Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Target audience: YA/adult (?) Well, more adult I suppose, there are some sex scenes…
Jen from In the Closet with a Bibliophile (her writing style is fantastic, do visit her!) wrote a very personal review concerning the fourth part of this series and she got me curious. As curious as a cat. A friend of mine (thanks Kasiul again!) sent me appropriate e-books and here I go again, playing with vampires and werewolves!
Merit, a thirtyish Medieval Literature PhD student from an influential Chicago family, is attacked at night on the campus. A pair of vampires finds her dying and one of them, Ethan Sullivan, the head of one of most prominent vampire Houses in Chicago, turns her into a vampire to save her life. Without her consent -there was no time for that. Merit’s life changes a lot – she must leave the Uni because now she belongs to the Cadogan House and must call Ethan her Liege and be obedient. Being a very modern, kick-ass girl, she hardly finds it acceptable. Things become even more tense when Ethan, smitten by her good looks, asks her to become his Consort. Merit finds such a suggestion very insulting and says ‘no’ although she finds Ethan incredibly appealing. In fact every single vampire in the book is devastatingly handsome or beautiful but somehow, in Merit’s eyes, Ethan manages to surpass them all. On the other hand how to flirt with a man who constantly cocks his eyebrow and can be as stiff as a curtain rod? It also doesn’t help that Merit must deal with him on a daily basis – as she didn’t want to be his official lover she was given the position of Sentinel of her House. Now she is being trained as a warrior by Ethan himself. A very fitting career for a Medieval Lit student, isn’t it? Her weapon of choice is a samurai sword called katana.
All the rest is about a difficult cooperation between the magical community, including vampires, shifters, witches and humans. It seems a nasty war is brewing because some humans don’t like the fact that the vampires came out of their coffins and are not only immortal and organized but also influential, powerful and rich. And handsome. Do not forget about handsome. On the other hand some vampires still hold grudges as they remember how they have been treated in previous centuries. It doesn’t help that shifters despise and distrust the vampires (and vice versa – no surprises here) and the Houses rivalry can weaken vampires themselves. Will Merit find her place among supernaturals? Will her private life become less rocky and unstable? It seems it is a series in progress (the fourth installment was released in May) so I doubt there will be any answers offered soon.
What I liked:
Despite the oh-so-not-original-any-longer magical community of Chicago the books are highly readable. Some moments were good indeed – for example when Ethan gave Merit a gift consisting of…an entire library! It was really a nice touch! The narration flows easily and is fast-paced. Although not especially profound, the plot makes you curious about what happens next. The author knows how to write a story although it is a pity we see things only from Merit’s point of view.
What I didn’t like:
Psychological profiles of the main characters. In other words Merit and her vampire paramour irritated me a lot. Let me explain why.
Merit is near thirty, Ethan is a 400-year-old vampire but they both act as if they were a pair of high school teens. Not especially bright teens I must add. Perhaps it is the way the authoress chose in order to connect to her audience and keep all these teen girls interested but it really got on my nerves. Merit and Ethan’s relationship, very tense and erotic from the beginning, was presented as a sinusoidal graph – after a peak, lasting usually not more than several days, always comes a deep, long depression, mostly because neither Merit nor Ethan are able to answer honestly some basic questions about themselves and their expectations. They quarrel a lot and they go to bed but still with different ideas in their mind. The authoress must be a bit sadistic, treating her readers like that and, after reading the review of the fourth part, written by Jen and linked in the intro, I suppose it won’t change any time soon. I quite agree that readers can’t be given every solution immediately on a silver platter but trials and tribulations of a main character are one thing and such an irritating emotional swing is quite another. It doesn’t keep me interested, it keeps me annoyed and I am not sure I would like to continue this series. Not until it is finished anyway.
Apart from that I really was bored by the universal handsomeness of practically all supernatural characters. After a while even descriptions of Ethan’s incredible six-pack abs stopped to sound exciting; if every other male around is equally well-muscled, what’s the deal? If every other vampire girl is a long-legged, slim bimbo, why Merit is considered such a hottie? Because she is stubborn? Or maybe because she wields a katana and wears leather pants? 😉
The last thing: Merit, a two-month-old vampire, after some superficial martial arts training managed to kick Ethan’s ass. Huh? The guy was supposed to be invincible, right? Is Merit a super-vamp-ninja girl? No, she isn’t. Something doesn’t click here. Perhaps the author thought that any incongruities might be overshadowed by the bedroom tug-of war…
If you are a sworn fan of vampire and werewolf stories this series, although unfinished, might be your summer treat. If you are a bit bored by the supernatural creatures, you might find it tiring. As I wrote above I might continue reading it (or not) but only when it is finished. In other words I can wait – I am definitely not hooked.