Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review - Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 1) by J.R. Ward (4/5 stars)

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 1)Reading level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Size:  416 pages
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: September 6, 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0451216953
Stand Alone or Series: Book 1 in Black Dagger Brotherhood (up to 9 books right now)
Source: Audio book from

Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series which has at least nine books planned.  I was a little tentative to start this series because it is long and is romance heavy (I am more of a straight urban fantasy fan). I keep hearing how wonderful it is though so I thought I would give it a try.  I am glad I did, I was pleasantly surprised with how well this world was built and how well-rounded the characters were.

Elizabeth works as a journalist when she is attacked one night on her way home from work.  She fights off the attacker but is shaken.  Later that night she approached by a large dangerous man who says he knew her father, his name is Wrath and he has promised Elizabeth's father that he would protect her.  Elizabeth doesn't know it but she is on the brink of changing into something not-so-human and Wrath is the only one who can walk her through it.  Wrath is part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a Brotherhood of royal vampires sworn to protect humans and civilian vampires from the evil Lessers.  With the violence rising on the streets more is going on than just Elizabeth's change.  Wrath and Elizabeth are drawn to each other in a way neither has ever known before; but to be together they have to survive the growing danger of the Lessers.

Is this a romance?  Oh yeah, it is definitely that.  I was expecting that and just hoping that my eyes wouldn't roll out of their sockets with the improbability of it all.  I was actually very surprised at what a great story this was.  There is a solid and intricate plot here, a very interesting world and mythos, and in general just a very intriguing and engaging story.  There is quite a bit of action, mystery, and violence throughout so the urban fantasy lover in me was satisfied.  There is also a larger story here than just Wrath and Elizabeth's.  This is the story of an ancient race on the brink of extinction.

While Wrath and Elizabeth do have the whole love at first sight thing going on, for the most part their relationship is fairly down to earth and believable.  Despite Wrath's excessive alpha-maleness he respects Elizabeth and admires her and is willing to compromise with her.  Elizabeth is not your normal swooning heroine.  She is independent and puts Wrath in his place when he tries to strong-arm her with his over-protectiveness.  The essence of it all is that they are perfect for each other.  There are a number of mind-boggling hot sex scenes in here, they manage to be sexy yet have a level of tenderness to them that pulls at your heart strings.  I was listening to this on audio book and at points the tension between Elizabeth and Wrath was so thick I forgot what I was doing and just stared off into space listening intently.  It was just that engaging of a story.  Elizabeth and Wrath have something that goes beyond chemistry and it is a wonderful thing to read.

Was it too much romance for me?  At times it was.  The descriptions of rippling stomachs and velvety thighs had me rolling my eyes a time or two; so beware if you are approaching this from the urban fantasy genre there is that some of that horrible romancy description thing going on.  It wasn't too bad though.  It bothered me a bit how Wrath and Elizabeth were immediately drawn to each other, but as their relationship became more down to earth I was able to forgive that.  

I will say that the Black Dagger Brotherhood is one group of seriously emotionally screwed up men.  Part of me is drawn to all their messed up emotional baggage and curious at how they will continue to defend their race while trying to sort through all of that.  I will be honest it is kind of like those gossip magazines, some of these men are just so close to being train wrecks I just can't help but be curious as to what will happen.

Overall I can say I thoroughly (if a bit guiltily) enjoyed this book.  The chemistry between Wrath and Elizabeth is out of this world and the two characters have a lot of dimension to them.  There is a lot of action, danger, and violence here which soothed the urban fantasy lover in me.  The world is interesting and solidly built.  I feel like Ward is actually interested in this world she is writing about and it shows.  I had previously read the Alien Huntress series by Gena Showalter and just couldn't get into it; that series felt like the world was only an excuse for the erotic scenes, this series doesn't feel like that.  So, yeah, I will be reading more books in this series.  My curiosity just won't let me leave the rest of those Black Dagger Brothers quite yet.

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