Stephanie's Reviews > Hard Bitten

Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill
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Nov 19, 2011

Read in April, 2011

"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 turning." page 88 Hard Bitten


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 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
by Chloe Neill
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: New American Library; 1 edition (May 3, 2011)
Language: English
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 500 KB
Publisher: NAL (May 3, 2011)
Sold by: Penguin Publishing
Audio CD
Publisher: Tantor Media; Unabridged,MP3
- Unabridged CD edition (May 3, 2011)
Language: English

Disclosure: Book received from publisher with expectation of fair review. No remuneration was exchanged. All opinions are my own.

Ick-Factor: Zero; Cliché-Component: Zero

Well, five minutes after finishing Chloe Neill's new book Hard Bitten, I am still crying. It's out next week everywhere. While I am still in a state of shock I have to admire Chloe's bravery in not providing us with the expected course of affairs. I was brilliantly drawn into the book and began about halfway through to ration my pages.

I've noted a difference, as I read more and more, between non-critically edited* books and well-written and edited books. No doubt Hard Bitten had an excellent editor but even more importantly a really good writer. Also, when Chloe describes elegant surroundings they are elegant. If I have to read one more book with an author trying so hard to describe the wealth and good taste of the wealthy vampires with their burgundy velvet and gold fringed drapery more likely found in a third rate dinner-theatre production of The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, than the home of a person with good taste I. Will. Go. Mad! There are few places where trying so hard, or decorating thus are necessary or desirable. My senses are also annoyed by large amounts of black leather furniture, glass tables, and inordinate amounts of marble better suited to Tony Soprano's house. And, the male vampires' long hair tied back with a leather thong they just happen to be carrying in the skin tight leather trousers, tight jeans or Armani suits.

Chloe doesn't over describe the surroundings. She talks about them when they are necessary or an example that shows the different traits of different Vampire Houses. While she does describe male and female Vampires as good looking she doesn't wax on and on and on about the men's sculptured chest to fill out a weak chapter. Chloe has, for example, masterfully written Merit as real—with traits like a love of Chicago through food and sports that make her "normal" and somehow give us enough room to place ourselves in her character if we want. By the time I was halfway through the book I felt that I wanted to forgive Ethan and run back into his arms.

Perhaps one way that Chloe avoids being overly descriptive is with the character boards she makes up. They give her a solid idea of the character and the story so that when she writes it down it feels real. Check them out on her website.

Damn, this is really hard without spoilers. At least I stopped crying.

And, I know Chloe has a "no-spoilers" policy. I just want to to vent about what happens throughout the book and not just the end. Vampiredom's governing body, the Greenwich Presidium sends an investigator over to investigate the reason things in Chicago have gone so nutty. The outing of shifters and now the uprising against vampires seems to be centered in Chicago and the GP doesn't like it. So they send Darius, the head honcho, the "Sire," over to threaten and belittle. Which he does, placing blame pretty much at Ethan's door. And, if you recall, Celina, the wicked bitch, is still on the loose and seems to be up to her old games, or is she?

One thing in the novel I noted is that there is less in Merit's life of Mallory, her BFF. While they still serve as each others' crying shoulders they aren't quite the same kind of BFF as before. This is happening as Merit naturally moves away from her humanity and more deeply accepts her life circumstances. I also thought how deftly Chloe weaves the intensity of Merit's change She uses the terms of respect, like Sire, with deep respect and only the occasional snark.

As we see throughout the book Merit is a fool-me-once kind of girl. She may sometimes be slow putting all the pieces together but when she does, and the action is over, it's not going to happen again. It is nearly impossible for Ethan to regain her trust and he really badly does want that. she wants it as well on an emotional level and sexually but is not allowing that trust to be regained all at once. Wanting Ethan isn't the problem, trusting him is the issue. But, they tell each other that as vampires they have forever to work out their issues.

Let's face the facts here: Merit didn't quite fit into her family; okay she totally didn't fit in. As a familial square peg I get that. I strongly identify with her, hell I want to be her! I would like to be able to deliver a roundhouse kick without slipping a disc. She doesn't even fit into the vampire world at first, she wasn't "finished" because of the medications Ethan gave her. But for the first time in her life now, having come really far, she does fit in and she matters. In her family, she was incidental and not the favorite. But in the Cadogan House she is important and she protects the house and its honor and she is good at it. There she is truly coming to fit in and be accepted. But as the saying goes, life is what happens when you are making other plans.

So that's my review. I had read some people teasing on twitter with "I didn't like this at all," or, "What was Chloe thinking?!" so I was expecting something to happen that was going to piss me off not put me into shock. I thought cliff hanger not cliff jumper. And, when I got there I totally didn't see it coming. But it isn't so much what Chloe wrote but the circumstances around what happened that reached right into my gut and twisted it.

Is that trite? I don't know having gone through a situation recently that I totally did not see coming but which has changed me forever I can see the value of learning what Chloe writes. If it doesn't shake you up you're way too mellow. I don't mean shake you up like "we have to make sure this never happens in our society," but more like "don't take this all around you for granted."

Upshot. Whoever you are this is a MUST READ. This really got me. Now it's your turn.

* By Non-critically edited I mean any of the following:
self-proofed and edited, edited and proofed by love interest, bff or most relatives, depending on spell and grammar check software.

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