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 "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon

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Maximilia
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PostSubject: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Sun Mar 18, 2012 4:36 am

Now that I've finished with Rain, I decided to start snarking a professional author's book. I got the idea from [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] to do Talia Gryphon's Key to Conflict book, which is the first book of the ParaDoc series. Right away, I'm WTFing over "ParaDoc"... I have images of a parachuting doctor. However, in this case para is short for "paramortal".

I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it chapter by chapter since the chapters are pretty long, but I'll give it the old college try!

Quote :
GILLIAN Key, United States Marine Corps Captain, Special Forces Operative, former flower child, wiseass extraordinaire, also legitimately known as Dr. Gillian Key, Paramortal psychologist, was at the moment…lost.
*checks publication date*

Damn, she's old! The book was published in 2007, and if she's a former flower child, that was in the sixties... we'll figure about sixty or so for our heroine? Also, is 'wiseass extraordinaire' really a title one can get? This is not an auspicious sentence to start with.

Evidently, she is driving through the mountains of Romania to the village of Sacele, and she's a bit lost. Ok, no big deal.

Quote :
Gillian clamped a firm lid on her seething emotions, turned off the engine, lit a cigarette while rolling down her window, then leaned back in her seat to think. It would have been so much easier to fly into Brasov, but some fuckwit at headquarters had deemed it less obvious for her to land in Bucharest for the drive to Sacele. Probably some little desk jockey with no field experience.
(Emphasis mine)

DAMN! I guess she doesn't like getting lost! And, uhm, why would it be less obvious to fly in as opposed to getting lost via motorcycle? Less obvious to who?

She spends a few moment wishing she had said flunky under her command, with the intent of making them miserable, then mentally chastises herself for being all angry.

Quote :
“Goddess help me control my temper,” she thought to herself absently as she exhaled the bluish-gray smoke. It wasn’t exactly a prayer, but it was enough to bring her thoughts back into proper perspective. This was not a good time to unravel. She was early, as was her typical practice when going into a new assignment
Is there any good time to unravel? And damn, yeah, woman! You've been on this "mission" for maybe a couple days, got lost once, and you're ready to lose it?

Instead of pushing onward with the plot, it's time for an infodump! Yes, as Gillian is looking up at the sky, she muses on how/why she became what she is today. It all started in college...

Quote :
It all started with a Vampire: her lab partner in a college psychology class. Lovely girl…

Through her fanged friend, Gill had developed an appreciation for the inner workings of a person of Paramortal persuasion. Lupe was a fairly new Vampire, but was managing to keep it well hidden. This had been before the Human-Paramortal Wars of a few years back when Vampires were still creatures of legend and Werewolves, Fairies, Goblins and Ghosts still only stories to frighten each other with around a campfire or on Halloween.
I'm... a bit fuzzy on college. It's been a while, and I can certainly be wrong here but... does psychology have a lecture AND a lab to go with it?

...also, why is there Random capitalization Everywhere? And yeah, I'm not even going to make fun of a vampire going to college. Why not? Oh, excuse me. A Vampire going to College.

Quote :
It was a night class with a late lab. Gill was taking it because it coincided with her schedule in officer training with the Marines. They were paying for her education as promised, but it was on their time frame. Lupe was her assigned partner and a total bitch. Gillian finally got pissed off enough to confront her after lab one night.
... Ok. Let's keep going here...

Quote :
Her inherent empathy began flaring to beat hell when Lupe turned at her sharp command of “Hold up, bitch!” Instead of wanting to break the woman’s nose, Gillian found herself wanting to help her.
"Emp-Aid: for when your Inherent Empathy flares".

WHAT did Lupe do that was so bitchy? I don't know; it's never said. We're just told she's a "bitch", and that Gillian told her to hold up, and... that was it. That's all. Big whoop de do. You'd think if it were a life-changing experience she was day dreaming about, it would be something more than getting snappy with a college lab partner.

Quote :
It must have shown in her face, because the Vampire softened and burst into bloody tears as Gillian neared. They’d spent the next several hours sitting in a tree on campus with Gillian learning that even immortals get the blues, have problems, experience heartbreak, are dissatisfied with the direction their prolonged lives took them. The next day, Gillian had switched her major from criminal justice to a double major with clinical Paramortal psychology added as her primary focus. Lupe’s problems and needs fascinated her in a way no Human client ever could.
Gillian and Lupe sitting in a tree! F-U-C-K-I... yeah. Well, that's where I see this going! You know, that "experimental" phase in college? On a more serious note: HOW IN THE FUCK DID SHE SWITCH HER MAJOR TO SOMETHING THAT DIDN'T EXIST YET?! It says in just a couple paragraphs above this that it was YEARS before some stupid war or something, and they were secret and people didn't know about them... what the hell?!

And why, for God's sake, is human capitalized?

Quote :
That had been eight years ago. Now a clinical psychologist with the Marines’ Special Forces, Gillian had never regretted her decision. She’d done well. First as a Lieutenant at the Pentagon assigned as security during the first official Summit between Human and Paramortal delegations. That obligation had forced her directly into a field assignment that had turned out the best for all concerned. It earned her a fast promotion and recognition in both the military and Paramortal psychology hierarchy.
I would stop quoting so much, but the stupid... IT BURNS! All this happened in eight years. Eight. Years. And she's on the fast track in the military, woo! We'll assume she's awesome at her field which hasn't been invented yet dealing with creatures which people don't know exist yet, and that's how she gets promoted so fast. Yeah. What field assignment, is what I want to know? It says something, right there, a field assignment which got her the promotion, but what is it? We don't know! Never told!

To skip a couple of WTF paragraphs, we learn that she's here to spy on Vampires who might be working for Dracula. Being a field commander (?) for a special black ops team (??), she has experience doing such things as a single operative (???). Her cover is as a therapist for the "local Master Vampire". Ok... interesting, sort of. I suppose even bloodthirsty monsters need love too, right? Er, I mean psychotherapy. Except... isn't that her job? You know, what she went to school for? Maybe it was just a happy coincidence that her sekrit organization got a request for a therapist and she happened to fit the bill. We'll go with that.

Alright, we get more and more exposition, which is dry and boring. We do learn her hair color (blonde) and her eye color (green), and that she smokes more than I do, which is to say, like an industrial chimney. Finally, her mental meanderings are done and exposition time is over, and she's back driving again towards the village. She pulls into the gravel driveway of a cottage, presumably to ask for directions.

Quote :
She stubbed the cigarette out, yanked the handbrake and killed the engine while she opened the door. Eight years in the Corps had taught her efficiency of movement, to combine several motions into one. Sometimes it kept you from getting killed.
Wow! Putting out a cigarette and shutting off an engine at the same time will prevent me from being killed! Woo! I've mastered that skill!

Quote :
It only took a moment for her to flare her empathy around and determine that nothing with talons or fangs lurked in the immediate area around the cabin.
She really does need a cream for that or something.

Quote :
Visibly relaxing, she cast Nile-green eyes up to the cloudless sky.
Nile green?

Quote :
She took a brief moment to admire the magnitude of stars before booting the door shut and walking purposefully toward the structure, which looked like a very large quaint cottage. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she could see what appeared to be a castle farther up the drive, but it looked dark and foreboding. There were lights here, and her empathy wasn’t flaring…yet.
God damn! Is there no other verb she can use in conjunction with 'her empathy'?

Finally, she arrives at the door, and we meet the Stu, I mean hero!

Quote :
She stood her ground but inwardly flinched. He was tall, very tall. Ebony black hair fell in waves over his broad shoulders and silvery gray eyes appraised her from beneath elegantly arched brows placed on a harshly beautiful face.
Why is she flinching if he's a hottie? And of COURSE it's "ebony" hair and "silvery grey" eyes.

Quote :
The sensuous mouth opened and a deeply toned, liquid-velvet voice, beautifully accented, caressed her.
Hehe. I have the image of words coming out of his mouth and drooling all over her.

*checks* Damn, I'm only on page 21 of 713 in my e-book viewer. Jeez.

Anyway, they stare at each other for a while, and she thinks about how older vampires often know multiple languages and blah blah blah, boring tripe. I've seen all this before. She's all nervous because he's evidently So Hawt but also a Vampire, so she puts her metaphysical shields in place (LKH here, anyone?). He's all "Oh, she's perturbed, but also polite! And authentic! A real human at my door!" and invites her in. She goes in, but 'turns her head imperceptibly' to watch him and keep him in her sights. She describes a typical fantasy nobleman's cottage getaway place, and they introduce themselves. Gasp! He is the Count (why are all vampires counts?) Raclav! Who she was coming to see! I am so (not) surprised!

It suddenly switches to his point of view, which is rather jarring.

Quote :
He gently probed her mind and was a bit astonished by the roll of emotions near the surface. He’d never encountered a Human woman with her sensitivity, yet also with a deeply ingrained penchant for real violence.
All the genuinely sensitive people I know are violent too. Yup.

Quote :
For a Human, she might actually be dangerous, a realization that surprised him and snapped his own predatory instincts to attention automatically.
Oh, she's a regular spitfire! How much you want to be she's going to be put into a terribly embarrassing situation later on which will require him to rescue her so he can be a manly man?

Then, it switches back to her point of view. Gaaaah! There's a bit more banter, and he leaves for a moment so she can collect herself.

Quote :
Waiting for his return, she collected her thoughts. For now, she needed to do her job honestly. As a legitimate PhD, she really was there to help him and the local Ghost with their issues.
Wait, ghost is capitalized too? And a legitimate PhD? You think she's trying a little bit too hard to confirm that to herself? "No, no, it's real. I didn't find it in a Crackerjack Box!"

There's more exposition on what she's doing there, investigating his connection to Dracula, but also being a therapist to him and a counselor to the ghost. Er, sorry, Ghost. Aleksei comes back with food and drink, which is nice of him, and it switches to his point of view again. And this is where it gets really bad, really fast. How bad? Oh, just read.

Quote :
As he took the chair angled across from her, he dropped into it with the casual inherent grace all Vampires possessed, watching as she added sugar and lemon to the tea. Long, lean, muscled legs encased in knee-length black suede boots and tight black pants were casually crossed, giving the illusion of ease, though he felt coiled as tightly as a watch spring.

The lace cuff of his ivory lawn shirt softly folded back over his thick wrist as he brought elegant fingertips to his temple, resting a muscled arm on the padded chair. He was completely aware of the effect he had on her. Vampiric senses were registering all of it with alarming alacrity as he studied her reaction to his proximity: heightened pulse, faster and shallower breathing, blood pressure rising, eyes slightly dilated, genitalia becoming turgid and moist—a sensual perfume to his supernaturally heightened senses in the quiet cottage.
Some therapist! In a matter of minutes, she's already becoming 'turgid and moist' with lust for her client. I admit, I read about this in satireknight's snark, and I facepalmed then, as I am facepalming now.

Quote :
Gillian and he regarded each other. With her mouth going dry and other parts of her body below her waist growing damp, she couldn’t help thinking that he looked as if he’d fallen out of a Romanian Studs “R” Us, catalog.
"Yeah, I'll have the black haired vampire stud. No... no, the other one. On page 64. Yeah, that's the one. Oh, he comes in Count and Duke? I'll take Count. Thank you."

Instead of showing us how secksei Aleksei is, the author tells us!

Quote :
Radiating testosterone, sex and sensuality was just an element of what he was. It wasn’t intentional and he couldn’t help it. Vampires just exuded sex. It was part and parcel of the magic that inhabited them, plus it made finding and feeding from their prey easier. Your meal tended to be extremely cooperative if it was experiencing the ecstasy of intense foreplay while you sank your teeth into its neck and the throes of a monumental orgasm while you drank your fill.
Why thank you author! I had no idea that modern vampires are super sexy! I would have never thought of it! I imagine them as bloodthirsty fiends, but now I know better, by god!

Now, one would think... hey, this is a good time to move forward with the plot, right? Instead, we have four more paragraphs of exposition on what vampires are, and how sexy they are and how satisfied prey never bitched... jeezum crow! Skipping over that, we go to Aleksei's head.

T
Quote :
he small blonde in front of him had Aleksei’s mind in turmoil. She wasn’t particularly young in Human years, about twenty-five, perhaps a bit older, he guessed, but a mere fledgling in Vampire terms. Young, short, but with a presence about her that suggested she was more treacherous than she looked.
Oh, she's so dangerous! Grrr! Roar! She is woman! But then he immediately shakes it off. "Oh, she's dangerous, but not to me. I'm a vampire." And now, we get a description of her in more detail.

