why don't they evacuate the villagers, or else relocate themselves someplace far away so the villagers won't be targets, instead of selfishly sitting on their undead backsides right near a Quaint Village?

And who in their right mind would rely on the tactical knowledge of a demented knife-happy rageaholic who just tried to kill them? Neither of the brothers have any reason to think that she has any actual skills, and a normal person would never even think about relying on the person who just tried to knife them.

For some reason, this makes Aleksei grumpy and whiny, so Tanis starts telling him how important and awesome Gillian is:

"Aside from direct assassination, she could be used as a means to manipulate you if she is captured."

Dracula must be desperate for a hostage, because usually when the Evil Bad Guys Of Evil take a hostage, they take somebody who is slightly more important to the target than... the therapist they've known for, like, an HOUR. Unless, y'know, Dracula just assumes that any woman that Aleksei says anything to MUST be deeply important to him.

Does Dracula also assume that the mailman, the UPS guy, and the lady who tailors Aleksei's effeminate frilled shirts are valuable hostages who can be used against him? They probably have more imposing relationships with Aleksei than the Amazing SwampyNethers does.

Anyway, Aleksei starts bleating about how Gillian isn't a soldier anymore, and she's just his sex worker... I mean, shrink now. Just HOW he knows this, we're never told. So Tanis decides to point out the bleeding obvious.

“No true practicing psychologist would have lost her temper with me as she did."

THAT much is true. Of course, Gryphon is still trying to convince us that Gillian is TOTES the awesummest headshrinker since like ever, even though by her own admission she can't even FAKE being a real shrink.

"No one but a veteran soldier would have stepped in front of you with nothing but a ten-inch silver blade between her and death to face whatever was coming through that door. Gillian Key is not what she seems.”

Yes indeed! Gillian Key is secretly... a SUE.

Seriously, I don't think even a SANE veteran soldier, when confronted by a Gary Stu vampire with superstrength and superspeed would just stand there with a blade of any length between them and death. They'd probably be telling Aleksei to wriggle out the back window and escape into the woods, and carefully follow him.

Of course, I doubt a real veteran soldier would take an assignment as dangerous as Gillian Sue claims this is without a whole lot of backup hiding nearby. But that wouldn't allow our Sue to be the tuffest and coolest ever in a bad situation.

For that matter, I doubt Gillian Sue is old enough to be considered a "veteran." A veteran of what, pray tell? The occasional food fight?

Anyways, Aleksei start getting snitty because he doesn't wanna think that Gillian might be UberSoldier because that means she was HIDING SOMETHING FROM HIM OH WOE THE BETRAYAL BURNS SO! This would be more dramatic if he hadn't known her for, like, an hour or two.

"The professional standards of her field would prohibit her from behaving in such a manner in the first place. She would have been behind you or a table at the first sign of trouble and she never would have started an antagonistic dialogue with me. Demonstrations of logical behavior and thought are important to those in her profession. Blatant aggression is not."

Hear that, shrinks of the world? According to Ms. Gryphon, you're all pathetic wusses who hide behind whoever's around, and would never ever mouth off to anyone. Ladies of the world, never date a psychologist because if somebody tries to rob, rape or kill you, they'll just hide and not say a word lest they make somebody angry. Because smart people are cowards, and stupidity = bravery.

And it sounds suspiciously like our dear Ms. Gryphon just admitted openly that her Sue is illogical and stupid.

At this point, TG apparently realizes that Tanis is sounding intelligent and sensible compared to his whiny ineffectual brother, so she throws in some random reminders that TANIS IS SEXIST AND MEAN.

“The good doctor will have to put aside her idiotic Human feminist principles and allow us to look after her.”
"I will try to curtail any unreasonable, outdated and chauvinistic male instincts I harbor."

