Review: Blood Fury by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookbloodfury.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Legacy, #3
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Peyton, son of Peythone
Heroine: Novalina
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 09, 2018
Started On: September 02, 2018
Finished On: September 07, 2018

Blood Fury by JR Ward brings us to the end of the published novels under the Black Dagger Legacy series. This installment also follows the style of the previous two novels by bringing together characters from the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series into the limelight. To be honest, (I guess like most readers), I was more interested in Ruhn and Saxton’s story than the main protagonists who happens to be Peyton, son of Peythone and Novalina (Novo), the final characters left without a happily ever after of their own from the new recruits, who happened to form the basis of this series.

Ruhn’s entrance into the series comes from the previous book, Blood Vow. As Bitty’s uncle, Ruhn is welcomed wholeheartedly into the Brotherhood “family”. Ruhn is the kind of character that you fall in love with from the start. His quiet and understated demeanor provokes reader interest from the very beginning. His giving and caring nature is prominent from the way he handled Bitty’s issue, saying goodbye to his past and moving on with an uncertain future, putting Bitty’s welfare and happiness above everything else.

We have all met Saxton, mainly because he was the character with whom Blaylock (now mated to Qhuinn), tried to move on with, given that Qhuinn ignored Blaylock’s armorous feelings and intentions towards him at the cost of hurting Blaylock at every turn possible. Since then, a lot has happened of course, leaving Saxton at loose ends, feeling the loneliness that comes from burying oneself with work to forget what could never be his. Along comes Ruhn and everything changes.

With every layer that is peeled back to reveal Ruhn’s character, I fell more deeply in love. Saxton too exposes painful bits of his past, which made me believe that they perfectly complement each other in every single way that matters. The fire between them was enough for me to reach out for a glass of water – they are combustible together. That is what happens when two characters worm their way into your hearts, and of course JR Ward is a master when it comes to sex scenes that are hot enough to singe in the best way possible.

That brings me to Novo and Peyton’s story that unfolds alongside. Novo is a character that is a bit hard to pin down at first, because she never reveals anything about herself that might expose any weaknesses that she might have. But understanding the betrayal she had faced at the hands of none other than her family and the man who had serviced her needing puts Novo in a whole different light. The pain she carries within herself and hugs close to her lest she allows someone else to come too close once again becomes clear when all is said and done.

Peyton, though richer than probably most of the families of glymera, has no happy moments to think of when it comes to his life and a father who demands from him but never roots for him. Peyton has mastered the art of not giving a damn, and enrolling as a recruit to fight had been the one thing where he had excelled at, against all odds. Though I never truly did warm up to Peyton’s character as much as I hoped I would, I loved the way he handled Novo. Peyton too had his own demons to fight before he could move on. His infatuation and unrequited love for none other than Paradise, who found her mate in Blood Kiss.

I quite don’t know whether JR Ward plans to write more stories under this series, given an interview recently which hinted at the possibility that there might no longer be novels forthcoming from this series. But who knows? One thing is for certain. I would definitely read them because I have mostly loved the books published featuring characters from the BDB series.

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of Saxton. Read this for Ruhn and Saxton’s story; you will definitely fall in love.

Final Verdict: Blood Fury brings closure to Saxton’s character, introducing to readers the fascinating man Ruhn proves to be. Loved both of them together to pieces.

Favorite Quotes

“You don’t want me to answer that,” he heard himself say in a guttural voice.
“Don’t do me any favors.”
“Fine. I want you to take from me. I want your mouth on me anywhere I can get it. And I know better than to think you’ll let me fuck you, but just so we’re clear, the entire time, I’ll be back between your legs in my mind. That honest enough for you? Still want me to come…to you?”
He deliberately double-entendre’d that last one because he was a prick. And he wanted her so badly he was losing his frickin’ mind.

Gently, softly…he brushed over that mouth again and again. At first, there was no response, the lips against his own frozen. But then they parted, and stroked back, with a sweet hesitation.
Saxton’s body roared, his erection straining to get out and be stroked, and sucked. And in return, he wanted to learn every square inch of the male rightfuckingnow. Patience was a virtue more likely to be rewarded than fumbling greed, however.
Saxton inched back and searched Ruhn’s face. “How was that?”
“More,” came the moaned response.

“Watch me,” she commanded.
He groaned and looked down, seeing her palm circle his thick shaft—and then she stroked him, up and down, the sensations creating a mad rush of hot and heavy all over his body. Then she was kissing him, her mouth taking over, her braid slipping free of her shoulder and landing with a heavy thump on his arm.
“Fuck, slow down, I’m going to come—”
“What I say.”
Just as the pleasure was cresting, she went for his throat, those razor-sharp fangs scraping down his skin, finding the right place at his jugular. She struck at the very onset of his orgasm and he barked out her name, the pain and the pleasure mixing, the alchemy ramping everything up until he thought he would blow apart.

As the other male came to a halt with mere inches between their faces, Saxton had to smile a little. “I guess I read this wrong, huh.”
“Yes,” came the growl. “You did.”
Holy from-out-of-nowhere.
Ruhn took hold of Saxton by either side of the throat and yanked him forward, the male’s kiss nothing tentative or shy, nothing experimental. It was full on, tongue pushing inside, that big body thrusting hips and an erection the size of a baseball bat into Saxton and forcing him back against the countertop.

As Ruhn ground his cock into Saxton’s ass, the male said in a guttural voice, “Say no now. If you’re going to, say it now.”
Saxton turned his head to the side, his cheek squeaking over the granite. Opening his mouth, he began to pant.
“Don’t stop. Oh, God…do it.”
All at once, the lights in the kitchen went out, the space plunged into darkness as Ruhn clearly willed it so. The hands that went for Saxton’s fly were rough with impatience—and then his fine loose slacks were hitting the floor. A blunt head probed and then Ruhn spit into his own palm—
The possession was hard and very deep.
The ride was a pounding to the point of violence.
The orgasm that poured into him was soul shattering for them both.

With a shaking he couldn’t hide, Peyton slid into the warm spot her body had created. And he did what he could to keep his hips back, even though there wasn’t a lot of room—it seemed rude to be rubbing all up on her while she was unclipping the—
Her nipples were small and pink and very perfect.
And though he meant to help her with the wires, instead, his fingertips sought out one of her breasts, drifting across her smooth skin. She gasped as he touched the tip.
“I have to taste you,” he said hoarsely.

“I want you in me,” she demanded.
As her hand found his erection, she did not have to ask twice. He rolled on top of her, finding a home as she split her thighs to make room for him. And then he retracted his hips, angled his arousal…
“Oh, fuck,” he groaned as his head entered her.
He slid deep, so fucking deep. And she was tight, like a fist. And she was hot, like raw fire. It was as he had known it to be from before, except so much better. Because she was with him now, hungry as he was.

With a roll of his hips, he ground himself against her and it was then that her eyes got hot behind that mask. And he couldn’t not respond to that. He grabbed her by the ass—hard—and pushed her up against a wall. Clamping a hand on the front of her throat, he squeezed just enough to make her have to work for air.
“Is this what you want?” he said harshly. “Do you want it hard and where people can see?”
“Fuck you.” She bared her fangs and hissed at him. “And yeah, I do.”

