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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "House Rules" signals the official return to greatness for the series
"House Rules" signals the official return to greatness for the series. While I enjoyed "Biting Cold," it was more of a transition book and due to its road trip nature I felt that things were missing. Book 7 brought us back on track. "House Rules" is a lot like the first few books in the series, but that doesn't mean it's repetitive or unvaried. Merit and Ethan have...
Published 21 months ago by BookGeek

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't finish--SPOILERS IN REVIEW
Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires novels have been brain-candy reading for me for a few years now. The books are quick reads that don't require a lot of thinking but provide action, romance, humor, and occasional pathos. But, sad to say, I think I'm breaking up with this series.

I had high hopes at the beginning of this seventh book, House Rules. Neill...
Published 21 months ago by Kelly (Fantasy Literature)

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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "House Rules" signals the official return to greatness for the series, February 5, 2013
This review is from: House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires) (Paperback)
"House Rules" signals the official return to greatness for the series. While I enjoyed "Biting Cold," it was more of a transition book and due to its road trip nature I felt that things were missing. Book 7 brought us back on track. "House Rules" is a lot like the first few books in the series, but that doesn't mean it's repetitive or unvaried. Merit and Ethan have entered a whole new world. Not only in their political/vampire life, but also in their on and off romance.

Everything sort of speeds up in this book. We know where everyone stands and no stone is left unturned. That's what I enjoyed most about this book. Chloe Neill is not going to drag storylines on and on, spreading them thin until we roll our eyes from the monotony. The RG storyline plays a major role in this novel and I was glad to finally get there. From the first moment the RG was brought up, Merit has been straddling the line. She was kind of an RG member, but not. In this book it all comes to a head and it was as entertaining and stressful a situation for me, as it was for the characters.

"House Rules" is a huge success for Ms. Neill, because she will once again ensnare her readers. I promised myself that I was not reading these books because I still cared, but because I just wanted to see the ending. Wrong. I very much care about the characters in this series. I want them all to have HEA. It gets to the point where I am inwardly arguing with Merit on her choices. Whenever she does something that I feel will threaten her relationship with Ethan, I go insane. The reason? I want Merit with Ethan badly, because when Merit is with Ethan, I am with Ethan! :-)

In terms of the investigation, I am glad for any reason for Merit to interact with Jeff and Catcher, who are some of my fave characters. When the investigation started, I didn't really care. It was sad to me, but in the way that news reports are sad. By the end, the investigation evolved to the point where I was screaming for the killer's head!

Honestly, this book is not to be missed. If you gave up on the series after "Hard Bitten," it's time to come home. If you were resistant to reading this series, because of the fandom's devastation, you can now safely pick up the books. "House Rules," is filled with intrigue, action, romance and enough witty banter to fill a house. It's well written, takes you places you have been waiting a long time to go and reminds you why you fell in love with this series in the first place. A must read.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars. Merit and Ethan together. Finally!!!, February 5, 2013
This review is from: House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires) (Paperback)
From Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

At A Glance
I had a love/hate relationship with House Rules. I loved the concept but I often put the book down. It took sometime for me to really get into it.

The Good
Let me start off by saying I really do love this series. I like how the vampires in this world aren't creepy or scary. They are normal like you and me, but they just have some special powers. They are relatable and in essence live normal lives except for a few vampire type problems. I can't think of any other vampire series like this one. That being said, though House Rules didn't have the pizazz as the previous books in the series, it was still very much enjoyable.

I think many fans have been dying to see what happens next after Ethan and his House of vamps decided to finally leave the horrible GP, the ruling group of vampires who make all the rules. It's an understatement to say the GP are no longer out for the good of all vampires. They are out for themselves only. As they say, absolute power, corrupts absolutely. And though I am proud of Ethan for finally removing his House from under their thumb, it was hard to see the lengths the GP would go to bring down these innocent vampires. If it wasn't obvious in the past couple books, the GP have no limits, no reservations in their cruelty. And to add more crap to an already ceiling high crap pile, some psycho is going around killing vampires. And of course it falls to Merit to find the killer before his list of victims grows any bigger.

