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REVIEW:  Lover At Last by J.R. Ward

REVIEW: Lover At Last by J.R. Ward

Dear Ms. Ward:

I’ll be honest — I was a rabid fan of the first three books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. In fact, I’ll still pull out Lover Eternal sometimes, because I enjoy Rhage and Mary’s story so much. But as the series turned more towards Urban Fantasy and became more epic in nature with multiple storylines, the emphasis on romance was left by the wayside. This made my interest in the series wane. That being said, Twitter has been, well, all a-Twitter about your first male/male entry in the series, featuring Qhuinn and Blaylock, so I was interested to see how you approached writing two heroes.

Along with John Matthew, Qhuinn and Blaylock have been best friends since before their transition. Blaylock has always known that he was gay and has always had feelings for Qhuinn. For his part, Qhuinn was busy whoring around, banging as many girls as he could, clueless about Blay’s feelings. Right up until they end up kissing in a previous installment of the series. Qhuinn’s reaction is negative in the extreme, and Blaylock takes the hint and moves on with his life, finding romance with Saxton, Qhuinn’s cousin. Of course, Qhuinn can’t stop thinking about the kiss and is now becoming convinced that Blaylock is the love of his life.

Blaylock is deeply hurt by Qhuinn’s rejection. This plays out mostly by Blaylock misinterpreting the motivation behind every single thing Qhuinn says or does. Blay gets mad about ridiculous things, storms off more than any Regency romance virgin, and is generally an ass to Qhuinn. For Qhuinn’s part, he wants Blaylock any way he can have him, even offering to allow Blaylock to have sex with him while Saxton is out of town. Qhuinn spends a lot of time begging Blaylock to “take it out on him” “touch me, please” and generally begging. As someone who is not invested in the story, I have to be honest, they acted a whole lot like middle school aged girls.

I read this book also because I was very curious about the sex scenes, and whether you would go *there*. I began my disenchantment in the series when V and Butch danced around going *there* and didn’t. So I wanted to see if you’d go all the way. You did. Mostly. I felt like the sex scenes, which are usually a strong point in your books were more abbreviated, and much less sensual than your normal fare. I thought that you’d have benefited from reading some M/M authors who write deeply emotional sex scenes that inform character and relationship development – particularly because this couple has been dancing around each other for so long.  The scenes to me seemed slightly perfunctory and I thought could have really been punched up emotionally.

The book also advances two other main storylines within the series, involving Xcor, who is  plotting to overthrow the Vampire King, Wrath, and pining for Layla, the Chosen. And Assail, who is a drug dealer, who was involved in the attempt on Wrath’s life in a previous book.

It’s hard for me to evaluate this book, as I found even at the end of it, I had no emotional investment in either Blaylock or Qhuinn or their happy ending. They spent literally 95% of the book going back and forth, miscommunicating and acting like children. Then they have one conversation in a bar, and next thing you know, they’re exchanging I love you’s and are together forever. For me, the romance was unsuccessful. But I’d imagine for your readers who have been absolutely frothing at the mouth to read Blaylock and Qhuinn’s story this book was very satisfying and offered them exactly what they were hoping for. And that’s really the point, isn’t it? For me, this is the end of my Black Dagger Brotherhood ride. Final grade: C-



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REVIEW:  Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

REVIEW: Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Dear Ms. Briggs:

I am constantly amazed at how consistently good these books are.  I don’t mind waiting a year between books if it means that each story is as good as the last one.  “Frost Burned” is the seventh book in the Mercedes Thompson series.  Mercedes is an auto repair mechanic and coyote, a shapeshifter whose only real power is her immunity to magic. She has recently married the alpha of the Tri Cities pack, Adam Hauptman. Their world is changing because the alpha of North America has brought the werewolves out of the supernatural closet. The fae, due to circumstances revealed in Fair Game, have retreated behind a magically protected curtain of sorts.

Frost Burned by Patricia BriggsThe story is set just after Thanksgiving.  The whole pack had gathered for the holiday meal.  Mercedes and Jesse, her stepdaughter, have taken off to do some Black Friday shopping to buy a popular video game.  Their post holiday gaming plans are interrupted when the entire pack appears to have been kidnapped by some fake federal agents leaving Mercy with Ben.

The kidnappers try to use the pack to force Adam to conduct a public assassination of  U.S. Senator Campbell, a fierce anti-fae, anti werewolf voice.  Adam’s actions would turn the tide against the newly come out werewolves, particularly on the heels of particularly gruesome vigilante justice carried out by the fae recently (see “Fair Game”). Adam is likely specifically targeted because he has become somewhat of a public figurehead for the werewolves. He had served honorably in the military and offered his services as a consultant. Attractive, charismatic, and capable, Adam has served to lessen fears and pave the way for acceptance.

If the anti werewolf contingent can get Adam to be seen as a dangerous animal, the transition of private to public for the werewolves would be much less likely to happen. Instead, they would be hunted, collared, and made outcasts. However, Adam’s first allegiance is to his pack and not the entire body of werewolves. If killing a US Senator frees his pack, Adam will do it even if he doesn’t want to.

Mercy must try to save the pack and Adam and all the werewolves as well as fight a serious battle of power with an ancient power.  If this sounds like a redux of previous Mercy books, it is but it isn’t.  The ancient power is a new evil and one that threatens both pack and vampires.  Through the battle, Mercy learns more about her walker heritage and we learn more about the pack connections.

While Mercy’s bonds with Adam are tighter and more emotionally powerful than ever, Mercy is always her own person and, more importantly, neither is diminished by their marriage or connection. Further, even though they are physically separated for much of the book, their mate and pack bonds means that they are never truly apart. We even get a few scenes from Adam’s point of view. The time spent with Adam actually focuses on his love for Mercy and his fear for her.

Part of this book carries over the theme from Fair Game in that danger to loved ones can create havoc for a stronger entity. Adam fears for Mercy’s fragility as much as he respects her canniness and her willingness to protect their pack. Mercy fears for the humans such as Gabriel, the young man who works with her at the Garage and who is in love with Jesse, and Gabriel’s family.

The pace of the book is fairly robust. Mercy is constantly moving, often hauling endangered and wounded individuals in her wake. I particularly liked the number of dangerous creatures in this book. It fits with my worldview of old, powerful beings. They either crave more power or are insane or both. Sometimes you end up cheering on the least evil person in the melee. I can’t wait for the next installment.

For long time readers, there are rewards in this book for continuing the series. For first time readers, however, I think that there story is unique enough that it can stand alone. The romance between Adam and Mercy was just enough to satisfying this die hard romance lover. Can’t wait for the next book. B

Best regards,


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