“Don’t move.”
When she looked back at him, he released the blade and waited until she nodded. Then he ran his free hand up and down her crack, rubbing the leather, stroking her sex through the pants. That didn’t last long. Taking the razor-sharp blade, he cut into the seam that went right up the center of her, put the knife away, and slid four fingers, two from each side, into the hole he’d made.
It was a clean jerk.
And underneath, her bare, hairless sex was open, ready, wet for him.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

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Review: Blood Vow by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookbloodvow.PNG
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Legacy, #2
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Axwelle
Heroine: Elise
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: December 06, 2016
Started On: August 29, 2018
Finished On: September 02, 2018

Blood Vow by JR Ward is the second book in her Black Dagger Legacy series. As is usual for Black Dagger Brotherhood/Legacy novels, the story is more than the tale of the main protagonists; Elise, blooded daughter of the Princeps Felixe and Axwelle, son of Theirsh (Axe).

Axe is one of the soldier recruits in training with the Brotherhood and it is through them that the opportunity for a high paying bodyguard job comes up. Axe is chosen (he needs the money more than some others do), and falls instantly in lust with Elise, the coveted, protected, and smothered daughter of an aristocrat family.

Axe comes from a lower class family given the Vampire societal hierarchy. Carrying a lot of guilt and anger inside him, his salvation had come from the opportunity to fight and that is what the Brotherhood had offered him. His past is shrouded in abandonment, a father whom he found lacking for all the love and care he had bestowed upon his creations hoping that the wife who had left him would one day come back, and guilt over the way he had abandoned his father when he had needed Axe the most.

Being rich does not provide comfort and love of the kind that makes ones life wholesome. That is a lesson Elise learns day in and day out as her father tries to smother her by being overprotective. The fact that no one in her family wants to talk about the recent murder of her cousin, and everyone wants to bury their grief makes Elise itch to do something about it. Elise realizes that there is a need for trained psychologists who can help their race, and that is what she sneaks out to do every evening when the sun sets; to graduate from university as a certified therapist able to help those who need it the most.

Meeting Axe changes things for Elise as well. She dares take risks she otherwise would never have dreamed of taking, and in doing so finds passion of the kind that moves her in every single way possible. Axe tries to deny himself from tasting the bits and morsels of Elise that is on offer. But it is a battle he loses spectacularly as he gives in to the combustive passion between them, and ultimately finds himself feeling love of the kind that sweeps one off their feet.

Blood Vow also brings to readers the arc that completes Rhage, Mary, and Bitty’s story. I say completes because by the time Blood Vow ends, I believe every aspect of Rhage and Mary’s life that needed resolutions have been covered. But one never knows if something won’t come up in time. It has been a painful journey that Rhage and Mary has taken to reach this point. With Bitty in their lives, it would have seemed like that everything had come full circle. But with Bitty’s uncle from her mother’s side turning up, there is a bit more of the heartache and pain to go through before the happy times arrive once again.

I liked the overall story and enjoyed bits and pieces of it. I did not connect very well with Elise, though she was perfectly sweet and all that is required. But nothing substantial came of her character except her coming clean with her father that she wanted to move out and start out on her own. Her father did not even come to know about Elise and Axe. I would have loved to see that. It would have given the story a much needed closure in that regard. But perhaps, because Elise wanted to strike out on her own and go independent, there did not seem to be much of a point to it.

Rather than the the story of the main protagonists, it often felt like the focus was more on Rhage, Mary, & Bitty. I am not complaining though. But I thought the whole point of going in this direction was to provide readers with fresh characters and their stories, not to delve deeper into, and give closure to all aspects of the main characters that we have come across in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series itself. The scene with Lassiter towards the end was perfect. I laughed so hard, making it a memorable ending.

Recommended for fans of the series, especially those who love Mary and Rhage!

Final Verdict: While the purpose of this series is sort of lost on me, Blood Vow does deliver a story that keeps the pages turning. After all, JR Ward is one hell of a storyteller.

Favorite Quotes

When she was standing in front of him, he purred deep in his throat. “How was dinner,” he asked in a growl. “Did you like it?”
Her lips parted, her breath coming hard. “He was good company.”
“I wasn’t asking about him. How was the steak.”
With that, he reached out and locked his hand on the back of her neck. Pulling her up against him, he arched his hips into her so she felt exactly what he was about.
Elise gasped, her eyes closing as she went limp.

The slicing sound of those two sharp halves coming together over and over again so close to his erection made him nearly orgasm. And then she was right where the action was.
She ran those scissors directly up the length of his erection.
Grabbing on to the blankets, fisting them hard, Axe kicked his head back, gritted his teeth, and groaned, “I’m coming—oh, fuck …”
The release was stronger than any he had been having down at that sex club, the sensations so crisp and clean, they were just like those blades, slicing through his body.

Lapping at the tip of him, she opened wide and tried to keep her teeth out of the way—and she must have succeeded, because although he went stiff all over, there were no yelps. Instead, he arched his spine and worked with her as she found a rhythm: Up and down, sucking him, stroking him on the bottom with her palm. Faster … faster …
“I’m going to come—” He groaned and went rigid—but also tried to push her away.
No, she was going to see this through.
As he barked out a curse, she took all of his orgasm, which seemed to drive him mad with passion, his convulsions and the response in her mouth as erotic an experience as she could ever imagine.

“Turn for me?” Axe said in a tone that was so close to a begging.
Rising up on the balls of her feet, she pivoted around, showing him her backside. That was when she hooked her thumbs into her underwear and took it to the floor, bending her body while keeping her legs locked so she showed him exactly what she knew he wanted to see.
He didn’t have to say a word of approval. His pumping purr and those volcanic eyes told her everything she wanted to know.

Using the small of her back and her hips, she began to ride him, and he helped her, countering her thrusts with those of his own, a momentum getting started. Her breasts swayed and her breath caught and the firelight turned everything into slow motion—or maybe that was her brain.
The oncoming release was like a train inside her body, gathering speed, the pleasure compounding on itself, radiating from her sex. And all the time they kissed and locked eyes and—
Her orgasm came first and unexpectedly, like a rubber band snapping, only there was no sting of pain, just a bursting and a welling and round after round of pleasuring contractions that she wanted to get lost in forever. And then Axe was thrusting up hard, going even deeper, a kicking taking over just as it had in her mouth.

As he moved back for her to join him, she lifted her lips so he could kiss them at the same time she put her hands on him.
And not as in on his shoulders or his biceps, his stomach or even his ass.
Axe arched so hard, he threw his head into the back wall of the shower. “Fuck—”
“Oh, God, I’m sorry—”
“Like I care?”
With a guttural sound, he kissed her, his hips jerking as her grip restrengthened, the sex surging between them, going from a low-level burn to a solar flare in a split second. And he was not gentle with her. Desperation made his hands rough as he yanked her against him, and his mouth was brutal on hers, and his need went out of control.
But dearest Virgin Scribe, she matched his desperation with a starvation of her own.