Merit had so many obstacles in this book it's hard to keep count. I truly don't know how she can stay sane dealing with everything she has on her plate. I think she did a pretty good job of keeping it together. I love how Merit always takes the initiative. She makes the hard decisions when no one else can. She is the kind of person that would do anything, even take a stake to the heart, to save a friend. And with her and Ethan finally starting to build a life together, I can see Merit opening up, becoming whole. Not that she needed Ethan to make herself whole, she just needed someone to finally love her for her, not her connections. When the inevitable fight came, I was so worried that we would see the same Merit and Ethan as before. They still frustrated me in many ways, with Merit's insecurities and Ethan's pig-headedness, but I also saw a change in them. They didn't break-up right away, they let each other have space while they figured out what was the right thing for them as a couple.

I do love where the series as a whole is going. Now, with Cadogan House free from the GP, I hope their relationship with the Rogue vampires becomes even stronger because they need allies. I am still pissed off at the other Houses for using Cadogan's House as their personal helpers but never returning the favor in fear of GP's reprisal. But I see a change coming, and I can only hope things get better from here.

The writing was well done and the side characters were, as always, entertaining in their own ways. It's nice to see Mallory doing better as well. Though I feel like Merit in that it's hard to forgive what Mallory did, I am finding myself warming to her more and more. Mallory use to be one of my favorite secondary characters ever. I hope I feel that about her again sometime soon.

The Bad
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get into this book for the longest time. It was too slow and the whole Merit being a detective thing just wasn't working for me. I know she is often investigating crimes in each book, but this time around I didn't find it engaging.

Ethan annoyed the crap out of me in House Rules. His attitude in past books has bothered me before so I wasn't really surprised when it happened this time, too. He really knows how to act like a baby when he doesn't get his way. It's so weird how he can come across so pompous and "mature" as the Master of the House, then act like a child when Merit doesn't follow his every command or reveal every single aspect of her life.

The Snuggly
It's nice to see Ethan and Merit finally together. They don't have much time together because of all the chaos, but the few stolen moments they get are both sweet and sexy. And we actually get a semi-sex scene that I just loved. Ethan can be so naughty and flirty. I love that side of him.

Final Thoughts
House Rules is not the best book in the series, but for fans, it is a must read. The Cadogan vampires are making huge progress in their bid for freedom. I am dying to see what is going to happen next. Recommended for fans of the series.

Ethan grinned and crooked a finger at me.

"I don't perform on command," I reminded him.

He unsnapped the top button on his jeans.

My eyes widened. "Sneaky Bastard."


"Yo," Jeff answered, his voice ringing through the Bentley's impeccable stereo system.

"Hey, it's Merit."

"Merit. Have you finally decided to ditch the zero and get with the hero?"

Ethan cleared his throat--loudly--while I bit back a smile. I didn't see anything wrong with reminding Ethan that I had other options, even if they were slightly goofy options I'd never actually take advantage of.

"Jeff, you're on speakerphone in Ethan's car. He's driving."

There was an awkward pause.

"And by 'zero,'" Jeff quickly corrected, "I meant, you know, you liking the White Sox. Go, Sox," he weakly added.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't finish--SPOILERS IN REVIEW, February 21, 2013
Kelly (Fantasy Literature) (Columbia, MO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires) (Paperback)
Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires novels have been brain-candy reading for me for a few years now. The books are quick reads that don't require a lot of thinking but provide action, romance, humor, and occasional pathos. But, sad to say, I think I'm breaking up with this series.

I had high hopes at the beginning of this seventh book, House Rules. Neill introduces a mystery: two rogue vampires have gone missing, last seen at one of the vampire registration offices the new mayor has set up. In the other main plot, Cadogan House has voted to secede from the Greenwich Presidium, and that would surely shake things up a bit.

The series, however, has fallen into the same trap that Neill's Dark Elite series did for me. The plot often seems secondary to immature bickering among the characters. It's not funny enough to work as comic relief; it's just sniping. An example here is the cattiness between Merit and Ethan's ex, Lacey Sheridan. The tension of the major conflicts gets lost in the shuffle when there's too much of this.

