Published on August 5, 2014 by NAL Trade
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
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While Merit didn’t choose to become a vampire or Sentinel of Cadogan House, she vowed to fight for her House and its Master, and she’s managed to forge strong alliances with powerful supernaturals across Chicago. But even though Merit has had wild adventures, this may be her deadliest yet...
A killer is stalking Chicago, preying on humans and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs. The CPD hasn’t been able to track the assailant, and as the body count rises, the city is running out of options. Vampires and humans aren’t on great terms, but murder makes for strange bedfellows. Can Merit find the killer before she becomes a target?
It really says something about an author when she can deliver a 10-book series and keep the story exciting. Each Chicagoland Vamp book is packed with action, mystery, and romance without becoming carbon-copies of each other. These books have an edge of individuality to set each one apart, and Blood Games is no exception. The latest installment in the series, Blood Games picks up after Ethan has challenge the GP for control. While the Cadogan House vamps wait for the GP leader Darius to make a move, Chicago finds itself with another murderer on its streets. The first victim points to vampires, but as the crimes continue, it’s clear that something else is at work. Merit and Ethan not only have to track down the murderer but also deal with the rise in political troubles surrounding the GP and Ethan’s challenge.
Blood Games contained two major plot lines, the GP arc from the previous book and a new mystery arc. I love how Neill interwove the two so seamlessly. For fans of the series, you know how a day in the life of Merit goes, and it’s never complete with a little drama and a touch of death. The GP hasn’t said a word about Ethan’s challenge and he and Merit aren’t about to wait around. Ethan wants to move the action to the GP head Darius, but the situation changes when they find Darius in Chicago, acting nothing like his usual self. They have to find Darius and figure out what’s wrong with him before someone else does. At the same time, the son of a good friend of Merit’s grandfather is murdered and put out on display for the public. What initially appears to be vampire work soon turns into a hunt for the magically inclined. Together, these two arcs keep Merit hopping around the city, consulting at crime scenes and going out on investigative field trips to track down the murderer. The plot never lacked for action or tension and kept me hooked with the familiar “what’s going to happen next?” feeling.
Now since Blood Games is #10 in the series, most readers already know the characters pretty well. Merit, as always, has enough sass for the entire book — and I love it! Between her “eye-searing neon orange” shoes and her love of bacon (because clearly that’s the perfect answer to what a vamp should live for), you can’t help but like her. She’s equal parts kickass Sentinel and loving girlfriend, caring for Ethan when he needs it and pushing his buttons when he really needs it.
Merit’s BFF Mallory makes an appearance for a decent amount of this book, which was exciting. Despite the dark part between them after Mallory lost control of her magic, the two are on the mends and returning to their former wonder-team duo. And with Mallory comes Catcher. He might give Merit a run for her money when it comes to sarcasm, but you don’t see him as much so it’s hard to tell. But Mal’s man candy isn’t just a Lifetime movie junkie. He bakes. In an apron. With knitting cats on it. Can I get a recipe for those madeleines?
Finally, for the prime man candy candidate: Ethan. Not only is this Master vamp being threatened and blackmailed, he’s running a house full of vamps, dating Merit (enough said), and challenging the GP. Way to go! In typical Ethan fashion, he’s intense, arrogant, confident enough to be annoying to everyone around him, and in love. It makes for a pretty potent combination. His romance with Merit continues in a semi-steady fashion as they’re both plagued with the troubles of the vamp community, Chicago, and Ethan’s past. Despite it all, they pull through, as always. I think Ethan and Merit are one of my favorite paranormal couples. Unlike many series, there’s no love triangle dragged out across 6 books. They’re not separated every time the author needs a plot twist. Instead, they work together, Master and Sentinel, boyfriend and girlfriend, to get through whatever comes their way and still come out strong.
So the romance was good, the plot was good, but were there any issues?
No book is perfect, and while I’ve never found inconsistencies with Neill’s books before, this held a couple. Both centered around a lack of detail. A missing sentence or two that threw me off while reading. The scene would start with a description and bounce to the characters interacting and mentioning those descriptions, but they’d focus on something and I’d look back and be like, “Wait, when did they mention glittery pink weapons?” It happened later on as well with a scene regarding a murder victim’s gender that Merit just “knew” despite nothing being said. Other than that, however, I can’t fault the rest of the book for anything.
I won’t say that the Chicagoland Vampires is my favorite paranormal series but I still love the books. They’re fun books that have a little of everything in them. There is some adult content and language, so I don’t recommend the books to younger readers, but to everyone else, go to your local bookstore and pick these books up. And if you’re just a Novitiate Chicagoland reader, check out Some Girls Bite, book 1 in the series.