Sue CCCP's Reviews > Dark Lover

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
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May 08, 12

bookshelves: review-written, nyobg
Read from March 06 to April 04, 2012

3.5 Stars

My full review: http://coffeecookiesandchilipeppers.b...

This urban fantasy is an enjoyable read, but it does have some issues that I could not overlook. In short, it is what we in Britain call a ‘curate’s egg’, which means that is a mixture of both good and bad bits.

I will start with my most favorite aspects of the story. The characterization is good, with a mostly show rather than tell way of conveying personality. The dialogue is very good at giving us a strong impression of a character very quickly, so that it is easy to distinguish between the different Brothers, for example. On the whole I liked both Wrath and Beth, finding them both to be credible and sympathetic. I have to give special mention to my favorite characters in the book: Fritz and Butch. Fritz is Darius’ butler, who enjoys serving Wrath, Beth and anyone else who will let him. He is wonderfully drawn and I kept giggling at him and his witty dialogue. I loved how he could manipulate Wrath whilst remaining totally subservient. Butch is your typical insensitive alpha male cop who is living in the wrong century and gets confessions by ‘persuasion’. His reactions to Beth are touching, as is his back-story, and his reaction to Marrisa is sweet and funny.

The dialogue is excellent, with lots of witty banter and characters bouncing off one another. I particularly like the scenes when Butch is first introduced to the Brothers and manages to avoid being eaten by talking about baseball. The banter between him and the Brothers goes from tense to bizarre and, finally, to hilarious as they accept him as a true warrior, even if he is only a human. I also liked the variation upon the ‘good’ vampire theme. In this case the evil undead are actually the Lessers, who are decidedly nasty and smell of baby powder. Also, we have two deities introduced: the Omega and the Scribe Virgin. These mysterious characters are not very well explained or used to miraculously solve problems, but are interesting aspects of a different mythology.

So, what is not to like? Well, I have a real problem with the Brothers’ names. At the beginning we have Darius, which is fine, then Wrath is introduced, still OK, but then we get Tohrment, Vishous, Rhage, Phury and Zsadist. I am sorry, but these are just naff names, and the ‘unusual’ spelling just makes them even sillier. This is a shame, because these are really badass Warriors, so I do not want to giggle whenever I see their names written down. There is no suggestion that these are adopted names, even though they are appropriate for each man, so they were born with them: yikes!

Although I quite like Beth, she does seem to be amazingly stupid, which I always find difficult to read. She finds Wrath strangling Butch and then follows him when he runs off? I believe the phrase is ‘too stupid to live’. Also, I found that they and their romance were more than a little predictable. Do we have to have a heroine who is so beautiful that everyone’s jaw hits the floor as she walks past, even though she is insecure and unaware of her effect on people? Does our hero have to have a tortured past and so be unwilling to have close relationships, even when he is sure that he has found the woman of his dreams? I had hoped for a little more originality.

My final complaint comes in part from my background as a biologist. In this world the vampires can feed from humans, but ideally they feed from a bound partner. That’s right: he feeds on her and she feeds on him. My inner biologist had real trouble with this concept, which is like a mythical perpetual motion machine and just does not make sense.
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