Narrator: Cynthia Holloway
Series: Chicagoland Vampires #4
Published by Tantor Audio on May 13, 2011
Genres: Romance, Urban Fantasy
Length: 10 hours 25 minutes
Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals—and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan, are tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.
Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of an underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society—a world full of vampires who seem to be ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands.
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My Initial Reaction…
Whoa. Did that just happen?? Ok so this book will shock the living daylights out of you by the end. I know I literally had to go back and listen again to make sure I heard right. Hard Bitten will entertain you from beginning to end – there’s humor, action, and sexual tension galore – and then it will pull the rug out from underneath you. I’m still recovering…
If you’ve read any of my previous Chicagoland Vampires audio reviews, you know that I find Cynthia Holloway just tolerable as a narrator, a view that seems to be generous in comparison with many of the reviews I’ve read. She doesn’t have the ability that great narrators have to bring characters to life beyond the written words, but in my opinion she also doesn’t destroy the characters. I do hear that there’s a new, better narrator starting with the next book and I look forward to the improvement.
Everyone is moving along pretty well considering the shapeshifters big reveal at the end of Twice Bitten, but surprisingly human feelings towards vamps hasn’t really changed for the better – in fact, it seems to be getting worse, which means our favorite Sentinel is busy. Merit is really growing up and we’re starting to see her act a lot more maturely in this book. Not only is she doing a lot better understanding and filling her role as sentinel, but she’s a full-fedged, competent member of the house guard. I also continue to enjoy Merit’s humor and sarcastic wit, it keeps me laughing and entertained.
Ethan is trying to earn back Merit’s trust – I’d say he’s matured, but can a 300 year-old vampire mature? I think it would be more accurate to say he’s learning to evaluate himself and his world a little bit through Merit’s eyes and while he’s still got a long ways to go, he’s getting it – I think. That doesn’t mean that things are better between these two. Quite the opposite. Merit is not ready to trust him after the way he hurt her in Twice Bitten, resulting in some serious sexual tension for most of Hard Bitten. That, combined with Ethan’s efforts, will get your heart beating a little faster.
In this book, Merit is dealing with yet another city catastrophe with her house right at the middle. Mayor Tate has blackmailed them with a threat to issue an arrest warrant for Ethan if they can’t find out (and stop) increases in vampire violence in Chicago. Merit hits the street to find out what’s going on, but has to do so with the GP breathing down their necks, blaming them for the negative publicity and forbidding them from investigation. I want to insert myself into the book and give the GP a piece of my mind – they are completely unreasonable and totally overlook Selena’s role in the Chicago Vampire’s publicity problems; instead it is Cadogan, and Merit more specifically, that are to blame. There’s detective work is fairly predictable for a good portion of the book, but some new culprits enter the scene to keep you on your feet. And, as I already said, watch out – this book throws in some unexpected twists that might just stun you.
An action packed, shocking, gut-wrenching addition- this series just keeps getting better! Be prepared for the next book though – if you’re anything like me you will not want to wait!
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