Turned into a vampire against her will, twenty-eight-year-old Merit found her way into the dark circle of Chicago’s vampire underground, where she learned there was more to supernaturals than met the eye—and more supernaturals than the public ever imagined.And not all the secrets she learned were for sharing—among humans or inhumans. Now Merit is on the hunt, charging across the stark American Midwest, tailing a rogue supernatural intent on stealing an ancient artifact that could unleash catastrophic evil on the world. But Merit is also the prey. An enemy of Chicagoland is hunting her, and he’ll stop at nothing to get the book for himself. No mercy allowed.
No rules apply. No lives spared. The race is on.
**Source: Purchased Copy**
**This review may contain spoilers if you haven’t read HARD BITTEN and DRINK DEEP. It also assumes a certain familiarity with the series**
This is my first review of a Chicagoland Vampires book on SWR. I started this series long before I started the blog and it’s definitely one of my urban fantasy auto-buys. I appreciate Neill’s world of vampire houses and supernatural politics in the Windy City, and I especially love Merit, a 28 year old graduate student who was unwillingly made a vampire and is trying to find her footing in this new world. Over the course of six books we see Merit move from anger to acceptance, finally embracing who she is and earning a place in her new family of vampires – the beloved Cadogan House.
The book before BITING COLD was DRINK DEEP and it was probably the most anticipated book in the series thus far. It followed a major cliffhanger and series fans were desperate to see what Neill would do next. Though I loved the book, I was a little disappointed with the end of DRINK DEEP (I’m in the minority here). I think Neill should have stuck to her guns when it came to a particular character but I’m a ride or die kind of chick so I knew I would continue on this journey with Merit and Neill no matter what. Enter BITING COLD. It picks up right where the previous book left off – Ethan and Merit are on the road to find Mallory and, well, save the world. BITING COLD had action, some romance, lots of magic, and a big mystery – Tate’s supernatural affiliation – is finally solved. BITING COLD was satisfying but not thrilling. I felt it was a bridge book between the revelations in its predecessor, to whatever Merit faces in the next installment in the series.
My expectations for BITING COLD were to have a wild cross-country chase as Merit and Ethan try to stop Mallory and Tate from getting their hands on the one thing that can shift the balance of magical power, a showdown, both emotional and supernatural, between two best friends, Mallory and Merit, and a takedown of Tate; I wanted to see an intense, unwavering, and inevitable reunion for Merit and Ethan. And I got all that. Just not in the proportions I was hoping to see. Ethan and Merit go cross-country but make it to their destination in the first couple of chapters; they defeat and apprehend Mallory in the next few chapters; the majority of the book is spent trying to defeat Tate; and the romantic reunion is stalled as Ethan, yet again, finds another excuse not to be with Merit.
I wanted this book to be a bit more intense with regards to Mallory. I wish there was more of a showdown between her and Merit – I think the drama would have been heartbreaking and emotional and made for a good story. Tate wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped and he paled in comparison to the villainy of a fallen best friend.
Regardless, it sure was good to be back in this world again. It was good to be back with these characters! Merit still remains a fantastic heroine to follow. I love her intelligence, her independence, and her integrity. She makes the hard decisions and sticks to them. And where Neill gets it right is precisely in the relationship building between characters. From Merit’s troubled friendship with Mallory to her partnership with Jonah, each one is complex and realistic. Neill also knows how to bring the action. Her sword wielding, martial artist vampires kick ass and the scene against Tate was teamwork at its best.
BITING COLD was a satisfying installment in the series. Although I expected something different, I enjoyed the action and the final resolution of the Ethan-Merit romantic tension. Most of all, it felt like it ended with a new start for the series. Together, they can face anything and I’m looking forward to seeing what that “anything” is.