My rating: 4 of 5 stars
J.R.Ward returns to more classical romance writing with the latest in the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
As the series progressed from the first tier of brothers on to the new initiates Blay, Qhuinn, and John Matthew, and Rehvenge’s latest role in Ward’s Vampire culture, she veered from straight romance to urban fantasy with romantic elements.
But with the love story between Payne and Manny, Ward’s romantic prowess returns and dominates. Ward seamlessly blends historical, erotic romance, paranormal, and urban grit in one story, but if you’ve not been following the Brotherhood this long, it may be uncomfortable to process the language, understand the culture and the heritage Ward has invented. Do yourself a favor and start with Dark Lover, and progress through the rest of the books. They stand alone, but are richer for their backstories, culture, and characters’ heritages from the beginning.
I’m amazed at the depth of the history of Ward’s BDB world, from the deities she creates to the integration of humans into the race, and all the implications that come with the human condition colliding with the vampires’ old world order.
I also love Ward’s own appreciation and recognition of what is truly good in life: faith, whatever it may be; a sense of belonging with friends to make a new kind of family; and owning yourself, mistakes, quirks, kink,disabilities, imperfections and all.
In Lover Unleashed, not only do Payne and Manny find each other (in all Ward’s lovely wet and wonderful erotic sex), but there’s a lovely parallel story for Vishous and Jane, with some much needed resolutions for V – a much loved character. This reader can’t get enough of the bromance between Butch and V (Butch happens to be my favorite brother), and once more, Ward spotlights Butch’s deep integrity. Some foreshadowing of future storylines, mayhap?
A new storyline is introduced via an old faction of the Bloodletter’s brutal crew, and a new vamp/human hero may emerge as well. Ward continues her torture of Blay and Qhuinn’s “he loves me, he loves me not” not so merry go round.
Last but not least, it’s testament to Ward’s skill as an author (love and respect her with all my writing love heart) that I feel protective of Layla, the long suffering, rejected Chosen. I know she’ll get her glorious resolution soon – please Ms.Ward, just don’t make the poor girl hurt too much longer!