I discovered urban fantasy back in 2005 with Laurell K Hamilton’s Guilty Pleasures, but it was JR Ward’s Dark Lover that helped fed my growing love of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre. There was just something so different about a world where vampires were still monsters (the violence, the mating, etc etc) and yet they weren’t evil, they just were. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series is a fantastic blend of how violent true passion can be and it’s a world I’ve seriously been missing.
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.
The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.
As with any new series, you’re going to get a little bit of info dumping when it comes to setting up the world and how its players interact. Honestly, I have to say that Ward does do this a little, but she does it in a way that doesn’t make it so obvious. She gives these little nuggets of information, things you just want to know more of, but then she flashes to a different scene. At first this can get a little exasperating, but once you realize that while it may be a new scene, it’s still relevant to that nugget of information you wanted to know about. The biggest problem (although it’s really not) is that you don’t always realize how relevant certain information is until later in the book. Ward likes to hide those elusive Easter eggs in her story and it’s not until later that you realize how important that information was. One that sticks out in my mind, right now, is that one scene that Mr. O is mentioned. He doesn’t seem like he’s going to be all that interesting, but considering this isn’t the first time I’ve read Dark Lover or a few of the BDB books, I can tell you that little tidbit is going to come back to you. I won’t give it away to anyone who’s reading the BDB series for the first time as part of the BDB Read-Along, but don’t forget about him.
As for meeting all those wonderful brothers, what can I say. I’m loving that I get to be reintroduced to all of them from the very beginning. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Caldwell, but the brothers still remain one of my favorite alpha males to this date. Let’s take the Blind King for starters, it is his book after all. Here is a man, a vampire, who has been through more than his share of trauma and has such a weakness, that you just want to hold him close and let him know he’s not alone. Wrath has so many insecurities that it’s fascinating watching Beth break through them, showing him he is capable and that there are those who will stand by him.
Then we have Rhage, a man cursed, but lives like he doesn’t have a care in the world. Zsadist, a scarred man who hides his true self from everyone and not even the brothers really see how much pain he lives in. Vishous, the man with the golden touch, one who wished he couldn’t see as much as he does. Tohr, the vampire that has what everyone else wants. And then we have Phury. Oh Phury, we know and hear so little of you in Dark Lover that it’s probably a good thing. All these men, all these violent aggressive men, they are rough and brutish, but it doesn’t take long for anyone to really fall for them. I love how Butch and Beth first thought of them as thugs, but it didn’t take them long to realize that there was more to them than first impressions give. I think that’s why I enjoy this series so much. So many stories will make that first impression of a character the truth and Ward doesn’t. She makes you get to know these characters and she doesn’t reveal everything all at once. To really know them, you can’t stop at Dark Lover as each book in the BDB series gives you more and more.
Oh, I could go on about the brothers, but in order to do so, you would need to have read more of the books and that’s the point of the BDB Read-Along. To either walk the streets of Caldwell again or to find out what makes these men and Caldwell such a fascinating world to begin with.
But I’m getting off topic, aren’t I. I’m suppose to be talking about Dark Lover and while we do meet each of the brothers, that isn’t the point of the story. The point is that Wrath is given a task by a brother and the trouble that task brings him. There’s no doubt about it, Beth is definitely trouble for Wrath. She brings him so many changes, changes he either doesn’t want to make or are scared of (although he would never admit that), that it really trips him up good. Wait. I’m doing it again. We’re not talking about the males right now, I need to talk about the heroine of the story. This actually brings up one of the issues I have with Wards books. Her men are fascinating, but her women are not and Beth just re-enforces that opinion for me. Even from the moment she walks onto the pages, there’s nothing special about Beth. Nothing that makes her unique from other woman, that sets her a part even in her own world. Yes, there are other books that involve heroines like this, but they at least have a back bone or some special trait that ends up making them stick out. Beth never really gets that element. Even now, I could go on and on about Wrath, but I’m finding it hard to say something about Beth. She’s just not memorable.
Overall, Dark Lover is a fascinating start to what I know is a fascinating series, but I’m hoping that what I remember about the women isn’t the complete truth.
Lover Reborn (March 2012)
Want to join Dark Faerie Tales and I in our discussions about the Black Dagger Brotherhood? We’ll be discussing Lover Eternal tomorrow here on LE and I hope to see everyone stop by. If you haven’t already, we started the discussion with Dark Lover over at Dark Faerie Tales, you should check it out. With either discussion, please let us know if you think we’ve missed something. I always find it interesting to see what parts of stories that others zero in on that I’ve either glossed over or have missed entirely.