J. R. Ward – “Dark Lover”

10 Nov

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Signet, 2005

The back blurb:
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relished killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood …

The only purebred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed – orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate – Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead …
Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both …”

I don’t know where I got the idea that J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series is “something new” compared to the other vampire series out there at the moment. I was wrong. It is not. At least not at its core – the vampires, the world they live in – it’s eerily familiar. Maybe the use of the hip-hop sub-culture and the (heavy) use of slang is new. I wouldn’t know because I only read the first two of Feehan’s Carpathian novels, one novel by Susan Squires and, to be really picky, two novels of “The Circle of Six”-trilogy by Nora Roberts. But even so I “knew” Ward’s vampires and their nature and the story told in Dark Lover.

It’s a typical introductory story: a male vampire “king” and a human woman – no, make that female. As an aside, there are many allusions to animal behaviour, in whatever way, in the description of the vampires and their culture. Anyway, the king doesn’t want to be a king and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with humans. Good conflicts to introduce a new world. The reader learns about the vampires and their world together with the heroine, and she/he sees how Wrath solves his king-issues which leads to the start of something new.

Beth is your ordinary, gorgeous beyond words heroine with no real sexual interest until she meets Wrath. This is explained by her half-vampire nature, which is at least an explanation, and yes, she tried sex before meeting Wrath, meaning she’s no virgin. How refreshing. Thank you.

The hero Wrath regards humans as cattle (p.11).

“As far as he was concerned, there were only two good positions for a human. A female on her back. And a male facedown and not breathing.” (p.14)

This opinion seems to fly out of the window the moment he claps eyes on Beth. Of course, it goes together with his clothes. But this doesn’t mean he can’t keep going on about how Beth isn’t for him. Because she’s a half-breed, I think. I thought the reasoning here a bit hazy, not compelling enough. As for the romance between Beth and Wrath, I didn’t get a real sense of them as a couple. They’re surely in lust, but the falling-in-love part I didn’t really see.

The enemies of the vampires, the lessers, naturally play a role. They’re also introduced with a human who gets turned into a Lesser and who’s connected with Beth somehow. This lead to a big confrontation at the end. The vampires, meaning the Black Dagger Brotherhood, are the winners there. No surprise. But I started to wonder how threatening the lessers as a group really are because the leading villains are wiped out at the end of this novel.

See also “You feel me?” for more “problems”.

But despite the problems, I kept reading. There is heavy sequel baiting going on, but the one that will keep me buying is Butch. I’m really interested in how the story with this more real, not so over-the-top character turns out.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Probably yes (as part of the series).

Grade: 3,5 / 5


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