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**Contains spoilers for previous books in the series**
==The Black Dagger Brotherhood==
Lover Mine is book number eight in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series. Usually I would write a detailed background of the series but to be honest at this point in the series there's no point. If you haven't read the previous books then you are not going to be able to follow this one. Over the last seven books Ward has taken the Black Dagger Brotherhood from a paranormal romance series to something that more closely resembles urban fantasy. Gone are the days when you could pick up one of the books and enjoy it as a standalone romance novel. To an extent the series didn't transfer genres so well. In paranormal romance the focus is on the romance, world building and everything that goes with fantasy comes second. At the beginning of this series Ward didn't seem to build her world very well or very consistently. Although there are still some errors she has gone a long way to fixing these problems, explaining away things that didn't quite make sense before and further developing other aspects of the world.
Primarily this series is about vampires and in particular the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a group of vampires who protect the race from the lessers, members of the lessening society who are created for the purpose of destroying vampires. However, there are other races that are now being explored in much more depth. Each book in the series has focused on a different male character and his "shellan" (wife), basically telling their love story. More recently the romance has taken a back seat to the plot of the series involving the vampire war with the lessening society and it seems to have received mixed reactions from fans. Half the problem is that this series is still marketed as paranormal romance when it's really not any more. Personally I love the way the series has developed but I can understand why some fans don't like it.
Lover Mine tells the story of John Matthew and Xhex. I have been waiting for this story for years. These are my two favourite characters. When each of them was introduced I automatically felt a connection with them and when I found out that they were going to end up together I was really happy. In the previous book, Lover Avenged, Xhex is kidnapped by Lash, the leader of the lessening society and John Matthew's personal enemy. I really don't want to give too much away about the plot. The book is quite long for this type of novel at over 600 pages and even some of the stuff that happens near the beginning of the book had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen. I really think that it would ruin the book if I told you even some of what happens. If you've read the last book you know the basic premise of the novel, Xhex has been kidnapped by Lash, John of course wants to rescue her and Xhex being the amazing character that she is isn't sitting around waiting for that to happen. That really is the very bare bones of the story and there is so much more to it but it's one of those things that's best left unrevealed until you read it.
==Love Love Love==
I loved it...this book was so completely worth waiting for. This book was by far for me the best in the series. I admit that this is partly due to the characters and the fact that I love them so much. I know that Xhex isn't particularly popular among many of the fans of the series but she has always been my favourite female character. Xhex is just such a strong woman, physically and emotionally. She's powerful, she's overcome hardship, she's made it in a world dominated by men...she's just everything I could possibly want in a female character. Some people say that she's like a man and she certainly has masculine qualities, not least her physical strength, her job as head of security and the fact that she's an assassin. I think that in romance novels we expect a certain type of woman, a certain form of femininity and most writers are too scared to deviate from this. As a result we always read about the same kinds of women. Some of them may be fighters in their own way, some may even be soldiers but they always retain this certain aspect of femininity so that you find that the author isn't really deviating from accepted ways of being a woman. Women come in all different ways, there are multiple types of femininity and it's about time they were represented in romance novels. As with so many other things Ward shows that she's ahead of the game, one step (or perhaps that should be a decade) a head of most other mainstream romance writers who seem to be still stuck in the 90s. (Okay perhaps that should be two decades ahead.) Whatever stage feminism is at in our society you know that mainstream romance will be a couple of decades behind, that's if we're lucky enough to find female characters who have the right to say no to sex and hold any opinions of their own. This isn't the case with J.R.Ward. Xhex is an amazing, strong character and I'm just so happy to finally read about a woman who doesn't fit into any of the stereotypes by any stretch of the imagination.
John Matthew is an equally wonderful character. John was born mute and communicates through sign language. One of the things that I love about this series is the inclusion of so many characters with impairments. Again this is something that you don't often find in romance novels where the men are generally depicted as being perfect...perfectly handsome, perfectly muscled, perfectly dominant and of course fitting into that societal idea of perfectly non-disabled. Ward gives the finger to convention again and writes a character who doesn't fit into any of the stereotypes. Yes he's good looking, he's got a great body and he's fiercely protective but as I've said he has a disability, he's the survivor of rape, he's incredibly vulnerable at times and he's sensitive.
The romance between the two characters is written wonderfully. Their relationship has been built up during the series which I think really helps, it just means that there's already something to work with and Ward isn't trying to fit everything into one book when there's so much else going on. The storyline between them is just too sweet...it almost feels wrong to describe it that way when actually it's very intense, sometimes almost aggressive in it's protectiveness but still very sweet. It's not plain sailing for either character and Ward really explores the emotions of both characters, bringing them to life and adding even more depth to two already well developed characters. There's just this feeling that they're perfect for each other. Even when they're doubting it you just know. I loved the way that they're both equally as strong and powerful and that neither of them feel threatened by that. They just accept each other, their flaws and strengths.
I think the balance between romance and fantasy in this book was a lot better than the previous book. I think that part of the reason is that the war is so much a part of both characters. Their personal storyline moves the overall storyline along in a way that just fits. It doesn't feel like they've just been thrown in there so that the publishers can claim it's romance. One of the things that I love about the book is the emphasis on friendship. John Matthew has some very close friends and while everything isn't perfect between the three of them they're still there for each other. I like romance novels that acknowledge that there's more to life than having a romantic partner.
A great thing about this book is that the storyline involving Blay and Qhuinn (Blay's in love Qhuinn, Qhuinn claims he wants to end up with a woman but really we all know that he loves Blay as much as Blay loves him...okay that's just my interpretation. I live in hope) is explored in much more depth. I'm not going to give away what's happened because some fans of the series have been waiting for this more than they've been waiting for John Matthew and Xhex's story but it's good. It's angsty, at times painfully so but it gives a great insight into the characters and their feelings. Ward also explores the issue of homophobia, in a way that doesn't quite make sense (aren't all vampires meant to be stronger than humans?) but still she introduces homophobia to the series. Some people may argue that there's no place for politics in romance novels but I think that anything that highlights the violence that people experience just because they're gay is a good thing.
Of course Ward uses this book to set up the next book and we see much more of Payne. There are twists and turns, certainly some that I didn't see coming even though I've read all of the books, some of them multiple times and can generally guess what's going to happen in most books. Ward does of course explore Darius' reincarnation as John Matthew and I have to say that the way that this was resolved didn't sit particularly well with me but at the same time it made sense (if being reincarnated into your own son can make sense). I can't really explain my slight discomfort any more without giving away anything significant.
I think that most fans of the series will like this. It is long but I think that the length is justified considering how much Ward packs into the book. In this book she finally seems to have found the balance between romance and fantasy and I would highly recommend it.
The series should be read in the following order:
The culmination of the story of John Matthews, introduced in book two 'Lover Eternal'. We follow his quest for the missing Xhex bouncer to Rehvenge's old club ZeroSum.
The relationship between the two of them has been developing for two books now with some intimate moments in the previous book. Despite Xhex's callous treatment of him John still searches for her. There's also some development of Qhuinn and Blays interesting will they wont they; although it's all fairly awkward and kinda sad for the characters.
this is again one of the authors longest books.
I feel she's gona back a pace by the occurances of Lash's request to the Omega to turn Xhex to a lesser causing the Omega to reject Lash his own son.
Some weird stuff happens to Lash during the book and his body starts to dissolve, I guess maybe J R Ward will maybe step up the Omega's evil next book but Lash has been the biggest threat so far so its a strange twist.
As we know the main characters pretty well i didnt feel that this book was that interesting and John still feels a bit like a 'puppy'
my second least favourite of the series.
The story of Viscous's sister Payne is set up here by her injury and release into the real world.
It was with great pleasure that I opened my latest delivery from Amazon because it included Lover Mine, the latest episode in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a book I've really been looking forward to reading.
