Category Archives: Black Dagger Brotherhood

Fangtastic Friday: Fan Fiction spotlight – Black Dagger Brotherhood

Fan Fiction is a great way to experience our favorite book characters in scenarios the original authors maybe never intended for them, or to complete cliffhanger stories in ongoing popular series.  Authors of fan fiction can explore alternate endings and expand storylines, change the dynamics of relationships between the characters and add their own twist to the story universes.  Many amateur writers use fan fiction as a springboard into possible careers and one of the biggest challenges is in creating a believable story while capturing the spirit of the original author’s style and nuances.

One of the most exciting times to explore fan fiction is during lulls and breaks in current ongoing storylines.  The incredibly popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward has dedicated some serious face time to the intense-yet-complicated burgeoning relationship between Blay and Qhuinn, two young vampire soldiers who fight alongside the Brothers, and readers have been clamoring for more more MORE!  Ms. Ward, however, most definitely has her own plan and the official timeline is taking a while to unfold, so in the mean time we can experience what we want to see develop with Blay and Qhuinn through fan fiction!

A friend in our Twilight Meetup group, knowing how ridiculously BDB crazed we all are, recommended a fan fiction piece that features Blay and Qhuinn.  (Shoutout to Chantal!)  “It was just as steamy as the real BDB books!” she said.  After finishing it, I have to say that is no joke!  In fact, this fanfic is a little closer to erotica than the PNR Ms. Ward typically delivers, but the story has heart and most of the characters are pretty spot on.

Go here to read the full story on fanfiction.net or here to read it directly from the author’s blog.  Note that this story takes place just after Lover Mine (John Matthew’s story, book #8) and doesn’t sync up with the events that happen in Payne’s book (Lover Unleashed, #9).  It is also exclusively a M/M romance and the scenes are explicit, so anyone who has issues with that type of story probably shouldn’t read this.  That said, it was intense and getting to see a resolution between Qhuinn and Blay was fulfilling even if it’s not the “real” story.   Enjoy!

Info about Lovers Destined:

Excerpt from Lovers Destined:

He heard the heavy footsteps across his bedroom. It wasn’t Saxton’s reflection that appeared in the mirror behind him. It was the most beautiful creation he had ever seen. Those gorgeous mismatched eyes locked on his through the mirror as Qhuinn leaned in the bathroom doorway. “Where’re you going?”

Blay had to clear his throat in order to speak. No matter how many times he looked at Qhuinn, the guy always took his breath away. It didn’t help that he was standing there without his shirt on. “Dinner,” he replied.

“With Sax?” Blay nodded. “Not going to that homophobe cigar bar, are you?”

“Why do you care?” He tried to pull his eyes away from Qhuinn, but couldn’t manage to do so. By this time, his gaze was running across his broad chest, his perfect abs and down to the v-shaped pelvic muscle peeping out above the dark, designer jeans that rested low on his hips. God, those hips; he wanted to grab on to those hips.

“You know I care, Blay.”

“Not really,” Blay mumbled under his breath, placing his hands on the tile counter in front of him.

Qhuinn crossed his arms across his chest. It was something he did when he was nervous. Blay had watched him for so long that he was able to pick up on all of his gestures. “Well I do care and besides that, I need to know if I should be ready to take down some more bastard humans tonight.”

“That won’t be necessary.” He finally let his eyes pull away from Qhuinn. “We’re just going to have dinner.” The silence between them lasted for so long that Blay had to look up and see if Qhuinn had left. “Is there something else that you needed because I should probably finish getting ready?”

Qhuinn uncrossed his arms and started walking towards Blay, closing the distance between them in two wide strides. His strong hands came down on Blay’s shoulders causing him to stop breathing. “Blay,” he whispered. Qhuinn buried his face between Blay’s shoulder blades while his hands slid from his shoulders all the way down his bulging biceps, his tense forearms and finally stopping softly on top of his hands that were resting on the counter. “I just needed to see you.”

Qhuinn dropped his hold on Blay and backed up towards the door. Blay was staring at him through the mirror in complete shock. “If you run into any trouble, you know how to reach me. I’ll be there in a split second.” Qhuinn turned and walked out of the room.

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Fangtastic Friday: The Alpha Showdown is ON! Bones & Cat go fang-to-fang!

I came across this great review blog last week via Facebook and LOVE the Alpha Showdown idea!  The Vampire Book Club has set up a tournament bracket, pitting some of our favorite heroes and heroines of paranormal romance & urban fantasy against each other.  The contest is billed as an “alpha” showdown, implying it’s about strength of leadership but it’s feeling more like a “who could kick whose ass in a fight” sort of thing.  Really either way is fun, so no complaint here!  In the first two showdowns, one of my personal favorite paranormal romance couples, the Night Huntress series’ Cat & Bones, won their respective matches and are moving on to the next round… to fight EACH OTHER!  *gasp*

Soooooo, this is either some really bad bracket seeding or a nice ironic jab at the power couple.  Now there’s a tough choice for voters: powerful, sexy, badass, dirty-fighting Bones or his one-of-a-kind vampire-blood-drinking mate, whom he trained personally.  My first instinct is “Bones, hands down”.  He’s got at least a century on Cat, extra strength and abilities, and knows all her weaknesses.  That said, she knows all of his weaknesses too, and she tops his list of “people I’d rather die for than sneeze at”.  She also could drain him of all his blood and absorb some of his powers… if she could hold him down long enough.  Mmmm, toss -up.

Now, that said, this is the showdown doesn’t necessarily have to involve fighting.  When it comes to straight leadership, it’s still a tight race, with both of them having headed up separate successful and powerful organizations, but I think the scales tip a little to Bones on that front.  She does allow him to dominate her though (well, moreso than the other way around at least), and that’s what being “alpha” is about – convincing others to accept you as their leader, whether through fighting, love,  loyalty, or manipulation.  Who will win?  You’ll have to check back and see!

Other notable match-ups are…

  • Anita Blake vs Eugenie Markham
  • Zsadist vs Curran (I’d have rather seen Vishous here! /pout)
  • Eric Northman vs Raphael (this one should be interesting)
To follow the action, check out The Vampire Book Club and cast your vote!  The competition bracket is below, if you want a sneak peek…
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Review: Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #9), by J.R. Ward

TLDR recap:

With her life in jeopardy and her mobility possibly permanently impaired, Payne faces some difficult decisions.  Her healer Manny, a world class surgeon and head of surgery at the local hospital faces some difficult circumstances himself when his efforts to save Payne begin to impact his career.  Payne’s twin brother Vishous and his mate Jane have a rough ride in store for them as well, as they work through V’s frustration & anger at the decisions made by his and Payne’s unconventional parents.  A good read – not as spectacular as some of the previous BDB novels, but definitely worth picking up!

  • Title: Lover Unleashed
  • Series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood – book #9
  • Author: J. R. Ward
  • Prominent Characters: Payne, Manny, Vischous, Jane
  • Recommended reader age: 17+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

After suffering a paralyzing injury, Payne’s life (as well as her mobility) is in jeopardy.  When Doc Jane realizes the damage is too great for her to repair, she goes on a hunt for the one man she knows has a chance of saving Payne: Head of Surgery, Dr. Manuel Manello.  Manny and Payne share an instant connection, but will she ever walk again and how will he deal with the news that Jane really isn’t gone and vampires actually do walk among us?

Thoughts:

WARNING: This review will include some spoilers, most minor or mid-range but some possibly large ones involving the plot’s turning points. If you already know you want to read this book, WAIT til after you finish it to read my review, then see if we agree!  If you have not read the BDB series and are looking for a review to decide if you should, then look at either Dark Lover (BDB #1) or Lover Eternal (BDB #2) as this newest one is good, but by no means the highlight of the series.

The title of this book is a little misleading, assuming it is supposed to describe the featured couple or “warrior”.  Payne is more “unleashed” in her sparring sessions with Wrath in the previous books than she is throughout this entire novel.  “Lover unleashed” is more more applicable to V, as he learns to relinquish his vicious self-control… literally, un-leashed from the “predilections” that trapped him in his previous destructive BDSM spiral.  Payne’s personality is nearly unrecognizable compared to the tenacious & serious, almost savage, amazon she was introduced as in a previous novel.  Some of this is understandable, considering how crushing it would be to be faced with permanent paralysis as a warrior, but far too much time is spent on this period of weakness and inactivity for Payne to really grow as a character.  Then, when she does finally become mobile and has a chance to be “normal” again, she acts more like a giddy young girl than a 300-year old fighter.  Sure, being in love makes you do silly things, makes you giggle and skip and spin in place, but I felt it was too harsh a departure from the personality we (the readers) had already been introduced to and accepted throughout Wrath’s sparring sessions and her interactions with Layla.

