Tag Archives: warrior

Review: Deeper Than Midnight (The Midnight Breed series #9), by Lara Adrian

TLDR recap:

The war with Dragos is in full force now and the warriors of the Order are feeling the stress even in their secure underground command complex.  Hunter, still adapting to an independent existence after living his entire life as an enslaved assassin for Dragos, volunteers to escort the traumatized breedmate Corinne home to her Boston Darkhaven… but all is not as it seems, for Corinne and Hunter, for the warriors of the Order, or for the unsuspecting humans surrounding them.

    • Title: Deeper Than Midnight
    • Series: The Midnight Breed series – book #9
    • Author: Lara Adrian
    • Prominent Characters: Hunter, Corinne, Chase Sterling
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: light-to-moderate

Thoughts:

Hunter is an enigma.  We know very little of him, and what we do know is that he’s strictly bound to his military training and upbringing… seemingly more machine than man.  Corinne is, at first, a fragile flower of a breedmate who you expect to crack at just the slightest provocation, but she definitely has backbone and determination.  Their relationship is one of mutual discovery, trust, and tenderness, and is a pleasure to be able to experience with them as it blooms and develops.

This book has more intermingling of other story plots (besides Hunter and Corinne) than previous novels have, but I think that’s actually a boon considering a) how little we actually know of Hunter going into this one, and b) how all the subplots are starting to come to fruition at about the same time.  I don’t know that Hunter and Corinne could have pulled off a solo story, but mixed with the rest of the Order’s continuing developments, we get a more complete and satisfying collective piece, much like the later Black Dagger Brotherhood novels.

The interaction (including the sex) between Hunter and Corinne in this book is tender and explosive, written so that the reader experiences every nuance of their strong but fledgling bond.  Like the other Midnight Breed novels, it’s steamy without being vulgar and the sexual content does not eclipse the story.

The ending is a hell of a cliffhanger!  Normally I wouldn’t say something like that for fear of accidentally spoiling the experience, but I know some readers avoid cliffhangers, so if you’re one of those give-it-to-me-all-at-once kind of peeps, I recommend you put off reading this one until Chase’s book is released.  The tenth book in the Midnight Breed series featuring Chase Sterling will be called Darker After Midnight and is slated for a January 2012 release, so you’re in for a bit of a wait if you choose to read them back-to-back for the first time.

Memorable quotes:

Not really a lot of quotable one-liners in this one.  Here’s some insight into Hunter’s upbringing…

When asked what type of music he preferred…

He’d never thought about music one way or the other, never paused to consider if any of it appealed to him.  What would be the point in that?


If you like Deeper Than Midnight of The Midnight Breed series…

If you enjoyed Deeper Than Midnight and the rest of the Midnight Breed series for its arcing storylines and composite cast, you may also like the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (starting with Dark Lover) by J.R. Ward.  Both series generally follow the one-book-one-couple format, with some cross-weaving of plotlines throughout the entire story arc, and the BDB stories are rich in emotional conflicts and physical confrontations.  Highly recommended read!

If you liked Deeper Than Midnight and the Midnight Breed series for its urban setting mixed with the allure of modern romantic vampires and their more fragile female counterparts, you might enjoy the Argeneau Vampire series by Lynsay Sands and the Dark Series (starting with Dark Prince) by Christine Feehan.  Both series are less intense and have more singular-plot style stories than linked ones, but appeal to readers who enjoy the more traditional romantic vampire mythology.  The Argeneau series does have some plot-mingling amongst its later novels, but there is so much history in the first half that I recommend starting in the early books.  NOTE that I personally advise you to SKIP the first Argeneau novel (A Quick Bite)!  In my opinion, it is badly edited, repetitive, and overall just annoying to read.  I can now no longer look at a cucumber the same way…  >.<

Final thoughts:

When I first heard that Hunter’s book would be the next in the series, I was a little skeptical.  Here’s a guy who has spend his entire life being subjugated into being a killing machine controlled and trained in the most heinous ways by a psychotic madman.  Doesn’t really sound all that emotionally stable, right?  Realistically, someone who has successfully endured that kind of treatment is more broken than whole, and definitely not a good candidate for a romantic relationship.  However, Ms. Adrian gives us just enough forecasting and insight into who he is in the earlier novels that it plays out nicely.  It comes across as Corinne being his emotional savior, and that’s a pleasant perspective to contemplate as a reader.  Still not 100% believable, but hey… this is vampire lit and I read it to escape, so who cares!  =)

