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

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.


Review: The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide

Review: The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s GuideThe Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #6.5
Published by Nal Trade on October 7th 2008
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 496

Insider Guide: Best Part Is The Short Story About Z and Bella

This Insider’s Guide is an in-depth view from Ward about the first six books of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The guide talks about the origins of the series (it includes the original proposal) and an examination of the creation of each of the first six books. There are also original written pieces about the characters from Ward’s website. What I like best about it is that this guide is really an examination of Ward’s writing process with each of the books and Ward’s feelings towards each of the characters.

For me, the best part of the book is the short story FATHER MINE which is about the Z’s problems adjusting after the birth of their daughter Nalla. While Z makes a breakthrough in dealing with his past in LOVER AWAKENED, this short story really has him have to make an effort to resolve his past or lose his family. My favorite book of the series is LOVER AWAKENED and so it is special to have more about these two characters. There is some regression on the progress made in that book (which feels natural and normal) as Z has to figure out how he can be a father. For someone who was kidnapped and grew up without a father himself, he has not only that but also his own feelings of shame and inadequacy to deal with. I liked this story and it gives more time to Z having to deal with his lingering issues regarding his past. Loved the story and give it 5 stars.


Review: Lover Enshrined

Review: Lover EnshrinedLover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #6) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #6
Published by Signet on June 3rd 2008
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 561

Not As Good As The Others

THE STORY: Vampire Warrior Phury is part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood fighting against the soulless humans who are trying to exterminate the vampires. Phury has been haunted by the abduction of his twin brother. Although he rescued his brother, Phury is tormented by his own perceived failures. He has a hero complex and sacrifices himself for others to his own detriment. In order to cope with his self-loathing, Phury has a drug addiction that threatens his standing with the Brotherhood and his life. Phury sacrificed his future to become the father of a new generation of vampires by mating with dozens of the Chosen. His first mate is Cormia. Cormia did not want to participate in the mating but knew that she had to. Cormia is a free thinker and not very good at the role of a Chosen. When she meets Phury, she begins to find herself and realizes that she wants him for herself. But they both have obligations.

OPINION: The Black Dagger Brotherhood books have always had multiple points of view and stories occurring at the same time. Unfortunately, however, this book just has too much in it. There are too many stories — none of which get a sufficient amount of time to make the book worthwhile. The series has become a serial and each individual book is less satisfying as a result. I still love the characters and I enjoy the relationships between the brothers especially, but I miss the strong central romance that drove the storyline of the prior books. Phury and Cormia are okay together but I don’t get the overwhelming passion between them that exist for the other Brotherhood couples. I am not a fan of stories where addicts immediately engage in a relationship. I think Phury’s story would have been better for me if he had gotten clean before becoming so involved in Cormia. Cormia at the same time is discovering who she is. For me, that makes the romance not as compelling because these two are struggling to discovery who they are.

WORTH MENTIONING: I really did love the tough love that the brothers give to Phury and I especially love the scene of their reconciliation at the end.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book for the information it added to the Black Dagger Brotherhood world but felt that this was the weakest romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVER ENSHRINED is the sixth book of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. At this point, the story is pretty incomprehensible without reading the prior books of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Lover Unbound

Review: Lover UnboundLover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #5) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #5
Published by Signet on September 25th 2007
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 502

Complex and Difficult Journey for These Characters

“Because love, after all, was eternal and not subject to the whims of death.”

THE STORY: Vishous is a warrior vampire and part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. For hundreds of years he has been cursed with seeing the future and has other unique abilities (like having a hand that kills those who touch it). After an abusive childhood, he has spend his adult life seeking control and distance from others. V meets Dr. Jane Whitcomb, a trauma surgeon and thus starts a different relationship for V. He begins to care about the human and opens up to her because he knows that they have no future so it is safe. In the process they fall in love with one another even though they know things will end.

OPINION: Complex and powerful, LOVER UNBOUND, challenges the reader. Vishous has a difficult life. He has done very bad things to people and it takes quite a while for him to open up about the pain in his own life. Ultimately, however, this story of two people who are closed up and want control of their lives is beautiful. My biggest complaint is the ending.


To resolve the issue of Jane being human and thus aging, Ward has Jane killed and ultimately she comes back as a ghost. Many readers have highly objected to this resolution even though V and Jane seem to go forward in much the same way. My objection is not the resolution (although as described below, it stopped me from reading the book the first time) but rather the book is really missing a significant view of these two character being happy together after their misery.

WORTH MENTIONING: I began reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood series before and after finding out about the big resolution in this case, I just couldn’t finish this book and stop reading the series. Recently, I decided to give the series a chance again and knowing the couple has a history after this book where they are happy helped me get through this one and accept the ending.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book a great deal but wish that we saw more of the couple when they were happy at the end. The resolution of the story was abrupt for such a complex solution.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVER UNBOUND is the fifth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. These books are highly interconnected with stories that span several books. The books read more like an ongoing saga than individual novel. That makes it difficult to read this book without reference to the others in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Lover Revealed

Review: Lover RevealedLover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #4) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #4
Published by Signet on March 6th 2007
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 471

A Story of Transformation

THE STORY: Butch O’Neal is a human ex-cop who has spent much of the past year as a friend to the vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is a group of warriors who protect the vampire society from the soulless humans known as Lessers. Butch has also been depressed because the female vampire that caught his interest, Marissa, doesn’t want to see him anymore. When Butch is captured by the Lessers, he begins to fear that he might be becoming one of them.

