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REVIEW: Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward

Dear Ms. Ward,

I admit it: I am addicted. Usually I'm drawn to subtle books, books that astutely observe the complexities of human relationships, books written with an ear for beautiful language. If that kind of reading experience is a horseback ride through lush countryside, one of your Black Dagger Brotherhood books is a high octane, high speed car race around a dizzying track, complete with thrills and spills.

And yet, I can't get enough. I stay up with Lover Revealed until the small hours of the morning, turning page after page. When I wake up, I reach for the thing almost as soon as I open my eyes. At the grocery store, I forget to buy carrots because part of my mind is still in that bold, flashy world you've created. When I close the book, even as part of me feels over-stimulated, like a kid who's spent too much time in a videogame arcade, I realize that the wait for the next book will be much too long.

As most of the romance-reading world knows, the Black Dagger Brotherhood is comprised of six huge, hyper-masculine vampires with unstoppable sex drives and a powerful loyalty to one another. Together they protect the rest of the vampire race from the soulless lessers, who, as the minions of the evil entity called the Omega, do everything they can to destroy the vampire race.

As much as I enjoy reading about Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, Phury, Vishous and Tohrment, they are as over-the-top as their names, so larger-than-life and hyper-real that I enjoy their messed up, hard-drinking human friend and ex-cop, Butch O'Neal even more.

Butch, with his human limitations and his frustrated awareness of them, has always helped keep the story of the Brotherhood just a tiny bit grounded in reality. His presence provides a yardstick against which to measure the vampire characters' supernaturalism, and the company of six huge paranormal fighters makes him seem refreshingly real, even normal in his screwed up way.

Butch fell in with the Brotherhood in Dark Lover, which was also when he fell in love with Wrath's discarded wife-in-name-only, Marissa. But he never felt good enough for her, and when he was sent away from Marissa's house by one of the servants after calling on her, Butch figured that Marissa also felt he wasn't good enough for her.

In reality, Butch was sent away thanks to interference from Marissa's brother Havers, who could not comprehend her attraction to a human. After Marissa's long, sexless marriage to Wrath ended, vampire high society decided that there was something wrong with her, and Marissa made the mistake of buying into their crap. Therefore, when she never heard from Butch, she thought he had lost interest in her.

As Lover Revealed opens, Butch and Marissa are apart, but each still loves and misses the other. Both of them have feelings of inadequacy, Butch because the members of the Brotherhood, fearing for his life, have forbidden him to fight the lessers alongside them, and Marissa because well, after three hundred years of virginity, any woman would.

Things change when Butch is captured by the lessers after coming to the aid of a vampire they were trying to kill. The lessers torture Butch horribly, and after he refuses to divulge anything about the Brotherhood, the Omega infects him with some kind of evil and wipes his memory of that, leaving him to be found by the vampires. Vishous finds Butch and with the aid of the Scribe Virgin (the deity that created the vampires) gets the worst of the evil out of him, but not all of it, and then takes him to Havers' clinic.

Meanwhile, Marissa has been having nightmares about something bad happening to Butch. Her search for Butch is fruitless until Vishous realizes that Butch is dying, and that Marissa is the one person who can give him the will to live. In her rush to Butch's side, Marissa forgets to put on a Hazmat suit, and she and Butch are left in quarantine together. Butch begins to heal, and he and Marissa clear up their misunderstanding and start making up for lost time.

But Butch and Marissa's time together is cut short when Butch is released from the clinic even though he knows he is still infected with the Omega's evil. He pushes Marissa away in order to protect her, and she realizes that after having wasted so much of her life waiting for Wrath, she doesn't want to waste more of it waiting for a man. She's tired of men controlling her life, too, and that includes her brother, with whom she has a falling out over her involvement with Butch.

Of the four books released in this series thus far, Lover Revealed is my favorite. I've already explained my affection for Butch. His drinking, his past grief for his murdered sister and his broken nose all make him interesting and keep me invested in his fate.

The books in this series are so hero-centric that sometimes the heroines don't get as much development as I like, but I did not feel this was as much the case with Marissa. Although she begins the book incredibly naà¯ve (it is difficult to believe that anyone could live for three centuries and know so little about sex), the fact that she's so tired of her own ignorance makes it easy to sympathize with her, and to root for her as she begins to take control of her own life. She also, I'm grateful to say, doesn't need protecting or rescuing in the course of the story.

