House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires #7): review

February 6, 2013 2013, 4 star books, chloe neill, crossover adult title, vampires, Wendy 55

house rules chicagoland vampires chloe neill

Title: House Rules
(Chicagoland Vampires #7)
Author: Chloe Neill
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Release Date:
February 5th, 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Age Group: Adult
Source: ARC provided by the publisher

With most Book Sevens, I am usually checking release schedules and making all kinds of martyred noises about how series should quit while they’re ahead. By that point, authors are usually stuck on rules they’ve set for how the relationships play out, or they’re having trouble coming up with new problems without changing the nature of certain characters.

That’s not the case with Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires, however.  This series shows no signs of slowing down or relying on tired, recycled story lines or forced conflict to move the action forward. In this particular installment, the vampires’ Cadogan House is in a state of flux as its status among the other Houses is called into question. On top of that, vampires are disappearing–and a face from the past comes back to make trouble for Merit and Ethan.

The series’ trademark humor, great action sequences, and complicated political intrigue are all here, in ways that feel familiar and yet still fresh. I love that Merit is such a kickass character, but who still struggles with her vulnerability. The question of doing what is honorable comes up again and again in this series, particularly in this installment as she’s faced with a new allegiance she’s made with the Red Guard that may threaten her standing as Sentinel and protector of her House. I love that Ethan is true to the character we’ve come to know, and proves again what an admirable Master he is, as well as a good match for Merit. I love that we get to see Jonah, albeit all too briefly–someday he really must get a spinoff series, I think! And I love that awkward Jeff gets some cool moments as well.

There are also some, um, pretty hot scenes in this book. Vampires eyes’ get silver when they get angry or excited and let’s just say there is a LOT of silvering of eyes and pouncing in this one. :D

If I had to quibble about anything, I’d say that I do wish the author didn’t feel the need to use so many of her characters in every single book. While I appreciate the sprawling and memorable cast of characters, as well as how easily she works back story into the narrative, having to explain so much does slow down the momentum of the beginning of each book. And please, let’s have these vampires suck a little more blood!

But those are minor points when I enjoy so much about these books–somehow the Chicagoland Vamps just work for me every single time.  I’d recommend this series to: anyone who enjoys adult urban fantasies, or to mature YA readers who want to try out books with a similar feel but more adult conflicts. Chicagoland’s Merit is a lot like Vampire Academy’s Rose, actually. Both strong, principled characters who get into all kinds of trouble, but have a hell of a time fighting–and reasoning–their way out of it.

This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

55 Responses to “House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires #7): review”

  1. Lauren Elizabeth

    I am SO out of excuses for having not started this series! I’ve heard such wonderful things about Merit and the smoking hot romance in these books, and here it is BOOK SEVEN and I still haven’t started. *hangs head in shame*

    Now that I’ve read your review, and your Merit-Rose comparison, I am dashing to Indiebound for Some Girls Bite. Thank you for the much needed kick in the butt. :-)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh yeah–Ethan is tall, blond, with green eyes. Jonah is pretty cute too, and he has a lovely library. Lots of hot guys in this series, hah.

      I’m glad the review gave you a kick in the butt, hee hee. Let me know what you think!

  2. Kara_Malinczak

    I totally want to try to get into this series this year if I can find the time, Wendy. I have heard wonderful things about Merit and I have been wanting to get into more UF for some time now. There are a couple of series I have picked out and this is one of them. Glad to see you are a fan.

    • Wendy Darling

      It’s funny–some readers really like Merit’s snarky personality (like me!) and others dislike her. But the series is definitely worth giving a shot sometime! Especially since it has a more YA feel than many adult books. Just with a little more nookie. ;)

  3. Jasprit

    Ahh Wendy I recently read a wow post for this book and I realised I was missing out on so much! My last few vampire series’ have gone downhill, but the fact that this series is still going strong for you after seven books is a brilliant sign! And this definitely has everything I love a bout a book; a kick ass heroine, hot romance and lots of funny characters! You have definitely given me the prod in the right direction to pick this up sooner! Lovely review! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I think how much you like a book like this depends heavily on how much you like the heroine–and I do like Merit quite a bit. :) I hope you introduce yourself to her soon, Jasprit! I am pretty sure you’d like her.

  4. Joyous Reads

    Fantastic review as usual and I like bacon too, Merit. Book number 7 of a series that I’ve not read. Seems too daunting a task to take on just to catch up but I love how you sell it, Ms Wendy. Adding it to my pile.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, but Merit has a sword, so she’d win the bacon fight if it came down to it. ;) I can’t believe you’ve never read this series, Joy! So. much. fun.

