Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “You were propositioned by magic mist?”
Since Merit was turned into a vampire, and the protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House, it’s been a wild ride. She and Master vampire Ethan Sullivan have helped make Cadogan’s vampires the strongest in North America, and forged ties with paranormal folk of all breeds and creeds, living or dead…or both.
But now those alliances are about to be tested. A strange and twisted magic has ripped through the North American Central Pack, and Merit’s closest friends are caught in the crosshairs. Gabriel Keene, the Pack Apex, looks to Merit and Ethan for help. But who—or what—could possibly be powerful enough to out-magic a shifter?
Merit is about to go toe to toe, and cold steel to cold heart, to find out. (Goodreads)
Wild Things, the ninth installment in Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series, starts out with a bang as it set ups and reveals the plot elements of the story. Fast pacing and highly charged energy keeps the story flowing nicely as we learn of the new challenges Merit, her lover Ethan, and the entire supernatural population are facing. Ethan is dealing with the fallout from the death of Harold Monmouth. Updates to Cadogan House’s General Presidium problem brings about a proposed solution that threatens to turn Merit’s world upside down along with some much needed and appreciated advancement on the shifter prophecy of a green eyed child in Merit’s future. Add a potentially fatal threat to the supernatural community at large and Merit is definitely fang deep in intrigue and disaster.
I was pleased by the balance permeating this installment. Though it starts out with a bang, the main conflict drags the storyline down a little as various avenues and clues are thoroughly investigated. Luckily, the action and suspense take over and our wild ride begins. Add in the drama, romance, and humorous snark and readers get a fast paced adventurous story that hooks you from beginning to end. The world building remains inviting as Neill continues to expand and evolve her realm that embraces both the supernatural and the mundane. Old loose threads are finally tied up and new pathways are opened that tell us a storm of infinite proportion is headed to Chicago and Merit needs to be ready.
Merit is in top form with her snarky commentary and patent warrior skills. She has grown so much through the series and in the last two books we are given the impression that she has settled and is finally in command of her life emotionally, mentally, and physically. I also loved seeing a more balanced male to female ratio in here and meeting other women warriors besides Merit and her vampire comrades. The North American Pack plays a larger role as do other sup factions; giving us a better view of exactly what Chicago is home to.
The mystery is a convoluted and volatile mix as we meet some new players on the Chicago landscape whose agendas aren’t as clear and upfront as Merit would like. Old and new enemies come into play as Merit, Ethan, and their allies work on discovering the General Presidium long game, figure out who is targeting the supernatural community, and deal with the humans who have been steadily undermining them. We see old friends and get small intimate looks at how their lives are progressing. Mallory is slowly becoming a strong presence again and I like that she and Merit have rebuilt their friendship into something new and stronger than before. Catcher and Mallory are strong players in this installment and I’m glad to see their relationship has reached firmer ground. Additional engaging secondary characters and sustainable relationships remain a strong aspect in the overall enjoyment of this series. The dialogue remains sharp and witty, keeping you laughing at the most inappropriate times.
“Don’t get kidnapped this time. Ethan gets very irritated when you’re kidnapped.”
The romance remains a steady undercurrent. Twisting and weaving throughout the arc, it neither overpowers nor fades away in the face of the strong story lines it encounters.
Ethan and Merit. The Sentinel and the Master. Readers have long enjoyed the sharp chemistry and biting sexual tension between these two dominant protagonists. Through the pain and joy, we have watched as they waged war on their enemies and each other to finally reach a point where their love is on solid ground. It will never be easy for them as their very existence doesn’t bode well for their future, but their feelings for one another burns hot and bright and seeing their relationship continue to flourish is a high point in this series.
“Merit,” he said, his voice ragged. “I need you. I love you.”
“I love you.”
Forever, he silently said. Regardless.
Forever, I said to him.
The ending wraps up the main conflict in the usual dramatic fashion, answering some questions while leaving us to ponder others. It left this reader excited for what is on the horizon. Neill has thirteen books set to release, the tenth book in the series, Blood Games, is set to release August 5, 2014. This series remains a dark humorous mixture of Urban Fantasy and PNR that manages to stay fresh and invigorating in its telling. This is not a standalone though and I do not recommend starting the series here. This is a convoluted series that builds upon itself with each new book. The arc is long reaching with minor recapping.