Truth to tell, until the previous book, I was becoming a little weary of this series, mainly because the heroes, members of the Brotherhood, all seemed to be cut from the same cardboard cloth. However, during the last book, Lover Avenged, the storyline became much more urban fantasy than paranormal romance, and it reawakened my interest. Also, as this book features John Matthew, whose character has been developing throughout the series and who has been interesting from the start, I was keen to read his story at last.
The first thing that struck me is that this is a fat book. It's a whopping 672 pages of pretty small print, although several of those pages are taken up by the glossary of terms. This glossary is handy to have but really only necessary for those who haven't been involved with the series from the beginning.
Over the course of the seven previous books in this series, J R Ward has built a world of vampires which includes amongst their number, an elite class known as the glymera and the Black Dagger Brotherhood; warriors, led by the blind king, Wrath. The Brotherhood was formed to defend the race from their mortal enemies, the Lessers, evil doers who are ruled by the Omega. It might be worth mentioning here that there is also a sub-species in this vampire world known as sympaths who get their energy from absorbing the emotions of others. For this reason, the sympaths are shunned by the rest of vampire society and most live in isolation on reservations.
John Matthew was first introduced as a troubled teen who had been raised by humans at whose hands he'd suffered a great deal of abuse. John Matthew is, in fact, not human but the son of a Darius, a past member of the Brotherhood. During the progress of the series, John Matthew has transitioned (a part of the physical development for warriors) from a rather weedy individual into a strong, well-muscled and handsome man, although he is mute. In the previous book of this series, Lover Avenged, John Matthew fell in love with an older woman, Xhex, who is a sympath, and following a battle with the Lessers, Xhex has been abducted by Lash, the son of the Omega, and as this book begins, John Matthew with his friends, along with other members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood are searching for her.
This book covers the search for and rescue of Xhex and the continuing battle with the Lessers led by Lash. During Xhex's captivity Lash developed a strong need for her and he is determined to get her back. Interspersed with the main narrative are excerpts from Darius's diary written in 1644 which, to begin with, seemed irrelevant, but eventually all is revealed.
If you haven't read any of this series before, I urge you to begin with book one, Dark Lover. The world of the Brotherhood that J R Ward has created has developed over the course of the series and although it would be possible, with the help of the glossary, to read Lover Mine without having read the other books in the series, there is a lot of back story to catch up on.
I certainly enjoyed this book, it was full of action, drama and romance in equal measure, with a suitably satisfying ending, but I did have a few issues with it.
Timescales in this world seem a little weird and it doesn't seem to have been fully explained. Darius, John Matthew's father is writing his diary in 1644 during the English Civil War, and although I get that vampires live for a long time, it doesn't seem to quite add up when viewed in the context of other characters in this story. Sorry, if that seems a rather obscure comment, but I can't elaborate without a bit of a spoiler.
I really liked John Matthew as a troubled youth and as a developing (transitioning) vampire but I'm not so certain that I like him quite as much now he is a fully-fledged warrior. He seems to be suffering from a case of arrested development and his attitude to life is still very juvenile in many ways, which makes me wonder why someone like Xhex would fall in love with him, given that she is that much older.
I'm also not too fond of Qhuinn, one of John Matthew's friends, whose sole objective in life seems to be to lay as many women, and sometimes men, as possible. On the other hand, Blay, John Matthew's other friend, is lovely. Blay is gay and loves Qhuinn, so far unrequitedly, as it seems that Qhuinn is as yet in denial about his feelings for Blay. And quite honestly, I think Blay deserves someone better.
Along with members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and other characters from previous books, there are quite a few new characters introduced in this book. I may be wrong, but I get the distinct impression that the author is setting up possible candidates for future novels and as a consequence she perhaps didn't always concentrate on the book in hand quite as much as she could have done.
That being said, Lover Mine is a long and satisfying read. The characters are mostly well fleshed out, even the secondary ones, and the story moves along at a stonking pace. Of those characters that I feel may have books written about them in the future, I'm really hoping that J R Ward will have the courage to push the romance envelope and write one especially for Blay. He really deserves his happy ending.