Blood Games by Chloe Neill
My Rating: 5 of 5 Very Hot Stars
Let me get it out of the way right up front. I’m not a fan of this cover. I’m not a fan of many of the covers in this series, I’m afraid. No insult intended, and I’m sure many readers love them, but to me, none of them have conveyed the “feel” of the books, and all of them have made our heroine, Merit, look so much less than she is. This is a personal opinion, only, but I doubt that I would ever pick up a single one of the books based on the cover. Thank goodness I didn’t have to. I got hooked on the Chicagoland Vampires series on my black and white Kindle, and it almost never opens with the cover, but instead, jumps right to the story.
All of that being said, “hooked” is the operative word in the above paragraph. I love this series as much as any I’ve ever read (well, excluding The Dresden Files, of course…let’s not go crazy, here). Merit is a great heroine, smart, sassy, brave, loyal, and funny. Her liege, the truly hunky Ethan Sullivan, is elegant, refined, handsome, well-dressed, urbane, and totally committed to the safety and well being of the vampires of Cadogan House. He is also 400 years old, and there was a time when he was none of the above things. And therein lies the source of the personal conflict between he and Merit in this book. The issue is handled deftly, and allows Merit to show a lot of personal growth in how she deals with knowing there are things Ethan is hiding from her. I really liked her reactions, and her commitment.
In Blood Games, the fate of the entire political structure of the vampire houses in both America and Europe is at stake. (Pardon the little vampity pun, there.) The tension mounts as Ethan waits to see how his challenge to be the new head of the uber-powerful Greenwich Presidium is received. But, of course, there are other foul deeds afoot in the city of Chicago, dividing everyone’s attention, and pulling Merit deeper into the crime-solving aspects of her job as Sentinel of the house. Combine that with the brutal tests involved with Ethan’s political challenge, and the personal issues going on between him and Merit, and you have the makings of a very compelling plot.
As always, Neill managed to surprise me with the ending of this book. Also as always, she made me very happy with the intimate moments between Merit and Ethan, which, btw, have gotten a bit spicier as the series has gone along. I’m not a fan of overly graphic love scenes, but Neill has managed to avoid those clichéd clinches, and make these work extremely well, without ever resorting to the cheap gutter language that often makes today’s love scenes read like sleazy restroom wall graffiti. Well done, indeed. And as a final note, I have to say that the image of Ethan Sullivan in his silk pajama bottoms, bare feet just showing, bare chest definitely on display, is one that makes me quite happy.
If you’ve been following this series all along, you won’t want to miss Blood Games, Book #10. If you haven’t been reading the series, you really should. Assuming you like well-written Urban Fantasy, with terrific world building and interesting secondary characters. (Except Mallory. Sorry.
Still not a fan, and the blue hair gets on my nerves no end. But that’s a very small complaint about a series so good.) My advice? Ignore the covers, but buy the books. They’re great.