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: 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