Too much of this book feels transitory for it to be strong enough to stand on its own.  For a reader new to the series, I would say absolutely do NOT read this novel first!  Obviously, starting at the beginning is best, but most of the other books are strong enough that a new reader could pick them up and enjoy the stories even with the multiple story arcs and ever-growing roster of characters.  Lover Unleashed reads as if its the middle film in a trilogy (hello, The Two Towers and Empire Strikes Back!) – it’s more a way to get there from here, and to wrap up plotlines while introducing yet another.  I don’t mind the sideline plots, because sometimes they turn into fantastic drama, but at least give us a little more of the one we all REALLY want to see: Blay & Quinn!  How many books is she going to stretch that one out before it comes to some kind of conclusion (oh, and please be the outcome I think we all want!)?  What about Muhrder from book 8 (Lover Mine)?  A substantial amount of book-time went to setting up that whole “ghost” scenario at his mansion, then revealing who he is on TV, then there’s not even a reference to it in this one.  I think this is the first time a developing plotline like that has been dropped completely from one book to another.  What about Lassiter?

“When John and Xhex came down with Blay and Saxton, the only people not in attendance were Quinn and Tohrment, who were likely in the gym, and Marissa, who was at Safe Place.”

So now that John Matthew’s story is wrapped up and Tohr doesn’t need the angel’s constant supervision, will we be seeing him again?  I’ll be sad if the answer to that is “no”, because, honestly, who can resist a cocky, arrogant, asshole angel with a big squishy (yet well-armored) heart?  Maybe the cast of characters is just becoming too large to fit them all into each novel.

A couple things really bothered me about Payne’s abduction toward the end…

1) Her abduction was fishy and too convenient (read: predictable).  Considering how well previous story lines have worked out after some of the leading ladies were abducted, Ms. Ward could have made an abduction like this work, but this just had no heat to it… no drive.  It felt flat.  A warrior like Payne so easily apprehended?  Dozens of lessers showing up just as Xcor and his guys do – that’s more than coincidence; it’s a forced plot device.  Sadly, I was actually glad to see her abducted.  Payne spends so much of the book struggling and weak, then girly and flighty, putting her in a situation like this was really the only way to quickly give her back some of the spine she had before the accident.

2) Payne was able to resolve the entire abduction situation by just standing there and talking.  Really?  The big bad glowy she-warrior doesn’t even get to fight for herself?   Part of the reason the abduction portion of the story feels so flat is because it’s not believeable.  We know she can burn with her touch – that’s how she killed her father in the Prologue of the book – so would we really believe she’d be successfully restrained and tortured using just steel or iron manacles?  Then she just talks her captor out of something he’s believed & fought for all of his life, after which he proceeds to protect her from his own men at his own peril?  Uh… no.  And B-O-R-I-N-G!

Memorable quotes:

If only there were a 12-step program on how to be the Scribe Virgin’s son…

Hi, I’m Vishous.  I’m her son, and I’ve been her son for 300 years.

Hi, Vishous.

She’s done a head job on me again, ad I’m trying not to go to the Other Side and scream bloody murder at her.

We understand, Vishous.

And on that bloody note, I’d like to dig up my father and kill him all over again, but I can’t.  So I’m just going to try to keep my sister alive even though she’s paralyzed, and attempt to find some pain so I can deal with this Payne.

You’re a straight-up pussy, Vishous, but we support your sorry ass.

The word “boot” is mentioned THREE times within 2 chapters!  Oh noes, invashun of teh BOOTS!

“I’m going to work on you,” Manny said.  “You got a problem with that?”

“Not if you can keep me from bleeding out.”

“Consider it done.”  Manny grabbed a pair of scissors.  “I’m going to cut off your pant leg first and ditch the boot.”

“Shitkicker,” the guy groaned.

“Fine.  Whatever you call it, it’s coming off.”

The new & improved, sensitive V? Nah…

Next thing he knew he was going to be on TV, staring into a camera and saying, “All it takes is a little dab of Self-awareness… and then I rinse with the patented Defining Yourself Wash, and my mind and emotions are clean and glowing – “.

Ok, now he was really losing his damn marbles, true.

Oh, the bromance!

“One other thing.”

“What.”

“I think we’re dating now.”  As V barked out a laugh, the cop shrugged.  “Come on… I got you naked.  You wore a damn corset.  And don’t get me started about the sponge bath afterward.”

“Fucker.”

“To the end.”

If you like…

If you like Lover Unleashed and the Black Dagger Brotherhood and haven’t yet been introduced to Cat & Bones, I highly encourage you to invest some quality time with them – there’s a duo that will knock your socks off and take you on an emotional rollercoaster comparable to some of the BDB novels!  Cat & Bones are the featured couple in the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost, which (at the time of this posting) has 5 core books and 2 Night Huntress World novels (as well as a few short stories and novellas featured in genre compilations).

You might also enjoy the Meredith Gentry series by Laurel K. Hamilton.  Yes, that Laurel K. Hamilton – the one who writes the infamous Anita Blake books.  The Merry Gentry series is a little less smutty (although honestly, not by too much) and has stronger plotlines, and her relationships with her “merry band of men” can get pretty intense, much like some of the BDB relationships.  If you have an aversion to sexual exhibitionism and three(plus)-somes, Meredith Gentry may not be your bag, but if you can get through that (or if that’s what you’re looking for!), give her a try – it’s a little more tame than Anita Blake, and a lot more emotional.

Final thoughts:

As much as this was a tough book for Payne, with her paralysis & uncertain future, it was an even rougher story for Vishous.  The emotional breakdown scenes were skillfully written and you can tell Ms. Ward really enjoys writing these characters (even though V seems to have a strange animosity toward her in his interviews and comments on the BDB forums).

This book is really more about V & Jane than it is about Payne & Manny.   Payne & Manny almost feel more like side characters than the featured couple, to the point that this is easily Lover Unbound 2.0.  Now I’m not complaining – V is one of my favorite characters in the series, so more face (and body!) time with him is A-okay with me.  Of course, his penthouse scenes in this book feature more B&M than D&S, but getting to see the Butch/V bond again was totally worth it.  I also enjoyed the references to the iconic “bathroom sink” scene from Lover Unbound (oh la la!).

Overall, even with all my b*tching and moaning above, I did enjoy this book and I will probably read (parts of) it again.  V’s story arc is strong enough to carry the weaker Payne/Manny story, and the emotional complexity of Xcor and Throe will make for an interesting new plotline.  John Matthew is hands-down my favorite character in this series, with Quinn and Blay close seconds, so obviously Lover Mine was going to be a super-tough act to follow.  I’m really curious who the next couple will be.  Ms. Ward didn’t set one up in this novel, so unless she plans on bringing in another brand new character (which would be out of place, considering how, with the exception of Mary, the rest of the characters are interwoven and developed before being cast as part of a featured couple), could it actually be Quinn’s and Blay’s turn?

Rating:

 

 

4.25 fangs: BITE IT, but try not to think about how ridiculously awesome Lover Mine was, and just enjoy the ride!

Related links:

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.htm

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/


Black Dagger Brotherhood merchandise & 5 Days of Payne countdown

Lover Unleashed, Payne’s book (#9 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series), releases this coming Tuesday, March 29th.  Starting yesterday, Ms. Ward is posting a video teaser each day on her Facebook page, giving us little snippets about Payne and the book.  I haven’t been able to link them here, so to see the videos (which are about 15 seconds each, or less), search Facebook for “J. R. Ward” and click her name in the search results (her current Profile Pic is the cover of Lover Unleashed, so it’s hard to miss!). 

Ms. Ward also has a line of Black Dagger Brotherhood merchandise available at her CafePress site, located here

100% of the profits from the sale of BDB merchandise go to support animal charities.  Want to see a preview of what’s in the store?  Look below! 

If you haven’t yet read through the end of Lover Enshrined (#6) beware the spoiler at the very bottom of this post.  =)

 

OK, here’s the spoiler! 

If you have NOT READ LOVER ENSHRINED (BDB #6) and do NOT WANT TO SEE A SPOILER, ignore this next image!! 

You’ve been warned.  =D


Get a personalized autographed copy of the new Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, Lover Unleashed!

If you, like the rest of Ms. Wards legions of impatiently loyal fans, are fiending for the next chapter in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, rejoice, because it’s only a week away!  Then rejoice some more because you can get a personalized, autographed hardback copy of the book signed by J. R. Ward herself!

