Lover Unleashed, by JR Ward

>> Thursday, April 19, 2012

TITLE: Lover Unleashed

PAGES: 512

SETTING: Contemporary NY
TYPE: Paranormal romance / urban fantasy
SERIES: 9th in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series

Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, seductive cloth as her brother. Imprisoned for eons by their mother, the Scribe Virgin, she finally frees herself-only to face a devastating injury. Manuel Manello, M.D., is drafted by the Brotherhood to save her as only he can-but when the human surgeon and the vampire warrior meet, their two worlds collide in the face of their undeniable passion.

With so much working against them, can love prove stronger than the birthright and the biology that separates them?
In the previous book, Payne was injured in one of her training sessions with Wrath (at least, that's what I deduce from here. I didn't remember that part, even though I read the book!). In order to save her from paralysis, Jane basically kidnaps her old boss, Dr. Manny Manello, to operate on her. But as soon as they clap eyes on each other, a much deeper connection develops.

Payne's injuries also have a big effect on Vishous, and make some emotional pain he had been keeping tamped down to emerge. This threatens his relationship with Jane.

Meanwhile, a group of vampires living in the Old World decide they need to be where the lessers are (they're getting kind of bored without anyone to fight), and that means Caldwell, NY. This group is led by a vampire called Xcor, son of the Bloodletter (which would make him Payne and Vishous' brother). For centuries, he's wanted to avenge the death of his father at the hands of a female (Payne, we know).

And there's also Qhuinn angsting after Blay and a serial killer operating in the area.

I always find it hard to do proper reviews of JR Ward's books. I guess the many storylines make the story less of a coherent whole. This is not something I dislike when I'm reading these books. In fact, the constant moving between stories, like a soap opera, is quite fun. Anyway, some disjointed thoughts, since I can't be arsed to polish them up:

  • This was probably my least favourite book so far in the series. I found both of the "big" storylines (Manny/Payne and Vishous/Jane) disappointing, and only really liked the ongoing Qhuinn/Blay drama.

  • Starting with Manny and Payne, my problem was the insta-love. They see each other and immediately know, and after that it's all will-they-or-won't-them, because Payne is a virgin and Manny doesn't want to take her virginity, as what they have can't last. Sorry, but *yawn*. I read romance because I love seeing people fall in love, and I didn't get that with these two. It was one minute we don't know each other, one minute we do and we're in love.

    There also didn't seem to be many, or particularly significant obstacles in their path. As Vishous himself recognises, there are plenty of couples living in the house where one of them is/was human. There must be a way to work something out. But both Payne and Manny keep immediately jumping to the conclusion that it's hopeless and they must be parted.

  • I liked the idea of another warrior female, but Payne spends most of her time here injured, recovering, or tying to get Manny in the sack. What with that and the whole virginity thing, she's more Chosen than Warrior. And the one time she fights properly it ends badly for her. At least, what we're told about her upcoming life sounds more like it, I just wish we'd seen a bit of that here.

  • Payne's dialogue was excrutiating. There's an expression in Spanish, "Vergüenza ajena", which translates loosely as "other-person embarrassment. It describes that painful feeling of watching someone else humiliate themselves. That's exactly what I felt whenever I read the painfully faux-archaic way Ward chose to have Payne speak. She'd say stuff like: "I shan't speak unto her" for "I won't speak to her", or keep saying "verily" and I'd cringe. I'm afraid it went beyond bad into pathetic. It was just as bad in previous books, but here there was a lot of it, since Payne is the main character. It does fade away a bit as she spends more time in the real world, but the verilys kept coming right until the end (probably whenever Ward remembered she needed to make Payne sound old-school!).

  • The final revelation about Manny's history? It read like an afterthought. Kind of, interesting to know, but it doesn't change anything.

  • The big drama between Jane and Vishous (which ends up bringing Butch back into the triangle as well) didn't really interest me. It becomes clear in the end that this is all about Vishous not quite having dealt with some bits of his tortured past yet, but since the crisis was sparked by Payne's injuries, for a long time it felt like he was being "it's all about me, me, ME!" His twin is paralysed, but he seems more interested in emoting than in being with her. It annoyed me. But even when I realised it wasn't quite like that, it felt like I'd read this before, and why was I being dragged back into the exact same conflict from their own book, an issue Jane and V had supposedly overcome?

  • Qhuinn and Blay still interest me. I'd kind of ran out of patience with Qhuinn, but Ward made me care again. All that happens here is some introspection and hard decisions about his lifestyle, on Qhuinn's part. I look forward to seeing what happens, even though I don't much like the sound of what's being suggested about Layla's role in it. It will be interesting to see if Ward will have them as the central couple of an upcoming book, or if they'll be relegating to a supporting role. I wouldn't be too surprised if it was the former, actually. I couldn't quite believe she would have John and Xhex, and if she had them getting together, she can do anything.

  • I thought there was a lack of conflict in this book. There's no real suspense subplot, in the sense of something providing a sense of threat to the Brotherhood. There is the whole thing with Xcor and his band of vampires gearing up to challenge Wrath for the throne, which is something that will probably be important in future books, but nothing really happens here. The issue with Xcor having a grudge against Payne for killing his father ends with a whimper, rather than a satisfying bang. In fact, it reminded me quite a bit of the crap ending to the last Twilight book!

  • I suspect Xcor and his vampires were introduced because Ward is running out of Brothers. Who's left? Tohrment (next book, I believe), and then there's that crazy Mhurder (sp?) guy. She needs more guys to start weaving in, I guess. I wasn't completely captivated by any of them here, but we'll see.

  • There was also another suspense-y thing that really annoyed me. There's this serial killer operating in the city, and though this doesn't touch the Brotherhood at all, the case is being investigated by José de la Cruz, who used to be Butch's partner in the police, and José's new partner. The new guy happens to be Thomas del Vecchio Jr., who I believe is the hero of one of Ward's Fallen Angel books. I really don't like the idea of two series becoming intertwined like that. It's like, now it's not even enough to read all the books in a series to get the whole story - you have to read the author's other series as well!

  • I've always found Ward compulsively readable, even when I'm having trouble with her choices and her writing. This one was still readable, but not so much compulsively. I was tempted to skim at a few points (usually when Vishous was on the scene), and was positively bored at points.



Tara Marie 22 April 2012 at 21:32  

I did not like this book, if I actually gave grades a C+ would have been incredibly generous. I've reached the point where I can't look past all of Ward's issue because I like the series, because it isn't working anymore.

Rosario 23 April 2012 at 06:42  

I think I'm still at a point where I'll read the next, but another book like this one will have me out of here.

Kat 7 May 2012 at 10:39  

I must admit...I skipped this book. But I couldn't resist the call of Tohr's book and now I think maybe one more after that and then I have to quit cold turkey!

Rosario 7 May 2012 at 12:39  

Oh, did you like Tohr's book, then? I'll probably read it, but the setup is not a favourite of mine, so I'm not particularly looking forward to it.

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