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 naÃƒÆ’Ã‚ ¯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.
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.