I like Hunter.  He’s a good strong-dominant-stalwart-male personality, and mixed with his upbringing he’s also a sympathetic hero.  I like Corinne less.  From her initial introduction in Brock & Jenna’s book (Taken By Midnight), Corinne comes off as immature and a little selfish.  That said, most of what we see of her is from Brock’s memories where she’s a very young and sheltered 20-something.  Her role in Deeper than Midnight is after a grueling half-century in the bowels of Dragos’s labs, so she has more substance and relatability as a character.  She’s still not one of my favorite heroines, as I prefer the chicks who kick butt, but she’s a good match for Hunter.  If you’re a fan of the Midnight Breed series, Deeper Than Midnight will not let you down – it definitely delivers!

Rating:
4.25 fangs: BITE IT! 

Related links:

http://www.laraadrian.com/ (The Midnight Breed series website)

http://www.jrward.com/ (The Black Dagger Brotherhood series website)

http://www.lynsaysands.net/ (The Argeneau Vampires series website)

http://www.christinefeehan.com/ (The Dark Series website)

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Cover art released for Darker After Midnight (Midnight Breed series novel #10, by Lara Adrian)

Scheduled for release on January 24th of next year, Lara Adrian’s tenth offering in her Midnight Breed series officially now has a cover image (see above), and is it ever steamy!

If you’re unfamiliar with the Midnight Breed series, it’s about a group of vampire warriors who band together to protect their race from all threats, especially treachery from within.  This series is somewhat similar to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series in its purpose and mantra, but focuses more on single-story plotlines than multiple over-arching setups.   Darker After Midnight will feature Chase Sterling, a conflicted warrior bent on self-retribution who was introduced early in the series (see the review for Dante & Tess’ book, Kiss of Crimson).  Fans of the series have been waiting a long time for Chase’s story, so it should be exciting!

For more info on the Midnight Breed series, check out Ms. Adrian’s site.

To learn more about the brothers, visit J.R. Ward’s site.

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Review: Midnight Awakening (Midnight Breed novel #3), by Lara Adrian

TLDR recap:

On a mission to track down a dangerous continuing threat to the Breed, Tegan must face his centuries-old demons and open his heart if he’s to complete the hunt.  Elise, widowed and having recently lost her only son to the killer vampire drug Crimson, is slowly dying to the side-effects of her Breedmate talent.  With her connections in the Agency’s politics, Elise can open doors for Tegan and the order, but she’ll have to surrender some of herself to survive long enough to avenge her son’s death.

    • Title: Midnight Awakening
    • Series: The Midnight Breed – book #3
    • Author: Lara Adrian
    • Prominent Characters: Tegan & Elise, Andreas Reichen
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

In pursuit of Lucan’s warmongering Gen One brother, Tegan, the coldest of the Order’s warriors, teams up with Elise, the widow of a high-ranking Agency director, who is on a quest for vengeance after her only son goes Rogue and must be killed.  Tegan & Elise are a fairly unlikely couple at first glance, but their chemistry is strong and their gifts complement one another well.

Thoughts:

This third installment is my favorite to date, having read through the first 6 novels in the series now.  Tegan is ice cold and calculating, and I’ve never really liked him until this novel.  We get to see his background and understand what happened that’s made him the way he is.  Elise is a character that I initially (before this story) did not like.  I prefer strong female leads and her whiny, clingy society-wife persona grated on my nerves in the second book (Dante’s book, Kiss of Crimson).  However, luckily for us (and unluckily for Elise), losing her husband and her son changed her outlook on life, and she grew a nice strong spine in the months between the 2nd and 3rd novels in the Midnight Breed series.

Tegan and Elise’s chemistry is surprisingly steamy, and I like Tegan best of all the romantic male leads in this series.  Somehow he’s just more raw, yet complicated… but not so complicated that he can’t be affected by Elise.  Watching her break down his hard outer shell is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this book.  I also like his domineering romantic style and the fact that he’s so verbal during their steamy scenes together.  Ms. Adrian did a great job making him appear both vulnerable and tender, while still keeping up his cocky, hard-ass warrior facade.  Elise also, is a good character – strong and determined, but also smart and physically capable.  She’s not a warrior,  but she’s no wilting wallflower either.