  1. Like all people with personality flaws, chauvinists don't tend to be aware that they are. But how else can TG bash us over the head with "any man who criticizes a woman must be an ebil chauvinist!"?
  2. She's giving feminism a bad name by claiming that a person with feminist principles would NEVER EVER EVER allow a man to protect her, even if that woman can't protect herself but the man can protect her.
  3. Wanna bet this is going to lead into Gillian magically changing all of Tanis' Ebil Sexist ways via the magic of her dripping nethers?

"However, if she lies to us about her purpose here, or if she accosts me again gratuitously, you may expect repercussions."

... which, I'm sure, TG considers another sign of what a Sexist Meanie Tanis is, rather than a perfectly reasonable response to physical attacks and blatant lying.

Then Tanis orders Aleksei to go scamper off and fetch Gillian, and Aleksei does as he's told. This guy is not exactly an alpha male, is he? He spends their entire conversation sitting there dribbling and whining, and when his brother tells him to do something he does it immediately. And if he has a freaking CASTLE, why doesn't he have any servants?

And on the way to the pub, Aleksei decides to infodump us about Tanis. Apparently Tanis is a weird hermit of a vampire, except with tighter pants and perfect hair... which suggests to me that he probably isn't half as reclusive as Aleksei says he is. How would he get his perfect clothes and stuff if he were that solitary?

Aleksei had tried to make it a point to keep up with current trends through the ages, but Tanis seemed stuck in ground zero of the sixteen hundreds.

Oh bullshit. Aleksei is practically a portrait of a stereotypical vampire who always dresses like Ye Olde Historical Romance Cover Model. He lives in a freaking CASTLE and lords it over the commonfolk. How much more archaic can you be?

If anything, Tanis seems like the more up-to-date of the two.

He rarely had lengthy contact with any of his prey,

... and clearly in a parasitic bloodsucker, that's the equivalent of a booty call. How sexist of him! Everybody knows that parasitic bloodsuckers should have long and personal relationships with their victims!

TG then drops a heavy infodump on our heads about how Tanis so handsome that he has women happy to have flings with him, but of course he's soooooo sexist and "domineering" that no woman wants to stick around. This is pretty ridiculous for several reasons:

  1. A minute ago, Aleksei insisted that Tanis didn't "allow" himself to have more than flings, and now he claims that the WOMEN don't like him enough to stay.
  2. No matter how obnoxiously sexist and demanding a man is, there's always some woman who's happy to trail after him being humiliated with every step. And in five centuries of quick consecutive flings, I'm sure Tanis could have found one or two of them.
  3. Despite the canned line informing us TANIS IS SEXIST AND MEEEEAAAANN, he actually acts less sexist than the increasingly pathetic Aleksei.
  4. Think about it: Aleksei has spent the entire book treating Gillian like a sex object, and drooling after her during his alleged therapy session.
  5. Tanis? He treated her as a person first, a woman second - he held her accountable for her actions, worked out her entire ill-disguised plan because he wasn't busy ogling her, and asserted that she was obviously a capable soldier (which frankly is more charitable than she deserves).

Frankly, TG is just making Aleksei look like the colorless, dumb brother who is just sour because his brother currently sneezes more brain cells than Aleksei had to start with.

The situation with Dracula aside, Aleksei wasn’t looking forward to spending time with his younger brother and thoroughly liberated therapist.

I wouldn't look forward to spending any time with Gillian at all, especially since her idea of "liberated" seems to involve men taking the traditional chauvinist-induced position of women, IE smiling, looking pretty and doing whatever the big strong woman says.

Aleksei is also pissed off because Gillian lied to him. Again, this would be WAY more of a deal if he had known her for more than a few hours MAX.

He found Gillian in the pub, teaching Peter, Paul and Mary songs to a rapt audience of locals.

This is barf-inducing for so many reasons.

  1. Is this some sort of weird faux-hippie version of the smart American sharing his/her wisdom with the rural yokels, who are enraptured because they're just yokels?
  2. So our alleged SuperSoldier is spending her mission time... singing? This is like a bad Broadway musical.
  3. This is in the 21st century, right? It's not like American music is inaccessible in out-of-the-way places thanks to this magical thing called the WEB.
  4. ... I've never even HEARD a Peter Paul and Mary song. Seriously. That's my DAD's generation's music.