OPINION: I liked this book because I thought that Butch’s journey was interesting and added something new to the overarching story of the series. I also liked the romance between Butch and Marissa although I, at times, found Marissa somewhat annoying with her demands that Butch not involve himself in any danger. She ultimately redeems herself by recognizing her own faults. I also really liked the complexity of the relationships between Butch and the brotherhood, especially V. At times like brothers, at times like could be lovers, their relationship is nuanced and deep. I liked Ward’s ability to tackle those issues without being defensive or an advocate.

WORTH MENTIONING: Once again, this book has a great overlap and communion between the characters which makes it feel more like a saga.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book for Butch’s evolution. Beyond the romance, I found Butch’s ability to find meaning and purpose in his life to be the best part of the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVER REVEALED is the fourth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. A reader can read this book without the others in the series although the multiple storylines may be confusing as the book picks up without explanation some of those storylines.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Lover Awakened

Review: Lover AwakenedLover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #3
Published by Signet on September 5th 2006
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 468

Beautiful, angst filled, Heartbreaking

“I’m not normal.”
“I know. But you’re not dirty or contaminated or unworthy.”

THE STORY: The Black Dagger Brotherhood is a group of warrior vampires who are to protect the civilian vampires from threats. Zsadist is one of the brotherhood but goes his own way. Kidnapped as child and forced to become a blood slave (used to feed on by another vampire), Z was also raped and sexually abused by his master. As a result of his century of being a slave, Z is physically and emotionally scarred. As LOVER AWAKENED begins, Z has been searching for several weeks for a female vampire, Bella, who was kidnapped by one of the soulless humans that the Brotherhood is fighting. Bella’s loss has hit Z hard and he is obsessed with her. Bella was immediately attracted to Z when they met. Weeks of captivity have begun to make her question who she is. This is their story.

OPINION: I love this book. It is my favorite of the series. I am a sucker for those damaged men who are healed by the women who love them. Z is just an amazing character. He has been damaged both inside and out by his time as a blood slave. He begins to heal, however, from the first time he meets Bella. His determination to find her or to avenge her when he believes her dead allows him to care about her in a safe way. Z believes himself dirty and unworthy of love because of the abuse he suffered. His contempt for himself is so incredibly difficult to read at times. At the same time, his ability to care about those around him even as he claims he doesn’t shows the resilience of the spirit. I loved everything about Bella and Z’s story. They have a very difficult road, but this book is emotional and sexy and painful all at once.

WORTH MENTIONING: The stories in these books are multiplying. That means that there are stories that aren’t resolved here and there is less time for the main couple.

FINAL DECISION: This book is painful and heartbreaking and incredibly beautiful at the same time.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVER AWAKENED is the third book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. It can be read as a standalone although it is best read in the context of the others in the series since Bella and Z’s story actually begins in LOVER ETERNAL.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Lover Eternal

Review: Lover EternalLover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #2) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #2
Published by Signet on March 7th 2006
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 468

It’s Like the Hulk’s Love Story

“God, he really was . . . beautiful.”

THE STORY: Rhage is one of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a group of warrior Vampires who protect civilian vampires and humans against the Lessening society (humans without souls who are killers). Rhage is known as Hollywood because of this incredible good looks, but Rhage is cursed with a beast inside him that comes out when he loses control. Rhage meets Mary Luce and cannot get her out of his mind even though it is against all the rules of the brotherhood and his own personal struggles make a relationship impossible. Mary is a human and very fragile physically although she is incredibly strong in other ways. She is determined to be alone because of her own past but she can’t stop thinking about Rhage either.

OPINION: This is a beautiful love story with being overly mushy. Rhage and Mary are both people with a type of invader inside them. Both has become solitary because of it and it impedes them living a full life. In a real sense, they end up curing one another. I love how they both struggle against being vulnerable to one another wanting to protect the other. I love how Mary makes Rhage sweet and loving and how Rhage gives Mary a purpose and belief in herself. They both have needed someone to love them unconditionally. Beyond Rhage and Mary, there is also more wonderful views of the other characters in the series. I especially love the relationships between these people.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book also begins the story for the next book LOVER AWAKENED. There are also continuing threads of storylines that are not resolved here so readers should be aware.

FINAL DECISION: This is an angst filled book that I loved. Rhage changes so much during the book and he and Mary have such a painful journey to their HEA. This is a book where the character development is a paramount and the plot doesn’t overshadow the deep emotional connection between the characters.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVER ETERNAL is the second book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. It can be read as a standalone although some of the series mythology is not repeated from the first book so readers will have to make some inferences to catch up.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Dark Lover

Review: Dark LoverDark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
Published by Signet on September 6th 2005
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 393

Sexy, Exciting Vampire Romance

THE STORY: Wrath is the last purebred vampire and although he is recognized as king, he doesn’t want to be in that position because he believes himself unworthy. Because of his purebred blood, he ends up agreeing to help half breed Beth Randall through her transition to become a vampire. Beth grew up as an orphan and had no idea that her father was a vampire. When Wrath and Beth meet, both of them have their expectations blown apart. At the same time, there are serious threats from the Lessers (de-souled humans) who threaten both humans and vampires alike.

OPINION: I loved this book. Intense, sexy and exciting, DARK LOVER is the story of a serious alpha male who is made both vulnerable and strong by love. The men of the Black Dagger Brotherhood are vampires crossed with dangerous motorcycle gangs. Dark and gritty, DARK LOVER also manages to be deeply romantic. This book is clearly the first in a series as there is much setup and explanation. Also the plotline regarding the war between the vampires and the lessers is just beginning and is clearly not resolved by the end of the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Ward introduces several other men of the Black Dagger Brotherhood with intriguing stories that will play out in future books.

FINAL DECISION: I really loved this book. Wrath and Beth are a great couple and the story is exciting.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DARK LOVER is the first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.