The Wedding From Hell, Part 3: Excerpt from Consumed

The Wedding From Hell, Part 3: Excerpt from ConsumedExclusive Excerpt of Consumed (The Wedding From Hell, #3; Firefighters, #0.7) by J.R. Ward
Published by Gallery Books on August 28, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 34
Goodreads
five-stars

This final “part” of the three part prequel to the novel CONSUMED is not really a part at all, but rather the first four chapters of CONSUMED.

This book picks up three weeks after the prequel story of the prior two parts. Of course, this book is merely the beginning of the novel and thus is incomplete in itself. That being said, the beginning of this book is powerful, action packed and suspenseful. It might even work better as a book after getting to know the characters in the prior story.

 

five-stars

Review: The Wedding from Hell Part 2: The Reception

Review: The Wedding from Hell Part 2: The ReceptionThe Reception (The Wedding From Hell, #2; Firefighters, #0.6) by J.R. Ward
Published by Gallery Books on August 7, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 39
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This is a short story told in several parts. This is the second part. The story is not complete either here or with the additional parts as the story serves as an introduction to the novel CONSUMED which is the first book in the Firefighters series.

The prior part introduced firefighters Anne Ashburn and Danny Maguire. There is a simmering attraction between the two which comes even more clear as the two participate in the wedding for a fellow firefighter. This part picks up right where the prior installment left off. Anne and Danny take their relationship to a new level, but the story also sets up the conflict at the beginning of CONSUMED as Anne competes in the male world of firefighting.

I very much enjoyed both this and the prior installment. The characters are so strong that I look forward to seeing how their relationship evolves in CONSUMED.

four-half-stars

The Wedding From Hell, Part I: The Rehearsal Dinner

The Wedding From Hell, Part I: The Rehearsal DinnerThe Rehearsal Dinner (The Wedding From Hell, #1; Firefighters, #0.5) by J.R. Ward
Published by Gallery Books on July 17, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 63
Goodreads
five-stars

This is a short story (in several parts of which this is only one) which is a prequel to CONSUMED which is the first book in the Firefighters series.

This story introduces Anne Ashburn and Danny Maguire who are both firefighters. Danny has been attracted to Anne and the opportunity for some personal relationship exploration comes about as the two are involved in the wedding for one of their fellow firefighters.

I really enjoyed this part of the story. The characters are vivid and flawed and interesting. Anne is a woman trying to deal with a family legacy of firefighting and being a woman in a male dominated field.  She is attracted to Danny, but doesn’t intend to be just another bed partner for him. Danny, on the other hand, has real feelings for Anne.

This is only a small part of even the prequel. We get to see Anne and Danny in some various wedding related activities and get the chance to be introduced to their viewpoints.

Not a complete story, but a nice appetizer.

five-stars

Review: The Thief

Review: The ThiefThe Thief (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #16) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #16
Published by Ballantine Books on April 10th 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 480
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Destiny was such a thief.”

FINAL DECISION: Loved, loved this one and would have been a 5 star but the resolution was just a bit too quick for me. I’ve been anticipating Sola and Assail’s story for years and this one did not disappoint. Plus V and Jane tossed in, new threats and some advancement of the overarching storylines.

THE STORY: Sola Morte, was a thief until an attempt on her life led to her promise to leave Caldwell and make a new and honest life. Hiding in Miami with her dear grandmother, Sola still cannot forget the man she left behind. Assail was who she left behind but unknown to Sola, he is not a man at all but rather a vampire. Assail lies near death after trying to recover from a cocaine addiction. His cousins make a desperate attempt to save Assail by asking Sola to visit Assail.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. I’ve been looking forward to Sola and Assail’s story because I enjoy these two complex characters. They are both damaged characters who shift between doing good and doing bad. This book takes place already significantly into their story. Readers of the series will know that they have already begun their romance and cut it off when Sola leaves for Miami. This book recaps, but of course the character development of those earlier encounters is lost in this book.

But having read those early encounters, I love this story. The emotional drama is high from the beginning. Sola comes to Assail at the moment of his rebirth in many ways. The two of them always had a strong connection, and I really feel it in this book where the crisis makes these two people who are closed and secretive open up to one another.

