I have to say that I'm not including unpublished books written by teenagers. If another kid handed me their book on the bus on a field trip in 9th grade, this would be EXACTLY what I was expecting. It just makes no fucking sense as an actual published book written by an adult, and that has nothing to do with being cheesy or trashy--it's like when you're doing NaNoWriMo and you just write as much as possible about any random subject you can think of, just to take up space.
Most egregiously, The Harlequin is supposed to be about the Harlequin, which are some super scary secret vampires who have decided they want to hurt Anita Blake and all of her boyfriends, but for the first half of the book, LKH can barely bring herself to write a few sentences about the Harlequin even though Anita and her boyfriends are supposedly in great danger.
Anita Blake is this Mary Sue lady who is a human but not, also sort of a werewolf/werehyena/werelion/wereleopard but she never actually transforms because her body hasn't decided what kind of animal it's going to turn into. She has a psychic link with a lot of her boyfriends, including Jean-Claude the vampire, Richard the werewolf, and Micah the wereleopard. She also needs to have sex with several people a day or she will die and so will 2 of her boyfriends (Nathaniel the wereleopard and Damian the vampire). There's also a part about how she has to eat food or she'll die but someone will have to inform Laurell K. Hamilton that this isn't a power.
Oops, I just found this half-finished review six months later, so I will have to try to remember what the book was about. I think Anita might have a house and a job, but in this book she was staying at Jean-Claude's giant mansion, which I think might be under his nightclub, but I can't remember. The plot of the first half of the book is something like this:
1)Anita finds out that the Harlequin are after her?? Whatever.
2)Anita goes to the movies with Nathaniel. They run into some people who saw them performing at a sex club. Anita has a really long conversation with Nathaniel about the fake name he gave those people. Then, Anita finds a mask in the bathroom which is a message from the Harlequin that they are spying on her, but that they won't use any magic on her.
3)Then, for about a billion chapters, Nathaniel, who is a masochist, wants Anita to top him and she doesn't want to. Nathaniel acts like he is going to break up with her if she doesn't do what he wants. He seems like a real asshole but the book doesn't even acknowledge what an asshole he is and just says he is an adorable woobie. Also, practically everyone keeps asking them about it so Nathaniel and Anita have to describe in painstaking detail about how Anita isn't being GGG.
4)Then for a long time the book is about Richard, the werewolf. He hates being a werewolf and he hates that Anita has other boyfriends! What in the world? How could you date someone who has 5+ boyfriends and do nothing but complain about how you want her to have only one boyfriend? Especially if she needs to have sex multiple times a day or she'll die. At this point if you care about being monogamous you need to date someone else.
5)Occasionally, the characters get unusually emotional. Like, Anita gets really attracted to her own boyfriend. Or Richard gets really mad. Then everyone is like, "IT'S THE HARLEQUIN! They said they wouldn't do anything to us but they are controlling our emotions!" But you guys, you are acting normal. Richard is always mad and Anita is always attracted to her boyfriends because there needs to be a lot of sex in the book because of the type of book it is.
6)Jean-Claude has a million bodyguards at his house and one of them was saying Anita was hot and she was mad about it--this whole thing took a fair amount of time--and then maybe he turned evil. Anita mentioned how this girl had kind of a grumpy expression, and later that girl randomly turned evil. I don't remember. Apparently this book is infamous because Anita has a guy killed for refusing to have sex with her, and I do remember that part, but like, it honestly wasn't that notable compared to the rest of the book.
7)When Anita was complaining about the bodyguard, she really wanted us to know that he was Asian. She said something like, "His mom was Chinese and his dad was Japanese. I wondered how they felt about his rude behavior."
8)There was a sex scene with the following line: "He smelled smoky, not like cigarettes, but wood smoke, and salt, like some food that had been smoked and salted, until the meat was flavored and tender and so ready to eat." Yes, he was sexy because he smelled like cooked meat. That is my jam as well.
9)Eventually they had a showdown with the Harlequin but who cares. The book was 30% Nathaniel wanted Anita to top him, 30% Richard was jealous, 30% a lot of dramatic stuff happened at a hospital and everyone almost died, and in the final 10% of the book the Harlequin stuff happened.
10)Also, there is this sexy werelion who Anita is drawn to even though he's evil. He is really into Cookie Monster so he dyes his hair the same color as Cookie Monster and he has a tattoo of him. I know this sounds like a manic pixie dream lion but I promise, it was supposed to be edgy and evil that this all powerful beast is sitting around watching Sesame Street.
And that's what you missed in The Harlequin.