The love scenes between Butch and Marissa reflect the fact that it takes the two of them a while to get through some emotional hurdles, and are not only erotic but also moving and tender. It is wonderful to see them get over their insecurities in one another's arms. I would have enjoyed that even more, though, if I hadn't been afraid that Marissa could be infected with the evil that the Omega put into Butch.

There are also some borderline romantic feelings on Vishous' part toward Butch, and I liked this aspect of the book as well. V's envy of what Marissa and Butch had was touching, especially since he was a true friend to them both. I enjoyed the continuation of John and Rehvenge's stories, too, and I'm especially looking forward to John's book now.

Through the Omega's actions, Butch gains some supernatural abilities, and I have mixed feelings about this, because I know I will miss the normal, everyday guy that he was. Butch also discovers something about himself in this book that I thought was awfully convenient. Then there's the way the conflict between Marissa's longevity and Butch's mortality is resolved. I don't want to give it away, but again, it was something that I could have done without.

As usual, I enjoyed your use of the vernacular even as I was shaking my head over the fact that these centuries old, European-born creatures were far more up on urban slang than I am. There are other things in Lover Revealed that I could shake my head over, but when I reached the end of the book, I wished there was more to read, and so I give Lover Revealed a B+. Yes, addicted is what I am.

Sincerely,

Janine

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character driven novels in historical romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Recent examples include novels by Katherine Addison, Meljean Brook, Kristin Cashore, Cecilia Grant, Rachel Hartman, Ann Leckie, Jeannie Lin, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Miranda Neville, and Nalini Singh. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

40 Comments

  1. Marg
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 05:09:04

    CAN NOT WAIT to get this!!

  2. Kat
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 06:04:02

    Aargh, the ETA at my bookstore is March-freaking-16! I’ll know the entire story by then!!! :-( Thanks for the review, Janine. And the spoilers. I’ve been searching high and low for them for the past week!

  3. Jane A.
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 08:29:22

    I just saw Fictionwise released Lover Awakened in ebook this week. Do you think they’ll wait another 6 months to release this one as an ebook? And when are they going to get around to releasing the first two as ebooks???

  4. Eva Gale
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 08:47:05

    Marissa is believable with the virginity thing because her character was established in the first book, no?

    You know, I’m trying to stay away. Really. I am. In preparation, when I see orange on a cover I do deep breathing excercizes. I’m afraid it will turn into hyperventiliating, but I have to TRY, damnit.

  5. Keishon
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 08:55:35

    Question for you and here is my track record thus far: I couldn’t get through Dark Lover and I explained why in my review (the author’s voice was the biggest hurdle for me). I really liked Butch so, Janine, I need some advice here: would you recommend this book if you haven’t read the others in the series? Does it stand alone well? I would really like to read Butch’s story and don’t really care for the rest. Has her writing grown since the first book? You say this your favorite so – I’m on the fence.

  6. Jane
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 09:05:14

    I would have said Zsadist book was my favorite. I thought the contrivances that Janine mentioned were a bit too pat. Ward often goes for the deux ex machina to solve her plot problems, imo.

  7. Janine
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 09:33:01

    [quote comment="23793"]Aargh, the ETA at my bookstore is March-freaking-16! I’ll know the entire story by then!!! :-( Thanks for the review, Janine. And the spoilers. I’ve been searching high and low for them for the past week![/quote]

    LOL. You know, I tried not to mention spoilers. And most of what’s in the review comes out fairly early in the book. The second to last paragraph does contain a few; it was the only way to explain why I didn’t give the book an A range grade. Avoiding spoilers is one of the hardest things in writing a review.

  8. Janine
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 09:39:31

    [quote comment="23798"]Marissa is believable with the virginity thing because her character was established in the first book, no? .[/quote]

    Let me put it this way: if you found her believable in the first book, you shouldn’t have any believability issues with her in this one. I like Marissa a lot (she’s my favorite of Ward’s heroines so far), but the concept of a 300 year old virgin isn’t the most realistic. But nothing dates the Brotherhood, either. One has to suspend some disbelief with these books.

    You know, I’m trying to stay away. Really. I am. In preparation, when I see orange on a cover I do deep breathing excercizes. I’m afraid it will turn into hyperventiliating, but I have to TRY, damnit.

    LOL.

  9. Janine
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 09:52:41

    Keishon, tough question. Ward’s prose hasn’t changed much, and it’s very distinctive, so it’s always a big element in her books. Also, for me, part of the pleasure is that she starts storylines that continue from book to book and only get resolved in later books. There are a couple that were started in books 2 and 3 (namely Rehvenge and John Matthew’s stories) that are continued in this book, and there were some developments in Butch and Vishous’s relationship in book 3, too. But I think Ward does a pretty good job of bringing a new reader up to speed on these things, so if you really don’t want to read those books, you can still get what’s going on in this one.

  10. Janine
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 09:57:02

    [quote comment="23803"]I would have said Zsadist book was my favorite. I thought the contrivances that Janine mentioned were a bit too pat. Ward often goes for the deux ex machina to solve her plot problems, imo.[/quote]

    I know Zsadist’s book is a lot of readers’ favorite and I can understand why, but it’s not one of mine. I felt a bit yanked around by the number of storylines Ward juggled in that book, and the way it moved from one to the other, and there was too much of Mr. O. for me.

    In this review of Lover Revealed, I forgot to say that the lessers are usually the weakest part of these books for me, but the lesser characters in this book were more interesting to me than the ones in earlier books.

  11. Janine
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 10:30:29

    I just covered up the spoilers. If you want to read about what I thought this book’s weaknesses were, run your cursor over the black blocks.

  12. Tara Marie
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 10:53:55

    I’m refusing to read any reviews until after I’ve read the book. I expect it to land in my hot little hands on or about the 16th. I’ll be back the next day to read this review and any of the others that might pop up between now and then. :D

  13. Kat
    Feb 27, 2007 @ 20:42:48

    It’s interesting that everyone is talking about how Marissa is the best BDB heroine so far, because I really disliked her after Lover Awakened. Then again, I disliked Butch until LA so hopefully it’ll all balance out. I still think it’s crap that Australian stores can’t get these (and other) books on time.

  14. Janine
    Feb 28, 2007 @ 12:25:30

    I never disliked Marissa myself, in any of the earlier books, so I don’t know if my opinion of her in Lover Revealed will match yours, Kat. But I hope you enjoy the book.

  15. Devon
    Mar 01, 2007 @ 21:49:52

    I have a feeling I’ll be out driving around this weekend, hoping some book store has put it out early.

    This was probably the story I was least looking forward too. I found Butch eh, and Marissa was the embodiment of all that I didn’t like about females in JRW’s universe. I just wanted to revisit everybody else. But as the reviews are rolling in, I’m getting more and more excited. Good review!

    Really looking forward to see what happens in the Butch/V relationship. I actually really dig the homoerotic overtones, and figured they’d just get dropped.

    BTW, just finished Games of Command. Loved it!

  16. Janine
    Mar 02, 2007 @ 11:46:12

    I’m glad you enjoyed Games of Command, Devon, and hope you enjoy this one too. I would love to hear from you and the others who posted here after you read the book.

  17. Nice Mommy~Evil Editor » Lover Revealed by JR Ward
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 19:41:47

    […] an aside about something, I know that Bam’s review caused a stir a few weeks ago, and I think Janine reviewed this book yesterday. But I don’t read reviews under two circumstances: 1) if I know […]

  18. Angelle
    Mar 04, 2007 @ 19:58:37

    [quote comment="23803"]I would have said Zsadist book was my favorite. I thought the contrivances that Janine mentioned were a bit too pat. Ward often goes for the deux ex machina to solve her plot problems, imo.[/quote]
    You mean the Virgin ex machina.

    I read it last night, and I too didn’t like the revelation about Butch. It was just waaaaaay too convenient. But then Butch was never my favorite character from the series. He just seemed like such a loser, having no money of his own, no place of his own…heck, not even the stuff he wears is his own. To me he’s just a burned out cop with some inferiority and guilt issues who likes to drink way too much. I honestly thought Marissa deserved someone worthier.

  19. Janine
    Mar 04, 2007 @ 20:43:01

    Thanks so much for posting a follow up, Angelle. I agree completely about the revelation. But I like Butch. I can see why some people think he’s a loser but how did the Brotherhood get all that money of theirs? So far as I can tell, they just inherited it. It’s not like they earned it with hard work. Butch did work as a cop until he got pulled into the Brotherhood’s world.

    And I think the vampires liked having Butch financially dependent on them because it’s hard for them to trust a human. He has also helped them out by going out in the daylight when they couldn’t to track kidnapped civilian vampires. So I see the relationship as having been much more two-sided than Butch thought.

    I didn’t see Butch as a loser, but I do think he saw himself as one. For me the fact that he’s not super-rich or gorgeous, and that he has an inferiority complex makes him feel fresh among the typical quote unquote successful men that people romances. He feels more real to me. I like him a lot.

  20. Angelle
    Mar 05, 2007 @ 02:01:36

    I like Butch quite a bit in Book #1, but since then I just couldn’t like him anymore. Does that make me fickle?

    I guess what I find objectionable about his behavior since Book #1 is that he’s financially independent but doesn’t do anything. He didn’t seem to haev any purpose in life except … you know just hanging out with the Brothers. He’s angsty over Marissa, and thinks she’s the bomb, but he doesn’t do anything to improve himself…maybe make himself more worthy of her. Seeing him mope about her, then go to clubs and get drunk and have meaningless cheap sex with women he didn’t even know (and without using any protection) really made me lose respect.

    But then I expect a lot more from heroes than heroines. And I have thing feeling that maybe I just don’t like the even numbers in the series. Book #2 (Rhage & Mary) wasn’t my favorite either, especially with the Virgin ex machina solving so many problems oh-so conveniently. But I really liked #1 & 3.

  21. Janine
    Mar 06, 2007 @ 16:18:09

    Maybe it should bother me that Butch doesn’t do more with his life in books 2 and 3, but I’m used to reading a lot of historicals with idle aristocratic heroes. I don’t think Butch is worse than they are; he at least feels bad about the fact that he’s not doing anything with his life, which makes me feel that he wants to be better than he is.

    I have a soft spot for flawed characters, so his moping, drinking and sleeping around didn’t turn me off, either. It actually made me more interested in him, because I like to read about characters turning their lives around.

  22. Donna
    Mar 07, 2007 @ 12:17:53

    You said you were clicking your PDA page by page! Where did you get Lover Revealed in ebook format? I have horrendous eyesight and ebooks are just about the only way I can comfortably read anymore. I would gladly pay the same price as the shelf book. I know it is usually up to the publisher, but can I please urge J.R. Ward to plead the case for releasing her books in ebook formats?

  23. Jane
    Mar 07, 2007 @ 12:30:30

    Donna – I am guessing that is an error because there is no Ward ebook as far as I know. I know that Janine recently read an EC and was writing a review for that one and maybe she made an error.

  24. Donna
    Mar 07, 2007 @ 12:38:41

    I have Lover Awakened in ebook format. I use ereader.com and fictionwise.com primarily. I went rambling around this website and obviously J.R. Ward is well aware of ebooks :) YAY team! I am just wishing they would release the books as ebooks at the same time as they release the mass market or paperback.

  25. Jane
    Mar 07, 2007 @ 12:40:12

    I bought it too, Donna, when it came out and can’t wait for the others to be released. Penguin often does it a week later so you may want to keep your eyes peeled.

  26. Sybil
    Mar 07, 2007 @ 12:43:33

    [quote comment="24326"]I have Lover Awakened in ebook format. I use ereader.com and fictionwise.com primarily. I went rambling around this website and obviously J.R. Ward is well aware of ebooks :) YAY team! I am just wishing they would release the books as ebooks at the same time as they release the mass market or paperback.[/quote]

    Ward said all the books will be released in eform… but I don’t have a date yet. I shall try and nail that down.

  27. Donna
    Mar 07, 2007 @ 13:00:55

    Regarding Penguin… I followed a link to their website, hoping to get info on when an ebook might be forthcoming and was surprised that they only offer the other Brotherhood books in paperback on their website. Not even a mention that Lover Awakened can be bought as an ebook!

    That’s not good. They should be promoting the ebook as well as the paperbacks.

    Sybil, thank you.. I would appreciate any info you manage to get. :D This is a very friendly site! Glad I stopped by.

  28. Sybil
    Mar 07, 2007 @ 13:07:07

    [quote comment="24332"]Sybil, thank you.. I would appreciate any info you manage to get. :D This is a very friendly site! Glad I stopped by.[/quote]

    You are most welcome. Ward has done a guest day for each of her books so far and will be back by my blog on the 9th.

    And yes this is a very friendly site. I don’t even say that because THE jane has the passwords to my blog. Because she unlike someone who shall remain nameless would NEVER use her power for evol.

    uh… I don’t think

  29. Sybil
    Mar 07, 2007 @ 13:08:48

    Ward has done a guest day for each of her books so far and will be back by my blog on the 9th.

    EXCEPT DARK LOVER!!! oops

    comments so need an edit button….

  30. The Good, The Bad and The Unread » Blog Archive » Lover Revealed… the reviews
    Mar 12, 2007 @ 11:07:07

    […] Janine takes on Lover Revealed […]

  31. Menage a Kat
    Apr 01, 2007 @ 21:58:11

    Lover Revealed Linkage…

    Reviews for Lover Revealed are trickling in…and the book is looking good. And hawt!…

  32. Jacqueline Slaughter
    Apr 05, 2007 @ 09:12:35

    Lover Revealed was my favorite book also. I think the story of Butch and Marissa was so sweet and tender, even the sexy parts, WoW!!! I can’t wait to know more about Vishous. I also read and re-read the parts that involved the “cop” and “V”. I think Phury will have a very interesting story line, and I’m glade he is next. I hope it is as sexy as Lover Revealed.

    I love the language, the settings, the whole package has me hooked like you would not believe, I thought I was the only one that devoured these books, its good to know there are other addicts out there. I will read them as long as J.R. writes them.

  33. marnie
    Apr 30, 2007 @ 09:37:23

    I’m parisian… excuse my language, I read but I speak or write not very well ! I love this serie. I had never read a vampire’s story and I found these books very interesting specially lover awakened and lover revealed (stories of Z and Butch). Butch isn’t worse than the others warriors, for me. He knows that he hasn’t found his place in the human world. His evolution is the best part of this story. I like very much the theme of homosexuality, borderline yes, but for a french woman who love romances, it’s not conventional to read that kind of books. They aren’t translated and edited in France… the heroes have lot of gay friends in comedies, films, books, but the heroes COULDN’T be “bi” or gays themselves. I love the different and passionate characters, the sexy part, the great EMOTION and the talent of this author who can to admit to me a lot of things… And also, I love to read your appreciations…

  34. Laura
    May 20, 2007 @ 21:53:23

    I laughed when I noticed that the ladies dress colors when they welcome Butch back from the tomb corresponds to the books cover colors!

  35. radiance
    May 30, 2007 @ 12:22:53

    [quote comment="24135"]Thanks so much for posting a follow up, Angelle. I agree completely about the revelation. But I like Butch. I can see why some people think he’s a loser but how did the Brotherhood get all that money of theirs? So far as I can tell, they just inherited it. It’s not like they earned it with hard work. Butch did work as a cop until he got pulled into the Brotherhood’s world.

    I think that though the brotherhood may have inherited ther money, their money there is a part in Dark Lover when they were showing Beth how to manage her money that shows that some of the Brother hood, V and Phury ,I think, deal in stocks and bonds and that sort of thing

  36. luxm3
    Oct 04, 2007 @ 15:21:00

    well lets saii this the books are great, i up to the last bk lover unbound but all the other bks were great so im hoping this one will too. i was wondering though…. if zsadist got bella.wrath got beth. the other dude and mary, and soon to come vishious and the doctor ladii. who does phury go with? is there a bk about him 2 or is he just loveless? this is the most bestest vamp storii ever it beats stephen king…even though he does horoor… but i still like dark lover the orginal start of the bk

  37. Siobhan
    Oct 20, 2007 @ 22:15:50

    I have just started reading all of the books. I am on my last book now and it has only taken me about 2 weeks to read them all. Athough reading these books have created a tiny problem w/ my husband and I. The problem is I am up until till 2 or 3 am reading them and not paying any attention to him.hehe I love these book sssoooo much. When I do get to bed, I dream about the books I have not read or the parts I haven’t read yet. I can’t wait to read the last book. I’m starting tonight. Than I hope there will still be more w/ the last brother. I hope this last book finishes up John’s story. Is he Darius rencarnated?

  38. Kris
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 17:39:42

    I laughed when I noticed that the ladies dress colors when they welcome Butch back from the tomb corresponds to the books cover colors!

    I noticed that too, Laura!

  39. A.J
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 15:30:35

    OK, I got introduced to BDB from LU so I’m kind of reading the series backwards. Anyway, what I have to say is that this series is beyond addictive it’s practically my skin… thats a wierd way to put it. But of what I have read… Lover revealed is the most emotional that I have read and its a toss up between lover revealed and lover awakened being my favourite. I think Butch’s human presence helped to keep the realitY of the story grounded even though he changed its the fact that he was changed that matters. I’m head over heels in love with this series!

  40. Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward | Literary Escapism
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 19:18:20

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