Re-Read Challenge: “Lover Eternal” By J. R. Ward

28 Feb

re-read-challenge-2009

Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: February!

ward-j-r-lover-eternal
GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Signet, 2006

SERIES: “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series, #2

AVAILABILITY: still available


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 …”


Then

It was in November 2006 that I read Lover Eternal for the first time. I ordered it right after I finished Dark Lover and I loved it. It’s my favorite in the “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series and it’s the gorgeous-hero-wrecked-for-the-plain-heroine thing that gets me.

Since then, I read it a few times more. That is, I read the parts with Mary and Rhage. It’s easy to skip the other parts (lessers, Bella & Zsadist, John Matthew) since they don’t contribute all that much to the romance although I think the parts with Bella & Zsadist and John Matthew quite interesting. For this challenge, I read it all again.

I wrote a comment about Lover Eternal, I wrote a post about the things that irritate me with this series, and I wrote a post about reading the first half of Lover Eternal in German (which left me with a slightly different impression of this novel) so this novel is rather covered and I can be lazy concentrate on quotes (tried not to be too spoilerish) to show why I like this novel so much.

Now

It’s in chapter 8, page 59, that Mary and Rhage meet for the first time. So there’s more than enough time to establish the two most unsurmountable obstacles to their relationship – Mary’s illness and Rhage’s curse. The reader also knows how important it is for Mary to deal with her illness alone and how much Rhage hates his curse and what he is forced to do to keep it somewhat in check; in particular how it makes him a different/two-females-a-night kind of guy when he actually just longs to settle down with one woman.

Lover Eternal is fast paced and big on obstacles, and I love how the heart wrenching is pushed to the max in this story because of all these obstacles and a hero totally wrecked for the heroine. Scenes like this (the words in blue are in italic in the book but this doesn’t show in the blockquote):

His voice was like sandpaper. “I need to tell you something.”
I’m a vampire. I’m a warrior. I’m a dangerous beast.
At the end of this evening, you aren’t going to remember you ever met me.
And the idea of not even being a memory of yours makes me feel like I’ve been stabbed in the chest.

“Hal? What is it?”
Thor’s words echoed in his head. It’s safer. For her.
“Nothing,” he said, releasing the belt and getting out of the car. “It’s nothing.”

or this:

“I’m sorry Rhage. I’m…sorry…”
She moved to get off his hips and realized he was still thick inside of her. He hadn’t even finished.
Oh, God, this was bad. The whole thing was bad.
Rhage’s hands clamped on her thighs. “Don’t ever regret that we were together.”
She stared into his eyes. “I feel like I just violated you.”
“I was more than willing. Mary, it’s all right. Come here, let me kiss you.”
“How can you stand to have me near you?”
“The only thing I can’t handle is your leaving.”

or this:

Vishous looked over to the bed, and Rhage must have nodded or shrugged, because the man said, “He betrayed the Brotherhood to be with you. He had to make amends if he wanted to stay with us and keep you here.”
Mary stopped breathing. This was all for her? Because of her?
[…]
I’ll make it safe for you, how about that?
She had absolutely no context for this kind of sacrifice. For the pain he was enduring for her. For what had been done to him by people who supposedly cared for him.
“I can’t…I feel a little light-headed. Will you excuse…”
She backed away, hoping to stumble into the bathroom, but Rhage struggled up on the bed, as if he were going to come after her.
“No, you stay there, Rhage.” She went back to him…

and all the other parts I marked for quotes get to me no matter how often I read this novel.

What really struck me in re-reading were the little details and how they are connected to the bigger issues of the romance in the novel, making Lover Eternal actually a rather tightly plotted novel. Like Rhage knowing the time he has to live with the curse down to the days: ninety-one years, eight months, four days, and what happens at the end.

Or that talking plays an important role in this novel: John Matthew can’t talk, Mary’s work, that Rhage is first attracted to Mary’s voice, the effect Mary’s voice has on Rhage (and the beast), how Mary keeps things to herself so that Rhage at one point says: “Christ, Mary, can you at least once let me in?”

This is not the most unsurmountable obstacle to the romance but it’s the obstacle which is there nearly for the whole time, which pushes on the heart wrenching factor big time, and which makes Lover Eternal one of my favorite hero-wrecked-for-the-heroine stories.

Verdict: 4,5/5 – The grade for Lover Eternal is mostly based on my enjoyment of the romance between Rhage and Mary, taking only slightly into account some of the more irritating things about this series (see link above), the weak lessers parts, and the deux-ex-machina ending. But re-reading it for the challenge, I actually think I now love this novel more than I ever did, mostly due to my new-found appreciation for the little details and my (solidified) impression that Lover Eternal has a rather well plotted romance.

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15 Responses to “Re-Read Challenge: “Lover Eternal” By J. R. Ward”

  1. Seneca Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    If I had to put them in order, this would be the best one after Dark Lover. 🙂

    great review.

  2. KristieJ Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 2:44 am #

    So far I’ve only read the first two in this series but I really did like Lover Eternal.

  3. Jace Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    Oh man, Taja. Remember when I said we have a lot in common? I WAS going to read this book for this month’s challenge (but changed my mind at the last minute) AND it is my ABSOLUTE favourite story of the BDB series. 😀 Rhage & Mary’s romance is the best thing – the one thing – that made me love this book so much.

    I’m pretty sure I’ll re-read this book for this challenge somewhere down the line. 😉

    I read this book first, then went out and bought DARK LOVER and LOVER AWAKENED. I’ve now stopped reading this series, but I still have these 3 books on my keepers shelf.

  4. Taja Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    Seneca – Thanks. DARK LOVER was good and compelling enough to order the next two in this series even with the things that irritated me already. I wanted more! 😀

    KristieJ – that’s good to know. So it’s safe to say that it wasn’t LOVER ETERNAL that kept you from reading the others!? 😉

    jace – LOL That’s seriously cool! I had to grin when I saw what Seneca read, I would have LOLed when you would have read LOVER ETERNAL this month, too. So I’m looking forward to reading your review later. And I think it’s clear from the review that it’s Rhage & Mary that makes this book one of my favorites.

    I’m still undecided about getting Phury’s book.

  5. AmyC Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    This one is my favorite in the series. Heck, it’s one of my favorite books all together. I loved Rhage and Mary. You have the partial scene that I love and is one of the most memorable from any book, when she thinks she violated him after he pushes her to take from him what she wants. That whole scene is just amazing to me!

    I loved your thoughts on this book :).

  6. Taja Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    Amy C – thank you.

    I had a lot of scenes marked as possible quotes and I definitely agree with you about the scene the second quote is part of. Very heart wrenching and *g* I would have liked to quote the whole scene. And initially, the quote there was longer. But I thought it too much of a spoiler (in case there’s someone around who hasn’t read this novel) and so I just went for the part with the “Don’t ever regret that we were together” line. *sigh*

  7. Renee Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    I’ve only read the first one, and can’t wait to get back to BDB (trying to finish some other series, before I resume this one.)

    I love your quotes. I think the emotions of these books (at least, the one I read) are what makes this series stand out among a pretty thick field of paranormal romance.

    Looking forward to reading this one! 🙂

  8. Tracy Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    I LOVE this book! The first 3 in this series are really all great but this one just got me. Those quotes you printed are fab. *sigh* now I have to go re-read it! 🙂

  9. Taja Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    Renee – I agree, it’s the emotions for me, too, in this series. The world building is a bit shaky (later), IMO. There are quite a few quote-worthy scenes in LE!

    Tracy – “now I have to go re-read it!” – then this review did its work! 😉 I read my favorite parts again after I wrote this review, LOL.

  10. nath Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 6:09 pm #

    LE was the first book in this series I read and I thought it was okay 🙂 However, I can see why you love it so much 😀

  11. Taja Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    Nath – LOL thanks. I readily admit that LE is far from flawless. But I just don’t care with this novel!

  12. Christine Monday, March 2, 2009 at 3:58 am #

    Great choice for your Re-read Challenge, Taja. I can–and have– reread the first three BDB books several times. I love how Rhage always puts Mary first and how he loves her unconditionally and will do anything to keep her safe and happy.

  13. Taja Monday, March 2, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    Christine – I love how you put what makes Rhage such a great hero. Very well said.

  14. Leslie Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 3:30 am #

    Wonderful review Taja ~ my favorite book of this series. Love how Rhage is first attracted to Mary’s voice and the attraction doesn’t diminish once he is able to see her.

  15. Taja Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 9:14 am #

    Leslie – thank you! I love it too. It also really helps with the gorgeous man attracted to a rather plain woman premise, IMO.

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