3.5 stars I definitely enjoyed this one more than the first two installments in this series; my opinion of it is more along the lines of my thoughts o3.5 stars I definitely enjoyed this one more than the first two installments in this series; my opinion of it is more along the lines of my thoughts on book 3. Full review to come....more
Verily, Ward, you hath redeemed thyself in mine eyes.
Lover Unleashed was disappointing for me on several levels. But I knew that, if Ward did it rightVerily, Ward, you hath redeemed thyself in mine eyes.
Lover Unleashed was disappointing for me on several levels. But I knew that, if Ward did it right, Tohrment's book had the potential to be the best installment to the series in a long time. I've wanted him to find peace and healing ever since that fateful scene at the end of Lover Awakened, but I knew it would take time. And now that his time has finally come, I'm pleased to say that Ward doesn't disappoint.
Tohrment & No'One: I know a lot of people aren't happy that Tohrment doesn't get Wellsie back. I'm not happy about it, either. But save for getting Wellsie back, I believe Tohr was dealt the best hand possible in Lover Reborn. Let me be frank: I had very little faith that Ward could pull a romance like this off. Seriously, Tohrment and Wellsie? Probably one of the most romantic couples I've ever come across in the PNR/UF genre. Their back story, the glimpses we see of their relationship in the first three books . . . how can you possibly follow an act like that? Some of the sentences in this are like an assault to the solar plexus. There were scenes where I felt like I was chopping onions. Suffice it to say I cried a lot while reading Tohr's story. Man, Tohrment . . . he just . . . tears me apart. Truly.
As Tohr says himself, No'One could never replace Wellsie; but the emotional — and physical — connection between Tohr and No'One is undeniable. Tohr and No'One have a lot in common (each has been through a tremendous ordeal in their lifetime), they've meant in the past and spent an entire year in each other's company, and No'One is incredibly understanding and supportive of Tohr and his situation. I don't think any other female could've brought him back from the brink the way No'One did. I didn't expect to like No'One as much as I did — I've never really liked the Chosen women, and although No'One isn't a Chosen, she's very similar to them. But she is humble, kind, and, underneath the shield she's erected to protect herself, passionate. Ward has surprised me before, and she definitely did in the case of No'One's character.
The best part about the romance in this is how slow it builds. One year passes from beginning to end of this installment, and Tohr doesn't give himself over to the possibility of loving another easily. It isn't until near the end that he truly opens his heart to No'One. (view spoiler)[But did you notice? No bonding scent. Save for a little show of possessiveness (which I think could just be chalked up to the nature of a male vampire), Tohr didn't bond with No'One. I have to say that I liked this fact very much. For me, that would've discredited Tohr's love for his previous shellan as well as the bonds the other Brothers have with their shellans. I don't think that the bonding thing should be taken lightly. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad he's in love with her and all, but I think him bonding with her would've been too much. I hope it doesn't come into play in future books. (hide spoiler)]
Lassiter: Can somebody get me a bib? Seriously, you can have all of the Brothers (except Z, of course; I got dibs on him a long time ago), just give me Lassiter! God, he just gets more interesting — and sexy — with each book. And when his own book is finally released, I'll be one of the first ones at the bookstore ready to trample over the other shoppers to get my copy. And something tells me his book is going to be very similar to Tohr's and maybe even equally sad. If you're observant and you've read Hello, Old Friend and Book Order in the Brothers on the Board section of the insider's guide, then you know that Lassiter had a woman he loved who is now either missing or dead. There is also some hinting of that in this book. I don't know if Ward will have him get her back, or have him end up with someone else. Since Ward seems to enjoy torturing her fans, it'll probably be the latter.
John & Xhex: Just as there was a lot of Vishous in Payne's book (for obvious reasons), there is a lot of John and, naturally, Xhex in Tohr's book. Their relationship gets tested and, similarly to Vishous and Jane in Lover Unleashed, they go through a real rough patch. One of the things I like most about Ward's couples is that, when their book is over, their story isn't. There'll always be new trials and new developments in her characters' lives. There are some really emotional — and erotic (seriously, they get twice as many sex scenes as the main couple) — scenes with John and Xhex in this. Fans of theirs should be very happy. And for John and Xhex, I'm sure the trials aren't over. When Murhder finally gets into the series full-time, I'm sure he'll shake things up quite a bit for them, as he is Xhex's former lover. Can you say cohntehst?