The book is hot because not only do we have Sola and Assail as a couple, but also the continuing story of V and Jane. The two have had some problems recently (which has been shown in prior books). This book brings their lingering problems to a crisis moment.

And that is what brings these two stories together in a thematic way. Here are two couples facing a crisis where their secrets and their separateness threaten to tear them apart.

Although the two stories cross one another, they are separate and distinct narratives. The overlapping themes, however, give this book a wholeness that I don’t always feel in the BDB books with the overlapping and multiple narratives.

My only negative in the book is that Sola and Assail’s story is resolved too quickly in the end. After building the conflicts and drama and bring it to a head, things get fixed and then the book is over. I think the build up needed some additional space. In this book, I missed that.

WORTH MENTIONING: Murhder!

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE THIEF is the sixteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I think these books should be read as part of the series. Perhaps a better reader than I could appreciate them as standalones.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

 

four-half-stars

Review: Dearest Ivie

Review: Dearest IvieDearest Ivie (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15.5) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #15.5
Published by Ballantine on March 13th 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 145
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this one. Pretty much self-contained, this is a romance without a doubt. The emphasis is on the couple and despite the short length, it manages to be sexy and sweet and deeply emotional.

THE STORY: Ivie is a vampire and a nurse at Haven’s clinic. She is out at a bar with her cousin when a vampire walks into her life. Silas is immediately attracted to Ivie, but Ivie is reluctant to get involved with the aristocratic Silas. When the two end up spending time together, their attraction and relationship grows. Silas, however, tells Ivie that their relationship can only be temporary as he is returning to the Old Country. Ivie has to decide whether to enjoy the present or protect herself from hurt.

OPINION: I loved the story of Ivie and Silas. The story was sweet and romantic and incredibly emotional at times.

Ivie is a woman who is strong and fierce. I loved her perseverance, her intelligence and her compassion.  I also was quite amused by her family, and I liked that we got to see a different group of vampires in the BDB world. Ivie is the active participant in the story and in fact is the central hub of what happens. She isn’t passive, but rather makes the world change.

Silas is a gentleman. His manner and his personality is kind. (But he’s definitely no wimpy hero, but he needs Ivie’s persistence). I enjoyed the essential kindness and goodness of these characters.

There was something I really enjoyed about this story because while there are some dark moments (a few that made me shed tears) I thought the story as a whole was lighter and more positive and focused on the romance than many of the BDB books.

While I love many of the BDB books, they are dense and complicated and edged in darkness. This book, while it has its dark moments, is lightened by characters who are brighter and less dark than many of the BDB characters.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are a few appearances by BDB characters (enough to show that this story takes place in that universe), but the emphasis here is on the personal story between Ivie and Silas.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEAREST IVIE is a novella which is book 15.5 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This book can be read apart from the series with just some basic knowledge about vampires, however, it falls nicely in the series for fans.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Blood Fury

Review: Blood FuryBlood Fury (Black Dagger Legacy, #3) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #3
Published by Ballantine Books on January 9th 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 432
Goodreads
four-stars

“You couldn’t soar it you didn’t leap.”

FINAL DECISION: Two romances that feel like romances rather than an add on to an ongoing story. Although very sexy, both of these romances were sweeter emotionally than I expected with less angst and drama.

THE STORY: This book has two stories.  First, the story of Peyton and Novo. Peyton is an aristocratic vampire who expected to find a worthy female of his class to marry and carry on his family legacy. The female, he wanted, however, rejected him in favor of another male. Instead, he is intrigued by Novo who is definitely not what he expected to want. A fellow trainee, Novo is brash, very sexual and not at all aristocratic. But she has secrets that keep her from opening up. Second, is the story of Saxon and Ruhn. Saxon was rejected by the male he chose for himself. But when Ruhn comes into the Black Dagger household, Saxon finds himself attracted. Ruhn, however, may not want to explore the possible connection between himself and Saxon.

