Seriously, who would take these out? With these kinds of corny titles?
I did. I borrowed this and the following two books and devoured them in days. Ie. I finished books 2 and 3 on the road.
I started this series after I read Firespell, a YA novel by Chloe Neill. This was my moment of truth – I was reading too many YA books and searched for an equivalent to Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson. Merit kept coming up in my searches. I looked it up, rolled my eyes at the vampires, sucked it up, and borrowed them from the library.
Some Girls Bite; Friday Night Bites; and Twice Bitten are books 1- 3 by Chloe Neill. They’re part of what she’s calling the Chicagoland Vampires series. It centers on one reluctantly-made vampire named Merit. She goes by her last name, which made me roll my eyes and laugh. Ok, Merit. You got it. After you get past that part, the fun begins.
This is not quite your typical vampire series. As you know, I’m tired of vamps and their boring I-need-to-eat-you-to-feel-you stories. This one… Merit is made a vampire in order to save her life. She is attacked in the prologue – throat ripped out, blood everywhere – a victim of an attack. The only way to save her life really is to convert her.
Ethan Sullivan plays the love interest, sort of. He’s the Master of the house she belongs in (and he’s the one who made her). Mallory is Merit’s best friend (human) and their dialogue made me laugh a lot – there are references to pop culture – Harry Potter, Buffy, Spike, et al. Neill knows how to win me over. Mallory is also not a pushover. Nor is Merit. Thank you, baby Jesus!
In addition to the big honcho and best friend, there are many supporting characters who are well-formed as we go along in the series. Jeff, Catcher, Luc, Lindsey, Celina, Morgan… the list goes on. I really enjoyed Merit’s interactions with each of these characters.
Note: notice the ‘normal’ names these characters have? I love it. They’re not named: Ashlee (and other variations), Faythe (god, why?), Merry (no one is ever that merry), Damian or Damien (please, playa), Raphael (puke – what are you, a Ninja Turtle?), Sebastian (overplayed), Raven (seriously?), Cain (for real?), Cayne (spelling it different doesn’t make it cool), Tristan (kill me now)…
We might as well have it out. I’m also not fond of any other Ninja Turtle name: Donatello, Michaelangelo, Leonardo. So bonus points for Neill for choosing regular names for her characters.
Back to the stories. I’ve noticed there is a formula in Neill’s books. An introduction to the present-day, new characters (one of which is probably the bad guy), some smexiness if these characters would just get it on, a puzzle to figure out, and a battle or solving the case. I’m OK with this if it’s well done. Here, it’s good-done, but not well done. I think it’s too easy to guess who the baddies are, at least in these first three books.
Outside of this bubble and some really bad editing (spelling errors, etc), I still enjoyed these first three books. I had a lot of fun reading about Merit’s struggles as a new vamp as well as their newest soldier. She’s also not dumb – you read through her logic and agree most of the time.
Broadly stroking (if that is a phrase… no pun intended, pervs): Book 1 is about her transformation and adjustment. There’s also a Big Bad. Book 2 is her being Sentinel for the House, and Mallory has her own adventure. Book 3 is about a bit about the shifters and their background.
Spoilers (ranty): Ethan and Merit don’t get it on until the third book so hold tight. Morgan was someone I was hoping she’d date – her description of him was fantastic. You know I’m not keen on men with long or longish hair. Get a haircut,
hippie Ethan! Everyone seems to have green eyes. That’s ridiculous. Are we in Big Trouble in Little China? Then, write characters with brown eyes, Neill. I really really really love Luc and Lindsey and I hope it plays out HEA in one of these books, goddamnit. Mallory and Catcher getting together in 2 days (?) was a bit much. I mean, come on. Even in urban fantasy time, no one falls in love that fast. Celina coming back was good – I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next as the Big Bad. Gabriel and the shifters coming out was surprising at the end of book 3. My hope is that Merit ends up being a Master in a few years (or however long it’s supposed to take) and Ethan quits being so arrogant. I’m over arrogant love interests. It’s boring and it’s too easy to make excuses for – Oh I had a broken heart, blah blah, now I have to shutter that down even though I know I’m in love with you, etc etc. Lord. You’re immortal. You will get over it.
Outside of all that spoiler stuff, I still really liked these first three books. So much so I’m going to give it two thumbs up.
Grade: A for all three
Buy or borrow: Buy. I think these are worth it. (Don’t disappoint me, Neill, with the next 3 books…)