Series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Action, Paranormal Romance
Title: Dark Lover
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood…
The only purebred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed - orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate - Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead…
Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before. Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frightens her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both…
Start & Finished: 3/21/08- 3/22/08
Vampires are some of the most compelling (and numerous) beings in paranormal romances but author J. R. Ward has raised the bar with her extremely popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Dark Lover is the first story about this slightly complex group of warriors who protect the innocent civilian vampire species from the evil Lessening Society but it’s core story is Wrath and Beth’s relationship (each Brother gets their own story in this way too).
For the past several years I have read tons of glowing reviews about the Brotherhood series so although I was still wary (especially after reading the glossary at the beginning) I finally gave in and read it. I quickly fell in love with this book even if some things (like the way the guys talk sometimes, especially since some are centuries old) drove me nuts but who can resist tormented vampire warriors in leather who kill bad guys? Needless to say, I picked up the next three books my library had the very next day.
I was impressed with how the author introduced the series and how she made each person in the huge cast of characters an individual so you're able to keep them all straight. However, I didn't really like how the narrative would switch over to the bad guys. Usually they have some redeeming qualities when an author lets their voice be heard but not so here- pure evil. Of course this made it all the more satisfying when one of the Brothers sent them back to re-meet their maker, the Omega.
The main character in Dark Lover is Wrath who is the king of his people (but he prefers not to be) -therefore he’s incredibly powerful:
Wrath was six feet, six inches of pure terror dressed in leather. His hair wasHe’s also almost completely blind. Each of the Brothers are “flawed” in a unique way but it helps define who they are and being all alpha males, their only weakness is their mate, with whom they bond with for life.
long and black, falling straight from a widow’s peak. Wraparound sunglasses hid
eyes that no one had ever seen revealed. Shoulders were twice the size of most
males’. With a face that was both aristocratic and brutal, he looked like the
king he was by birthright and the soldier he’d become by destiny. And that wave
of menace rolling ahead of him was one hell of a calling card.
Title: Lover Eternal
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover- for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by this dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships, is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage’s protection. With a life- threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves.
Start & Finished: 3/22/08
After the overwhelming success of her first story Dark Lover in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, the second book Lover Eternal was published a mere five months later, something almost unheard of for a debut series! This particular story continues right were the first left off but Rhage is the main character instead of Wrath, although he along with the other Brothers are featured heavily throughout the story.
Rhage; also known as Hollywood because he’s drop-dead-gorgeous, is one of my favorite vampires in the Brotherhood. He’s just so yummy and yet lethal! I knew immediately after being introduced to him (and learning what his flaw was- he turns into a sort of dragon-beast, when threatened or hurt) in the first book that his would be one of the most interesting stories; besides Viscous and Zsadist’s, and I wasn’t disappointed.
J. R. Ward did a wonderful job convincing the reader and the characters themselves that Mary, although human, was the mate for this particular vampire warrior since she also has an internal affliction in the form of cancer. I loved them together because they truly seemed to connect but by the end of the book I just didn’t care for Mary as much. I’m hoping that will change in the future books though.
Besides Rhage and Mary’s relationship, quite a few other things- some good, some very, very bad happen throughout the course of Lover Eternal. The reader gets an even closer look into the lives of the Brotherhood while the war with the Lessening Society gets even uglier with more losses on both sides. My advice: after the shocking ending of this book, you might want to have the next story, Lover Awakened on hand to start immediately afterwards!
Title: Lover Awakened
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Of these, Zsadist is the most terrifying member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion and terror his only passion- until he rescues a beautiful female from the evil Lessening Society.
Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for each other begins to overtake them, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past and find a future with her…
Start & Finished: 3/22/08- 3/24/08
J. R. Ward has claimed on many occasions that her favorite vampire in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series is the main character from Lover Awakened, Zsadist. Set a little more than a month after Lover Eternal, Zsadist is still relentlessly searching for Bella, and killing the evil members of the society that took her. Once he rescues her, she realizes he is in need of rescuing too from the internal demons that have pursued him for centuries.
Of all the Brothers so far, Zsadist’s story is it is the most heartbreaking. As Phury says, each of the Brothers is missing a part (or in the case of Rhage, has an unwanted part) and Zsadist’s is the fact that he was a blood slave for several years that was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused until Phury, his twin rescued him. By then it was too late since he had seemed to have lost most of his soul which made him all the more appealing to me (even though his evil streak did bother me sometimes).
Bella is my favorite shellan in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. She seems like the only person who could heal Zsadist. Its amazing how the author made such a damaged character that none of the Brothers really liked or trusted not only appealing but she also makes you fall in love with him.
Like all of the books, there are several little side plots going on throughout the story like Butch and Marissa‘s relationship, the Lessers get a new leader, Vishous gets more “screen time” (since his story is next in the series) and the reader finally finds out what his hand can do and why it’s so lethal. I also loved the little implied hints about John aka Tehrror and I can’t wait to find out more about him too so hopefully he gets his own book.
Title: Lover Revealed
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. But now an ally of the Brotherhood is about to encounter his own dark desires…
Butch O’Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard-living ex-homicide cop, he’s the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world- to engage in the turf war with the lessers. He’s got nothing to lose. His heart belongs to a female vampire, an aristocratic beauty who’s way out of his league. If he can’t have Marissa, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers…
Fate curses him with the very thing he wants. When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead, he’s found by a miracle, and the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back. But even her love may not be enough to save him…
Start & Finished: 3/24/08- 3/25/08
Lover Revealed is the fourth story in J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood and it’s two main characters are Butch (aka Cop) and Marissa. Both of the main characters have been on the outskirts of the vampire community throughout the series. Butch because he’s human- the first human to ever fraternize with the Brotherhood ever- and Marissa because the vampire king Wrath (from Dark Lover) chose another woman over her and is therefore considered to be damaged goods by the vampire aristocracy.
I have to admit I was one of the people who were disappointed to learn that the author had decided to tell Butch’s story next instead of one of the other Brothers but I thought at least I could enjoy the many side plots throughout the book. Of course, I quickly got over my hang-ups and loved the whole thing even if I still didn’t care for Butch’s personality by the end. I was however thrilled that the females in the series are finally doing their part in helping take care of the vampire civilians.
Besides Zsadist’s mate Bella, I didn’t really care for any of the other females in this series and until this book; I didn’t really like Marissa either. She eventually won me over though because she’s just so compassionate and although she had been treated as if she was made of glass her whole life, she is able to survive and thrive in a different lifestyle than she is used to. Moreover, she really enjoys helping people and working in the shelters she helped create. It was wonderful to see her grow a backbone and stop being a pushover too!
There are many things about this series I loved but the main one would be the fact that although all of the Brothers lay their lives on the line nightly they aren’t heroic, however, they‘re such good guys! Each Brother has some kind of affliction, they’re super sexy, and of course they’re vampires (almost all vampires are born not bitten). Like I said, the entire series is complex and hard to explain since so many things happen in each book and you get to know all the characters too: Wrath, Vishous, Rhage, Zsadist, etc. All of whom would make any shellan happy!
The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series: Dark Lover, Lover Eternal, Lover Awakened, Lover Revealed, Lover Unbound, Lover Enshrined
Wikipedia has an article on The Black Dagger Brotherhood as well as on the author (under her real name Jessica Bird) and I joined J. R. Ward’s yahoo group about the Brotherhood too. I also found two interviews from 2006 and one from 2008. Lifetime's B(u)y the Book has a few videos with author too like why the Brothers are so appealing in addition to the ones below.
Author Discusses Writing:
Author Discusses Her Series: