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The seventh books of the Black Dagger Brotherhood deals not woth a Brother, but Rehvenge brother to Bella, the half-sympath drug lord, pimp and all round thug.
In previous books we have learned why Rehvenge is the way he is and the tortures he inflicts on himself with the sympath princess's blackmail.
His heroine is a gentle yet fierce nurse to Havers's medical clinic, she deals daily with her father mental health issues struggling to deal with money problems after their fall from the heights of the 'glymera' or vampire aristocracy.
This is one of the longer books of the series, again the stories of the war between the lessers and vampires, John Matthews and Tohrment, Qhuinn and Bry, Xhex and more.
We also revisit the relationship of Wrathe and Beth from Lover Mine and their troubles as the king is lying to his shellan and going out to fight. His blindness is also becoming worse,
it was nice to revisit these two in a bit more depth rather than short cameo appearances. Doc Jane and the Brother Viscous's relationship has a tongue in cheek moment referral.
the next book is set up with the abduction of Xhex by Lash (she likes abducting women this author)
long and pleasing read, m,y second favourite of the series
Lover Avenged is the seventh book in J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This series started off as paranormal romance but over the last couple of books has become more of an urban fantasy series, something that fans seem to be divided on but that I personally love. I really enjoy paranormal romance but I would much rather read an urban fantasy book that has the guarantee of a happy ending and some romance to lighten what tend to be quite dark plots.
If you are thinking about starting this series do not start here and do not read this review. I would start with the first book and avoid as many spoilers as possible. This review will contain spoilers for earlier books. If you do start with this book you will probably find it difficult to follow what is happening.
As with any good fantasy/paranormal series J.R. Ward has created a world that is different to our own. I'm not going to go into all of the details here, I'm only going to mention what is relevant to this book.
In this series Ward focuses primarily on the vampire race, a race that exists within our own world but keeps itself separated and secret from humans. The vampires do mix with humans but don't reveal what they are. Ward has her own interpretation of the vampire myth in these novels. Vampires were created by a Goddess called the Scribe Virgin, they live for around 1,000 years, can't go out in daylight and feed off of the blood of vampires of the opposite sex. When a vampire meets the person they are supposed to be with and mates with them male vampires leave behind a bonding scent, warning other males away from their females (or males). From this point on the female is in complete control and the male has her name carved into his back (although Ward has said that this doesn't always happen and may just be something that warriors do). It's still not clear exactly what happens in gay relationships.
Vampires are at war with the lessening society. The lessening society was created by the Omega, a god, who wants to wipe out the vampire race. To protect vampires there is the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a brotherhood of warriors. There are strict criteria for brothers and you have to have the right bloodline (and up until now be male) to become a Brother. There is a female alternative to being a Brother for those of the right bloodline and they're called the Chosen. Until recently they lived on the "other side" with the Scribe Virgin and were used for various purposes including recording events in the vampire world, feeding the brotherhood and breeding. The head of the brotherhood and the vampire race is the King, which at the moment is Wrath. The Glymera are the vampire equivalent of the aristocracy and they have some power over decisions that are made.
Although the series does focus mainly vampires there are other races too. Sympaths are a subspecies of vampires. They are sociopaths and have been sent to live in a colony to protect the general vampire population. We've also been introduced to the Shadows, but still don't know much about them.
I think that Ward's world building is where this series really falls down. It seems that she didn't put much thought into creating it at the beginning of this series and now that it has evolved into a paranormal fantasy series it just doesn't stand up. She seems to be making an effort to cover up holes in her world building and I love this series so much that I'm willing to overlook things that sometimes just don't make sense. One problem is that she obviously set this up to fit well with heterosexual relationships, which is fine in a heterosexual romance series but now she's introducing gay characters (not that I'm complaining) and suddenly it doesn't work as well.
I'm not going to go through everything that's happened in previous books but I will mention things that are relevant for this novel.
The first book in this series, Dark Lover, focused on Wrath, the Blind King (he has a vision impairment). Reluctant to take his throne, Wrath just wanted to be a warrior without all the bureaucracy of being king. In the first novel Wrath meets Beth, the daughter of Darius, a Brother who dies in Dark Lover. Although she's half human and he doesn't like humans they fall in love and become mated and Wrath finally takes his throne.
John Matthew is introduced in the second book as an orphan who doesn't realise that he's a vampire. It's later revealed that he's the reincarnation of Darius who died in the first book (yes, even though Darius dies in the book before we meet John Matthew). John Matthew is unable to talk and communicates using sign language. Before John goes through his transition (which is basically puberty) he goes to live with Tohrment (one of the Brothers) and his wife, Wellsie. In a later book John Matthew meets Xhex, a half sympath female who works as head of security for Zero Sum, a local club run by Rehvenge (a half sympath, half vampire) who is the main character in Lover Avenged. It's pretty much love at first sight for John.
