This is book six in the Chicagoland Vampire series, the tale of Merit who was turned vampire and is still dealing with the change in her life. She’s Sentinel of Cadogan House, and in love with Ethan Sullivan, the Master of the house. In the last book, Ethan was brought back from the dead and he is somewhat the same as before – sexy, confident and infuriatingly arrogant. This book starts with Merit and Ethan on a road trip to Nebraska, to make sure that an ancient book of evil is still locked up. This is the book that Mallory, Merit’s best friend and now evil sorceress, is after in order to fuse the evil magic with the good, or some such thing, I can’t really be bothered to look it up.
The book starts off promisingly enough, with some alone time for Merit and Ethan. They’ve had their reunion, and he seems fine until he starts to have headaches and flashes of anger that seem to be tied to Mallory’s emotions. She raised him from the dead to be her familiar, and though the spell was stopped partway through, it appears that he is still bound to her. Mallory was taken into custody after that fiasco, but of course she escaped and is about to cause some major trouble for everyone…again.
When Ethan and Merit arrive at the place where the book is kept, all hell breaks loose and who comes to help out but a gathering of gnomes. Not your usual backup plan, and it did give me a laugh at the description:
The forest floor erupted into a carpet of gnomes. They emerged from open splits in nearby trees and what looked like burrows in the ground, and spilled out around us, probably a hundred in all, all in the same primary-colored uniforms and white caps, long beards extending nearly to their belts. The ground looked like the overstock aisle at a garden accessory store.
Things turn out badly, and another villain shows up to add to the fun. Seth Tate, aka the former Mayor of Chicago, has been somewhat of a mystery figure in previous books. He was obviously magical, and he was behind the drugs that made the vampires turn crazy. He had been locked up as well, but released and now he and Mallory worked together to steal the evil book. However, he is split into two separate entities, and the book is reduced to charcoal in the process. The splitting brings the release of the Dark One, who wants to destroy the world and good Seth, who wants to make things right. Once again, Merit and company need to work to put things right in Chicago.
The frustrating thing about this book was Ethan’s attitude – as in previous books, he’s decided the relationship with Merit needs to be put on hold; this time until he can better control the connection to Mallory. He doesn’t want to inadvertently hurt Merit if he channels Mallory’s anger, but it just comes as across as ‘oh here we go again’. First of all, these are vampires we’re talking about – immortal, able to heal from almost any injury, and all of that good stuff – not to mention, she’s trained in combat and sword fighting, how much are you going to injure her? She’d be much better off with someone else, but I’m sure it won’t go that way in the long run. Another detail that begins to irritate after awhile is the focus on food – I get that Chicago has some great restaurants and dishes that are part of the city’s culture, but we don’t need to hear in detail about every meal. It’s also an oddity as far as vampire lore – most vamps don’t eat food in the other books I’ve read.
Ms Neill does redeem the romance somewhat at the end of the book, and I hope that in future books she doesn’t have Ethan reverse his thinking yet again. I have one more book on hand to read, and then I think I need to take a respite from Chicagoland Vampires for awhile.