Lover Revealed, by J.R. Ward

>> Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Butch and Marissa were never really the characters I was most intrigued by in this universe of J.R. Ward's, but I was still very anxious to read Lover Revealed (excerpt)

I haven't even tried not to go into spoilers below, so if you haven't read this book, you'd be better off if you stopped reading now. Like I said in my review of the last one, if you want to know if these books would be for you, read reviews for the first one, Dark Lover. Here's mine:

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Now, an ally of the Black Dagger Brotherhood will face the challenge of his life and the evil of the ages.

Butch O'Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard living, ex-homicide cop, he's the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world- to engage in the turf war with the lessers. He's got nothing to lose. His heart belongs to a female vampire, an aristocratic beauty who's way out of his league. If he can't have her, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers...

Fate curses him with the very thing he wants. When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead, found by a miracle, the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back, though even her love may not be enough to save him...
I keep wondering if Ward is going to be able to keep up the intensity, and so far, she does. Lover Revealed was just as absorbing as the previous books, and it left me just as desperate to get the new installment. A B+.

I'm afraid LR left my mind spinning so fast that I can't really offer a coherent review. Here are some disjointed thoughts:
  • Z's story had been more of a traditional romance than the first books, with the focus more on Z and Bella. Lover Revealed goes back to being a story about the whole universe Ward is creating. Yes, there is somewhat a focus on the romance and on Butch and Marissa as characters, and the romance is perfectly satisfying, but again, what's going on around them is so interesting that it sometimes risks overshadowing what's going on between them.


  • I thought it was amazing, the way Ward managed to maintain the tension, even the sexual tension, between Butch and Marissa, when they acknowledge that they love each other practically at the beginning of the book. There are just so many issues there, what with Butch being so screwed up and having to deal with the Omega's little present, and Marissa still needing to come into her own, that the relationship never becomes boring in the slightest.


  • Butch's feelings towards Marissa were at times a little too earnest and made me cringe, but mostly, I thought it was sweet that he was so incredibly silly and ga-ga about her.


  • Marissa's final realization that brings her back to Butch for good was well done, I thought. It felt right. I hadn't thought of the fact that she was doing to him a similar thing to what Havers did to her, but it's true. And it made Havers' actions a bit more understandable. I still think he should be flogged for what he did to her, but at least I understand where he was coming from. Oh, and back to Marissa deciding to finally accept Butch, with his mission, and all: I liked that she had already made up her own mind before the other wives came to talk to her. They simply provided reafirmation, Marissa wasn't browbeaten into chaging her mind.


  • I liked that, in certain ways, Ward did tackle the issue of the sexism of the vampires' world, with the threat of mandatory sehclusion being imposed on all unmated females and the lack of resources available for a female whose mate is violent. And I LOVED how Marissa stuck it to the glymera in this matter!


  • Related to this, I was very surprised to see that of all the heroines so far, Marissa is the first to actually decide to do something outside the house. I think that's what many of us mean when we say that we'd prefer it if the females' lives weren't just about being in the Brotherhood's compound, waiting for their men. We're not necessarily asking for them to go hunt lessers with the Brothers (though I do like the idea of the female warrior who's coming up, Payne. I wonder when we'll be introduced to her?), but there's so much they can do, even if it's not that. Marissa perfectly demonstrates this.


  • Also related to sexism in the books: Rhage can't feed from Mary, and though Mary would prefer that he could, she has been able to accept without much effort that he feed from one of the Chosen. But Butch just can't take that Marissa might feed from someone other than he, even before he finds out that there are possibilities that he might be able to feed her. I guess it might be a vampire / human thing; that is, that vampires attach a deeper meaning to the act of feeding, so Butch, with his vampire blood, instinctively reacts that way, while the still-human Mary doesn't, but when Butch needs to feed from Beth, Marissa doesn't really seem to mind all that much, and neither did Beth in Dark Lover.


  • Butch's change into a vampire: I can't say I didn't suspect it would turn out to be something like this, but even though I didn't think this would be a good move for the story, I ended up liking where Ward went with it, especially because it wasn't a magical, effortless bit of deus ex machina. It was hard and difficult and dangerous, and given Butch's history, I understood why he'd be ready to risk everything going for it. I also liked that as desperate as he was to do it, he loved Marissa enough to be ready not to do it, if she asked him not to.


  • LOL at Butch's new name. He's the Destroyer from the prophecy, so his new name is Dhestroyer. Let's throw in an "h", just for the hell of it! Otherwise he'll be embarrassed before the other brothers. Best name of them all, though: Hhurt. I was laughing out loud in that part, in spite of the seriousness of the context. I actually thought "oh, poor Hhurt! He's dead and here I'm making fun of his name!" Yep, as much as I love these books, and as much as I've (mostly) gotten used to the names, they are still silly as hell!


  • This Hhurt actually dies in his change, and I enjoyed the new insight into what this process might be like, with Butch going through it, but also the young vampire, Blaylock, and John's preparations for it.


  • Speaking of John, his storyline remains fascinating. I can't wait to see what develops of his 4 AM walks with Zsadist.


  • To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the lesser subplot this time, and very much. The whole deal about why the prophecy was so important to Mr. X was intriguing, and what it turned out to be surprised me, and made perfect sense. I was also surprised by how touching and even tragic I found that final scene of Mr. X's. Does it speak badly of me that I would have prefered the guy, evil as he was, to get his wish? I wouldn't wish the Omega on anyone!


  • Vishous' feelings for Butch. I don't think anyone can deny the homoerotic vibes now! Though I'm still left with many, many questions about the exact nature of Vishous' feelings. Some of the description was a bit oblique.


  • Everything about Vishous left we with question after question, actually. The hints about his past were tantalizing, and the whole BDSM thing was something I expected, but didn't expect to be interested by. Will there be an element of this in his romance? Part of me hopes not, because BDSM is just not my cup of tea, but on the other hand, if there isn't, there's the risk of having a message there that V has been "cured of this perversion" by the love of a virtuous woman, or some such rot. Hmmm, we'll have to see.


  • Who was the surgeon who ends up being Butch's father? My first thought was Vishous, given his comment about being a pretty good medic, and it would give a different interpretation to his feelings of Butch being "his". But the homoerotic vibe would become very disturbing, if this were so!


  • Is it just me or was the slang a little less heavy this time? But this was compensated by the increase in brand-name dropping. Gah!


  • The Scribe Virgin was less annoying this time, a lot less unreasonable. The scene with her and Butch when he was about to undergo his turning was very funny, and provided a much needed break in the tension. The idea of the other Brothers practically banging their heads against the wall at Butch's constant, involuntary questions made me smile.


  • Xhex: will she turn out to be this almost mythical "Payne"? I hope so, that would be interesting! And a friend suggested a possible romance between her and Havers. Hey, that would be fun enough to watch if Xhex were just Xhex, but if she were part of the Brotherhood, even better. That should give the little bastard a couple of strokes!


  • I broke my rule and read the excerpt for Vishous' story, Lover Unbound. Damn, damn, damn! Now I need the book NOW!
Tomorrow, watch this space! Arielle will be guest-reviewing this same book.

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