OPINION: This was a book that was evenly split between the two couples and didn’t have any extraneous stories to take away from those two romances. There is also common threads between the two romances: both have one person who has a tragic past and suffers from feelings of lack of worth; and both have some crummy father figures.

I enjoyed these stories because although there are dark aspects of the pasts of these characters, the stories themselves are less dark than many of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books. The stories were lighter in many ways and happier. The couples get together quicker than I expected and have to work through their problems together.

Although I enjoyed the recruits’ romance story, I was most satisfied with Saxon finally getting his happy ending. We get the chance not only to know more about him and see him getting the opportunity to be more than just a plot device. Ruhn is an interesting pairing for him and I enjoyed the sweetness of their interaction (and the hotness). The weakness of that story for me is that there is almost too fast a connection between them (especially because Ruhn has not had a relationship with a male before).

Peyton and Novo have a more traditional romance (well as traditional as could be expected in the Black Dagger universe. Like the other trainee stories, their romance has a bit of a new adult feel to it as opposed to the Black Dagger Brotherhood couples. Their problems seem smaller and more manageable but no less important. I thought they were funny at times, but intense and sweet at others. (And seriously hot).

I enjoyed this book very much, it feels like a relief from the intense drama of the main series and has a more romance feel to it.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book contains a couple of public sex scenes.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLOOD FURY is the third book in the Black Dagger Legacy series which is a spinoff of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I think the Black Dagger Legacy books at least should be read in order because of the developing relationships. With the cross-over with the Black Dagger Brotherhood, however, a reader is better served by reading the entire two series in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Devil’s Cut

Review: Devil’s CutDevil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #3
Published by Ballantine on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 418
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Loved, loved, loved this conclusion to the Bourbon Kings trilogy.  A very soap-ish over the top story, this one finished in grand style. I’m pleased with the scope of the story and an only sorry that the whole series was so short.

THE STORY:  As we resume our story…The patriarch of the family has been murdered and the eldest son, Edward, has been arrested and confessed to his murder. Edward sits in jail mourning the loss of the woman he loves Sutton.  The middle son, Lane has taken over the family bourbon business which is deeply in debt due to his father’s embezzlement.  While Lane has reunited with the love of his life, Lizzie, their happiness is threatened by the lies and deceit in the family.  Finally, the sister, Gin has married a man her father picked out for her who is already abusing her. Gin is determined to take everything she can from her marriage especially to finally be a mother to her teenage daughter (who is the daughter of her longtime lover, friend and enemy Samuel unbeknownst to both daughter and Samuel).  And thus the story begins its conclusion…

OPINION:  I’ve been a fan of the Bourbon King series since the first book.  I loved the big, overly dramatic tales of the rich that reminded me fondly of the 1980s nighttime soap operas and Danielle Steele novels that where unofficially the mandatory reading for girls in my high school.  Together the three books in this trilogy make a wonderful, decadent mini-series reminiscent of the best of that genre.

As the mystery surrounding the murder of the family patriarch deepens, dark secrets of the family continue to be revealed.  There are far more twists and turns left to be explored in this book — and thankfully, the resolution path is not obvious or expected.

These characters are complex and not always nice or good.  Although there is much sudsy drama, the characters remain the central part of the book.  This book travels into the darkest and most dangerous territory of the story as all the characters face serious danger — both physical and emotional.  I liked the characters in this book from the beginning — not because they are nice people (many are not, but because there is the possibility for redemption for many of them).  This book reveals who might end up with a happy ending and who won’t.

There isn’t much I can give for the plot because that would give away the fun of the twists in the plot.  I can say that if you started this series, this book will provide the closure one would have hoped for.  It is a fun, over the top book, but enjoyable especially as a summer beach read.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book resolves neatly (sometimes it felt too neatly) all the storylines in the trilogy.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DEVIL’S CUT is the third and final book in the Bourbon Kings series.  The book really does complete the continuing story and should be read as part of the trilogy.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: The Chosen

Review: The ChosenThe Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #15
Published by Ballantine Books on April 4th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 544
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“And herein was the conundrum, Xcor thought behind his closed lids. The only possible way out of this deadly scenario was to reveal the love he’d found for a female that was not his, never had been, and was not e’er going to be. But he would not sacrifice the Chosen Layla for anyone or anything. Not even to save himself.”

FINAL DECISION:  Layla and Xcor’s romance brings to light a lot of discord and fractures in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.  Things are changing and this book demonstrates and brings to light those changes along with a surprisingly sweet romance.  Loved it.

THE STORY:  Xcor is the enemy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood having attempted to assassinate the King.  Captured by the BDB, Xcor is only awaiting death.  He is a vampire who has lived a cruelty and harshness and the first softness he has found are his feelings for Layla.  The Chosen Layla is the mother of twins and has been meeting Xcor secretly because he fascinates her. The only way to stop Xcor’s death sentence is the reveal information she has about him which would threaten her position with her “family” and perhaps her own relationship with her children.

OPINION:  I loved this book.  First, I will confess that I’ve always liked the Xcor and Layla pairing because it really seems like a beauty and the beast scenario (my favorite trope).  I thought they had a difficult journey to find their happiness and it did not always seem like it would be possible.  The story of Xcor and Layla also gave characters that otherwise seemed pretty one-dimensional some needed depth.

Layla has always been in a difficult position as to Xcor.  He is the enemy of everything she loves — and yet she has not been able to resist him.  This book ups the ante and places her own relationship with her children at risk.  I saw in this book her strength in a way that she hasn’t revealed herself before. The heroines in this series have often had to risk things and people that are important to them — the only difference here is that the very characters we have come to know and love are in opposition to the romance.

One thing I really enjoyed is that many of the characters recognize that love is not always controllable and cut Layla some slack.  I thought the majority of the characters reacted in ways that I expected them to — with anger and concern and distrust, but that struggled with their own care for Layla.

Xcor has been changing for a long time in this series.  The long term nature of his story has made his transformation feel natural and real.  I wasn’t surprised by his actions here because it has become evident over time that he will do anything for Layla — even become a better person.

But this book is about more than Xcor and Layla. If it seemed like all the characters were settling into a normalized world — this book rips all that apart.  There are plenty of fractures and changes that this book reveals or causes.  Things are a changin’ in Caldwell and it’s about time.

There are secondary and related stories or glimpses about Qhuinn and Blay, V and Jane, Trez (who has a shock coming after the death of Serena), Throe, Tohr, Assail, and Lassiter.  There are plenty of appearances by other BDB characters and plenty of new stories (including drama and angst) are apparently brewing.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I actively disliked Qhuinn in this book.  His behavior was completely unacceptable and I don’t know that he redeemed himself at all in the end.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE CHOSEN is the fifteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  This book should be read as part of the series to truly understand the long simmering romance and the dynamics of all the relationships here.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Blood Vow

Review: Blood VowBlood Vow (Black Dagger Legacy, #2) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #2
Published by Ballantine Books on December 6th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 432
Goodreads
four-stars

“He was extraordinary. Or maybe…extraordinarily dangerous was more like it  However she defined the effect of him, she had a sixth sense he was going to change her life.”

FINAL DECISION: Good addition to the Black Dagger Legacy.  Axe and Elise seemed set up perfectly for an angst filled drama, but the story ended up simpler than I expected.  My favorite part of the book was the continuation of Rhage and Mary’s story from BEAST.  If you read BEAST, you have to read this one.

THE STORY: Axe is a new recruit trainee with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. He is a loner who despises the idea of love after it wrecked his father when his mother left them.  He agrees to take the job protecting a female vampire who needs a bodyguard (Axe desperately needs the money).  He ends up meeting Elise who is an aristocratic female (definitely not of Axe’s class) and he is immediately attracted to her despite knowing that there can not be anything between them.  Despite the boy from the wrong side of the tracks and the upper class girl vibe, these two find that they are desperately attracted to one another.  In other tales, Rhage and Mary are happily waiting for the finalization of their adoption of daughter Bitsy.  Just when everything seems to be going so well, a man who might have a greater claim on their daughter enters the picture disrupting the happy ending that the trio expected.

OPINION:  This was an interesting book, but I honestly liked the secondary story involving Rhage and Mary more than the primary story.  Axe and Elise seemed set up perfectly for an angst filled drama, but the story ended up simpler than I expected.

From his presence in the prior book in this series, Axe has shown himself to be a highly damaged person.  A former drug addict, a current sex addict (who spends his free time at a sex club engaging in public sex), a male vampire who feels deep anger and guilt about his father, I expected his journey to love to be difficult and filled with drama and angst.

The intense problems are quickly resolved when he falls for Elise.  This is more about two opposites falling for one another (although it is clear Elise is not as pure as she seems and Axe is not as dark). Axe is smitten from Elise from the beginning and doesn’t seriously fight that attraction.

Elise is a woman who wants to be different than the expectations of the older generation.  In fact, the one thing that is consistent with the Black Dagger Legacy books is that the old ways are changing in the vampire world and this younger generation is determined to make different lives for themselves than the older generation expected.

The idea of the new generation breaking out from convention is a strong theme in this series which I enjoy — especially because I’ve read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series where the characters do largely adhere to the old ways (although things are changing there as well).

With Elise’s skills and abilities I had expected that we would see a crossover with the Rhage and Mary story, but those are kept largely apart.

The Rhage and Mary part of this book make this mandatory reading for fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (especially after BEAST).  This is the center of the angst and drama in this book.  After the events of BEAST, this book upends the “happy ending” when a male appears who may have a claim on Rhage and Mary’s newly adopted daughter. This story kept the pages turning for me. Drama, love, resolution with complex ideas and themes.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is highly focused on the new trainees and the original BDB characters which is nice for those readers who want to know more about the characters and less about the mythology of the BDB series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  BLOOD VOW is the second book in the Black Dagger Legacy series.  This is a spin off of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The main story of this book about Axe and Elise can be read without knowledge of the rest either of the series (although there is no world explanation so you have to pick up the nuances) but the secondary story about Rhage, Mary and Bitsy is a continuation of BEAST (Black Dagger Brotherhood).

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Beast

Review: The BeastThe Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #14
Published by NAL on April 5th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 508
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“She was the watch on his wrist, the roast beef when he was starving, and the pitcher of lemonade when he was thirsty. She was his chapel and his choir, the mountain range to his wanderlust, the library for his curiosity, and every sunrise or sunset that ever was or would ever be.”

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. Ward has done a great job creating a realistic conflict between Mary and Rhage which stays true to their story but accommodates the changes that have occurred with them and their friends.

THE STORY:  Rhage thinks everything should be perfect. He has the woman he loves, his brothers have found love and are doing well.  But Rhage is having panic attacks and he can feel a distance between him and Mary and even a distance in his own life.  At the same time, Mary is dealing with a crisis of her own at work.  When Rhage suffers a mortal injury, he and Mary must confront their problems rather than ignore them.

There is also stories about Layla and Xcor which moves them closer to their own book.  Assail also has his own story continue.

OPINION: I found this book particularly enjoyable because it takes seriously Mary and Rhage’s relationship. This book settles a lingering issue between Mary and Rhage. While the two love one another, they have never dealt with the fact that they cannot have children together.  Now as the other members of the BDB are moving on to the stage of having children, the issue that seemed settled rises again.

I enjoyed how Ward goes deep into her characters in this book.  Even with love, there are sometimes disappointments in relationships. Rhage loves Mary and wouldn’t choose anyone else, but there is no doubt that the reality of never having children is finally settling in. So many times, the choices we make seem simple until we have to live with them.  Rhage and Mary are both having to live with their reality.

I really am embracing Ward’s revisiting of couples from the original Black Dagger Brotherhood. I still find those characters the most compelling in the series and am happy to see more of their journey.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a new character introduced who has an interesting connection to Manny.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE BEAST is closely connected with the Black Dagger Brotherhood ongoing story.  A reader could read LOVER ETERNAL and understand the romance between Mary and Rhage but there are other storylines which would not be understandable without reading more of the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars