Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 9)
This one is going to be hard to review without a few (very light) spoilers. DO NOT READ if you don’t want to know. While I keep it simple in regards to the “issues”, this series is close to my heart, and I want to “mull it over” out loud, if you will Oh and – leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of this very book!
I have been somewhat missing in action, and it’s simply because…I went home again. Home, to my favorite group of vampires, humans, sympaths and “others”. I feel like I know these guys, and it’s because J.R. Ward keeps every character from the series past, integral to the BDB future. Home is where this book took me, and I didn’t want to leave. Considering I only get an “invite” once or twice a year, I wanted to make this visit last, but like usual, once I got started, I couldn’t put it down, and now here I am. Alone again, waiting for the next journey. I’ll happily wait, as long as the “invites” into their world keep coming.
I find it interesting how this series almost seems to have evolved somewhat into a “soap opera”. Oh God, I know that sounds off, but it’s the only thing I can liken it to. Okay let me clarify. Not the far-fetched, cliché, eye-rolling soap opera drama stuff (well a tiny bit of that, but in a good way). What I mean is, in the past, the books were clearly about one specific couple (with a “camaraderie” feel amongst the group). You got to know everyone, but, especially the “main couple”. As of late, while each book still focuses on a potential couple, there are a few other important side stories that are just as interesting, if not more, happening at the same time.
These side stories help expand the BDB world, and give it a potentially long life. And the “side-stories” progress as the series continues (everything is not necessarily resolved in one book). Often a specific storyline can continue to evolve throughout many books. As long as J.R. keeps writing these, the characters continue to “live” and change (progress, then regress), and their happily ever after, is never really quite what it seems. Nothing is set in stone with these guys. Expect the unexpected.
V, anyone? His story blew my mind in this installment. One of the main characters in the series (and pretty much, one of the most important ones) his story is never-ending (and YAY to that!). We knew he had issues with his goddess mother, found out about his twin sister (who’s also had it rough), and had a destructive past and ruined childhood. Of course, problems will continue to arise in his long life (and hopefully this long series), due to these numerous issues. But I thought his “happily ever after” was cinched. I was mistaken.
With him, she never knew what to expect, and not just because he was the son of a deity. He was sex on the edge all the time, hard-cornered and crafty, twisted and demanding.
And she knew that she merely got the watered-down version of him.
There were deeper caves in his underground maze, ones that she never visited and could never go.
Now wait, I’m not saying (or giving away) what happens to his love life in this installment, but what I am saying is, the Brothers may love intensely, but not perfectly. These “happily ever afters” have some serious bumps in the road, and the author doesn’t shy away from the drama, the heartache, and the “true-life” moments. These books are not pretty, and that’s how I like it. It makes these guys “real”, reminds me that if they were real, just maybe, we could be friends. Intimidating they may be (due to their size, and strength) but intimidating-ly perfect – they are far from it.
Actually, I will admit to be extremely surprised by the revelations in regards to V and Jane’s relationship. I always knew there was a closeness between V and Butch that *might* cause issues in the future (and there are some things here, but… different), however, there was a little surprise for me in this one that I wasn’t expecting. While I thought V and Jane were irrevocably in love after his “official” book, we were privy to some very human-ish resentments and insecurities, and maybe even regrets, in this one.
“Where did you go tonight,” she said, not expecting an answer.
And she didn’t get one. but he’d halted right under the ceiling fixture, so even from a distance, she could see his shoulders tightening up.
“Why aren’t you turning around, Vishous.”
Dear God…what had he done at the Commodore? Oh Jesus…
Funny, there was a reason that people “built” lives together. Although the choices you made as husband and wife were not bricks, and time was not mortar, you were still constructing something tangible and real. And right now, as her hellren refused to come over to her – hell, even show her his face – and earthquake was rumbling under what she had thought was solid ground.
“What did you do tonight,” she choked out.
Bonded, these males might be, but infuriatingly and stupidly “guy-like” for many things (okayyy, guys, I take that back – boys are perfect, and don’t smell or act all “aloof” etc etc… ). Hehe. Anyway, this was my favorite story in this book.
We were also introduced to a new group of warriors that have the potential to go either way. They have a few paybacks to resolve, and perhaps, de-throne a vampire King or two…
The Bloodletter was dead. No longer living, he was a legend starting this night.
As as is right and proper, the son now stepped into the souls of his sire, commanding these soldiers who would serve not Wrath, the king who would not rule, not the Brotherhood, who would not deign to lower themselves to this level… but Xcor and Xcor alone.
