Title: Dark Lover
Author: J. R. Ward
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal / Romance/ Erotica
Publication date: 2005
The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed—orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate—Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.
Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both…
Well, I found something important. Starting a paranormal romance after reading an epic fantasy series is a bad idea. Really, really bad idea.
After finishing Raven’s Shadow series by Anthony Ryan, I decided it was time for some low-key romance with a fantastic element. Something fast-paced and easy to read because, for all its merits, Anthony Ryan’s books were a lot to handle. So I decided I’ll check out J.R. Ward‘s stuff, seeing how a lot of people in my Goodreads feed were reading them or adding them to their reading lists.
Well, I should have thought twice.
Dark Lover by J. R. Ward is the first book of the Black Brotherhood series and it is an okay book if you compare it to others in its genre. It has passion; it has danger and Ward is trying to do something different with the whole vampire trope, which is awesome. But reading Dark Lover after reading Queen of Fire by Ryan was like eating plain green salad after eating delicious, juicy steak with barbeque sauce and mouth-watering seasoning. The style, the complexity, the development of the characters that I found so enthralling in Ryan’s books were so much more interesting than those in Ward’s work. I felt like I was reading the first draft of a book written by a sixteen-year-old teenage girl.
I may not be fair here, I am comparing two books in totally different genres and exploring different themes and having different audiences. But style is style and proper story and character development are the same in all genres so there is something to be said about that.
But let me try to judge it by its own merit.
Dark Lover follows the story of Beth Randall – a twenty-something woman with a boring job, a boring life, and a boring personality. Then we have Wrath (don’t get me started on the Brotherhood’s names, my eyeballs hurt from rolling my eyes so much) who is tall, sexy, and dangerous. And don’t forget brooding. I can work with that, it is a romance story after all and I know how girls go head over heels for bad boys. But I felt like Ward went a bit overboard with this one.
She spent so much time (repeatedly) mentioning how thick his thighs are (“as big as her [Beth’s] waist”) that instead of feeling hot just thinking about him I had some weird conflicting image in my head of a gigantic, muscular biker with an unshaved face, Head&Shoulders hair and dark hipster sunglasses. Let’s just say that the erotic scenes were kind of weird for me.
So those two meet after Wrath’s brother/friend and Beth’s father, Darius, dies at the hands of the Lessers – an organization whose sole purpose is to kill vampires. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that Wrath and everybody in the Brotherhood are vampires (Beth too, although only half). Wrath seeks out Beth since she is on the verge of her change – a period where she turns into an adult vampire with all its extras like fangs, need for blood, sexual drive, and so on. I’ll just mention that Darius is the only one with a normal name – the others are named Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, and I forgot the other one. Weird, huh?
So we have the love storyline. I bet you know exactly how it goes even though I won’t spoil it in case you have not read it yet. But then again, Ward is trying to maintain the plot which is the Brotherhood’s war with the Lessers.
At the beginning of the novel we get some information about them, see them in action. We get the same in the end too. However, during the period where Wrath and Beth get to know each other (in the biblical way, not actually having conversations that don’t include detailed mentions of who wants who more and how) we kind of forget about that storyline. True, we get scenes from Mr. X’s POV (he is the Lessers’s leader) to remind us they exist but there is absolutely no interaction between the Lessers and the Brotherhood even though the brothers are supposed to be hunting them and protecting their kind. Nope, the moment Beth stepped into Darius’ house, which is being used for headquarters for the Brotherhood, the story turns into theater production – it all happens in Wrath’s bedroom and somewhere around Darius’ house.
Another thing, this one here is a personal preference, though, that drove me to the edge, was the constant POV change. Literally in the same scene, Ward can change POV up to 5 times. It drove me crazy, and I almost stopped reading. I’m sure it’s super important to read from Beth’s POV as she is getting an orgasm and then from Wrath’s POV as he is enjoying her body. But it was too much for me. Maybe I am reading the wrong genre or maybe I should have picked a better book.
I feel like I should say something nice now because I really sound like a hater. And I did find enjoyable things in the book, otherwise, I wouldn’t have finished it. The main reason I kept reading was because of the different take on vampires and their world. Vampires feed on their own, can have babies, being hunted by soulless humans – that’s new and gives so much potential for interesting storylines. But, I can’t believe I’m saying this: sex seems more important than plot. Go figure.
There over 20 books in the series so I do hope that once everybody gets their soulmate and fuck for a while we’ll get some proper storytime. I want to see where Ward takes this opportunity and I want to see what she does with the Lessers and the Omega.
I’ll give the story 2/5 with all my generosity. I hold on to hope that things will get better, but I would not recommend this book to people who don’t usually read romance/erotica. And if you’re looking for a solid plot, try something else. This book is good for unwinding and getting your heart pumping by the image of big, masculine sexy guys (because, you know, almost every single one in the book has the body of a god).
What about you? What rating would you give? What are your thoughts and takes on Dark Lover?