Wellsie is killed in Lover Unbound and Tohrment leaves the brotherhood in order to die and be with her. He is rescued in Lover Enshrined by an Angel who brings him back to the Brotherhood against his will, where he continues in his bid to die without committing suicide. John, who is essentially his adopted son, spends time with him but Tohrment is lost in his grief.
We're first introduced to Lash when he's still a young, spoilt vampire. In Lover Enshrined he's killed by Qhuinn, John's best friend, and is resurrected by the Omega who reveals that Lash is actually his son.
The main characters in Lover Avenged are supposed to be Rehvenge and Ehlena. Rehvenge is a half vampire, half sympath drug dealing pimp. I know what you're thinking, he sounds like the perfect romantic hero. Part sociopath and he sells drugs and women? Surely he's too good to be true. Just to add to his Prince Charming appeal he's also sleeping with his half sister, but only because she's blackmailing him. Ehlena on the other hand is a nurse who wants to help people. She was a member of the Glymera until her father was double crossed, lost all of his money and developed schizophrenia. Now they live in a small, run down house.
Rehv and Ehlena know each other from the clinic where she works and form an unlikely romantic partnership. Both are battling with their own demons and find comfort in the arms of the other. Unfortunately it may be the same problems that drive them apart. Rehv knows that he's not good enough for Ehlena and he knows that there's too much stuff going on his life that she can't become involved with. If he wants to be with her he'll have to find a way to stop what's going on with his half-sister and he can't see a way out of it.
This book is about so much more than just Rehv and Ehlena's romance, or even Rehv's dealings with the sympath race. The storyline with the lessening society continues in this book and we get to see a lot more of some of the earlier characters. In particular we see more of Wrath who has to deal with his vision impairment getting increasingly worse.
The book after this one is John Matthew's book and as you would probably expect Ward dedicates a lot of this book to him and Xhex (who is also one of Rehv's best friends).
I know that my plot description was a little bit sarcastic but I have to admit that I had reservations about this book. I didn't want to read a book that made a drug dealer and pimp a hero. I love this series and it was because of this that I was willing to give the book a try. I did end up liking Rehv a lot more than I expected to. In some ways I don't think that this is a great thing, he's still a drug dealer, still a murderer, still highly immoral and here I am sympathising with him and hoping he has a happily ever after. One of the things that I have consistently enjoyed in this series are the characters, I can't think of a single character that I've disliked and this book isn't any different. I liked Rehv and I adored Ehlena. She's kind and sweet but not that perfect kind of nice that can be so annoying. I think that Ward managed to write a character in Ehlena that most people can relate to in one way or another, whether it's the stress of looking after a sick relative, or working hard to achieve your ambition or struggling to make ends meet, I think that most people will be able to relate to her.
I did feel, however, that the romance was quite weak. Although I liked both characters I wasn't feeling the romance at all. There didn't really seem to be much between them and I think it's because so little time was spent on the romance, it felt like the romance was just thrown in there for the sake of having a romance in the book and that was a bit disappointing. It reminded me very much of the Darkyn series by Lynn Viehl, except in her books you expect the lack of romance (even though they're marketed as paranormal romance) and in these books you don't expect that. Ward does spend some time building up the romance but not nearly enough to engage me. The sex scenes in this book were also quite weak, which is a real disappointment because Ward's sex scenes tend to be HOT. In this book I didn't even find them mildly erotic (or at least not the scenes between Ehlena and Rehv).
Putting aside the romance this was a pretty decent book but only if you're a fan of the series. As a fan of the series I just want to know as much as possible, I care about every little detail and that's what Ward gives you in this book, lots of things about the other characters, the races and the world in general but if you don't care about all of those things you will probably find that a lot of this book drags. I could just as easily be writing this, complaining that there were too many unnecessary details but as it is, I love the series and would have been happy if it was 500 pages longer with even more detail.
I thought that Ward covered some very sensitive topics in this book and she did it quite well. I don't know a huge amount about schizophrenia, I've had a couple of lectures here and there on it and have a relative with schizophrenia but in my experience her description seemed to be very accurate. I thought that the way she wrote Wrath's loss of sight was brilliant. She really seemed to capture the grief that people experience when they become disabled. The inclusion of so many characters with disabilities is one of the reasons why I love the series.
In all of her books Ward spends some time focused on a member of the lessening society, in the past I've found this really boring and usually read those pages as quickly as possible. However, in this book she focuses on Lash and I enjoyed it a lot more than her past attempts to give us an insight into the lessening society. Although this was an improvement on previous books I did find that the scenes with Lash were the only ones that didn't have me constantly wanting to keep reading. They were interesting enough but not as interesting as the other parts of the book. I don't want to give anything away but towards the end of the book the parts with Lash in do get a lot more interesting.
