Book Review – Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward

by Maryse on March 29, 2012 · 20 comments

in J.R. Ward

Lover Reborn: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
I loved it. Well…mostly loved it. At times I was irritated because I didn’t think there was enough of what I wanted in it… *ahem* TOHR (and all things Tohr-ish). Annnnd, I had a harder time adjusting to the frequent storyline changes (3 or 4 of ‘em going on at once). Just when things would get good (or bad-good)… bam. Switch to another story. A bunch of us were moaning a bit about that, but my friend Penny said it perfectly:

“… there were a couple of times I though ‘no, don’t change the subject!’ and she did :) but that’s what keeps us going I suppose!”

Yep. Agreed. Still, overall, a solid read.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood world is expanding. The new additions and direction the series is taking, mostly makes sense and there appears to be a purpose to it all. We are now following a new set of “bad guys” (instead of those boring ol’ Lessers all the time) and each installment seems to be unfolding into deeper and darker potential.

And our ability to connect to the characters remains in full effect. She hasn’t lost her touch. Despite all of the “paranormal”, J.R. Ward’s characters have always felt real. Mortal. Human. They struggle with emotional issues, battlescars, power struggles and doubt. These infallible warriors and seemingly perfect-for-each-other couples grow out of the honeymoon phase and into real relationships. The insecurities and occasional resentments come out in full-force. They break up, or come close to it, and it’s never over anything silly. No eye-rolling “misunderstandings” here. When they have issues, oh boy… do they have issues!

And when a character struggles over his or her pain, the reader FEELS it. Cries with them. Mourns with them. Becomes depressed with them. Aches with them… and for them. And those emotions have never been more played upon, then in this book. I cried (or almost cried) twice. I mean, baby tears the first time (wiped away quickly and suppressed).

The tears that came out of his eyes were silent, the kind that seeped out and soaked the pillow, traveling over the bridge of his nose and falling to drop one after another like rain from the lip of a roof.

It was an important yet very quiet, personal moment, and my tears reflected it. I so easily COULD have let go, but I held back.

And then this morning… as I was reading quietly in my dark room before work, nearing the end of the book… there it was. That uncontrollable sadness and as the tears started falling (this moment called for a sob-fest). I heard a jovial voice calling me…

“Hey Maryse!! Come here for a minute!” (husband sitting at his computer)…


“WHAT?!! Not now. I’m reading and I’m almost done!!”

Husband –> “No for real, you have to come look at this!”


*wipe-wipe quickly* … stall a bit. Wipe wipe some more. *sniff* Okay, I think I’m dry-eyed now. Maybe if I stay in the shadows he won’t notice my puffiness. And then… I go look.

“THAT’S what you interrupted my book for??” (Yep. I had a mini-rant.)

“This? This is what you wanted me to come and see, like… right NOW? How could you interrupt THAT part of the book for this? OMG I was at a really important part!!! I can’t believe you broke my reading flow for that!”

Husband —> *blink… blink blink*

I stomped off muttering and grumbling some DO NOT DISTURB threats.

*spoiler alert* (but only for the series as a whole, no spoilers for this book as I’m keeping the review to an attempted spoiler-free minimum) —> For those of you who have not read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series yet, stop here and start this series. IT IS AMAZING I promise!! Crazy romantic, with the ultimate of ultimate alpha males. They’re vampire warriors protecting humans and the vampire race from demon-like, once-human-now-soulless-killing-machines. But it’s so much more than that. Social issues, humans integrating in the vampire world, and this author does not shy away from despair and heartache. She does not shy away from unimaginable tortures and current life-struggles due to past scars. The relationships are NOT handed to us. We have to work to get it and the work is soooo worth it. Oh and these guys are not the sappy-romance kind. Nope. Hard-core, foul-mouthed, arrogant and obnoxious but loyal, sexy and protective and just soooo perfect in all of their imperfections. We all have our favorites, and this series is till going strong with no end in sight. YAY!! SO read it!

So if you’re new to this series, do not read past this point. Instead, check out the series, here: J.R. Ward – The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series Reading Order

*end of spoiler alert*

So what’s it about? For those of you familiar with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, this was Tohr’s book. You remember a few books back, Tohr lost his wife Wellsie and their unborn baby to the evil Lessers who attacked her? His beautiful mate, his other half and his only reason for living. Now that she’s gone he’s pretty much given up on himself.

