Author: Chloe Neill
Publish Date: April 7, 2009 NAL Trade
Pages: 341 pages, paperback
Reviewed by: ISALYS
Reason for reading: Given as a RAK gift :)
Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn't exactly glamorous, but it was Merit's. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker-and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.I actually heard about this book from my mom. She mentioned it to me before anyone else had and then I realize that it already had a pretty well-established following so I added it to my TBR and Amazon wishlist. Then one day, lo and behold, it appears in my mailbox :) Woohoo! At the end of last year (a whole whopping week ago), I was looking for a fun read to finish off 2011 and finally picked it up. It was exactly what I was in the mood for!
Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she's traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan "Lord o' the Manor" Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries' worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude- and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan's attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone's still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago's nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war-and there will be blood.
I liked Merit, but can't say that I loved her. I, like many other fellow reviewers, found her frustration and anger slightly misdirected. She was a 27-year-old grad student working on her English Lit degree when she was attacked on campus and left for dead. She was "saved" by Ethan Sullivan, Big Daddy Vampire of Chicago's Cadogan House. The only way to save her was to turn her, but in doing so she had to kiss her old life good-bye. We learn that vampires typically consult people before turning them, but given Merit's circumstances there was no time for that. She was pretty pissed about not being asked permission before turning her and decided that it was all Ethan's fault.
Her attack and introduction to the world as a baby vampire comes right after vampires announce their existence to the world. While I understand her frustration at "dying" and not being able to complete her academic career, I think becoming a super-hot, ass-kicking vampire who doesn't have to hide and who works for a hottie like Ethan is not a bad alternative. Death or vampirism? One vampire coming right up!
I loved the palpable sexual tension between Merit and Ethan. They have this serious "I-want-you-but-I-shouldn't" thing going. With the exception of one kiss, not much happens between them but it's only a matter of time! Ethan, while he has some major bonehead moments, is not without charms. He's a 400+ year old vampire with MANY other vampires under his wing so he's got his plate pretty full. Some of the things he said to Merit were hurtful and frustrating but considering his scope of responsibility, I can't entirely blame him.
The rest of the supporting cast was great, particularly Mallory and Catcher. Mallory, Merit's best friend, is full of snarky awesomeness; I loved her no-nonsense attitude and her quickness to defend her BFF when necessary. Catcher is a giant piece of hunky, grouchy man-meat and Jeff is an over-sexed shifter of unknown origins. Morgan, a vampire from another house is lovable in his own way and I hope that he gives Ethan some competition for Merit's affections.
The most interesting aspect of the story was the vampire politics. They are divided into houses, four of them being located in Chicago and each house is governed by a hierarchy. Vampires are assigned jobs by their master and they get an income for services performed in protection of the house & its members. It's really quite interesting and logical!
One of the things that I did not like, and this might seem a bit silly, was the fact that vampire-Merit, like all other vamps, crave and eat regular [human] food. In my mind, a vampire eating a hot dog is like a human eating dirt: not particularly tasty and has zero nutritional value. With the exception of Merit's sudden allergy to sunlight, there was little else to actually distinguish her as vampire and not a human.
Overall, there is definitely room for growth with both the characters and the storyline but I enjoyed and look forward to reading the rest of the series.