Book Review: Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

Note: Since I wrote this review, I’ve actually read two more in the series and I am now officially involved. Books 2 and 3 were amazing. Of course, because I’m me, I decided to go ahead and post this review instead of one for the others, but I may come back later with a review of the series as a whole. 

I’d heard a lot about the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but it wasn’t really on my radar. It sounded like something more fantastical than I usually like to read and I got a little oversaturated on vampires in my youth. But then I found that the publisher had made a Black Dagger Brotherhood playlist on Spotify and I decided to give it a try. Needless to say, I was hooked and had to see the world in which this music fit.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
The leader of a pack of vampire warriors feels obligated to protect the daughter of one his men and help her through her own transition. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Hail to the King
Wrath is supposed to be king of the vampire world, but he doesn’t want the role. At all. So he leads his brothers, a pack of warriors who fight entities known as lessers, into battle to save the vampire world and eradicate the evil faction run by a figure known as the Omega.

When his fellow warrior Darius asks him to take care of his daughter and help her through her own impending transition (btw, she has no idea she’s a vampire), Wrath refuses. But when Darius disintegrates in a car bombing, Wrath has no choice but to seek out the woman as an obligation to his brother.

Changes
Beth is definitely undergoing some changes, but she chalks it up to a stressful work schedule. She’s attacked and almost raped one night, and becomes edgy and more than a little fearful. So the first time Wrath shows up to talk to her, she freaks out. It’s not long though before she realizes how much he cranks her gears.

A Rich and Involved World
There is so much going on this book, and I’m assuming it’s because it’s setting the stage for the future books (I think there’s like 346 of them or something like that…just kidding. But there are a lot…14, I think?). It’s also setting up the world to give the reader that foundation they need for future stories. It touches a bit on the different warriors and we get a glimpse of their personalities and stories, which did an epic job of piquing my interest. I’m having to try really hard not to go read all of the future synopses if I don’t want spoilers.

Bad Guys Have Feelings Too
Some of the story is told from the point of view of Mr. X, one of the lessers who’s doing some recruitment of his own and is…I’m pretty sure…running the Cobra Kai dojo from The Karate Kid movie. The guy is sadistic, but also interesting and kind of a great villain.

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Cast of Characters
Then there’s Butch, the cop who has a thing for Beth; Jose, Beth’s cop friend; Marissa, Wrath’s shellan (mate) who he doesn’t actually want to mate with and who’s pretty upset about it until she meets Butch; and Havers, Marissa’s brother who’s a doctor running weird experiments on himself. And a bunch of other minor characters who may or may not be minor later. Also, there’s an entity know as the Scribe Virgin who is already rocking my world and who I can’t help but see as Lady Gaga. So entertaining!

Pure Crack
Here’s what’s fun about this book. It’s not the most well written book I’ve ever read. I’m also aware that part of me finds the names of the vampires to be a little silly. But I can admit when those things don’t matter and in this case…they don’t matter. This book was pure crack. The world sucked me in and got me invested in these characters, even the ones who weren’t super likable. Also, I’m not generally a fan of alpha males, and I feel like all we have in this book (maybe with the exception of Havers) are alpha males. And yet…I’m okay with this. I enjoyed Wrath and Beth and then I really enjoyed the Butch/Marissa subplot (which doesn’t resolve, so yay for more of that).

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There’s also a dragon. I think. It seemed like a dragon. And I need to know more about this Omega thing. And Lady Gaga. Also, I’ve been Pinteresting things and there seems to be a lot more characters than those in this book, which is just another reason for me to keep reading. There’s some violence and action, but I’m also kind of hooked by the fact that the vampires jam out to awesome rap music. It all comes full circle back to that Spotify playlist.

The Romance Factor
Wrath is so broody that I didn’t feel the romance right away. At first, it was all lust, though there was that protectiveness that started showing, which was pretty intense. But man, when he realized he was in love…whoa. Even though the romance had some dark tones to it, it was still pretty great. 4/5

The Steam Factor
I have to admit that after hearing people talk about the sex in this book, I expected it to be way dirtier than it actually was. Don’t get me wrong, it was well written and still pretty hot, but it was nowhere near as explicit as some of the things I’ve read. 3/5

Final Thoughts
Yes, I said I didn’t think it was well written, but I also know that I’m pretty hard on the first book of any series, and considering there are a bunch more in this one, I’m willing to bet the author finds her feet fairly quickly. Also, well-written or not, she knows the techniques to keep people coming back. Because now there’s absolutely no way I can’t finish the series. I have to know what happens. Well played, J.R. Ward…well played.

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