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.


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.

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.


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).


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.

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I don’t often read YA, not because I have an issue with it, but because I usually prefer things on the sexier side. And I don’t read a lot of fantasy because…I just don’t. But I don’t care about genre or age when it comes to Beauty and the Beast tropes and retellings, so I checked this one out on audiobook. Get ready. I might gush a bit.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A young woman is sent to marry and destroy the demon that was responsible for her mother’s death, thereby freeing her people from his reign. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Slow Pace
Let me say first that this book wasn’t perfect. There were a lot of side stories and parts that seemed to drag on. But I tend to be more forgiving with audiobooks, as it’s a different way of reading and tends to go slow anyway. Also, when I thought of this as a movie, I’m pretty sure Tim Burton would have to direct it. I would totally pay to see it though.

Unwanted Responsibilities
Nyx has been raised with the knowledge that when of age, she’ll be sent to the home of the Gentle Lord, a demon who rules over her world and makes shady bargains with people, to be his wife. This is the result of a bargain her father made with him years ago, a bargain that got him what he wanted but also caused the death of their mother (which her father hadn’t foreseen). What her family hopes will happen is that Nyx will actually defeat the Gentle Lord by killing him. Nyx plans to try to do just that, though she assumes she’ll simply end up dead. Though resigned to her fate, unlike the “Beauty” in other stories, Nyx isn’t a kind and gentle girl. She’s actually bitter and angry that her father has put this on her. She hates her father and to an extent, her twin sister, who is coddled and loved by her father in a way she never was.

Supernatural Threesome
Ignifex, her new husband, isn’t what she expected. At first she hates him because that’s what she’s been raised to do (and also he’s a demon, so there’s that). But the more time she spends with him, the more her hate turns to something else. Ignifex is sarcastic and unapologetic for being the lord of bargains, but Nyx starts to find that she’s drawn to him. Matters are made more complicated by Ignifex’s shadow servant, Shade, who has the same face as Ignifex, though minus the demon eyes and with more of a death palor. Between Shade and Ignifex, Nyx finds her self in a strange situation where her affections are torn.


Sunderings Never Turn Out Well
This world is so interesting. It blends stories of Greek mythology with demon lore. Nyx’s world is one that was sundered from the real world 900 years ago, so they don’t have a real sky, only a sky of white parchment. Part of the reason they want Nyx to defeat the Gentle Lord is because they hope it will undo the sundering. The way the author weaves this bit of world history in with Ignifex’s story is expert, and though I guessed a few of the secrets just based on the trope, there were some interesting twists that made this story unique.

Pretty Names
Nyx got my nerves a little bit, but no more than most young characters do. She’s torn between her eventual love for Ignifex and fulfilling the purpose for which she was raised (destroying him). There were so many times when as a reader, I was like “No! Don’t do that! You’re such a jerk….what are doing?” But the thing was, she didn’t know what I knew, so it was frustrating (and yes, I did get into this book that much). Ignifex was amazing. I loved his whole personality and the slow way in which Nyx fell in love with him. As for Shade, I guessed that he and Ignifex were part of the same whole, but it wasn’t entirely clear if I was right or not, so it kept me guessing.

A Touch of Creepiness
I said before that Tim Burton would have to direct this, and I wasn’t kidding, especially with regards to some of the creepier parts of the story. Nyx comes across fairly unsettling things, like the Gentle Lord’s previous wives (all dead now), and weird ghosty demon children who sing creepy songs at her. The way this was narrated made these parts unsettling and I loved it. It’s not often you get a blend of romance and subtle horror in one novel.

