Tag Archives: brother

Review: Covet (The Fallen Angels series #1), by J.R. Ward

TLDR recap:

The greater forces of good and evil have tired of the game, and it’s all come down to this: one player, 7 deadly sins, and 7 pawns at a crossroads.  Winner takes all and everything depends on Jim Heron and the choices he helps influence. His first task? Unravel the mysteries surrounding entrepreneur Vin diPietro and “dancer” Marie-Terese Boudreau before it’s too late and everything literally goes to hell.

    • Title: Covet
    • Series: The Fallen Angel series – book #1
    • Author: J.R. Ward
    • Prominent Characters: Jim Heron, Vin diPietro, Marie-Terese Boudreau, Eddie Blackhawk, Adrian Vogel
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: Light-to-Moderate (explicit)

Thoughts:

Being a ginourmous fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (by J.R. Ward), I expected a lot of this novel going in.  Probably not the smartest way to start off a book, but pretty unavoidable considering how larger-than-life the Brotherhood stories have become.  That said, I tried to keep in mind that this is a starter novel and, like Dark Lover, it’s probably going to be a little slower to allow for character/plot/setting development… and it was.  BDB fans will feel right at home in Caldwell, with locations like The Commodore and The Iron Mask.  There are also a few familiar faces, most notably Trez (one of Rev’s former Moor bodyguards), Marie-Terese (previously the head prostitute at Zero Sum), and Jose de la Cruz (Butch’s former homicide partner).

With part of the setup already done, Ms. Ward really only needed to introduce the new theme for the series and the players.  Here’s the deal: the big guy upstairs is apparently bored with the constant good vs. evil volley, and is ready to settle the score once and for all, literally.  Both sides will agree to a representative, then that person will help influence the decisions of 7 people at crossroads in their lives.  If the players choose the “good” path, the Angels score a point.  Likewise, if the players choose the “bad” path, the demons claim the point.  The score at the end of 7 turns decides the game.  I won’t go too much into who plays what roles or how things turn out, but I will admit I had a tough time getting into this one.

On the plus side, the somewhat extensive character development laid down in Covet helps set the scene for more of the closer-than-brother male friendships we’ve come to love so much in the BDB series.  Ms. Ward also holds back some details that readers will be eager to learn about, which I appreciate – why keep reading if all the secrets are spilled in the first one?!

The “primary couple” is really more secondary as a couple-unit than they are as individual characters on their own path to redemption.  Their relationship felt a little empty to me, and while I appreciated their connection to each other, I just couldn’t get into it like I’ve been able to with other pairings (kinda like how I felt so-so about Manny and Payne after all the ridiculously intense Brother pairings).  Yeah, there were a few steamy scenes and they were ok, but the book just didn’t hold that much of my attention.  I actually skipped through nearly an entire chapter near the end where the whole situation, which the reader learns at the start of the story, is re-explained to one of the main characters.

This book reminded me of The Devil’s Advocate (with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves), from the characters not being who they first appeared to the creepy demonic overtones to some of the action/investigation sequences.  It’s part thriller, part crime drama, and part horror, with a little romance on the side.

Memorable quotes:

The light at the end of the tunnel… is just a pep talk?

Coaches had to stay on the sidelines, but they could put different complements of players on the field with the human to influence things – and also call time-outs for pep talks.

If you like Covet of The Fallen Angels series…

If you enjoyed Covet, you may also like the first half of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  The first and second halves of that series are drastically different: the first half focuses on disturbingly explicit supernatural crime investigations and the second is a sex-fest with a little police work on the side.  Ms. Hamilton bases most of her crime scenes on true crimes, making the stories even more unnerving, and the first few books in the series should really be classified more as horror than as paranormal romance.

If you’re new to J.R. Ward’s work, then definitely check out the Black Dagger Brotherhood novels, starting with Dark Lover.

Final thoughts:

I won’t read this again, but it was a decent (if slow) starter novel.  I’ll check out the Crave before I decide whether or not to hop off the Fallen Angels train.

