Ah yes, how sweet it is to be back with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. It was with some anticipation (understatement) that I cracked open the 489 pages I'd waited almost a year on, and it was with baited breathe that I began. Wondering exactly what direction JR Ward was going to take this 9th instalment in? Well I can tell you that with this one she does not disappoint, giving us fans exactly what we've been waiting for and then some.
Starting where LOVER MINE left off and with her usual flair (the first 4 words will have you smiling) we get; multiple POV's, evolving story lines, arse-kicking action and major injuries to most of the Brotherhood! We revisit past characters (Jose Del la Cruz) while being introduced to new ones, including (among others) the intriguing `Band of B@stards'. This group of 6 is around to stay and with them comes an endless supply of future story possibilities.
With blasts of tension, humour, romance and way erotic love scenes we witness a couple of characters fall apart, see unrequited love, get major hints of things to come, and while laughing with Rhage and Fritz in the billiards room we also worry about the future of the King. Even though our main love story here is not as dominant as in past books, I have no complaints as Ward manages to include and give us moments with each and every member of the Brotherhood mansion in one way or another. And while I ached for Qhuinn and Blay, then there was V. And oh the V. True?
As much as this is pegged as Payne and Manny's book LOVER UNLEASHED really belongs to Vishous and isn't it great (understatement) to be back in his, intricate, messed up, dirty mind. Along with Butch and Jane this trio goes to some very dark places, taking us right along for the excruciating ride and finally putting to bed (so to speak) Butch and V's relationship once and for all. I loved revisiting V and through him, hearing from the Cop again as well as getting to know Jane better-who has at last stopped feeling like a ghost (I may forgive Ward yet for killing her) And in the afterward, those quiet moments spent between Butch and V well ... as V says, "I have no words. Sixteen languages, but no words."
All this awesomeness has of course been wrapped up with Ward's unique style of writing although this time there's a different vibe to it and it took me a while to put my finger on what it was. The multiple f-bombs, rap references and Wardisms are still here but she's managed to stop jumping around as we did in LOVER MINE with Ghostbuster storylines and Old Country flashbacks She's also toned down the product placement and riddle filled sentences (i.e. "A gust of wind went Nike across the flat landscape") And with less 'Lessers' to contend with here (much like in LOVER UNBOUND) and them operating without a visible leader's POV, the entire story flows better and you won't find yourself grumbling, wanting to skip ahead.
Regarding Payne and Manny I enjoyed this couple, "verily" I did. I've loved Manny since we first met him and enjoyed getting to know him here. His interactions/revelations with Butch are hilarious as is his re-discovery of Jane and the whole BDB world. Payne wasn't as tough as I was expecting although she does manage to rescue herself while spending a considerable amount of time paralyzed. Manny's method of healing her is very...Marvin Gaye :) and although their actual HEA is kinda corny I liked how Ward found a way to keep them together.
In the end Ward leaves us smiling with contentment (although I had been hoping for a mating ceremony and not the one you'd expect) and with events wide open for future stories that I can't wait to discover. I just wish it wasn't so far away because after spending just a few days with the BDB I'm not ready to let them go yet. See ya next year boys, stay safe. True.
Oh I've also just learned that book #10 will be Tohrment's story. Wow that's bound to be a tearjerker. Cheers
This book is bittersweet for me: Another superb book by Ward, but I am also sad that I am now caught up in the series and have to wait just like everyone else for the next installment slated for March 2012!
I listened to the last three audiobooks in the series in quick succession. Because the last two ended on cliff-hangers, I could not wait to find out what happened next!
At the conclusion of Lover Mine, Wrath and Payne were sparring and she appeared to have broken her back. This book picks up right where we left off, and The Scribe Virgin allows Wrath to bring Payne to the "other side" to the Brotherhood's mansion. There was a feeling of excitement for me while listening to this because Wrath (being blind) does not know that Payne is the twin sister of Vishous. There is anticipation as Doc Jane is summoned to examine Payne, and she takes one look at Payne's face and realizes she is looking into the face of someone with the same features as her Hellren, Vishous.
Ahhhhh, Vishous! He is one of my favourite bad boys. He figures prominently in this book because he is Payne's twin.
Doc Jane soon realizes that the damage to Payne's spine is beyond the scope of her expertise and that there is only one person that can help Payne: Manuel "Manny" Manello. But how will Doc Jane be able to persuade the doctor to come with her?
The reunion between Doc Jane and Manny is pretty emotional. Let's not forget that Manny thought that Doc Jane was dead and that he also admitted that he had feelings for her. Well, she did die but not in the way that he thinks she did. And she still lives but not in the "normal" fashion. Understandably, Manny is confused and angry with Jane. However, not one to turn his back in a crisis, he agrees to help Jane.
You know what is coming...Manny takes one look at Payne and feels an instant connection with her, much the same way that Jane felt about Vishous. Payne, too, feels things for Manny that she has never known before. He insists that he can only operate at the hospital and that he wants access to the MRI machines. Vishous relents, and Manny operates on Payne with Jane's assistance to repair the damage. However, it is uncertain whether she will ever regain the use of her legs. Although Manny's memory is wiped, he is drawn to Payne's room and knows that something has happened but he is cursed with searing pain whenever he tries to recall what it is.
Back at the Brotherhood's mansion, Payne is in recovery but making little progress. Payne makes Vishous promise that he will not let her live a life where she is imprisoned in her own body, and Vishous painfully vows he will end her life if that is her desire. Jane does not want Vishous to have to live with that on his conscience for the rest of his life, so she agrees to humanely help Payne end her life with an injection. Meanwhile, Vishous has tracked down Manny and realizes that he may be the only person who can give Payne the will to live. As Manny's memories come flooding back, he knows he must get to Payne before it is too late. Vishous walks in on Jane holding the needle intended for Payne, and he cannot forgive her for what she was about to do.
The conflict between Vishous and Jane was really heartbreaking. You know what Jane was going to do was wrong, but she was going to do it for the right reason. Wow, Ward really knows how to get you right in the gut! I also like that Ward doesn't paint the couples as picture-perfect. In Lover Mine, we saw the marital problems between Wrath and Beth. Now, it is Vishous and Jane. Life isn't all roses, and Ward reminds us that commitment takes hard work. Conflict also generates a reader's interest, and this is what makes us fall deeper and deeper in love with the BDB!
Manny not only helps Payne to see that her life could still be fulfilling even from a wheelchair, but they discover that there is something about Payne's feelings for Manny that has a profound effect on her!
Jane's betrayal is the impetus to Vishous' downward spiral, and the only person who can help is Butch. The scene with Butch "breaking" Vishous is utterly raw, and you can feel their pain. I shed quite a few tears. Butch handled his task brilliantly.
This book will be one of my favourites in the BDB series. We get to know Vishous, Butch, and Jane on a deeper level. I enjoyed this parallel sub-story just as much as Payne's and Manny's story. I love that Ward's characters are so complex.
A secret regarding Manny is revealed, which affects both Butch and Wrath.
This is the first book that makes no mention of Lash! No doubt he won't stay away for long and, when he resurfaces, it's going to be big. The Lessening Society has been inducting hordes of recruits, so that can only mean that a big battle is going to come.
I nearly forgot to mention another sub-story: The Band of Brothers, who come to Caldwell to try to overthrow Wrath as the king. Their plan is to take care of the Lessers and play on the fear of the Glymera and show that they can take care of business better than the Brotherhood. Of course, Xcor has a "score" to settle with Payne because she killed The Bloodletter. Ward introduces an interesting ménage à trois with two members of the Band of Brothers and a prostitute. It was a little shocking as it was something that I totally did not expect to see in a Ward novel, but she pulls it off!
I musn't neglect to mention Qhuinn and Blay. I like that Ward is giving Qhuinn a bit of a rough time! He so deserves it! It will make him appreciate Blay all the more, and it shows that our boy is growing up a bit. I wonder how long Ward is going to make us wait for Qhuinn to admit his feelings to Blay? And what's with Qhuinn's premonition? Will he be mated with Layla?
My only complaint is the ending: The story between Payne & Manny and Vishous & Jane comes full circle and ties up nicely, but the ending felt too rushed for me! I had to check my iPod twice to make sure that a part wasn't missing!
Ward's prose has me laughing so hard that I'm crying one moment...
Butch, while on the phone with Vishous: "Butch tightened his grip on his cell and wished there were an app that let you reach through a phone and bitch slap someone."
and sobbing the next...
Vishous to Jane: "You're the reason I get out of bed every night. And you're the reason I can't wait to come home every dawn. Not the war. Not the Brothers. Not even Butch. It's . . . you."
Ack! How am I going to make it until March 2012 when the next in the series will be released?? Ward, this is pure and utter torture. Lover Reborn (Book #10) is going to feature Tohr, and I think that Xhex's mother, No'One, is going to be his love interest! I don't know how I feel about that! I can't picture Tohr with anyone but Wellsie. I hope that also means that Xhex and John Matthew will figure prominently in the story. And, if Xhex and John Matthew will play key roles in the book, perhaps Murhder will resurface and make trouble for the two of them?
If you love paranormal romances and you haven't yet read this series, you must! Go online right now and order the series! Don't get them one at a time because you won't want to wait between the books! They are so hard to put down!!
Unlike the last two in the series, there weren't any technical issues with this audiobook. Frangione, as always, is an absolute delight!
MY RATING: 5 stars!! Superb book! I could not put it down!!