Review: Blood Kiss

Review: Blood KissBlood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #1
Published by Signet on December 1st 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 397
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Loved this one.  The combination of the new adult/next generation type story with Paradise and Craeg and a revisit with Butch and Marissa both gave the story continuity with the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the freshness of a new series not dependent upon the overarching storyline of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

THE STORY:  Paradise, the only daughter of the vampire king’s First Advisor, should be living a cloistered aristocratic life, but she wants something more.  She has convinced her father to allow her to enter into the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training problem to learn to protect herself.  Doing so goes against all sex and class expectations of Paradise.  The training is incredibly difficult both physically and mentally but also because one of her fellow recruits has caught her eye.  Craeg is from a middle class vampire family and has his own reasons from joining the program.  That purpose does not include getting romantically involved with Paradise.  But the heart wants what the heart wants.

OPINION:  I had expected that this book would exist in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world but would be almost entirely separate — wrong.  With the inclusion of the Butch and Marissa story, this book is very closely tied to the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The combination of these two stories give this book a closeness with the main series and yet also has a next generation feel.

Paradise and Craeg are clearly of a different generation than the characters in the BDB.  Their concerns, their values, their thoughts are shaped by the war with the Lessers including the large scale deaths of vampire families caused by them.  That event has changed the cultural values of these younger vampires.  Paradise is the perfect example.  Raised to be a pretty object, she is restless and wants something more than the life that she was expected to live.  More independent, more self-determinate, more willing to take on non-traditional roles and actions, Paradise is blazing her own trail and that includes finding her own male.  Craeg is of the working class generation (one we haven’t seen in the BDB).  He is now alone in the world after the Lesser attacks.  He is a natural leader and intends to use his training to get revenge for his family.  He doesn’t want any attachments which is why his fascination with Paradise dismays him.

I liked the different pace of their relationship as their concerns are more personal, more coming of age first romance type.  Their problems are quieter than the more angst driven BDB stories.  I enjoyed the change and I think their classmates also have interesting stories which bodes well for the future of this series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The secondary story involved Butch and Marissa, a violent death of a female vampire that needs investigating, Butch’s issues with sexual roles of women, and Marissa’s dealing with her own past.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  BLOOD KISS is the first book in the Black Dagger legacy series.  This series is a spin-off of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  This series is still intimately connected with the Black Dagger Brotherhood even though its focus is on the new recruits but new readers could try this out as a first book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: The Shadows

Review: The ShadowsThe Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #13) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #13
Published by Signet on March 31st 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 590
Goodreads
four-half-stars

WARNING: Spoilers are contained in this review!

“Don’t do this to yourself, Trez.  Just…just know that I love you and let me go.”

FINAL DECISION:  This was an incredibly difficult book for me to read.  Many won’t consider it a romance at all because it has a sad ending (spoilers below).  I thought it was incredibly moving and beautiful but I’m glad I knew what happened otherwise I would have been angry.

THE STORY:  Trez has been on the run from his people.  Prophesy declares that Trez must be mated to the princess of his people.  Trez has spent years defiling his own body fighting his fate.  When he falls for the Chosen Selena, he believes himself unworthy of her.  Selena, herself, is fighting a fatal disease and doesn’t know how much times she has left.  When Selena experiences a crisis, Trez and Selena decide to live each day as if they have forever — even if they don’t.  At the same time, Trez’s brother iAm is trying to protect his brother.  Their people, the Shadows, intend to having the Annointed One returned to him.  Time is running out for all of them.

OPINION:  I normally avoid spoilers in writing a review believing that part of the beauty of the story is allowing the information to flow as intended by the author.  I truly couldn’t find a way to write an honest review of this book without disclosing the big spoiler of the book.

DON’T READ ON IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS!

I personally don’t think this book can be considered in any way a romance.  It is definitely an incredibly beautiful love story, but, for me, it doesn’t fit into my definition of romance which requires a happy ending.

Selena dies in this one.  The story is piercingly beautiful.  I cried through half of it.  I admit that I knew the ending of this one before I began so I knew that there was no miracle ending coming to Trez and Selena.

I thought the relationship between Trez and Selena was heartrendingly beautiful.  The two truly did seem to experience a whole breadth of a relationship in a short time.  Because of the power and intensity of their relationship, I thought the rest of the book faded in the background a bit.  There was no wasted space and time for these two.  Every moment was vital precisely because I knew that they only had this moment..this one time.  There would never be another date, another kiss, another fight.

All the extraneous things that often are the focus in romance books were less important.  For Trez, even the overhanging threat from his people is less important than he could have ever expected.  The impending loss of Selena so overwhelms his other fears and concerns that he won’t even spare time to think on them.

The interwoven stories work especially well in this book because they provide a breather from the unrelenting intensity of Trez and Selena’s story.  The other stories don’t feel as important (there is also a significant relationship between iAm and the female he finds) but they clear the palate before plunging back into the main story of the book.

I loved everything about this book but the ending.  While the ending works and perhaps is necessary for such an honest book, I couldn’t help wanting a different outcome.  I think that might be its point though.

This book is controversial.  Those coming to these books wanting a HEA might be disappointed and angry.  I’m glad I knew the ending so that I could emotionally prepare myself.  This might be the best written and constructed book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but this is not a story I’d like to revisit often.  Too real, too sad, too painful.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The secondary stories were the introduction of Paradise (who is the subject of the first book in the Black Dagger Legacy series), Xcor and Layla, Assail’s continued drug trade, and there is a new story starting with Rhage and Mary.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE SHADOWS is book 13 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  This book is better as part of the series but actually you can get the entire story in this book which is unusual for recent books in this series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: The King

Review: The KingThe King (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #12) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #12
Published by Signet on August 26th 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 605
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I loved this book.  Returning to the beginning, Ward revisits the story of Wrath, king of the vampires, and his shellan/wife Beth.  I loved these characters when I read DARK LOVER and I loved that their story continues to evolve.  I especially loved that the guts of this story began and ended in this book.

THE STORY:  After being together for two years, Beth desperately wants a child with her husband Wrath. Wrath, however, intends never to have children not wanting to sentence them to the dangers of his life, the lack of choice in being part of the hereditary monarchy of the vampires, and also he doesn’t want the medical risks to his beloved Beth.  This causes the first read marital discord between Beth and Wrath.  At the same time, enemies of Wrath threaten his position as king, using Beth as the lever.

OPINION:  Firmly entrenched in the multi-view narrave approach to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I didn’t expect that we would get another book about the original couple in the series.  While this book maintains the multiple narratives (hello, Trez/iAm/Selenaa, Xcor/Layla and Assail/Sola), this book feels like Wrath and Beth, part 2 with the other stories clearly subservient.

I’ve always loved Wrath and Beth’s story.  DARK LOVER is what compelled me to begin this long journey through these books.  This book goes deeper into their relationship.  This book isn’t about the passion of coming together, but rather, the difficult journey of merging diverging goals, desires, and dreams that is the ongoing challenge of any marriage.  That is one of my favorite parts of this book.  There is no question that Beth and Wrath love one another. There is no manufactured dispute to draw them apart and make them question their commitment to one another. Rather, their different wants make them wonder how they can reconcile conflicting desires.  That is any long term relationship.

This book also brings to a close the latest attempt by Xcor and the Band of Bastards to dethrone Wrath. As this book ends, there are clearly splits in the Band of Bastards and it is uncertain what the future holds.  This book is clearly a turning point in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series which gathers up threads of the overarching story to prepare to go forward in a different direction.

Despite its length, this book just flew for me.  All the stories were interesting and I felt invested in all the characters. For me, the BDB has regained the compelling narrative that drew me to the series initially.  The stories feel more character focused and the multiple narratives feel more an asset in allowing the stories of these characters to play out in a more realistic timeframe.

I’m interesting to see whether than momentum can be maintained in the next book which is about Trez/iAm/Selena.

WORTH MENTIONING: For the first time in a long time, this book is primarily focused on Wrath and Beth. While other stories are woven throughout the book, this one is primarily about these two.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE KING is the twelfth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  The stories in this book are intertwined and dependent upon reading the other books in the series, but for the main story, a reader could get away with just read DARK LOVER and then this one.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: The Angels’ Share

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Angels’ ShareThe Angels' Share (The Bourbon Kings, #2) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #2
Published by NAL on July 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 432
Goodreads
five-stars

“Timing, like fate, is everything.”

–the Note from the Author

FINAL DECISION:  One of my favorite books of the year.  THE ANGELS’ SHARE interweaves the individual stories of the various siblings in a compelling dramatic and amazingly mesmerizing way.  I couldn’t put this book down and my only regret is that I have to wait for the next book in the series.

THE STORY:  This book picks up immediately after the events of THE BOURBON KINGS.  The head of the family, William Baldwine has been found dead after the discovery of his embezzlement from the family company and the personal family fortunes.  First believed a suicide, suspicion begins to fall on the oldest brother, Edward, who was almost killed by William leaving Edward in pain, scarred and a shadow of his former self.  Edward also struggles with his attraction for Sutton Smythe, the new head of the family company’s rival and the woman Edward has wanted for years.  This story, along with the youngest brother Lane’s struggle to grasp the scope of the family’s financial problems and save them all are the focus of this book but there are other ongoing stories.  Gin, the sister continues her self destructive ways, loving lawyer Samuel while agreeing to marry a man she hates for money.  Now Maxwell, the mysterious brother who has been gone for years, has returned as well.

OPINION:  I came to this series after reading and enjoying Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal romance/urban fantasy series.  I actually like this series more.  After reading the THE BOURBON KINGS last year, I returned to the BDB series with a better appreciation of the multi-narrative technique that Ward uses in both series.

In THE ANGELS’ SHARE, the multi-narratives give this book the sense of a saga, a soap opera, a complex story that slowly reveals itself.  By slowly disclosing the individual stories of these characters, their complexity and humanity is revealed.  By giving readers the personal viewpoints of the various characters, we can understand them even when they are not particularly likeable.

The organizing narrative again comes from Lane.  Lane is becoming the family head after the death of his father.  With the strength of his love for Lizzie, Lane is changing and growing into a role that should have been his oldest brother Edward’s.  I adore Lane who is becoming a truly admirable man as the story progresses.  His honest struggles and mistakes make him eminently likeable and I still love his weakness for the practical and grounded Lizzie.

I want to say that this book is not a romance in the traditional sense.  Lane and Lizzie are together at the beginning of this book and no one else has a happy ending at the end.  I usually avoid giving spoilers, but those readers who insist on a very traditional read will not find that here.  Instead, there are multiple romances in this saga, all of which change and are exposed here for good or for bad.  The mistakes and miscommunications and successes of these characters in relationship to one another is the focus. Life and relationships are complicated things, changing and molding these characters.

Edward, the oldest brother, goes through the most growth in this book.  After being abused and tortured by his kidnappers in South America, Edward has spent years in pain and pitying himself.  Having abandoned everything that was important to him before, he remains angry.  After an experience that has fundamentally changed him, he doesn’t know how to deal with those changes and how even to integrate those he loves from his life before.  Instead, he wallows in a half life.  Now a suspect in his father’s death, Edward is being moved from his stasis. He has two women in his life now — Sutton, who he loved for years but believes that he can now never be good enough for, and Shelby who never knew him before and has no expectations of him. Things are changing for Edward and by the end we see that he has a lot of secrets that have yet to be revealed.

Gin, the sister, is in trouble.  Engaged to marry a man who she hates because she fears the loss of the family fortunes, she continues her self-destructive ways.  Much of Gin’s story remains a mystery but even for her there are bright spots.  In fact, there is scene between her sometime lover and often nemesis Samuel that is my favorite in the book.  The incredibly deft hand that Ward uses in crafting that scene made it one that both warmed and broke my heart reading it.  The question of how these two people who love one another so much managed to mess it up so badly remains concealed for another day.

We are finally introduced to the mysterious sibling Maxwell. He only has a small appearance in this book, but he clearly has secrets of his own.

Ward has interwoven these stories in such a way that I was sucked into the stories and couldn’t put this book down.  I read through much of the night with the “just one more chapter”. When I reached the end of the book, I was both incredibly satisfied and incredibly anxious for the next book in the series. I am addicted this dysfunctional family and I have to know what happens next!

WORTH MENTIONING:  The “angels share” refers to the amount of bourbon that is lost during the aging process though evaporation.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE ANGELS’ SHARE is the second book in The Bourbon Kings series. This series consists of the stories of the Bradford family heirs to the Bradford bourbon company.  The stories of the siblings (and their friends) are intertwined in each book.  While a reader could skip the first book in the series and catch up here, this is a family saga where each book builds on the prior one and leaves much to be resolved in later books.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 enthusiastic stars.

five-stars

Review: Lover at Last

Review: Lover at LastLover at Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #11
Published by NAL on March 26th 2013
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 608
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I was happy that Qhuinn and Blay finally got their HEA but I thought this story lacked something perhaps because the most dramatic parts of their story took place in other books sapping some of this book’s emotional core.

THE STORY: Qhuinn has loved his friend Blay for years but has denied the attraction afraid of adding being gay to his other perceived “imperfections”.  Despite the fact that he has impregnated the Chosen Layla, Qhuinn finally has reached the point of admitting that he wants Blay. At the same time, Blay has apparently moved beyond his own attraction to Qhuinn after years of unrequited love. Blay is in a relationship with Qhuinn’s cousin.  Despite the relationships pulling them in different directions, Blay and Qhuinn cannot deny the passion that exists between them.

OPINION:  After being thoroughly engage in Qhuinn and Blay’s story in the last couple of books, I was a bit disappointed by how things went in this book.  First, I think that if you haven’t read the other books in this series, this book fails to make the romance compelling.  I think the most dramatic and emotionally compelling part of their story took place in prior books and without those portions here, the angst just dragged on rather than move the story forward.

I felt the story was “Q&B don’t talk to one another”, sex, “Q&B don’t talk to one another”, sex, etc, etc. until “I love you” and HEA. What I didn’t like was that it felt like the two always loved one another, Qhuinn had made the significant breakthrough in admitting his feelings in the previous book and all that was keeping them apart at this point was lack of saying “I love you.”

Despite that, there were moments between Qhuinn and Blay that I really liked and the longtime connection between these characters gave depth and significance to them finally finding their path to one another.  I’d give a 5 to their entire journey together, but only a 4 to this book alone.

Of course, there is not only one storyline in this book.

The continuing storyline about the Band of Bastards attack on Wrath’s reign is accelerating in preparation for the next book of the series which revisits Wrath and Beth’s relationship.  The intriguing relationship between Xcor and Layla also continues here. A new relationship appears on the horizon between the drug dealer vampire Assail and his “burglar”.  Finally, someone from Qhuinn’s past unexpectedly reappears and thus a new storyline is born.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I will reread it later and perhaps my opinion will evolve after I get over some of my expectations disappointment.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The Lesser Society has made a welcome reappearance after being mere fodder for the vampires to kill in the last few books.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  LOVER AT LAST is the eleventh book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This series has intertwined stories which cover a number of books. A single book has multiple viewpoints.  Qhuinn and Blay’s story takes place over a number of book merely culminating here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Lover Reborn

Review: Lover RebornLover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #10) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #10
Published by NAL on March 27th 2012
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 592
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“If I can live though the events” she said, “I can get through the memories.”

FINAL DECISION:  Ward takes a difficult romance and slowly draws readers into the heart of these characters.  A minor quibble about the rationale of an important element of the story keeps this from a higher rating, but I thought this was a great addition to the series.

THE STORY:  In the vampire world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, it has been over a year since Tohrment’s shellan and unborn child were murdered.  He is a shadow of himself unable to move forward.  Instead, he hopes for the day when he will be able to join his loved ones in the fade.  Then Tohr finds out that his beloved and child are trapped by his love and longing in the inbetween unable to find peace in the fade.  The only way to save her is to move on with another woman.  The woman who has caught his interest is No’One who is trapped in her own way.  She had been raped and gave birth to a daughter as a result.  Committing suicide immediately after the birth, No’One was given a second chance, which she has taken by serving others by cleaning and living a modest sacrificial life.  She agrees to help Tohr help release his loved ones by connecting with her in a sexual way.  But the two end up finding more than they expected with one another.

OPINION: This is a book about people who are trapped in one way or another. Tohr is trapped by his love of his shellan Wellsie and his unwillingness to let go of that past.  Wellsie and her child are trapped by Tohr’s love.  No’One is trapped by her rape, pregnancy and suicide.  For Tohr and No’One guilt (even though unwarranted) plays a strong role in trapping them.  While the plot centers around Tohr’s determination to save Wellsie, the central conflict is how Tohr and No’One free themselves and one another.

I commend Ward for writing a story about grief and the guilt that survivors feel.  It would have been infinitely easier to find a way of bringing Wellsie back. Many more fans would have been satisfied.  Instead, she wrote about moving on and the joy that can be found by those who are left behind.  I thought this story was complex and nuanced and the fact that it was a huge book where the events happened over a long period of time gave realism to the story.

My one complaint is that I don’t think there is any logic why No’One despite having committed suicide is allowed to return to the world why Wellsie is sent to the fade.  Ward, to her credit, addresses that controversy, but doesn’t really have a good explanation.  A reader thus has a choice — accept that things in life don’t have logical explanations or complain and fret about the illogical events. Perhaps, Wellsie’s work in the world was done and No’One still has a purpose.  Like so many tragedies in life, there is no answer.

I very much enjoyed this book and have acclimated to Ward’s multi-narrative approach to these books.  There are several secondary storylines.

John Matthew and Xhex are having problems adjusting to being mated.  John Matthew doesn’t find it as easy to accept Xhex risking her life as he had believed.

Qhuinn/Blay/Layla/Saxon continues to steam along.  It is clear from the end of the book, however, that Qhuinn and Blay’s book is next.

Xcor and his Band of Bastards continue to make themselves into the the opponents to the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  At the same time, the Lessers which have been the primary enemies to this point have begun to diminish in importance.  Xcor and his followers have some interesting developments in this book.

I greatly enjoyed this book.  After some initial problems when Ward changed her narrative focus in the series, I have again tremendously enjoyed this series (although they are better for me when I space out the reading rather than gorging on them).

WORTH MENTIONING:  Ah, I loved how this book ends with a nod towards the next book about Qhuinn and Blay.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  LOVER REBORN is the tenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This book, as is true with others in the series, has overlapping storylines which begin before this book and some which continue into subsequent books. I think it is almost impossible to understand what is happening in this book without having read the others in the series first.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Lover Unleashed

Review: Lover UnleashedLover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #9) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #9
Published by NAL on March 29th 2011
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 512
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I enjoyed this book because the major stories were all ones I cared about.  The vast majority of the book is one of three stories: Payne and Manny, V, Jane and Butch, and Qhuinn and Blay.  For me, it felt more relationship focused and that pleased me.  I also really liked going deeper into V, Jane and Butch’s relationship.

THE STORY: Payne, the twin sister of V, has spent hundreds of years imprisoned by their mother, the Goddess Scribe Virgin because Payne killed their father.  During a training session with the King, Payne is seriously injured with a broken spine.  V and his mate Jane desperately need the help of the human surgeon, Dr. Manual Manello. And thus, Manny is dragged into the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a world of vampire warriors. The connection between Manny and Payne is intense and immediate, but there cannot be a future between them even if Payne recovers.

OPINION: LOVER UNLEASHED is a typical book in the recent Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  There are multiple stories most of which began in other books and many of which continue past this book. For me, the plus of this book is that the largest chunks of the book are about the twins Payne and Twin and those they love.

The main story, of course, is Payne and Manny.  I liked this story because of Manny himself. Ward does an exceptional job of quickly making Manny a character I want to root for. His brief interaction with the BDB a year ago (although wiped from his memory) has changed him.  Jane’s “death” has left him with a great deal of emptiness in his life.  When he is brought to heal Payne, it really is love at first sight for these two.  Payne’s character remains a little more opaque in the book and I didn’t feel as much connection to her, but I really did like the interaction between these two.

The secondary storyline about V’s spiral out of control after Payne’s injury is the angst filled storyline here. Learning about Payne and then almost losing her has unmoored V from all the progress he has made since meeting Jane.  His reaction threatens his relationship with his mate. I absolutely loved this storyline which I think is the highlight of the book.  I’m a sucker for these situations where a couple delves deeper into their relationship.  Some lingering threads of the series are resolved with V and Butch and I was happy that V and Jane grow even closer as their story resolves.

The minor story with Qhuinn and Blay continues here.  Qhuinn has hit rock bottom and it is time for him to start recreating himself.  Nothing is resolved here but it seems like the story is slowly inching towards these two’s story being resolved. With two others involved in the story, Ward does a good job of keeping everyone likeable and not going for the easy out of making villains out of the characters which serve a function of keeping Qhuinn and Blay apart.

The focus on the internal operations of the Lessers is missing here. Instead, a new group is introduced as foils against the BDB — the Band of Bastards.  It appears that this group of vampires will play an important role in upcoming books.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’ve had a much better reaction to these books now that I space out the reading of them.  I think my brain can only process so much before I get annoyed and frustrated.  Having read the disappointed reviews of this book, I also think I benefit from having some knowledge about where the series is going so that I don’t have unmet expectations.  I honestly don’t think that the world building in these books is consistent anymore.  Things feel less grounded, more fluid and there are well documented conflicts.  I read the books for the characters so giving myself a break between books makes the inconsistencies in the story lines less obvious.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVER UNLEASHED is the ninth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  At this point, I don’t think there is any way to understand this book without having read the others in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Lover Mine

Review: Lover MineLover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood #8) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #8
Published by Signet on April 1st 2010
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 512
Goodreads
four-stars

John Matthew’s Story at Last

FINAL DECISION: Mult-character driven book, this story is angst filled. I thought that the story between Blay and Qhuinn stole the show from the main “romance”. At the same time, I was happy for the conclusion of John Matthew’s story.

THE STORY: John Matthew, is a vampire who is also the reincarnation of Darius who was killed earlier in the series. As this story begins, John Matthew is struggling with the disappearance of Xhex, the half sympath, half vampire assassin. The two have had a difficult relationship as John Matthew has wanted her since they first met, but Xhex has turned him away believing herself unworthy of being cared for by a man of worth. John Matthew is grieving but at the same time determined to find out what happened to Xhex. In truth, Xhex has been abducted by John Matthew’s biggest enemy who will do anything to keep her.

OPINION: Longtime readers of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series know that John Matthew’s story has been going on in one form or another since the beginning. This book brings a great deal of closure to the story. I especially liked the use of Darius’ story which winds around and then gives a satisfying sense of completing the circle and bringing closure to the story.

This book, as is true with the last several books in the series, is really a set of stories being told simultaneously. The stories are each at different stages and while John Matthew and Xhex’s stories is largely resolved, others are just beginning or are continuing. The stories in this book (John Matthew/Xhex, Blay/Qhuinn, and Murhder) have a nice sense of connection that made this mullti-story telling work well here. (There is also the story of Payne but that one is only a small part here). The real issue is that the Blay Qhuinn story steals much of the emotional center of the story here. By breaking up the stories between multiple books, there is more interconnectedness and continuity in the overall story, but the emotional climax of each of the stories is somewhat muted.

This book benefits from the fact that both the John Matthew/Xhex and Blay Qhuinn stories are filled with angst and are so well written here. I loved how the stories progressed in both cases and that kept me reading through the many hundreds of pages. Both stories are so strong that they support the length of the book.

Even with that, this book is one of the better ones in the series for long time readers. There are a lot of significant appearances by the core Brotherhood characters which makes this book more enjoyable. I’ve determined that I need a break between these books because there is so much going on in all these books. They are long and intense and somewhat crazy and it helps me to not try too hard to put all the pieces of the stories together. There are a lot of holes in the overall story and some space helps me to take these books less seriously. These books are definitely not ones to binge to me beyond the first couple of books.

But this is one of the books in the series that I could see myself reading again.

WORTH MENTIONING: This series has abandoned its paranormal romance beginnings. There are still romances but there is less emotional connection between the characters and more plotline. That’s okay, just not what I think makes the early books so amazing.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVER MINE is the eighth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. It should not be read as a standalone as it is not a complete story on its own.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Story of Son

Review: The Story of SonThe Story of Son by J.R. Ward
Published by St. Martin's Press on April 14th 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 80
Goodreads
four-stars

Sweet Sexy Vampire Story

THE STORY: Claire Stroughton is a high powered New York lawyer who ends up being kidnapped in order to provide food for a imprisoned vampire. The vampire she meets has been held prisoner for years and doesn’t even have a name. He is incredibly sweet and Claire finds herself wanting to help him escape.

OPINION: I really liked this story. It was focused and the vampire hero was incredibly sweet and sexy. He certainly shakes Claire’s world to its foundations. The story is sexy and uncomplicated (in contrast with the Black Dagger Brotherhood books) and is focused only on the couple in the story. Anyone looking for sexy vampire should be pleased with this story.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story first appeared in the anthology “Dead After Dark”.

FINAL DECISION: I really liked this story. The intense and sexy focus on the characters romance makes this uncomplicated and compelling.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE STORY OF SON takes place in the same place as the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, Caldwell NY, but doesn’t involve those books at all. Also, the rules of vampires seem similar but not identical to those detailed in the Black Dagger Brotherhood books.

STAR RATING: I give this story 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Lover Avenged

Review: Lover AvengedLover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #7) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #7
Published by Signet on April 28th 2009
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 556
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Poignant Story of a Man Who Doesn’t Believe He Deserves Love

“Everyone deserves to be saved.”

THE STORY: Rehvenge is a half vampire and half symphath. Symphaths are to be confined to a colony because of their psychotic nature. Rehv has been in fear of being exposed for years. He has also been living a double life: as the leahdryre of the glymera (vampire aristocrats) and also a pimp and drug dealer. He meets Ehlena, who is a nurse, and has a sweet, loving nature. Rehv knows that he is not good enough for Ehlena but cannot resist her. The question is what will happen when Rehv’s secrets are revealed.

OPINION: I am a big fan of the hero who doesn’t believe that he deserves love. Rehv has had a life that is sad and painful. He has done very bad things and yet at the same time, he has done so much to protect those that he loves. This story is all about what those who love him will do for him. I especially liked the sin and vice of his life in contrast with the sweetness of the relationship that he begins to develop with Ehlena. The intense beauty of their connection and the deep yearning that Rehv has for peace and love was the highlight of their story.

Being a Black Dagger Brotherhood story, there are also significant stories with Wrath and Beth, John Matthew and Xhex, and, of course, the rise of Lash as the son of the Omega. I often find these meshing of stories to diminish all the stories because too much is going on. Here, however, I thought that the stories worked well together and complimented one another.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a good story about Wrath and Beth as well that moves their romance forward as well.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book because the main overlapping stories are all about secrets that are kept. I am a fan of the tortured hero and Rehv has been tortured much in his life and doesn’t have any hope for himself.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVER AVENGED is the seventh book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The various stories being intertwined make it difficult to read unless readers are familiar with the ongoing stories and characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars