by Chloe Neill
Chicagoland Vampires #4
Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals-and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heart breaker Ethan Sullivan are...tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.
Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society-a world full of vampires who seem ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands...
Often in series there is a safe and sometimes predictability to the characters and story once you are few books into the series. But even though Hard Bitten is the fourth installment of the Chicagoland Vampire series, it is by no means predictable.
Hard Bitten picks up where Twice Bitten leaves off. The Cadogan House is trying to put their house back together, physically and mentally. And of course Merit and Ethan are still dealing with their complex relationship. Ethan is trying to get Merit to forgive him and trust him with her heart after he broke it. Ethan is doing what most people either can't or won't do, and that is change.
Merit is too afraid to think that his changes are true and if they are, what they mean for them. She's not ready to let her guard down. But even though their romantic relationship is still on hold, they go through a rebuilding of their own. Their ability to trust one another in their work relationship as Mater and Sentinel along with a friendship is slowly growing . But that doesn't mean there's not still some sexually intense moments between the two.
The supporting cast of characters like Merit's grandfather, Mallory her BFF, Catcher, Jeff and some of the familiar faces at Cadogan House is back in Hard Bitten. And there is a return of an old enemy with an unsuspected tie to a "new" enemy.
As things unfold during the book we are presented with mind blowing new information surrounding Merit's change from human to vampire that night on the college campus in the first book, Some Girls Bite. And just as Merit is face with this new info she is slapped in the face with an even harder reality as her life and that of the Cadogan House changes forever.
Ms. Neill does a wonderful job with the plot and how it answers some old questions in the series and keeps us hanging on for the answers to the new questions that is brought up in this installment. She slams you with so much emotional whiplash in the last two chapters that you are left feeling, much like I image Merit feels, WTF do I do with this?!
The title Hard Bitten is right on the mark is so many ways. One being that fans have got to be biting back tears after reading this one and both loving and hating Ms. Neill for her genius writing.
I cannot wait to read Drink Deep in November to see what is in Merit's future.