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…”

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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: The Beast by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthebeast.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Rhage
Heroine: Mary
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 05, 2016
Started On: February 27, 2018
Finished On: February 28, 2018

The Beast, 14th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series seems a trifle bit “odd” an installment. Yet I suppose there was the need for a brief “reprieve” so to speak, to give other unfolding events the time to catch up to a point where all hell would break loose. The Beast nevertheless proved to be a fabulous read because what JR Ward does, she does in style whenever it comes to the series.

The Beast focuses on one of the old-time favorite couples in the series; Mary and Rhage, who got their story in the second book. Rhage is the Brother with the “curse” from the Scribe Virgin (the mother of the race), which had left him with a beast inside of him, which requires that he be in control of his emotions that can reach high octane levels given the right circumstances. Mary is the one person who has the ability to tame both Rhage and the Beast inside, both of whom love and adore Mary equally and just as ferociously.

By the end of the last book, the relationship between Mary and Rhage were beginning to show signs of strain, just like any long-term relationship would have its ups and downs. Rhage doesn’t even know where his discontent stems from, the hollowed pit of a feeling inside of him that he desperately craves to fill without trying to acknowledge its existence.

The opening scene of The Beast is one that could have taken the whole series in a direction that would have left a lot of broken hearts in its wake. But luckily for everyone involved, it turned out that Rhage’s act of defiance in the face of Vishous and his warning proved to work out just fine. But that moment defines a pivotal point in the lives of Mary and Rhage as a couple, because it leaves both of them at crossroads over the moments of clarity the situation had exposed them to.

In the end, everything does work out well; Rhage and Mary gets to the crust of the issue between them, and a solution presents itself which answers to the needs of all parties involved. All the while, I kept waiting for a final showdown with the Omega, who makes an appearance in the story. The eerie moments that Vishious and couple of other Brothers witnessed, was by far the most interesting moments in the story as it unfolded. By the end, I was still waiting for a scene that never emerged, which makes me wonder what sort of ingenious plot has Ward in store when it comes to a final showdown between good and bad; or in fact whether it is ever going to happen.

Another aspect of this novel that did not settle all too well with me was how Throe, second in command to Xcor of the Band of Bastards who had plotted to take down Wrath the King and assume the Throne for themselves, suddenly turns out to be the bad guy. Throe never came off as someone who was full of himself, narcissistic and egoistic enough to warrant such a radical change in his personality and the direction he chooses to take once Xcor lets it be known that his ambition to overthrow the King was no more. While the rest of Xcor’s soldiers fall in line, Throe decides that he would do what is needed, with or without them.

There was no prior indication that revealed that Throe, who had once been a member of the vampire aristocrats, actually wanted back the glamour and the glitz that would afford him the high life. His loyalty to Xcor and the Band of Bastards had been absolute, even though he had been forced to join them initially. In time, he had become one of the most formidable fighters, and of course with the kind of loyalty that warranted he be the second in command. All of a sudden, Throe is shacking up with a glymera wife who is unhappy with her spouse, and plotting ways to get rich enough to afford whatever plan he has hatched in order to assume his “rightful” place in life. Maybe I might have missed something in one of the books, but I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around it to make enough sense.

The Beast also ushers in the end of an era; where the Scribe Virgin ups and leaves. There were moments in the story where I kept wondering whether she was depressed, and then I wondered whether deities could get depressed. In the end, perhaps I was right, because it felt like Scribe Virgin was “misunderstood” by the race she had given birth to, that she had tried to direct and command to follow the old Laws and way of life which had slowly crumbled to dust while she had watched on. It is as if what had been sustenance for the Scribe Virgin had ceased to exist, which meant that she had been slowly being robbed of her strength and that indomitable will of hers. Vishous being the one to find it out was perhaps a turning point in his non-relationship with the woman, who is in fact his Mahmen.

Interesting developing plots still remain; story of Xcor and the Chosen Layla, and Assail and Marisol whose stories are still set to continue. Xcor’s story is the one that I want to read the most and hide from at the same time. Because I would not be able to bear it if there is even the slightest injustice done to his character. There was also one other point that caught my attention, held it, and made me sit up a little. The emergence of Dr. Manello’s sister in the midst of it all. I am waiting to see what interesting turn that mini-plot might take.