Quote :
He was six feet, seven inches tall, his frame was large, but he was lean and muscular. She was over a foot shorter and her delicate appearance masked a body put together with feminine curves supported by hard muscle. The way she moved suggested a graceful strength and a certain amount of coiled power ready to explode.

Not exactly beautiful, she was extremely pretty, except when she smiled. When she’d smiled at him in the doorway, his heart had slammed in his chest from her sheer loveliness.
The 'ready to explode' line has me thinking of Macho Man Randy Savage bursting into the scene saying, "SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM!" You know... exploding with power! Rar! Oh, and she was "only" extremely pretty, not beautiful. I did't know there was a chart for looks. She must be a 7.98324231834, just on the cusp of 8, which is beautiful....

It goes back to her POV:

Quote :
Plunging right in, Gillian began their session to keep from drooling all over her lap.
Oh, yeah, my job!

Quote :
Focus. Focus and do the job. Forget how he looks or what he would feel like rolling around in bed. Do the job. Just the job. Clinical. Think clinical.
"Forget about my moist and turgid private parts. Forget about his too tight black pants which leave nothing to the imagination. Forget about how I want to ride his fangs all night long... oh, was that out loud?" I can't think of a more professional therapist, let me tell ya.

Quote :
“The report I got from you said that you were suffering from what we would term fangxiety. That is, you’ve never totally adjusted to your…”—she hesitated over the word—“reborn state.”
Ignoring the stupid term "fangxiety", it's been four hundred years and he hasn't adjusted to being undead yet? Jeez, get out of your mom's basement already!

Quote :
“I have adjusted to the lifestyle, Gillian, but not to the circumstance. I feed because I want to survive. I sleep in the earth or with the earth in my tomb because I want to survive. I am not suicidal by any means, but I am having trouble looking at an endless eternity of being alone.

“The circumstances of my life have been difficult. I lost someone very dear to me over four hundred years ago because I failed to see what was before my eyes. Coupling that with the realization that anyone I do begin to care for will eventually age and die a natural death, you begin to see my dilemma. I am lonely, Gillian. Eternity is very long indeed if there is no one to truly share it with.”
... four hundred years mourning over a lost love. It's not going to be a parent or a pet or a sibling or a son or daughter... no. It's going to be a lost love, calling it now. And CRAI MOAR EMO BOY. He's the Grand Poobah of Emoness, damn!

Basically, he just wants his twu lub so that he won't spend eternity alone. Rolling Eyes Yup, I have no idea where this book is heading. Not at all.
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PostSubject: Re: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:18 am

Maximilia wrote:
However, in this case para is short for "paramortal".

Well, that cleared that up... :/

What the shit is a paramortal? Why can't these people just say "faeries and shit"?

([You must be registered and logged in to see this link.])

Also, from Satire Knight's front page - Where they describe those bits they find so infuriating about authors...

Quote :
Gillian Key's Suetry

Yeah... I can get that...

Quote :
and drippy private parts.

Ooooohhhh dear... No


Quote :
inherent empathy began flaring


Is this supposed to be some sort of Diana Troy Betazoid/Spidersense deal? Is it a superpower? Where did she get it?
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PostSubject: Re: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:51 am

Colbert I think psychology shouldn't have a lab attached with it. scratch then again I'm not a Psych major so I wouldn't know Razz
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PostSubject: Re: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:21 pm

Quote :
On a more serious note: HOW IN THE FUCK DID SHE SWITCH HER MAJOR TO SOMETHING THAT DIDN'T EXIST YET?! It says in just a couple paragraphs above this that it was YEARS before some stupid war or something, and they were secret and people didn't know about them... what the hell?!

One of the collages I almost went to has Bigfoot studies. All you need is a crazy as shit teacher who whines until people give in and will also 'lower' themselves to teach regular classes.
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PostSubject: Re: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:13 am

Chapter 2! (I'm starting this really late in my day, so it might be Chapter 2.1 and Chapter 2.2 later on, but I'll try to get through this chapter in one go.)

Quote :
He’d spent four hundred years harboring guilt over a lost love and mourning his lost Humanity. The love had been lost because he’d refused to make her into what he was. He’d let her die, and still he mourned her loss. Four hundred years was a long time to embrace guilt.
I bet he listens to My Chemical Romance.

I would also think in four hundred years he would, you know, get over it. And if he doesn't get over it, then nothing in Heaven or Earth would make him! That is one vampire who is determined to be mopey!

This comes with Gillian calling a halt to the session. We don't actually get to see the session; we're just told it stops. She then waxes poetic for a couple paragraphs about how the country house she's in is part of his grand estate. She then thinks about the ghost, er, excuse me, male Ghost whom she will be theraputing right on up too, and thinks that she doesn't want to stay in Romania permanently. Afterwards, she falls asleep 'deeply and peacefully'. And then the author launches into more exposition.

Quote :
Gillian knew Vampires well. There were good Vampires and bad Vampires.
Much like people, I would suspect!

Quote :
If someone were a decent Human being in life, they became a decent Vampire in their “rebirth.” Vampires definitely didn’t like the term “undead.” That was reserved for Revenants, sort of the mentally challenged of the Vampire world, who were not much more than animated corpses with the intellects of tennis balls.

However, if someone were a murdering psychopath in life and managed to be reborn into a Vampire, you could bet lock, stock and silver bullets that they would maintain their original sadistic personality traits, which would be coupled with an extremely attractive package. Those were the dangerous ones.
Lock, stock, and sil... uh. Uh. Why did the author change that saying? And hey, are all vampires (Vampires, sorry!) attractive? What about someone who's fugly who gets turned? OH RIGHT! Ugly people never get turned into vampires. NOPE. It's only attractive, sexy people, whether psychotic or not.

Quote :
Gillian had one or two dealings with a “Dracula,” as they were called. Neither of them pleasant.
Which is it? One or two? I think if they were that deadly, she would remember!

Ok, exposition over, she wakes up, has food, and gets ready for her next visit with Aleksei.

Quote :
His insurance had approved her as a provider for daily, intensive therapy for thirty days.
That's... actually an interesting idea. But if they've only been around for a few years, why would any insurance company (other than maybe a life insurance company, ha-ha) touch them?

Quote :
“Enter and be welcome, Count Rachlav.” Gillian recited the appropriate words for granting a Vampire access. She could revoke her invitation at any time, which lent her a small sense of security. He’d been in the home the night before because it was his cabin, his property. When he turned the keys over to Gill, it had become hers and he needed her permission to enter.
A small nugget of interesting factoid in this book. That makes a certain amount of sense, or as much as the 'vampire can't enter a home without an invitation' rule does anyway. Don't get used to it.

Quote :
“Thank you, Dr. Key.” Aleksei’s black-velvet voice washed over her, tightening her insides, making her blush slightly. Gah! Bad Gillian. Very bad.
*sighs* See? At least nothing is dripping yet...

Quote :
Mentally kicking herself as her own personal humidity index tipped into the red zone, she turned away to sit down.
I spoke too soon! That was the very next sentence. Gah!!

She thinks about how she can't date him for a year after he's done with therapy, and that she's putting on her Big Girl pants and squashing any reaction to him, badly. But it's Very Adult! Then it switches to Aleksei's POV.

Quote :
Aleksei had to admit that he was enjoying being able to speak freely with a trained professional. Gillian listened intently and he had no doubt he had her full attention. He knew she was attracted to him; any Human female would have been affected, he recognized without a trace of egotism. The fact that she censored it in favor of his mental health needs, endeared her to him in a way blatant flirtation or easy conquest never could.

Her comments were insightful, thought-provoking and politely stated. Thinking, truly thinking about how he had felt all those long lifetimes ago in the manner in which she suggested, opened up new realizations to him. Watching her as she listened and took notes, he was struck by the depth of her personality.
Hey, writing is an indication of how deep your personality is! Woo! I must be supah deep for writing all of this down!

What conversation did they have? We don't know! We're just told they have a session, and that it's deep and she says insightful things. What are those nuggets of insightfulness? No clue! I'm make-believing she's starting everything out with 'Confucius say...'.

We get a description of Gillian, including...

Quote :
Watching her tuck her golden hair absently behind her ear, he saw the small diamond studs she word as earrings. Multifaceted, like their owner. Sparkling. His mind drifted.
My stomach heaved. Bleeeech. Sparkling and multifaceted.

The author then lets us eavesdrop a little bit on the therapy! *gasp!* Don't worry, it's basically just to paint how his True Love was a gold digging bitch.

Quote :
He nodded slowly. Elizabeta had been his fiancée, strikingly similar in looks to the good Dr. Key. She’d been warm and silly and fun, but when he’d faced his greatest trial, dying and being reborn, she hadn’t “felt” serious about him any longer, though she continued to profess her undying love.

His heightened perceptions had found that Elizabeta had a gold-digging little heart. She’d been a commoner; the Rachlavs were low-rung nobility, but the highest rung on the ascending rank ladder of royalty she’d ever be able to obtain.

Aleksei wound up breaking the engagement and letting her go her own way. When she died two years later in childbirth while married to another minor noble, he’d been distraught at her loss. When he learned she’d died calling for him, his guilt had racked him through the centuries.

“Yes. Elizabeta didn’t want me, she wanted new experiences, new challenges, new worlds. She’d hated being trapped in the role women were confined to in those days. She wanted what I could offer her, Doctor, but not in the manner in which a true love wants something from their fiancée.”

“You were a means to an end,” she softly noted. It wasn’t said in anger or in an accusatory fashion, but Aleksei’s temper stirred.

“A Vampire sugar daddy, yes. That’s what she would have made me.”
... BWHAHAHAHAHAHA! A Vampire Sugar Daddy! (also note that 'vampire' is not capitalized there, for some reason. Huh) I would almost read a book about that. Hee.

I also get the feeling that maybe Elizabeta was just playing along with the bloodsucking fiend until he broke the engagement. But vampires are super sexy and hawt in this book, so of course he's good! A peasant from that time wouldn't have any problems with him coming back from the dead to feed upon living blood. Naaaaah. It's not an affront to God at all. Pfft. Perish the thought.

It switches back to Gillian's POV:

Quote :
Gillian looked up; iron was in that velvet voice. He was blaming himself because he’d had an emotionally immature woman for a fiancée. He’d been honorable, not wanting to condemn her to his new dark life, and she’d looked to him for nothing but the freedom such a transition would afford her.
Again, it has nothing to do with being with and fucking a corpse for the rest of your life, and possibly thinking you would lose your immortal soul if you became a monster like that. NOPE. I'm sure Elizabeta wasn't afraid of the demonic curse of the vampire at all. Nope. Just wanted the gold and status. Yup, yup.

Before Gillian can comment on how Noble and Awesome he is, something happens! Ok, not really. Aleksei 'stiffens' (snicker) up, and Gillian's 'inherent empathy flares' again. This is where it gets really lulzy.

Quote :
They both rose as one, her eyes on Aleksei and his eyes on the door. Ascertaining that he wasn’t the threat, she instinctively moved in front of him as combat training and experience switched to autopilot.

Immediately she morphed from Dr. Key the psychologist and became all soldier once more. Though her mission was foremost in her mind, he was her client, and if there was something outside that made him nervous, blowing her cover was the least of her worries.
Where do I start?!

1.) Aleksei knows she's a Marine, or former Marine. How would her cover be blown by her using her combat skills?
2.) Moving in front of a 400 year old vampire? Uh, why?
3.) She 'morphed'... did this include a flashy cut scene ala Sailor Moon or Power Rangers?
4.) WHY WOULD HE BE THE THREAT? She's stated that vampires (sorry, Vampires) move faster than people and in close quarters, she would be toast! I'd say he's a threat all the time, but since he's Emo the Vampire Boy, hes' really not anything to worry about!
5.) Nothing in there says he's nervous!

Gaaaaaaah.

And then, ever so enlightened Aleksei thinks his own thoughts about this:

Quote :
Incredulous, Aleksei stared down at her, noting the subtle shifts in her demeanor, body chemistry and bearing as she stepped between him and the door. She was going to protect him? The reflexive gesture on her part struck a tender chord inside him. This would not do. It was his privilege to stand between her and harm and his duty as Master of this place. Soldier she might have been, but she was female, Human and in his domain, under his protection.
I actually find this more in character for a four hundred year old vampire than going to therapy and whining about his gold-digging ex. I'd imagine if he's stuck in rural Romania, and the people here cater to him and his whims, his sense of noblisse oblise and chauvinism would be pretty much unchanged.

