by Chloe Neill
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Footsteps, and then he was next to me, his body behind mine, his lips at the spot of skin just below my ear. I could feel the warmth of his breath against my neck. The smell of him-clean, soapy, almost discomfortingly familiar. As much as the want of it disturbed me, I wanted to sink back against him, let him envelop me.
Part of that, I knew, was vampire genetics, the fact that he’d changed me, some kind of evolutionary connection between Master and vampire.
But part of it was much, much simpler.
Part of it was boy and girl.
I shook my head. “No, thank you.”
“Don’t deny it. I want this. You want this.”
Welp….I don’t see any reason to deduct a star…so I won’t. Like with all series I read, it’s hard to write review after review for the same series with the same characters. Things change, they progress, but the idea is the same, isn’t it? Well, in book two, I found that not only did the intensity increase in the severity with which Merit and her vampire brethren were threatened, but also, her attraction to the head vampire, Ethan, became such a tangible thing I choked on it.
“Whatever the source, Sentinel, we have the information now. Let’s use it, shall we?”
I bit back a grin, amused that I’d reverted back to “Sentinel.” I was “Merit” when Ethan needed something, “Sentinel” when he was responding to my snark. Admittedly, that was frequently.
It’s not easy, these days, to build the same attractions to book characters because, well, I’ve read so many books. I build these relationships with my book men and while that’s all fine and good, time has passed since I’ve been on this site. Books have came and books have gone, and here I am in October having beat my 2014 challenge with over two months to spare. That’s not to say I’ve loved them all-I’d like to think that because I’ve became picky that I’m choosing only the best these days. There are so many trigger words, phrases, ways of writing the blurb and reviews by friends that let me know whether to be cautious with a book or not. That’s not to say that while my system is super awesome, I don’t miss a few hidden gems here or there based on my bias of horrid covers (cough ^^^ cough). So, in essence, I’ve missed a lot of crap, but gained a lot more to swoon over. But with this success comes a price-The male or female lead has to work really hard for me to become obsessed with them now. What used to make my heart stutter now barely scratches the surface of my seasoned soul. I love my characters-almost always. But there has to be….oh, I don’t know…something pivotal or memorable for me to fangirl or obsess or lose my breath over a look or touch like I used to so easily.
Ethan stared at the menu. “I have no idea what to do here.”
“There’s the proof positive you made the right decision by bringing me on staff.”
When the Mercedes was full of vampires and fried food, he drove to the exit, then paused at the curb while I made a sleeve of the paper wrap around his burger. When I handed it to him, he stared at it for a moment, eyebrow arched, before taking a bite.
He made a vague sound of approval while he chewed.
“You know,” I said, biting into an onion ring, “I feel like things would go a lot smoother for you if you’d just admit that I’m always right.”
“I’m willing to give you ‘right about food,’ but that’s as far as I can go.”
“I’ll take that,” I said, grinning at him.
What I’m getting at? I fell in love with the two main leads at about 15% in book one. 15%. Really? How hard is that, for me, these days? Extremely difficult. That connection is fragile, and now, with the progression through book two, is a tangible, unbreakable thread. I love Merit and Ethan. Sure, Ethan’s hair makes me want to gag (cut it off, Bro-for all of us!) but his persona is so strong that nothing deters or hinders me when I think of him.
“I guess. And FYI, Darth Sullivan is putting a crimp in our friendship. I know you’re living over there now, but you should still be at my beck and call.”
I snorted. “Darth Sullivan would disagree, but I’ll do what I can.”
Merit, strong as ever, has dominated the vampire playing field. She’s Cadogan House Sentinel, and she defends Ethan and those residing in the House and under the Cadogan name. But, her number one priority is the head master of the house-Ethan.
One hand braced to keep my face from hitting the ground, tears spilled over, and I gripped my chest with my free hand, to rip out the pain, to rip out the vise that was squeezing the air from my lungs. I struggled for breath, and a wave of pain, a morbid aftershock, convulsed my spine.
I really enjoyed Ethan in this one. They were forced, as Sentinel and head of Cadogan House, to go to events together in this one. But, and what Merit didn’t see that everyone else sees, mostly they were ruses to spend more time together. He hides behind a perfectly placed facade and rarely lets it slip-but the closer he and Merit become, the more she starts to see the man, not the vampire, underneath. He’s been betrayed, he has lived through his fair share of heartbreak and war and now supervising hundreds of those under him, but his greatest challenge yet is Merit and her stubborn attitude.
Catcher dumped a cutting board of trimmed asparagus into a steamer pot. “It’s lotion. I’m pretty sure science has advanced to the point that you can buy a single bottle that will take care of all that.”
“Missing the point,” I said.
“He’s missing the point,” Mallory parroted. “You’re totally missing the point.”
Now, not that this isn’t present in every novel these days, the sexual tension in this story was so thick I could cut through it with a knife. The way he looks at her, talks to her, touches her makes me melt into a heaping pile of goo. Even when they dance, the way he looks into her eyes…it kills me. Their chemistry is off the charts-he needs someone who can balance him out with his dominant attitude and tight-ass ways. And, in one scene in particular, my heart stopped. This kiss was…smoldering. It was nothing special, I mean, it was a kiss for chrissakes! But….the delivery. It’s all about the delivery. A smile a triumph, a groan of desire, possession, the primal need to take what you’ve wanted since the beginning…Yeah. So, heart-attack inducing, as far as I’m concerned.
“My point, Sentinel, is that you are more than a woman who hides in a library.”
“Ethan,” I said, a hesitation, but he shook his head, gaze dropping to my lips, then drifting shut. He leaned closer, his lips just touching mine. Teasing, hinting, but not quite kissing. My lids fell, and his hands were at my cheeks, fingers at my jaw, his breath staccato and rushed as his lips traced a trail, pressed kisses, against my closed eyes, my cheeks, everywhere but my lips.
“You are so much more than that.”
Like I said, it’s so hard to write non-repetitive reviews about a series, but it seems I didn’t have as hard a time as I previously thought I would, lol. But there’s something so refreshing about this series-the idea that not everything revolves around vampires, their feeding, their need for blood, even though the whole story is, in fact, all about vampires and protecting themselves. I mean….how does one do that? Make a story that both centers around vampires but doesn’t bow down to it for the story as a whole to make it work? I hardly even think about the fact that they’re vampires-This author makes it so that it’s extremely hot when it’s brought to the surface. Like, for real. And this story wouldn’t be possible without the snark of Merit. She’s witty and funny and she doesn’t let anyone boss her around (even her boss), but she knows her place. Her and Ethan’s banter is so funny and I can’t get enough…hopefully in the next one they take their clothes off-together. Just sayin’.