J. R. Ward. – “Lover Eternal”

12 Nov

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Signet Eclipse Book, 2006

The back blurb:
“In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Within the Brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover – for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by his dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships, is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves …”

Lover Eternal is probably the novel in Ward’s Brotherhood series that exploits the typical paranormal tension between “normal” and “abnormal” the most. We have: 1) an “abnormal” hero – the vampire Rhage and a “normal” heroine – the human Mary; 2) the hero is also saddled with another “abnormal” condition: the beast; and, not really a paranormal difference, 3) Mary is terminally ill. Each one of these “differences” is a huge problem for a happy ending in itself and gives Ward many opportunities to get really emotional. Which she does.

In Lover Eternal, these problems come up one after the other in which Rhage and Mary alternate between being the one who “causes” the problem. This made for a fast-paced novel. First, Rhage has to reveal his being a vampire. Then Mary has to realise and accept that she needs (and loves) Rhage (this problem one is motivated by her illness). Then it’s Rhage and his beast. And then they have to face the “real” obstacle, the one they can’t do anything to overcome: Mary’s fatal illness. In the end, it’s nothing paranormal that’s keeping them apart, but something very human. Of course, the solution to this is deus ex machina. But within the parameters of romance (happily ever after) and this story, what other solution could there be? I knew something like this would happen right from the star, I was just a little miffed that it was such an abrupt ending.

I liked that Rhage and Mary talked on their dates like “get-to-know-each-other” couples would do on a date. It made the love thing easier to believe. Of course, Rhage also knows that Mary is special because of the bond thing:

Oh God. He was bonding with her. The bonding thing was happening.
He’d heard with males that it could be like this. Fast. Intense. Nothing logical. Just powerful, primordial instincts taking over, one of the strongest being the urge to physically possess her and mark her in the process so that other males would know she had a mate. And would stay the fuck away from her.

(p. 135)

But because of Mary’s and Rhage’s talking together I didn’t see this as just a shorthand way to show that Rhage’s in love like I did with Wrath in Dark Lover.

I know I’m in the minority, but I liked Mary. Mary’s goal is to be left alone. She knows what’s ahead of her and she does what she thinks she has to do to make it through it. Maybe this seems passive or avoid-ish in behaviour but I think Mary goes after what she wants just like Bella does in Lover Awakened. Mary knows what she wants and she tires to get it. My unease about Mary, or better about the romance, comes from the fact that the beast wants Mary also. In the back of my mind there’s this little niggling voice that asks: “Is it just because of the beast that Rhage loves Mary?”

But nevertheless, and emotionally manipulated or not, I enjoyed Lover Eternal the most of the three novels. There are some touching moments and I thought the cherry scene funny. Dark Lover was a solid introductory novel, Lover awakened I thought a bit off in balance between romance and “other” elements, whereas Lover Eternal concentrated on the romance story without neglecting the other elements. Well, and I have a weakness for ” ‘attractive’ man and ‘unattractive’ woman” stories which is a strong fantasy because in reality it is (usually) the other way around with “rich” added to the man’s characteristics.

See also: “You Feel Me?”

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again?Yes.

Grade: 4,5 / 5 (emotional rating)


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