Welcome to the first installment of “Heather Finally Reads.” Until I found my fellow bookworms, I’d patrol the bargain book aisle of my local Barnes and Noble, looking for my next literary adventure. Needless to say, I wasn’t really on top of what was popular and awesome with the masses. Now I’m always getting suggestions of what I should read next. So I’ve decided to finally read all of these books, one series at a time. First up in this series is JR Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Thanks to Danny’s persistent pestering, I finally gave in and read all of the available books in this series, including the companion book. And I certainly don’t regret the few months these books stole from my life. Blame this for my lack of reviews on this site, I literally spent two months of commutes reading these books.
Since I am reviewing 8 books and a companion book, these will be short and sweet. Multiple in-depth reviews can be found from my fellow bloggers.)
There are several differences with JR Ward’s vampires. They eat both regular food and blood, but blood not from humans. They need the blood from a vampire that is the opposite sex to survive and flourish. They aren’t immortal, but their expected lifespan is around one thousand years. They do have the limitations with daylight. And they can bond uncontrollably with someone else, leaving them permanently connected to that person. Each book spotlights one of the Brothers, with everyone else around as very prominent side characters.
Book 1 – Dark Lover, First Published: September 2005, 416 pages.
Dark Lover is our first introduction to the vampires of The Black Dagger Brotherhood, a band of hand-picked vampires lead by their King, Wrath. When one of the brothers, Darius, is murdered by the Lessers (and their sole task in their un-life is to exterminate vampires), leaving behind a half-human daughter named Beth, Wrath vows to take care of her through her transition from human to vampire. And of course, they fall in love along the way. You get a look at all 6 of the Brothers, as well as a tough-as-nails cop who tries to protect Beth and unwittingly entrenches himself right in the middle of the Brother’s lives. And they aren’t exactly welcoming.
The second installment of this series focuses on the Brother Rhage. He has been cursed by the Scribe Virgin to turn into a beast when things get out of control. He quickly learned that fighting and sex were the only things that could keep him from transforming often. Rhage meets Mary, who knows that her leukemia has returned and is certainly not looking for love, just as Rhage isn’t looking for it. She works for a suicide prevention call center and has a regular caller who follows her home one night. Her neighbor recognizes something special in John Matthew and brings him to the Brothers, and Mary must go along since she’s the only one who knows American Sign Language to interpret for the mute John Matthew. This selfless act thrusts them into the middle of the vampire world and her right into Rhage’s path.
– Lover Eternal
, First Published: September 2006, 464 pages.
This is my absolute favorite book in this series. The third book focuses on the Brother Zsadist, who is the meanest, most intimidating, and sadistic of the brothers. He first encounters Mary’s neighbor, Bella, in book 2 when they bring John Matthew to the brotherhood’s compound. They have an instant connection, but Bella is kidnapped by an obsessed Lesser and Zsadist becomes obsessed himself with rescuing Bella. This is my favorite in the series because Zsadist seems the most real to me. He is a survivor of many years of sexual abuse and has yet to come to terms with his helplessness for that time. When his happily ever after comes, he isn’t completely healed and has become a normal content person. Zsadist and Bella still have a lot of work and growing to do throughout the rest of the books.
Book 4 – Lover Revealed, First Published: March 2007, 480 pages.
This book finally gets to Butch, a human cop entrusted into the folds of the Brotherhood. But he has fallen for an aristocratic vampire, Marissa, the King’s former mate. Butch deals with being a much weaker human around these extremely powerful and deadly Brothers, and struggles with his place on the fringes of the Brotherhood.
Book 5 – Lover Unbound, First Published September 2007, 528 pages.
The Brother Vishous
is featured in this book. Vishous
has been cursed by the Scribe Virgin with a hand that can burn anything, but it can also heal people. He has some unresolved feelings for his best friend and human cop, Butch, and finds himself in a human hospital after being shot by a lesser. Here he meets Dr. Jane Whitcomb
, a surgeon who fixes his wounds but stumbles upon vampires anatomical differences from humans. The Brothers kidnap her to make sure that Vishous
heals properly and he bonds with her, leaving him no choice but to keep her close. What happens to Doc Jane in the end of this book was surprising. Their happily ever after is one of the strangest of the series.
Book 6 – Lover Enshrined, Published: June 2008, 560 pages.
When virgin Brother Phury
agreed to be primale
for the Chosen in Vishous
‘ place, he didn’t know what kind of sacrifices that would really entail. The first mate Cormia
yearns for change in the way the Chosen live, and Phury
is just the brother to make those changes.
This companion to the series gives you in depth character interviews with each of the brothers as well as insight into how JR Ward writes the books. There is also a Zsadist and Bella novella, Father Mine. Definitely worth reading.
Book 7 – Lover Avenged, Published: November 2009, 672 pages.
This is the first book available in hardcover as well as the first to cover someone other than the six brothers. Rhevenge, half-sympath and half-vampire, is the resident nightclub owner/pimp/drug dealer for Caldwell, NY. He falls for Ehlena, an ex-aristocratic nurse whose life consists of work and taking care of her mentally ill father. Rhevenge has to deal with supressing his sympath side, a bid for a hostile takeover of the King, increasing attacks from the Lessening Society, and a growing attraction to Ehlena. This is my second favorite book out of the available eight. This book seemed to be full of the most surprises.
Book 8 – Lover Mine, Published April: 2010, 528 pages
John Matthew and Xhex
are at the forefront of this installment. John Matthew is the Brother Darius reincarnated, and Xhex
is a half breed like Rhevenge
. John Matthew has been interested and fascinated by Xhex
since his pre
-transition days, and when Xhex
is kidnapped by a vampire turned Lesser Lash, he fights to reclaim her. This is the first book where I felt the female main character was strong and capable of fighting back for herself.
The nineth book in this series is available for preorder. This book features Vishous‘ twin sister Payne and Manny, a neurosurgeon who worked with Doc Jane at the hospital. You know I preordered this!
What I love:
JR Ward gives the main characters a happily ever after that isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for them. Some of these choices have really shocked me, like in the Vishous
book. Each book is filled with action, of both the erotic and fighting kind. The way JR Ward blends all of these characters in each book, setting up the next book in the previous book’s stories perfectly. There are always surprises in each one. These books are not completely predictable
, which is a nice breath of fresh air when it comes to paranormal romances. Each of these books increases in page number, which gives you that much more time to spend with the Brothers. The struggles and upheavals between the Brothers and the Lessening Society haven’t grown stale or predictable
with each book.
What I didn’t love: The unique terminology that JR Ward uses takes a little getting used to, but she does provide a handy dictionary defining everything in the beginning of each book. She also overuses some words. If I never see the word “verily” or the phrase “You feel me?” again, it will still be too soon. But these books are so good you overlook things like that.
I give this series a 5, run and buy this series ASAP!!
Also, I am taking suggestions for future “Heather Finally Reads” segments. Leave your suggestions in the comments below.