So, he puts his hands on her shoulders and she fli...DOESN'T flip him with a judo throw or anything. She's all like, "I'm a soldier and a bad ass, but if it's here for you, it'll ignore me." Which is weird talk for 'I'm a wuss, so I can take it.' Or something. Her logic here is not that sound. If something Bad is coming to attack them, why don't they look out the damn windows first and see what it is, or exit out the back and circle round? Or, you know, flee? Stuff that makes sense!

And like her cousin Anita, she also has a few interesting weapons!

Quote :
Her hand went to a spine sheath where she kept a long stiletto blade made of sterling silver and drew it, automatically distributing her weight evenly on the balls of her feet. The silver would seriously injure any Lycanthrope and do enough damage to a Vampire to buy them a few seconds of time for Aleksei to get clear.
The spine sheaths never fail to crack me up. I don't need to bend to sit down or pick something up... ever!!

The Big Bad makes its appearance!

Quote :
Any further discussion would have to wait as the door drifted ethereally open. There in a swirl of mist, a tall, cloaked stranger materialized on the porch, radiating power and menace. Vampire. Shit. Gill would ask “what the hell?” later. She threw the knife with deadly accuracy and purpose.

“My brother,” came from a deep, melodious, beautiful voice, a heartbeat before Gillian snapped the knife toward him.

“No!” Aleksei’s voice thundered in the room.

She checked her throw literally as she was letting go of the stiletto. The action threw her off balance, so she dipped her head and flipped forward instead of staggering into the new being. Regaining her feet like a cat, she found herself past the threshold, on the porch and nearly in the stranger’s arms.


I have another checklist to make here!
1.) If the vampire is visiting his brother, why is he radiating 'power and menace'? They have a family squabble?
2.) Wait... TWO brothers in the same family? One better have made the other, god dammit!
3.) She threw the knife, then he talked before she threw the knife, then she checked her throw ("checked" meaning "stopped", ie, 'she checked a sigh').... WHICH IS IT?!
4.) Holy Jumping Josephat! How hard did she throw/not-throw it if it propels her body forward and throws her off balance?
5.) And ... does the tumbling help? Does it?

The Stranger Brother Vampire does the normal thing one would do, and steadies her. She doesn't take kindly to people helping her!!

Quote :
Fingertips barely grazed her arms when she brought her own hands up violently, knocking his grip away and managing not to impale him on a silvery stiletto.

“Back. Off!” Gillian barked, resuming a fighting stance, knife gleaming and blood in her eye. The first thing she noticed was that he was now between her and the door. Fabulous.
He was already between her and the... oh, did she flip herself all the way on the outside of the door, between his legs or something? *scratches head*

Quote :
The new male moved, nearly blurring with speed, to grasp the knife. Gillian noticed, chambered her leg and power kicked him in the chest as he enclosed her knife-wielding arm in a firm, vise-like grip.
(emphasis mine)
I can't help but to imagine her chambering her leg like one would chamber a round into a shotgun. CHA-CHUNK! "You want some of this leg? Do ya?!"

The next bit describes her kicking him in the chest as he grabs her arm and takes her down with him. He 'hits an invisible barrier' in the doorway, making me realize... yes, yes she did tumble between his legs. Anyway, he goes down and takes her with him! She winds up on her stomach on top of him, which totally isn't contrived at all. Especially not when she realizes that he's just as GAWRGEOUS as Seksei Aleksei. This turns out to be Aleksei's brother Tanis. Wait, Tanis Half-Elven?!

Sadly, no. This Tanis is dressed in 'retro Noble' like Aleksei, and wears black and copper. He's also a count! And a vampire! So, that answers my other question from last time: YES, all Vampires ARE counts!

Gillian, of course, is quite impressed with him.

Quote :
Lovely, thought Gillian. Just fucking lovely.
Our heroine simply drips with charisma, lemme tell ya.
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PostSubject: Re: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:02 am

I also love how we're suppose to hate the "gold digging bitch" even though at the time being a gold/status digger was the norm and if anything she would have been looked down upon for DARING to marry into noble blood instead of just sleeping with it.
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PostSubject: Re: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:10 pm

bleachedblackcat wrote:
I also love how we're suppose to hate the "gold digging bitch" even though at the time being a gold/status digger was the norm and if anything she would have been looked down upon for DARING to marry into noble blood instead of just sleeping with it.

Exactly. That was mentioned in Satireknight's review/snark, and I'm trying not to touch on the same points too much, but that's exactly right.

Also, upon talking with this with a friend of mine, he says of a part...

Quote :
"so she dipped her head and flipped forward instead of staggering into the new being. Regaining her feet like a cat,"

Is it just me or did you imagine her "regaining her feet like a cat" by promptly sitting down and starting to groom herself?

Yeah, I totally meant to do that.

I need to get him to snark with me. He's way funnier than I am.
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PostSubject: Re: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:24 pm

Maximilia wrote:
Wait, Tanis Half-Elven?!

Sadly, no.
This new guy must be pretty awful if you would consider Tanis Half-Emo an improvement. :/ Although I guess that one at least comes with some tolerable side-characters friends.
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PostSubject: Re: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:05 am

Another exciting chapter!

Quote :
OH yeah, Tanis definitely looked pissed. Gorgeous but pissed, Gillian thought as she tried to contrive a way off him that just might resemble something in the dignified range. Shit, he really smelled good too, like pine forest and sandalwood.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

MMMM YEAH!

...I couldn't resist. Probably more of an incense-y sort of smell, I'd guess? I have a hard time imagining a vampire smell like anything other than blood and dirt though, but that's just me.

And Holy Sudden POV Change, Batman!

Quote :
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.
Small human females, yes, but not small Human females.

So, Gillian is all 'omg I don't know what to do!' but takes the time to study his eyes.

Quote :
He had the same stunning good looks, same raven black hair, but his eyes were golden, almost like a lion’s, and they were full of fire, leveled on her.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

Mm... sexy. Doesn't make me think of Satan at all. Nope. Or that there's something terribly wrong with his eyes. Nope, nope.

