Taking a slightly different approach with this series – I will have small snippets of each book, with the book title. Telling us who each book is named after, and important things we need to know either going into the book or coming out of it. I will add more details on the new books as they come out. But, being 9 books in, it’s a little hard to un-mash-up some of the details. And frankly, I would need to re-read all 8 to do this. Which, I am totally willing to do, but I don’t want to put off reading #9 to do it – which comes out in less then 2 weeks. I read fast, but not that fast!
Author: J.R. Ward
US Publisher: Mass Market Paperback (for most of them, until the change in genre from Romance to “Urban Fantasy” and since I despise that change, I’m choosing to ignore the new publisher)
- Dark Lover – Wrath and Beth’s story (Beth’s friend Butch will be important later). Wrath is the vampire king, even though he hasn’t embraced his role. He is basically blind, and his vision is getting worse. Darius, a fellow member of the BDB is killed and leaves Wrath with the responsibility of making sure Beth, Darius’ daughter) survives her transition. We learn that shellan is the “life mate” term.
- Lover Awakened – Rhage and Mary’s story. Rhage was cursed a long time ago for offending the Scribe Virgin (their deity, and she’s not exactly all that nice). As a result he has a Beast that is part of him. And, it comes in the form of a dragon. Mary was dying from leukemia when they meet. Rhage makes a deal with the Scribe virgin to cure Mary.
- Lover Eternal – Zsadist and Bella. Zsadist was a former blood slave; they have a baby in the “.5” book. Zsadist is angry and loathes himself. Bella is Rehvenge’s younger sister. Nalla is their daughter.
- Lover Revealed – Butch and Marissa. Butch was a cop and becomes a member, he’s not a born vampire but the Scribe Virgin deems him worthy and has some vamp blood in his bloodline from way back when. He and Vishous have a bromance and he absorbs all the darkenss from the lessers, so that the lessers once destroyed can’t be reborn. Probably the key to beating the “big baddy” in the end. Marissa was once mated to Wrath but they weren’t really in love. Havers, her brother, kicks her out before becoming sympathetic to the BDB in a later book.
- Lover Unbound – Vishous and Dr. Jane (Vishous can see the future and Jane dies in the end, but is gifted as being a “ghost” who sticks around and has physical mass at certain times, unlike normal ghosts)
- Lover Enshrined – Phury and Cormia. Phury is the Primale – responsible for propagating his race with the Chosen – who are special females, he doesn’t want the responsibility and has avoided it for a long time. He changes things so that Chosen can chose which world to be a part of. He also decides that he will only be with Cormia.
- Lover Avenged – Rehvenge and Ehlena’s story. Rehvenge is not like the other vamps, he’s a sympath. Sympath’s are discriminated against and most of them live in a special colony away from others. They have special powers – they can get inside the minds of others. He ends up needing to rescue Ehlena, Xhex gets taken, and he brings the sympaths into the mix and becomes sort of king of the sympaths who arranges a truce of sorts between the sympaths and the BDB.
- Lover Mine – John Matthew and Xhex’s story. John Matthew is really Darius reincarnated (Darius died at the beginning of the first book – and Beth is his daughter). Xhex is a sympath assassin who is fiercely loyal to Rehvenge. Xhex was captured at the end of book 7 by Lash and this book is where John Matthew goes after her.
- Lover Unleashed – coming March 29, 2011 (to be the story of Payne (Vishous’ twin sister; Vishous didn’t know she existed) and Dr. Manny Manello (a friend of Doc Jayne)). Ok, after having read this, yep, it’s Payne and Manny’s story. But there’s a lot of Vishous and Jane here too. Payne is injured by Wrath at the end of #8 and she’s now in our world. Jane sets out to get Manny to bring him back and do surgery on Payne. He does and while the surgery itself goes ok, Payne, at first, still can’t walk again. Vishous takes all of the events hard and doesn’t know how to deal with them. It seems like it is going to cause a problem between he and Jane. Turns out that Payne takes a liking to her healer (as she calls Manny) and he discovers that he might be able to heal her, since it is implied that there’s a mental aspect to her not being able to walk again. And, he’s right. By seducing her, he gets her back on her feet. And she has a magical power. Like the way Vishous’ hand glows, she sort of glows all over. And her glow is a healing glow. She saves Manny’s horse (which he in turn, at the end, gives to Payne). There’s some back and forth about Payne letting Manny go and her getting to spend a night with him and Wrath gives her permission but only if she will erase his memory at the end of the night. And that’s where this new group of fellows come in. We have Xcor, Throe and a bunch of others. They are warriors from hundreds of years ago. And Xcor thinks his father is Payne and Vishous’ father. But Payne (in the prologue) kills the Bloodletter (her father) and Xcor sees it and wants revenge on Payne. When Payne is wandering the streets sadly after leaving Manny she finds herself face-to-face with some lessers and then Xcor and his band show up. They capture her and she sets Xcor straight and they then let her go the next day. But in the interim, while she is missing, Vishous turns to Manny for help and we end up learning that he and Butch are probably half-brothers. So, Wrath decides then that Manny can be part of their world. Manny and Payne get together. Jane and Vishous solve their problems (but not until after a tough scene with Butch dom’ing Vishous to break him and sort of start to heal him too). Xcor wants Wrath’s throne. There was some thing with a serial killer and Butch’s ex-partner’s new partner that I am not sure where that all fits in for the next book. And I have a sneaking suspicion that one of Xcor’s goons will defect to the Brotherhood (Throe – there is some pledge between Throe and Xcor that has Throe serving Xcor, but Throe is obviously the more moral of the two and wants to save innocents whether they are human or vamp while Xcor really doesn’t care about humans at all). Then, nothing is solved between Blay and Qhuinn, except we get set up to see Qhuinn and Layla mate at some point in the future. And we know that Payne will fight with the boys while Manny will help Doc Jayne in the clinic and will help Havers with their clinic too. Finally, we know Manny will not age normally because of Payne’s healing ability, but we don’t know the extent of her powers or the long-term effect on Manny.
- Lover Reborn. This is the story of Thor and N’One. It was hard to read. Ultimately, this story is about the need to move on, To grieve and to not get so lost in that grief that you push everyone away. The is so much going on here that it’s almost hard to track. And I think I likEd these book betterbefore the “urbanfantasy” change. Because now instead of being primarily a PNR with some plot, there is much less of the “R” awe so very much plot. Xcor is out to take down the brotherhood. And one his hispest soldiers is almost sacrificed to the brotherhood, but the brotherhood treats him right and it’s uncertain where his loyalties will ultimately end up. Xcor seems to have some of the general population on his side too.
- Listed as “6.5” – Father Mine: Zsadist and Bella’s Story – the story of their little one coming into the world
- The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide
Wrath is the leader of the Brotherhood. He is the only purebred vampire left on the planet. The brotherhood is fighting, in Caldewell NY, an evil who wants to destroy the vampires. Known as the Lessers, they have a master and when they are killed, their evilness just gets reborn into others, until Butch comes along. Wrath is now completely blind and has a dog named George. Phury had a drug problem and is sort of not really in the Brotherhood anymore. Phury and Zsadist are twins and Phury felt guilt for a long time over what Zsadist suffered. Wrath has met Payne. Rhevenge owns ZeroSum, a club the BDB like to frequent. Xhex was a bodyguard there. There are two Moors (Trez and iAm) who also work there and we don’t know much about them except that they are deeply loyal to Rhev and Xhex and they have their own brnd of special powers. Doggen are servants to vamps. The Fade is the “heaven” of sorts where the Scribe Virgin lives.
Other important characters:
Saxton – a cousin to Qhuinn and starts dating Blay at the end of book 8. Not sure as of that point what role he will play in the future.
Qhuinn – He’s an outcast in vamp society because he has eyes which are two different colors. He is John Matthew’s ahstrux nohtrum – his protector. Secretly in love with Blay.
Blay – He’s gay and in love with Qhuinn. At the end of Lover Mine he starts dating Saxon, Qhuinn’s debonair and proper cousin.
Scribe Virgin – the divine being who the BDB and all vampires have as their guardian/deity. Mother to Vishous and Payne. Not always charming. Trains Wrath.
Muhrder – had a relationship with Xhex in the past. He was kicked out of the BDB. He was freaked out by Xhex being a sympath. There’s more to this… but much of it’s not concrete. I think we just need to wait to see what the deal is with him.
No’one – a woman in the Scribe Virgin’s realm. Xhex’s mother – if I interpreted things at the end of book 8 correctly.
The Omega – the opposite of the Scribe Virgin. He’s all that is evil and the lessers work for/belong to him. Lash is his half son.
Lash – started out training to join the BDB. Turns out his evil nature is natural as the son of the Omega. Qhuinn nearly kills him and he’s out to get revenge.
Lassiter – a fallen angel. He rescues Tohrment from death. He helps the BDB.
Tohrment – took in John Matthew for a time, with his shellan Welsie. Welsie was pregnant and killed by some lessers. Tohrment looses it and takes off, trying to die. Lassiter saves him and brings him back in Lover Enshrined.
REVIEW OF LOVER UNLEASHED:
Installment number nine feels more like the PNR types that hooked me into this series in the first place and less “urban fantasy”. Which was a pleasant surprise. I was disappointed with the shift in categories for this series; I felt like it really harmed the last two installments. But, here, I felt like I was reading the same series that books one and two were from and it was great. The downside to this book – it felt like it was a set-up book and didn’t move us forward in the fight against the Omega and the lessers. While there were a few battle scenes, we got more side stories and more of Xcor’s band of merry vampires more then we got of the lessers. And the serial killer/police stuff? I just don’t know what to expect coming out of that. We last saw Butch’s partner in Butch’s book, so why bring him back now? And why all the set up with his new partner? I am just not sure where that is going.
It was also… unique… to see so much of another couple in a book in this type of series. The troubles that Jane and Vishous have throughout are not generally seen in the the PNR genre. I am not saying it’s a bad thing. In fact, it was in some ways refreshing. But it was different. We usually get these books (especially in the couple-per-book book series) and the couples pair off and live happily ever after and we never see any real struggles between them. Vishous and Jane have some real bumps to get over in this book. They do, obviously, and the troubles didn’t seem contrived nor did the solution. But it was different for this genre.
When we get interaction between the brothers, the banter is great, as always. The fighting is bloody as always. The one real criticism that I have is that the slang seems to be getting… well… out of control. I have always liked that the writing and the dialogue seems to go with they way I would picture guys like this to speak. But if I have to read “true” one more time…. And the abbreviations of words like situation into sitch when it’s not dialogue sometimes feel contrived and forced. Like the author is trying to hard to be cool. There were moments where I had to stop and figure out what the heck she was trying to say.
But, it still was a great read. The steaminess is back!! The faithful readers are re-paid with little nods – like the reference to George and the brief glimpses of Xhex and Rhevenge. And we are clearly being prepared for more to come with all these new characters and the potential new threat to the BDB (versus the threat the Omega poses to the entire race). My big question – who will the next book be about? Can’t wait to see!