Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lover Revealed, Lover Unbound & Lover Enshrined - J.R. Ward

Black Dagger Brotherhood Party

The Black Dagger Brotherhood Party is an awesome week-long celebration that RachelKelly & I are hosting. We love the series, we love these vampires, and we wanted to share that love with all of you. Expect fun posts from each of us, and some posts that we've all collaborated on, as well as mini-reviews from me and Rachel, who are first-time BDB readers! You can also chat with us about the books, the characters and anything BDB-related on Twitter, by using the hashtag #BDBparty.

Just in time for the Black Dagger Brotherhood Party, I'm bringing you my reviews of the books in the series. Unlike my traditional reviews, these are a little bit shorter than usual. The books will be reviewed in groups of three and I will endeavor to stay as spoiler-free as I can possibly manage. I will also be reviewing the trio of books in an overall capacity.

General Thoughts


If the first three books convinced me to keep reading via amazing male characters, the next trio - Lover Revealed, Lover Unbound & Lover Enshrined - kept me reading with their stories. J.R. Ward continues to reveal her world, adding new concepts, elements and characters that fit seamlessly into the original storyline. While she still maintains an over-arcing plot that focuses on the fight between the Brotherhood and the lessers, she's added new side conflicts that will keep readers interested. 

Lover Revealed - J.R. Ward
Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #4
Publisher: Onyx Publishing
Publication Date: March 6, 2007
Source/Format: Borrowed from Melissa || Paperback

Butch O'Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard-living ex-homicide cop, he's the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world-to engage in the turf war with the lessers. His heart belongs to a female vampire, Marissa, an aristocratic beauty who's way out of his league. And if he can't have her, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers. 

But fate curses him with the very thing he wants. When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead, he's found by a miracle, and the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back, though even her love may not be enough to save him. (from Goodreads)

I wasn't entirely certain how I would feel about Lover Revealed, particularly because it was about Butch and Marissa. While there's nothing really wrong with either character, they weren't really my favorites and I worried that it would affect my feelings for the book overall. I shouldn't have worried, because the way Ward told their story drew me right back into the series! The fight with the lessers is still going strong in this one, but we also learn more about vampire aristocracy. Plus, there's the big bonus of the Brotherhood bromances that are a big part of this story, particularly the one between V and Butch!

Marissa was in an unfortunate position as a vampire who was supposed to be Wrath's shellan/mate, which clearly did not happen given the events in the first book. As a member of vampire aristocracy, she tries to handle herself with grace, dignity and composure, even as she feels a little insecure. It was interesting to see how drawn she was to Butch, and how she appreciated all the ways he made her see herself through new eyes. 

Butch is a badass, New York cop... but he's human. Even though he's been let into the inner circle of the Brotherhood, everyone knows he's more vulnerable than they are, and they're a bit overprotective. It grates against Butch's nerves, of course, because that makes him feel like a liability and useless. But over the course of this book, quite a few things are revealed to us readers -- one big thing in particular that I guessed at and was really glad ended up actually happening! It surprised me how invested I ended up being in the outcome of Butch's story, and Ward certainly did a good job of keeping my interest in this series strong.

Lover Unbound - J.R. Ward
Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #5
Publisher: Signet Publishing
Publication Date: September 25, 2007
Source/Format: Borrowed from Melissa ||Paperback

Ruthless and brilliant, Vishous, son of the Bloodletter, possesses a destructive curse and a frightening ability to see the future. As a pretrans growing up in his father's war camp he was tormented and abused. As a member of the Brotherhood, he has no interest in love or emotion, only the battle with the Lessening Society. But when a mortal injury puts him in the care of human surgeon, Dr. Jane Whitcomb compels him to reveal his inner pain and taste true pleasure for the first time-until a destiny he didn't choose takes him into a future that cannot include her. (from Goodreads)
If there's one thing I have to say about Lover Unbound, V's story, it's that it's incredibly twisted. This was actually one of the hardest books in the series for me to get through -- and not in an awful way. It was mostly because V goes through so much pain, self-hatred and insecurity that it hurts. Plus, there's his warring need to do the right thing in many situations in his life - whether it has to do with Butch or with the Chosen and the Scribe Virgin or with the Brotherhood. 

On the other hand, Ward made a spot on choice when she created Jane to be V's match. Jane is another contender for my favorite female in this series. She's smart, sassy and spunky, even though beneath it all she's got a sweet, kind heart. Oh, and here's the clincher -- she's human and she's a doctor! Clearly, those two things are enough to cause conflicts between her and V, and even elicit some response from the lessers and brothers alike. 

There are other things happening in this book - Phury and John Matthew dealing with their respective issues, the lessers trying to reorganize and regroup - but the relationship between V and Jane truly takes the cake. It was fun to see sarcastic, witty banter, and I laughed out loud a lot just reading the conversations between them. But there was also a seriousness underlying everything, and the gravity of their feelings and acceptance of one another really drew me in as well.

Like I said, with these three books, it's the story that really draws me in. V's story is painful, but it does a lot to move the series forward. The only thing I'm a little iffy about is the ending -- it came as a shock, and it somehow still doesn't make any sense to me (and you'll know what I mean if you read it!). 

Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #6
Publisher: Signet Publishing
Publication Date: June 3, 2008
Source/Format: Borrowed from Melissa || Paperback

Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood's bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is obligated to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive, and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished. 

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body, but his heart for herself. She is drawn to the noble responsibility behind the emotionally scarred male. But Phury has never allowed himself to know pleasure or joy. As the war with the Lessening Society grows grim, tragedy looms over the Brotherhood's mansion, and Phury must decide between duty and love. (from Goodreads)

This is, so far, my least favorite of the series. Don't get me wrong - I still enjoyed Lover Enshrined. It gave me the opportunity to learn more about the Chosen and the Scribe Virgin, as well as bringing in new(ish) characters, particularly John Matthew, Blay and Qhuinn. The story definitely took off running, bringing us new plot twists and moments that I could not have expected. And yet, I just didn't fall in love with Phury and Cormia the way that I expected to.

Phury is an amazing guy. He's sacrificed his own joy and satisfaction on behalf of others, as a twin, as a Brother and as a vampire. He might be quiet, but I was sure there was a lot going on underneath that beautiful head of hair -- and I was right. Ward reveals all of Phury's emotions, both good and bad, and his personal demons that haunt him. I felt for him, I really did, but it was a struggle for me to stay interested when he just kept feeling so sorry for himself all the time. Thankfully, he becomes someone different, someone stronger by the end, which I was really glad about.

Cormia is sweet enough, but pretty naive in comparison with the other females in this series. While she interested me because she was one of the Chosen, it was more intriguing to see her battle against her desire to do what was right versus her desire to do what was right for her. That was really what kept me rooting for her, even though there were moments when I just wanted to shake her really, really hard.

The reason I know I didn't fall for this couple as hard as the others is because I was more interested in finding out what was going on with Blay, Qhuinn and John Matthew. Their friendship and loyalty is amazing, and the conflicts around and between them really caught my attention. I look forward to learning more about them! Other than that, this book was an okay read -- the first one I felt that way about since I started the series.

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Stay tuned for more Black Dagger Brotherhood Party posts this week! In the meantime, check out the ones that are already online:

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