The other aspect of this story that I really enjoyed was the puzzle.  This story arc has a definite Dan Brown vibe to it, reminiscent of Angels & Demons or The Da Vinci Code.

Memorable quotes:

Move over Arnold…

As the three of them watched in awe, the front door of the place banged open, tearing clean off its hinges.  Not by the force of the blast, but by the will of a single individual.

Rolling orange fire silhouetted him from behind, backlighting the warrior’s broad shoulders and casual, long-legged stride.  As he strolled away from the inferno, the ends of his loose black coat winged out behind him like a cape befitting the prince of darkness himself.

Help me Obi Wan Kenobi…

“I can learn.  I want to learn.  Please, Tegan.  I need to learn.”

“And you think I’m the one to help you?”

“I think you’re my only hope.”

If you like…

If you like Midnight Awakening, you will very likely enjoy the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward.  The similarities are many, but there are enough differences to keep the stories from feeling like carbon copies.  I tend to recommend the same series over and over, so I’m not going to say “read Cat & Bones” (although you should) or “Cassie Palmer is great” (even though it is), so I’ll just sneak in some links at the bottom for you if you want to check out any additional reviewer-recommended series.  *grin*

I know these aren’t Paranormal Romance, but you might also enjoy Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

Final thoughts:

This story is intensely everything: heart-breaking, action-filled, mysterious, steamy and romantic.  It’s also the novel I’d recommend reading to if you’re trying out the series and deciding whether to keep on going.  IMO, Tegan & Elise’s story is the strongest one of the first 6 books, with Nicolai’s (surprisingly) coming in a close second.  If you liked Midnight Awakening, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of the series.  If you’re still not that into it after finishing this book, skip the rest and try the Black Dagger Brotherhood or take a chance on something completely new, because it doesn’t get a whole lot better than this one (I mean that in a nice tingly good way)!

Rating:
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.laraadrian.com/

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

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.karenchance.com/

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Review: Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed series novel #2), by Lara Adrian

TLDR recap:

Destined to be together, yet both cursed with “gifts” they do not want, Dante and Tess enjoy a steamy chemistry but struggle with seemingly incompatible lives.  Tess’ healing touch for her veterinary patients is immediately at odds with Dante’s violent calling, but just as the Breed war stops for no one, the couple’s intense bond leaves no room for negotiation.  This second novel in the Midnight Breed series is more fast-paced than the first, and brings in new characters and starts new story arcs.

    • Title: Kiss of Crimson
    • Series: The Midnight Breed – book #2
    • Author: Lara Adrian
    • Prominent Characters: Dante & Tess, Sterling Chase
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate

Note: This review may contain some very small spoilers, mostly involving new characters and the abilities used by the marquee couple: no major plot devices are given away in this post.

Premise:

Dante and Tess both have personal challenges to overcome, not the least of which being that Tess is now pursued by Rogues & Minions (if those terms don’t make sense to you, go back and read Kiss of Midnight first!) that she doesn’t even know exist and Dante is haunted by his own impending death.  Having unwittingly bonded them together, Dante must keep Tess alive & safe without pushing her away by what he is, and Tess must overcome her fear of her extraordinary Breedmate talent.

Thoughts:

I enjoyed this one more than the first in the series, Kiss of Midnight.  That’s probably partly because I liked Dante’s personality better than Lucan’s, Dante being the good-natured younger kick-ass warrior with a sense of humor.   I also liked Tess a lot.  As a vet running a clinic in a low-rent part of town, with clientelle who can’t always pay, Tess’s financial woes and dedication struggling to keep the clinic open were genuine, and there are so many unsung heroes like that in our own society that I was glad to see it get face time, even if it’s just in a fictional story.  Wow, that sentence was loooooong.

Tess’s Breedmate talent of healing is not really a revelation (nor very much of a spoiler, given how early in the book it’s implied) since it makes sense that the Order would need a “doctor” of some sort going forward in the series.  I am honestly trying not to make comparisons with the BDB (Black Dagger Brotherhood) as I read through these Midnight Breed novels, but there are so many parallels that it’s really tough!  For example, Tess’s healing reminds me of Doc Jane and Dante’s visions obviously bring the brain around to Vishous… and since Doc Jane and V are also paired up, it really cinches the comparison.   It’s sort of like reading Harry Potter for the first time and seeing all the references to other literary works that are woven into it – still enjoyable, just more comfortably familiar for the similiarities.