Final Verdict: The Beast takes readers through the changing lives of the Brotherhood and the world of the Vampires and the rapidly evolving dynamics between good and evil. It also brings to the forefront the struggles of Rhage and his beloved Mary as a couple. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

The hospital bed’s mattress shifted as she stretched out next to him, and her palm moved under the sheet, traveling oh, so very downward. Spreading his legs to give her all the access she wanted, he arched his head back and bowed his spine toward the heavens as she gripped his erection. Shouting her name, he felt the beast surge as well, the dragon riding the crest of pleasure along with him, while still staying leashed.
As if it had learned its good manners.
“My Mary…” And then he gasped. “Oh, yeah.”

“Oh, God, I need you,” Mary said as he slammed the door shut, manually turned the dead bolt, and popped her up off the floor.
As she grabbed the bottom of his muscle shirt and yanked it over his head, the thing got caught on his nose, nearly shearing his nostrils off. But like he gave a fuck? And then her shaking hands were clawing at the zipper on his leathers.
“I need you in me, hurry—I need you.”
“Oh, fuck, Mary, you have me—” The second her hand came into contact with his cock, he arched back and shouted something. Her name? Something about the Scribe Virgin? F-bomb? Again, who the fuck cared. “Let me get you—”
Next thing he knew, she was off the shelf, at his hips, and pushing him back until he slammed into the opposite side of things so hard cans of soup bounced down and rolled across the floor like they feared for their lives.
“Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaary—”
That mouth of hers sucked his erection in deep, and though the warm, wet hold and suction were out-of-this-world erotic, what was even hotter? The sense that she was so fucking desperate for him, she couldn’t wait for him to get his pants down and hers off.

Mary sat down hard on his cock and both of them cried out. Then she leaned forward, propped her hands next to his head, and began pumping her pelvis, his erection going in and out of her sex, their bodies slapping together, Rhage’s eyes latching onto her as she stared back at him with a combination of fierce determination and utter adoration.
She still had her coat on. The thing was flapping around her, and though he would have loved to see her breasts and her neck, her stomach, her sex, he was too caught up to be any kind of coordinated with his hands and his thoughts.
It was just really fucking awesome to be wanted like this. Ridden like this. Taken like this.

As she grabbed onto his back, she felt the beast surge under her nails, the tattoo rising up and creating a pattern in his skin as if it wanted to get out.
“Mary,” Rhage said into her neck. “Oh, fuck, Mary…”
At the sound of his hoarse voice, an orgasm hit her like a lightning strike, the pleasure making her call out as he punched his pelvis into her again and again while he ejaculated.
When they finally went still, she stroked his spine, petting the beast, which surged under her touch. And it was so strange. In moments like this, even though it was crazy, it seemed like the three of them were together.

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

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Review: The Shadows by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheshadows.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #13
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Trez, iAm
Heroine: Selena, Maichen
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 31, 2015
Started On: February 17, 2018
Finished On: February 27, 2018

If you must know, I couldn’t stop the reading frenzy that hit me from a certain point onwards after I picked up the Black Dagger Brotherhood series from where I left off. So following the culmination of Wrath’s story, The King, I moved onto the 13th book, The Shadows, telling the tale of the brothers iAm and Trez, who live amongst the Brothers.

Shadows are a tribe of vampires who live in seclusion, mostly keeping to themselves. Known as the s’Hisbe, they are ruled and governed by a different set of laws, their state of affairs overseen by their Queen. With a social strata that defines everyone’s place in life in the community, the s’Hisbe views acts of intimacy as sacred, outlawing even acts of self pleasure. Firmly rooted in the knowledge of astrology, s’Hisbe believes that their lives are dictated by the alignment of the stars defining their fates and futures.

As firstborn to his parents, Trez “belongs” to the Queen of s’Hisbe, as the fated mate of her daughter. Trez’s parents had sold him off for a better place in the social circles, and had never looked back. Trez had fought his way out of the imprisoned life he had been subjected to, which had been hard won, and he has no intention of going back. However, the clock continues to tick, signalling the arrival of the day of reckoning, the brief reprieve of time that s’Hisbe’s executioner s’Ex had given him having come to an end.

