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A Lick of Frost (Meredith Gentry, Book 6) by Laurell K. Hamilton
Review by Harriet Klausner
Ballantine Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345495907
Date: 23 October 2007 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Part human, part brownie, and part faerie princess Merry Gentry is trying to get pregnant so that she will be heir to Aunt Andais, Queen of the Unseelie Court. Andais recognizes her offspring Cel is mad and unfit to rule so needs to turn to other family members for the next monarch. Merry's presence has revived the magic that was dying in the Unseelie court and the Goddess speaks directly to her chosen one. To elude the assassination attempts from Cel's minions, Merry leaves Faerie and returns with her suitors to Los Angeles. These wannabe grooms were once gods worshiped by people and the one who gets Merry pregnant will become her consort.

Her suitors were also once part of the Queen's Guard so were forced to be celibate for centuries until they were chosen by a magic ring as being worthy enough to impregnate Merry. The princess is now in her lawyer's office trying to prove to authorities that three of her suitors did not rape a member of the Seelie Court because each has an alibi that holds up. The person who brought the charges is Merry's Uncle Taranis, King of Light and Illusion of the separate "gentle" and golden Seelie Court. Merry has doubts pertaining to her uncle's veracity and what he wants from her. Through a mirror used as a telephone with the real time image of the person calling. he tries to use magic to bewitch his audience which is against the law; his goal is to get Merry to come with him.

When he fails to compel her and the authorities are not sure they can trust him, he loses control and the audience sees he is a megalomaniac who insists his niece's suitors are monsters with horns and other deformities; the men look god-like handsome. Sir Hugh Belerus subdues Taranis and offers Merry the throne because he thinks he can get enough support to depose the king. Aunt Andais learns of this and is unhappy which makes Merry and the court tense with trepidation because the Queen is a sadist who inflicts pain on those who displease her and kills those she assumes betrayed her.

This is the sixth Merry Gentry novel, but it is different in tone than the previous five entries in her saga. Although Merry's lovers have reached double digits there is much less sex scenes then in the predecessors in this series. Still there are love trysts as she shares a bed with some of her men and cuddles with a goblin. Readers finally learn who she hopes will be her survivor by getting her pregnant and who she loves. Merry also admits that though she loves so and so (read the book), she will not give up the throne for love. Her sidhe culture believes that sex is casual and multiple partners are the acceptable norm so the protagonist should not be judged by human standards.

The readers get to see deep inside the hearts and minds of the suitors who truly love Marry and not just because the last man standing will be the king to her queen. Her men, all need Merry in various and differing ways. Series fans comprehend their desires, needs, and fears. Ms. Hamilton provides a little biographical history about each one of them with some surprises as for instance Frost was made by magic not born.

Laurell K. Hamilton gives her fantasy fans a glimpse into the Seelie Court filled with political intrigue and its belief that it is superior to the Unseelie and humans. Although she doesn't know it, various members of the court have differing agenda for her. Some she agrees to while others she refuses to consider. The Seelie king radiates goodness and kindness but he sometimes acts like a cross between Rasputin and Machiavelli.

This series is so radically different than Ms. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novel that they are like comparing fruit with meat. Merry is kind, loving and compassionate with hints of ruthlessness only if her back is to wall; yet she has a steel spine (like Anita). Merry sometimes is a victim of other people's needs, but she is a heroine. There are many surprises in A LICK OF FROST, some quite shocking for long time fans, but as always Ms. Hamilton provides a great urban fantasy.

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