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Review & Giveaway: Hard Bitten

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Dear Readers: Please help me welcome my friend Wendy, a big fan of the Chicagoland Vampire series. She brings you today’s review of…
Hard Bitten
Author: Chloe Neill 
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: NAL Publishing
Chicagoland Vampire Series Book 4
ISBN: #978-0451233325
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): paperback (368 pgs), e-book
I received a copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review.
From the author’s website:
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….
What Wendy is talking about:
I love it when I know there’s a new Chloe Neill novel coming out. She writes excellent urban fantasy with plenty of action, humor and just enough romance to draw me in. Hard Bitten is the fourth novel in her Chicagoland Vampires series and I was ready for number five before I hit the last chapter! 
As Sentinel of Cadogan House, Merit is a newly-made but completely bad-ass vampire who was very recently a “nerdy graduate student.” Neill has a real talent for writing very regular people into her supernatural world. Merit loves shoes and baseball, and like most girls (the girls that I know, at least) she over-indulges in chocolate when she’s feeling sorry for herself. And she has a fair amount of things to be bummed about this time around. Her boss, Ethan, has changed his mind (again!) about their relationship and he’s trying to win her back (after dumping her in the last novel right after they sex), but she’s pretty sure she can’t trust him. The head of the Greenwich Presidium, Darius, political head of the vampires, is in town and threatening to send someone to take over Cadogan House. The mayor is threatening to have Ethan arrested and there’s a new vampire drug-ring in town that may have caused the deaths of three young women. Oh, and since the “weres” were outed, anti-supe sentiment is running rampant in Chicago with protestors outside the house and armed militia trying to run the vamps out of town.
Through all of this, I loved seeing “Independent” Merit. She finally seems to know how to handle herself without always having a boy tagging along on her adventures. Merit follows the leads, trusts her instincts and ta-da! the mystery is solved. Honestly, the mystery/drug ring and who is behind it is the least interesting part of the book. I read Neill for the snarky humor and the inter-personal drama.
For me, one of the keys to a series that has romance but isn’t a “romance series” is how the author keeps the attraction and the sex coming, but makes it believable that everyone isn’t living happily ever after. If everyone’s happy and settled why do you need to read the next book? I think Neill handled her “Moonlighting” moment wonderfully. Somehow Ethan and Mercy had mind-blowing sex in the last book but they’re still dancing around their relationship and their oh-so-tingly sexual attraction. According to Ethan: “You can run. You can keep running to the ends of the earth. But I won’t be far behind you.” Like I said… tingly.
Without sharing any spoilers I have to tell you that the ending is shocking and a lot heavier that I’m used to in this series. In the short space of one page Merit is betrayed and left broken-hearted by her father and Ethan. The implications of this betrayal and the horrifying aftermath will reverberate in the Chicagoland world for a really long time. I hated seeing Merit almost broken but of course it left me itching for the next installment. I can’t wait to sit down with Merit and next Chicagoland novel!
Wendy’s Rating: 
Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)
GIVEAWAY: NAL/Penguin Publishing has generously donated a copy (one winner) of Hard Bitten to giveaway here at That’s What I’m Talking About. Thank you to NAL/Penguin for sponsoring the giveaway of Chloe Neill’s latest book. To enter, please leave a comment and your email at the end of today’s review. Only one entry per person. Winner is restricted to US mailing addresses, only. Contest open from May 2, 2011 until Friday May 6, 2011 at 9:00 PM EDT. One (1) winner will be selected from the comment entries using random.org.
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