Trez’s way of dealing with the fate of his life that looms closer than ever is to sleep with any and every woman that comes his way. Though iAm his younger brother, his voice of reason cautions him against it, tries to intervene many a time, Trez does not believe that there would ever come a time when he would willingly give up whoring around. Then comes into his life Selena the Chosen, whose mere presence startles into life something deep inside of him, that yearns to belong and for Selena to belong to him. But alas, Selena’s time on Earth is limited, which means that for both Selena and Trez, time is essentially running out in more ways than one.

What follows is a heart wrenching story of a love that races against time, the ending when it came, one that I hoped would be otherwise. But realistically speaking, I think Ward provided a magnificent story when it came to Trez, iAm, Serena, and Trez’s betrothed, whom we encounter when iAm turns up on s’Hibe’s territory intending to what he always does. Help his brother Trez. In the process, iAm, the brother who had never wanted a woman before in his life, finds the one woman who makes him forget every possible rule by which he has lived his life up till now, as if the stars were in perfect alignment and agreement that the woman in his arms belonged solely to him.

Trez and Selena’s story was heartbreaking. There are no words that would describe the immense pain behind the loss, and the final act of saying goodbye is one that was etched into my mind days after I was done reading. The scene was that powerful. Though I was not that enamored with the Selena and Trez pairing when it initially happened, I came to love them both, perhaps owing to the fact that Ward allows readers to see different sides of their characters in this story.

Even then, to be honest, I was more taken with iAm and the story of how the woman he meets at the s’Hisbe territory changes his life drastically. I found the fact that his lifeling abstinence meant that it was all the more sexier, and more meaningful when iAm decided to give himself to someone, a study of contrasts once again when it came to Trez and himself.

The truth when it came out was not so much of a shock, and I believe most readers would have figured out the same. Nevertheless, the end of an era, ushered in with the final act that required s’Ex was one that was stunning and breathtaking at the same time. If iAm had not been in the picture, I would have wanted for s’Ex to be the “hero” of the story, but alas, that is a story for another time. Which I hope comes soon. A girl can always hope!

The story of Layla the Chosen, pregnant with Qhuinn and her children, and her association with Xcor, my second favorite hero from the series also continues and reaches a turning point, the point which perhaps signals that their story is up next.

Recommended! Ward certainly never disappoints when it comes to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Final Verdict: Delving deep into the psyche of one of the most fascinating and elusive tribes in the Vampire world, Ward takes readers on a journey they would never forget, no matter who triumphs or loses out in the end.

Favorite Quotes

“Selena, I’m serious.” He fumbled to stop her before she got to stroking. “I want to honor you—”
“You’re wasting time.”
With that she got on her knees and took over. As she was a tall female, her mouth was at the perfect height, and God save them both, she put it to use, extending her pink tongue to lick at the head of him. The velvet rasp left him shaking all over, and before he went the way of the robes and hit the fucking floor, he leaned forward and braced both hands on the nearest thing he could reach.
The bureau. Or it could have been the hood of a car. Santa’s sleigh. A refrigerator.
Warm and wet, she drew him in, the suction and all the slick wiping out the world, bringing him instantly to the brink.

Freedom.
As Selena sat on her knees in front of Trez, with his taste in her mouth and his scent all over her skin, she reveled in the sense of sexual freedom that had overtaken her. The liberation seemed entirely at odds with the death sentence that she lived under, and yet her lack of time was what spared her any awkwardness or self-conscious worry. She was flying above the constraints that had long pinned her to the ground, her training as an ehros letting her soar on the currents of sex that ran, thick as tangible ropes, between their bodies.

“I’m going to fuck you now,” he gritted out in her ear.
“Oh, God, please—”
Selena shouted loudly as he jabbed into her, stretching the inside of her nearly to the breaking point. The pain was the perfect bite—and then he started to pump. There was no slow-and-steady windup; hard, pistoning power made her see stars until she lost the strength to hold her upper body off the bed. Collapsing face-first into sheets that smelled of him, she struggled for breath and loved the suffocation as each thrust shoved her face-first into the pillows.

