Originally, when I got this, I intended to read the other books that are loosely in the same series first. I didn’t in the end, and I think that might have impacted my understanding of all the terms and the worldbuilding. It didn’t help that I also don’t know The Man from U.N.C.L.E. or I, Spy fandoms, given that this is very meta-fictional and several of the main characters are essentially based on those works. And then there’s also my lack of knowledge of US history and places; this was the easiest to catch up with, since everyone knows something about Las Vegas, but still.
All the same, it was a lot of fun. Queer all over the place, but not in a way that felt inorganic — actually, I loved Jackie and Stewart, and if you’re telling me we weren’t meant to see wells and wells of subtext between Nikita and Sebastian, I’ll wonder if we read the same book. I loved all the unspoken stuff between them; the way they could communicate with just a look. And despite not catching on very well to the worldbuilding, I did enjoy the setting and the plot. It’s not really a spoiler to tell you that it includes such gems as vampire!Elvis.
Judging from Karen Memory, it’s fairly obvious that this was an earlier work of Bear’s, and her writing isn’t as good. But it’s still plenty of fun.