The Chosen by J.R. Ward and the fifteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series left my heart black and blue – from both the heart-wrenching revelations and unexpected disappointment.
A scorching forbidden love threatens to tear a rift through the Black Dagger Brotherhood in J. R. Ward’s newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.
Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.
As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone.
I have been waiting for Xcor and Layla to happen for-ev-er, so it’s safe to say I was high on anticipation when I turned the first page. Unfortunately, Ward let me down. Their relationship lacked the heart and heat typically found in a BDB romance. It felt too mundane with the juggling of who’s watching the kids while Layla and Xcor were in their too-perfect-it’s-unbelievable love den. Layla felt flat and unrelatable. When Xcor and Layla finally got together, it was quite possibly the most boring love scene in BDB history. My favorite scenes were Xcor’s heartbreaking flashbacks to his tortuous childhood, and the mother-of-all-flashbacks that grotesque opening birth scene that was so effed up I couldn’t look away.
The Chosen had so much drama in it, and Qhuinn was at the heart of it. He basically goes postal, even more so than a Brother and bonded male typically does. I didn’t feel like it was true to his character and as the plot line unraveled, I found myself more and more frustrated. I didn’t feel sympathy when it caused issues with Blay and Layla. And to be perfectly honest, of the three of them, Blay is the only one I could stand by the end.
Now, the main characters of this particular installment aside, there was plenty going on in the periphery to keep me going. First, I was shocked when heartbroken and devastated Trez was given a surprising reprieve. Second, V’s chapters broke my heart with his relationship quietly unravelling. Third, I drank up references to Assail like drops of water in the desert. I WANT MORE! Finally, Lassiter’s new situation was surprisingly unsurprising and I loved the little pieces we got of him.
The one character that I could not stand was Throe as the soon-to-be evil bad guy. Granted, I’ve NEVER liked chapters of the omega and lessers.
The ending was by far the strangest, most surreal ending I’ve read by Ward. Even more surprising than how she ended The Shadows. Everything comes together for Layla/Xcor and Blay/Quhinn with a whiplash quality – too fast I couldn’t tell what happened and left a painful void from lack of understanding. There was a lot of heartbreaking stuff in those finally chapters but it wasn’t until the last line that I wanted to ugly cry. As much as I was excited about the potential of a future Lyric story, I felt like Ward broke the “fourth wall” if you will, and disrupted the tone and writing style of her novel. It was as if she reached up out of the book and smacked me in the face. I don’t know if I loved it or hated it. I only know I felt strongly about it.
Fortunately, the next book, The Thief, will be about Sola and Assail, so I’m hoping this next story will be redemptive for Ward and a bit of a reprieve from Brotherhood drama. I do want to see more of Trez and Assail’s twin guard/business partner/friend guys.
STARS: 3 out of 5