Tuesday, March 8, 2016

#Urban Fantasy Review - Midnight Marked by Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampires Series)

Series: Chicagoland Vampires # 12
Format: Paperback, 368 pages 
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: NAL Trade
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

As the Chicagoland Vampires series continues, Merit and Ethan find themselves in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, where winning may require the ultimate sacrifice...

A vampire’s grudges don’t stay dead long...

Merit is one of Chicago's most skilled vampire warriors; these days, she doesn't scare easily. But she and Master vampire Ethan have made a new and powerful enemy, and he won't give up until he owns the Windy City.

With his last plan thwarted, he's more determined than ever to watch Cadogan burn. Ethan has put the House's vampires on high alert, but their enemy will stop at nothing, including pitting vampire against vampire...

In this deadly game of cat-and-mouse, the stakes are life or death—and winning might mean sacrificing everything...

*Key Characters* Merit (Sentinel Cadogan House), Ethan Sullivan (Master Cadogan House) plus the usual suspects.

Midnight Marked is the Twelfth installment in the Chicagoland Vampires series by author Chloe Neill. It has been a little over 12 months since Caroline Evelyn Merit (Merit) was attacked by a rogue vampire and turned into one thanks to Ethan. For 384 days, Merit has gone without knowing who the actual perpetrator was. But, we do know who sent him. Former Navarre House Master Vampire Celina Desaulniers. Have things been quiet? No. Thanks to Celina's actions and manipulations, things will never be the same again. Celina pushed the Vampires out of the darkness and into the light of day. 

Crazy, vicious, egotistical, narcissistic, and sociopathic villains have come out of the woodwork with axes to grind and what better target than Cadogan House? Some were human, some, not so much. Friendships, especially between Merit and Mallory, have been tested to the extreme limits. Former nemesis are now friends, or lovers. Now, Merit and her allies have to face yet another obstacle for there to be peace in Chicago. They need to find a way to get rid of Adrien Reed, and his wife Sorcha who have been a thorn in Ethan's side. 

Reed and his Circle organization have a group of supernaturals that do his bidding, but what they are really up to? As the story begins, Merit is trying to celebrate her birthday by taking in a Chicago Cubs night baseball game at Wrigley Field with Ethan, Mallory, and Catcher. Mallory discovers the body of a shifter and signs of magic left behind. In an ensuing chase, Merit comes face to face with an unknown, yet vaguely vampire who escapes her grasp but not before she saves Ethan's life. Who was this vampire, and why was he trying to get to Ethan?

Merit isn't a character that is going to be pushed around by anyone. Not even Ethan. She's seen, done, and had things done to her in the past year that would break a weaker person. What hasn't changed is Merit's sarcasm, off-cut humor, and now, the fact that she has more than enough friends, allies, and even a master of a vampire house who loves her even when he tries to restrain her, she can try to be the best Sentinel around. Merit has gone above and beyond the call of duty, and now has a curious prophecy hanging over her head.

The problem for me begins when Ethan gets all savior like and believes that Merit should be placed in bubble wrap to keep her safe from those who would love to kill her, to get to him. After a year together of trying times, tumultuous ups and downs, and knock down, and drag out personal issues and spectacular fights between the couple, it is time to move on, and move on quickly. I prefer the smexy scenes between the couple, rather than the usual jealously ones. I prefer reading about Merit and her love for all things that have to do with Food in Chicago. 

Let's talk about my only real negative I have, shall we? How shall I put this delicately without being called names.....Look at the cover models from books 1 thru 9. Ok? Now, look at the cover model of the recent editions, including this one in particular. This cover model in no way resembles what we, as readers have come to expect after 7 years of reading this series. Sorry NAL, but Merit isn't Indian, or Hispanic, or Black. That's the reality of things. You can't just arbitrarily change a persons skin color or race at a drop of a hat. Perhaps the Art department folks at NAL had to come up with a new model and haven't read this series.  

The ending was one of the best scenes in the entire book, perhaps the series. It was heart felt, it was perfectly done, it was done with those we've come to love and adore in the audience. I dare someone say that it could have been done a different way. GO ahead, I double fudge dare you. If you have given up this series after a certain installment, you might want to think about coming back. The series is winding down for the Chicagoland series. You really should be interested to read about Merit's prophecy, and whether or not it actually comes true.

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