I got Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland as a free ARC from St Martin’s Press (they have a programme for such things if anyone is interested). And then, whaddyaknow, apparently I also scored it as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer. Am I a lucky bunny, or what? Clearly, on both counts the description of the book was a little misleading, because I am fairly sure I have never, ever said to anyone, under any circumstances ‘Send me your supernatural soft porn.’
So, anyone out there missing their Laurel K Hamilton? Have I got a book for you! Elizabeth Phoenix, psychic ex-cop and now bartender finds out in short order: that there are demons, that her first lover is a demon-killer (and is half-vampire), and that she’s just inherited the mantle of high seeress of the ‘federation’ of demon killers from her brutally murdered adoptive mother, Ruthie. Elizabeth needs to get up to speed quick on this whole seer thing because the bad guys are massing for the final battle. Well, when aren’t they in this kind of literature? Fortunately, Ruthie went straight to Heaven and therefore can appear to Elizabeth in dreams, to give her guidance.
Now, with all that going on you’d think it might be possible to put together a reasonably interesting story. And it might be, except for the fact that you’re forgetting about the soft porn elements. And so, what we actually have is a plot that is tendentiously strung together between pages of descriptions of erect nipples and ecstatic arching and shuddering. Where Hamilton specialises in ratcheting up the “will they, won’t they” sexual tension for entire books, there is no such question with regard to Elizabeth. Damn straight she will. Then she’ll whinge a bit about the fact that her Native American shape-shifting mentor first drugged her, then only screwed her for the greater good so that she would be ‘open’ (yup) to the full range of her powers. But she’ll get over that quickly enough so that by the next night she’s begging for more. And this despite the fact that the man has a tattoo of a snake on his penis, which you’d think would be enough to send anyone running, at least as soon as they’d stopped laughing.
Then it’s onto the half-vampire former lover, who has now gone to the dark side, turned by an old Italian vampire who is also his father. A fairly feeble resistance and she’s back on her back, attempting to draw Jimmy to the light by reminding him of all the meaningful sex they had as teenagers, before he dumped her and then some years later, developed the fangs and the blood lust. It fails, she’s a sex slave for a few (thankfully undocumented) weeks, and when she manages to escape and save Jimmy, the first thing she does is sleep with him again. To help him get over his guilt at half-killing her and entirely debasing her.
Oh yes, it also turns out that Elizabeth’s gift as a seer is that she’s an empath; handily, if (ha!)/when she sleeps with someone, she also takes on their powers. ‘Never sleep with one of the bad guys, Elizabeth!’ warns snake man. I reckon that’ll happen in about book 3 of the franchise.
Now in actual fact, if what people want to read is endless pages of circumlocution about sexual acts, with occasional use of the word ‘fuck’ for shock value, then that is their prerogative and I won’t judge. What really annoyed me about Elizabeth is that she’s 25 going on 17; never got over Jimmy dumping her all those years ago; and is clearly so messed up that when she says ‘No’ she means ‘Well, if you’re sure I don’t have a choice, oh go on then.’ Sorry, but the pseudo-rape fantasy just doesn’t work for me. Also, she is less a character and more a collection of glib one-liners that don’t add up to anything substantial. I’d add quotes, but really, I’m not typing that stuff out.
The positive side is that this book only occupied two train journeys and half a wet lunch hour.