As Elise looked down past her breasts and her stomach, it was an erotic shock to see the huge male crammed into the bottom of the shower stall, his hot eyes staring up at her, his tongue licking free of her core, flashing pink before he went back in again—
Another orgasm racked her body and she ground down on his mouth, working herself against him.
In response, he came at her with even greater intensity.
He was possessed and possessing her … and the erotic pleasure was almost too much for her to handle, the sensations ricocheting through her body, her brain sizzling, her senses on fire.
She didn’t want him to stop.
And he didn’t.

When he bared his fangs, she knew he was going to go for her jugular, and she wanted him there. Turning her head to the side, she bared herself to him—
The strike was brutal, his fangs going in so deep, she screamed—but not in pain, even though it hurt in a delicious way.
This was the marking she had heard about.
This was the owning of the female by the male, the staking of the claim. And sure enough, he held her in place at the throat with his teeth as he marked her from the inside out by coming into her sex.
But he wasn’t done with her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

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Review: Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookdearestivie.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15.5
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: “Silas” Montasilas, son of Mordachy the Younger
Heroine: Ivie Hannaford
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 13, 2018
Started On: May 08, 2018
Finished On: May 10, 2018

Dearest Ivie is a novella set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, that fits in between the titles The Chosen and The Thief. What makes Dearest Ivie so notable is the fact that it steers away from the lives of the King, the Brothers, and their shellans. It takes readers away from all that and delves into the lives of ordinary civilian vampire population. If you are thinking that a story as such wouldn’t be half as interesting, you would be wrong. And let me tell you why.

Dearest Ivie, as the name goes, tells the story of Ivie Hannaford, a nurse who works with Havers, and is sort of hopeless when it comes to romance and dating. Probably to do with the fact that Ivie is the sort of person who tends to say what is on her mind and that is a character trait not be received well by most. I found Ivie’s character endearing and hilarious in equal doses and I loved her all the more for it. Sarcastic wit always gets to me, and Ivie had that in spades, especially in a story that needed it owing to the angst factor well delivered when it came to Silas, the hero.

Silas turns up in Ivie’s life rather unexpectedly, but is no less potent in the feelings that he invokes in her from the start. A bit elusive and secretive, Silas however takes Ivie’s breath away. Ivie comes from a huge family, her father Hirah, the six-five, bearded and tattooed hulk of a man who was one of the most lovable characters I have come across in the series. I fell in love with him from the very first moment he stepped into the story and that was it. Ivie is what you would call someone from the middle class or lower class perhaps, but Silas belongs to the glymera, the aristocracy, and comes from one of the founding families of the race.

However, it is not Silas that has issues with their different stations in life, but Ivie, who has a bit of reverse snobbery going for her, until Silas sets things straight – I totally loved him in that moment, for calling out Ivie on her behavior. But what was really tragic was how Silas keeps a secret from Ivie, a secret of the kind that might just be too much heartbreak for Ivie when all is said and done.

Like I mentioned earlier, Dearest Ivie was such a gem of a read. It had everything going for it. Snark and wit, a lovable heroine who knows what it means to be steadfast and loyal in the face of extreme challenges in life, a hero who is sexy, beautiful, and above all, kind-hearted and Ivie’s other half in every sense. How Ward managed to convey all that in a simple novella, I would never know. But then again, she is the genius storyteller and I am just the reader who cannot get enough of her books.

When I turned the last page, I wished to read more novels on vampire civilians – if the men are even half as sexy as Silas and the women are just as quirky and adorable as Ivie, I would consider it a novel/la that would make my day.

Recommended; even if you have never read a Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, this is totally awesome and can be read as a standalone!

Final Verdict: Dearest Ivie is one of the sweetest books I have read from a series that certainly does not do sweet. In the midst of all the danger and darkness that is Black Dagger Brotherhood, Dearest Ivie stands out for the laugh out loud humor & the beautiful characters. Loved!

Favorite Quotes

Opening her door, she leaned out into the carpeted corridor…and there he was, coming down to her, his smile as big as hers, his body just the same, his face just the same.
His scent just the same.
No suit this time, and that was good. Instead, he had on a black cashmere sweater and a set of slacks that were dark gray. He looked polished, expensive…delicious.
“Hello, stranger,” she said as he stopped in front of her.

“Do you mind?” he whispered.
“I’m sorry, what?”
But then he was taking her face in his hands and lowering his head—and she was pulling him down to her mouth, his lips the only thing she wanted in the world.
It was quite possible she moaned as he kissed her. Or maybe that was him. Who cared.
They shuffled inside and she closed them in, and then she was against him and wrapping her arms around his shoulders. It was a long while before they eased back, and even when they did, it was just their mouths. Everything else stayed close.
Silas’s eyes were heavy lidded and glowing as he stared down at her. “Hi.”

His mouth dropped down to hers again, his lips plying at her, his tongue coming out and licking for permission to enter. Broad, warm hands slipped around to her waist, and her breasts got tight as they met the wall of his pecs.
It was clear he was aroused.
And that got her even hotter.
But then he was cursing and putting her back from him. “Damn it. I promised myself I wouldn’t—”
“Do I look like I’m complaining over here?”

They ended up on the couch. She had no idea how they got there.
One minute, Ivie was standing against him, the next she was on her back and Silas’s weight was pushing her into the cushions. And then, when she parted her thighs, he accepted the invitation, settling himself between them, the hard ridge of his arousal stroking at her core through their clothes.
Rolling her hips, she arched into his body, and the groan he let out registered as a caress that went down into her abdomen.
When he pulled back, he was panting, his eyes at once glazed and hyper-focused. “Ivie…”

Silas sat forward and took her face in his hands, in that way he did. “You would do that for me?”
“Of course. I mean…well, you look like you could use it. When was the last time you fed?”
He answered the question by virtue of his scent, that spice of his flaring, his eyes going to her wrist, which was bare.
Instantly, she was hot all over.
“Not there,” she said huskily. “Here.”
Moving her dark hair to the side, she stroked her jugular. “I want you here. At my throat.”
His chest started to pump up and down, and a growl permeated the silence of her apartment. “Are you sure?”
“Oh, yes.”

With hands that were rough, Silas grabbed on to her and all but threw her on her back on the couch. And then he was on top of her, pressing her down into the cushions, his pale eyes volcanic, his body strung like a steel cable, his fangs elongating.
In a voice that was deliciously demanding, he said, “Even if I can’t stop?”
He wasn’t talking about taking too much from her vein. No, as he rolled his hips so she could feel his arousal, she knew damn well he meant sex.
“I don’t want you to stop.”
“There isn’t a lot of time. I have things I have to do at home. I won’t be able to stay afterward—”
“Shut up and get into me.”
He didn’t require any more urging than that. With a tremendous hiss, he bared his canines and bit her neck hard, the pain lancing through her body and translating into pure pleasure by the time it reached her core.

He still had his coat on, and that fine wool was all texture against her hyper-sensitive nipples, the hard ridge at his hips pushing into her core and then retreating until she was going to lose her mind, his scent a roar in her nose.
“I need you,” she barked. “I need you in me—now.”
Somehow he heard her, or maybe he had reached the same desperation she had—either way, he retracted his hips and moved one of his hands between them, yanking at the tie on the waistband of her scrubs as she helped by pulling them down and kicking them free along with her panties.
And then he was jerking at the fine leather belt he wore. She took over, pushing his hand out of the way as she freed the buckle, the button, the zipper.
The length of him was hard and hot and long in her hands.
And the sound he made turned her body into a tuning fork, the bass vibrating through her.
She was too impatient for the feel of him inside of her to do much exploring, and as soon as his head was at the heart of her, she pushed her pelvis forward so he sank in deep.

And then he was moving in her, pumping with thrusts that sent the top of her head into the armrest, a creaking noise rising up from the sofa’s supports, the banging sound probably the windowsill taking a beating. Or maybe the wall. Who cared.
Gone was the aristocrat with the nice manners and the polite words, the arching accent and the expensive clothes. Silas was utterly dominant as he took everything she had and demanded more, his pace rough and powerful, a male’s lust unleashed without restraint.
And she just wanted more.
As if he read her mind, he hooked his forearm where his palm had been, cranking her even tighter under his heavy weight, his hips pounding into her, the lower half of his body swinging freely—
Until he locked against her with a punch of his thighs, his erection emptying into her as he continued to suck at her throat.
All she could do was hang on to his shoulders.
And pray he never, ever stopped.
Sure it would kill her, but what a way to go.

Stroking her, his lids lowered and he growled, “Give me your mouth, female.”
He pulled her to him by the back of the neck and then she felt something between her legs that was hot and blunt.
Ivie sat down on his arousal, and they both groaned and jerked. Controlling the tempo, she rolled her hips and used her knees to go up and down, the pleasure so acute, she couldn’t decide whether to close her eyes so she could concentrate more or keep them open so she never forgot where they were and what they were doing.
Her release was overwhelming and he was right there with her, even though they were straining in the confined space, and their clothes were tangled, and oh, crap, the bucket seat was sooo in the way, and also the console—how great was it that none of that mattered?

“What do you most want to be remembered for?” she whispered.
His lids lifted and his eyes shifted to her own.
“My love for you.” He blinked slowly. “I wish to be best remembered for how much I loved you. Of all the places I’ve gone and people I’ve known and things I’ve done…my love for you is the purest representation of who I am. It’s the best of me, of who I am, of my soul. My love for you…is everything of me.”
Ivie teared up even though she did her best not to give in to emotion. “Silas…”
“Please don’t forget me. I know I’m probably supposed to tell you to move on with your life and dwell on this little slice of time we’ve been given…but just…take me in your heart wherever you go. It will be the life I wished I’d lived, by your side, enjoying the gift of time and health with you.”

“I thought you needed an oak of your own right now,” Rubes said gently from behind.
Ivie’s father was standing in the middle of the corridor, those biker boots planted on the fancy runner, his hands on his leather-clad hips, his tattoos gleaming in the low lighting because, of course, he had come without a jacket on.
Ivie squeezed her cousin’s hand in thanks and then she ran for her sire.
She hit Hirah like a car going out of control at full speed. And like a concrete pylon, her father didn’t budge. He just put his heavy arms around her and held her tight.
“He’s dying, Daddy. He’s dying…”
Her father didn’t say a thing. He let his strength do the talking as he kept her from collapsing in a heap in the hall.
“I love him so much,” she turned her face to the side and squeezed her eyes tight. “And he’s dying…”

And later, much later, she would reflect that it was then that she became an adult. Standing in that corridor, in her father’s embrace, she fully came into her maturity.
The thing was, when you were young, and you went to your parents for support, nine times out of ten, they could fix whatever was wrong. They could glue the broken rudder back on your sailboat. Throw a Band-Aid on a cut. Feed you when you were hungry, put you to bed when you were exhausted, hang out with you when you were alone. They could help you find what was lost, make the storms go away, buy you an ice cream when someone was mean to you for no good reason.
Parents, when you were a child, were the source of it’s-gonna-be-all-right.
But as Ivie leaned on her dad, it was as an adult.
He couldn’t fix this, and she knew better than to even ask.
“I’m so sorry, little girl,” he said in a voice that cracked. “I’m so sorry…”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

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Review: The Thief by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthethief.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #16
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Assail, son of Assail
Heroine: Marisol Maria Rafaela Carvalho
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 10, 2018
Started On: April 25, 2018
Finished On: May 04, 2018

The sixteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward brings to readers the much awaited story of Assail, son of Assail, and Marisol, the beautiful human female that has haunted him in a way that no woman ever has before. Both Assail and Marisol are characters who have more or less led a life of criminal activity. Marisol because it had been the only way of life she had known and grown up with, the kind of life that had meant security for her grandmother for whom she would do just about anything, even if it means walking away from the one man who makes her soul sing.

Assail had fallen into the life of crime mostly out of a need for something to validate his existence. After the attack of the Lessers on the members of the glymera (vampire aristocrats), Assail had taken over the drug trade that had been left solely for human traders ever since Rehvenge left that part of his life altogether. Along the way, Assail is seen as someone for whom there is no line he would not cross, even if it means trading with the Lessers themselves. It is not about the money for Assail, and his dangerous habit of indulging in the goods takes its toll, until he willingly puts himself into rehab under the care of Doc Jane.

Because vampires have huge physiological differences in comparison to humans, the detoxing takes its toll on Assail in a way that no one foresaw. With his life hanging on the balance, it is his cousins that seek Marisol’s help because there was no other avenue left to reach out to him.

Marisol, having grown up with a religious Catholic grandmother, even as she defies conventions that religion dictates of her, she is bound by her faith in God. That is the one reason why she leaves with her grandmother even as her heart breaks in half when she has to leave Assail. At the time, it had been solely to act upon the promise she had made unto God, should she ever manage to escape the ordeal her life of crime had thrown her way. Making a clean cut and a life in hiding is what Marisol is prepared for until she returns to Assail’s side once again.

Marisol has no idea as to the true nature of what Assail is, and as Assail returns back to the fold of the living and regains his full strength, it becomes more complex as time passes to keep a lid on the bonded vampire that is unleashed every time they are together. But would Marisol be able to look beyond all that and see a man of worth behind what he is, and accept all of him? That is the question that haunts Assail as he sets out to convince his Marisol that they are meant to be together.

On the sidelines, the story of Doc Jane and Vishous takes a turn for the worse. Continuing from what happened in the book The Chosen, Vishous sets forth on a path that has the potential of destroying the bond between him and his shellan for good. While a lot of readers were put off by Vishous and his sentiments that drove him to this point, I actually understood where he was coming from. I guess it takes one who can admit to their own failures to empathize with an individual on their failings as well.

Vishous comes from a place of pain which he does not identify as such. Jane says as much when the finally let it loose, the frustrations, the fears, and the disappointments that had been festering between them for a while. Jane with her duties as the healer at the Brotherhood compound, takes her duties seriously, perhaps all too seriously.

Similarly, Vishous, the son of a deity, the most highly intelligent of the Brothers, takes his role just as severely. Which leaves them practically with no downtime, and especially with everyone else of the Brothers finding that one thing that acts as the glue that reaffirms the love they have for their shellans, Vishous is seemingly adrift in an abyss that he does not particularly understand, which is something rare for someone like him. Vishous has mummy issues that would probably fill up pages and pages of a psychiatric manual and all of that and more leaves him in a position of vulnerability, even if that does not excuse his behavior.

I wonder though, when all was said and done, and Jane and Vishous managed to talk it out and deal with everything that had been problematic between them, whether Vishous doesn’t yearn for a young of his own. Even if he is of the mind that he does not want one, and Jane seems oblivious to such a need within herself because lets face it, she is not in a position to offer that dream to Vishous, I wonder if this issue wouldn’t come up time and yet again between them. Vishous might be more of a ‘softie’ than anyone gives him credit for. It is those who appear hardened from years of neglect and parental issues that are often most in need of love and families of their own. I hope I am wrong, but then there is this feeling that I cannot quite shake off.

I believe The Thief actually brought to the forefront a lot of issues that needs addressing in terms of Scribe Virgin, the abandonment of the old ways of life of the Chosen, and the neglect in the Sanctuary that might cause serious harm if left to own devices. For instance, Throe and his formidable army that he is forging out of a book of dark arts seems to have been stolen from the Santuary, when previously that would not have been possible. There is also the need for record keeping in the Sanctuary which has also been abandoned, which is crucial for the survival and continuity of the vampire race and their way of life, as tumultuous as the changing times might be.

Up next seems to be Murhder’s story, a character that seems to excite me on many levels because his past is a mystery that needs unraveling. One thing I missed dearly was seeing my beloved Xcor settling into his life with Layla and the twins. I would love to read or catch a glimpse of them sometime in the next couple of books. I also hope that Assail does find that calling in his life that would keep him from getting into “trouble” all over again.

Recommended for fans of the series!

Final Verdict: JR Ward definitely cannot write the BDB series fast enough to suit fans like myself. The Thief concluded the chapter on Assail and Marisol’s story, and leaves readers hankering for Murhder’s story that is to come. Now, that is how masterful storytellers get it done.

Favorite Quotes

Marisol laughed, and then she took him in hand—and now he was the one gasping and rising up for more of her touch.
“Please…” he groaned.
“I couldn’t agree more.”
Straddling his hips again, she angled his arousal…and sat down, impaling herself in the most marvelous way.
Assail’s eyes rolled back, and his body drank in the sensation of completeness. “My Marisol…”

Assail extended his tongue and was done with any preamble. He licked up the center of her, flicking the top of her sex. Then he sealed her with a kiss.
The groan she tried to stifle made him smile, but then he had work to do. Sucking her in, then licking at her, he took his time, enjoying the feel and taste of her, the warmth and the rush—and greedy for even more, he spread her knees farther apart, his hands locking on, squeezing.
The lapping sounds were loud in the silence of the room—and so was her breathing. And both got their volume turned up as he started flicking at her, his tongue a darting, dancing tease that had her hips jerking back and forth as she rode his face.

His penetration was so fast and deep she yelled. And then she didn’t know what the hell she did—and she didn’t care.
Vishous was dominating by nature, a force in the world that wasn’t to be denied. And he had sex in exactly that way: He pounded her furiously, his body clapping against hers, the structural integrity of the marble wall she’d put her back against the only reason they were still standing.
And even that was a “maybe” instead of a “definitely”: At the rate he was going, he was liable to fuck her right through the stone and out onto the lawn—and she loved it. She loved the near-violence, the knife-edge of pain, the sense that she had walked into the woods and found a snarling beast and laid herself down so it could take her.
He was the out-of-control that she otherwise didn’t let into her life. And she had missed this. She had missed him.

Sometime after sunrise, Jane had her face in a pillow. Her naked body was flat on the mattress, and her legs were spread, and there was good reason for both. A huge weight was on top of her, moving, penetrating, the rhythm like waves in the ocean at high tide. Her hands were held down, big palms pressing on them, keeping her in place. Fangs, sharp and delicious, were sunk into her shoulder, the bite deep.
How Vishous managed to be in all those places at once was something to ponder—at a different damn time.

When he put one of her hands on his arousal, she started stroking him—and he climaxed immediately, coming on her belly, the ejaculations hot and powerful. In the back of her mind, she had a split second of disappointment that he had finished so soon, the session ending before it got started for her.
She couldn’t have been more wrong.
Before she knew what was happening, he was lifting her up and she was grabbing on to the top of the stall’s glass panels. Suspending herself at his hip height, he entered her core with a hard shove, the penetration slicing through her with an erotic sharpness. And as he began to move inside of her, an unusual tingling flowed throughout her body, as if her blood had turned to sparkles.
So hot. So heavy. So hard. And then his mouth was at her breasts, his dark head moving as wet suction locked on her nipples.

“I love you, too, Assail.” She leaned in and kissed him. Then ran her tongue across the points of his canines. “Man, I am so turned on—”
Before he could help himself, he snatched ahold of the nape of her neck and yanked her to his mouth. After he kissed her hard, he set her back so he could meet her eyes.
As the scent of her arousal flared, he knew she was staring at his fangs as they descended from the roof of his mouth.
“I will never hurt you with them,” he said in a guttural voice. “Ever. But if you want them—”
“I do,” she breathed. “I want you to do…whatever you do.”
Without thinking about it—and even though the door was not locked and there were people around—he took her hand and pulled it under the sheets. Placing her palm on his erection, he rolled his hips.
She took over from there. As they kissed, and his hand found her breast through her fleece, she stroked him.
It did not take long. And even though his fresh stitches stung as he worked with her rhythm, the pleasure was so great, he started coming almost immediately—and he didn’t stop.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

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Review: The Chosen by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthechosen.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Xcor
Heroine: Layla
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 04, 2017
Started On: February 28, 2018
Finished On: March 03, 2018

At long last, JR Ward presents readers with the story of Xcor, the leader of the Band of Bastards, the traitor who tried to assassinate Wrath, the King of the Vampire race to take the throne for himself. However, along the course of his desire for the throne, Xcor’s destiny takes a turn; his meeting with Layla, the Chosen. Their story is one that has kept me enamored throughout, waiting on tenterhooks for any and every glimpse of the formidable warrior and Layla, the equally gentle and when it needs be, and fierce in her own right, Layla. And I am pretty certain that I would have not been the only one.

At the same time, what took place seems to have pissed off a few of the die-hard fans, especially in light of the turn that Vishous took when it came to his relationship with Jane. I will get to that later, but right now, I just want to soak in the thousand and one feels that still courses through me whenever I think about Xcor and Layla, together at last. Nothing is going to take away the warm fuzzies owing to that happy fact and its going to stay that way!

