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 too 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 yelseour hands...
After the fallout of Merit's relationship with Ethan in Twice Bitten and his subsequent mind change, Merit is extremely gun shy about giving him another chance. Of course the sexy Master Vampire only sees this as a challenge rather than a deterrent, as he continues to try and win her back. Things get tricky when Mayor Tate informs them that three girls were murdered at a rave and if they didn't stop them then Ethan would take the fall. With protestors gathering outside their gates and the human population up in arms of what to do with the vampires and shapeshifters, Merit knows it will only take one more straw to break the camel's back. Cadogan house has never needed its Sentinel more.
One of my favorite things about The Chicagoland Vampires series is the incredible dynamic between all of the characters, especially Ethan and Merit. From the very start they were polar opposites clashing with each other, yet feeling inexplicably drawn to the other at the same time. Every emotion between them is always full throttle be it anger, frustration, love, or even fear, making them one of my top favorite couples, or well love interests, as I can't exactly call them a couple in the strictest sense. What they are is complicated, yet everything is so very real and raw that you can't help feeling everything right along with them. I have high hope for them in the long run, I just cannot imagine anything less considering all the build up.
I have to confess that I read the end of this book first. I ver rarely do this, but after hearing the blogger community ranting about a shocking ending I knew I would not have been able to enjoy the book because I was too nervous and anxious to find out what happens. I'm actually really glad I did because I was able to calm down and enjoy the build up. Even though I knew what was going to happen, the ending still had the emotional impact intended when I read it for the second time, it is that shocking. I'm not sure I would recomend this method to anyone else, but I really hate to be too anxious while reading a book as it makes me rush rather than savor it.That being said, no matter when you read the end, prepare to be shocked. Chloe has said to trust her, and all I can say to that is that it will take a huge leap of faith. In the end I guess I will just have to take her at her word, as the alternative is quite thinkable. I only hope the next installment, Drink Deep will have things fixed, as I just don't know what I will do otherwise.
The title Hard Bitten really suits as this truly was a very hard and difficult read. However, I am going to be a good little reader and trust that there is a master plan. I just don't think Ms. Neil would have done what she did without a really good reason. So, now the waiting game starts until I can get my hands on the next book. Putting the ending aside, Hard Bitten was everything I have come to expect from this fabulous author earning a five star rating.
(If you scroll down past the ratings and challenge category you will find a spoiler section. Please do not read if you don't want to see a HUGE spoiler).
Okay, so Ethan is dead. See, I can say that calmly. *Pauses to scream* Or not. Now that I've gotten that out my system I wanted to discuss some things about this. I refuse to believe he is dead for good. I mean the whole dynamic between Merit and Ethan is so integral to the story, I just don't see how things could really work without him. I mean why would the author spend all that time building their relationship and make us root for them if he was just going to be eliminated from the story. That dream at the end really felt like it meant something, with Merit hearing Ethan scream her name as she woke up. Perhaps Ethan's soul is stuck somewhere and Merit has to find him in order to save him? Plus there is the vision Gabriel showed her of someone with eyes that were Ethan's but different. I'm wondering if he will come back as human or something? The only question is how, because as of yet there hasn't been shown a way that vampires can come back from ash. I'm sure in the end things will make sense and be believable, but that idea is no small comfort while we wait in agony to see his fate. If you have any other theories, I'd love to hear them!