Author: J.R. Ward
Series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Date Published: September 6, 2005
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Given for a RAK! :)
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.
Yes ladies (and the few gents who find themselves on this post), I FINALLY got my hands on a copy of Dark Lover! *cheers* A special thanks to Mary for giving me my copy through RAK! The waiting list at the library was a mile long and I never thought I'd be able to read it! Though I did get thrown off due to some name confusion, some sex without a strong story, and a smattering of plot holes, I really enjoyed Dark Lover. It's got an intriguing plot line that you can tell is just the beginning of a huge story-arc that could last several books. The men of the BDB are all drool-worthy in their own way. Even Zsadist...if you swing towards pain and scars..has his own kind of terrifying appeal. Dark Lover was just the initiation into the brotherhood that I needed to get me hooked for life :)
Though the majority of bloggers have probably read this series, for those of you who haven't (or regular, non blogging followers out there) I wanna talk a little bit about the Vamp mythology and world-building that is brought in for this series. Not only do vampires exist in this world, but they have a hierarchy and a monarchy. There is no neck nibbling to become one of the undead in this world, but you must have at least a little bit of the vamp blood in your veins or you can kiss those fangs goodbye. A cool twist was that before a vamp baby comes into it's full-out, cape wearing, fang having, blood drinking adult self, it is basically a human. We all go through changes at puberty and that's no different for the vamps...only instead of pimples and braces, vamps get blood sucking and ravenous sexual appetites. It's a good thing their puberty happens in the early twenties or I'm sure middle school would be infinitely harder than it already is :)
A few things were kind of glossed over and I found them to be a bit difficult to understand in regards to world-building. The biggest hole I found was that human blood has nearly no nutritional value and that in order to survive, each vampire has to drink the blood of a vampire of the opposite sex. While that concept works very well for those readers who like the idea of perfect soul mates, I find it a little difficult to believe, especially considering that the vampires would probably drink each other dry in less then a few months. I just didn't understand the science to it. What is different between male and female blood? Nothing. But they HAVE to drink from each other, probably because it's more romantic that way...well...that sure sucks for gay and lesbian vampires. I'm sure that they all get together in foursomes so that they can get nourished AND have sex...but I bet that Ward may not have thought that through when she came up with the concept. And the fact that human blood isn't a factor was kind of odd as well. If they don't NEED human blood to survive, wouldn't you think they would go form their own vampire island somewhere so that they would never run the risk of being discovered by humans? I guess I just had a hard time seeing what the whole point would be if they didn't need human blood to give them a boost or something.
Though the names of our fearless vamps gave me pause at first ( Rhage, Thorment, Zadist, etc kind of threw me off gramatically) I can kind of dig what the author was going for. The names give the series almost a comic book kind of feel where the characters all have campy, rhyming names and their powers coincide with said names. For example, you would NOT want to be locked in a room with Z if pain is not your idea of a good time. That way it's easier to suspend your belief when the less-logical parts of the story come into play. My one problem with the boys was that I felt like I didn't get to know all of the brothers as well as I would have liked, but I understand that time was an issue and I will probably get to know them all a lot better as the books continue. I did really enjoy the cohesiveness of the BDB, and that the boys acted like real brothers, complete with fights, girl troubles, banter, and of course a lot of muscle flexing and bragging. Despite not really getting to know the individual brother's personalities, you get the feel of them as a whole, as a group, and the happy little vampire family that they portray makes you want to forsake your own and go join up.
The romance part of the story was between Wrath, king of the vampires and leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and Beth, a mortal reporter who doesn't know that her father Darius was a vampire. There were a lot of potential obstacles keeping the two love birds apart at first. The first time we meet Wrath he refuses to help Beth with her transition, and the only reason he finally comes to her aid is as a kind of favor to her dead dad. Not only does Wrath seem to be content in his bachelorhood, he holds humans in contempt. Beth is also reluctant at first, due to Wrath's extreme *ahem* sizeableness.and the fact that she doesn't believe in vampires. ..She also was an attempted rape victim the night she met her man, so she was undeniably under a lot of anxiety from that...and fear is NOT an aphrodisiac..at least to this particular brother. The problems and angst surrounding their relationship really give it a solid foundation for when they finally get together, which I thought was nice, though I think they had sex too early. I didn't have time to bond with the characters so it was kind of a meaningless sex-scene...at least for me. But things got better and more swoon-worthy as the book went on and I can bet that the next book will be even better!