A big family, a reading addiction, and the occasional celebrity scandal are the ingredients of life that create one woman's opinion on just about everything.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

LOVER ETERNAL - J.R. Ward



When I read DARK LOVER, the first book about The Black Dagger Brotherhood, I mentioned the book here . So, of course, when the second installment came out, LOVER ETERNAL, I was anxious to see if the author would be able to continue holding me in the palm of her hand and intrigue me as effectively as she had the first time.

After reading interviews and bouncing around the web at authors' sites, I know how nerve wracking it can be for an author, especially a new one, when each of their books comes out. I don't think
J.R. Ward has anything to worry about. If anything I was MORE engaged and interested by her world of vampire warriors. Frankly, I couldn't put the book down!

As I've mentioned in recent months, I seem to be going through a period of extremes in my reading. There just doesn't seem to be much middle ground. So, I am more than thrilled to report this book was a great read for me. I was absorbed with understanding this new culture J.R. Ward has introduced us to. While tortured heros are hardly new to any romance genre, Rhage was written with a depth and empathy I found hard to resist. I know I'm hooked when I begin imagining knowing someone like the characters in real life. In this case beyond being vampire, Rhage as an additional curse and burden, he has a beast within him.

If you are like me there's a part of you that rolls your eyes and cringes at the phrase "beast within". It has been so overused in romance and has come to mean lots of different things. Fantastical as it sounds, Rhage has a real actual beast. After describing this horrific change and disturbing beast in her first book, I was wondering how Ms. Ward was going to deal with it and still make Rhage sympathetic to the readers. She did it though. By layering his character and tuning us into Rhage's interior world and she gives us empathy for his burden. Considering the fantasy world she weaves and some of the truly gruesome stuff this beast does, that is pretty amazing.

While writing this I realized that what appealed to me most about these men, these warrior vampires, was their vulnerability. Ms. Ward doesn't make them mythical. While having longer lives, they do die. These aren't indestructible super beings. Just like the rest of us they each have additional cares, worries and curses to carry through life.

Additionally, while Rhage has his own bag of rocks to carry, Mary Luce, while perceived as a shy librarian type to foil his alpha male (she's a secretary in a law office) struggles to stay a part of the life she's built for herself. I always enjoy when the interior struggle of the characters is a part of the story. When Mary resists believing a man like Rhage would be interested in her, she has history and reason to question his interest. She felt, thought and said things I could imagine any intelligent, rational woman doing in the same situation. While attracted to Rhage, she doesn't fall into his arms no questions asked either.

To recap, in LOVER ETERNAL, the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood is broadened and further explored, the characters are multi-layered and accessible, our female protagnist isn't a wimp and our male alpha is deliciously tortured. Add the background story of the continuing struggle against the villianous Lessening Society, some delicious steamy sexuality and you have one damn good book. Now I am positively salivating for book three, LOVER AWAKENED, due out in September 2006.

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