Maybe that was why it happened, he thought. He’d had too much luck and so had she, and the Scribe Virgin had had to level that score.

And now here he was, empty just like the dress, because what had filled both him and this gown was gone.

The “Brothers” are trying to bring him back to life, and while he may be going through the motions, his heart left with her.

His Wellsie had been a female of worth, just like the other three – why hadn’t she been spared. Why the f*&k wasn’t he like those other males, looking forward to the rest of his years.

Why hadn’t he and his shellan been granted mercy when they needed it most…

This is Tohr’s struggle to come back to the living, and what a struggle it is. Emotional overload, but exactly what I’m looking for in a book.

“Hell is a place of many levels. And where he’s headed is going to make this stretch of agony seem like nothing but spikes under fingernails.”

And while he struggles to just “care” again, he (unwillingly, at first) befriends another lost soul who has taken up residence in the Brotherhood mansion.

Xhex’s birthmother “No’One” (ick… I know, right? What a name!) is attempting to connect with her daughter and to find herself (her own past, a desolate wasteland of bad memories, horrors, and shame).

No’One, the name the female went by, wasn’t comfortable either. Then again, what could you call somebody who had been abducted by a symphath, violently forced to conceive, and then trapped by biology to bear the result of the torture.

At first, I was disappointed that this meek and fearful female (that speaks like the “Chosen”) could possibly be a love interest for Tohr. But I liked her story, I liked her, and her potential. And when I realized exactly who she was, (they  already know each other from a very distant past), it made their story even more interesting. Of course, I would have preferred Tohr to find himself a l’il ol’ human female for some of that crazy human/vampire mess of a mixup in the mansion, but oh well. Maybe the next one? Oh right. We had that in the last book, with Manny… the human. Okay. I guess it was time for another vampire/vampire match.

Overall, I was good with them. REALLY good, because THIS one was a difficult connection, and had me on the edge of my seat. Where was it going to go?? Tohr’s extreme resistance and her own, their conflicted emotions… the push and pull was in full force.

He was staring at her.

No… he was glaring at her.

Across the table, Tohrment, son of Hharm, was focused on No’One with hard, angry eyes, as if he resented not just her presence in this house, but the every breath in her lungs and the beat of her heart.

Tohr would say some crazy stuff and I chuckled at her “twitchy palms” (okay, the author said “tingly palms” but I like “twitchy” better) readying themselves to slap him. Oh and yes. There were a few of those moments where he would have absolutely merited that kind of reaction. But again, I love that kind of stuff, and I believed their reactions.

And then we have the “Band of Bastards”, back again with their leader Xcor. A bunch of vampire bad-asses themselves, with Xcor wanting to dethrone Wrath and take over as King. So you get a lot of their evil moves, and then some… not so evil.

For what reason had he caused such agony?

As the winds had rushed against Xcor, clearing his head and cooling his anger, he’d realized his actions sat uncomfortably within him. Unbearably.

Yes. I questioned how long these two groups would remain at war with one another when they seemingly have the same motives for their race, and could work together so much better than apart. But… I’ll let you read the story and see where that goes.

And we have Xhex and John Matthew, the newlyweds struggling with their new roles as husband and wife, and co-warriors amongst the Brotherhood. Xhex, not your typical heroine, butts heads with JM as his male vampire, primal instinct kicks in to protect his female. Social roles and vampire customs are greatly challenged in this book, and Xhex fights the stereotypes tooth and nail. But of course!! We couldn’t expect any different, and it was good.

“I know they respect me, but they respect a mated male’s prerogative over his shellan more. It’s not specific to the Brotherhood – it’s the very fabric of vampire society, and no doubt it’s because a bonded male is a dangerous animal. You can’t change that, and I can’t live with that, so yeah, this is where we are.”

Yes. But it’s not just about Xhex and her status as a female in a group of primal males. It’s about Xhex and her “humanity” so to speak. Her upbringing (or lack of one). Her lack of love.

When she turned back to her mother, the female was trembling, and trying not to show it.

“It’s okay,” Xhex said. “I’m good at fighting. I’m not going to get hurt.”

Nice words. Except that wasn’t what the female was worried about, was it: Her grid was showing fear… of Xhex.

Duh. Given that she was a half-breed symphath, of course No’One would think “dangerous” before “daughter”.

So here are my only complaints:

Tohr’s story. Almost enough, but not enough. I wish we had more Tohr time. More intensity, more bonding, more personal time with him. Her. Them. Apart. Anything. Just. More. Them. I felt like I was missing something (bonding scent..anyone? You know… and stuff like that). I was feeling them (in every way… good and bad) but I wanted to be indulged more when it came to their story. I don’t know, maybe it was just me, but you’ll see (and I don’t want to say anything more so as not to possible give an impression on where the book goes with this), but email me if when you get to the end, and I can say my peace.

The BoB. Actually, overall… great. At first I was all… ugh, stop interrupting my Tohr time, Xcor!!! But the story went somewhere. And it’s because of a “dun dun dunnnnnnn…” twist or revelation in the end that had me going “oooooh what’s gonna happen now?!!” so now I wanna know more. Oh wait. That wasn’t a complaint, was it? LOL! Well, what I meant to complain about was… stop butting into my Tohr time, Xcor!!!

Xhex and JM. Okay, I’ll admit, I’ve always had a hard time relating to Xhex. I don’t dislike her, and in fact, I’m in awe of her strength and take no sh*t* attitude. There’s something BIG to respect in that. But as a reader, I never bonded with her (despite my adoring JM), I had a hard time with the two of them together. Not my favorite couple (even still, now) but this second stage to their story was plenty good, and… rich. Deep. Meaningful. Proof that these seemingly ideal matches are far from it. It’s just that… I think I would have appreciated their story more had it not been in the process of interrupting my Tohr-time!! LOL! I know. I know. I just couldn’t get over all of the Tohr-time interruptions so I’m a bit whiny right now.

Oh!! And I wanted more Blay and Qhuinn. But I have a feeling that’s coming. ;)

But hey, for a book that’s almost 600 pages and kept me entertained for two very long evenings (and mornings), I really shouldn’t fuss. After all, had she just stuck with the Tohr story, I might have had only half the book or less! *gasp* And the more time I get to spend with the BDB (because of extra long books and multiple story lines), the better, so maybe I take back all of my complaints?

Plus… there was a certain point that had me screaming NO NO NOOOOOOOOO!!!! NO WAY!!!!! Anything that had me tearing up, crying, having twitchy palms and then screaming NOOOOOOO!!! is a great book in my opinion.

4 stars!

P.S.: We’re discussing every bit of the book in my “spoiler” section (see that brand new “Discuss” link in the menu, at the top right?). I’m avoiding spoilers here in the review and comments, here but we’re letting loose there —>, so for those of you in the mood to chat about it, join us!!

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Janie March 29, 2012 at 10:46 PM

Ah!!! I’m so excited for this book (insert school girl squeal)!!! I am 122 pages into Lover Mine, which is amazing so far, but I can’t read it fast enough because I’m dying to read this one!

Shazza March 29, 2012 at 11:22 PM

I agree Maryse, I felt my Tohr time kept getting interrupted, which annoyed me at first, but I also really enjoyed reading the other stories. Ward certainly opened the way to many potential books, and frankly, I’m excited about the possibilties. I loved Lassiter, am totally intrigued by the BoB (I already love Xcor’s inner conflict), but mostly, I can’t wait for Qhuinn and Blay’s story. I almost wet my pants reading that last scene with Qhuinn and Blay. Oh boy, it’s gonna be a long year.

Tori March 30, 2012 at 3:18 AM

I felt the same longing for that “mine” moment / bonding scent thing between Tohr and No’One, like we’ve seen in the previous relationships between the Brothers and their ladies, but I think that it would have been hard for him to have that moment and still be as in love with Wellsie as he was. He’s the only Brother that’s had that type of conflict going on while falling for someone… so even though I missed it, I think the way it was written made it feel more natural to me. Does that make sense?
And I think it’s so funny that you’re not a huge Xhex/JM fan! I remember reading your reviews of the books in the series and your love for JM – and I didn’t understand it. I was bored by him and would skim his parts to get on to better things. But as soon as he got together with Xhex, I dunno, it just worked for me and I started to look forward to the JM scenes. Lover Mine is one of my favorites of the series! Ironic that moment that it sorta fizzled for you is the same moment that got me excited.

Shazza March 30, 2012 at 3:53 AM

I wonder if the Tohr/No’One (Autumn – didn’t like that name) romance will continue in later books, such as V in the last book and John/Xhex in this one? Not having a “mine” moment slightly lessened the romance for me, but I agree it felt more natural.

bookster March 30, 2012 at 6:26 AM

I loved it all. I am so happy and relieved this was not a Manny/Payne book (what the heck was that???) I don’t mind the switch between story lines I LOVE it. Not knowing when she will give me back those characters. And finalllly something is happening to Layla. I hope she can turn her around for me because I freaking hate that bi#@$@#!! (sorry). What had me the most worried was that I always saw Tohr as a father figure to JM so I saw him as an “older” man in my mind. So I was weirded to think he was going to have his *ahem moments JR is so great at giving us and in my mind I kept thinking ewwwwwww!! but WOW! yeah like WOW!!! like really WOW!! not an old man at ALL!!! loved it! and JM and Xhex with their REAL problems not just happily married forever? True. ;)

Catherine Nurse March 30, 2012 at 9:15 AM

I have to WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with you about the Xcor portion and all the bloody interruptions. It was really pissing me off at times. All I could think was, “NO! No, no no, you can’t stop there!” Drove me up a wall, lemme tell ya. I felt like I was reading George RR Martin again. It just takes so much getting used to. The problem is, the books didn’t start off that way. She had her couple and she stuck with them throughout the story, except when deviating to the dumb-as-nails lessers. I don’t mind the deviations to the interesting people…namely Blay and Quinn (who did NOT get nearly enough airtime in this one) and John and Xhex (who I also agree that I have a hard time relating to, but if I could just have a portion of her muscles, I’d be happy). I didn’t see that turn of events with Xcor. It was an interesting twist. Speaking of which, @Bookster, why in the crap do you hate Layla so much?! What’s to hate lol she’s barely been in the story. Portions of all the books where she’s there barely would fill a chapter.

Also, I did wonder when the bonding scent would make its appearance, but perhaps since he’s been in such harsh denial….maybe we’ll get to see that in the next book….which will be whom do you think? Also that last chapter with Blay and Quinn was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO incredibly anti-climactic to the point of sadness.

BradyRose March 30, 2012 at 10:48 AM

I love them!! The sexiest bunch of males EVER!! Z is my melt !! LOL But they all have so much and are so perfect in their matches!! Makes me long for one of my own!!
As for this book, I concumed it like the others in less than 24 hours!! I so was close to Hunting JR Ward down, when I feared she *spoiler* King/Wrath, and then later when Tohr *spoiler* NoOne *spoiler*!! (Seriously I wanted to throttle him, many times!! LOL) BUT I so cloce to throwing the book asroos the room when NoOne was *spoiler*!!!
As for the story switchees , yes I always want more of each! That is the scary part, when Z was mentioned I was so hoping for a peak into him and Bella !! I don’t think I will ever havee enough of any of them!!
I can NOT wait til Qhuinn is *spoiler*, and I so want the three of them to make it all at the same time!! JM ,Q and Blay will always have a special bond!! As for Q and Blay, OMG I want them to find their time , their story needs more than a back seat approach!!

Maryse March 30, 2012 at 11:17 AM

BradyRose!! LOL! Loved this comment – Yes Yes and YES to all of what you said. I *spoilered* some of it, but please join us in the “Discuss” section (look at the top right in the menu bar), as we are all talking about every bit of the book, spoilers and all. ;)

Maryse March 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Catherine – I too was surprised at the lack of Blay and Qhuinn… I was glad for what we did get, but she’s focused on them a whole lot more in the past.
I can say honestly, I don’t have a clue as to who she’s going to focus on next. Personally, I have a feeling there will be a new novella soon, and maybe it will be Blay and Qhuinn?

Bookster – agreed. Much better than Manny and Payne’s book. I barely connected to their story, and this one was an emotional relief for me. And you are so right. I always had a hard time picturing Tohr in the past, but I know exactly who he looks like (in my head) now, and it made my reading experience that much better.