The Romance Factor
I swooned a bit over Ignifex and loved the slow build of emotion between him and Nyx. The romance in the little details, like her saving him from the darkness even though she hated him at the time and him cuddling her were sweet. There are also some great lines in this story, and dialogue which is beautifully written. Even though I know the outcome of every BatB story ever, I wasn’t sure how things were going to resolve, and the conflict towards the end had me in tears. 5/5


The Steam Factor
This is a YA novel, and while some YAs have some sexy times, this one didn’t have any details. While Nyx and Ignifex were fairly sensual with each other in general, and it was made known when they finally “consummated” the marriage, the reader doesn’t see it happen. 1/5

Final Thoughts
The great story and good narration came together into an audiobook I had a really hard time stopping. This story is set in a beautiful world with flawed characters and puts a great twist on a classic fairy tale. While BatB is my favorite trope, I’m pretty much a fan of all fairy tale retellings, so my mission will be to acquire the other books by this author. I bought a novella and put a hold on another one of the author’s books through my digital library. I want to immerse myself in this world and I definitely plan on reading this one again.

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

At the time I’m writing this, it’s been about 3 days since I finished this book and I’m still feeling the feels. I told my husband when I finished that I needed a cigarette after that one (I’m not even a regular smoker). It was so good! It’s a Beauty and the Beast tale, but it’s different from the recent contemporary ones I’ve read, as the characters are fae instead of billionaires. Still counts.


One-Sentence Synopsis
After killing a fae, a young girl is forced to give her life to them to meet the requirements of a treaty signed after the war between fae and humans, but she’s allowed instead to live out the rest of her days with one of them in his castle. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page

Reluctant Tribute
Feyre feels very Katniss Everdeen, right down to her skill with a bow and arrow. In fact, the whole book has characeristics of other stories, like The Hunger Games, Twilight, and random other fairy tales. But to compare this book to those ones isn’t fair. For me, this one blew them out of the water with regards to both quality and entertainment value.

Feyre is a strong but flawed character. She dreams of a better life for her and her family. She’s self sacrificing, but she’s also exasperated with them (rightly so). She’s young, but at the start of the book it’s known that she engages in an affair with a local boy. Also, she doesn’t know how to read, which I thought was an interesting trait to give to a main character.

Enter the Beast
After she kills the wolf, her family is “visited” by a wolflike creature who demands that Feyre either give her life in exchange for the fae one she took or come spend the rest of her days living in the fae world, a place dangerous to humans. The wolf is a shapeshifting fae of importance named Tamlin who offers her safety at his home where he and everyone under his rule have been cursed to wear masks they can’t remove.


Setting the Scene
I loved the world building. Some of the creatures were familiar, but others were new to me. There is range of good fae to evil fae, and there are some who don’t seem to fall into either category. The descriptions were rich and added to the emotion and feel of the story.

Supporting Cast
Besides Feyre and Tamlin, there is a great cast of characters, some featured more than others, and almost all of them, even the minor ones, are multi-dimensional with history and back story. As for the villain of the piece, she is probably one of the most heinous villains I’ve ever read. Her story even gives you reason to empathize with her, but that reason gets lost to the fact that she’s completely sadistic.



Dark & Darker
Many of the scenes were really gruesome. It doesn’t contain a lot of standard horror gore, but descriptions were powerful and disturbing. The author, Sarah J. Maas, has a knack for not going overboard with descriptions, and yet giving me everything I need to watch this whole thing play out like a movie in my mind.

The Romance Factor
I’m already biased because of the whole BatB thing, but the romance was amazing. Tamlin and Feyre get off to a rocky start, but Tamlin treats her well and as Feyre develops and comes to terms with no longer being with her family, she starts to see the good in Tamlin and finds herself falling in love with him. There are subtle but powerful hints to how Tamlin feels from the start, like his slight jealousy when Feyre accompanies his emissary on hunts and how he worries when she puts herself into danger. 5/5

The Steam Factor
While not overly descriptive, the sensual buildup of the romance makes the steam that much stronger, and when Tamlin and Feyre do become intimate, it’s highly erotic. However, not to give too much away, but there is another source of sensuality and sexiness that becomes a major source of conflict. Two words love triangle. Hot. 5/5


Final Thoughts
I laughed and I cried…basically my feels were all over the place and I loved it. If you like romantic fantasy and don’t mind a few reminders of other less than stellar books, I highly recommend this one. My only complaint is that I have to wait until May for the second in the series to come out. Sadness.