Mistral's Kiss

by Laurell K. Hamilton

Cover image

Series: Merry Gentry #5
Publisher: Ballantine
Copyright: 2006
ISBN: 0-345-44358-6
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 212

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This is the fifth book in the Merry Gentry series and picks up very shortly after A Stroke of Midnight. This book thankfully has no extended recap of the previous book, so you don't want to read it out of order (and it's helpful to remember events from the previous book).

It's not a good sign for this series that in a short, 212-page book, Mistral's Kiss opens with a repetitive and overly-detailed sex scene that runs (with only a brief plot interruption) for over 60 pages. Or that there's another extended sex scene later in the book. And unlike previous books in this series, there's very little plot-wise happening during those scenes other than pretty light shows. Even with a generous counting of plot developments hidden beneath the sex, a good quarter of this book was boring descriptions of the entwining of naked bodies (and another quarter at least is angst over who gets to have the sex). I'm fairly sure Merry spent the entire book naked except for a cloak she gets towards the end.

The only reason for putting up with this is that, outside of the sex scenes, the plot is still interesting. This book is a bit of a side story that doesn't address much Merry's ongoing conflict with the Seelie Court or with the Queen, but it does set up some explosions that look scheduled for the next entry. The ending is the best part of the book and is reminiscent of the endings of some of the earlier books in the series: Merry manages to turn the tide of the battle by guesswork and instinct, with some nice sense of wonder bits thrown in.

Unfortunately for the good parts of the plot, Hamilton seems to have set up a structure where Merry has to sleep with everyone in faerie in order to bring it back to life. At the moment, we're dutifully running down the list, finding some new part of faerie for Merry to show she honors, isn't afraid of, and will have sex with to bring their magic back. Even very good descriptions wouldn't prevent this from becoming tiresome, and the descriptions in Mistral's Kiss aren't top-notch.

It was nice to see the slaugh return, I liked the concluding battle, and the few confrontations between Merry and the Queen (and the conflict around Merry's seelie side) were tantalizing. Otherwise, this was a forgettable entry in the series and a worrisome slide into yet more sexual detail. When Hamilton started this on the Anita Blake series, it just got worse and worse. Here's hoping that in this series the plot will return in full force in the next book and sideline the sex again; thankfully, the ending offers some hope that this will be the case.

Followed by A Lick of Frost.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2007-01-03

Last modified and spun 2014-12-21