Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Dark Lover

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
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Nov 09, 07

bookshelves: paranormal, vampires, 2007, romance
Read in November, 2007

Dark Lover is the first in a series by J.R. Ward centred around a group of vampire warriors called the Black Dagger Brotherhood. They are the meanest, biggest, baddest vampires, all cursed in one way or another, their hearts buried deep beneath their grim, foreboding exteriors. Yep, you can see exactly where this is going, but stay with me: there are a few interesting divergences that make it stand out.

In Dark Lover, we are introduced to the Brothers who are led by Wrath, the leader of the vampires who refuses to take the responsibility; Torhment, the "normal one"; Rhage, also called Hollywood on account of his phenomenal good looks; Vishous, or V, the smart one who's good at hacking into computers; Phury, the only one who can control his brother Zsadist, who is easily the scariest of them all; and also Dharius, but since he doesn't have a funky name it's not surprising that he gets blown up in the opening act.

Which is where his half-human daughter Beth comes in. She's 25 now, the age when vampires go through their transition and become, well, vampires. Before he is killed, Dharius begs Wrath, the only "pure blood" vampire left, to oversee her transition. Here again is a different take on the vampire myth, and in Ward's story the vampires are strong but not invincible, can't go out in the sun at all and only feed off each other - women off the men, men off the women, creating a rather unusual social structure. Hence the need for Beth to drink from a male during her transition - and Dharius wants the best for her, even though Wrath is one of the least approachable men around.

The other side to this story is that of the lessers, the soulless men created by the Omega to wipe out the vampires, who were created by his opposite, the Scribe Virgin (told you this is a different take on the myth). The Brotherhood was created to protect the "civilian" vampires from the lessers, which is why Wrath and his crew are all so phenomenally big and scary, while the "normal" vampires are, well, more normal looking. The vampires consider themselves a different race, and are in direct communion with their maker.

The atmosphere is so dark and brooding, the concept surprisingly intriguing and the chemistry so strong, that I really don't care how much black leather is wrapped around bulging muscles. These brothers are, in a word, intriguing. The fact that, despite their seemingly mysoginistic behaviour, they have immense respect for certain women of their acquaintance - really, it's just all humans that they despise. Not that that excuses them, but hell, they are already cursed!

This is also a clever way to do a series. This was Wrath and Beth's story; the next is Rhage's. In each I expect we'll learn the individual stories and curses of the Brothers, and they will find love and become just a bit more "human". The characters are more flippant than funny, and at times it's all a bit cheesy - but always sincere. At times the chronology seems out of whack, and the passage of time gets confusing. The stereotypes of men and women are blown huge and exaggerated, which is actually a saving grace: if you really don't like the story, you can always read it as a farce. All in all, Dark Lover is a quick read (one night and a day for me), a fun ride and enjoyable for what it is: a rather more sophisticated paranormal romance with enough leather and dark glasses to satisfy any Matrix fan.
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