It goes without saying that it is a difficult undertaking to write about individuals who inhabit a fictional world. And when an author creates a world with a plethora of characters and tells their story over a series of books, with each book more rich and complex than the last, that author must possess a modicum of courage. But writing each book with crystal clear poignant details that grab onto your imagination and won’t let go is what makes you continue to buy that author’s books year after year. J.R. Ward is that kind of author; the kind that, if she were on a National Geographic television special, she would be one of those cameramen who swim with the sharks—without a cage! She’s that fearless when it comes to putting into words the world that she's created—and the success of Lover Mine is proof of that.
Lover Mine is J.R. Ward’s 8th installment of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This book picks up where the last book, Lover Avenged, ended and focuses on John Matthew and Xhex. There is a good reason you’ll find no cover synopsis on the back of this book. Basically there is no way to give a 100 word re-cap of what goes on. The book—the world she has created—is too big for that. However, If you’re looking for a short ‘what’s this book about’ synopsis, I’ll give it a go; but believe me when I say it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a review. My back cover copy would go something like this:
A war rages in a little town in upstate New York where a band of six vampire warriors are charged with the continued existence and protection of their race. And the Black Dagger Brotherhood will continue to fight until they can live in peace.
Xhex is a hard-core assassin, half sympath/half vampire, whose life has been about survival; but her attraction to the vampire warrior John Matthew has changed all that. Loving him might mean his destruction and she will do anything, including die, to prevent John from becoming involved in the darkness that is her life. When she is captured by the ultimate evil, Lash, the son of the Omega, and unable to escape, she fights for her life knowing the end game may mean her death.
John Matthew, an orphan, is the reincarnated Brother Darius. His past and present collide when he seeks to save the only female he will ever love. He will do anything in his power to save Xhex, even if that means going against the Brotherhood, dying, or ultimately giving up the one female destined to be his. He must bring together all that he once was and all that he is in order to save her.
Together they must look ahead.
How will they be able to mend the pain of the past and present in order to defeat evil and find each other?
OK, so that’s my attempt at the back cover copy. What you still need to know is that Lover Mine is packed with story lines we’ve waited for as well as story lines we had no idea were coming. In addition, Xhex is revealed to be a deeply layered heroine who will surprise you in oh so many ways. I was happily surprised by her softer side and because John is a mute, it seemed to me that his inability to speak gave Xhex a voice she didn’t previously have. We hear more of her inner voice, her thoughts, motivations, wishes, and desires. Her ability to be a fighter is tempered in this book with her ability to love. These two soul mates have had centuries of living apart and when they do find each other it is explosive.
For those of you who are fans of the series, you’ll also learn about John’s past and his connection to Thorment, which is stunningly emotional. For those of you who have been waiting to know more about Blay and Qhuinn, well, all I will say is their story is beginning and she writes it with such emotion. Payne also makes a foothold in this book and her story is one I can’t wait to read.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is all about the community; the building and layering of relationships and the intersections of lives throughout the centuries. There are moments so tender you can barely turn the next page, as well as moments froth with anxiety, filled with action, and consumed by love. It seems as if all the characters in this world are fighting to move past the struggles of their former existence to find not only justice but peace, not only happiness but love. One question that was the backbeat of this book is: how do you live in the present when your past is filled with unimaginable pain? The answer: “Always look forward.” And that’s all I’ll say because I so much want you to have an unencumbered reading experience—to sit down and fall into this world that has been so creatively and lovingly crafted.
So dear reader, if you’ve been waiting as long as I have for Lover Mine, you will feel as if you are sitting down to a 10-course banquet with courses that are executed to perfection—surprising you, delighting you, and satisfying your senses well beyond what you could have imagined. This is J.R. Ward at her best and her best is outstanding.
Until next Monday, remember there’s always a book waiting to be read.
I'm curious; are you a Black Dagger Brotherhood fan, or are you one of those readers who has not yet succumbed?
Marisa O'Neill is an avid reader and a television producer.
Join us on tomorrow for Melanie Murray’s column “Romantic Reads This Week.”