Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Dark Lover" by J. R. Ward

My sister read this series quite a while back and recommended it to me. After that, patrons read it and recommended it to me. Finally, I have given in and read the first book, having taken it with me on a long weekend at the beach. Let the festivities begin...

Wrath is the only purebred vampire left on Earth. He's been fighting with his "brothers", the Black Dagger Brotherhood, against the slayers. There are six of them in the Brotherhood including Wrath, and they all have a story to tell. This first book is Wrath's story, and he starts out as the typical brooding "I hate everyone" hero. His parents were killed by slayers, leaving him the only one left of the royal family, but of course, he refuses to be the king and lives to kill slayers.

Enter his friend Darius, also a member of the Brotherhood, who needs Wrath's help. Seems Darius had a mortal female lover a while back who became pregnant with his child, a daughter. Darius wants Wrath to help Beth Randall through her transition, when she sheds her mortality and becomes a vampire. Only thing is Beth has no idea that she's a half-breed or who her father is; she's believed all this time that she's an orphan. Granted, she's been going through some changes lately, but they're nothing terribly out of the ordinary: she feels her life is going nowhere, she's not really attracted to any guys right now, and - oh yeah - her eyes seem to be getting a bit sensitive to light. Probably nothing.

Wrath wouldn't dream of helping Darius - except that Darius is brutally killed by the slayers. And he sees Beth for the first time, stirring up all sorts of feelings inside himself. He doesn't want to help her, not really, but he can't seem to stay away from her, either. He decides he must honor Darius's wishes, even as he realizes that he's falling for Beth. However, Wrath is hiding secrets from Beth, not the least of which is she might not live through her transition. And Wrath can't face the idea of Beth dying...

Overall, I'd give this book a solid B-. Sorry to all the folks that have been reading this series and loving it, but I wasn't overly impressed. Ward puts some interesting twists into the vampire mythology, having them born as a completely different species and such, and actually having the slayers seem more what we think of as "vampires". After all, slayers have given up their souls, they need to be staked through the heart to be killed, etc. The vampires of Ward's world do drink blood, but only each others - human blood is OK but not nurishing to them. They can also eat real food and have quite the appetites for culinary pleasures.

The love story is OK, too, but we've seen this sort of thing before. Bad boy doesn't want to meet the girl, let alone spend time with her, but something throws them together and they end up fighting their attraction to each other. I was more impressed with the human cop, "Hard-Ass", aka Butch O'Neal. He's thrown into this world as well, and I thought he was much more interesting. I'd be willing to read another installment just to see if he's in it. The other vamps are very familiar, all six-foot-plus, all pretty gorgeous, all very bad-ass and brooding in their own ways. What bothered me the most was their names. OMG! "Tohrment"? "Zsadist"? Puh-lease. "Darius" was by far the only normal-sounding name of the bunch, and he's killed off in the first 25 pages of the book!! Sigh. Give the Black Dagger Brotherhood books a shot if you're brave, but trust me when I tell you there's nothing new in this book.

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