Chapters 11 and 12 of House Rules were the final straws. Both Ethan and Merit come across as incredibly stupid here. SPOILER How did Ethan not realize the GP wouldn't let Cadogan leave without a fight? How did Merit not realize Lacey suspected her of cheating on Ethan, not of joining the Red Guard? These things are both painfully obvious to the reader. And then when Lacey tattled on Merit, how had she not thought up a better story to keep from blowing Jonah's cover? END SPOILER The answer to all these questions, of course, is that the plot required it. I hate it when characters have to be stupid for the plot to work. It makes me lose respect for them, and since it's so out of character, it also shatters the suspension of disbelief because it's too obviously a plot device.

I don't want to see Merit and Ethan, who were both established as smart characters, act stupid. I don't want to watch them continually have relationship drama even after weathering Ethan's death and resurrection. And I don't want to get sidetracked by characters sniping all the time. I want Merit to kick butt and solve mysteries.

I think I'll just tell myself this series ends with Drink Deep. Ethan came back to life, and then Merit and Ethan lived happily ever after and killed lots of bad things and ate lots of deep dish pizza. The End.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Borrow this from the library---your money is too valuable to waste, March 14, 2013
This review is from: House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires) (Paperback)
Seventh in the Chicagoland Vampires urban fantasy series. In my opinion, this is written to an early teen audience.

My Take
This series started out so well. And book by book, it's falling into an abyss---no disrespect intended to teens. My first inclination was to agree with earlier reviewers that Neill is allowing her most vocal audience to dictate the writing. My next thought was to not allow others to dictate what I was thinking. I struggled. Neill simply kept providing the ammunition that made me want to put this into a Young Adult category. That isn't fair to young adults because they're so much more intelligent than this.

Neill is riding the positive waves of the much earlier stories in this series, and her readers are purchasing her books because of that earlier promise. I can understand wanting to know what happens with the GP. How Cadogan House survives. Or not. But don't bother buying this installment to find out. Get on a waiting list at the library. Your money is more valuable than wasting it on this.

The negatives? Oh, let me count the ways. Merit and Ethan's interactions before and after the betrayal, the way in which they act apart are at a maturity level somewhere between middle school and high school. Puh-lease, Ethan's reaction when he learns Merit's deep dark secret is so lame. He's so supposed to be so white-hot as a strategist, and he can't grasp the usefulness of what Merit chose? Neill has portrayed him---in the past---as more intelligent than this. Merit is terrified that Lacey is gonna spill the beans. What beans?? Hullo, she's investigating a murder and Jonah is a source. Spin it, ya idjit. What? Neill couldn't be bothered to work at this?? All her teeny-bopper advisers couldn't see past their middle school angst?

Oh, please, what is the big deal about a dance in front of Cadogan House vamps and Rogues? Merit's impatience with the doorman. I understand her frustration, but her approach is awkward and heavy-handed.

Oh, no!! I just realized what Neill forgot!! Oh, tragedy...gag...she missed out on putting in a hair-pulling scene between Lacey and Merit. I mean, that is the level to which Neill has sunk. I don't understand why Merit falls for Lacey's words. How old is Merit again? Fifteen? Oh, wait, she's in her late twenties. I just keep forgetting...

People are murdered, an item of value is stolen and what's their reaction? They mope. Not until the last minute does anyone think hmmm, maybe we should check the video surveillance. Navarre House uses biometrics. Does anyone think to check the House database to see who is registered? Or how the biometrics register? No. They mope. Until the last minute. God knows ya gotta dredge up the drama from somewhere. I have to admit, I skimmed chunks of the text as I was too nauseated and in too much of a hurry to get it over with. Thank you god that I borrowed this claptrap from the library.

When investigating the first pair of murders and Merit finds the evidence that could point to McKetrick, whatcha gonna do? Yup, dive right into assuming it must be McKetrick and then beard the idiot in his den. What purpose does that serve? It was a lame, immature move. On the other hand, I gotta hand it to Neill for consistency.