This novel brings in a new story arc with the character Sterling Chase.  I really liked him throughout the entire book, through all his stress and troubles, and I liked the possibilities that he brings to the overall flow of the series.  There was one part that seemed a little inconsistent to me though… In the first book, Gabrielle showed signs of Lucan’s bite long enough for her captors to see and recognize it, but when Dante first bites Tess, the mark disappears before she has a chance to even see it in the mirror.  In no other part of the book does Tess seem to have any extra self-healing powers, but maybe it’s just implied?  In any case, the chemistry between Dante and Tess is strong and their scenes together were enjoyable and had a lot of character to them.

Memorable quotes:

I’m the world’s perfect predator.  Wait, does this mean you sparkle? 

“Your kind?” she asked, growing very weary of his game.  “Okay, I give up.  Just what is your kind?”

“I am a warrior.  One of the Breed.”

“Right, a warrior.  And breed, as in… what kind of breed?”

For a long moment, he just looked at her, like he was weighting his answer.  “As in vampire, Tess.”

Holy Moses on a pogo stick.  He was beyond crazy.

If you like…

If you like Kiss of Crimson, you will very likely enjoy the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward.  The similarities are many, but there are enough differences to keep the stories from feeling like carbon copies.  I tend to recommend the same series over and over, so I’m not going to say “read Cat & Bones” (although you should) or “Cassie Palmer is great” (even though it is), so I’ll just sneak in some links at the bottom for you if you want to check out any additional reviewer-recommended series.  *grin*

Final thoughts:

So far, this series is off to a good, strong start.  I still feel it could be a little stronger, but having just finished #3 (Midnight Awakening)… arg, I’m seriously behind on the reviews!… I know it’s about to get even better, so I’m excited to keep reading.   For the BDB I always tell new readers to stick it out past the second book (Rhage & Mary’s story, Lover Eternal) before they decide to keep reading or quit.  For the Midnight Breed series, I’m going to recommend reading all the way through the end of Midnight Awakening (#3, Tegan’s story) before deciding.  I think that’s really where the series is going to pick up momentum and come into its own.

Rating:
4.25 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.laraadrian.com/

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

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.karenchance.com/

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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.

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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


Jeaniene Frost & Pamela Palmer on tour!

Jeaniene Frost, author of the ridiculously awesome Night Huntress series, made her official tour announcement a few days ago on her website…

http://jeanienefrost.com/2011/01/february-2011-tour/

She’ll be hitting these cities with fellow best-selling author Pamela Palmer, author of the Feral Warriors series:

  • Saturday, February 19th: Boonsboro, Maryland
  • Tuesday, February 22nd: Birmingham, AL
  • Wednesday, February 23rd: New Orleans, LA

If you haven’t read the Night Huntress series, for SHAME!  Move over Bella & Edward, it’s all about Cat & Bones!  Jeaniene, now that you mention Team Bones slap bracelets, I am fiending for one!  Hook a girl up so I can represent!!  *wink*  Seriously though, if anyone finds out where to buy a Team Bones or Team Kougar slap bracelet, post here and let us know!

Here are some other fun things I came across while checking out the Night Huntress site today…

(these are all designs available on various items at PrintFection… tshirts, mugs, mousepads, etc)

 

If you haven't read Ch32 of One Foot in the Grave, don't cheat... just read it and be properly scandalized!

 

Okay!  Now that I’ve promoted the hell out of Cat & Bones, I want to say that the Feral Warrior series is also really great.  It’s one of my other most-enjoyed series.  I haven’t done any reviews of it yet, but I will probably do Kougar’s book that comes out in a little less than a month.  A new Cat & Bones book AND a new Feral Warriors book releasing on the same day?!   Pure paranormal bliss!  Here are the next two books to look forward to, both releasing on February 22nd:

  • This Side of the Grave, Cat & Bones (Night Huntress series) #5 by Jeaniene Frost
  • Hunger Untamed, Feral Warriors series #5 by Pamela Palmer

Enjoy!!

❤ DVK


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