J. R. Ward
Published 2010 653 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
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 - vampire warriors, defenders of their race...
John Matthew has been through his vampire transition and taken to the life of the Brotherhood with a vengeance, but he still can't shake the nightmare of his past and is unsure of his future as a warrior hero. He's made a promise to honour the Brotherhood and their fight with the slayers at all costs, until the love of his life is kidnapped and he is forced to make a choice that could change his life and the Brotherhood's forever...
Lover Mine is the eighth instalment in J.R. Ward’s phenomenally popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series. While each BDB book is an individual romance, the back-stories and sub-plots in this series are gargantuan – meaning that readers new to the BDB books will be completely lost by this story. Trust me, if you haven’t experienced the BDB phenomena before its best to read these books in series order.
Ward’s BDB series is an example of a paranormal romance series that is constantly evolving. The earliest offerings in this series were strong, yet fairly traditional, romances that followed all of the romance genre’s conventions. As time went by the stories got longer, the fantasy world and vampire mythology more involved, and slowly the books become something more than just paranormal romance. A unique mixture of romance, action, drama, horror, violence and fantasy – the BDB books have frequently bended the established conventions of the romance, horror and fantasy genres to sit in their own fantasy fiction niche.
Now, I love a good (vampire) romance and I started reading this series for the impossibly conflicted relationships and heart-wrenching romance writing that was enough to bring a tear to the eye. However, I stay with this series for its supernatural-style soap opera drama and there’s been no shortage of this through the last few BDB books. We’ve had Lash revealed to be the hidden son of the evil Omega, we’ve had brothers and sisters who never knew they had siblings find each other, we’ve had bizarre man-crushes that went nowhere before being resolved when the men involved got wives. I’m sure that there is a day-time soap opera out there somewhere that is missing some of its plotlines…
Lover Mine continues in this vain. Against a backdrop of never ending drama Xhex and John Matthew’s romance unfolds. First drama: Xhex is being held captive by Lash (John’s arch enemy) suffering sexual and physical abuse at his hands. Second drama: John wants to rescue her but can’t find her and she made it clear that their relationship had no future before she was kidnapped. Third drama: Once Xhex and John Matthew are reunited they both want to have the privilege of killing Lash.
Backdrop drama: Qhuinn and Blay are struggling with the attraction that they feel for each other but Qhuinn is so busy pretending that he doesn’t love Blay that Blay is eventually pushed away into the arms of another man. Other active sub-plots are the vehicles that introduce new characters into the story line – Murhder, Payne, a Chosen called No’One and the human doctor Manny are all set up to have parts to play in the future instalments of this series.
All-in-all there is just too much drama. The sub-plots make so much dramatic background noise that they drown out the main event – namely Xhex and John Matthew’s romance. Xhex and John both had emotional baggage going into the story and the resolution of their relationship conflict is just lost amongst all the other events. One moment their relationship is impossible, the next it isn’t – problem solved! Compared to J.R. Ward’s past romance writing this seems like a poor effort (although its fair to say that Ward has enough writing talent to make her poorest effort better than many average authors best offerings.)
Perhaps another problem could be that Xhex is a difficult character to identify with, and I think many women could have the same problems as me when it comes to identifying with the tough manly assassin. The male characters in the BDB books are always the stars of the show and the women tend to pale in comparison to their male counterparts but Xhex the “strongest” female character in the series so far comes off as something of an oddity, rather than a figure of female empowerment.
Or maybe the reason I couldn’t connect with Xhex and John Matthew as a couple was that I was too distracted by Qhuinn and Blay’s tortured relationship. The scenes between these two young men, both suffering their longing for each other in silence, are what kept the pages of Lover Mine turning for me.
Still, I can hardly wait for the next book in this series. I’m hooked to its soap opera style drama and I NEED TO KNOW what happens to these characters next.
LoveVampires Review Rating: