Book: Dark Lover
Author: J. R. Ward
Release date: September 6, 2005
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
Summary: (from Goodreads) In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood...
The only purebred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed - orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate - Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead...
Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn't there, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both.
First impressions: I was really excited to read this book because so many people love this series, but the first few chapters were not the most attention-getting. Wrath is really what kept me reading because he's so well developed. I love that he has a visual impairment but is still totally badass.
Lasting impressions: I will definitely stick with this series. The story started to pick up about a quarter of the way through and kept me turning pages until I'd gobbled the whole thing.
Conflicting impressions: There are some cheesy moments (Does every vampire have to hang out in a dark, bass-thumping club?), and Beth got on my nerves quite frequently, but these are easily overlooked.
Overall impressions: Here's the thing. Did you see that cover? I suffer from cover shyness, and for that reason I have long avoided reading romance novels in public. This is another in a long list of reasons I love my Kindle. And because of said Kindle, I finally gave myself the chance to read this book.
I was really surprised by how funny and unique it turned out to be. Ward has obviously spent a lot of time crafting this world, so it's easy to get immersed in it. That's one of my favorite qualities in a book.
Beth is kind of a blah main character for most of the book. She's a gorgeous woman with no interest in men, which she comes to learn is because she's turning into a vampire. I loved how Ward played around with female character tropes and made them work for her instead of against her. Beautiful, unattainable woman who can't get a date? Got a perfectly good explanation. Later in the book, she jokes about how she wishes her name was something shorter than Elizabeth, "like Mary. Or Sue." Mary Sue! I had a good chuckle over that one. Ward is playing us like a fiddle.
Despite their cheesy names (Wrath, Rhage, Tohrment, etc.), the BDB boys are pretty cool. I struggled a bit to keep them all straight, since we don't have a lot of opportunity to learn their individual traits in the midst of what is primarily Wrath's story, but they are still enjoyable and interesting, and sometimes downright scary.
The romance element here does not disappoint, either. Again, because Ward is a genius at twisting tired devices in her favor, she's written a world where maturing vampires are at their sexual peak, so when Beth starts to turn, things heat up pretty quickly with Wrath. I felt like they genuinely cared for each other, though, and the love story that follows their initial, erm, encounter is believable and sweet.
In fact, I felt the love story was far and away more interesting than the conflict with the bad guys. The Lessers are militant counterparts to the Brotherhood, and both groups want to destroy each other. It does seem a bit exhausting as a reader since these battles have raged on for centuries and there doesn't appear to be a clear favorite for the win. With 8 more books in the series, I have to assume this thing is going to drag out, and that may be a big part of why I felt so much more attached to the Beth/Wrath storyline.
This was a fun book with a great balance of mystery, surprise, steamy romance and hot boys fighting. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, where each book allows us to get to know another BDB member in more detail.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Want to get in on the discussion? Check out the Dark Lover BDB book club post at Bookaholic Does Blogging.