Title: Lover Eternal
Author: J. R. Ward
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal / Romance/ Erotica
Publication date: 2006
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover-for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by this dark side, Rhage fears the time when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves…
After the disappointment that was Dark Lover, the first of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I think J. R. Ward is growing on me. Very slowly.
Dark Lover was basically plotless (if you don’t count getting into a woman’s pants a plot), exaggerated and cringy. Lover Eternal is still all of those things but, like, on a smaller, more bearable scale.
The story this time follows mostly Rhage, one of the brothers of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. He is tall, well-built, dangerous, and unbelievably sexy (it’s like Ward made a template of a “perfect” man and then re-used it six times with tiny modifications). Oh, and blonde. This is about all that we know about his appearance. Oh, and he is gifted in the attribute department. Like all other brothers, naturally.
So Rhage is cursed, which seems to be a thing with the brothers. All of them have some kind of “weakness” which as it turns out, is not even a weakness: Rhage has a beast that can tear apart pretty much everything in its path; Wrath is almost blind, but his sense are out of this world; and Zsadist has PTSD from his time as a slave which makes him a bit unstable but dangerously efficient when it comes to killing… and so on).
Anyway, Rhage’s curse forces him to seek the thrill of sex or fighting to cool down the monster inside. But in a twist of fate, he meets a human woman, and he “bonds” with her (think about “mates” but with vampires). He struggles with his unrealized feelings and fights the match although it is painfully obvious what’s going to happen.
I’ll just mention here that unfortunately, J. R. Ward has a thing or two to learn about plot twists and keeping the reader on their toes. There wasn’t a single moment that surprised me – maybe only when they were having sex, I was never sure who would climax first. Actually, scratch that. Rhage is too good a lover to let his lady go second. *sigh*
So as Rhage and his beloved, Mary, struggle to find a balance in their relationship, the Lessers are upping their game. Of course, most of the time we dwindle on sex and feelings, but it is to be expected for the genre. I’m okay with that and I am getting used to it. However, the thrill would have been much greater if there was actual danger like at the end of the book. Same thing happened with book 1 – the action (not talking about sex) happens in the last few pages.
But let’s say something positive too, because this time I can. For some reason, I didn’t click with Wrath and Beth, but Rhage and Mary stirred something in me. There was more realism in their relationship, more ups, and downs and it wasn’t all about sex. There was a lot of that, obviously, but the fact that Mary was human and was sick gave an extra push to the story and things got serious really fast. I even think the characters come through a lovely journey from the beginning to the end, leaving their two-dimensional state. Maybe Ward was just getting better when she wrote that one because even her style seems to have improved with the second book – the first one was just “He did that. She did that.”
I think Mary is my favorite character so far. She is kind of plain and unassuming, but she has what the other characters are missing – common sense. Rhage says “You turn your back on your life and you come to live with me” and she is like “Nope, no, sir. Get the fuck back and let me breathe.” Unfortunately, she still does it, but that’s Ward‘s fault, not hers 😀
Another thing I liked was the idea that their vampire deity is a real, solid person. Or well, something. It’s not an abstract idea that you have to put your faith in. It is a powerful being that can be touched or talked to. And her wearing all black while light is coming from underneath it – Ward did at least one thing right. Every time I read about the Scribe Virgin (I’m dying to know why they call her that) I get excited. Her story is even more exciting than the sex, which is what most people read the book for. Anyway, well done on that one. I hope we learn more about her in the next books.
I’ll stop here because the review is getting too long. I’ve noticed that the less I like a book, the more I have to say about it. Weird, huh? Anyway, I’ll give Lover Eternal 3/5 rating. It is better than the first one but miles away from being awesome. Still, if you’re into erotica and vampires, you’ll probably like it.
What about you? What rating would you give? What are your thoughts and takes on Lover Eternal?