Jan 26 2013 11:00am

First Look: Chloe Neill’s House Rules (February 5, 2013)

House Rules by Chloe NeillChloe Neill
House Rules
NAL / 
February 5, 2013 / $15.00 paperback, $9.99 digital

At the tender age of 27, Merit became a sword-wielding vampire. Since then, she’s become the protector of her House, watched Chicago nearly burn to the ground, and seen her Master fall and rise. Now she’ll see her mettle—and her metal —tested like never before.

It started with two . . . Two rogues vanishing without a trace. Someone is targeting Chicago’s vampires, and anyone could be next. With their house in peril, Merit and her Master, the centuries old Ethan Sullivan, must race to stop the disappearances. But as they untangle a web of secret alliances and ancient evils, they realize their foe is more familiar, and more powerful, than they could have ever imagined.

There are two main things that make Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series standout. The crazy will-they-won’t-they tension between vampire Merit and Master vampire Ethan Sullivan is the first. The second is the robustness of the characters. Every person in Neill’s world is vibrant and real. You want to be friends with them, you want to know what’s going on. In many ways, Neill’s Chicago is an edgier, urban Bon Temps.

The strain on Merit’s relationships with friends and Ethan tempered that looking glass element in the last couple books. With House Rules, all our favorite characters come back to life in a way that makes us cheer for and worry about them.

Merit is back to being Merit. She’s cautiously happy about her relationship with Ethan. Yes, they are together. For real. They live together and everything. She’s still plowing forward with what she thinks is right—most notably her participation with the Red Guard. She’s funny, as expected, and makes Ethan go to a diner for food. Even gets him to order a Patty Melt. You know he loves her.

I can’t say Ethan Sullivan hasn’t changed. He’s bolder, believe it or not, after his staking experience. That said, he has the same arrogance and devotion that made readers (and Merit) fall for him in the first place. We get more of him than usual because he and Merit are together. He’s charming and dirty at times. He also makes a zombie joke. About himself. Lighthearted Sullivan isn’t a bad thing.

Mallory is back, too. Kind of. She isn’t a dominant force in this book, but she and Merit really are on the track to being good friends again. She’s clean from the magic (Scolding from Berta will do that.) She’s back to colorful hair and a sunnier disposition. Merit goes to her for solace, and it works. Mallory is a source of support instead of just another keg of stress. Also, the return of the nickname Darth Sullivan.

We see Jeff Christopher as more of a leading guy at the unofficial Ombuds office. That means he’s around more. He hangs with Merit some, and despite his serious crush on her, continues to remind her that he has a girlfriend. It’s adorable and one-hundred percent Jeff.

Even the moments with Lindsay, Luc, Margot and Darius feel right. House Rules puts all the Chicagoland Vampires characters back on track, and that makes for a solid novel.


While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. Her appreciation of Alexander Skarsgard is well documented. Bother her on Twitter — @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.

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B Kinaird
1. B Kinaird
Thanks for the 'first look', Chelsea. I shall go ahead and order a copy now. Since Hard Bitten, I sit firmly on the fence with this series until the reviews for each book come out. That's the way of it when your reading preference is for fictional relationships in the vein of Eve/Roarke, Kate/Curran, Claire/Jamie etc. and not the tedious triangle or the bait and switch maneuver. Chicagoland, I'm a bit iffy about. ;)

Look forward to your full review on VBC.
2. ChelseaMueller
@B Kinaird - This one feels much more like the earlier books. Simplier mystery element and stronger characters. Also, there is not a huge cliffhanger at the end. Nothing like the Hard Bitten craziness. (Also, very happy to have VBC readers here, too! Full review will run there on Feb. 5.)
Megan Frampton
3. MFrampton
I agree that this feels like the earlier books--I just started reading, and I like it better than the last couple.
B Kinaird
4. Stacey M
Like B Kinaird, I am a huge fan of Eve/Roarke type relationships, but there is just something about Merit & Ethan that makes it impossible to stay away. I spend the majority of each book on the edge of my seat biting my nails or wanting to smack Darth Sullivan into submission ;) I am anxiously waiting to read House Rules to find out what happens next. Thanks for the first look!
Michelle Palmer
5. ChelleP
Although this novel sounds promising (and the cover art is incredible), Drink Deep was my last Chloe Neill novel, and I only read it to make sure Ethan was alive and kicking. Yes, I admit it, I was in love with Ethan Sullivan. Oh, Ms. Neill, you broke my heart when you staked him right at the END of the book, forcing me to wait months to see if he would make it back. Hmmm, maybe I'm taking this too personally. lol.

Maybe I'll pick the last two up later...after my brain has blocked out the betrayal in Hard Bitten. ;)
B Kinaird
6. B Kinaird
@ChelseaMueller - That's what I'm hearing. :)

@ChelleP - I know, what a downer! I read Hard Bitten the day after attending a friend's funeral. Choosing it because historically the books were a fun read and that's what I needed. Ha! I developed an allergy toward this series for a good long while. ;)
B Kinaird
7. tonidh69
Ok, I am reading this currently and so far so good. But I am intrigued about the other couples listed above. I LOVE Kate/Curran, so if the other 2 couples listed run along those lines I would definately be interested. What books are those from?
Also, I would add Cat/Bones, Mercy/Adam, to that list.
8. Kareni
Eve/Roarke are from J.D. Robb's ... in Death series.

Claire/Jamie are from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.
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