Review of LOVER MINE by J. R. Ward (see her website)
A NOVEL OF THE BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD
NAL, April 2010
Xhex, a the half-vampire/half-symphath assassin, has been captured by the head of the lessening society who tortures her, rapes her, and keeps her locked in a psychic cage. John, the mute vampire she loved and abandoned pines for her and has her name tattooed on his back, but cannot penetrate barrier created by the evil Lash. Meanwhile, John's friend Blay yearns for Qhuinn who has sex with everyone but Blay, a ghost-hunting camera crew is investigating a Louisianna haunting, and late-medieval vampires are hunting for the missing daughter of a house.
The main story line is that of Xhex and John, as the two are finally reunited, form an uneasy alliance against Lash (both are intent on killing him, which creates both unease and conflict), and gradually work through at least some of their issues. With her symphath blood, Xhex sees herself as an outcast and John's protective streak, indeed vampire law which prevents females from fighting, threatens to stifle Xhex's independence and needs. Author J. R. Ward also weaves in story lines that are left dangling (that of Layla, the symphath who seeks love from a man who can't give it to her, Payne, who dares escape the Sanctuary, and Blay/Qhuinn). One virtue of a series is that characters can play minor roles in one novel, then become primary characters in the next.
Ward writes a sexy story, with plenty of sex and thinking about sex. The war between the vampires and the lessening society also has a lot of potential but I found the resolution of the Lash issues to be a bit easy...a reminder that Ward approaches story from the romance angle where relationships are the issue rather than the fantasy angle where defeating the forces of evil would be given more attention. In particular, Lash was a high-potential character, someone who could have become an almost sympathetic antagonist (although is rape of Xhex certainly left him beyond redemption), but Ward chose not to push this side of the plot.
The trend in New York publishing is to look for the 'really' story (as in, really sexy, really violent, etc.). Ward has definitely latched onto the really. Because her primary characters are vampires, it's hard to say that their over-the-top emotions and reactions are unrealistic (I mean, they're aliens, not humans so who's to say). For me, they were occasionally a bit much, but again, I think this is what New York, and many readers, are looking for.
LOVER MINE is well written and makes for a page-turning reading experience.
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