Here's something to keep in mind: if you're writing a Sue and you're older than your Sue, don't try to cram them into the same pigeonholes that you occupy or give them the interests of times gone by, okay? It just makes it sound absurdly fake and jarring.

Anyway, we finally get a description of the pub, and it's pretty much what you'd expect of a generic fantasy tavern in Romania. We're also informed that apparently they don't have electricity in this town, because obviously having pride in your heritage = living in medieval times. But don't worry, "outsiders" can't understand this stuff.

Also: add musical skills to Gillan's list of Suey qualities.

So Aleksei drags off Gillian and infodumps her about Draccy-poo and his Evil Plans of Evil Evilness.

Gillian listened without interrupting. This was very bad. This was very, very bad.

A genius, isn't she? Up next: This was very very VERY bad.

Some of her prior patients had told her about the real Prince Dracula. It was a name spoken of in whispers if it was spoken at all.

… which is funny because we never really see that.

All Vampires that she’d had contact with feared him, even those of his direct line.

We don't see much of that either.

We then get a historically flawed description of Vlad Tepes aka Vlad the Impaler and his rule, although for some reason she never calls him Vlad III of Wallachia even though that was his name. His name was not "Dracula" or even Vlad Tepes; it was the RUSSIANS who called him "Drăculea" or "Drakulya". Hoo boy. This is going to hurt.

According to Gillian, He’d risen out of obscurity in Transylvania in the fourteen hundreds, a warlord who had loved and freed his people from the Turks, by unorthodox methods to be sure. Dracula had been a national hero, beloved, almost worshipped—the Romanian King Arthur of his time.

BULL. CRAP. Where did this woman do her RESEARCH? Did she do ANY?

  1. Vlad did not rise out of "obscurity" - he was the son of ROYALTY, was given a great education, and was sent to the Ottoman empire as a hostage. You don't get that from OBSCURITY.
  2. He did not rise in TRANSYLVANIA. He rose in WALLACHIA. Transylvania joined the party later!
  3. He did not just kick TURKISH ass. He kicked quite a bit of Wallachian ass as well.
  4. He did a helluva lot more than fight the Turks
  5. He IS beloved in Romania. Present tense. They still love this guy passionately and consider him a great national hero. He may have been a cruel bastard, but he was THEIR cruel bastard.

Somewhere, somehow, something dark and evil had gotten to him, turned him, changed him. The hero he had been was transformed into a bloodthirsty psychopath who stopped at nothing to inspire fear and intimidation in his enemies and in his own people. The only other plausible explanation was that he had always been inherently evil and, like a good sociopath, he’d hidden it well for a time before revealing himself.

There was not a sudden shocking transformation in Vlad Tepes. Hell, once he started his second reign he basically killed off all the boyars to shore up his own power and get revenge - and that was at the BEGINNING. Then he went on an impalement spree among the Saxons shortly after taking the throne. In short, this guy's EVIL BLOODTHIRSTY STUFF would NOT come as a surprise.

However, he did not have the commonfolk of Wallachia quaking in their boots 24/7 because of Evil Krazy King. He was widely supported and praised during his lifetime, both politically and religiously.

Was Vlad Tepes a cruel bastard? Oh yes! Yes, he was cruel, and he was a huuuuuge bastard. Was he a mass murderer? Hell yeah! But he was NOT psychotic. There is no legitimate historical evidence that supports the idea that he WAS crazy or that he WENT crazy, and the only accounts claiming he was have their roots in political propoganda. And he DEFINITELY didn't change his behavior or personality during his reign.

Nor was he a sociopath - a sociopath is a person who cares ONLY about themselves and disregards the human rights of ALL others. Vlad Tepes is documented as having cared deeply about some other people - why else would he have built a church to commemorate his dead dad and brother? A sociopath wouldn't have done this!

Oh, and by the way - sociopathy and psychopathy are NOT interchangeable and anyone with any knowledge of psychiatry would KNOW that.

Quite honestly, I don't think that TG did ANY research on Vlad Tepes, and she obviously didn't have the faintest idea what motivated him or why he did what he did. The world was very different back then, and a person who did terrible things was not necessarily regarded as pure evil for the evil things they did - and frankly it sounds like TG is just unable to grasp a more complex personality behind what we now think of as atrocities.

Can you intermingle Draculean legend with historical fact? Yes! You can! But only if you acknowledge complexity and personality beyond "He's crazy! Or pure evil!", as the great Bram Stoker did - his Dracula was evil, but he gave glimpses of the kind of old-timey personality from back when that sort of behavior might have been acceptable. HE WAS A LITTLE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT!

He’d taken only the most beautiful, the most desirable, most wealthy and most morally bereft men and women that he could find.

He was trying to open the world's first modeling agency. Sadly, the lack of bookings meant it fell apart pretty quickly.

There were rival Vampire lineages but Dracula’s were the most feared, since a large percentage of them were as psychotic as their Liege Lord.

Because obviously psychosis can be transmitted by blood... just like hepatitis or AIDS.

So she rambles about she's met two of Dracula's vampires; one was a woobie and one was a crazy bastard whom she didn't spot until he was about to kill her - yeah, she's a great shrink.

It was only pure luck that she had killed him first. He’d only been a fledgling Vampire and not very powerful. That experience left her with a definite uneasiness about her abilities for awhile.
Time and exorcising her own personal fears had allowed her to overcome them.

Yes, apparently if you almost get KILLED by your patient and thus obviously have some flaws in your way of handling them... you should just get over your doubts. Because doubts are never right!

A centuries-old Vampire like Dracula who was a true sociopath was not something she was prepared to deal with.

So she went home and stopped oppressing us with her presence, the end, byebye!

But no, instead we get a horribly infodump which ISN'T EVEN QUOTED, so it feels like we're being told what they had for lunch. Absolutely no emotion or any sense that this actually happened to characters in the story - it's like we're reading, "Gillian had a cheese sandwich for lunch. She put sliced jalapenos on it. When she was brought a regular Coke instead of a Diet Coke, she threatened to castrate the waiter, who was charmed by her bitchy psychotic behavior. For dessert, she had chocolate pudding. Gillian liked chocolate pudding. She also liked anger. And penises."

One of Dracula’s Vampires, a female named Nadia, had managed to seduce Tanis first. It had been a calculated move, the equivalent of a Mafia hit.

Yes, because the Mafia kills people by... sending sexy women to have sex with them. Wait, was that in The Godfather? Or did Gryphon accidentally watch the porn version?

Tanis had been thirty, young, volatile, arrogant and adventuresome. While Human, was a vocal opponent of Dracula’s influence and crimes, following the opinion of the rest of the Rachlav family.

.... so what, the Lord of All Evil Vampires is a politician?! Does he have vampire polls? Vampire PR? Vampire press conferences? I mean, how can you be a vocal opponent of a freaking VAMPIRE's influences and crimes? It's not like he's a corrupt senator and you can write editorials on him!

"Hear me, peasants! Dracula is evil!"
"Mass gasp!"
"He is very evil and nasty!"
"Wow, we didn't know that!"
"He also kicks puppies, kittens and hamsters!"
"Mass gasp again!"
"So don't vote for him in November! Vote for me, because a vote for Aleksei is a vote for pompous tolerance of psychotic blondes."

So Evil Slut Vampire had sex with Tanis, immediately turned him into a vampire, and then dumped his ass. See, this is why one-night stands are a bad idea - your partner could turn out to be an evil vampire who inexplicably wants to turn you into one too. Seriously, what is her reasoning behind this?

Anyway, pooooooooorrr Aleksei was immediately saddled with protecting Tanis from his Meanie-Mean family who... imagine this... wanted to KILL him. I mean, the fact that vampires back then were considered to be the tortured souls of the dead imprisoned by evil, and the only way to restore them to God was to destroy them. Obviously it's just a sign of what assholes the relatives were that they would want to actually KILL A VAMPIRE.

