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: 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

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: 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: 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

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
Goodreads
five-stars

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.

five-stars