Now personally, I read everything in ebook format, but this is very tempting even for me.  To order your personalized autographed copy, go here and carefully read all the instructions before making your purchase.  The cost is the list price of $27.95 + (possibly) shipping.  If you order online at Barnes & Noble, you can get the hardback for $15.35 but you don’t get the autograph or personalization.  This offer ends at the close of the business day this Thursday, March 24th… so if you want it, jump on it!

No matter which way you choose though, you’ll still come out ahead because the wait is almost over!!


Review: Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood #8) by J. R. Ward

TLDR recap:

In this 8th installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Ms. Ward drops us right back into the middle of the Brothers vs Lessers conflict and holds nothing back.  After his Xhex was taken during a raid at the end of book 7, John Matthew & the Brotherhood spend 4 weeks searching for her while she is hidden right under their noses.  Imprisoned and abused at the hands of Lash, John’s old enemy and the son of nasty big bad “the Omega”, Xhex is struggling to retain her sanity and her identity.   This book is smokin’ hot, viciously intense, and a roller coaster ride through the spectrum of emotions.

  • Title: Lover Mine
  • Series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood series – book #8
  • Author: J. R. Ward
  • Prominent Characters: John Matthew, Xhex, Quinn, Blaylock, & Tohrment
  • Recommended reader age: 17+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

John Matthew and the Brotherhood must find Xhex before Lash turns or kills her, or she dies from lack of male vampire blood.  The clock is ticking and, though her body is physically still strong, her fragile psyche is constantly teased with the knowledge that even if they found her, they wouldn’t be able to help her.  John is out of control, behaving like a bonded male and taking crazy risks to try to find his female.  Meanwhile, a new story arc is begun and an existing storyline is developed even more intensely.

Thoughts:

The long-awaited John Matthew book is a doozey.  It was one of those books I couldn’t stop reading, but didn’t want to finish.  I found myself constantly checking my progress (e-reader) to see how much more story I had left before the book was over!  All the Brotherhood books are intense and addicting, but this one in particular really had me all wrapped up in it.  Some of the scenes with Quinn and Blay were just heart-rending, and John’s personality is so intense yet self-sacrificing that it’s hard to not be fully invested in his situation.

This book wraps up a few story arcs that feature John Matthew, particularly the bitterness & regret between him and Tohr, the Lash conflict, and his eerie insta-connection with Xhex.  We also get to see some of the Darius history & character development.  Personally, I want him to remember and know and I was hoping that would happen in this novel, but that’s either not in the cards on purpose or is being held as an ace for a later book.  It’ll be fun to keep reading and see if Ms. Ward ever lets him in on the big secret.  😉

I will say that, initially, the new storyline taking place at the old manor bed and breakfast with the ghost of Elias Rathboone was an unwelcome intrusion, but after figuring out where it was heading I started to enjoy it.  That said, I’d probably have felt that way about any departure from the main storylines because they were SO INTENSE in this one.

On a separate note, I really love how Ms. Ward doesn’t play it safe with the homosexual undertones in this series.  First it was Butch & V, and now Quinn and Blay.  We know that nothing came of Butch & V, but I think we haven’t seen the last of Quinn & Blay, and we get a glimpse of that in this book.  Those scenes are really well done too – descriptive enough to portray the emotions but discreet enough to keep from turning away some sensitive readers.

You might also like…

It’s hard to think of anything right now that gives such a complete and satisfying escape into the story as this series does.  When I read the BDB books, I literally cannot put them down and become obsessively lost in the stories.  Using that as a gauge, there are a few other series that have a similar effect on me, although with slightly less intensity…

If you like the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Lover Mine, you might also like the Night Huntress Series (Cat & Bones) by Jeaniene Frost and the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance.  Not to be too critical of Ms. Harris, but the Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles) series, while entertaining & enjoyable, don’t even come close to this level of intensity and vivid emotional commitment for me.  Since I really like SS/SVC, that’s saying a lot for the BDB!  I’m still looking for something that hits as hard as the BDB series does, so if you have a recommendation for me, post a comment and let me know!  I need my next fix.  *grin*

Memorable quotes:

Vampires have bromances too…

Chronologically speaking, Blaylocke son of Rocke had known John Matthew for just over a year.