So, instead of Gillian bucking up and saying sorry, and climbing off of him, Aleksei intervenes and picks her up, taking her knife away. Gillian is just passive and lets him do this. What a spitfire! Gawsh! Aleksei asks if Tanis can enter her house, and she says yeah, if he means me no harm. In response, Tanis... wait, is Tanis even a Romanian name? Aleksei I can see, but Tanis? Let's look this up! Turns out, it's a girl's name, from Phoenicia, and it means serpent lady. Huh.

Getting back to the story, Tanis gives her the stink eye.

Quote :
Those gold eyes should have been warm, but they were chilly. Tanis regarded her for a moment, “I mean you no harm, but you are sorely in need of manners, piccola.”
So, a Romanian Vampire Count has a Phoenician girl's name and speaks Italian. Why is that nickname even in there? It's evidently used as a term of affection for a girlfriend or something in Italy... there's no affection there! OH WAIT. I know why! LKH has 'ma petite' and so TG has to have 'piccola', which to my uneducated ears sounds like 'Ricola'.

There's a sitcom in here somewhere. We'll call it Cough Drop and the Serpent Woman. She's a therapist! He's a vampire! Together, they fight crime!

Anyway, Gillian takes the 'needing some manners' bit as an insult, and gets pissed. And she 'likes anger, except it dropped her IQ by several points'. It can drop more? Whoa... She goes off, like a pistol!

Quote :
“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.”
Yes, because making the door drift ethereally open is barreling in. He was so intrusive, standing there mysteriously!

Quote :
Gillian’s voice was hard and clipped. 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.
Yes, please!

Tanis is surprised by her spunk. He's evidently used to people being civil. There's some stupid banter, and then it switches POVs to Aleksei again... and guess what? He's telepathic!

Quote :
Aleksei’s familiar thoughts came to Tanis softly. “You are scaring my therapist, brother. Could you manage to look a little less threatening at the moment?”

“She needs to be scared. You should have left her where she was: bent over my knee for a lesson in manners. You picked her up too quickly.”
Tanis’s heated thought came through just as clearly.
A spanking! A spanking! I'm almost wishing that would have happened, but then Gillain would be oh-so-mortified and fall in wuv with Tanis or something equally stupid. Or try to blow his head off and fail. As it is, some lulz and some pain were spared by not giving us a spanking scene. I will thank whatever god there is for small favors.

Why are vampires telepathic? Now, in some legends, they can call animals, and in others, they can call people they have bitten... but here it just seems to be an awesome trait to stick onto the vampires. Whoop de do.

Gillian forces out an apology, and Tanis is all 'Well, maybe you should have stayed on my knee, and you is gonna find yourself there if you do that again, stupid human', and she's all 'I can't blow my coooooooover!' and grits her teeth for some DIPLOMANCY!

Quote :
Diplomacy, Gill reminded herself, blushing at his implication. Yup. Diplomacy. The art of saying “nice Vampire” before you found a stake and a mallet.

She gritted her teeth and waited for the next glass coffin to shatter.
I wonder how many regular phrases got corrupted by the UrbFan world here in this book. Famous quote there, yup. 'Waiting for the other shoe to drop', yup. What about 'Don't count your werewolves until they've changed'? Or 'Don't put all your leprechauns in one pot of gold'? Maybe 'When you're going through a Deep One, use a chainsaw'?

Her version of diplomacy is to just do nothing, so Aleksei steps in and asks Tanis what he's doing there, and why he was so heavily cloaked. That's a good question! But if he's so heavily 'cloaked' that he can't bother to send Aleksei a quick mental message of 'Hey bro, I'm coming to your place', then why was Aleksei able to contact him telepathically afterwards to tell him not to taunt Gillian? Can't the Big Bad sense them behind the door? Is it a magic door? I don't know, but trying to apply logic to this fic is like trying to apply garlic toothpaste to a Vampire.



Now she's got me doing it.

Gillian says, sensibly, why don't you two talk, I'll take off. Hurrah! Maybe we'll see something like plot... oh. The book's following Gillian. Awesome.

Quote :
Soon she rolled into the town, which looked like a picture postcard from a fantasy movie like The Tenth Kingdom. Even at night it was lovely. She pulled up to what looked like an inn, judging by the rectangular sign that hung from the side of the building. It was a painted woodcut featuring a sleek, well-fed wolf lying on a hill overlooking a flock of fluffy white sheep. The sheep were positioned so that a couple were looking up, aware of the wolf as they continued to graze happily under its watchful eye. There was no sheepdog nor shepherd in sight. The wolf was the guardian of the contented flock.
Insert Generic Romanian Peasant Village here.

The bartender/inn owner fawns over her, like he would any good Sue. She chats with the bartender for a bit, and asks about Aleksei and the family, and the inn keeper says they protect the village from the nosferatu. Thankfully, it switches POVs again, so we might get to see something about a plot here yet!

Aleksei asks Tanis what's going on, and Tanis says 'Dracula', and Aleksei is shocked!

Quote :
“How? He couldn’t have entered the Country without one of us being aware of him.” Aleksei’s voice was calm as ever, but inside his gut was churning with anger.

“He has to have a plant, an accomplice in Immigration,” Tanis said flatly, starting to pace in agitation.
Man, I can just see Dracula applying for a visa!

Sadly, work is picking up here, so I can't get the rest of chapter three. Perhaps tonight!
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PostSubject: Re: "Key to Conflict" with Gillian Key, by Talia Gryphon   Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:43 am

Heh, took longer than I thought to get back to this. Continuing on with chapter 3 of "Key to Conflict".

When we last left the vampire brothers, they were talking about Dracula applying for a visa... or having a spy in Immigration to get him through... which, wait, why would Dracula give a fuck about national borders? He's like the king of the vampires, right?! The terror of Transylvania Wallachia? Wouldn't he just ignore borders on a map? But no... he's got to have someone smuggle him across borders... yeah. Let us continue!

Quote :
Aleksei regarded his brother’s figure as he roamed the cabin like a caged tiger.
Oooh. Do I sense some repressed sexual tension here? :O

Quote :
Neither had forgiven the Prince for decimating their family, for making them what they were. They hadn’t seen the warlord in over three hundred years. No one had, that they knew of. It had been assumed that he’d been killed by one of his many vengeful victims or by some miracle, had Faced The Sun.
Well, someone had if there's rumors of him moving about. And why is "faced the sun" capitalized?