The Chosen kicks off a couple of weeks from when The Beast finishes, with Xcor in captivity under the watch of the Brothers, and Tohr itching to take his life as was promised by Wrath that it would be rightfully his for the taking when the time came. But Xcor had come to them incapacitated and in a coma from the blow to his head, and days pass before events finally come to a point where Layla confesses to Qhuinn, the father of her twins that it was Xcor and their parting that was putting a huge damper on Layla’s emotions, enough to plunge her into deep depression.

Qhuinn’s reaction was by far, one of the “assholiest” reactions I have come across in the series towards any turn of events. Filled to the brim with casting stones on Layla and her behavior, and I am like, yeah, nice one to talk Qhuinn, plus the fact that Qhuinn let his anger get the better of him, going into a fit of rage that could have done serious harm to the mother of his kids and the twins themselves was unforgivable. I can understand becoming unhinged to a point because from Qhuinn’s viewpoint, Layla had been with the enemy, possibly putting herself in danger, and in the process the twins.

But, the total lack of disregard to Layla as a person in her own right, and not just a womb to carry their children, that was what rankled. I expected better from Qhuinn, someone who had never had family to belong to, an outcast on his own right, and while Layla was cut from different cloth, she had had the same kind of loneliness hound her for a long time. Layla and Qhuinn’s bond had been forged out of that loneliness, and the decision Qhuinn had taken to service Layla in her needing had been one he had taken knowing the ramifications of what it would bring – that theirs would always remain a bond strengthened through the birth of their children.

Right about the same time, which coincides with the anniversary of Wellsie’s brutal death at the hand of lessers, which has Tohr itching to get his hands on Xcor to teach him a thing or two, or to take his frustrations out on something other than his mere existence and the unfairness in life when it came to taking his Wellsie away from him, Xcor finally wakes up.

Tohr and Wellsie’s story is another point of contention with me when it comes to couples in the series. I actually thought that Tohr having gone through all that he did during his and Autumn’s story, where they both had grief that had to be dealt with before they could be together, would have actually made him better able to deal with a lot of things. But with the issue of Trez and his beloved Selena fresh on his mind, Tohr is ready to slide back into a place of darkness once again.

I guess I would never fully be able to understand the bonded male and their connection to their mates. But, I always feel like Autumn holds the short end of the stick when it comes to Tohr and his love. She does not seem to come even as the second, but sort of like a mere afterthought and that rankles in so many ways. But then again, Autumn is a big girl, tough in a way that she is able to see right through Tohr, to understand him on a level that I suppose I never would be able to. But I hope that one day, Ward writes about them in a way that makes better sense out of their relationship – perhaps time and unconditional love from Autumn would change the direction of Tohr’s tormented mind that takes a turn for the worse when things get too much for him.

In the end, Xcor’s “savior” comes in the form of the Brother that is the least likely to give into the sentimental stuff, i.e. Vishous. Though Vishous believes he does it more out of that calculating mentality of his which always lets him plan ahead and keep a cooler head than the rest of the Brothers, it is also partly owing to the strange feelings that have of late taken over Vishous in terms of his relationship with Dr. Jane.

The missing elements between him and Jane, that feeling of being left adrift while the rest seem to be anchored in a way he has never been; all this and more leads Vishous down a path that most readers would have found problems with. But I understood it. Vishous is highly intelligent, is the son of a deity, and his emotions aren’t that of the average Vampire, or even a Brother. Plus, growing up at the merciless hands of the Bloodletter and his mummy issues has left Vishous in a place that is far different from the rest and it is an often dangerous trajectory that his wisdom takes him on and I believe that plays a huge role in his decision making as well.

While people often say there is no excuse for cheating, sometimes it is not owing to one, but rather because of the place one finds themselves at – as hard as it might be for most to fathom. There is no excuse to be had for any type for bad behavior that reflects badly on the other person, or hurts other people, but there you have it. It is often part and parcel of human nature, and I guess we would encounter cheating spouses/partners till the end of times.

For me, the best part of the story hands down, was how Layla and Xcor finally got together. Their union was that much more precious because Xcor waited all that time, first because he didn’t believe himself to be worthy of someone like Layla, and secondly because she was pregnant throughout a huge part of their “courtship” – as strange as the application of that word might be in their context. So when they finally did get together; a whole lot of fireworks, gentleness, and then the strength that is Xcor unleashed on the woman who holds his heart and soul in her hands. I loved every single moment of it.

I loved Wrath for having the foresight of the leader that he has turned into. He could have asked any of the Brothers to take down Xcor, and could have been shitty towards Layla because she had consorted with the enemy. But Wrath is the King, elected or otherwise, for a reason. He has to lead people, and often the issues that come up are not going to be easy to wade through. For that, one requires level headed thinking.

Xcor was a traitor – there are no two ways about it. Even though he is my second favorite character in the series, I am honest enough to admit that. But Wrath being who he is, decided to get down to business and talk it out with him, a chance he gives Xcor only because of Layla and the entangled web their lives had become. Imagine the consequences of the hatred that would have been born out of the tragedy had Wrath given into his baser instincts and ordered that Xcor be tortured and killed? Now that would have taken centuries to right and led to infighting, which would not have solved anything. The vampires have enough enemies on the outside, so it is prudent that you do not go around making new enemies of the people who are closest to you. Period.

Throe and his inner psychology was also a bit more closely revealed in this book, through Xcor’s reasoning on how he came to be. How Xcor’s own mother had abhorred him and only put up with him because Xcor’s father promised to seek her out if she harms him, until the day she receives the news that Xcor’s father had no need for Xcor as an heir and that his mahmen was finally free of him.

The fact that she left him in the wilderness, chained like a dog, without any means to defend himself; that speaks volumes of the kind of mother she was. Xcor had survived, against all odds, and even went through the training at the Bloodletter’s camp, believing the Bloodletter when he had lied to Xcor about being his father.

In Xcor’s grief over Throe and what he had become, Xcor believes that the same humiliation that Throe had been subjected to at Xcor’s hands had rendered him psychologically to take a different path – a more destructive path in the future where his ambitions had found an outlet with the dark arts and the havoc that could potentially cause the Brothers in their fight to keep the race and their King safe from harm.

Ultimately, the story leaves one with a lot of questions regarding Throe and his ambitions; whether the Omega has any hand in it is one of the most prominent ones. There is also the fact that Lassiter is the new “Scribe Virgin” – there has got to be a new title for the position because calling someone as virile as Lassiter a “virgin” just seems all wrong somehow.

Interesting times ahead (not that there is any period of time that lapses into boredom when you are reading about the Black Dagger Brotherhood), but the way Ward keeps the twists and turns coming? That is number one reason why I would pick up a BDB book over any other, any day.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: The Chosen is a book that has been anticipated for a long while; the story of the Chosen Layla and Xcor. Their love is fiery and gentle at the same time, a love like no other that I fell for in every single sense. There is a beauty to Xcor’s character that can only be found in the the deeply scarred and wounded.

