Let's face it: It was the kiss of death for "Ardeur: 14 Writers on the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series" when Laurell K Hamilton suddenly became the editor. In theory, this little book contains fourteen essays on various aspects of Hamilton's popular urban-fantasy series... but with Hamilton hanging over it like a tattered glaring vulture, there's really little here but bootlicking.
Among the essays: why the series is supposedly uproariously funny (and why Hamilton's vampires are too dumb to live); how Anita Blake is the TOUGHEST COOLEST AWESOMEST heroine ever, and how her world is so much cooler than traditional horror; a defense of Anita's sociopathy and revulsion at "normalcy"; an exploration of the skin-deep legal system of the Anita Blake series; vampirism as a metaphor for race; Anita's arsenal of superpowers (especially the "ardeur"); and Anita's "Death" buddies.
Particularly bad are Marella Sands and Heather Swain's essays,both of which are incoherent rambles. One is about how English doesn't have any good sexual words, and how LKH's vampires are SO much sexier than those fusty repressed Victorans like... Dracula. The other spews venom on the classic "Jane Eyre" (apparently Bertha didn't REALLY go insane -- oh no, it was the Evil Sexist Rochester's fault!) while glorifying Anita because... she kills people and has sex. Whoopdeedoo.
There are some good explorations of Hamilton's work -- Nick Namatas explores "Guilty Pleasures" while deftly sidestepping the later novels; Lilith Saintcrow provides an intelligent look at how sexual relationships gutted the complexity and noir atmosphere of the series; Devon Ellington makes some good critical points; and L. Jagi Lamplighter holds the series up to romance tropes (much to Hamilton's dismay).
But for the most part, "Ardeur" is about singing Anita Blake's praises rather than taking an objective look at the series -- the good, the bad and the ugly. The writers dodge the problematic content in Hamilton's series, such as the homophobia, misandry, misogyny, Anita raping others and/or being raped by the sparkly perfect Micah, torture, and even sentencing a man to death for refusing to have sex with her.
Instead, we're told about how Anita is so strong/compassionate/tough/conflicted/manly/powerful, and everything she does is JUST WONDERFUL. Hamilton's massive writing defects (Mother of All Darkness' POSSIBLE death) are sidestepped, and sometimes outright praised (according to Swain, legal murder is "fun!"). There are some critical moments, but they're smothered under an oily veneer of forced praise.
To make matters worse, Hamilton elbows her way into "Ardeur" by cramming a prologue to each essay -- most of which revolve around her Tragic Life, her ex-husband, her evil grandmother, and how very dark and sexual she is. In other words, the sort of stuff she blogs about on a near-daily basis.
"Ardeur" has some good and insightful moments, but they're drowning in a sea of soupy praise and fannish worship. There was an interesting book in there, but Hamilton puts a stake in its heart.