I finished the first book of this series, Dark Lover, without really understanding what the fuss was all about with this series. I was told to keep reading so I did. J.R. Ward’s Lover Eternal is definitely an improvement, though I’m still not in love with the series yet.
Each book focuses on a specific character. This installment centers on Rhage, the most beautiful yet cursed brother of them all as he must co-exist with an inner beast that unleashes once he reaches his limits. To sate himself and keep this demon at bay, he must fight often and have a whooole lotta sexy time with very compliant female partners. Lucky for him, there are normally plenty of both around. Though beautiful, he hates his playboy ways, longing to find a real partner. And he may have found one in Mary Luce, a human cancer survivor with a good heart even though life hasn’t been to kind to her. Even now she must face that her disease may have returned, but he handles it with pride. Becoming involved with him only puts her in more danger, making her a potential target for enemy hunters. Rhage will do anything he can to protect her and Mary finds that she feels the same.
This series is growing on me, but it may partially be because it’s so easy to poke fun at it. From the baby powder villians to the rappers to the dates at TGI Fridays. I mean, TGI Fridays? Really?! That’s like a glorified McDonalds! Don’t get me wrong, I love both places but that’s far from impressive for a first date, especially for The Brotherhood. A girl’s gotta have standards! And I am a fan of rap music myself, but for me it’s just funny knowing these characters are too.
Overall I did like Mary and felt like she was a good person, so I was rooting for it to work out between her and Rhage. But now I wonder if happily ever afters are the plan for every book, so I’m not quite sure what else there is to anticipate. The brothers all sound fantastically gorgeous, but it’s kind of hard to keep up with who’s who so I guess it’s good that each character gets a book so that we can familiarize ourselves with them.
This series is definitely paranormal romance, but the sap wasn’t quite as cringe-worthy and out of character as the first book which helped me connect to the characters a bit more. This series is in third person and it cuts away to different scenes that signal what will be the focal points of future books. It’s good to for breaking up the melodrama, but I am still not interested in the perspective of the villains, though the author tries to make them intriguing. But as far as I’m concerned, they’re dead and it shows. I definitely found myself skipping over it a lot. Whatever they do we know the Brotherhood will take care of them.
The most important reason that I can imagine anyone reading this series is for the smut. If you want your smut you’ll get your smut in spades. I like a little more vampiric behavior involved since they are vampires. I personally found that lacking. Since Mary is a human she can’t sustain Rhage, but I still wanted for them to try! He certainly fed off enough human woman in the past.
There are books I’ve loved better, but I can at least say that I liked Lover Eternal and I plan to read the next book which is widely lauded by many readers.
Soooo, I finally decided to dive into the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series. With so many people faving it I couldn’t go wrong, could I? The first book kicks off primarily focusing on Wrath, vampire “King” of the Brotherhood. With their race dwindling, it’s up to him to lead a small “special ops” group of leather-clad and dagger-wielding vamps in their war against a formidable brood of vampire hunters. He’s blood thirsty, ruthless, and…blind? That’s certainly a twist. Add to the mix the little complication of a fallen brother who leaves him with one dying wish–for Wrath to help said brother’s secret daughter as she transitions into her own vampirism. Never fear, there’s no incest involved. These guys are “Brothers” in the symbolic sense.
Personally, for me the book started off pretty strong, but as it progressed I found myself enjoying it a lot less. One area that sort of irked me involved the villains. This group of vampire hunters has a special calling card; they smell like baby powder. Yes, I am totally serious. Sometimes I can go with the flow, but that really made it difficult for me to be intimidated a lot of the time. They also have no sex drive, though that is perfectly fine with me as the Brothers have plenty to go around, maybe too much.
I liked the characters at times, but I don’t quite love them…yet. They have a lot of promise, so I have to say that I was disappointed to notice a number of pointless, drawn out, and completely out-of-character scenes (the wedding scene comes to mind). There were many stretches of purely overdone sap, and that’s really not my thing. I believe there can be a good balance of action, badassery, and gradual relationship-building. It suffers from the typical paranormal romance dynamic: feelings literally change overnight. I can handle it to an extent depending on the story, but that typically doesn’t jive well with me and it didn’t here. I need a little more complexity.
While I try to keep from mentioning other series outright, I can’t help but say “Damn you Jericho Barrons for setting the bar so high!” I don’t really like major development and character evolution over the span of a few pages. I appreciate it happening, but I’d just like it to be a little more interesting, realistic, and creative.
While Dark Lover has its quirks, there are some good things here. The title of the book certainly doesn’t disappoint as it does deliver what it promises. But aside from that, I can say that it was truly a breath of fresh air to read this series in third-person as well as shift to different scenes with different characters. I’m so used to the first-person past tense with Urban Fantasy books, so this was a nice departure. I also appreciated that J.R. Ward took the time to develop her own kind of vampire, and they make sense. Vampires feed from other vampires. Human blood is too weak to sustain them. That makes it more possible to keep their society secret. These vampires aren’t completely invincible either. They have their own battle scars and inner demons, while still managing to be sexy. I do look forward to seeing how their stories are fleshed out in later books.
All in all, if I were to base my recommendation on just this book I would be on the fence. I was really feeling it up until the 60% mark, and then it became a chore. However, I have heard great things about future books and I know all too well how many series suffer from “first book syndrome,” so I think the next few sequels are worth a try after I read a few other books in that ever-growing “to-be-read” pile.