Laurell K. Hamilton
Reprint edition: 2004:
The Amazon.com product description:
Published over ten years ago by Ace, Guilty Pleasures marked the debut of a series that was destined to grow from cult favorite to a major New York Times bestseller. Now, for long-time Anita Blake junkies and newfound fans, Guilty Pleasures makes its trade paperback debut. Readers will learn how Anita Blake started raising the dead-and killing the undead. And how she met Jean Claude, the master vampire destined to become not only her biggest nemesis, but her greatest lover...It's been long enough since I read Guilty Pleasures that when I began rereading it a few days ago, it was almost like I'd never read the book before. The entire plot felt more or less unfamiliar to me. Interestingly though, I do remember that at that time it wasn't one of my favorite books in the series. Now, I really couldn't say why that was - unless because I started reading at Burnt Offerings if I remember correctly, I was looking for characters I had become familiar with in the later books. This time though, there was none of that. I simply kept turning the pages until I'd finished reading the book.
Are you looking for a female character who isn't afraid to do what she needs to and who takes charge of her life without simply waiting for circumstances to come to her? That's Anita Blake, sometimes called "The Executioner" for her role as a vampire hunter - mostly on the correct side of the law when doing so too. And she's only one of the cast of characters. We also meet up with some other characters who will play larger roles in future books, such as Edward.
For all that Guilty Pleasures is the first book in the series, it both stands alone and serves as an introduction to an interesting world. One where the supernatural is known about and has a legal place. In that, this series is similar to the books by Patricia Briggs, except that most of the legal wrangling has already happened here. That's one of the things about this series that I remember enjoying the last time around - that rather than complete secrecy being one of the driving elements of the story (for example the J.R. Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood books, or Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters series), there are actual legal procedures to follow and things are more open. Perhaps not all the details, but the broad strokes are known about - not that that erases all the prejudice.
My one caution with this series is to be prepared for some fairly vivid scenes. One of the things Anita does in the course of her work is to work with the police - sometimes on murder scenes. And then there's her "day" job, where she works as an animator - which is also a somewhat gruesome job it seems.
In terms of the series overall, I believe I stopped reading around the time Bullet was released, so I definitely will have some catching up to do, but I'm looking forward to it. However, I'm finding the way that I've chosen to buy the books this time to have one minor downside: I've gone for the five-book bundle for the first five, and that makes it harder to judge where I am in any particular book - they come as one large file on the e-reader. Not that that's going to deter me. In at least one way it's actually going to be an advantage rather than a disadvantage - keeping the books in order will be a whole lot simpler!