** The order for the series is Some Girls Bite, Friday Nights Bites, Twice Bitten, Hard Bitten and Drink Deep **
I have to be honest and admit that I was a bit disappointed by DRINK DEEP. The series up until this point has been pretty solid, the previous book in particular was extremely enjoyable and had a surprising ending. So I was consequently expecting this Chicagoland Vampires entry to hit the ground running and keep on throwing twists at me.
Once again Merit partners up with Jonah [the Guard Captain of Gray House] as she goes undercover for the main plotline. In the last book I thought that this partnering up and cross House cooperation was a exciting glimpse of the future directions in the series, but in all honesty I find Jonah's character dull now we've got to 'meet' him and know him a bit more fully. And the fact that the author has pushed the other secondary characters to the sidelines in order to feature him more prominently, has lead to me coming to suspect that he's going to serve the author in another round of 'all these hot men want me, but I just can't make up my mind' fun and games. In short; I began to dread seeing his name pop up in the book, as he could derail the way all of the plotlines so far are running and building, which could make me lose interest in the series.
For the first third of DRINK DEEP the plot doesn't really seem to be going anywhere as the vampires have nothing to do with the problem of the blackened lake and, since they aren't magical, they don't know the answers to the who, how and/or why; Oh look, the lake is black. Oh, yeah, did group A do it? No, how about group B? No? Shrug, what should we do? There has to be a group C somewhere to pin the blame on. Sure, I suppose that it shows a realistic investigation, but it just brings to mind a group of kids trying to assign blame for a broken vase on each other.
Another problem I had is that I don't think that the receivership on Cadogan House is such a big shock. In fact, in some places, I can see things from the Greenwich Presidium's view, so I don't actually disagree with them on all of their grievances; as well as the issue of the new mayor [and her proposed supernatural register] there are other consequences to Merit's and Ethan's actions - which I won't go into here - that have spectacularly backfired and made life for all vampires harder. I don't think that the GP can honestly be made out to be the Big Bads - they're cleaning up and protecting ALL of the vampires, rather then just looking out for Cadogan House. So I do think Merit comes off as a bit whiny and self-absorbed in places. Sure, the person left in the house to check everything out doesn't like Merit and is trying to find a way to get rid of her, but she has shown no regard for the Greenwich Presidium's rules and is once again actively breaking them by disobeying a direct order.
But the biggest letdown, for me, in DRINK DEEP is that almost immediately I could tell who the culprit was and once I realised err, who the who is, the question of why they did it was easy to guess at. So I was impatient [and a bit bored] whilst I waited for the characters to catch up to what was pretty obvious to me.
Once I finally fully got into the story, I realized that there are still good bits to be found in DRINK DEEP, I just had to look a bit harder to see them...
We meet other supernatural races. Up until now we have only really seen the vampires interacting with shape-shifters and met a few sorcerers, so it is refreshing to get to see more interaction with some of the other supernaturals that share this series' version of Chicago. The humans only know about the existence of the vampires and shapeshifters, so we haven't really had the opportunity to explore the other species of supernatural beings before and I hope that the author finds a way to do it again. To be honest the whole vampires and werewolf mix is old and tired - every other fantasy book seems to d the same old thing.
Speaking of other species; the questions surrounding mayor Tate are very intriguing to me. I had thought his character was just a secondary one, who just served to stir up trouble, but now we see that he is the Big Bad. I can't wait to learn what exactly he is - I'll have to go back and read the earlier books, to try to spot any clues.
There are fur full-time guards working in Cadogan House alongside Merit, but up until now we have only gotten to know Luc and Lindsay. But now that Guard Captain Luc has now moved up in position and isn't involved in this book as much, we have more space and time to get to know Juliet and Lindsay as characters, not just as names tossed into the occasional conversation. Both characters have several scenes, when before they'd have one scene per book at most, which would add up to little more then "hi".
This is still an important entry into the series, but it is also the only book in the series where I found the pacing to be uneven, it's only after the first third of the book that I felt drawn into the story and from there everything speeds up madly - it reads as though the author realised she had almost reached her word-count limit, so threw everything together in a mad rush. Unfortunately the final few scenes are the most emotional and are meant to be shocking, but due to the sped-up pace and the fact that I already figured out the reveal, means that I failed to be saddened, overjoyed and/or shocked by the events.
For now I'm going to class DRINK DEEP as a one-off bump in the road and I still plan on getting the next book in the Chicagoland Vampires series, but I won't expect the same highs the earlier books delivered.
** Book six in the Chicagoland Vampires is titled Biting Cold [released in August 2012] **