*******NOTE: There are spoilers for previous books in this series, as well as spoilers for Drink Deep*********
The first three books of this series I loved and adored. I recommended them to many based on their snark and action appeal. But then Hard Bitten came along, and at the end, the vampire hero Ethan dies. Stake in the heart, turns to ashes. The end.
I did the whole - wait, what? Let me read that again. Seriously? I may have thrown the book across the room. I'm all for cliff hangers - I enjoy being miserable along with my friends. But this just didn't feel right. After 3 books, and most of 4, I didn't want the hero of the series to be dead. I actually thought by the end of book four Merit and Ethan would finally trust each other enough to be together. I wasn't only angry that the hero dies, but I was angry that we were still being dragged along in this series without some good solid romance. I was bitter and angry, and I remained bitter and angry as I started Drink Deep - did it skew my opinion of this book - maybe. Just putting that out there.
Now I assumed all along that Ethan would eventually come back. He has to, right? Right. I was more worried with the "how." HOW will Chloe Neill bring him back, and will it be plausible? I'll answer that in a minute. First let me set up this book.
Drink Deep starts two months after Hard Bitten ends. Right here is a problem for me because we miss all of Merit's mourning. Although sad, she is basically ready to get back to work. I think we needed to be a part of her intense mourning instead of just telling us she mourned.
Malik is now in charge of Cadogen House and has problems. The water in Lake Michigan has turned a dark, inky black and has stopped moving altogether. The public is quick to blame the vampires, but they have had nothing to do with it. Not wanting anymore riots, Merit knows they must get to the bottom of this before the public acts against the vampires even more than they do now. Now that she doesn't have Ethan to work with anymore, she turns to Jonah. Jonah is captain of the guards for Grey House, but he is also secretly a member of the Red Guard, "a secret organization dedicated to providing oversight to the American vampire Houses and the Greenwich Presidium (GP), the European council that ruled them from across the pond." Jonah has been pressuring Merit to join the Red Guard for quite some time. With the offer still open, he agrees to help Merit investigate this weird disturbance.
Meanwhile back at Cadogen House, Franklin Cabot has been appointed receiver of Cadogen House. The GP has decided they didn't like the way Cadogen House was run, so Frank was sent in to evaluate the house. He has also changed many rules and has become a complete pain in the ass for everyone that lives at Cadogen. Merit is also have vivid dreams of Ethan, usually involving some crisis, but waking up right before anything devastating happens. When the sky suddenly turns red, they realize they must get to the bottom of this before action is taken against the supernaturals.
I'll start by saying I think this book is on the slow side. Maybe that is because I was waiting, and waiting for the Ethan situation to be addressed. But while there is some action with the water turning black, and the sky turning red, there really isn't a lot going on. While Mallory is still working with Simon to pass her sorceress tests - Lindsey fills in with the snarkiness, which drew me to this series to begin with.
I was worried that Jonah would become a new love interest for Merit, and while I'm happy to say there really isn't a love triangle that develops, I don't understand Jonah's role in this book. He felt more as just a place marker in the book until Ethan could come back. There is a secret that develops between Merit and Jonah (nothing romance related) and I can see in the future this might cause tension for Merit's relationship with Ethan....and this worries me. Maybe it won't happen - but Jonah definitely has a thing for Merit, even if she doesn't necessarily return those feelings. And keeping secrets from Ethan regarding Jonah- I can see this as a set up for drama and I really hope in the next book we get a more smooth road for these two.
I've reflected as to why this series is turning me off so much and this is what I've come up with. In most UF series we read, the good guys (heroine, hero, supporting characters) are usually fighting an evil outside force. They work together to defeat this evil. What I don't like about the direction this series is going is that traumatic things keep happening to main characters.(At the end of Drink Deep another favorite character has something bad happen) They are becoming different people than how they were presented at the beginning of the series. And I don't mean they are growing and changing in a good way. I don't want to read about awful things happening to the characters I love. I want to read about the characters I love helping each other to face down the villains I love to hate.
Ethan dying wore me out and I'm really unhappy with "the how" as I mentioned above. Really unhappy. Very lackluster scene at the end. And I fear when we find out how the new predicament is to be resolved with another favorite character (the way it is set up I can't imagine it with a positive result) I will also be disappointed.
Maybe I'm just bitter over the end of the previous book, but I don't like the end of this one either. The big scene at the end lacked emotion, which is my biggest disappointment. And then another cliffhanger. Not what I was expecting.