But that was not a true reflection of the bromance.  There were two timelines to people’s lives: the absolute and the perceived.  The absolute was the universal day-and-night cycle that for them added to something like three hundred and sixty-five.  Then there was the way that time period had gone, the events, the deaths, the destruction, the training, the fighting.

He figured all told… that pegged the two of them at about four hundred thousand years.

On loving and losing…

The thing was, all mortals were going to lose the ones they loved.  It was the way life worked.  But for most of the time, that reality was so far off in the mind that it had no more weight than a mere hypothetical.  There were reminders, however, and the almost’s, the near-misses, the oh-God-please-no’s, snapped your chain and got you to stop and feel what was in your heart.


Final thoughts:

With each new book in this series (with the exception of maybe Phury’s book, which didn’t give me quite the same rush), Ms. Ward continues to masterfully interweave her vivid rainbow of story arcs while tying off some and threading in brand new ones.   Sometimes she brings in the new ones so subtly, over several books, that you don’t even realize where it’s going until suddenly, we have new major players that are already part of the fabric of the BDB universe.  The emotional spectrum she is able to evoke is so intense and hard-hitting that it is easy to lose hours at a time reading, and sleep fitfully dreaming of them.  I haven’t been so emotionally invested in a book series, and dedicated to overnight reading sessions, since the last half of the Harry Potter series was released.  When Payne’s book comes out next week, I think I’m going to need to schedule a 36-hour “do nothing but read” period, or I’m going to be so distracted and antsy I’ll be worthless for anything else!

If you have not started this series, OR if you read Dark Lover (the first book in the series) but weren’t bowled over, please please please give this series a chance!  Read at least through Rhage’s book (BDB#2 – Lover Eternal) and see how you feel.  If you can get through that one without breaking a sweat, then this probably isn’t the series for you.  However, this series isn’t one of the most well-known and -loved in the genre for nothing.  Where other series are starting to lose momentum in their later books (like the Sookie Stackhouse series), the Black Dagger Brotherhood is stronger than ever and as addicting as it was in the beginning (moreso, I say!).

Rating:
5 fangs: BITE IT!

I don’t give a 5-fang rating lightly.  Even as I was reading this I kept thinking “I think this might make the 5-fang mark!” and it definitely did not disappoint.  Ms. Ward is the master of anticipation and building the energy and momentum of a story, and John & Xhex’s story is a amazingly well written.  Do yourself a favor: take the weekend off, find a comfy chair, and READ THIS BOOK!  Of course, if you haven’t read the rest, you might want to get caught up first.  But don’t wait too long, because we only have one week left until #9 is released: Lover Unleashed!

Related links:

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.html

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

http://www.karenchance.com/books.html

http://www.charlaineharris.com/bibliography/bibliog-sookie.html

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Review: Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood series novel #2) by J. R. Ward

TLDR recap:

Rhage, the Black Dagger Brother who is known across the species for his many and frequent female conquests, is in a bind.  He’s found “the one”, but she’s a mortal and she’s terminally ill.  She also knows far too much about his species and he’s been ordered by Wrath, the king, to either wipe her memories or kill her.  If that weren’t enough trouble, Rhage possesses a literal beast within him that forces him to change shapes when he becomes angry or stressed, and that beast will kill anything and everything around it… even his fellow brothers and, he fears, Mary.  Will Rhage and Mary be able to make their strange relationship work, or will the Black Dagger Brotherhood lose yet another warrior?  An excellent book – put this on your “must read” list!

  • Title: Lover Eternal
  • Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood – book #2
  • Author: J. R. Ward
  • Prominent Characters: Rhage & Mary
  • Recommended reader age: 16+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

Rhage is the Brotherhood’s strongest fighter, a drop-dead-gorgeous playboy knockout with a short fuse who has earns his reputation (both for fighting and with the ladies) nightly.  Don’t be deceived by appearances – he hates having to be with so many females like that and he’d stop if he could, but it’s the only thing (other than fighting) that keeps his beast in check (and you REALLY won’t like him when he’s angry!).  Mary Luce is a cancer survivor who thinks she may be sick again.  She knows this is it – if her tests come back positive, she probably won’t make it through the treatments a second time.  Rhage bonds with her but she can’t accept that someone as perfect as he is could ever want to be with someone as plain and damaged as she is.  Rhage has to choose whether to go against Wrath, and by extension the Brotherhood itself – the only friends he’s really ever known, or let go the only woman who has ever made him feel.

