The villain: I feel like we finally have a villain worth writing home about! I love Chloe – she is one of my all-time favorite authors, but one of her weaknesses as an author seems to be writing realistic antagonists with plausible motivations. I never thought Celina’s excuses for killing girls made much sense, especially so soon after she’d announced vampires to the world. And then we have Seth Tate. I just didn’t get Seth’s reasons for dealing mind altering drugs to vampires. Sowing chaos and then “saving the day” to get re-elected? Surely there are easier ways? Both of these villains were very exciting and great for the plot, just don’t look at their motivations too closely. Now Seth 2.0 – aka Dominic - was fantastic. I was crystal clear on his motivations and could even admire him for his intentions if not his actual actions. We finally find out what type of supernatural he is and the way it ended up playing out in the story was just amazing.
The plot: Thanks to the incredible villain, the plot of Biting Cold was one of the most cohesive, exciting, and well-constructed we’ve had form Chloe in a while (like two books).
Redemption themes: I loved the redemption themes in this book. Mallory and Seth did terrible things, and felt the need to atone (each in their own way). I was moved by their contrition and inspired by their determination to put things right. Poor Mallory was a shadow of her former self, but I loved seeing how she fought tooth and nail to make things right.
The humor: The humor is back. Due to Ethan’s death and the heavier themes of the last two books, we haven’t seen much of the light hearted banter that defined the first three books. Thanks to Jeff (I love that boy) and Lindsay we get a taste of the sarcastic repartee we loved so much. It isn’t fully back, thanks to Mallory and Ethan still being a bit out of sorts, but I have a feeling everyone will be back in full snark mode in House Rules, and I, for one, can’t wait!
The ending: Holy crap! If you thought the ending of Drink Deep was triumphant, just wait. You are in for another treat.
Relationship drama: Remember Ethan’s one step forward, two steps back relationship dance? Like a bad rash, it’s BaaaaaAAAAAcccckkkkk! I thought we’d finally gotten past this frustrating tango. By losing Merit in Twice Bitten, fighting to earn back her trust in Hard Bitten, then dying and returning from the grave in Drink Deep, we’ve seen Ethan grow so much as a character. In his words, he started to remember what it meant to be a man, not just the master of a house. His assertions at the end of Drink Deep convinced me he finally understood what was really important, and was ready to cherish and hold onto Merit, no matter what came their way. As such, his character development regression just didn’t feel right to me. As much as I love Chloe, I think she made a mistake writing him the way she did in this book – as if he hadn’t learned anything at all from the past. His reason for breaking up and getting back together felt contrived. The silver lining in this cloud – we get resolution on this issue by the end of the book, and promise of better things in the future.
I wish I could say Biting Cold is the best thing that's happened to the Chicagoland franchise, but I can’t. I can honestly tell you that this book has the best villain in the series, and one of the most well-constructed plots, but, like many readers, I read Chicagoland for the characters. More specially, I love Ethan and Merit. As individuals and as a couple, they make the series for me. And since Ethan seems to have conveniently forgotten everything he learned in the last few books and regressed as a character, I felt significant frustration reading this book. Chloe is heading in the right direction though. The ending of this book promises very interesting things for House Rules - exciting times are a comein’ for Cadogan, and I for one can’t wait to see where Chloe takes us in the next book.