I know that I’m about five to six years late jumping on the bandwagon for J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but it was one of those things when I only ever had the opportunity to get the newest one and I wanted to start from the first one. (I HAVE to go in order. How can people read books out of order??) So years pass and I finally started from the beginning, and I’ve read the first three so far: Dark Lover, Lover Eternal, and Lover Awakened.
This series is the story of a Brotherhood of sexy, mysterious vampires chosen to defend the vampire race against the lessers: dangerous, pale creatures that apparently smell like baby powder. Each book follows one of the brothers and it’s so neat because the books build upon each other. So you get way more than an Epilogue, you get the rest of the series to find out what happens to each character. My favorite thing about the brotherhood is each brother has a different set of issues. I love analyzing the psychology of why people act the way they do, and Ward does a great job of executing well thought out characters. The books are so exciting. I want to devour each page as quickly as possible! I can’t stop reading the series, that’s why I read the first three before I realized I needed to write a review but I figured I could write a “series” review instead of individually.
Dark Lover is the first installment of the series. It follows Wrath the blind king of the Vampire Race on his journey to finally accept his prominent position and start taking care of his people. I’m not going to lie, it was like every other paranormal romance out there: Bad guy attracted to good girl, does everything in his power to fight being in love then fights to save his love, lots of the sex, the end. I was disappointed. It was so cookie cutter romance, nothing particularly exciting or original. The evil in the series, the lessers, are calculating undead, impotent, light-haired crazies who, quite frankly, are SO boring to follow. I literally skipped the chapters with all the planning and lamenting evil. It detracted from the pace of the book. However, once I start a series I have to keep going to at least the second book.
Lover Eternal, the second book, was a lot more exciting and original. It followed Rhage, a vampire with a monster trapped within him that is unleashed with extreme emotion. (Did I mention that I LOVE the way Ward named all her characters?) His personality was a lot more dynamic, with a good guy charming front but a dark and dangerous secret. Throughout this book, I become more attached to the other brothers: Zsadist, Phury, Tohrment, and Vishous. The interactions between the brothers were exciting because you could tell they cared about each other but their issues kept getting in the way. It was wonderfully tense and dramatic. By this time, I’m hooked. The story is more original and the world around the Brotherhood was completely built. I’m attached to the characters and I HAVE to know what happens to them all.
The third Book, Lover Awakened, is my favorite so far. It follows Zsadist, the most broken and ruined of all the brothers. With his scarred face and hideous past, no one gets close to Zsadist, not even his twin brother Phury whose beauty is still intact. I loved this one; it was the perfect amount of anticipation when it comes to the sex. All of the issues stood in the way and it all made sense. It wasn’t just an “I want you now” type of sex. It was meaningful, not just emotionally but practically. It was very satisfying read. I love it when things that are broken are redeemed.
J.R. Ward’s writing and world building reminded me a lot of Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series. Moning would interweave her characters from book to book even into her Fever series. It’s nice to keep up with such dearly loved characters throughout an author’s career.
I would highly recommend this series to those who enjoy paranormal romance. This series has the perfect amount of naughty and nice and I have a feeling it’s only going to get better.