I fell in love with this book, and for those of you who are looking for a summary of Lover Unleashed – you won’t find it here. There are other places on the net, including J.R. Ward’s website to find that. Instead I’d like to discuss the things about this book that not only grabbed my attention but made me read it twice.
Lover Unleashed is complex with several tightly woven plots that answer some questions, leave others unanswered and also introduce new characters and dangers to the Brotherhood. As with previous books in the series, Lover Unleashed doesn’t just deal with the featured protagonists. Instead we continually see how the other major characters in this series are still vital, integral and important parts of this world.
I’m realizing that the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is basically about two things: good vs. evil and family values. Since this is a series about vampires, the whole good vs. evil is not an unusual element. However, the family values aspect caught me a bit by surprise. When I first started reading the series it was mainly about each of the Brother’s and their particular heroine. But that didn’t last long. In fact with each new book I find that the larger story arc is not only about the Brothers and their shellan’s (wives), but also about their sisters, mothers, fathers, friends and community; and they are like any one of us. Their need for stability, comfort, love, and a longing for a place where their children, friends and family can live and grow in peace and harmony is what drives this series. Funny to think of these seven foot, leather wearing, rap loving, foul mouthed, beat-it-up-first ask questions later vampires as being representatives of family values. But it’s true. Their motivations are all about keeping the family intact.
The mythology, the world and the characters of this series are endlessly intriguing because they coexist in such a way that you can’t have one without the other. So when I picked up Lover Unleashed I knew it wouldn’t just be about Payne and Manny. Although it’s Payne’s story we get to know a whole lot more about her twin brother Vishous. And in learning more about him, the question becomes: What happens after the Happily Ever After?
In Lover Unbound ( #5) Vishous and Jane were mated and had their happily ever after. BUT, in Lover Unleashed it all comes crashing down and the pain and suffering Vishous endured before he met Jane makes a full blown, in- your- face appearance. When Vishous meets his twin sister, a sister he didn’t know he had, all the anger towards his parents; one a God and the creator of the race, the other, a madman who abused him, is awakened. J.R. Ward always says she’s just a conduit for her characters, so I’ll address my next remarks to Vishous. “Vishous, I think you were amazingly brave to lay yourself bare and reveal so much of your pain, confusion, and agony and to allow us to be part of your journey towards healing.” And his journey is NOT an easy one by any stretch of the imagination; he has to travel to some really dark places. On the way we get to experience up close and personal his inner demons, the reasons for his deep connection to BDSM, his love for both Butch and Jane and the reasons they make his life complete. I haven’t often read a story line where a happily mated couple hit that bump in the road where one wrong turn could break them apart. It’s a slippery slope and a hop skip and a jump to disaster when an author messes with a couple we thought were set and tight. So experiencing this agonizing and often painful breech between Jane and V was hard, but exquisitely thoughtful, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Two other stand out story lines?:
Payne: her path isn’t easy; she’s both a Chosen and a Warrior. It’s Manny who rescues her and gives her balance. But in the immortal words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, she rescues him right back.
Blay and Qhuinn: they break my heart just a little bit more with each book, and somehow I don’t mind. It shows that love isn’t always easy and that the struggle between your heart and mind can be a bitch.
So, if you are in the mood for a series that gets bigger and bigger with each book, has an unrelenting tempo that borders between the exciting land of too much and never enough, and where the world is clearly defined but has many surprises, then pick up J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.