Pub Date: April 2009
Publisher: NAL (Penguin)
FTC: Purchased myself
Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn't exactly glamorous, but it was Merit's. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.
Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she's traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan "Lord o' the Manor" Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries' worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan's attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone's still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago's nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war and there will be blood.
I am not a fan of the trade paperback format. To me, it's an oversized mass market that costs nearly twice as much. So it takes a leap of faith for me to buy something published in that format. Word of mouth about Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires convinced me to give her a try. And I'm very glad I did.
I wasn't too thrilled with the first 20 pages. Underwhelmed would probably best describe it. Maybe the hype was too much or maybe Neill's world building just didn't click with me right away. I kept going, though, and by page 30, I was snorting with amusement. By page 50, I was laughing out loud and my kids were eying me warily.
Some Girls Bite is not your traditional paranormal romance. In fact, I found it filed away in Fantasy at my nearest Borders. There are romantic elements, but the story here is about Merit's reluctant initiation into a world she wanted no part of. It's told in the first person, so everything we learn is shown to us with her decidedly sarcastic slant. Much of this book is about change. About adapting to change even when you don't want to. And about finding ways to use your strengths in unexpected ways.
As always, what makes or breaks a story for me is the character development. Chloe Neill shines here. Her characters are amazingly believable. Good guys and bad guys (and gals) are all fully realized with wants, needs, personalities, insecurities, motivations. Added to that are the hidden agendas and machinations that Merit doesn't see until too late, and you have a cast of interesting and complex characters.
For all that this isn't a true romance (complete with a Happily Ever After) the sexual tension between Merit and Ethan was off the charts. The attraction between the two is scorching, with Merit's confusion about a relationship between them paralleling her confusion about who she is now and where she fits in the vampire world.
I found the pacing and writing was a bit uneven, especially at the beginning, but I did get thoroughly sucked into the story. I could not put it down for long and finished in one day. I know there's a lot of vampire fatigue going around, but I found Chloe Neill's writing to be a fresh take on the genre. This is far more complex than the plastic-y doll on the cover suggests, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series.
My Grade: A-