Quote :
Raking a hand through his long, raven-black hair, Aleksei stated the obvious, “What are we going to do?”

Tanis stared at him. “We are going to gather whatever reinforcements we can, brother, and defeat this ancient evil. Now, collect your little spitfire therapist and let us formulate a plan.
"We're going into combat... grab your psychologist!"

Haha, well, Aleksei is just as confused as I am as to why Tanis Half-Vampiren would want Gillian along, and he says she's a soldier, and can advise them tactically! Wooo...wait. No other soldiers or military leaders were ever vampirized? Ever? Not even George Patton? Ghengis Khan? Brutus? Bueller? Why use a twenty some odd old "therapist"? He continues to "glower" at his brother while Tanis goes on about how Gillian can be used to manipulate him if she falls into the wrong hands. He met her yesterday. Wow. Dude forms emotional attachments fast. When Aleksei wants to know if Tanis will guarantee her safety, Tanis goes off a bit...

Quote :
“No true practicing psychologist would have lost her temper with me as she did.
You got that right!

Quote :
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.
Or someone who was completely stupid or suicidal.

Quote :
Gillian Key is not what she seems.
No, no. She's exactly what she seems: a Mary Sue, the not so rare canon type.

Tanis goes on to say that she's here for some clandestine purpose, because real psychologists would have not been so aggressive with him. Well, no fucking shit. She's about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but OH SO SUITED for clandestine work, and trained in psychology... so this makes no sense. Why would her superiors send her to a place if she couldn't fulfill the basic needs of the mission: ie, to spy and not get caught? So, either her superiors are stupid, or they're trying to get her killed. *sigh*

Tanis says he will protect her and she will have to put aside her 'idiotic Human feminist principles' aside to let them protect her. What I want to know is what the Vampire feminist principles are. Or the Werewolf feminist principles! Why do Humans get to have all the fun?

So, they leave to go find Gillian and "protect" her. Aleksei takes this time to reminisce to himself about his brother, for the benefit of the reading audience.

Quote :
Tanis was only five years younger than he, but he’d never gotten around to conforming to modern ideals and thoughts, mostly due to his solitary predisposition. Even as a Daywalker, Tanis had not been the most sociable of creatures. As a Vampire, he was positively reclusive.
Isn't "daywalker" a term used for a vampire which can walk in the daylight? O.o

Quote :
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. He rarely had lengthy contact with any of his prey, though he enjoyed brief female companionship when he desired a taste of flesh, but never allowed himself a deeper involvement. Aleksei suspected that was partly due to Tanis’s insistence on maintaining an arrogance and attitude that was out of place in the current century.
Oh, yeah, because men in this century aren't arrogant or have attitudes at all. Nope.

Quote :
The situation with Dracula aside, Aleksei wasn’t looking forward to spending time with his younger brother and thoroughly liberated therapist. He was already struggling to keep his own interest in her locked down beneath an iron will. The fact that she may have lied to him and gotten away with it displeased him to no end.
*facepalm* *deep breath*

"Thoroughly" liberated... heh, just like a root canal, get all those bits of patriarchy out! And if he was struggling to keep his desire in check, his will isn't the only thing that's iron isn't exactly iron. Let's back up a second here too... Aleksei thinks to himself a couple paragraphs back how Tanis didn't bother keeping up with the times while he himself did, but who was the one who identified 'Hey, she's not a real therapist cause she flipped her lid'? Tanis, that's who. Who's been treating her as a person, a rather aggressive and not pleasant person to be around but a person nevertheless, instead of a sex object? Tanis again. Seems to me the younger brother is less of a schmuck than the older, but since Aleksei is oh so secksi we're supposed to root for him and Gillian to get together.

They find Gillian... oh, good lord.

Quote :
He found Gillian in the pub, teaching Peter, Paul and Mary songs to a rapt audience of locals.
Peter, Paul, and Mary songs? Really? Isn't that a little.... dated?

Quote :
The interior of dark Gothic paneling, heavy carved tables, chairs, booths and paneling gave the pub an Old World charm and presence. The bar was on one side, the wall behind it lined with bottles of various alcoholic concoctions. All the lighting was from candles or oil lamps. Sacele was proud of its ancient Romanian heritage and kept to the old ways in many aspects outsiders could not fathom.
Inserting one generic Dungeons & Dragons pub here!

Quote :
Gillian was at the other end of the room, strumming a guitar while Radu accompanied her on a fiddle. Her enthusiastic audience applauded when she finished, calling for more.
Of course they did. The Sue can do no wrong.

Quote :
Sighing, he tried to explain what was about to transpire and eventually what he was concerned with about her.
Gillian listened without interrupting. This was very bad.
Hello author? Can we see the conversation please? This is actually a good time to put in exposition in a way that makes sense....

NEXT PARAGRAPH: Useless exposition instead of interesting conversation! How ever did I predict that!

Quote :
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.
No, no he didn't. He was a prince. That's not obscure! And he wasn't Romanian. He was from Wallachia. There's a whole other paragraph here about how he was a sociopath and hid it for a long time and all that, and it just goes to show the stupidly little amount of research which went into this book.

She reminisces to herself about two vampires who were from Dracula's lineage, one who was sad, and another who was OMG SHOCKER a Kray-zee! Oh, he almost killed her! She got lucky! Why are we reading about this instead of seeing this? I think that's turning into my number one gripe about this book. "Oh, no, Gillian's awesome! I'll tell you all about it instead of showing any situation which might actually have drama and tension! Plus, she gets soggy at vampires!" After a few paragraphs, that finally stops, and then we're being told about Aleksei's evil vampire turning-into time. Told ABOUT. See the conversation we do not. Again.

Quote :
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. 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.
Except when the Mafia whacks someone, they usually stay non-mobile.

Quote :
Frightened of what he’d become, he tried intimidation tactics without actually killing anyone and placing himself at the mercy of a bloodthirsty mob of peasants armed with pitchforks and torches.

When Aleksei intervened, literally stepping in front of that enraged mob to protect his younger brother, Tanis had fled.
And when he ran away, the mob dispersed peacefully of course.