Qhuinn & Blay a.k.a. Qhuay (& Saxton and Layla, or as I like to think of them, The Third & Fourth Wheels): There isn't much Qhuinn and Blay in this. :( Neither of them get much page time, because John and Xhex and the Bastards hog it all take up the majority of the side story's time. Still, there are some good scenes with them — both together and individually --- and they do say absence makes the heart grow fonder. (Although I don't see how I could get any more fond of those two . . .) On the plus side, there aren't any lesser POVs! Given the way chapter seventy-six ends . . . Qhuay's story must be soon. Very soon. Whether it will be a novella or a full installment remains to be seen. All I can say is, if it turns out to be the former, it sure as hell better be tome-ish, anyway. (view spoiler)[So Qhuinn and Layla are going to have a child together, huh? I know it will infuriate many readers (I know it did me — at first), but at the same time I can see the beauty of it and the reason behind it. That little girl will be one of the most loved children you can imagine. She'll have three parents — two fathers and a mother — and she'll have the whole Brotherhood and their shellans to care and love for her as well. It may not be ideal, and it may not be what a lot of readers had in mind for Qhuinn and Blay, but I can see the potential and beauty that this prospect holds. And I see why she wrote it this way. After Qhuinn was shunned by his family and the aristocracy, I think he deserves a full family. And this way, he'll get to spend the rest of his life not only with the love of his life (Blay, naturally) and the Brotherhood, but a beautiful baby girl. (hide spoiler)] Oh, Saxton . . . Ward has hinted as to what will become of him in a future installment, and I'm pretty sure I know what it is and that all of his fans (including myself) will not like it. Especially since in Lover Reborn it becomes pretty clear that Saxton has fallen for Blay. As for Layla . . . well, I won't give it away, but it is now very clear who Layla's HEA is. And despite the fact that I've never been a big fan of Layla . . . I'm very much looking forward to her story. (This is really because of the male she ends up with. He is all kinds of hot.) (view spoiler)[Xcor! Xcor! Xcor! He may just end up being my favorite male character — next to Zsadist, of course.
Which reminds me . . . The situation between Throe, Xcor, and Layla reminds me a bit of the one featured earlier in the series between Phury, Zsadist, and Bella. Phury had been attracted to Bella, had yearned for her, even; but in the end, his interest in her didn't compare to the powerful, once-in-a-lifetime (especially for someone like Z) connection that Zsadist had with Bella. I believe it will be much the same for Layla and the two males who seek her out. And I'm sure Throe will eventually end up with someone else special. (Another Chosen, perhaps?) (hide spoiler)]
Band of Bastards: I predicted in my review of Lover Unleashed that the B.o.B. (Band of Bastards) would most likely end up becoming good and each member would get their own book. Now . . . I still say that will happen, but I think it's going to take a while. I think it would be a good idea, because without them Ward doesn't have very many possibilities for future books. I think if it were ever to go in that direction, it would be a long time from now and a lot would have to happen in order for any of them to be ready for their own book. Ward actually talks about the B.o.B. in a YouTube video (specifically Xcor), which you can watch here. (Turn up the volume if you wanna hear what she says) (view spoiler)[Oh please, please, please just leave him a little bit naughty . . . ! (hide spoiler)]
"The quick and the dead are all the same. Everyone's just looking for home."
"She wished for Qhuinn this soldier. She truly did."
"Then again, he supposed the healing process, in contrast to trauma, was gentle and slow . . . The soft closing of a door, rather than a slam."
"Our future has come."
In short, I enjoyed this installment very much and I'm happy that Tohr is finally happy.
Note: After I wrote my review, Ward announced who the next book will be about. If you want to know, click the spoiler.