Genre: Urban fantasy
Trade paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: New American Library
Release date: May 3, 2011
Series: Chicagoland Vampires #4
Source: Personal shelf
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 heartbreaker 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...
I cannot believe what Chloe Neill did with this one. I finally started reading the Chicagoland Vampires series last year and read the first three books -- Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites, and Twice Bitten -- one right after the other. I had initially hesitated to read Some Girls Bite because I didn’t care for the cover but I couldn’t resist the storyline for long. Now, having read the fourth book, I’m completely blown away. And more than a little flabbergasted because the author has done something that changes Merit’s whole world in Hard Bitten in the most essential of ways. I want to keep my post spoiler-free so I won’t say what happens but you’ll know it when you read it. (If you really need to know, you can find the info on the Interwebs but it’s way better to just read the book.) Suffice to say, I *need* my copy of Drink Deep to show up in my mailbox soon or I might expire. But I appreciate Chloe’s willingness/desire to write Big Events into her books and I’m sure the series will be even more exciting now that the proverbial bar’s been raised even higher.
(Did you all notice how the title theme has changed? Before, the word bite was in every title, and the sixth book is titled in the same way -- Biting Cold. If this is like what Rachel Vincent did with her Soul Screamers series (when the titles shifted from My Soul To... to If I Die and When I Wake), it could mean that Merit and her friends are going to get even more shaken. Woo!)
But enough about the thing I can’t talk about! The things I do feel free to say are all overwhelmingly positive. I read Hard Bitten in a single day because it was just so good. I had to know what was going to happen next since the stakes (haha, pun!) are pretty high in this novel. Ethan and the House are in danger of being put into receivership by the Greenwich Presidium, the vampire council that takes care of business, and the mayor of Chicago wants any excuse to throw Ethan in jail. The one he’s using? The vampire raves. This leaves Merit and Ethan in an awkward position as they negotiate their way through some particularly murky political waters: the GP wants them to leave it alone but Mayor Tate isn’t really giving them that option, plus their home is surrounded by vampire-hating protesters. Really, this is a pretty typical time for Merit since she became a vampire but it makes for some excellent reading.
Merit and Ethan’s romantic(?) relationship also gets a lot of time, which I like. Their relationship has gone through pretty much every possible incarnation and they’re now in a relatively professional mode, though Ethan would prefer something more. Watching Merit fight herself on this issue was great, at least for me. =)
Mallory, Merit’s best friend who recently discovered she was a sorcerer, also has a nice plot line in Hard Bitten. Like Merit, she’s conflicted, but not about love. Mallory’s life has taken such a crazy turn and she’s not sure how to reconcile her new life with the life she had envisioned for herself. It’s something a lot of folks can relate to, myself included, though I am obviously not a sorcerer. In some ways, it reminds me of Merit’s first weeks as a vampire since vampirism wasn’t something she chose and it was nice to see Merit take the adviser's role because it highlights how much she’s grown as a person.
I’m going to go stalk my mailperson now. Perhaps that will get Drink Deep to my house faster...