I already mentioned that Flirt was very light for a Laurell K. Hamilton book. I have read all the books in the series voraciously and always appreciated that through voluminous page counts I could enjoy the novels for days on end.
Flirt clocked in at 158 pages: I consumed it during two train rides.
A little disappointing, yes. Didn’t even last me to the weekend for the blizzard.
It did remind me of another book in this series (of 18 and counting) – Micah. Both books had smaller page counts than others in the series, had shorter timelines than the already short timelines (one or two days compared to a long weekend), and very focused plots which eliminated the involvement of other characters. Flirt read more like a long short story than a novel to me.
While the book was fine – and at least had one element that tied it to Anita Blake’s character progress which I’ll get to later – I missed the motley crew of characters that are the men in Anita’s life.
Quick spoiler/explanation: Through’s Anita various adventures/crises, she has become romantically involved with two vampires, several werewolves, a wereleopard, a werelion, and a weretiger. (I think I got them all.) And what I mean by become involved with is date them all at the same time and have lots and lots of sex with them – individually, menage a trois, bigger groups, whatever.
(You’ll need to read the series to learn why she has to have sex so often. The only hint I’ll give is that she’s compelled to by a trait of Jean-Claude the vampire’s ‘family’ tree. It’s a decent enough reason to make the sex scenes not gratuitous.)
All this is to say that the drama that has grown throughout the series relates to Anita’s relationships with all these men and the inherent resulting power struggles. No single relationship is a simple as boy likes girl, girl likes boy.
So eighteen books later and I am interested in how the relationships will continue to evolve. Same reason I adore Days of Our Lives: it is the book that never ends with characters whose lives are seemingly parallel to your own. Soap opera and book series allow you to go back to something familiar – same characters with their same traits – but new enough to make it exciting.
I had hoped that Flirt would bring the whole gang back together again but it didn’t. Three of Anita’s closest men make an appearance early on but then a crisis occurs and it is Anita and the bad guys.
I was glancing through the previous couple of books and two of them were outside the norm and very narrow with the characters. Skin Trade (#17) was one of the books when Anita travels so a lot of the characters were new or tertiary if known. Blood Noir (#16) had traveling as well with one of her weres. They were interesting (and big) but lacked some of the interpersonal drama that I prefer.
And this is more of a preference thing. Hamilton needs to keep the stories interesting for herself as she writes them. Taking Anita’s show on the road or tossing in new weres to contend with is entertaining. I just want to see her vampires again and figure out if Richard will ever accept that he is ulfric.
At least Flirt did move the bigger character development and plot along. Anita has a new werelion to deal with in a permanent way. That had been a point of contention with her for several books so hopefully the next installment will address this in their town of St. Louis. And toss in Jean-Claude for the hell of it.
Bonus fun fact that surprised me: I had forgotten that Anita was celibate at the beginning of the series. It wasn’t until the sixth installment that she had sex for the first time in the series. Book ten is when the sex scenes became much racier and longer.
[The first image is a cover of the Marvel comic book based on Anita Blake’s adventures. The second image is associated with M.E. Frost.]