Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Black Dagger Brotherhood, by JR Ward

Odds are that if you’re into vampires, you’re already read this series. But just in case you haven't, let's take a moment to talk about the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

 One of the first paranormal ‘romances’ I’d come across, I read it (well, 5 of them, anyway. There are 11 of them to date) a few years ago. You probably ought to know that when I say romance here, what I really mean is it's really this kind of book:

I was pleasantly surprised with the first few instalments and tore through one a month, but found my ardour rapidly cooling and all of the little things that had bugged me from the first soon became insurmountable obstacles to my enjoyment – the ridiculous names, the meek ladies and dodgy sexual politics, and the deadly boring Lessers who’d take up half a book plotting to be rid of the Brotherhood, but who only really existed to injury a lady so the lads could act ragey and swoop in to the rescue.

Starting well with Wrath and reaching a high (for me) with the third instalment – that of the damaged Zsadist – below are my thoughts from my BDB journey…

Dark Lover - 3 stars
(read June 10)

I came to this book with very high expectations after seeing how many people were in love with this series, squeeing all over Goodreads, and while I wasn't as head-over-heels crazy about it, it was still entertaining and (ahem) enjoyable enough for me to want to continue.

When the leader of the Brotherhood, Wrath, shows up in the bedroom of Beth one night, she doesn’t instantly start screaming the house down or trying to disable her intruder. Instead they head to Sexytown and Beth is soon whisked out of her life and into that of the Brotherhood, where they all live together in their swanky mansion complete with weird servants, and where the Brothers are all far too interested in and forever pass comment on one another’s love lives.

Less a vampire story and more a story with vampires in it, it's certainly not one I'd be lending to anyone on the basis of it being well-written literature. It was at times cheesy, predictable and overblown, with the romantic bits some of the worst offenders …

...and I also had trouble not rolling my eyes at the names and mythology, but let's face it - it's about hot people having sex and on that front it delivers, and often. 
With the Brotherhood set up as it is with different personality types, looks, etc I can certainly see this series growing on me as I read on, at least until I get to Zsadist (who's by far and away the most attractive at this stage, which probably says something worrying about me).

Recommended for anyone who sat through Twilight wishing someone would just ram someone against the wall and...

Lover Eternal - 2.5 stars
(read July 10)

We're back for another round of vampire-porn (sorry, romance!), this time with a little more angst as we're taking on the 'gorgeous' womaniser Rhage and his lady love, Mary.

After Rhage falls instantly in love with Mary (as you books) he struggles with controlling his beast around her (the dragon inside him, that is, not the pants-beast that is forever straining to get out), while battling her reluctance to open up to him as she struggles with leukaemia. While it was never in doubt that they'd get their happy-ever-after, it was quite enjoyable getting there (Mary's initial reluctance went over a lot easier with me than Beth's eager panting from the very start), although I must admit that after the few tantalising snippets of Zsadist and Bella I found myself way more interested in them than in our current leads.

So, while the subservient female vampires and the rubbish that is spouted by the Brothers about 'females' is really starting to rub me up the wrong way, it won’t stop me from at least reading the next instalment.

Lover Awakened - 3.5 stars
(read August 10)

By far and away the best in the series so far as Ward takes on my favourite brother, Zsadist. Considering the awful things that have occurred to him in his past it seems slightly off saying that he's hotness itself, but so it goes.

Far less cloying than the preceding two thanks to Zsadist's horrific backstory, his relationship with Bella is far less instantly lovey-dovey than we've encountered before and with his own journey being just as important as the romance it felt like this instalment had a lot more depth. With a very un-BDB like tragedy also occurring, this book also seems to promise that there will be a little more meat to the stories that follow, which can only be a good thing.

There are still several elements of the series which annoy - I really couldn't give a toss about the Lessers, the gender politics still rankle, and it also seems blindlingly obvious to me who John Matthew is, so I hope that story strand isn't going to be built up into a long-drawn out, unmystifying mystery. Worst of all is the language that Ward has come up with - sticking random h's in words doesn't seem like you have a fully realised world with its own language, it's nahff and ahnnoying and just loohks as though the wohrds are spehlt wrong.


That said, I couldn't put this book down and each time I had to (why is it that people always seem to want to bloody talk to you just as you've got to a really good bit?) I couldn't wait to pick it up again.

Lover Revealed - 1.5 stars
(read Sept 10)

Meh...another instalment of erotic nonsense, this time in which Butch gets his happy ending (and another, and another, fnar fnar) only this time I'm finding it harder and harder going (this time, no pun intended) - slightly surprising as I'd have ranked Butch as my next in line after Zsadist.

In this issue (dear me, I'm seeing puns everywhere now) Butch gets super special soldier status as he joins the Brotherhood, only with an added bit of Omega in him. Thus his ridiculous new name, Dhestroyer. Obviously, he also ghets to screhw Marissa even though clearly he should have ended up with Vishous.

Although this time around Ward actually tried a bit harder and put in an extra bit of plot, my interest really started to wane and in between feeling like the book was starting to drag I found I was encountering more and more 'Oh for fuck's sake' moments (not that there weren't tons before, but this time mine were far more violent reactions).

I believe I may well be done, but like all nasty little addictions a little voice in my head keeps piping up 'maybe just after we read about Vishous, then that's it, I swear...'

P.S. Is it just me or would it be a bloody nightmare living with that vampire Brady Bunch? Everyone's either stomping about like the world's ending because their lover has misunderstood their intentions, getting violently possessive with their friends, or dry humping their lover at the kitchen table. I'm getting more and more annoyed the more I think about it.

Lover Unbound - 1 star
(read Oct 10)

Oh, give over...

I've officially had enough with this series. After being disappointed with the last book, I didn't think I'd encounter anything that could top the lameness of Butch's conversion to super special Omega-infused Brother, but then I hadn't banked on Ward being willing to well and truly take the biscuit in this one.

And it had all been going so well...I'd initially enjoyed this one much more, what with a slightly spunkier than usual love interest, an un-vanilla sex life and an apparent willingness to throw something painful into the story when the Lessers make their only appearance. If we'd ended before the happy-ever-after, the series might have just started looking up. But then Ward goes and lets Vishous have Jane after all, as a ghost.

At this point, go back and replace my entire review with this:

So there you have it. A fun novelty at first, but soon far too much for anyone who fears that bad books will rot their brain.

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