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Twice Bitten: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel by Chloe Neill
Cover Artist: Tony Mauro
Review by Drew Bittner
NAL Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451230645
Date: 06 July 2010 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Interview with Chloe Neill / Show Official Info /

Merit is finding life as the Sentinel of Cadogan House to be no bed of roses. If it's not her complicated relationship with the House's master Ethan Sullivan, it's the challenge of providing security for a werewolf convention. One thing is for sure, Merit is not likely to have a howling good time on this assignment.

WARNING: Some spoilers lie ahead...

In Twice Bitten, the third Chicagoland Vampires novel by Chloe Neill, former society girl/grad student Merit is settling into being a vampire, albeit one with lots of responsibilities. Being Sentinel means ensuring the safety of the Cadogan vampires; now that vampires have gone public and are treated as minor rock stars, that is a tall order.

Merit also has to make amends with her former roommate Mallory, who's training to become a sorceress, over a terrible misunderstanding. It turns out this is very helpful, as Mallory's boyfriend (and magic mentor) Catcher proves invaluable as the story unfolds.

If that weren't enough, Ethan Sullivan has opened an intriguing but highly risky dialogue with Gabriel Keene, leader of one of North America's foremost packs of werewolves. The five packs are gathering to make some very important decisions--and the last time they did, it left lots of bad blood (no pun intended) between the vampires and the werewolves. It's a politically fragile moment, with Merit in the middle.

The secret weapon in Merit's back pocket is Nick Breckinridge, a former boyfriend and werewolf, whose bad judgment caused Merit massive trouble...but now has a chance to redeem himself.

With killers seeking to bring down Keene's family, the race is on to uncover a villain and thwart an evil plan. If Merit and Ethan can't get to the bottom of this, Ethan's peace overture might be the last mistake he ever makes.

Neill delivers another fast-paced, action-packed and thoroughly enjoyable read in Twice Bitten. With the introduction of werewolf politics, her world expands in fascinating ways and the challenges faced by Merit only multiply. Her heroine is still young and learning the ropes of being a vampire, but she's got lots of courage and quick wits, not to mention strong friends in Mallory, Catcher and her grandfather (who just happens to be Chicago's liaison to the supernatural).

As a heroine in a book that straddles the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, Merit has her share of potential love interests, but the path of love is never smooth; the one best suited to her is the one she isn't sure can truly be hers, for several reasons.

Among the new characters, Gabriel Keene is a standout, with hopefully more to come in future installments. He's a big, brawling guy whose demeanor hides his formidable political skills and insight; it might have been easy to make him a cliche monster, all claws and no brains, but Neill has created a much more nuanced and balanced figure.

There are also some delightful asides in the book, with a "girls' night out" and a training session wherein Merit shows the Cadogan House vampires what she's learned from Ethan... not to mention the day-to-day details of "living" as a vampire, which are entertaining little bits all by themselves.

Neill is quickly establishing herself as a strong voice in the new generation of urban fantasy novelists. Readers who enjoy solid storytelling with a delightful heroine, a great supporting cast and loads of action will enjoy this book.

Strongly recommended.

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