I am going to write a spoiler free review. Don't worry if you are still reading!
This is the long awaited John Matthew entry in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I know that I have been waiting patiently to see him get his happily ever after. The book begins where the last book left off, with Xhex (John Matthew's woman) having been abducted. Her eventual rescue was well done and honored the way Ward has written her character.
The book primarily consists of six plot lines: John Matthew and Xhex, Qhuinn and Blaylock, some creepy mansion (not going to tell why it is significant!), Payne in the Fade, Darius and his memories, and Lash. Overall, I think Ward handles theses back and forth story lines better than she has in previous books. In those books, I wanted to skim the "killing of the lesser" storylines and get back to the Brotherhood. I really enjoyed most of the subplots in this book and I loved the Qhuinn-Blaylock-Saxton storyline. In addition to the better done plot lines, it was great to see most of the Brotherhood make cameo appearances. Well, the men mostly, but a few glimpses of the women as well. Except for Phury, who barely showed up at all.
The good about this book:
~Angst, Angst, Angst!! If this is what you read these books for, you will not be disappointed!
~The romance aspect is back on the front burner, while still keeping the urban fantasy. Ward got a lot of flak for the shrinking of the romance, but there is a lot more here than there has been in any book since Butch. It was well done.
~The communication between the mute John Matthew and Xhex was really well done. I was wondering how Ward would accomplish this, but I found it to be pretty seamless.
~LOVE the subplot with Quinn-Blay-Saxton. It is complicated and messy and really fun to read.
~Ward softens Xhex without diminishing her character.
The bad about this book:
~The language sometimes got ridiculous! I have read all the books, so I know what to expect from Ward, but I think some of it is a bit unnecessary. And I hate the phrase "hang a louie".
~A little confused about what's going on with the Scribe Virgin.
I read these books for pure fluff, and that is what I got. It was great! This is now in my top 3 of all of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books and it is not to be missed. If you are just starting out, you MUST start at Book 1 to make sure they make sense. This was a great way to pass the time and well worth running to the bookstore when it came out!
I've been addicted to this series and have enjoyed them very much to this point...that being said, this book left me disappointed and less than content.
One small complaint: It seems like characters (when introduced to the Brotherhood or are JUST beginning to be in the same place with them) SUDDENLY take on the slang and terms that the Brotherhood uses. Seemed rather ridiculous for Xhex to suddenly start saying "what's doing" and such when she'd been her own unique character and nonconformist to start with.
One BIG complaint: (everyone will not agree, but it's fact) JR Ward chickened out on the m/m side of sex. Continuity states you treat Qhuinn's sex life just as you would any other Brother. You don't tell me he walked in and locked the door for privacy and emerged on the balcony freshly showered with bite marks on his neck. You built it up and got everyone ready for what? Really? It should be just as equal part of everything else, take it or leave it.
I've lost a great deal of respect for the author because of the "lack of testicular fortitude" to include a part of the story you've wrapped up in this pretty little package. Sure, I'm gay and I take the straight love scenes for what they are...beautiful, hot and steamy affection between two beautiful and perfect bodied people...there should be no difference.
Not sure that I want to go on to the next book and think I just might have had enough of JR Ward at this point.
I've already read it twice, and thinking about a 3rd go round. This has to be one of the best books out of the series.
I loved everything about this book the new characters, plots, storyline, everything.
The love story between John Matthew and Xhex is unbelievable, it's so good. He is one of my 3 favorites now. The side story of Qhuinn and Blay, cannot wait for their book, the books are just getting better as time goes by.
GREAT JOB, WARDEN
Can not wait for the next ones to follow
This is the eighth book in the series and the story of John and Xhex.
The story opens with everyone trying to find Xhex, who they have determined was kidnapped by Lash when they were rescuing Rhev at the symphath colony. Theyve had so much trouble finding Xhex, that the Brotherhood is pretty sure that she is dead. In honor of her memory, John has her name tattooed in the ancient script on his back. But hes not giving up hope and continues to work with the Brotherhood to either find her or avenge her death.
When she is found and eventually rescued, the two of them decide to join forces to destroy Lash and vow to go their separate ways. They do this because they need to focus their energies on defeating Lash and without the agreement, they will not work together cooperatively.
