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

Top 10 Favorite Books of 2015

This list of ten books is not necessarily my best reviewed books of 2015.  Rather, these are ten books which stuck with me for one reason or another.

10. Pia Does Hollywood by Thea Harrison — This novella does exactly what I love.  It revisits characters from the series and moves their story forward.  This novella has a tight story line and reminds me how much I love Dragos and Pia as a couple.

9. The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean — A classic road story, this first book in MacLean’s new series ticks all the classic romantic tropes — two protagonists who start out hating and fighting one another but soon cannot help being attracted to one another, a highwayman, illicit nights spent on the road together, and a rake brought to his knees.

8. Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz — Perfect balance between romance and suspense in this story of the past that comes back to haunt the heroine. I loved the twists and turns of the suspense story and also the connection between the hero and heroine.

7. The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward — A book I was inclined to dislike merely because of its description which sounds like a 1980s Dynasty or Dallas description, I found the story of this rich family that is falling apart on all sides to be compelling.  These are not always likable characters but their development makes great drama. The story is a  sweeping and epic family drama with a lot of romance.

6. Luck be a Lady by Meredith Duran — I love these cross-class romances.  Here, the hero is a criminal mastermind and the heroine is a woman who wants nothing more than to be a strong business woman.  Challenging all her assumptions Catherine has about herself, Nick is clever, daring, rough and sexy.  Their interactions are what I remember most from this book.

5. Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh — Nassir, Nassir, Nassir.  Cuddly as a cat and as dangerous as a viper, Nassir is such unique character.  His search for his mate is as singular as Nassir’s own nature.  I loved that we get to know so much about Nassir and yet he becomes more mysterious and compelling.  Mee-yow!

4. Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh — The only author with two books on my list, Nalini Singh has two diverse genres.  Rock Redemption is her contemporary series about the members of a rock band.  When Noah and Kit were introduced earlier in the series, readers discovered that Noah purposely destroyed any potential relationship between them by having Kit catch him having sex with a groupie.  How these two find a path together is my most heartbreaking and angst filled read of the year.

3. Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase — This book has a quirky relationship between a barrister and an aristocrat.  The two of them have a very bantering relationship with lots of arguments and discussions which draw them together.  I always love the sense of place that Chase novels have with many historical details.  Chase makes a stuffy lawyer very sexy.

2. Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt — Hot, hot, hot. This story between a sensualist and a woman who fears even being alone with a man is romantic and sexy while also being sweet and gentle.  Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series is one of my all time favorites and this book’s story is big and bold and sexy — and so is Asa Makepeace.

1. The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long — My favorite book of the year did something that is almost impossible — exceeded high expectations. The final book of the Pennyroyal Green series, this book tells the star-crossed lovers story of Lyon and Olivia whose families rival the Capulets and Montagues. Lyon and Olivia’s story has been a catalyst throughout the series and thus readers had high expectations for their story. This book was beautiful, emotional and one of the best closures of a series I have ever read.

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

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

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
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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.

three-half-stars