Chicagoland Vampires Novel: Book One
Release date: April 7, 2009
I came across this series while re-shelving books at work one day back in December. I cut my reading teeth on Bram Stoker’s Dracula many moons ago and am always drawn to vampire books. Not that I read many of them these days, but Dracula remains one of my favorite books and I re-read it every couple years. Salem’s Lot is another great vampire story. I enjoyed An Interview with a Vampire when Anne Rice was all the rage. More recently I even gave The Twilight series a try, but stopped after the first book. I’m just not a fan of the romantic and/or blatantly sexual vampire story. I like my vampires to be mean and horrific, perhaps a teensey bit sympathetic, but not over-sexed lover boys (or girls) who ooze sexual tension all over the place and exist in a world that lacks a philosophical framework for their existence.
The bookstore where I work shelves Some Girls Bite in the sci-fi/fantasy section, others may shelve it in romance as its often categorized as paranormal romance. What caught my eye was the Chicago setting and I added it to the books-to-read-list in my mind. My memory was jarred last week when I saw it again on display at my public library. I put aside my misgivings about the “smokin’-hot sexual tension” one reviewer praised on the back of the book and took it home.
The book starts with an interesting buzz: a graduate student of English, Merit, is attacked by a vampire while walking across campus late one night. Her original attacker is scared away by Ethan, a kinder, gentler vampire who is the Master of the second oldest vampire house, Cadogen House. Merit is offered the opportunity to become a member of Cadogen House, but she’d have to swear eternal obedience not only to Cadogen House but also specifically to Ethan as her new Lord and Master. Ethan is “smokin’ hot” but he’s arrogant and may have had a secret agenda for turning her into a vampire. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Even if he is good can Merit stomach swearing absolute obedience to some guy she’s supposed to consider her Master? He saved her life by making her an undead. But most vampires are “made” only after giving their consent. But he didn’t have time to get her consent; he had to save her life. But why did he happen to be in Wicker Park at the University of Chicago campus at the exact moment Merit was attacked when his house is in Hyde Park? Does it have anything to do with her father’s connections? Merit is pretty much estranged from her father, but daddy is a big wig in Chicago. We don’t find out the answer to these questions; at least not in book one.
The Chicagoland Vampires are the first in the country to “come out” and make their existence known to humans. Eight months before Merit is turned into a vampire, Celina Desaulniers, the smokin’ hot she-vamp master of the oldest and most powerful house, Navarre House, held a press conference to announce the existence of vampires. After months of panic the humans are settling down. The mayor even has a liaison officer to keep the lines of communication open between the vampires and other supernatural populations. What humans don’t know is that not all vampires are nicely tucked into official Houses that control their vampire natures. There are also rogue vampires who swear no allegiance to a house. Ethan thinks Merit may have been attacked by a rogue vampire and two more women also die around the time of Merit’s attack. The two victims look very similar to Merit. It seems Chicago has a vampire serial killer on their hands.
Merit struggles to come to terms with the loss of her life as a graduate student, her new vampire identity, and has just days to decide if she’ll swear eternal loyalty to Cadogen House and Ethan. She has the support of her best friend and roommate, Mallory, her grandfather, and a couple of new friends as well. She also has to learn about vampire culture, get trained in the art of vampire sword fighting and using her new powers. On top of all that, Merit has to deal with the sexual heat created by all the “smokin’ hot” vampire boys. Meanwhile, the serial killer is out there, the rogue vampires are feeling left out, the vampire Houses are starting to bicker and the other supernaturals in the city—wizards, shape shifters, water nymphs—are buzzing with tension.
I recommend Some Girls Bite to fans of paranormal romance. The Chicagoland Vampires novels are a series that Twilight fans can grow into. Hardcore vampire fans who prefer more traditional horror probably won’t be interested unless they want to check it out for the Chicago location. I should add that the only other paranormal romance or romance novel that I’ve ever read was Nalini Singh’s Angels’ Blood
(recommended by a friend who’s an expert in romance books) which seemed to be more suspense/urban fantasy than romance, even it if is shelved in the romance section at my bookstore. Some Girls Bite was a quick, fun read, but it did drag in parts. Merit’s sassy-ness spills over into bratty-ness at times and she seems rather immature for someone turning 28. I liked the world that Neill attempts to set up, but she does do more telling rather than showing at times, particularly when trying to portray tension between characters. That said, I do plan on reading the second book in the series, Friday Night Bites. The third Chicagoland Vampires Novel, Twice Bitten, is due out on July 6, 2010. Chloe Neill has a fresh voice and a fun imagination. I look forward to seeing how she’ll develop as a storyteller.