Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 8)
So I spent my entire weekend ignoring everyone and everything except for this book. I was hooked within the first few pages and could barely put it down. When I would walk away and *try* to get something productive done, I would find myself in a state of withdrawal…pretty much useless until I finished it.
I loved it! I loved how long it was, I loved how it seamlessly continued into the BDB world, I loved how there were four different stories going on at once, and I loved how J.R. Ward made us (and the characters) work to “get there”.
The author leads the readers through 4 (or is it 5?) stories, all interrelated to the characters in the book. While the main focus is John Matthew’s and Xhex’s story, the other narratives are just as prominent and relevant to the development of their world and affects the reader’s personal experience within their realm.
The author teases us…boy does she tease us. While you become wrapped up in a certain part of the story (and you will with most of the storylines in this one), she cuts you off just when you’re about to hit the “good part” and switches gears – somewhat frustrating, but the next chapter is always just as exciting or at least integral to the story as a whole. And you don’t have to wait too long to get back to the “good part” you were waiting for.
This book, while similar in style to her past installments, takes on a new perspective. While it characteristically reveals the daily lives and emotions of numerous characters at once, the author cleverly takes us back in time, in this one.
I have to tread carefully on my summary, because it is SO easy to give something away that would spoil something else. Every step of the way builds and builds, giving you insight, until it all collides into a grand revelation that will leave you stunned. While everything is pretty much “answered” in the end, you’ll be left with even more questions because of these revelations.
John Matthew (and all of the brothers) are desperately searching for Xhex. Fearing that she is dead, John Matthew devotes all of his energy into avenging the woman he truly loves (despite his impression that she doesn’t love him back).
Meanwhile, Xhex, alive and imprisoned by loathsome Lash, barely survives his nightly brutal physical and sexual assaults. I am relieved that these moments aren’t described in too much detail, but the image that is depicted is terrifying.
Lash’s delusional, sociopathic self is in full form in this book…
When you were the son of evil, there was little you couldn’t do, own, or kill, and yet her mortal self was an elusive trophy he could touch, but not put on his shelf.
This made her rare. This made her precious. This made him…love her.
Eventually, circumstances turn in Xhex’s favor. Lash is weakening and the powers required to imprison and hide Xhex (in plain view) are diminishing. As his powers abate, Xhex takes advantage of her one chance…but she is not completely out of trouble yet…
Her anger at Lash had been sustenance while she’d been jailed and abused, and she’d thought it would have kept her going outside as well. But the instant she’d made the call to Rehv, all her energy had drained out of her and left her nothing but a heartbeat. And not much of one at that.
Not waifish or weak in any sense, Xhex proved herself strong enough of wit, will and strength to hold her own against Lash. However her “humanity” eventually peeps through (ok ok…I know this is pushing it considering she is half vampire and half sympath but anyway…) let’s say… her “sense of self” can only handle so much abuse and mental anguish.
She felt sorry for the female who had been driven to such straits. Who had kept herself apart from all emotions.
The female had been born under a curse. The female had done evil and have evil done unto her. The female had hardened herself, her mind and her emotions becoming steel.
The female had been wrong about that locking down, that self containment.
It was not a case of strength, as she had always told herself.
It was strictly survival…and she simply couldn’t keep it up any longer.
As Xhex continues to struggle with her mental state, John Matthew witnesses her breakdown…
As she screamed and screamed, he vowed vengeance until his heart beat not blood, but the need for revenge.
And then Xhex took a series of big breaths. And a couple more.
“I think I’m done with that,” she said roughly.
I latched onto that whole part. It’s an amazingly descriptive yet distressing section. Despite her newfound “safety”, her will shatters, and she spirals downward reliving past tortures and emotional heartbreaks. This section is very honest, and you don’t just read about it, you experience it with her. In the past books, I enjoyed Xhex’s scenes, but didn’t actually like her (and thought she was all wrong for John Matthew). This book reveals her to be complicated and tough, yet very personal with a vulnerability I could finally connect to.
And while John Matthew and his crew have never failed to be entertaining, John Matthew’s self-indulgent brooding (even at the beginning of this book) was annoying. Yes yes…he had many reasons to brood, so of course he had the right, but I just didn’t wanna “hang out with him” when there were so many other brooding, yet less sullen Brothers to read about. To me, he was just a “kid”, and mostly acted like one.
It all changes somewhere in this book though. While he’s been a “man” in appearance for awhile now, he proves himself while appearing undaunted in the face of Xhex’s breakdown, and even more so in his realization and acceptance of other people’s distress (such as Tohr’s). Being forced to suddenly walk in Tohr’s shoes, so to speak, he learned a few very important things about life, and the unfairness of it, for everyone involved.
A sense of being observed had him lifting his head and looking over his shoulder. Tohr was on the far side of the door, standing in the office, staring out.
The two met each other’s stare and it was male to male, not elder to younger.
John was a different age now. And like so many things in this situation, there was no going back.
And a quick quote from one of many of my favorite moments between Xhex and JM:
Seemed like he’d lost his soul to her the very first time he’d laid eyes on her.
As he clicked off the light and she settled even closer to him, it felt like she was burrowing right into his cold heart and setting up shop, her banked fire thawing his soul out until he took the first honest-to-God deep breath in months.
So while we follow JM & Xhex on their path to self discovery and healing (and fighting – they are both warriors, lest we forget), the book continues to switch gears into different storylines, such as a T.V. production crew visiting a mansion to record a supposed “ghost” for a paranormal show. Huh? Wait- what??! Ghosts? Ok well that’s not a stretch considering Doc Jane, but…..ghosts? Really? And who are these humans we’ve never heard of before? Why are we following them around? And why, after so many of their sudden and somewhat irritating interruptions in MY book, am I suddenly finding them endearing? It is quite perplexing considering they don’t seem to have anything to do with the Brothers, or even this series for that matter….Just wait, it’s pretty cool.
The book also opens with Darius’s induction into the Brotherhood, and his story continues intermittently, throughout. Wayyyyy back when (1600’s?)…when Wrath, Son of Wrath was just a prince, and Tohr, son of Hharm was also a young new recruit into the Brotherhood.
Experiencing Darius’s struggles as he becomes a warrior, and anguishing for Tohr as his father (also a Brother) disowns him…
Darius went over to the young male. That face…Dearest Virgin Scribe. The boy’s frozen gray face wasn’t sad. Wasn’t heartbroken. Wasn’t even ashamed.
His features were a veritable death mask.
…we venture with the two as Darius takes Tohr under his wing and they investigate the disappearance of a vampire female of worth. This too, keeps interrupting the “good parts” but this story in itself is fascinating, and explains A LOT! Good stuff and very important.
Last but not least, one of the main stories in this installment is that of Qhuinn and Blay.
They were destined to be friends…which compared to strangers, was something huge. Compared to lovers? It was the cold side of a locked door.
They essentially continue to struggle with their feelings for each other all the while adapting to their role in the Brotherhood. THIS story really had me hooked! It didn’t overshadow JM & Xhex, but to me, was just as captivating, almost as distressing, and equally addicting. I want more. I was NEVER disappointed when these two interrupted the part that I was reading…cause well, I love ’em! While I might complain that there wasn’t enough of them (I think they need their own book, or a VERY BIG part in one), I will say that the tidbits J.R. Ward provides in their regard, were always intense, deeply emotional, and a great lead-up to what’s coming next for them.
And of course, there are some new character introductions. Layla and Payne’s stories are expanded, and as usual with J.R.’s characters, you can almost “feel” them. No matter how small a part a character might have in the book, they never fail to feel authentic (although I must say, The “Chosen” as sweet and angelic as they may be, continue to “irk” me a bit). I feel them (they’re very consistent in their reactions to their environment), but I just can’t quite relate to them.
So that’s it! Actually…that’s not it at all! Not even close. It must be read! MUST! You will not be disappointed…and if you are, read it again – you missed something!
Interested in the series? —> J.R. Ward – The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series Reading Order: