Chloe Neill’s CHICAGOLAND VAMPIRES novels have been brain-candy reading for me for a few years now. The books are quick reads that don’t require a lot of thinking but provide action, romance, humor, and occasional pathos. But, sad to say, I think I’m breaking up with this series.
I had high hopes at the beginning of this seventh book, House Rules. Neill introduces a mystery: two rogue vampires have gone missing, last seen at one of the vampire registration offices the new mayor has set up. In the other main plot, Cadogan House has voted to secede from the Greenwich Presidium, and that would surely shake things up a bit.
The series, however, has fallen into the same trap that Neill’s DARK ELITE series did for me. The plot often seems secondary to immature bickering among the characters. It’s not funny enough to work as comic relief; it’s just sniping. An example here is the cattiness between Merit and Ethan’s ex, Lacey Sheridan. The tension of the major conflicts gets lost in the shuffle when there’s too much of this.
Chapters 11 and 12 of House Rules were the final straws. Both Ethan and Merit come across as incredibly stupid here. My examples are spoilers, so if you want to read them, highlight the following text: How did Ethan not realize the GP wouldn’t let Cadogan leave without a fight? How did Merit not realize Lacey suspected her of cheating on Ethan, not of joining the Red Guard? These things are both painfully obvious to the reader. And then when Lacey tattled on Merit, how had she not thought up a better story to keep from blowing Jonah’s cover? The answer to all these questions, of course, is that the plot required it. I hate it when characters have to be stupid for the plot to work. It makes me lose respect for them, and since it’s so out of character, it also shatters the suspension of disbelief because it’s too obviously a plot device.
I don’t want to see Merit and Ethan, who were both established as smart characters, act stupid. I don’t want to watch them continually have relationship drama even after weathering Ethan’s death and resurrection. And I don’t want to get sidetracked by characters sniping all the time. I want Merit to kick butt and solve mysteries.
I think I’ll just tell myself this series ends with Drink Deep. Ethan came back to life, and then Merit and Ethan lived happily ever after and killed lots of bad things and ate lots of deep dish pizza. The End.