Lover Unbound, by J.R. Ward

>> Thursday, October 04, 2007

TITLE: Lover Unbound (excerpt, buy ebook here)

PAGES: 528
PUBLISHER: Signet Eclipse

SETTING: Contemporary Caldwell, New York
TYPE: Vampire romance
SERIES: # 5 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series


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, the cold heart of a cunning predator will be warmed against its will…

Ruthless and brilliant, Vishous son of the Bloodletter possesses a destructive curse and a frightening ability to see the future. As a pretrans growing up in his father's war camp, he was tormented and abused. As a member of the Brotherhood, he has no interest in love or emotion, only the battle with the Lessening Society. But when a mortal injury puts him in the care of a human surgeon, Dr. Jane Whitcomb compels him to reveal his inner pain and taste true pleasure for the first time- until a destiny he didn't choose takes him into a future that cannot include her.
MY THOUGHTS: Yippee for the ebook coming out quickly after the release! I find myself unable to seriously review the BDB books, so just some disjointed impressions. And there will be many, many spoilers!!!, so be warned. Only go on if you've read the book already.

On the whole, I enjoyed most of the book, right until the end, which sucked. Even before that there were parts I thought were really, really lame, but I was still finding myself absorbed by what's going on in Ward's universe.

  • There's a central love story, as in all the books in the series, and it was one I liked -until the very end. Before the book started, I wondered how Ward was going to deal with two aspects: a) V's unorthodox sex life and b) the definite sexual vibe of his feelings for Butch. I hoped she wouldn't chicken out and that both these aspects wouldn't simply magically disappear and be denied.

    Well, she didn't chicken out, that's for sure, though I think some people might be disappointed because she doesn't portray BDSM as a lifestyle choice for V. It's simply the only way he can tolerate sex because of his horrific past, so it's something that's in a way "cured" by his love of Jane. I prefer not to take this as a wholesale condemnation of the BDSM lifestyle, just as the way *this particular character* is, and I have to confess I prefer it this way. I accept BDSM as a perfectly valid choice for whoever is into it, but it's not something that appeals to me, even in a story. So I was much more comfortable with the way things turned out here: there will always be some BDSM play between them, and V was able to use this as a way to exorcise his demons, but it won't be what their life will be about.

    Other than this, what we're told about V's past sex life is even more hard-core than I expected. Definitely no chickening out here, nor in the sexual nature of his attraction to Butch. Even Ward's most stubborn fans won't be able to deny it now (even if they were completely blind and were denying it after the very clear Lover Revealed). It's really out in the open, and V even tells Butch that's he's had sex with men in the past. The man is clearly not particularly into men or women, and his past sex life wasn't really about attraction to them, but about power. Once he finds people he cares about, he's into individual persons, whichever their sex. Butch is the first person he ever had real feelings for (Butch is not completely sure that it was love, though, even if V is) and then Jane.

    Anyway, I think this is probably the first mainstream romance where I've seen one of the protagonists "allowed" to be this way, and I celebrate the change. Just because of it, I hope this book does very, very well and that it will increase the probabilities that we might have m/m books put out by mainstream publishers.

  • Jane was probably Ward's strongest heroine to date (though, I know, that isn't saying all that much). I was a bit surprised by how quickly she just decides to give up her whole life, but eh, that would be part of the ending I hated. Before that, she took no shit from V at all, and I thought they were well-matched, even in the sexual plane. And I confess I thought that these two were seriously hot together, and in the end, really sweet. I was surprised to actually *like* the "mate, mate, mine" aspect of their romance.

  • The only thing I didn't like AT ALL about the V-Jane relationship was the ending. I'd go as far as to say I HATED it. As I read about her coming back from death I kept thinking "she's got to be kidding me". It was just incredibly lame and silly. It felt so easy and like such a cop-out. I mean, where's the cost? Jane is pretty much as she was, only now she won't die, and the SV lost a bunch of birds, which can be replaced, apparently. Oh, cry me a river.

    And for the first time, I can kind of see the argument of those who argue against the guaranteed HEA in romance novels, because as I was reading about Jane dying, I wasn't going "OMG, how sad, how awful, how horrible". No, I knew we had to get a HEA coming somehow, so I was just cooly thinking "Hmm, I wonder how she'll get around this?".

  • The other thing I thought was incredibly lame and silly was the language in the flashbacks and in the Chosen scenes. Again: Ms. Ward, you have got to be kidding me. Using the word "unto" doesn't make dialogue sound archaic, it just makes me laugh. The modern language wasn't that bad here, though every time I read the expression "for kicks and giggles" and one of the characters used the word "puss" for face, I wanted to punch something. These very words were used in her SSE release, The Billionaire Next Door, and they turned me off just as much there. I guess she must have been writing those two books at the same time.

  • The Primale plot: eh. Just reinforces my hate for the Scribe Virgin. All we saw of her in this book convinced me that on top of being a cruel bitch, she's also got incredibly bad judgment. I mean, chosing that crazy psycho to father her children? Is she insane? Aren't we told she can see into people and so on? And what about the Directrix? Yet another enormous error of judgment. And the Payne thing there at the end? Oh, my. The SV is even crueler than I'd thought. But this is an intriguing twist and I can't wait to see what's up with that (did I mention I'm addicted, still?).

  • I was creeped out by the Chosen and their lives (even more reasons why the SV must die!), and I think this is an area of the vampire universe that's ripe for a radical change. Maybe in the next book? I couldn't really tell from the excerpt if Phury's heroine will be Cormia. He seemed to be mostly irritated by her, even if he was turned on. We'll see.

  • Speaking of Phury, for some reason, even though I really dig virgin heroes (though, is he still a virgin now?), I'm not particularly desperate to read his book, probably because his obsession with Bella doesn't much resonate with me. Again, we'll see. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely going to read it, I'm just not going to suffer during the wait *g*

  • I was surprised by how there were pretty much no lessers here, other than a few fights and that traumatic scene near the end, which really felt out of the blue, given the lessers' previous absence. It's all explained by the fact that as the forelesser has died, I suppose. There's obviously going to be a quiet period as they regroup, so it makes sense, but still, I was surprised. It's a big difference with the other books that there are no scenes from the lessers' POV. I was actually interested in the lessers subplot in Lover Revealed, but I'm not going to complain that they weren't present here and that it was all about the Brotherhood. Is JRW listening to her fans to that extent?

  • I think my favourite parts of the book were the ones about John. He finally goes through his change here, and wow, John and Xhex? I could get really excited about that pairing. I loved that he turns down the sweet and submissive Chosen and is seriously turned on by the ball-buster Xhex. Even if I'd hated everything about the rest of the book, I'd continue reading the series just to see how this turns out.
MY GRADE: God, this is hard. Er... a C+?


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