Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series #10) is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is a world I dive into with a sense of headiness and anticipation, one I stay in because the pull is so magnetic, and one I always leave with great regret.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series started with six main characters; all are seven foot, leather clad, centuries old vampires. One of the major beats in this series is the ongoing war of the Brotherhood against the Omega and the Lessening Society. After reading the first book, Dark Lover, I understood the premise would be that each Brother would play an instrumental role in the war against the Lessers, deal with a personal tragedy, fall in love with their heroine, and live to fight another day. But as quick as you can say “the second book in the series” the world became more and more intricate with ever increasing tentacles reaching out to give credence to the mythology and support the twists and turns each character’s life would take.
After reading Lover Reborn it dawned on me that Ms. Ward had this amazing and intricate world clearly mapped out and formed before she wrote her first word. This world is huge, the characters are both flawed and magnificent and the framework for action is intense and complex. There are no wasted words or actions in this series and everything means something. J.R. Ward has created a world that is solid and has tremendous mass.
This series of interconnected books has a clear and brilliant set of legends, beliefs and history. Each character’s past, present and future is tied to the history which illuminates and sometimes defines their actions. The beauty of telling a story with such a strong and deep foundation is that the story arcs, the reveals and the characters’ journeys become incredibly vibrant. Each character has a definite place in the world and their history/actions/deeds all have consequences that continue to reverberate throughout. We may meet them in book three; they may even have their happy ending in that book. But that is certainly not the last we see of them. These are not characters that are introduced, have their own book, and then come back in subsequent books to drop by for a cup of coffee and discuss the weather. NO. These are characters whose lives are constantly evolving whether they are on the page or off stage. Their evolutions cause ramifications that affect not only the other characters but also the structure of the society -- and I have to say that’s pretty freakin’ brilliant.
Yes, there are traditional romantic elements to each book and each hero and heroine gets their HEA. But that’s just one part of each book. The continual evolution of each brother while he fights to save their race, uphold and respect their traditions and live in a world of change surrounds, informs and defines the larger whole. With each book we see how different characters lives have progressed and how their actions have changed the people and world around them. That is why these books are so compelling. You are drawn into a fictional world of vampires, demons and angels and while you are there you BELIEVE.
The latest book in the series, Lover Reborn, takes place over an entire year and the book is packed with several different story arcs. The main focus is Tohrment. He has become a heartbroken shell of his former self after losing his shellan Wellsie. Having been mated for over two hundred years theirs was the kind of deep and abiding love that is rare. With Wellsie’s death, Tohr ‘s reason for living no longer exists. It’s only with the help of the fallen angel Lassiter as well as the threat of his beloved being trapped in a desolate and unforgiving in between world that Tohr begins to take steps to change his life. He must change or Wellsie will be trapped forever. In order to set the love of his life free Tohr must find a way to love again. It is Autumn, a female who never thought she deserved love, who changes the landscape of Thor’s life.
Tohr’s despair is so tangible and palpable it permeates the pages and soaks into your heart. The passages describing Tohr’s despair over losing Wellsie are beautifully and tenderly written with a resonance that speaks to Ms. Ward’s ability to put into words what the heart feels. If you have been in the unenviable position of losing someone you love these scenes go to core of where you live.
The crux of the book is about letting go of past hurts, preconceived notions and fears so you can be free to embrace new experiences and open up to new ways to love and new kinds of love. In essence - being reborn. This happens primarily with the characters Tohr and Autumn but also to a lesser or greater degree between Xhex and John Matthew, Tohr and John, and Xcor and Throe. This letting go of past hurts, ideas and relationships and opening up to new experiences colors the flavor and timbre of the story arcs.
There are three things Lover Reborn has in abundance –reflection, wicked humor, and deep abiding love. This is wrapped up in vibrant action sequences, wonderfully written dialogue, and several intricately woven plots that dove tail to a climax giving us some much anticipated resolutions as well as open ended coming attractions of exciting new story and character developments. It has it all.
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