Favorite Quotes

When he finally broke the contact, he smoothed his palm down her hair. “May I enter your bedroom, female?”
His eyes were so beautiful, shining and hot, the deep navy blue nearly black from the lust he had for her. And to her, his face was handsome, everything that was strong and masculine and powerful, the defect in his upper lip not anything she noticed or dwelled on. In fact, it was the whole of him that appealed to her, his power and his vulnerability, his savage nature and the polite effort he was making, the warrior in him and the protector who came out for her.
“Yes,” she whispered.

Except when his pelvis came back down to hers, he still had his sweatpants on.
His arousal had been freed, however. And her eyes fluttered shut as his blunt head brushed against her.
“I’m trying to go slowly,” he said through gritted teeth.
“You don’t have to.”
With that, she shoved her hands down, found his thick, hard length, and brought it to her in just the right place. Digging a heel into the duvet, she moved herself up—
He slid into her and the fit was perfection. It was home and it was the whole galaxy at once, and she was so overwhelmed, tears speared into her eyes—because she knew he was equally affected: Xcor orgasmed the second he was fully inside of her, his warrior’s body beginning to empty into her—and yet he recoiled, his head jerking back, alarm marking his face even as his body continued to release.

“Layla,” he begged.
One by one, she sucked at his fingers, loosening his hold on his erection, making him so weak that his hands fell away from his sex not because he willed them as such, but because he lacked the strength in his arms to do aught else.
Freed from constraint, his cock jutted straight out from his hips, the water from the shower making the proud length glisten. Fates, he wanted her to do what she was about to, craved the feel of her lips on his head, his shaft, wanted the suction and the—
“Fuck,” he groaned as her mouth captured him.

Xcor lunged at her, moving so fast he wasn’t aware of making the decision to get on her. And he was rough, shoving her hand out of the way and sealing his mouth on her sex, taking what he wanted, what she had teased him with.
Now she was the one throwing hands out, looking to keep herself in some semblance of physical order. But he was having none of that. He yanked her down flat on the tile, slapped his palms on the inside of her thighs, and butterflied her open, going in deep with his tongue, consuming her.
She came hard against his face, her hands spearing into his damp hair, pulling at it until it hurt. Not that he gave a shit. All he cared about was getting into her, making her say his name, marking her with his lips and tongue.

He pulled out at the last minute, rising above her, his shoulders blocking the spray of the shower. Grabbing his erection, he was even more brutal with himself than he had been with her, yanking at his sex, making himself come.
So that he covered her.
It was the marking of a bonded male, a practice done so that any other male in her presence would be fully warned that if he approached her, he had best beware.
She was another’s.
Not as property. But as something far too precious for others to toy with.

Sitting himself next to her, he took a piece of toast off the stack and began the buttering process.
“I can do that,” she muttered. “I should like to serve you.”
Then drop your pants, she thought as she eyed the huge thighs that strained the seams of the black nylon sweats he was wearing. And then there was the way the bottom of the sleeve of his T-shirt struggled to hold the thick circumference of his bicep. And the shadow of beard growth that darkened his jaw.
Sinking her nails into her knees, she looked at his mouth. “Xcor.”
“Hmm?” he asked as he moved a mathematically precise layer of butter over the toast with a knife.
“Enough with the food.”
“I’m almost finished here.”
And I’m totally finished over here, she thought.

“Honey,” he murmured. “I think it would be rather good indeed.” Layla looked at the honey pot. “I believe you’re right.” Reaching forward, she picked the thing up and arched her back. “Honey is good on a lot of things.”
Swirling the dipper, she took the thing out and held it over her breast, and as the honey spooled and fell, her nipple caught the sweetness. The tickle made her bite her lip, and then more of the amber glow dripped onto her skin, a river of it easing down to her abdomen.
“Xcor …?”
“Yes—”
When he glanced over at her, he did a double take—and dropped the toast on the tray. Which was a relief because, really, if she couldn’t win a competition with carbohydrates for his attention she was seriously in trouble.
His navy blue eyes were instantly hot and very, very locked on the way the honey slowly, tantalizingly hit her breast drop by drop and meandered down, down … down.
“I wonder,” she said in a husky voice, “whether honey is sweeter than me?”

With rough hands, he freed his sex and then he was inside of her, pumping while he kissed her, their bodies finding a rhythm that was so rough the sofa itself rocked and banged against the wall.
Harder, faster, deeper, until they couldn’t keep their mouths together anymore. Reaching up, she held onto his surging shoulders, the muscles under his smooth skin like an ocean that was storming—
Pleasure broke like a lightning strike, but also made her whole—and then he found his own release, pouring himself into her.
And Xcor didn’t stop.
Or slow down.

In spite of his injuries, he pulled her into his lap and wrapped his arms around her. And then he was kissing her collarbone. And her throat … and her lips.
That now-familiar heat rose again, and when he eased her up and over his hips, she split her thighs to straddle him and was glad the partition was up for their privacy.
Shifting around awkwardly, she took one side of her leggings down and moved her panties out of the way as he pulled up the hem of his hospital gown.
“I’ll be careful,” she said as he grimaced from pain.
“I won’t feel anything but you.”
Xcor stood his erection with his hand and she slowly slid herself onto it.
“My love,” he breathed as his head fell back and his eyes closed. “Oh, you make me whole.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

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Review: Devil’s Cut by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookdevilscut
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Bourbon Kings, #3
Publisher: Ballantine
Hero: Lane/Edward/Samuel
Heroine: Lizzie/Sutton/Gin
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2017
Started On: September 29, 2016
Finished On: October 05, 2017

The third and final book in The Bourbon Kings trilogy delivered a lackluster read for me in many ways, reasons which I will be detailing about later in the post. JR Ward’s characterization and setting is of course top notch. And even with all the problems I had with the story and its development, I enjoyed the escape it provided when I needed one. 

Devil’s Cut takes off from where things were left off in the second book, The Angels’ Share, where the eldest, Edward Westfork Bradford Baldwine, confesses to the murder of his father. This sets in motion the events that escalate into the culmination of the ending Ward delivered, with Gin and Samuel’s story being given a little bit more attention to tie up the loose ends in their story as well.

Things I loved about the story can be summed up in just one sentence. Gin and Samuel, and their fiery non-relationship relationship. It is not the ideal love affair that they have going, but because of it, their story manages to grab you from the first book onward and not let you go.

One of the things I disliked about the series was that it focused too much on Lizzie and Lane, when it should have been separate novels for each of the lead characters we meet. Secondary characters like Edwin MacAllan (Mack), Master Distiller for the company who meets his match in Beth Lewis who turns up for the position of his assistant was a secondary story that was left without much written about them after the initial introduction. There was so much potential in their story and the readers just got to see them “together” all of a sudden.

While I grew to accept Lizzie and Lane together, I never did love their coming together as much as I should have, especially given the time that Ward invested in writing their characters, by giving them so much presence in all three novels. I could understand why from the viewpoint of Lane being the one responsible for bringing it all together, solving the family issues etc. But, that could have been catered to while letting their stories simmer in the background, making other characters more prominent.

I would have loved to see an expansion of Maxwell’s story, the son who left and didn’t return until at the very last minute. He is labeled as a drifter, a troublemaker, a tattooed bad-ass if you ask me, and he was just sidelined in the series to an extent that it was as if Ward just happened to remember that he also needed to come back. His history with Tanesha Nyce, the preacher’s daughter was one I wanted to read about, and yet that too, never materialized.

That brings me to the couple that gave the series that jolt of electricity, that pulse of life; Gin and Samuel – the lifeline of the series. Yet, they didn’t get to have their own book, and they had the potential to be so much more. Even when Ward did not give them their own book, they made their presence felt throughout, so much so that I wished that I got to read about them and them alone. There is so much history to them, their on and off explosive “relationship”, the secret Gin has been carrying with her for so long, a secret so incendiary that it seems to drive a wedge between Gin and Samuel that could have lasted for a long time. Gin is a character who is extremely flawed, and the way she transforms was the one aspect to the series that I wholeheartedly approved of. But I just wished that Ward had focused more on them than on other paltry characters of the series.

Ward also started a story line where a sort of love triangle could have emerged between Edward, Shelby, and Sutton. I wasn’t that enamored with Sutton at all. Nor was I won over even when everything just seemed to neatly come together with Shelby moving on all of a sudden. There was a vulnerability to Shelby, a down to earth honesty to her character that I fell in love with from the onset. She seemed to see right through to Edward, his pain, and the darkness inside of him unlike Sutton for whom Edward shows a different side of his character. He tries to protect Sutton in a way when with Shelby, he is himself, the version of himself that he became after all the trauma that he had gone through. But of course, it was Sutton he went for all of a sudden, and there was this missing component to their story line that didn’t satisfy me on all fronts.

The ultimate culmination of the main thread of the story was also disappointing to say the least. It focuses on the murder of William Baldwine and the ensuing chaos that brings all siblings “together”. While the “killer” became obvious halfway through, I still hoped that Ward would provide something more explosive than what I knew would be a pitiful ending. Everything of course comes together rather neatly, but there were those potholes in the plot that were left gaping open. Ward is capable of so much more, as her Black Dagger Brotherhood stories testify time and yet again. I know that both series are entirely different in their own manner. But the fact that even with all those things that did not work for me in this one, I was still hooked to Ward’s storytelling tells its own tale.

Final Verdict: Disappointing for the fact that it could have been so much more; I wished for individual stories for all main leads in the series.

Favorite Quotes

In lieu of answering, he dipped down and brushed the side of her throat with his lips. Moving his hands farther up under her skirt, he brushed the tops of her thigh highs—and then kept going until—
“You’re not wearing panties,” he growled.
“Of course not. It’s eighty-five degrees out there and humid as the inside of a shower.”
Samuel T. became unhinged then, his control snapping, his greed for her overtaking everything. With sure fingers, he unbuckled his monogrammed belt and unzipped his slacks—and Gin was clearly as impatient as he was. Moving herself down on the sofa, she brought them together at the very moment he angled his erection forward.
They both shuddered, and then he started moving.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

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Review: Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookshadowwoman
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Xavier
Heroine: Lizette Henry
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 1, 2013
Started On: January 9, 2013
Finished On: January 15, 2013

I crave for a fix of Linda Howard like an addict craves for a fix of the drug that gives him a high. Dramatic? Yes. But its nothing but the truth. When I discovered books by Linda Howard, quite by chance I must say, I raced through them like a serial killer would race through a field of potential victims. Again, dramatic a description? But again, that is nothing but the truth. Linda Howard is an author I have an utmost admiration for, because she has written so many outstanding books and the recent decline in the popularity of her newer books has just made me sad enough to weep. What keeps the tears at bay is there is always the possibility of re-reading her entire collection when the mood hits, just so I can get my fix of Linda Howard once in a while, an author who has written romance as it should be, too many a time to count.

I decided to give Shadow Woman, Linda Howard’s latest novel a go because the reviews coming in had not been as bad as it had been for her previous two books which I skipped reading altogether. Yes, call me a coward, but I’d rather remember Linda Howard in all her glory than diminish what her stories have meant to me all through the years by reading books that would shed her talent in an unfavorable light. Nevertheless I did read Shadow Woman and I’d have to admit that disappointment did flow through me as the book made a steady decline in rating as I progressed into the story.

The premise of Shadow Woman is an exciting one. Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and discovers that the face in the mirror that is staring back at her is not hers. And the warning bells start ringing, throwing Lizzy into murky waters where she doesn’t know whether she can trust anyone to keep her safe from them whoever they may be. Unknown to Lizzy, or perhaps I should say unknown to Lizzy until that point in time, she has been under constant surveillance, a subject of massive interest to some very powerful people who hold the cards on whether she should continue to live or be terminated because the wealth of information if she were to remember could bring everything tumbling down.

As Lizzy awakens from the deep “slumber” she has been in for the past 3 years, remnants of her past come calling, in the form of flashbacks of memories and thought processes and behavior she’d never have thought herself to be capable of. And in her dreams comes a man she calls as X, the man who makes her hunger for what his touch does to her, for what they together create in those beautifully vivid dreams of the erotic variety.

When all hell breaks loose, it is Xavier who rides to Lizzy’s rescue, the man who has haunted her dreams since her memories started coming back, their past something shrouded in a mystery until Lizzy finds herself confronting that very past that makes her a loose end that needs to be dealt with.

Shadow Woman is a novel that has so much potential to it. What made it all the more heart wrenching to read was the fact that there were echoes of the old Linda Howard in bits and pieces of the story, mostly in the delicious dreams that Lizzy sees of herself and X, entwined in a lover’s embrace that could be called nothing but sensual and off the charts hot. In Xavier I found that Linda’s ability to create mouthwatering heroes that makes my heart beat faster still exists and yes, Xavier is a hero that was delicious in a lot of ways.

What did not work for me in Shadow Woman was the fact that the actual story got bogged down in too much descriptive detail that detracted from the pace and the suspense factor in the novel. I skipped large chunks of the story towards the latter part of the book, just because I wanted to find out the big secret and wanted to know how Xavier and Lizzy fair in the long run.

With enough bits and pieces of the old Linda Howard to entice, Shadow Woman turned out to be a favorable read for me which could have turned out to be an all out fantastic one if not for the details that kept getting in the way.

Recommended for die-hard fans of the author like myself. 

Favorite Quotes

Then she straightened, tossing her hair back, and turned to the mirror – and stared into the face of a stranger.

For a moment they just lay there on the big bed, chest to chest, legs intertwined, hearts pounding. They were eye to eye, and for a moment Lizette felt her breath catch. Good God, he was beautiful! Not pretty, there was nothing pretty about him, but seen with her heart he was … beautiful.

His touch firm, he dragged his fingertips through her cleft, found the soft, damp opening between her legs, and bit her in the curve between her neck and shoulder as at the same time he slid two big fingers deep into her. The heel of his rough palm pressed down hard on her clitoris, sending little lightning shocks all through her.
Her body bucked and shimmied under the triple onslaught. A breathless little cry slipped from her lips and she turned her face against the pillow, fighting to contain the sensation, and the sounds she was making.

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