Tori and Shazza – you are both so right in terms of the “no bonding scent / MINE” lack of reaction. Maybe he just wasn’t *there* yet to indulge us in all of that. Had it gone the way I was expecting… you’re right. It might have felt forced and unrealistic. In fact, I mention in the spoiler forum how my one reaction to a certain thought of his, in the end, had me cringing a bit. I didn’t know how he arrived at that thought, considering the *issues* they had to surpass. So I agree. This one flowed a little more naturally. I think there is MUCH more to be explored in their story.

My issue was just that… when it comes to JR’s books, I am so addicted to the majority of them BECAUSE of how good she is at *that* reaction. That male bonding intensity. The chapters she devotes to each moment of it. How it grows. It’s magical, and it’s what takes my breath away. That is the secret to what usually makes me ABSOLUTELY LOVE and five star a book. This one had a more real feel to it, yep. Agreed. And it was necessary. Mind you… Tohr DID take my breath away many times (I fully connected to them), even with the glossed over bonding issues.

I’m hoping her next one will have that extra WARDen touch. ;)

Maryse March 30, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Janie – make sure to let us know how you liked it!

Roni March 30, 2012 at 7:02 PM

So I am about halfway through Thor and is it just me, but every time I think of No’One I picture a fragile old lady with a gimp leg….. I am having such a hard time putting her and Thor together. I hope it get’s better as I finish

Debbie March 31, 2012 at 6:18 AM

NOT READING THIS ONE for a while… I have them all on paperback… was gonna buy this one on my kindle… but with what everyone is saying about it… it hardly seems worth $14.99… so, Tohr will have to wait… I’m working on RL Mathewson right now… and sticking to her like glue!!!!

Roni March 31, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Ok I have to say now that I finished…..I loved it!!!!!!!!! I definitely cried at the ending, and after the name change I was able to connect with them much better!!!!! I just read on JR Ward’s facebook that the next book is Blay & Qhuinn out in 2013! And I cannot wait!!!!!!

Eshani March 31, 2012 at 9:47 PM

Completely agree with the ‘not enough’ bit…coz the lack of Bonding scent, ‘Mine’ really got to me..the story/HEA didnt feel completed to me without it.
I hope we’ll see it in the up coming books…otherwise it was not a HEA for me but a compromise…..

Carla April 1, 2012 at 10:35 PM

God! I’m quite there…
I’m so addicted to this series. And i have so many things to do at my job and college and i just can’t stop reading this series. Imessed up my life bc of this. hahahaha
But i don’t really think that Tohr is prepared for his own book. He’s still so “dead” inside. I don’t know.. To be honest i was hoping he would find a way to bring Welsie back. Then again we already had this plot right!? I just can’t see how these bonded males can move on from their shellans and love someone else again. Not in the way Ward drives this vampire world. Its everything so much more intense.

I love Qhuinn and Blay but boy she needs to “close” their storyline… it’s taking so long and space… to be honest we could have more plots about other brothers like Rhage and Mary insted of them for example. (Ward forgot about them!?) Thank God Qhuay book is the next. It’s about time.

I just love when she share these books between the past and new relationships. It’s important to know where they stand. Like you said, this isn’t about happy end. There are always dificult times, and they have to deal with it. That’s what make them believable. This series is not finished so she can’t just stop writing about them. So i love all the Z/Bella issues in the other books, Wrath/Bella in Rhevenge book and V/Jane issues in the last one. Like i said, i just miss Rhage and Mary.

Maryse April 2, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Roni – I did have a hard time picturing her the entire way through actually…

Roni April 2, 2012 at 11:54 AM

She was a difficult character to picture. I think the whole way she was introduced and the explanation of her character, didn’t win me over like the rest of the ladies

Maryse April 2, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Eshani… I think there will be more to come in Tohr’s world.

Krista April 2, 2012 at 2:20 PM

JRW mentioned the lack of bonding scent in the QA at the book signing the other day. He didn’t release the bonding scent because he technically didn’t bond with Autumn (I don’t like this name either but it’s better than No’One I guess). He is in love with her but he bonded with Wellsie and Autumn knows and is OK with that.

Jaymi April 19, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Just finished the book last night. Oh how I love Tohr! I thought this book was more on track with the series opposed to Payne’s book. Can’t wait for Quinn and Blay!

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