Part of my irritation is the lack of action. All these events are happening and mostly everyone sits around moping and whining. Neill spends more time on silly nicknames and whiny arguments than actual detecting.

There is a nice bit of backstory about Peter Cadogan and the fairy princess he fell in love with. It explains the value of the egg.

What was with the scene at Navarre House when Ethan throws down the owe-me card? I keep reading that one over and over, and without going back and re-reading the previous six books, I'm clueless. I can see Ethan's point in the now, when the other two Houses aren't stepping up to help, but the reference to the past is beyond me.

Someone explain to me why one would send one's butler a birthday card? Merit's father is a major jerk. Ethan refused, so he paid Celina to turn his own daughter into a vampire. Because the first daughter named Caroline Evelyn Merit died. This Merit is the replacement and he didn't want her to die. Oh, yeah, that's what I'd do... Who is this guy? Does his wife, Merit's mother, have any idea what he did? And he has the nerve to tell Merit that she's selfish for having wanted to have a say in her new life??

Well that meeting with the GP mole went well. All that set-up to hear the same thing Merit's already heard.

The Story
This is it. The end. Unless Cadogan House buckles under to the Greenwich Presidium's authority. The GP is an underhanded bunch, supreme in their belief that they are in the right. But then the Cadogan vampires can, eventually, outthink those who are caught up in the old way of thinking.

The Characters
Merit is Sentinel for Cadogan House. She holds a master's degree and was going for her doctorate when she was forcibly turned into a vampire. So, she's obviously at least book smart, if nothing else. Since Ethan Sullivan came back from the dead, he is operating as a co-Master of the House until they do a formal handover.

Malik is the current Master and can't wait to hand it back to Ethan; Aaliyah is his wife. Delia is a doctor friend of Aaliyah's. Luc is the former captain of Cadogan's guards, the current Second, and Lindsey's lover. Kelley is filling in as captain while Luc is playing Second. Margot is still the House cook. Paige Martin is a sorceress Merit and Ethan met in Biting Cold who adores a good library...and it seems the Cadogan librarian. Michael Donovan is a vampire security analyst hired to vamp up the House's security. Helen is still the concierge for the House.

Lacey Sheridan was sired by Ethan and is still in love with him. She's coming to Chicago to suck up to Darius, hopefully, to deter him from being too nasty to the Cadogans. She is master of Sheridan House in San Diego.

Noah Beck, sort of, leads the Rogues in Chicago; he's also part of the Red Guard (RG). Rose is both Eve's and Noah's Rogue friend. Alan and Beth and Eve and Oliver are Rogue couples. Morgan Greer is the current Master of Navarre and Nadia is his Second; Scott Grey leads Grey House. Jonah is captain of the Grey House guards and is secretly Merit's partner in the RG. Horace is another member, a Civil War veteran who still dresses in the era in which he began.

Merit's grandfather, Chuck Merit, may be fired officially as the Ombudsman, but he's set up an unofficial office in his home. His staff simply followed him there: Jeff Christopher is a tiger shifter and does the computer magic. Catcher Bell is a disavowed sorcerer and Mallory's maybe boyfriend. Mallory has a lot of kissing up to do. Marjorie is his admin. Detective Jacobs is a friend of Chuck's.

Mallory Carmichael is a sorceress who went bad; she was Merit's best friend until she betrayed her and all of Chicago. She's currently under a sort of house arrest working for the Chicago shifters at Berna's bar, Little Red. Gabriel Keene is "the head of the Apex of the North American Central Pack of shifters" and only willing to go so far in backing up Ethan. Fallon is Gabriel's sister, and she's in a relationship, sometimes, with Jeff. Other siblings include Ben, Christopher, and Derek---Adam was ousted for his efforts.

Diane Kowalcyzk is Chicago's new clueless mayor, who hates vampires. Enough to appoint the murderous McKetrick to an official post as head liaison in the Office of Human Liaisons---to protect humans hurt by supernaturals. Because obviously, all supernaturals are evil. Joshua is Merit's father---we'll assume Merit's mom has a name, she just doesn't seem to merit being mentioned by it; Robert and Charlotte are her siblings. Carlos Anthony Martinez was a naughty vampire who stepped outside his bounds; one whom Celine, the bad Master of Navarre, sired. Stephen Caniglia is one of the vampires Carlos sired.

Darius West leads the Greenwich Presidium (GP), which is the central authority for all vampire Houses. GP members who arrive in Chicago with him include Harold Monmouth, Danica, Diego Castillo (represents Mexico), and Lakshmi Rao. Rogue vampires are those not affiliated with a House. The Red Guard is a secret organization of vampires who vow to protect against the GP and bad Masters. There are twelve Houses: Navarre*, McDonald, Cabot, Cadogan*, Taylor, Lincoln, Washington, Heart, Lassiter, Grey*, Murphy, and Sheridan.

* Houses located in Chicago.

The Cover
The cover is dark in shades of black and gray with Merit clad in black leather pants and a red tank top, standing with her back to us as she holds open the door to Cadogan House, glancing back over her shoulder in question, her katana held down by her side.

The title can be interpreted in several ways, and my first impression when I heard it was of the rules by which the GP and Cadogan House abided. After reading it, I'd say that it's a triumph and, dude! Cadogan House RULES.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its been fun but breaking up with the series, February 7, 2013
This review is from: House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires) (Paperback)
Merit and Ethan are back and trying to get out from the GP. Rogue vamps are being killed. Merit & Ethan are living in his apartment , and are a couple.
Celina is back and helping with the discussions. Matt is the security expert and helping the house gets its info together. Jonah is back too , and her partner for the Red Guard. Merit & Ethan are working on their issues as a couple, but the whole house feels out of whack when they are disagreeing.

We do see Catcher/Jeff/ Mallory/Morgan in the book. Merit is working on her friendship with Mallory. Merit is the Nancy drew about town trying to solve the murders of the rogue vamps. There is a big bad baddie , and yes they solve it.

This book was a make or break with me with the series. This book did have sexy times, and true relationship squabbles. There was less mention of food, and it did seem to come back to its roots with snarky comments. But as a whole I have been disappointed in the last two books, and even the holdout on the vision wouldn't be enough for me to read on. So Not too sure.

This series reminds me of the scooby gang with vamps, shifters, and fairies. I was glad that this book was more adult and loved the many conversations in their room. I guess I am still at a crossroad with the series. I love that the series will recap for those readers who haven't been with it ( Not). I have been with this series since the beginning, so I might be harsher than other readers. This book was better , but after 2 misfires what is a reader to do. I did really miss Catcher & Jeff & Gabe & Jonah at times more than Merit.

I do think that its time that I break up with you book series. I can't handle all the drawing out of this relationship . Glad that this series is back to its roots , but as a fan I have been invested in the last 7 and now time to bid you adieu .
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings...Glad and disappointed., February 11, 2013
Ann (Broken Arrow, OK United States) - See all my reviews
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Mixed feelings on this one, and just to warn you there's a mild rant or two ahead in this review. For the paranormal story line...4 stars. Couple of nice mysteries going on for Merit/Ethan and the Chicago gang to solve and they were interesting enough to hold my attention along with some drama with Lacey Sheridan, that wicked from the west, and Merit's involvement with Jonah and the RG. The way I see it, this series has lost its romance and for the most part is just going paranormal. Which is okay, but it's not what initially drew me to this series. I liked the balance between the action and the romance. For me this series has lost its steam as far the main characters go. Unless CN can drum up something far more interesting with the existing characters only introducing new characters is going to spark any real interest here, and frankly I love the old characters just the way they were. If you're looking for some hot romance, don't look here. Giving this part of the bk 2 stars. Ethan/Merit are like an old boring married couple. For the first 81% of the bk (yes, really...81%!) all you get is a glance, an occasional kiss on the head, a hand held, a face stroked and a Merit that's just too tired from all her adventures to be interested in any sexual play before the sun goes down. Ho-hum, yawn. What I'd like to know is where is the alpha vamp Ethan who had a sex/blood bunnie on the side while lusting hot and heavy for Merit in the first 3 bks? Where is Merit the girl of the hour who had the vamp guys panting after her? No sexy neck biting or ravenously shared blood drinking and where the heck is the love? Ethan freaking died. You'd think he and Merit would be so ever grateful for a 2nd chance they'd be having wild monkey sex every chance they got on every surface imaginable. But N-O-O-O-! Just blah...that is until the 82% mark when Ethan throws down some jealous alpha male "Mine" kinda satisfaction. Not nearly as much as I'd like and not as in as much detail, but satisfaction none the less that the desire is still there and Ethan/Merit do love each other. Whew...worn out I'm tellin' ya just waiting for the good stuff.

This bk would have been a heck of a lot shorter had CN not input a constant re-telling of past events, descriptions and basically the who's who and what was what throughout the bk. Who needed that? What I want to know is who in the heck is just starting this series with bk #7? We already know who these people are and what happened previously, we're fans already, we've read the bks, we need less old news and more new info. Once I got the gist of how things were getting bogged down, I skipped right over all that re-telling. Seemed like every few paragraphs we were thrust back in time making the story drag. Another 2 stars.

Also missing was the witty banter and the fun mixed in with the drama. I loved the snarky comments between Merit/Mallory, for that matter Merit with just about most of the characters here...Catcher, Lyndsey, Luc, Ethan etc. The overall tone here is nothing but serious business with impending doom and gloom. There were really too few parts for all my favorite players to actually play much of a role in this story. I have to hand it to CN for attempting to include them all here, though it just wasn't much more than a brief nod to the favorites. In conclusion, was I glad I read this one? Sure, it's good to be back among the paranormals of Chicagoland, but also a tad bit disappointing too.

Soooo.....with all that....I'll go with an overall 3 stars. Happy reading!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There are plenty of surprises, humor, and secrets revealed, February 5, 2013
This review is from: House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires) (Paperback)
While Cadagon house is busy deflecting from the Greenwich Presidium rogue vampires start showing up dead. As usual a very busy Merit is on the case. We have a great array of all of our favorite characters playing a role in HOUSE RULES. We also have some we don't quite care for like Lacey who is back for to provide support to Ethan while trying to get back into his bed. While dealing with everything else its also time for Merit to be officially Sworn into the Red Guard. Merit believes whole heartedly that it is the right thing to do but Ethan's feelings are in the back of her mind and she has a bit of trouble with that. As usual we cant go one book without some sort of conflict between Ethan and Merit. Thankfully they are evolving and adapting and are able to work through things a bit better than before. They very much compliment each other and we see just how much with each book. I loved some of the thoughts Merit was having about their future which coincides with some of Gabriel's past remarks.

There are plenty of surprises, humor, and secrets revealed in HOUSE RULES that makes it another great addition to the Chicagoland Vampire series. It is a must read and the series remains one of my favorites. Book 8 BITING BAD is set to release in August thankfully so we don't have long to wait until the next installment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Merit is fierce., September 10, 2013
This review is from: House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires) (Paperback)
HOUSE RULES is the newest, fiercest addition to the Chicagoland Vampire series. If you're a veteran of the series, order this book, NOW. You won't be disappointed- If you haven't begun this series yet, you're missing out and you need to hop on the Merit & Ethan bandwagon. Nothing will stop you from flipping the pages once you've begun. HOUSE RULES is stacked with action, wit and plot twists - an urban fantasy reader's dream.

I'll be honest, the last couple books seemed a little trite and weren't as compelling as the first few. I didn't have high hopes for HOUSE RULES as I was slowly losing interest in the series. I am SO GLAD I stuck it out and picked up HOUSE RULES. I am back on the edge of my seat, waiting for more. Ethan and Merit are solid and kicking ass. Also, I know I've said this before, but Neill really is excellent at keeping you up to speed without seeming redundant.

The best part of HOUSE RULES is the evolution of Merit and Ethan and the obstacles that their relationship endures. I love the drama. Serial killers. Stubborn (awesome) Merit. This is an absolutely gripping, fast paced novel and I simply loved it. Hoping that Merit and Ethan continue to get more and more serious and Neill has lots more mystery and adventure in the upcoming novels!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars House Rules by Chloe Neill, February 25, 2013
This review is from: House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires) (Paperback)
Fans of Neill and her Chicagoland Vampire series will be pleased with her latest foray back into her exciting world of vampires, supernatural hijinks and baked meats. After a somewhat disappointing predecessor, Biting Cold, House Rules comes back with a vengeance and sets the arc and characters back on track. The GP (Greenwich Presidium) has sanctioned Cadogan House and Ethan has decided to fight back by seceding from the elitist vampire ruling council rather than taking anymore abuse. While the house is preparing for the secession, rogue vampires are turning up dead. Merit and Ethan once again place their lives on the line as they try to figure out who is killing the vampires and why.

I was pleased by the balance permeating this installment. Action, suspense, drama, romance, and humor all blend together to give us a fast paced adventurous story that hooks you from beginning to end. Merit is in top form with her snarky commentary and patent warrior skills. She has grown much through the series, but in here you get the sense that Merit is finally accepting her fate and is at peace with her turning. Ethan Sullivan, Master vampire, head of Cadogan House, and love of Merit's life, is also more stable in here. Still alpha to the core and demanding complete obedience, he is now willing and able to make concessions. The events in Biting Cold opened eyes to more than just the supernatural political unrest in Chicago. Ethan's sacrifice has drawn him and Merit back together and proven to them that they are much stronger as a pair. This is a much approved situation. While Merit and Ethan's relationship has been a strong amusing aspect of the series, the last two books left me with a bad taste in my mouth as their stubbornness was beginning to take the enjoyment out of it. They are both back and finally in sync with one another, able to adjust and weather out any bumps in their relationship rather than their usual modis operandi of running for the hills.

"So you traded up?" I asked, walking toward the car and opening the door. "Do you treat your relationships in the same way?"
"Yes," Ethan gravely said. "And I spent four hundred years shopping before I met you."

The mystery is well defined and the plotlines flow steady. Engaging characters and sustainable relationships remains a strong aspect in the overall enjoyment of this series. The dialogue alone, sharp and witty, will keep you laughing and fist pumping at the most inappropriate times. Old and new enemies come into play as Merit and Ethan work to stay one step ahead of the GP and figure out who is killing their kind. We see many old friends and get a small look at how their lives are progressing. Mallory's present and paying for her `lapse in judgment' by working with the shapeshifters. I like that she and Merit are slowly rebuilding the friendship they lost.

Catcher makes an appearance and we see that he and Mallory are trying to get back to where they were before. No promises are made but I have a good feeling about them. We also see a major step taken concerning Merit's relationship with the Red Guard, which in turn affects Ethan.

All in all, House Rules is a story of hope, redemption, and new beginnings. I recommend this series to everyone who enjoys a dark humorous Urban Fantasy with plenty of action, romance, and snark. 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. Characters evolve and bleed over into to each new story with no real pauses in between.

Overall Rating: B
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They are fighting again!!!, February 24, 2013
Maya (Waterbury, CT, USA) - See all my reviews
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I want to be very clear: I love this series, it's one of my favorites. But the fighting between Merit and Ethan is taking away from my overall enjoying of the story.
I understand that Ethan felt betrayed and that Merit should have told him about the RG before the bomb was dropped in his lap by Lacey - she though Merit was having an affair with Jonah and that is how she told Ethan. But then he turns around and uses Lacey to make Merit jealous. It does not seem like something a 400 year old man should do.
The fight between Jonah and Ethan was amusing but I agree with Merit, they should just pull it out and measure it.
I just hope we don't see more fighting from Merit and Ethan in future books. United front against our enemies and all that.
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House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires)
House Rules (Chicagoland Vampires) by Chloe Neill (Paperback - February 5, 2013)
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