Quote :
Aleksei surprised him by bringing a number of family members to the event and making an impassioned plea for Tanis’s life. He convinced the family and Tanis that they were better off with a reborn, live brother than a truly dead one. The suicide was called off, 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.
Paragraph ago the angry mob seemed pretty ready to end the abomination against God, but oh, some pretty words and they're cool with the undead living among them.

Quote :
Soon after that, in another preemptive strike, Aleksei had been taken.
Preemptively in reaction.

Quote :
Going from a thirty-five-year-old noble to a reborn Count took some getting used to.
scratch

And then for three more paragraphs it goes off and tells us what the brothers had been doing instead of drawing it out naturally in conversation with the "Human" who wouldn't know this.

Meanwhile in the present! Gillian is forming strategy!

Quote :
Facts, suppositions and strategies were all forming in Gillian’s mind. She was stuck there. She’d agreed to see Aleksei and she would honor that commitment. Now she was forced into another role of self-preservation and of consorting with not only her client but his family and the villagers as well.
Soooo... her strategy is to sit there because she's stuck?

Quote :
When Aleksei pointed out that he and Tanis suspected her of being a bit more than a psychologist, Gillian slammed her shields down with a force that almost hurt.
LOL. I know she means her mental shields, but I imagine Gillian pulling a couple of shields down off the wall and slamming them down on the table with her hands. "GAWD DAMMIT! MY COVER IS BLOWN!"

Quote :
That kind of reaction to his assertion was all the confirmation he needed that she was there with another agenda.
*snicker* Ya think?

Quote :
Gillian realized several things. One, she was totally screwed.
Not yet, but she will be.

Quote :
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.
Oh, I dunno. Finding out Dracula was trying to move in on the territory would pretty much mean mission accomplished, don't ya think?

Quote :
If she left, Dracula would be sure to have her killed.
Please?

Quote :
He did not believe in the mixing of Vampire and Human, according to what Aleksei told her at the pub. A belief not shared by most Vampires or other Paramortals and certainly not by the Rachlav clan. Aleksei was quick to point out that while he and Tanis were of Dracula’s direct lineage through the Vampire virus, they were allied elsewhere, in direct opposition to the Line of their ultimate creator and Master.
Wait, wait. In the middle of all that exposition... Vampire virus?! What? Don't just drop a fact like that and walk away!

Wow, this book is... yeah. In the middle of all that exposition, Gillian says one thing, and then it goes back to exposition. Why? WHY NOT HAVE THIS OUT IN A CONVERSATION?! Do the double quotes for speech frighten the author?

So, Gillian gets up to call her superiors about this, and we're just told she gets "special dispensation" to do as she sees fit. No paperwork to fill out. Just call an "emergency number" and boom! You can do whatever you want!

Quote :
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.
scratch

Quote :
The Marine Corps and the IPPA gave her their full support and blessing since Aleksei was wise to her anyway. She was on her own tactically.


Quote :
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.


So much fail in those lines, in just one paragraph. I'm not even an expert on military procedure nor the requirements to have a therapist's license or whatever, but "too drastically" for blurring the line? I think it's pretty frowned upon to blur the line between professional and personal relationship even a little bit. And if her cover was blown, would the Marine Corps... which why are they sending in spies anyway... pull her out of danger? And if there's an invasion, and this is done with the permission of the government of Romania, why wouldn't they send in more troops? Even if it WAS covert ops, why wouldn't they send in more troops?!

Quote :
The IPPA was used to dealing with crazy shit, but a full Vampire turf war was a new one. The Human conflict with the Paramortal world had left everyone a little obsequious and suspicious with each other.
... left everyone a little "servile and suspicious" with each other? scratch

Gillian gets off the phone and she and Aleksei drive back to his place and OH MY FUCKING GOD STOP WITH THE EXPOSITION FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! For three or four more paragraphs, it describes Gillian driving, and Aleksei thinking about her driving, and trying to read her mind. He reads a lot of turmoil and irritation there, and even though "Guns and Human thinking were irrelevant" he tries to comfort her.

Quote :
“You are a soldier, Doctor. A warrior, trained to be a weapon for your own people. I know you will not run. You may fight, but you will never run.”
Well, she can't run, so she's sort of left with the 'fight' option of the 'fight or flight' reactions, isn't she?

They pull up, and Gillian lights up a smoke, and Aleksei says to put it out. Why? Because of his brother, of course.

Quote :
“I’d put that out if I were you, and let me do the talking.” Aleksei indicated the cigarette as he exited the car.

“Because…?” Gillian’s eyes were cold. The alcohol was making her edgier and more reactionary than usual.

“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.”
OMFG she's smoking! How liberated!!

Seriously, as a smoker, it would make more sense to me if he said, "He doesn't like cigarette smoke, and with his super vampire senses, it's particularly irritating." The two things, to me, just seem completely unrelated.

So, she says she doesn't give a shit, and when Aleksei sort of stares at the porch, she guesses that Tanis is standing on the porch listening to them. Yay stalker!

Quote :
“Fuck.” Gillian swore under her breath. She didn’t want to start out fighting with Tanis again. It was late, she was tired and she was a little muddled from at least two bottles of wine. Alcohol had a tendency to subdue the therapist in her and bring out the Marine. 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.
This author has seen too many bad army movies.

Tanis steps off the porch and lectures her on the evils of smoking and drinking and deception.

Quote :
For a big man, he moved with the grace of a panther, softly and ominously, broad shoulders and lean hips all in alignment, his step buoyant on the crushed pebbles of cement.
Uh, panthers are big... but I don't think they move 'buoyantly'.

Instead of shrinking away in fear, the author takes the opportunity have Gillian march right up to him, take a drag, and blow it directly in his face. OOOOH SNAP. Boy she got him! And finally, the chapter ends with this line from her, Ms. Snappy Sue:

Quote :
“You pretentious prick, who do you think you’re talking to?”

There's probably a joke there somewhere, but I'm just glad this extremely long chapter is done. As I stated before, I really think the worst part of this isn't the plot, which is ridiculous, and it's not Gillian, even though she's a canon!Sue without a doubt... it's all the exposition. I really can't express how many paragraphs upon paragraphs I skipped over here when it could have all come out in conversations or in happenings in the book instead of just being told about it.
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