Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

Hard Bitten
~Chloe Neill

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: New American Library
Publish Date: May 3, 2011
ISBN-10: 0451233328
ISBN-13: 978-0451233325

From the author's website:
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 theheady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society--a world full of vampires who seem to 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...

Hard Bitten picks up a few months after Twice Bitten leaves off - Cadogan House has been attacked and the vamps are slowly rebuilding. Of course, things can't just stay quiet, and Merit and Ethan are called into the Mayor's office to discuss a possible vampire attack: Apparently vampires are having "raves" and the violence is escalating. The Mayor wants it handled or he's going to arrest Ethan. Merit starts investigating, and calls in a favor from a friend - Jonah, a vamp from Grey House, and a member of the Red Guard (sort of a secret vampire police). With a little luck, they manage to get into a rave, and witness the evening transform from a quiet interlude into a testosterone-filled frenzy - and they can't figure out why.

After a night at the local vampire bar, and another vampire free-for-all, things start adding up: someone's making and selling vampire drugs. Add to that the fact that one of the elite vampire leaders from Europe is visiting Cadogan House to check on things and potentially appoint a replacement for Ethan, and Merit is under a lot of pressure to put an end to the problem.

My thoughts: O.O *blinks* O.O

Hard Bitten blew me away! Although it's a 350 page book, it felt like a short story: I couldn't put it down - I had to keep reading to find out what happened next. Let's just get right to it:

Merit and Ethan were hot, hot, hot. I adore Ethan and he really worked at getting Merit back:

"No. I will never be far behind you." He tipped up my chin so that I could do nothing else but look back into his eyes. "Do the things you need to do. Learn to be a vampire, to be a warrior, to be the soldier you are capable of being. But consider the possibility that I made a mistake I regret-and that I'll continue to regret that mistake and try to convince you to give me another chance until the earth stops moving."

He leaned forward and pressed his lips to my forehead, my heart melting even as my more rational side harbored suspicions.

"No one said love was easy, Sentinel."
~Hard Bitten, page 88

*sighs* How can you not love him?

We also get plenty of Catcher/Mallory, Jeff, Grampa Chuck, and Lindsey. I was trying to figure out who was my favorite character, but really, I can't choose. Ms. Neill writes fabulous characters that are so well defined that I feel like they're my own friends. There may be a little wrinkle in Catcher and Mallory's world in the form of her magic tutor, Simon; I definitely sensed some tension there. Merit's conversation with her Morgan had me throwing my fist in the air :) I liked getting to know Jonah a little bit better. As the story progressed I liked Jonah more and more, although it seems like his feelings towards Merit may be getting... complicated.

We also meet a new adversary, McKettrick. With his "special-ops" team and his desire to get rid of the vampires, I don't think his work is done and I think we'll be seeing him again. He has the potential to be a bad, bad man...

I thought the drug storyline was a fresh twist to the vampire genre. I don't think I've seen that used in a vampire story before, and now that I've seen it, I don't know why it hasn't been done before - it's brilliant and potentially terrifying for the humans in Merit's world. I couldn't figure out why they were doing it, so the culprit surprised me. I liked the way the mystery wrapped up in that the bad guy has been outed and justice will be served (I assume). "The reveal" was *a bit* overshadowed by "the event", but I never liked this person and am hoping it's the last we see of the character...

And now, for the elephant in the room: The events on page 335/336 left me with my mouth hanging open and gasping for air. I will say this about Ms. Neill - she doesn't shy away from taking risks with her characters! The reason I decided that for me this was a 5-star read? The fact that the author was able to bring such a gut-wrenching reaction from me over the actions of her characters says a lot to me about the book. I was disappointed in the actual "event" itself, but have high hopes that the author knows what she's doing. The last page left me hopeful for Merit's future.

In summary, Hard Bitten is another fabulous installment to the Chicago Vampires series. I cannot imagine where Ms. Neil is going to take us next, but I can't wait to find out!

While I think you would enjoy Hard Bitten as a stand-alone I wouldn't recommend it. There is so much back story that you're missing out on, and the emotional punch is tenfold if you've got all the pertinent info.

My Rating:

Don't forget to stop by on Friday for an
interview and giveaway with Chloe Neill!!

This book was received by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Nice review Patti!

    I didn't like the end...I guess I need to read the next one before I can rate it :)

  2. This was a hard book for me to rate. I enjoyed the book but the ending was torturous. Nice review.

  3. I totally know what you mean about those pages. I've been told to have faith and I'm thinking that little sequence on the very last page may give a clue as to why I should have faith. I'm not sure though.

  4. I'm afraid.... *whispers pg 335* I don't know what happens but my book anxiety is sky high!

  5. Eeeeeeeeek *spoilers!*
    At least for me since I STILL have not read book 1 :(

  6. I just finished this book yesterday... I had never read the series before, but I was assigned this book so I went ahead and read it... And despite not knowing the characters very well, I just about cried at the end! AH, please please please fix that in the next book! *Cries* I hope I get to review the next one too... and that I get my happy ending, dangit!

  7. I really must read this series, I have heard some great things, thanks for sharing your review.

  8. I'm so very angry right now. Anytime you do what she did you're going to get the emotional pull that she does get. She's obviously a great author and a great writer--DUH, but right now all of my faith is gone in this series. Well, I guess not completely gone. If she fixes this in the next book (HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY FIX THIS?), then I'll re-love the series. Right now I'm just burying what I read deep down and ignoring what happened. Maybe I'll go read the last book that came out, just so I can forget about it.

    I was even so angry at the author for doing what she did I didn't even cry. No WAY was I going to give the author that satisfaction. (Not that she'll ever know it!)

    Also, now I won't read any other books written by this author. If I can't trust her to make me happy, why bother? It's Nicholas Sparks all over again. UGH. Except then I just read one book, and wasn't invested in a FANTASTIC SERIES. MOAN. Why would the author DO THIS???

  9. Ugh! I need to get caught up in these series I love!!! =D