He was hard and hot, velvety and thick, and she slid a grip around his shaft, pumping him. The more she stroked, the crazier the kiss got, until his pelvis was jerking up against her, and his chest was thrashing, and she was breathing as hard as he was.
When he orgasmed, he barked out her name and shoved the handkerchief onto himself—and she was so turned on, so giddy with the feel of his mouth on hers and the pump, pump, pump of her palm against his sex, that she felt a welling between her own thighs, an answer to what she was doing—which was so much less than what they both really wanted.

Her own release was a surprise, but she welcomed it, absorbing the sharp grabs of pleasure, making them stronger by squeezing her thighs together and rocking. Meanwhile, she continued her stroking rhythm, squeezing at his head, working his length.
“We very carefully get rid of this.” Grasping the hem, he pulled the black wisp up over her waist … over her breasts. “Fuuuuuuuuuck.”
As he tossed the silk to the floor, he just stared at what he had revealed. “Oh, that’s what I want.”

With his palms stroking up and down her thighs, he dropped his head to one of her nipples, sucking her in, nursing at her, his dark head contrasting with her paler skin. Letting her head fall back, she gave him the access he wanted, spreading her knees even further.
The sound he made was all male animal, and the hold he sank into her hips was rough as he jerked her forward.
“Gimme,” he demanded. There was a quick zip! as he released himself, and then that growl was back. “All night. Thought about this all night.”

“Do you want my panties off?” she asked between heaving breaths.
“No, I’m going to fuck you with them on.”
And he did. He grabbed her perfect ass and hopped her off the ground and around his waist. Reaching in from behind, he stroked at her, feeling how ready she was, how hot she was, how desperate she was.
He wanted to spend all night there. Instead, he shoved the silk aside, and—

“Oh, God, Selena,” he hissed.
Slick and hot, tight and vital, the penetration rocked him and kept him standing at the same time. As he began to move, he held on to her ass and rocked her back and forth. Her hair was in his face; her scent was in his nose; she was an overwhelming tide that made him want to drown.
Faster. Harder.

iAm felt like he was suspended in time as maichen’s face was revealed inch by inch. Her lips were full and deep red, her skin smooth and slightly darker than his, her cheeks wide and high—
He stopped being able to form a thought as her eyes were uncovered.
Deeply set and with heavy lashes, they were a brilliant peridot green. But then again, she was in high emotion and that was a sign of it, something that the stares of Shadows did.
Maybe his were that way, too.

And then there was her hair. Tightly waved, it flowed from the crown of her head and covered her shoulders and beyond. It was so long that he couldn’t see where it ended.
She was, quite simply, the most extraordinary thing he had ever seen.

iAm went for her, lunging forward, grabbing onto the nape of her neck, bending her backward, holding her in his arms and putting his mouth to her flesh. He had never taken from a female this way, and he didn’t immediately strike. He was overcome by the scent of her, by the soft skin under his lips as he extended his tongue and licked up her vein.
He intended to nuzzle at her further, but as her hands took hold of his shoulders and she arched into him, he couldn’t wait any longer. He hissed and penetrated her skin.
At the bite, she cried out, but instead of pushing him away, she pulled him even closer.
Her blood was a blast in his mouth, tasting of dark wine and promising an intoxication that started to take hold the instant he swallowed.

When he swept his hand over her sex, she moaned and pulled harder on what he was providing her—and he wanted her to drain him dry. But not the other way around. Forcing himself to release her vein, he licked the puncture wounds closed and then found himself drawing his lips downward, crossing over the graceful wing of her collarbone. Heading for her breasts, he gripped the top of her robing with his fangs and ripped it apart, the fabric giving way until—

“Oh, sweet Jesus,” he gasped.
Bared to her lover’s eyes, maichen had expected to feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Only her female bathers had ever seen what iAm was looking at.
Instead?
She kicked the robing free from her hands and brought her palms up to cup her breasts. “Yours,” she heard herself say. Then she moved down and touched her exposed sex. “Yours.”
His upper lip curled back and he let out a growl that was both reverent and a little evil.

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

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Review: The King by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheking.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #12
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Wrath, son of Wrath
Heroine: Beth Rendall
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 01, 2014
Started On: February 05, 2018
Finished On: February 17, 2018

We have come a long way since the beginning of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The King is the 12th novel in this magnificent series of books that JR Ward has written, and it brings us back to where we started, with the characters having taken on the roles that were required of them. We get to take a closer look at Wrath, the King of the Vampire race, who assumed his responsibilities in the debut book of the series, Dark Lover. Wrath is the last pure blooded vampire on the planet, and even though he chafes at the duties of being the King to the race, it is a “prison” from which there is no respite for him.

Wrath’s frustration and dissatisfaction at being “hogtied” to the throne is one that runs deep. Just how deep, realizes Beth, his shellan i.e. mate for life, only after Wrath lets loose when his formidable temper gets the best of him. Known and revered as the Blind King, and for good reason, Wrath has been constantly battling to keep a throne he had never meant to ascend in the first place. But the same genetics that had demanded he be King, had also rendered him unfit to fight in the field alongside with his Brothers. Furthermore, there is no way that the Brothers would let their King back in the field, no matter how much he might want to.

Wrath’s personal life isn’t going exactly in the blissfully wedded direction either. With his mind solidly made up on not fathering any children, the clash with his shellan is not the kind that one can just brush under the carpet, especially with Beth’s needing seemingly on the way. To add to the pressure, The Band of Bastards from the Old Country is out to get Wrath one way or the other, even if they had lost in their initital attempts to assassinate him.

Everything comes to a head at junctures where one just has to plow through the worst to get to the other side. There is always so much going on in a JR Ward book that it is near impossible to just focus on one aspect of the book thinking it would give a holistic view of the book. The storylines concerning other characters that were prominent in Lover at Last continue even in The King, most of them coming to a turning point where things were looking rather gloomy for everyone concerned.

By the time the story was done, except for one aspect of a continuing storyline that has been running for a long time in the books, the one concerning John’s true identity, everything else seems to have worked out. Wrath managed to thwart yet another attempt at dethroning him, and used the opportunity to make that one move which shocked the vampire aristocrats to boot.

I loved how Wrath transformed in this novel, finally, and at last, embracing his role as the King of the race wholeheartedly. There is no running from fate and destiny, especially leaving a role such as that of a King, particularly at a time when the race was in near tatters, clearly at a point where leadership was needed the most.

I also loved how insightful the story of Wrath’s parents proved to be. Unlike what Wrath thought of his father’s reign to be like, the traitors were around him just the same, just as insidious in their bid to dethrone him and take over the reins in their hunger for power. Another character trait Wrath seems to have inherited from his father? That take-charge attitude of his, in bed and out of it.

There was one rather unusual character that piqued my interest in this story; s’Ex, the executioner of the s’Hisbe sect of the vampires. He is a character I want a story for. Pretty please, JR Ward?

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of Wrath!

Final Verdict: With The King, JR Ward brings readers full circle with the characters we fell in love with at the very beginning. Wrath’s story the second time around was just as indomitable as the vampire himself.

Favorite Quotes

The kiss that came at her was brutal and she wanted it that way, Wrath’s tongue thrusting into her as he shoved her backward through the open doorway of their secret hideaway.
Slam!
Best sound in the world. Well, okay, second-best—number one being what her man made when he came inside of her. At the mere thought of it, her core opened even further.

“Oh, fuck,” he said into her mouth as one of his hands slipped in between her thighs. “I want this—yeah . . . are you wet for me, leelan.”
Not a question. Because he knew the answer, didn’t he.
“I can smell you,” he groaned against her ear as he ran his fangs up her throat.

“The most beautiful thing in the world—except for your taste.”

“I’m sorry,” he bit out as he grabbed her behind the neck and mounted her.
As she opened her thighs wide for him, she knew exactly why he was apologizing. “Don’t be—Jesus!”
The blazing possession was exactly what she wanted—and so was the rough ride he gave her, his heavy weight crushing her, her bare ass squeaking against the floor as he pounded into her, her legs straining to link around so he could go even deeper. It was total domination, his great body pistoning in an erotic pump that got ever faster and more intense.
But as good as it was, she knew how to take things to the next level. “Aren’t you thirsty yet?” she drawled.
Total. Molecular. Stoppage.
Like he’d been hit with an ice ray. Or maybe a truck.
As he lifted his head, his eyes lit up so brightly, she knew if she looked on the floor next to her, she’d see her own shadow.

Get off of her, he ordered his body. Get the fuck off of—
The undulation beneath him took a moment to register. And then he realized it was her. She was . . . moving against him, and not as in she wanted to get free. Her eyes, once alarmed, were now glazing over, her lips parting as she arched into him.
She wanted him. Fucking hell, her scent was flaring into his nose, her blood running fast and hot as his own.

“Selena,” he groaned. “I’m sorry. . . .” “For what,” she said roughly.
“This.”
He struck her throat, fangs sinking deep, blood rushing onto his tongue, down his throat. And as he nursed at her, his body pumped against the wadded duvet, desperately trying to find her core through the layers of sheeting, his cock throbbing, the friction making everything worse.

“Fucking hell,” he gritted as his eyes traveled from the crown of her head to her tight nipples . . . past the flat plane of her belly, to her sex and her legs.
His dark hand was a contrast to the paleness of her skin as he drew a lazy stroke from her collarbone to one of her breasts. Capturing the weight in his palm, she groaned and undulated, her knees bending up . . . and falling open.
His towel dropped away from his body, exposing his hairless beauty and his formidable sex.

“Take me,” she ordered him. “Teach me.”

Beth yelled out his name as he entered her, her nails tearing into his shoulders, her breasts shoving up against his chest. He came immediately, his balls tightening up and then releasing—and he wasn’t prepared for the response from her. As she orgasmed along with him, her sex milked him, pulling at his length, all but yanking at him—
He came again. So violently, he bit into his own tongue.
Pumping against her, pumping into her, he went hard and wild—until his body took a short pause to recover. And that was when he felt the difference he’d made in her: She, too, was at a brief rest, the tension in her body uncoiling as if her very molecules were taking a deep breath.

Instead, he braced his upper weight on one hand and gripped his glistening cock with the other. Stroking himself, he groaned as if he were getting ready to come again.
The second orgasm shot out of him and he directed it all over her sex—and he didn’t stop there. After he’d covered her core, he moved up, shifting himself so that he came on her stomach, her rib cage, her breasts, her neck, her face. He seemed to have an endless supply of releases, and as the hot jets hit her oversensitized skin, she found herself orgasming along with him, sweeping her hands up and down her body, feeling the hot mess he was coating her with, cupping her own breasts.

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Review: Lover at Last by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloveratlast
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Blaylock / Qhuinn
Heroine: NA
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 26, 2016
Started On: January 24, 2018
Finished On: February 05, 2018

Lover at Last, the 11th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is the much awaited story of Qhuinn, son of Lohstrong and Blaylock, son of Rocke. It is an apt title for the book, considering the fact that readers have been waiting for their story for a long time. But I understand the need for the time that Ward took when it came to these two characters. They needed it. Especially Qhuinn, who needed to come to terms with, and accept who he was before he could give himself over to the love of his life.

Qhuinn and Blaylock’s story has been a continuing thread throughout the series, though I cannot remember quite from which installment onwards. Qhuinn with his mismatched eyes had been the ban of his glymera (vampire aristocrat) family’s existence. Discarded and disowned, there is a wealth of pain and rejection in Qhuinn’s heart that needs to be worked through for him to feel whole. The only solace in his life had come in the form of Blaylock, his best friend, whose family had also welcomed him with open arms.

Those who have been faithfully following the series without skipping any books in between would know that Blaylock had accepted his love for Qhuinn a long time ago. Having never voiced that out, and with the continued efforts by Qhuinn to show Blaylock that they would never be together (by Qhuinn’s sexual conquests and rejection of Blaylock), Blaylock does the one thing any healthy individual should rightfully do under the circumstances; he cut his losses and moved on. That had been the turning point for Qhuinn in his attempt to clean up his act, reasons which he was quite not ready to give voice to.

Now with Layla the Chosen pregnant with his young, Qhuinn should be happy by all means. His need to belong to a family that would accept him, a family that he could call his own had been a pivotal reason behind Qhuinn agreeing to become a father. But, the way he yearns for Blaylock is a need that refuses to be denied; if anything his feelings surge to the surface with a ferocity and volatility that stuns him at times, making a fool of himself in the process.

Believing that he is actually helping Blaylock get back at his “lover”, Qhuinn offers his body to Blaylock, to use as he wishes to. This sets these two characters on a journey of sensual discovery of the kind that they had both never had before. Love of course, plays its role, an emotion neither of them confesses to the other. Even with Qhuinn working through his issues one at a time, it takes more than that to push through the final hurdle to get to the other side; the side of acceptance and loving wholeheartedly without reservations.

Lover at Last has multiple secondary stories running through it; they of course do not reach their ultimate conclusion. Ward is a superb storyteller because she has the ability to juggle these storylines well, most often without “encroaching” on the territory of the main story that is happening. It is in Lover at Last that she lays the foundation for the story of the Shadows, Trez and iAm from the s’Hisbe territory. She also brings to an enticing crossroads, the story of Xcor and Layla, Xcor being my second favorite hero in the series, coming a very close second to Zsadist.

It is also in Lover at Last that Ward shows readers tantalizing glimpses of the connection between Assail, an aristocrat vampire who is involved in the drug trade and how he comes across Sola, the human female who would finally bring him to his knees. Plus, there are many changes that are taking place in the world of the vampires itself, laws undergoing changes, the old ways being replaced by the new, with Wrath testing the boundaries of how far he can take reforms without upending the whole table.

Lover at Last was a splendid addition to the series, and I, who usually do not indulge in gay romances found myself totally enamored by how Ward brought the sex scenes between Blaylock and Qhuinn alive with such fervor. Hot enough to singe your fingers, Blaylock is a force to be reckoned with once that staid and laid back nature of his takes a backseat, something that delights and turns on Qhuinn to levels he never thought was possible for someone like him.

The ending was beautiful, Qhuinn finally finding the acceptance that had been missing from his life all along, finding his home exactly where it had always been, ready to welcome him with open arms, something he had refused to see, all because there was just too much wayward emotions he didn’t do well with.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Lover at Last is scrumptious; there are no two ways about it. Qhuinn and Blaylock sets the pages afire, bringing forth a ton of emotions and wrangles every bit of it from the reader that made this a stupendous read!

Favorite Quotes

Lifting his mouth, he pulled Blay down to his own, and when those velvet lips were in range, he kissed them with a desperation that was returned. All at once, the pent-up past was released in a fury, and as he tasted blood, he didn’t know whose fangs had scored what.
Who the fuck cared.
On a hard yank, he laid Blay down and then he rolled over on top of the other male, spreading those thighs and pushing himself between them until his hard cock came up against Blay’s….
They both groaned.

Qhuinn came hard, his balls going tight, his erection kicking between them, his come going everywhere.
Didn’t slow him down in the slightest.
With a quick jerk, he broke away from the mouth he could have spent the next hundred years working, and shoved himself down Blay’s chest. The muscles he came across were nothing like the human guys’ he’d fucked—this was a vampire, a fighter, a soldier who had trained heavily and worked his flesh into a condition that was not just useful, but downright deadly. And holy hell was that a turn-on—but more than that, though, this was Blay; it was finally, after all these years…
Blay.

Without warning, he was flipped over with a rough hand, his body handled like it didn’t weigh a damned thing. Then an arm shot under his pelvis and popped him up onto his knees. There was a brief lull, during which all he heard was heavy breathing behind him, the panting getting faster, and harder—
He heard Qhuinn orgasm and knew exactly what that was for.
Even though his whole body went weak with anticipation, he knew he had to get good and braced as a heavy hand landed on his shoulder and—
The penetration was a branding iron, brutal and hot, going right to the core of him. And he cursed on an explosive exhale—not because it hurt, although it did in the best possible sense. Not even because this was something he had wanted forever, although he had.
No, it was because he had the strangest sense he was being marked—and for some reason, that made him—

“Shit,” he said roughly. “The lamp—”
Qhuinn wasn’t interested in home furnishings, apparently. The male just yanked Blay’s head around and started kissing him, that pierced tongue penetrating his mouth, licking and sucking…like he couldn’t get enough.
Dizzy. He got downright dizzy from it all. In every fantasy he’d ever had, he’d always pictured Qhuinn as a ferocious lover, but this was…on another level.
So it was from a distance that he heard himself say in a guttural voice, “Bite me…again….”
A great growl from above threaded into his ears, and then another hiss ripped through the darkness as Qhuinn shifted positions, his massive weight torquing so that those sharp fangs could sink in deep on the side of the throat.

Blay’s head was going up and down over his hips, his fist holding the base of Qhuinn’s cock, his other hand working his balls. But then, like he’d been waiting for eye contact, the guy pulled up to the top, popped the head free, and licked his lips.
“Wouldn’t want you making a mess in this nice room,” Blay drawled.
And then he extended the tip of his tongue to flick Qhuinn’s PA, the pink flesh teasing at the gunmetal gray hoop and ball—
“Fuck, I’m coming right now,” Qhuinn barked, a tremendous release boiling up.
“I’m—”
He was powerless to stop things, any more than someone who’d jumped off a cliff could decide, like ten yards into the free fall, to pull back.
Except he didn’t want to put the brakes on.
And he didn’t.

“Did you like what you saw last night?” That clammed her up. And as the silence persisted, he smiled a little. “So you admit you were watching.”
“You goddamn knew I was,” she spat.
“So, answer the question. Did you like what you saw,” he said in a voice that was husky even to his own ears.
Oh, yes, he thought as he inhaled deeply. She did.
“Never mind,” he purred. “You don’t need to put it in words. I already know your answer—”
She slapped him so fast and so hard, his head actually kicked back on his spine.
His first instinct was to bare his fangs and bite her, to punish her, to tantalize himself—because there was no better spice to pleasure than a little pain. Or a lot of it.
He righted his head and lowered his lids. “That felt good. Do you want to do it again?”
As another bloom emanated from her, he laughed down deep in his chest, and thought, yes, indeed, this reaction from her had just ensured that that human man was going to keep living. Or at least die by the hands of another.
She wanted himself. And no other.

As he turned around, he found Blay stretched out and attending to himself, his hand stroking up and down between his legs. His fangs were still elongated from the feeding, and his eyes were glowing from under heavy lids, and holy fuck was he hot…
Qhuinn ditched his shitkickers. His leathers. His shirt.
Blay orgasmed before he even started for the bed, the male arching up and moaning as his head shot back on the thin pillow, and his hips jerked.
Like Qhuinn buck-ass naked was too much to handle.
Best. Compliment. Ever.

Qhuinn felt himself get positioned with rough hands—before he knew it, he was up on his knees, his face in the mattress, his breath hammering out of his mouth. It was all so foreign, letting someone else take charge—and he felt vulnerable, too, even through the wanting—
“Oh fuck!” he bellowed as the possession was struck, the sensations of pain and pleasure, stretching and accommodation, mixing into a cocktail that made him come so hard he saw stars.
And then Blay started moving.

Even as she sat alone in this car out in the middle of nowhere, his presence was tangible, her memories of him so strong, she could swear he was within reach. And the yearning…dearest Virgin Scribe, the yearning she felt was nothing she could share with any of those whom she loved.
It was such a cruel fate to have a reaction like this to one who was—
Layla jerked back in the seat, a shout breaching her lips and resonating through the interior of the car.
At first, she was unsure whether what had materialized in the beams was in fact real: Xcor appeared to be standing with his boots planted on the road ahead, his huge, leather-clad body seeming to absorb the twin beams of light as a black hole would. “No,” she barked. “No!”

“No,” she hissed, as he came ever closer.
His face was exactly as she had remembered: perfectly symmetrical, with high cheekbones, narrowed eyes, and a permanent frown between his straight brows. His upper lip was twisted up, such that he appeared to be snarling, and his body…his body moved like a great animal’s, his shoulders shifting with barely restrained power, his heavy thighs carrying him forward with the promise of brutal strength.
And yet…she was not afraid.

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