So Tanis was emo and sad and wanted to commit suicide. So he tried to scare the local peasants into killing him... only to run away when Aleksei stepped in front of him. Yeah, that's a great suicide strategy. Here's a question: how come he doesn't just get one of those peasants to lop off his head with a scythe? Why all the drama of trying to provoke them into ripping him apart via angry mob?

The younger Rachlav returned to ask his brother to witness his suicide: Facing The Sun the following morning. It seemed that he’d learned a few things during his absence about Vampire culture and tradition.

Apparently one thing he DIDN'T learn was proper punctuation. Again, WHY THE DRAMA? Why does someone have to WATCH him turn into a little pile of ashes? Is it so he can fill out the death certificate... oh wait, they didn't have 'em then. He could just leap off a cliff and be smashed to pieces, slice off his head with a scythe, or impale himself with a stake!

But no, instead we're treated to the emotionally dead recounting of how Aleksei and various family members showed up and asked Tanis not to kill himself... or rather, convinced the family and Tanis that they were better off with a reborn, live brother than a truly dead one. HE'S NOT "LIVE," DAMMIT. He is a vampire! Anyway, this dribbly gesture apparently made Tanis change his mind.

The suicide was called off,

But they still had to pay for catering.

Tanis was welcomed home by brother, family and the village, who hadn’t quite been ready to destroy the second son of their benevolent local Count.

WHAT... THE... HELL? A few minutes ago "most" of his family was in favor of killing him, but somehow Aleksei managed to singlehandedly convince all of them that vampires are Just People! And even weirder, apparently the people that Tanis goaded into trying to KILL HIM VIA A PITCHFORK-SWINGING MOB didn't really wanna kill him. They were just jokin' around.

Also, I somehow find it hard to believe that medieval peasants would

  1. Give a flying crap about the well-being of the local nobleman. I don't care how benevolent he is, I can't see them caring THAT much about the spoiled brats of the rich guy up on the hill.
  2. Decide that vampires aren't the Satanic servants of evil who prey on everybody by night... they're just people like everyone else! HOW DOES THAT WORK? Medieval peasants were superstitious, uneducated and believed in all sorts of crazy shit - and I can't see any group of them deciding that the undead are just people with fangs!

What's more, they didn't dream up the idea of vampires because they wanted a bunch of foppish hotties to lust after... they dreamed up vampires, goblins and faeries because the world was a harsh, scary place with all sorts of unexpected, inexplicable things, and putting a monstrous face on it helped them cope. They would NOT suddenly decide that the boogeyman was a person like you or me, they would FUCKING KILL IT.

So then eventually the vampires attack Aleksei too, because he was annoying and idiotic. No, actually it's because it was a deliberate act on Dracula’s part to wipe out his vocal opponent’s family. Explain to me - how does attacking TWO PEOPLE in a very large extended family back in the days when birth control didn't exist = wiping out a family?

And for that matter, WHY THE MESSING AROUND? He's a frigging vampire, so why doesn't he just send his vampires to KILL THE WHOLE FAMILY? Why is he targeting them one by one? What kind of evil lord of evil is he?!

And of course instead of killing Aleksei in a permanent way like ripping his head off, the vampires just drain his blood so his brother can conveniently bring him back to unlife.

Aleksei hadn’t forgiven him for the first fifty years, hadn’t spoken to him either except for the first few critical weeks as a fledgling when Tanis had to teach him how to hunt and to survive.

So much for the "Vampires are people too!" approach he used. When HE'S the one in the hot seat, he's all "you should have left me to die!"

Tanis remained angry. Nadia had been the last woman he’d actually trusted in four hundred years.

SHE WAS A BOOTY CALL. It's made pretty obvious that he barely knew this woman, yet we're supposed to believe that his poor wittle heart was forever scarred because a chick he'd known for a few days turned him into a vampire? And so since his heart is so vewy vewy wounded from a booty call betraying him, he only sees humans as food or sex organs, blahblahblah.

