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.
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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.
Great review Jaclyn. All the points you made are fair. I love hearing the other side of the coin!
Long live Team Qhuay!
As for Payne and the next book, I am not too gung ho with her, but if Qhuay is in it, I will make certain to pick it up.
Good review! I’ve been finding it harder to stick with reading the books from start to finish in the last few, since not all the storylines are equally of interest to me. The temptation to skip ahead to the characters I’m most interested in is getting stronger with each book.
That line describes perfectly my feelings and frustrations I had with Rehv’s book. It was my least favorite of the series (C grade for me) because of the multiple storylines and the choppy way they were told. (Not to mention the huge gaping hole where info. about the sympaths should have been but that’s beside the point.) The book felt like I was watching a soap opera on a Friday afternoon instead of being immersed in a book. Even if I’m interested in what’s happening to the characters the way it’s written makes it too frustrating to be satisfying. I just can’t lose myself in the book if the story is split up into little episodes and segments that switch back and forth.
I really enjoyed your review but it sounds like I’m in for more of the same with this book–which is disappointing. This one might have to be the last book I read in the series.
Nice review! I find that lately I’m having trouble sticking with series books in general but I am looking forward to reading Lover Mine.
Yeah, JR Ward readers seem to be divided into realists and fangirls these days.
I LOVED her first four books so much I was a crazy obsessed fan. It wasn’t only the Casper thing that ruined book five for me – it was just dreadful in general. And stupid me stuck around for two more after that.
Being of the ‘I want to kill wimpy John Matthew “I overtake everyone else’s books”‘ crowd, there was no way I could like this. I also like my heroines to be at least a little female.
Ward writes fantastic paranormal romance (books 1-4) and craptastic urban fantasy (everything after that).
I read Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breeds books now instead. They make me very happy and excited…
Jaclyn, my thoughts exactly. I’m a huge fan of the BDB and have waited so long for this book to be released. I know how you feel with the negative parts of the book. I wondered where the ‘Casper’ story was heading and why it was part of the book to find out right at the end it was Muhrder – wow. The constant story changes does become annoying – the earlier books didn’t have so many stories like this did. I thought I would be emersed with John and Xhex’s story but while reading I just lost interest.
The Quinn and Blay parts were 10/10!! They were heart breaking and hope a book is released for them. I wish we got to read what happened behind that door with Saxton and Blay. Maybe it wasn’t included so that the first time there is a M/M sex scene it’s with Quinn and Blay – I very much hope so and hope it’s not because JR Ward is scared to open her boundaries. The best part of JR Wards writing of this that I was so frustrated with Blay, angry and Quinn and hated Saxton but my feelings would change constantly as I read on – ultimately I want to see Quinn and Blay together and read about their thought during this time.
This book has been ‘sitting’ on my bookshelf since release day, and since your *review confirms my suspicions, it will stay there for a while. I skipped more than half of the book before Lover Avenged. Lover Avenged I liked, and now it turns out Lover Mine goes back to the big honking mess of threads and subplots and … good thing the book only cost me $9.99.