REVIEW: Lover Mine by JR Ward
Dear Ms. Ward,
Since discovering the Black Dagger Brotherhood at the second book in the series, Lover Eternal, I have been addicted. The BDB guys are hot, sexy, powerful and all flawed in some horrific way that has provided plenty of angst and strife that each guy has worked to overcome with the help of the love of his life. I could eat up Rhage, Rehv, and Z (nom nom nom), who I think are some of the sexiest heros in romance. I have been eagerly anticipating Lover Mine, which is the story of John Matthew (Tehrror) and the sympath, Xhex, because their relationship has been developing for several books and I want each of them to have a happy ending. Unfortunately, Lover Mine had way too much going on for me to call it a great book.
For readers new to the series: don't start with Lover Mine. You won't appreciate everyone's pain, angst, and redemption-‘especially much of what draws John Matthew and Xhex together-‘unless you've read the earlier books in the series.
Lover Mine has five story-lines that weave in and out of one-another through the book: Qhuinn/Blay; the ghost hunters; John Matthen & Xhex; Lash and the Lessers; and as I started calling it, "The Flashback'. The BDB series is very complex with at least two dozen significant characters throughout the books, multiple communities (the Glymera, the Brotherhood, the Sympath compound, the Lessers, the Scribe Virgin and her Chosen, and the places we revisit from the past). The books are a balance of urban fantasy and romance, and for me, those two elements don't fully integrate successfully, and especially with the Lover Mine, I found the reading experience disjointed and I struggled to stay interested.
While reading Lover Mine I became impatient and frustrated with the story arc of Lash and the Lessers. At lot has happened to Lash since we first met him, but I don't feel he is developing with each book-‘with each book we learn more about him, but Lash as an individual isn't changing. He continues to be evil, more cruel, and more destructive with each subsequent book. I don't have any sympathy for him, and a villain without some humanizing element doesn't work for me.
The Scribe Virgin continues to be a shadow of her former self. Everything she's said and done throughout the books has required karmic balance. As her children (Vishous, and his sister, Payne) come into their own and find happiness must the Scribe Virgin slowly fade? Is the balance for their happiness the despondency that has become the Scribe Virgin's existence? I'll look forward to learning more about her plight in future books. But man, is she a sad creature right now, and not at all phearsome (as the Chosen, Layla, describes the Brothers).
By far, the best story thread in the book is the relationship between Qhuinn and Blay. Best friends, along with John Matthew, Qhuinn and Blay are dealing with their attraction to one another even as Qhuinn continues to hook up with women and Blay struggles with accepting that he's gay and what that means for him in a vampire high society that doesn't tolerate openly gay relationships.
So what about John Matthew and Xhex? Can we finally get to John Matthew and Xhex? It was almost 150 pages before they had a conversation with each other.
John Matthew has been through put the ringer in this series. He was a starving, abused, terrified kid when the BDB found him and gave him a home. He was raped before he was rescued, he lost his foster mom, Wellsie, when she was murdered by the Lessers, then he was abandoned by his foster dad when Tohr ran away in grief. And that was several books ago. Since then, he's gone from scrawny to uber-sexy, he's in love with a Xhex, who continually rejects him, and he hasn't really found his place-‘a place he feels comfortable-‘in the Brotherhood.
Xhex has also had a tough life. As a sympath she has always needed to hide a part of herself in order to stay safe and free. She's tough, made a place for herself in Rehv's empire, and has some very loyal friends. Despite having a few, select loyal friends, Xhex has a very lonely life. And at the start of Lover Mine, she's a Lash's prisoner.
John Matthew and Xhex are perfect for each other. Two wounded, abused, lonely, sad people who will ultimately find in each other total acceptance, love, redemption and a place to call home once and for all. But getting there isn't easy-‘and it takes forever at 500+ pages-‘but they do figure it out and find happiness. And when that finally happened, I was happy because it meant Lover Mine was finally coming to a close.
What ultimately frustrated me the most with Lover Mine was the sheer complexity of tracking so many story threads and characters, and the constant cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter. I'm hooked on Qhuinn and Blay's evolving relationship, and frankly, that's the element that has me wanting the next volume in this series. Overall, Lover Mine was a C-, which bums me out, because John Matthew and Xhex deserve better.
This is a hardcover published by Signet, a part of the Agency 5. It is currently selling at Amazon for $9.99 in print. The lay down date is April 27, 2010.