So apparently Tanis has spent the centuries working as an... archeologist. Whatever. Anyway, it's so he can be wangsty by himself.

And since we're supposed to like Aleksei better than Tanis even though he seems like a huge douche, Aleksei stays at home and looks after the commonfolk who, of course, NEED a nobleman to oversee them. After all, we're still stuck in the fucking Middle Ages, aren't we?

Facts, suppositions and strategies were all forming in Gillian’s mind.

Stop kidding us. She's just gonna trash the place.

Anyway, Gryphon then tells us about a very important discussion that we're NEVER SHOWN. Are you KIDDING me? Did she run out of her daily quota of quotation marks?!

Aleksei didn’t press her for further disclosure right then. He did let her know he was rather annoyed and disappointed that she’d used him for her cover and had deceived him, but right now they had bigger fish to fry.

Don't expect that to ever be mentioned again.

Gillian realized several things. One, she was totally screwed.

Yeah, just wait a chapter or two, and she will be.

Leaving was out, even if she could have convinced the oh-so-studly Count Rachlavs to let her leave.

... because if she left, how would her soggy private parts get their fix?

Two, whether they knew her cover was blown or not, she wasn’t done ferreting out what the hell was going on in Romania with the burgeoning fanged turf war.

Don't they have SPIES or intelligence or informers for this kinda thing? Not one tiny crazy bitch meandering around and tripping over conveniently-placed?

She also comes to the conclusion that Dracula will kill her if she leaves because... he doesn't like vampires associating with humans. Well, Bitchy Sue, I'm pretty sure there's a village destined for destruction long before you become a problem. And since vampires are Suey and Speshul and do everything but sparkle, all other vampires just LOVE humans because.... no real reason.

An important fact she learned was that Dracula’s subordinates generally believed that Humans were cattle to be fed upon, used and controlled.

Way to make me like the villain more than the protagonists. At least he has some cojones... until we actually see him in Book 4.

So anyway Dracula is pissed because vampires are unliving out in the open and obeying human laws, so any humans who interact with vampires except as food get killed. This would actually be a semi-cool idea... except that there are a few hundred people with more tangible ties to Aleksei than she does, and I imagine they'll be more likely to be offed than a THERAPIST.

The occasional “appropriate” Human may be turned for expansion of Big D’s empire or to subvert his enemies,

... Big D? What is he, a fast food mascot?

Humans were not to be nurtured, brought into any Vampire’s affairs, cared for or done business with. They were food. You do not make friends with your food.

Shows what you know! I have cuddled many a cow before they got sent to the meatpacking plant!

Aleksei went a long way to reassure Gillian that she was under his and Tanis’s protection.

SHOW! FUCKING SHOW DON'T TELL! It's the golden rule of writing... SO WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR YOU?!

So Gillian is whiny because she'll have to cope with GASP someone she doesn't like.

Survival skills had always been her strong suit.

Yes, I can see why since she got her ass handed to her by a man she attacked out of the blue.

She’d comply. She just didn’t have to comply happily.

Marvel at her professionalism! Seriously, put on your big girl panties and DEAL WITH IT.

So we're told yet again what's happening without any showing - she makes a phone call to the grand pooh-bahs at the IPPA because Gryphon is too lazy to come up with actual titles.

Her license would have been on the line if she had blurred the boundary lines too drastically between client and counselor as she might have to do to keep all them alive, without express permission.

... what? I mean, what? What's going on here?! So apparently a shrink can lose their license if they try to save their patient's life? On what planet?! I'll tell ya what can lose your license: having sex with your patients!

She was on her own tactically. They couldn’t send anyone in to help her just yet. Act with discretion, complete her mission, take care of her patients and stay alive were her orders.

... WHY? Why is she on her own? Why can't they send anyone else in? A better question: WHY didn't they send in backup to begin with? This fucking setup makes no sense!