There’s something about the vampires in paranormal romance that makes them more romantic and less horrible.  They’re almost human and we can relate to them.  We know they probably won’t do unthinkable things… at least not without a reason.  That’s all out the window here: demons are capable of pure evil and the fright/creep factor is high.  There’s a reason I don’t watch horror movies or crime dramas like Criminal Minds.  Usually I have to force myself to stop reading at night in time to go to bed at a decent hour, but I willingly put this one aside for sleep and I was worried I’d have nightmares from it.  No, it wasn’t THAT rough, but I spook easily, so if you do too, either steer clear of this book or go into it knowing it’s going to get creepy.

Rating:
3.75 fangs: BITE IT… if you dare.

Related links:

http://www.jrward.com/ (Fallen Angel & Black Dagger Brotherhood sites)

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/ (Anita Blake)

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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/


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.

You might also like…

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


Review: Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood series novel #1) by J. R. Ward

TLDR recap:

In an innovative new (to some of us at least 😉 ) take on vampire fiction, J. R. Ward takes us deep into a world where the vampires are just normal “people”, hunted by the undead in a blood feud as old as their creation. Wrath, the pureblood King of vampire society, spends most of his time fighting his own personal demons and falling deeper into self-hate. Everything changes when he meets Beth, the half-blooded daughter of a fellow warrior, and helps her survive her grueling and dangerous transition from human to vampire. This novel has everything a good book should have: character development, arcing & developed plotlines, likable characters, humor & sarcasm, action & romance. These vampire warriors are stone cold killers, but somehow they still manage to pull at the heart-strings.

  • Title: Dark Lover
  • Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood – book #1
  • Author: J. R. Ward
  • Prominent Characters: Wrath & Beth
  • Recommended reader age: 16+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

Wrath is the only remaining vampire of pure blood and the race’s hereditary king. Refusing his responsibilities as a monarch for 300 years, Wrath instead leads the band of warrior vampires, the Black Dagger Brotherhood, who protect the race from the undead “lessers” that were created solely to hunt them. When one of Wrath’s brother warriors asks him to watch over his daughter during her transition from human to vampire (a very dangerous time for a vampire), Wrath finds himself torn between his self-hate and his protective instincts for Beth.

Thoughts:

I initially read this book thinking I’d do this one review, then just read the rest for fun. I mean, usually with a series, either you like the first book enough to keep reading (in which case you finish the series) or you don’t bother with any of the others at all, so doing reviews on books farther into the series (especially if they aren’t new releases) isn’t quite the same as reviewing a series starter novel. I liked this book enough to read the next one, which I liked even more. So I read the next… and the next… (you get the drift) until I was fiending for more and was finally out of books! These novels get better as they go on, peaking somewhere around book 5. I found myself making notes while reading the sequels, so it looks like more reviews are coming afterall! =)

The “universe rules”: Okay okay, I know I always say “oh this one is unique and different!”. And they usually are! But the BDB world stands out from the other typical vampire lore on several counts:

1) Vampires are born, not made… sort of. If you have vampire blood, there is a chance you will go through a “transition” at around age 25, changing your body from a normal human to a vampire. After the change you will have to drink blood and stay out of the sunlight… I know – doesn’t sound too different yet, right?

2) Vampires do not drink human blood! Male vampires feed from female vampires, and vice versa. They CAN feed from humans, but the benefits are so much less that it’s almost not worth it. Humans are not their prey, so they have very little interaction with them at all. They typically only need to feed every 6 months or so – otherwise they eat and drink normal food on a regular basis just like humans.

3) Vampires are not immortal – they live between 700 and 800 years and then die of degenerative diseases and old age just like humans do. They do have accelerated healing and can teleport themselves, but in no way are they impervious to harm.