Blaylock is starting to date and the person who he is interested in is Qhinns cousin. Qhuinn is not exactly thrilled with this, but he really cant stop Blay from pursuing the relationship. Instead, he appears to be pursuing a relationship with Layla, a member of the Chosen. This is a relationship that Layla wants to see move to a love relationship.
Among the Chosen, Payne has been allowed to move about with the other Chosen, but she is not allowed the leave. This upsets her greatly and she is constantly unhappy and trying to persuade the Scribe Virgin to at least allow her to visit the other side. The one thing that keeps her going are her sparing matches with Wrath.
This book also gives us the back story of Darius (the Brother who has been reincarnated as John) and his relationship with Tohrment. This story explains why John is so strongly attracted to Xhex.
A new storyline about a TV ghost hunter crew stopping at a haunted house in the Carolinas. The ghost is actually a vampire.
The story of the Lessening Society is focused on Lash, who is literally falling apart and has been estranged from the Omega, his father. This and that fact that he has to drive a crappy Ford Focus and live in crappy housing infuriates him.
I liked this book better that Lover Avenged. I would say its on the same level as Lover Enshrined. Learning the background of Darius and Tohrment makes Tohrment and Johns relationship seem extremely natural and it reveals why John has always been inexplicably attracted to Xhex. He still doesnt know that he is Darius reincarnated at the end of the story. Its also not clear that Tohrment understands exactly who Xhex is.
I like the Payne storyline and am looking forward to reading her story in the next book. I would have preferred to learned more about her background and why the Scribe Virgin is determined that she cannot leave the Chosens traditional home.
Two storylines drove me nuts. The new storyline about the reporters following the ghost story was very frustrating. It constantly interrupted the flow of the story of John and Xhex (and Blay and Qhinn and Payne and Darius, etc.) It was not clear until the very end of the story what the significance of this story was to the Brotherhood. Personally, there was a lot of this story that could have been dumped and improved the storyline.
The other was the story about Lash. So the Omega has fathered this son who was raised with the Lessening Societys enemy and now the Omega has turned his back on him. Lash is apparently kicked out of the society it would appear because of his desire to have sex with women. Perhaps the Omegas mistake was not castrating his son, like he does the human members of the society. So Lashs new life is falling apart and so is he. To a strong degree, it didnt make sense. Although, based on how the society has functioned in the past, constantly churning leadership, this shouldnt surprise me.
And, this is a bit of a spoiler, I dont think so, when the Brotherhood dos defeat Lash (I wont reveal whether it was John or Xhex), they didnt have Butch do his thing. Does this mean that Lash went back to the Omega to be reborn?
At this time, this is the last book of the series that I have to read I waiting to get the next book, Lover Unleashed, so Im going to include some overarching comments on the series. First, it would seem that the more books, the longer they must be. Although, Lover Mine bucked the trend and was only 615 pages long. As a reference, Dark Lover, the first book, was only 393 pages long.
The Blaylock and Qhuinn story is rather frustrating. In Lover Enshrined, we learn that Blaylock is gay but Qhuinn is presented as definitely not gay and that despite this, Blay has a crush on Qhuinn. Now, Qhuinn is whoring himself out so that he doesnt have a relationship with Blay. Hes jealous of Blays desire to date his cousin. These guys are teens so this really doesnt make a lot of sense. Is Qhuinn bi?
Im also finding the writing itself is getting sloppier as the series goes on. Its not a good as the earlier books. There are also some cultural references like to Melrose Place that I doubt John and company would understand, so to a degree they feel wrong in the story.
Im still excited for the next book.
But, I miss the sex.
I love BDB books and this was no exception. I was waiting for John and Xhex story and felt that the author delivered. I was nervous about how such a strong women like X was going to be betrayed but I felt that she got her happily ever after w/o compromising the bad ass bitch she is!
I loved the visits to the past and the round about way that fate and destiny played a huge part in this story. I hope there is more of that in future stories.
Im not sure what I think of Blay and Qhuinns story. Kinda like with V and Butch, I think the author chickens out when it comes to the whole gay thing. I dont know, maybe this is going to have an HEA too, I hope.
Cant wait to see what happens next for Payne. I would also be interested in further knowledge of Muhrder.