Because this book focuses a lot on Rehvenge who isn't a member of the Brotherhood and Ehlena, who is just a civilian vampire, we get to see a different side to the vampire world. I really enjoyed this. I always love exploring fantasy worlds in fiction and in this book I felt like I was exploring the same world but through different eyes. It was nice to get out into the vampire world and see how things really are. It was also interesting to see what's going on with the sympaths. Although they have been mentioned before you don't really have a clear picture before now about exactly what they are and what they're doing up in their colony. Because Rehv is part sympath and the sympaths are so tied in with his plot you get to see a lot more of their world, which was very interesting.
One criticism that I do have is about the speech patterns. In past books all of the characters have very distinctive speech, so much so that I think if Ward took out all the parts that state who said what I could probably still follow the conversation. However, in this book everyone seems to speak the same. Rehv and Ehlena use the same slang and speak the same, even though they are both very different and it seems unlikely that they would. Another criticism is that Ward uses brand names so much and a lot of them I hadn't heard of so didn't know what she was talking about.
This book has left me wanting more. Xhex and John Matthew, who will feature in the next book, have a lot of time dedicated to them in Lover Avenged. I adore both Xhex and John Matthew, he has always been my favourite of the male characters and as soon as she was introduced I feel a little bit in love with Xhex. I loved that in this book we see Xhex's softer side but we also see exactly how tough she is. John Matthew doesn't have an easy time in this book and I found that it was part of the book that really engaged me on an emotional level, I just really felt for him throughout. The book ends on a cliff hanger which only makes me want to read the next book even more!
I'm not overly keen on books that focus too much on characters who have already featured in previous books but in this book I did like that Ward spends some time with Wrath and Beth. Their book was the very first one so it was nice to revisit them and see what's going on with them. I did like that she writes so much about characters who may feature in future books. I love Blay and Qhuinn who are friends of John Matthew. Blay is gay and it was revealed in the last book that he's in love with Qhuinn who although he's bisexual is adamant that nothing can happen between them. In this book you could really feel the tension between them, it was subtle but it was definitely there. I also found myself becoming more interested in Trez and iAm, Rehv's friends who are Shadows. They were introduced in previous books but we still don't have much information on them. Ward gave away a little bit more in this book but still not a lot and I am now really interested in finding out more.
This book reads very much as a continuation of previous books and not as a stand alone novel. If you haven't enjoyed previous books in the series you probably won't like this one. If you haven't read previous books in the series you won't even be able to follow what's going on. But if, like me, you're a huge fan and love everything about the series Lover Avenged makes a great addition to a wonderful series.
Lover Avenged is the seventh novel in JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series which fall within the paranormal romance genre. It is the story of Rehvenge, the half vampire, half symphath brother of Bella who featured mainly in 'Lover Awakened' the third book in the series.
**The Black Dagger Brotherhood**
When the vampire race came under attack, the strongest and biggest males were picked out as warriors who would lead the race in its fight for survival. Although Rehvenge is not a member of the Brotherhood, he is closely associated with them through his sister Bella who is the mate of one of the brothers. Rehvenge also owns the nightclub Zero Sum which is one of the Brotherhoods favourite haunts.
As a part symphath, Rehvenge must keep his true nature hidden or risk exile to the symphath camp in the north. Symphaths are considered a danger to the vampire world because of their ability to burrow into minds and use a persons own emotions against them. As a part symphath however Rehvenge knows he wouldn't survive long in the camp and treads a fine line between both worlds, until he meets the nurse Ehlena who appeals to him because of her innocence and caring nature. Together the two must face secrets and betrayals as they fight to be together.
The novel also continues some of the many subplots which have been included throughout the series.
I've been looking forward to this book for ages, so when it arrived and I saw it had over seven hundred pages I was even happier! I'm a huge fan of the series and this book certainly didn't disappoint. We've been gradually introduced to Rehvenge throughout the series and led to the point where it was time for his story, it was a story that was quite different from any of the other books, mainly because Rehvenge is not a member of the Brotherhood, however the story still managed to include all of the characters we have become familiar with throughout the series and develop them some more.
Rehvenge has always been an intriguing character and the book answers all the questions that have been raised from the previous books, as well as developing the character so much more. J R Ward always manages to write to make you engage with the characters and become absorbed into the story and this book is no exception to that, it's another brilliantly written book which gets a very high recommendation from me!
The writing was up to the usual high standards I have come to expect from J R Ward, she writes from a male perspective so well it's hard to believe that the books are actually written by a woman.
If you haven't read any of the other books in the series, then I would not recommend starting with this book, it's been built up through all of the previous books, and I think you would probably find it quite confusing to enter the vampire world at this point, I'd recommend starting with the first book in the series.
Another great novel from JR Ward, highly recommended!