I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This urban fantasy is a paperback edition that was published by New American Library (NAL) on February 5, 2013 and has 352 pages.
Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites, Twice Bitten, Hard Bitten, Firespell, Hexbound, Drink Deep, Charmfall, Biting Cold, Biting Bad, Kicking It, Blood Games, The Veil, Midnight Marked, Dark Debt, The Sight, Blade Bound, The Hunt
Seventh in the Chicagoland Vampires urban fantasy series. In my opinion, this is written to an early teen audience.
In 2013, House Rules was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy.
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…
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.
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.
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 and Title
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.