Merry introduces herself in Lick of Frost, the sixth book in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series, about an American faerie princess. Merry is not a faerie princess with the normal faerie tale trappings. There are no fairy godmothers to make this tale end happily.
In the sixth book, Merry is still trying to get pregnant by any one of her many guards, and trying hard not to play favorites, even when her heart belongs to Doyle and Frost. Even while she tries to become pregnant, she must fight against the forces of the Unseelie and Seelie Faerie Courts. In the Unseelie Court, her aunt, Queen Andais, wants Merry dead because of her mixed blood, and because she is the Goddess’s vessel and is slowly turning the darker and more perverted Unseelie Court into a lighter, more hopeful place. The King of the Seelie Court, Taranis, wants her dead because she has knowledge that could have him exiled from Faerie.
The book opens with Merry, Doyle and Frost in a meeting with many lawyers, because King Taranis has accused three of Merry’s guards of raping one the Fae ladies in his Court. The first half of the book, the accused guards and Frost, Doyle, and Merry are making their case to the mortal lawyers and to Taranis. Taranis goes insane and tries to attack Merry and nearly kills Doyle. The second half of the book is Merry and her guards dealing with the aftermath of the attack, the demands and perversions of Andais, and a treaty that they have with the goblins.
Their plans go astray when the Goddess and Horned God use Merry and Doyle as vessels and once again alter the dying Faerie and Goblin races, by re-creating and changing them, almost restoring them to their former glory. The price is a sacrifice: Frost’s Fae form. He is turned into a stag, the sacrificial king, and Merry mourns, because she is finally pregnant with twins, and he is one of the fathers.
After, Merry is captured by Taranis posing as one of her guards. He punches her to knock her out, and when she wakes up, she is naked in his bed. She panics and fears that he raped her and hurt the babies. The members of his Court help her escape and she speaks to the human press about Taranis’s actions. The book ends with her being taken to the hospital, clutching Doyle and mourning Frost. She says, “I had won the race to sit on the throne of the Unseelie Court and it was bitter ashes on my tongue.”
Hamilton is known for her dark, sexual writing, in both the Merry Gentry series and in other series, Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. With her Merry Gentry books, she has continually challenged the limits, both with the sexual encounters of the characters and the level of danger the characters are in. Merry in continually in danger to the point of life or death and is constantly tested in her emotions. Hamilton also delves deep into the Faerie world and the unique legends, which are mainly from the older Irish tales, and gives them a dark twist. All of her books are page-turners.
Lick of Frost is just as compelling as her other Merry Gentry books. Once you started reading, you couldn’t stop until you reached the end. She brings back many favorite characters, among them Frost and Merry, and several others in Merry’s guard, although many of the characters play minor roles in this book. But Lick of Frost is not her best Merry Gentry book.
It could be that I am prejudice against Lick of Frost because Hamilton sacrificed Frost, who was my favorite among Merry’s guards. But Merry’s goal to become pregnant has been fulfilled, which means that the next book in the series is going to be very different from the previous six. This is the turning point in the series. I believe that this is the last book that will still be as high tension as her previous books have been; her next Merry Gentry book will probably be more along the lines of Merry waiting in hiding while she is pregnant. Even Lick of Frost wasn’t as dark as the previous five books. It lacked many of the Faerie legends and tales that the other books had and didn’t have as much character development as her other books. Readers who love Hamilton’s sex scenes will also be disappointed; there are only two in Lick of Frost.
The book does leave the taste of bitter ashes in my mouth.