After the events in Drink Deep, Merit and Ethan are on their journey to Nebraska, to fight Mallory for the Maleficium. She’s obsessed with the book and nearly destroyed Chicago in her attempts to get it. Even though the Order were in charge of keeping her captive, she escaped her cell and now it’s Ethan and Merit’s turn to clean up the mess.
It’s been such a delight to see Merit grow throughout the series and she’s now a character I fully root for when reading the Chicagoland Vampires series. She has the perfect balance of fighting prowess, a tough personality, yet vulnerability that makes her a believable protagonist. After Ethan’s absence in Drink Deep, it was great to see him back, and along with that, the sexual frustration between him and Merit, as he decides to put their relationship on hold. Again. Merit decides to be mature, and carries on with her job as Sentinel efficiently, but she’s hurt by Ethan’s constant rejection. As Sentinel, she has a lot of responsibilities and people relying on her, and as usual, Merit took this in her stride. It’s been under a year since Merit was made a Vampire, and in that time she has been on many hit lists and overcome many battles. She’s professional and damn efficient at her job, and to Ethan’s surprise, she can handle it more than competently. In Biting Cold, we see her ‘badass’ tendencies and gain a slight look into Merit’s vulnerable side, which made her more authentic and exposed, but it didn’t slow her down.
Ethan and Merit are both complex characters, each have learnt something from the other, and their constant back and forth was entertaining, as well as emotional. Ethan was missed in the previous book and now that he’s back, he’s just as much an alpha as before, if not more so. I like Ethan’s character and the frustration between him and Merit was intense, to say the least. It reminded me how much he was missed- yet I still think Jonah is a great addition to the series. Mallory inadvertently tests the security of Ethan and Merit’s relationship and puts a stress on them as a couple. Ethan’s in a difficult position now that he’s suddenly returned from the dead, as Darius’ visit is at an unhelpful time and nobody’s quite sure who the master is.
“For now, with his emerald eyes locked on mine, where I was going didn't seem so scary.”
Mallory was really annoying me in the previous book, and I was glad that Merit didn’t easily excuse her of the pain she’d caused. I pitied Mallory in Biting Cold, and Chloe Neill did a very good job of keeping her fairly likeable, so I assume her character will be recovered in the next couple of books. The focus turns away from her and more onto other issues with different power plays and creatures such as Claudia- the Fae queen- who Merit encounters more than once.
The plot was engaging, and very entertaining, as new characters join the fray, each with their own funny one-liners. There’s a undertone of humour that lightens the mood and makes it more amusing, especially Merits love for Mallocakes.
“Your Mallocakes may be hard to find.”
“That’s why I packed a box in my duffel bag.”
He burst out laughing like I’d told the funniest joke he’d ever heard, but I’d told the absolute truth. Mallocakes were a favorite dessert—chocolate cakes filled with marshmallow cream—and they were exceedingly hard to find. I’d brought some along just in case.”