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Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

Dark Lover - J.R. Ward

This is a vampire urban fantasy romance story, heavy on the romance. Set in a modern-day New York state, Beth is a news reporter given the fluff jobs. Darius, one of the vampire elite, worries for his half-breed daughter as her time of change is nearing. He seeks the help of his lord and brother in arms Wrath, who refuses to get involved. Tragedy strikes the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Wrath changes his mind on this issue even as the Brotherhood hunts down their enemies.

I listened to this audiobook as part of a group read. I picked it up for the naughty bits set in an urban fantasy setting. This book was a mixed bag of pluses and minuses. I’d heard a lot of good things about this series and I was hoping it would be similar in feel to Gena Showalter’s Alien Huntress series that I have enjoyed. Both series do a good job of romance with a bit of erotica. So far, I like the Alien Huntress series better mostly because the female characters are integral to the plot, have independent lives, and get to do cool deeds while using weaponry.

There were only three female characters for the entire book, and one of them came in during the last quarter of the story. While Beth started off pretty interesting with her news reporter job, a woman working in a man’s world kind of thing, she quickly was relegated to main romantic interest. Marissa is a vampire and bonded to Wrath in some way though neither is happy with the arrangement. She has no interests outside of that relationship and doesn’t seem to do anything other than look beautiful all the time and sulk over not being wanted. Wellsey comes into the story late and we don’t learn much about her other than she is mated to one of the vampires of the Brotherhood. So, the women were less than one dimensional and rather boring.

On the other hand, we have this mysterious Black Dagger Brotherhood. It’s a band of leather-clad, tattooed male vampires that watch each other’s backs and also keep the Lessers (lower caste vampires) in check. These uber-vampires don’t need to feed on humans but do need to eat regular food and feed on vampire blood regularly. For that, they have a servitude system in place that is still a bit vague to me which is fine. I like a long series like this to have these little mysteries that can take a few books to fully flesh out. In this book, we get a flavoring of what the Black Dagger Brotherhood is with plenty more to explore.

Now the Brothers themselves all have silly names and sometimes they are spelled silly too. There’s Rhage, Vishous, Zsadist, Torhment, etc. So I had to get the giggles out at the beginning of the story, and then I was able to focus on the plot and not get distracted by these names. Tho I do wonder if they are using names given to them by parents or names they gave themselves later on in life.

Meanwhile, there a group of Lessers ruled by the mysterious Omega and managed by Mr. X. These Lessers are up to no good and it’s mostly humans that suffer, their bodies littering up the city. Wrath and his Brothers have a hard time locating them, as humans can be tricked by them or serve them outright.

The Brothers all have anger management issues of one flavor or another. In fact, it’s not limited to them as Butch, a city cop who has a protective streak for Beth, also suffers from the same anti-social behavior. Pretty much, they are all man children that haven’t dealt with their issues. These vampires have lived for hundreds of years and haven’t progressed with their social skills. Maybe that is part of being an uber-vampire. Anyhoo, it made the actions and sometimes even the dialogue predictable.

OK, so this is no great feat of literature or of vampire stories. But, as I already admitted, I picked it up for the naughty bits. These bits were hot and steamy. We jumped into the first erotic scene early on in the story, and then a second one follows pretty soon after that. Then we get a bunch of teases for the rest of the story. I was a bit surprised that things were pretty PG13 after the second erotic scene. Yet I applaud the author for having one of the main characters bring up safe sex, the chance of pregnancy, and possible STDs.

I’ll be continuing on with Book 2 as part of the group read. There’s enough here to have me wonder if the series gets better. Also, there’s some bromance going on that gives a few of the male characters some depth. Now, this is for the publisher. What is up with this book cover? The two people on the cover don’t look like any of the characters. There’s no leather, no muscles, no fangs, no tattoos, no weapons. Basically, this cover speaks of a sweet romance, which this is not. As a lover of SFF and not one for Romance, I would give this book a pass based on the cover.


The Narration: Jim Frangione does a good job with Wrath’s voice. He provided an accent for Marissa’s voice, but if he didn’t I would have had trouble telling the difference between Beth and her, as I did with Beth and Wellsey. He did great job with imbuing characters with emotion, no matter what the scene. There was never any hesitancy on the sex scenes. Sometimes when several of the Brothers were all talking in a scene, they all sounded alike, there being very little to no difference in character voices.