  5. starryeyedjen

    Why haven’t I started this series yet, Wendy? I even have the first book on audio! And comparing the MC to Rose is like offering a cookie to my kiddo: neither of us will ever say no! Great review! I will definitely be checking this series out in the near future. :)

  6. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I haven’t read any of the books in this series so I appreciate that your review of book #7 is spoiler free (that must have been hard to pull off!) These sound good! I hadn’t heard of these ones before, when I first looked I thought maybe it was this Morganville Vampire series I’d heard of but I’m pretty sure that one was YA. Anyway, this sounds like a series I could see myself enjoying. I like that it has so much going for it; wonderful characters (lots of them), great wit, some political drama and some good old silver eyes! I’ll have to grab book one of this and check it out. I’m always looking for some good Adult books. Thanks for sharing Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      I kind of enjoy the challenge of writing spoiler-free reviews, although by this point in a series it does get kind of tough, hah. And oh man, you have to give this series a try, Jenni! I like the Morganville series too, but they tend to be more 3 – 3.5 star books whereas Chicagoland is 4 -5 stars, IMO. :)

  7. Shirley

    I’m getting so sick of YA vampire books (honestly, all the storylines are pretty similar!) but adult vampire books on the other hand are beginning to sound more and more intriguing to me :) The characters here and the storyline all sound amazing! I’m definitely going to try this series soon<3 Everyone seems to LOVE it!

    • Wendy Darling

      I think vampires are actually kind of hard to do well, Shirley, or maybe I’m just kind of picky about them? There aren’t too many vampire series I’m crazy about, but this one is definitely one I enjoy–I hope you love it just as much, too!

  8. readingdate

    Ooh this sounds like an awesome series! Nice to hear that the series hasn’t out-stayed its welcome after 7 books. I wouldn’t mind trying a new UF series so I appreciate the rec. Especially since you compare Merit to Rose, and I want to see these silver eyes in action :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh yeah, it’s one of the few series that has gone on for this long that hasn’t jumped the shark, in my opinion. I love both Merit and Rose, so I hope you will too, Lucy! And yes–even when the eyes aren’t silver, they are a gorgeous green. *sigh*

  9. Candace

    I read the first book last year and I liked it but didn’t love it. However I know that that is often the case with UF books, it takes a couple books to really fall in love. So it sounds like I really need to keep reading them!

    • Wendy Darling

      I do think it takes a couple of books for a series to firm up its footing, although I loved this series right from the start, Candace. I hope you have a better experience with book two if you decide to continue!

  10. Rachel

    I must pick this series up! Especially when you say the series is still going strong with 7 books, Wendy. I have recently discovered how much I enjoy UF so I’m happy to add another series to my TBR. I skimmed your review because I don’t want to know too much about book 7. I’ll have to check to see if this comes in audio book. I love listening to UFs in audio form. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh Rachel! You will love Merit, and you’ll love Ethan and Jonah and…pretty much all the characters, I’m sure! I look forward to stalking your updates when you get to them. :)

      P.S. I know a lot of people like to listen to UF on audiobook, but I always wonder how I’d feel when the characters start hooking up, hah. I think that would be sort of weird to have someone reading it out loud!

  11. Andrea @The Bookish Babes

    I’ve only recently realized that I should read this series. I love Adult UF, even more so when there’s humor in the story & characters. Now… I need time.
    Great review, Wendy.

    • Wendy Darling

      I bet you’d love this series, Andrea. I know I’ve been saying that to you a lot lately, hah, but really–hot vampires and snarky heroines, you know?

  12. Henrietta @ Leisure Reads

    Wendy, thank you so much for sharing that Chicagoland’s Merit is a lot like Vampire Academy’s Rose. I’ve been debating if I’d get book one and I think you just helped me make my decision. Thanks a lot :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Yay!! I think Merit and Rose would probably be good friends–and awesome fight partners, hah. I’m so glad I’ve talked you into giving this series a try. Aside from the two female leads being similar, there are also hot boys, great action scenes, and an underlying strength of character beneath all that snark.

  13. Dreams

    I agree with what you said about book sevens. This is certainly one series where I am just as excited for the next book as I was for the previous ones.

    • Wendy Darling

      I know some of my fellow readers got less enthused about this series after Hard Bitten, Dreams, but if anything, I thought it rebooted the series in a really interesting way. The way this author writes UF just works for me, and I’m glad we’re in agreement!

  14. Savannah Bookswithbite

    OK, I totally have to read this series. I have seen so many bloggers raving about it! And I have read her YA series and really enjoyed it. The only thing it it’s book number 7??? That’s a long way to catch up. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to read this series.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh Savy, I bet you’d LOVE this series! And don’t worry about this being the seventh book, they actually are pretty short and are very quick reads. :) I usually pounce on them as soon as I have them and I’m done in one or two sittings, hah.

    • Dreams

      @ Savannah – What Wendy said. In fact, I think you are better off just starting now. You get a whole pile of lovely books to devour while the rest of us sit around and patiently-not-so-patiently wait for the next one.

      Once Upon A Dream Books

    • Wendy Darling

      Actually, that’s a good point–the beauty of starting after a series is several books in is that you have so many goodies to plow through! While everyone else had to wait AGES for a certain Big Event to get resolved in the middle of the series. :)

  15. Maree

    I’ve never heard of this series before and a year ago I would have said it wasn’t for me, but you’ve convinced me I need to give it a go! :) Great review, Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, always good to expand your boundaries, Maree. Merit is hilarious, and the action sequences are really great, too. I hope you enjoy when you get around to reading the series!

  16. Lottie Eve

    Your reviews make me reallllyyy want to read this series! I have always liked vampire novels and this one seems like a really good one :) The last of the two quotes you showed made me smile. I like bacon too.
    Amazing review, Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      Then I have done my job, LE! ;) I bet you’d enjoy this–although like I said, I do wish they spent more time sucking blood, hah. They spend VERY little time doing that, especially after the first book.

  17. Keertana

    I have so many adult UF Series I want to start this year, but I need to make this one of them. Not only does it seem fantastic, but a series that continues to be so good while so far ahead is a HUGE rarity. Wonderful review, Wendy – I’m so glad you like this series so much! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I feel like this UF series has a more YA feel to it than others, Keertana, which is partly why I enjoy it so much! I look forward to hearing what you think when you get around to trying it.

  18. Sam

    Ahh, Merit. I’ve missed her trademark humour… and I’m glad that she likes bacon. ;) I have several books yet to read in this series, but I definitely plan to catch up eventually. I’m glad to see that it’s still going strong. Great review, Wendy!

  19. Julie@My5monkeys

    what a great review. I am so glad that you liked it. This book for me was a make or break with the series :) I need to read more about this Rose you speak of

    • Wendy Darling

      Omg, you’ve never read Vampire Academy Julie? A must-read for YA lovers! So so good. At least the first five books, hah. ;)

  20. Jen

    Is it crazy that I just typed up a post and mentioned how I need more characters like Rose Hathaway in my life? IT’S FATE, Wendy. I have glimpsed these books on the shelf of my local used bookstore several times and have never picked them up, but I think I need to, since these books work for you.

    By the way, I mean more like books 1-3 Rose instead of books 4-6 Rose. She got a little nutty in the latter editions ;)

    • Wendy Darling

      IT WAS MEANT TO BE!! Oh Jen, if you love Rose (as I do) you will love Merit. I agree, earlier Rose was definitely more awesome than Book 6 Rose, where I made all kinds of frowny faces at her.

      I’m glad you’re going to give this series a shot. Let me know what you think of them!

  21. Amy

    I only skimmed the review since I haven’t read any of this series. It sounds like one I would enjoy though and I am glad that after 7 books you are still enjoying it.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, the review is totally safe even if you haven’t read the first book! But I’m glad it’s on your radar at least, Amy, I think you’d really enjoy it.

  22. Sunny Duvall

    I don’t really read vampire books (at all, actually, even though I have The Farm on my shelf unread), but this sounds great. I can’t believe it’s book #7 and still not going stale. Lots of authors have problems with going to #3 and still being fresh. Ha! The line about parts being “hot” made me laugh :) LOVE the review and thanks for spotlighting it, I might check it out!

    Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

    • Wendy Darling

      Well, some of my friends are a little less enamored at this point, in part because (I’m guessing) there was a big game-changer in the middle of the series. And while there’s definitely some back and forth to sustain the suspense, overall I think the author does an amazing job of keeping us entertained while keeping things fresh. :)

  23. Tammy Sparks

    I am not familiar with the series! Can’t believe it. I adore urban fantasy, and the promise of glowing silver eyes seals the deal for me:) Thanks for the review and suggestion, Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh my gosh, as a fan of UF you definitely need to try Chicagoland Vamps! But just try not to read too many reviews after the first book. There are HUGE shockers in the middle of the series and you don’t want them spoiled.

  24. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Oh, Merit, Merit, Merit. She’s such a fabulous character and I love how she shows that vulnerability…and love of good Chicago food. (Seriously, I think that’s why I read these books sometimes, besides the sparks between Ethan and Merit.) This one just arrived yesterday — can’t wait to sink my teeth into it (hehe. couldn’t resist).

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, man! I meant to write in my review that things get so serious at one point that MERIT PUTS DOWN BARBECUE. :O

      I definitely keep reading for all those sparks, too–but it’s awesome the author always writes an interesting main storyline with each book, too. And hah, I hope you enjoy your Chicagoland feast, Mary!