3.5 stars might be a tiny bit unfair. This is probably more of a 4 star read, but I'd have enjoyed this last book in the series more if Neill had opted to end on a bang, rather than full-scale mass destruction.
Merit and Ethan and the rest of the scooby gang are trying to enjoy peace and quiet and a wedding, but the after-party comes with snow. In August. After that all hell breaks loose as an old enemy isn't as vanquished as they'd hoped. And boy is she pissed.
The thing is, I don't like sequels all that much when they involve 'the return of..'; I was disappointed at the end of the last book (#12) because the big bad was hauled off to jail. Nobody with half a brain could think that would end well. So having her evilness come back felt a bit 'here we go again'. However, I loved what Neill did with Chicago, and I loved, loved, loved how Ms. Evil met her end. It was fitting and it was hilarious.
But I love these characters; they're the sort I'd like to call friends. Merit and Mallory have the best dialogs. I think, given enough popcorn and iced tea, I could just sit back and listen to these two talk to each other for hours.
My entire immediate family is from Chicago, save myself, so I have an inherited affection for that gorgeous city (Go Cubs!), and it was painful to watch Neill tear it up. And she didn't mess around; she immediately went straight to the landmarks any Chicagoan knows and loves; she didn't even spare the lions! This made reading difficult; I kept thinking no, no, not Shed's... dammit...omg, NOT WATER TOWER PLACE!
Of course, the good guys win in the end - that's not a spoiler; it's the last book in the series, so of course they are going to triumph. Normally, in this situation, I enjoy an epilogue; a little something to give me some view of how it all works out in the long run. Honestly though? Here, I'd have been happier without it. It verged on twee. I can't believe Neill went twee on me. But... glancing at the book ads at the end, it seems she's creating a new series based on the two characters in that twee little scene, so I suppose there was a method to her madness.
I've love this series madly, and I think the author brought it to an end at a good time and place. I'll try the new series, although I'm not sure Chicagoland will hold the same appeal to me without her landmarks and without Merit's and Mallory's witty repartee.
Total pages: 361
$ Banked: $3.00
Note: Chicago has the El subway system, which Merit and Mallory use to escape something chasing them, but there is also, as it turns out, travel by air; not on a plane, but spoilers would be involved in the telling, so I'll just say Merit definitely travels by air at one point. ;-)