J. R. Ward – "Lover Revealed"

25 Mar

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Signet Eclipse, 2007

The back blurb:
“In the shadow of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. But now an ally of the Brotherhood is about to encounter his own dark desires …

Butch O’Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard-living ex-homicide cop, he’s the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world – to engage in the turf war with the lessers. he’s got nothing to lose. His heart belongs to a female vampire, an aristocratic beauty who’s way out of his league. If he can’t have Marissa, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers …
Fate curses him with the very thing he wants. When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead, he’s found by a miracle, and the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back. But even her love may not be enough to save him …”

I was interested in reading Butch’s and Marissa’s story from the time I read first about them in Dark Lover. This means, their romance already had started with the beginning of this novel. For example, their first kiss was back in Dark Lover and what’s kept them apart since then is a series of misunderstandings. Both Butch and Marissa are insecure about their own worth and they always felt (and still feel) like an outsider, looking in. For large parts of this novel, the misunderstandings because of insecurities are the main source of conflict. At least, Butch and Marissa talked about the misunderstandings before they got out of hand. I think that’s the reason why this sort of (annoying) conflict worked here. I liked to see that they talked.

It’s the introduction of the “paranormal” conflict (human/non-human pairing) later in the story that changed my rating for this novel. Up until that point I thought that Lover Revealed might turn out a 4,5 / 5. It changed it to 4 / 5 because, for me, the paranormal conflict messed with the story arc and dragged out the resolution. More than the first half of the novel was focused on Marissa and Butch while the rest was focused more on the vampire world as a whole with Marissa having to get a bit bitchy about the way the paranormal conflict could be resolved (so that there’s still some kind of romantic conflict). This felt drawn out. I started to look at the page numbers and counted the remaining ones. The romance was resolved and then the paranormal conflict was resolved instead of the other way round or resolved together. Therefore the climax in this story felt off to me and didn’t pack the punch it could have. But I didn’t view the resolution of the paranormal conflict as a deus ex machina like in Lover Eternal. Hints for this start early in the novel. You even can count Vishous’s vision to point in a this direction. And I really liked what was done in regard to world building in Lover Revealed. There are some fascinating pieces near the end. What’s deus ex machina is the Scribe Virgin’s appearance at the confrontation between Butch and the Omega. I waited the whole novel for this kind of confrontation and then the Scribe Virgin gets there and “puff!”

I liked Marissa and the fact that she, who was such a virgin’s virgin, is actually the woman who the readers see do something instead of being just a warrior’s mate. In this way, she reverses the pattern of the other heroines and goes from being dependent to being independent (= she does something besides being a mate). Although near the end Ward goes to some lengths to make it clear that the women aren’t just decorative and that they hold in fact quite some power over their mates (which I find, oddly enough, a bit questionable, like she reacts to the readers).

I liked Butch as well despite the definite un-hero-like associations his name has for me. I like to think of him as Brian. Of course, he has many elements of a male Mary Sue (=Marty Sue) character: he’s so down and all the things that happened to him in his life and anyway. And in the end, he’s … SPOILER. He’s right in Marty Sue territory there. But he really cares about Marissa and tries to make it right for her. They talk about their problems and I really like seeing that. So it’s all good and not annoying.

Maybe it’s because Butch is not a several hundred years old vampire that the slang didn’t get to me so much. Or I just got used to it. Also, there’s no leather on him. Instead, there are labels and names without end. At least, in the beginning. Later in the novel, this was dropped somewhat unless there was something to drink. At least, I don’t remember being annoyed that much by the name dropping anymore. Maybe I got used to that also. If it was there to make some point about character, it was too subtle for me.

Other characters make an appearance but they don’t overshadow or distract (as much) from the main story line as with the other novels (most notably in Lover Awakened). There’s John and Rehvenge (gets more interesting), and the lessers aren’t as annoying and skip-worthy as normal (mostly due to their shorter scenes; again: reader reaction?).

Then there’s Vishous. No comments about Lover Revealed can be complete without talking about him. I didn’t have a clear picture of Vishous before this novel. Apart from the homoerotic vibes in his relationship with Butch, he was a mystery. Well, after reading this novel, that’s changed. I thought it kind of funny how Ward emphasized the fact that the homoerotic direction is definitely a no-go area and that this is the novel in which you cannot not pick up on the homoerotic vibes in Butch’s and Vishous’s relationship. Anyway, Vishous is confused about his feelings for Butch and at times this was more intense and touching to read than the romance between Butch and Marissa with their misunderstandings. Near the end, a new layer is introduced into the relationship between Butch and Vishous which might go some way to explain Vishous’s confusion about his feelings. It’ll be interesting to learn more about Butch’s and Vishous’s relationship in Vishous’s story. Also, there’s a crazy idea buzzing around in my head. Can’t wait to see if I’m right. And if I’m right I would like it a lot because this idea ties together many things just beautifully.*

One thing about the bodies of the Brotherhood vampires: it is mentioned again and again how big and thick the arms and shoulders and legs, and … everything are. I keep getting mental images of Hulk-like creatures (without the green skin, that is). And that kills the buzz quite effectively. I don’t find that attractive at all.

To sum things up: I think Lover Revealed is Ward’s best paced novel in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series to this date. The balance between the “main” story line and the other elements was just right and I wasn’t as annoyed as in the previous novels about certain things. Also, I was not tempted once to skip ahead as I was in the other novels, although I still skimmed a bit.

That being said, I still like Lover Eternal more. *duck*

* Just read something that cancels this definitely. Sniff

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4 / 5


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