Something that immediately put me off in the beginning was the crass language of the brothers and their gangster-like lifestyle. This series has taken a lot of criticism for that and I put off reading it for a long time based on those negative reviews that went on and on about how horrible and distracting and chauvanistic the males in the series are. If this is one of your concerns, let me just tell you now – it gets better. Are the males (not “men” – men and women are human, males and females are vampires) chauvanistic? No, but they are extremely overprotective, which leaves room for strong-willed female leads… and who doesn’t want that? Are the males crass? Yes, their language and lifestyle before meeting their mates is offputting and easily distracting, but this just helps emphasize the positive change their females bring into their lives, as you see their habits change and their language back off. These guys are badasses, but not because they are magical and have special powers (with the exception of Vichous) – they train hard, work hard, and live hard, and they endure harsh consequences. Their women are the counterbalance to the harsh lives they are forced to lead as honest-to-Scribe-Virgin warriors. Once I read farther into the book and got over the distraction of all the “you feel me, true?” and “yo, man” vernacular, I really started to enjoy myself.

Two things that annoy me:

1) The Butch character, who eventually becomes an integral and extremely likeable character, starts off as someone you don’t really like. Throughout the first few books, he loses some of his edges and becomes more like the other brothers… which is not to say they are without pricklies, just likeable in spite of. I think this is largely due to the writer’s style. At first I didn’t like Butch (or really even Wrath), because they didn’t like themselves. The story is told from 3rd person omniscient, but with a 3rd person limited feel. You know what all the characters are thinking that you are introduced to, but you only know what they KNOW or THINK. You don’t get some overarching tidbits rolled into their thoughts. When you read Wrath, it’s like he’s talking to you, not the author. People who suffer from self-hate often also have no friends because they push away others to punish themselves. SO, if you find yourself hating some of the characters at first, stick with it and let it play out – this sets the stage for some seriously awesome moments down the line!!

2) Boots are always referred to as “shitkickers”, even by the refined females in the series.  Seriously??  Ugh.  Even after 7 books I still get annoyed with this one.

You might also like…

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:

Darius (Beth’s father) talking to a fellow warrior about Beth’s upcoming transition:

“I’m going to talk to her.”

“And how’s that going to go? You’re just going to walk up and say, ‘Hey, I know you’ve never seen me before, but I’m your Dad. Oh, and guess what? You’ve won the evolutionary lottery: You’re a vampire. Let’s go to Disneyland!”

“I hate you right now.”

Wrath’s reaction to seeing Beth kiss someone else…

A low growl vibrated through his chest and out his mouth.

She’s mine.

He cursed. Yeah, and in what parallel universe was he living in? She was his temporary responsibility, not his shellan. She could be with whomever she wished. Wherever. Whenever. But God, the idea that she might actually like what the guy was doing to her, that she might prefer the taste of the human’s kiss, was enough to make Wrath’s temple’s pound.

Welcome to the wonderful world of jealousy, he thought. For the price of admission, you get a splitting headache, a nearly irresistable urge to commit murder, and an inferiority complex. Yippee.

Butch, after waking up in a house full of vampires…

How’d they… That’s right. They’d crashed after kicking Tohr’s bottle of Scotch.  Tohr.  Short for Tohrment.

God, he even knew their names.  Rhage.  Phury.  And that scary-ass Zsadist guy.  Yeah, no Tom, Dick, and Harry names for the Vampire types.

But come on, could you actually imagine some lethal bloodsucker named Howard?  Eugene?

Oh, no, Wallie, please don’t bite my-

Holy Christ, he was totally losing it.

Final thoughts:

Read this book! When you finish it, read the next book, then the next! If you can get through V’s book without feeling put through the wringer emotionally, then you have some serious armor! These books were the most emotionally invested I’ve been since Cat & Bones and I can’t wait for more.

As a final thought, if you’re 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. =)

Rating:
4.25 fangs: BITE IT!

It would be more, but I need to save some for the awesomeness that is yet to come in this series. =D

Okay, okay… 4.25 fangs! There.

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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