Rummanah Aasi
 I told myself that I wasn't going anywhere near Hard Bitten, the fourth book of the Chicagoland Vampires, because of its supposedly jaw dropping cliffhanger. So what do you do when someone tells you no? You do it anyway. Thank goodness I don't have to wait too long to find out what happens next!

Description: Times are bleak for vampires in Chicago. Ever since their presence coupled by other paranormals have announced, humans have been rallying against supernaturals. What's not helping is a recent report about a violent vampire attack that has left three women missing.  Mayor Tate 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.
  Upholding to her vows to protect her house and master, Sentinel 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 favors from various contacts to get information on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in a complicated mess and discover things that will change her forever.

Review: While I liked the first three books of the Chicagoland Vampire series, Hard Bitten is my favorite so far. Unlike the other books, Hard Bitten is much darker and serious in tone. We've watched Merit train as a new vampire and learning about her role as a sentinel. She's sought advise from her other House members and various other networks. I loved how her training wheels have come off in this book and for once she is truly independent and doing her duty. This is a big step for Merit, who has emphasized time and again that she didn't choose to be a vampire. In Hard Bitten Merit doesn't seek approval but rather calls the shots and must deal with the consequences of her actions.
  All of Neil's trademarks are evident in this latest installment. The snarky dialogue was a delight to read. Ethan garnered the right amount of sympathy along with irritation which makes him so.....Ethan. Recapping of the past books was kept to a minimum, so I do recommend reading this series from the beginning if you are interested. The journey to this book is so worth it. The pacing was smooth and quick, with every chapter offering progress. I couldn't put this book down. If I wasn't reading it, then I was trying to figure out the criminal's motivations. Neil had me guessing to the very end. The big reveal was shocking in several ways. Neill showed excellent timing and skill in giving out the details while still withholding one or two very important puzzle pieces until the very end.
With each book we learn more information about the other paranormals that live in Chicago. We've learned about the vampires in Some Girls Bite and Friday Night Bites, shapeshifters in Twice Bitten, and now in Hard Bitten we get a little more information on magic, which makes me hopeful that the sorcerer contingent will be coming soon. We also catch glimpses of Gabriel as well as members of other supernatural communities. I like how these characters reappear throughout the series and not just used conveniently as a plot device and completely forgotten once they served their purpose. 

  I know I keep mentioning about the setting, but as a resident of Chcago I can't help it. It's clear that Neil’s fondness and knowledge of its many neighborhoods, its people, and its traditions is genuine. I think it would be awesome to do a Chicagoland Vampire city tour. I can't help but get hungry while reading the books as Merit mentions her favorite foods. I'm completely jealous that Merit can eat all she wants without worrying about her health.
I experienced a wide range of emotion while reading this book, but the last page had me stunned. I was so flummoxed that I had to read the last 5 pages at least three times. Even then I called my girl friend who is reading the series along with me to see if I had a defected copy. I think my words were: "What the hell? Did that just happen?" Actually, they were a lot worse than that. *ahem* I do get emotional while reading. ;) And that is when you know you are reading a great series: you are surprised at how stealthily these characters become a piece of your heart.
  I don’t know where the series is going at this stage, though I have some probable theories. Like many readers, I felt like the carpet I was standing on was whipped out underneath me, leaving me in utter disbelief but I think I can trust Neil to tell the right story for Merit. There’s a lot of fodder for speculation after this one as the events are game-changing. I know many are doubting to continue the series after this book, but I'm ready for the ride.

Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and violence. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Drink Deep by Chloe Neil (Chicagoland Vampires #5), Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep, Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance, Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, Kate Daniel series by Ilona Andrews, Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
9 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Hahaha a defected copy! I think we all reached the end and thought perhaps we'd gotten a earlier version of the story and surely the final version wouldn't have things happen this way? Right? So glad you're loving this series! Drink Deep is a slower read, but it has me really looking forward to Biting Cold:) Can't wait for your thoughts!

  2. Haha, Rummanah! You crack me up. Telling yourself no, then vetoing that decision. I probably would have done the same if the wait wasn't going to be too torturous.

    Looks like there is much to look forward to with this series, with each book getting better and better. Often the reverse happens with series books, starts off strong and then kind of lags...*cough*BDB & SVM *cough*

  3. Jenny: Yeah, no kidding. Thanks for the heads up on "Drinking Deep". I have a hold on it from the library and hopefully getting it soon.

    Missie: I needed more will power, Missie. ;) I read it last week so I figured 2 weeks of waiting wouldn't be too bad. NOT. I'm counting down the days!

  4. LOL!! Yeah, I had to go back and reread those pages as well. I was like, WTF, that did not just happen did it? I seriously think I read it like 3 times just to make sure I didn't read something wrong. I mean, it's totally plausible with an ending like that one. I totally balled and was all depressed for weeks. I had to read like 4 other books just to perk back up. HARD BITTEN was rough. But, I agree that it was the best in the series. Everything just came together and was so beautiful.

    DRINK DEEP isn't quite up to par, but it was still really good. I think it was missing something that all the others had and me thinks it was Ethan. You don't realize what a character brings to a series until they are gone. Still, it made me SO excited for BITING COLD! I can't wait for the next installment! Awesome review, Rummanah! You always make me remember why I love these books.

  5. Nat Says:

    Okay, I am going to HAVE to start this series soon! Adding to my TBR now!

  6. Jennifer Says:

    A friend told me the end of this book before I had read it. I still haven't read it, I don't know if I can deal with the ending. I've read some good reviews for Drink Deep, but still… sniffles.

  7. Lauren M Says:

    Wow! It's rare that a book a ways into the series becomes a favorite. I love that Chloe Neill was able to take her books to the next level! I haven't read this series, but I'm definitely thinking about trying it out. Thanks for the review, Rummanah! :)

  8. Jen: I expected book 5 to be a bit slower considering what happened in book 4. Can't wait to read it!

    Kelli: DO IT!

    Jennifer: I only knew that it involved a major character, but nothing else. I was absolutely stunned!

    Lauren: I tend to judge each book separately, but I thought this one was written perfectly. Everything meshed well and it left me thinking for days.

  9. LoriStrongin Says:

    Sad to say, I haven't come across this author or this series before, but I'm going to have to rectify that asap. I love the concept here, and the fact that the humans know about the paranormals isn't one you find too many authors willing to handle.

    Thanks for the awesome review and the rec!


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