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 …”
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.