Thoughts:

One of the things that really stood out for me with this book was the prominence of Mary’s cancer;  it’s a defining theme throughout the story.  Where most writers, of this genre at least, stay away from hard-hitting issues like this (especially concerning their central characters), Ms. Robb uses it to give us a glimpse into the life and struggle of someone not only afflicted by cancer, but dealing with it for a second time.

Something else I really like about Ms. Robb is that she doesn’t telegraph what’s coming next in these stories.   Of course some of it is predictable – that’s just the nature of this type of novel – but some of it is the opposite of what you think the scene is setting up for.  The emotion and suspense will build up and up until you’re sure something terrible is about to happen, then BAM! normalcy… things ending up just as they should, instead of some new catastrophe plaguing the characters.  Then other times, things will be moving along happily, the story unfolding as it should and POW! something life-(and story-)changing happens.  It really keeps you on your toes as a reader and it helps you enjoy even the “down” time between large action or romance sequences.  Using this technique, Ms. Robb is able to bring emotion to scenes that would normally be filler fluff, and that is very refreshing.

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There are not really any other series LIKE this one, but when I read it and feel a connection to the characters, I’m reminded of how I feel when I read Jeaniene Frost’s Cat & Bones or Karen Chance’s Cassie & crew or Nalini Singh’s Archangel/Guild Hunter cast.  The characters become part of your “family”, and the plots are earthy and hard-hitting… no partnership is spared sudden and unexpected (and sometimes brutal) hardships!  This series has the potential to make you laugh, cry, and swear, and I loved every minute of it!

Memorable quotes:

First impressions…

He wanted to give her another word to say, something like luscious or whisper or strawberry.  Hell,antidisestablishmentarianism would do it.

The effect she had on him was druglike, a tantalizing combination of sexual need and profound ease.  Like he was having an orgasm and falling asleep at the same time.  It was like nothing he’d ever felt before.

After watching Rhage order 4 entrees and 4 sides at dinner, just for himself…

The waitress looked a little awkward.  “Is all that for both you and your sister?”  As if family obligation was the only reason a man like him would be out with a woman like her.  Oh, man…

“No, that’s for me.  And she’s my date, not my sister.  Mary?”

“I… ah, I’ll just have a Caesar salad, whenever his” – feeding trough?- “dinner comes.”

Rhage on “manipulation”…

She smiled a little.  “You’re a manipulator.”

“I like to think of myself more as an outcome engineer.”

Final thoughts:

All of the Brothers are physically flawed (and sometimes emotionally as well) in some way.  I really like this – it makes them more real and believable (aside from the whole I’m-a-vampire thing) and easier to connect with.  They are all attractive, but in different ways, and not all of them are drop-dead gorgeous like Rhage is.  I also really like that.  A collection of super-sexy-ridiculously-beautiful warrior-type men is just not believable or relate-able.  These guys are physically attractive in individual ways, and their personalities are all unique and commanding.

In each book, there are characters other than the primary couple that get a decent amount of face time.  Ms. Robb is very skilled at giving these other characters depth and developing their characters without fixating on them or taking away from the title characters.  The result is that, since she is building her character backgrounds and multiple story lines through out each successive novel, when the characters finally have their own book, they’ve already got a good base and she can start right in on the relationships and book-specific plot lines.  It’s chaotic and crazy and I love it!  This way, I get MANY characters to fall in love with, and I get to see them more often!

BDB books are definitely emotionally charged!  I think it’s a sign of a good author if, as a reader, you really *feel* something even when you know it’s coming.

As a final thought, if you’re just starting this series, READ THE GLOSSARY BEFORE YOU START!! Ms. Ward uses an entire new vocabulary of terms in the vampire language, and if you don’t at least look at them first, you might find yourself a little confused. =)  Even if this is your second BDB novel, look over it again.  There are a few new words (like wahlker) in this one.

Rating:
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

READ READ READ this novel!  If you didn’t read Dark Lover first, you’ll probably be ok starting with this one, but you’ll spoil a few of the plot points for DL… and you’ll be confused about the strange new vampire vocabulary!  Still, I think Rhage’s story is even more powerful than Wrath’s, and he got a “must read!” recommedation from me too.  *grin*

Related links:

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.html

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

http://www.karenchance.com/books.html

http://www.nalinisingh.com/books.html#guild


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