“We go in the direction from whence the female came,” he announced. “We shall find her even if it takes centuries, and she shall pay for what she hath wrought this night.”
From the old world, and still living as such, these guys have the potential to give the Black Dagger Brotherhood a run for their money, and I feared them much, as I read this. While at first, I wasn’t all that interested in their story, (and somewhat irritated that they kept cutting into my “good parts”), I quickly realized their potential, and even started to bond with a couple of them. Some of them have a respectable sense of justice, and there was a “hotel” scene that I thought was going to be a bloody, deadly and violent mess, but ummm…nope . WOW. That was just… More of that please?
Blay and Qhuinn’s story continues, but from Qhuinn’s perspective (we barely get any Blay in this one). Qhuinn is suffering (good! you silly boy!). Fantastic progression into their situation, but J.R. Ward completely played us here. She knows what we want, but does she give it? Sort of…sort of not.
“I’m his lover, cousin – ”
“Whoa… he put his hand up. “That’s so none of my business – ”
” – not the love of his life.”
Mind you what we got was plenty emotional. That’s okay, I hear there will be more, and I’m good with it. I like to work for what I want (too easy means over too quickly). So keep the angst going, it will definitely be worth the ride she takes us on, I’m sure.
And now the main story, the “couple” that the book focused on. This one started as my second favorite part of the book, but I’ll admit, eventually, it took a back seat, for me. Payne (V’s sister) is paralyzed from the waist down and being a warrior, feels her life isn’t worth living. They send Doc Jane to bring Manny (the surgeon) back to the mansion to “fix” her…
“Manny, I don’t have time to explain. I need you.”
He glared at her for a long moment. “You show up after a year of being dead, and you need me?”
…and then they make him leave, and mess with his mind, erasing his time amongst them, once he’s done all he can do. However before he leaves Payne, they accidently managed to forge a deep emotional connection, and with Manny now gone, it does not go well for Payne. She’s lonely and depressed and still not walking and Manny is a mental mess, back at his regular day job. V must sacrifice his pride and bring Manny back for the good of his sister, and this is when all hell “officially” breaks loose for V.
The vampire got close. “Careful, human – you’re only alive because you’re useful to me.”
“She’s your sister?”
“Don’t forget it.”
Manny smiled by baring all his teeth. “Then there’s something you need to know.”
Manny rose up on his toes and met the f****r eye-to-eye.
“If you think you want to kill me now, this ain’t nothin’ compared to how you’re going to feel when I see her again.”
Yah! You tell him, Manny!!
Their story was angsty, dramatic, and plenty good (and has a heartwarming message). Sexy and romantic, Manny rocked (I liked that he is human, and I really enjoyed his “integration” into their world).
He glanced over his shoulder at Goatee. “You need to back off, my man. I want you out in the hall.”
The response he got in return was… just fang-tastic: The bastard bared a pair of canines as long as his arm and growled, natch, like a dog.
“Fine,” Jane said, getting in between them. “That’s fine. Vishous will wait out here.”
Vishous? Had he heard that right?
I liked Payne enough, but… I dunno. At a certain point, when the focus went back to them, I’ll admit, I was, surprisingly, a bit bored. Eventually I bonded enough to them to enjoy the progression (and they do face some serious challenges), but this was not my favorite storyline.
So there you have it. I loved LOVED hanging out with the Brothers again, and this book just renewed my bond with them as a whole. I want MORE. These are not your typical heroes and I often wonder if they’re looking for a hero of their own (not that they’d ever admit to such). Okay okay okayyyyy – again!! I take it back! LOL! You guys do not need heroes. I get it. True? I feel you.
(*whispers* but I know the truth – shhhhhh – tee hee!!!)
So while it was not my favorite in the series, it did keep me on a journey that promises to entertain me for many books to come. But umm…J.R.? Rememberrrrr? ‘member??? when in the first few books…you’d blow our mind with the main couples a la “hotel-style” (sorta like in this one)? Rememberrrr?? MORE!!! Like before. Details! Lots and lots of pages of details and growling and emotion and intensity, and well you know Okay? Okay! *blush*
Now for the book giveaway! It’s SIGNED!!! Yup! J.R. Ward had a virtual book-signing-fest, and I jumped on the occasion. Here it is. THE SIGNED by J.R. Ward “Lover Unleashed” book, waiting to go home to a lucky LUCKY winner! Leave a comment here, and I will have the randomizer thingie draw one winner on Friday April 8th at 9pm EST. Don’t worry about your address just yet. I will contact the winner for those details, directly. U.S residents only, please (although all are welcome to comment).