There was a time when a new Laurell K Hamilton book was time for celebration - curling up, switching off my phone and reading until the last page had turned. Her character Anita Blake was a kick ass heroine with principles and spooky abilities. Over time (since around book 9) the Anita Blake series has headed downhill - round about the time Merry Gentry came on the scene. Originally Hamilton created Merry Gentry to get out of her system all the weird sexual kicks she clearly has, and to take the fantastical elements of her stories to new areas, but gradually both series became filled with sex, the plots collapsed and eventually my reaction to a new book in either series was 'meh'.
So I picked A Lick of Frost up without many expectations and only because I found it cheap in a charity bookstore. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It still wasn't the page-turning supernatural horror of the early Blake books, but the story sped along and there was actually some plot to speak of.
The plot is still pretty slight - in fact, it is hard to delve into any of what happened without giving away some pretty big spoilers, so I am not going to even try!
I also have some other big complaints - the cast of men 'belonging' to Merry is hard to tell apart, except for a select couple. There is very little character development barring the usual monologuing that Merry does about how hard her life is. The sex is uncomfortable rather than titillating to read - especially when Hamilton adds in all the rough stuff. Finally, Merry (and Anita, to be perfectly honest) are complete Mary Sues, and it is difficult to hear about how perfect they are at everything they do.
So, huge improvements on recent books, but still a lot lacking from earlier books by Ms Hamilton.