The Human conflict with the Paramortal world had left everyone a little obsequious and suspicious with each other.

... a little OBSEQUIOUS? As in, overly servile?

Having one of their highly trained therapist/ operatives caught in the middle of such a conflict required desperate actions and a writing of new policy jointly with Gillian’s division of the USMC.

Wow, this is exciting! Daring paperwork! New policy writings! And epic expanses of red tape! KILL ME PLEASE!

By the time Gillian had gotten off the phone, there was already paperwork in place to protect her against any malpractice or court martial in the course of her duties with this situation. Covering her ass was a specialty that she was proud of.

Seriously, pass me a gun! This entire chapter is making my brain bleed with the stupidity and dullness! And I don't want to hear anything about Gillian's ass! We've already heard too much about her genitals.

So even though Gillian's been boozing it up, she's the one who drives back to the cottage while smoking like a house on fire. I don't know why Gryphon is constantly emphasizing that she smokes a lot, because it's not sexy or interesting.

She felt trapped, insecure about the enemy she was going to face and vastly irritated at being discovered.

I know the feeling. I'm having it while I flog this.

So she whines about how awful it is to have to rely on others because usually SHE'S in charge, and she needs a bunch of random weapons blahblahblah. And Aleksei sits there dribbling about how awesome she is and how much he wants to bone admires her and how Dracula would only want to kill her AND NOT THE DAMN VILLAGERS if she left.

She hadn’t run screaming from the pub and onto the next flight out of the Country.

Remember, using Random Capitalization on Nouns makes Everything seem much Cooler. Oh Wait, it doesn't.

“I admire your fortitude, Gillian. I hope that you understand that I would not bring any of this up if your life were not directly in danger.”

And because apparently the author can't think of any less contrived excuses for Gillian to hang around the castle.

Gillian laughed harshly. “I have a bad feeling that I am not nearly as frightened as I should be Aleksei, but I really hate bullies. Dracula sounds like a first-class bully.”

This woman could get an award in making vampires unscary. The worst thing she can come up with for a description of DRACULA is that he's a BULLY?

“Bully? No Gillian, he is not a bully. He is your worst nightmare come to life.”

... again, until we actually see him in Book 4. Of course when he appears, his character gets a hilariously awful assraping..

And since Gryphon hasn't finished crapping on any man who dares to speak ill of Gillian, Aleksei asks Gillian to put out her cigarette and not talk. Why? “Tanis does not have a liking for inordinately liberated women, Gillian, nor ones who are deceitful. He’s not a bad man, just an opinionated, backward one on occasion.” Again, who was holding Gillian to the same standards that he would hold a man to, and who was just sitting there drooling because she has a swampy vagina?

Gillian’s eyes were cold. The alcohol was making her edgier and more reactionary than usual.

Yes, just the sort of person you want driving you home and insisting on talking with the guy she almost knifed earlier in the evening.

Of course since she's a Tuff Awesome Manly-Woman, Gillian immediately starts sneering about how she doesn't care what Tanis thinks.

Alcohol had a tendency to subdue the therapist in her and bring out the Marine.

Because of course all Marines are violent antisocial assholes who are incapable of interacting with others.

Unfortunately, the Marine had an attitude with bossy men as did the actual woman. Screw it, she thought, Tanis wasn’t her client and she didn’t owe him shit.

  1. Yes, clearly she's doing SO well with her mission, since she's actively deciding to piss him off.
  2. "Bossy men"? Uh, he hasn't told her to do anything. How is he being bossy? All he did was stand on the porch and listen to her bitching about him.
  3. And yes, she DOES owe him shit. As in, if he decides to rescind his protection, she could end up royally screwed.

So Tanis makes some sarcastic comment about how she needs to be stopped from wrecking her body with smoking, drinking and lying. And since Gillian is a drunken bitch, she flies off the handle completely, blows smoke in his face, and yells, “You pretentious prick, who do you think you’re talking to?” Thank God, the chapter ends there.

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