Monday, April 8, 2013

REVIEW: "Lover At Last" by JR Ward

Lover At Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11) Lover At Last by JR Ward
(Black Dagger Brotherhood #11)

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Book Depository

For Ages 18+
Urban Fantasy -- Paranormal Romance
NAL --March 26, 2013
Hardover, 591 pages
Bought from Amazon

Qhuinn, son of no one, is used to being on his own. Disavowed from his bloodline, shunned by the aristocracy, he has finally found an identity as one of the most brutal fighters in the war against the Lessening Society. But his life is not complete. Even as the prospect of having a family of his own seems to be within reach, he is empty on the inside, his heart given to another....

Blay, after years of unrequited love, has moved on from his feelings for Qhuinn. And it’s about time: The male has found his perfect match in a Chosen female, and they are going to have a young—just as Qhuinn has always wanted for himself. It’s hard to see the new couple together, but building your life around a pipe dream is just a heartbreak waiting to happen. As he’s learned firsthand.

Fate seems to have taken these vampire soldiers in different directions... but as the battle over the race’s throne intensifies, and new players on the scene in Caldwell create mortal danger for the Brotherhood, Qhuinn finally learns the true definition of courage, and two hearts who are meant to be together... finally become one.

Warning!  This review does contain spoilers for earlier books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  

I feel like I have been waiting for this story for ages!  Ever since I read Qhuinn and Blay's first kiss in Lover Enshrined, I have been hankering for them to get their HEA.  These two vampire warriors put all of us BDB fans through a ton of angst over the whole "will-they or won't they" storyline.  But, as with many highly anticipated books, I was a little nervous about my reaction to this one.  Thankfully, besides a few missteps, I thought Lover At Last was a well-written and action-packed addition to this wonderful series and should make most Qhuay fans very happy!

This book starts very soon after the tumultuous events of Lover Reborn.  The world of the Brotherhood is changing rapidly and danger seems to be around every corner with the treasonous glymera, the Band of Bastards, and the continuing threat of the Omega and his band of lessers.  Like with most books in this series, there are a ton of things going on at one time.  The cast is extremely huge and it can be difficult to keep things organized.  So, for this review, I am going to assess each plotline separately in order to get my thoughts out and avoid spoiling things too badly.

First and foremost, we have the Qhuinn/Blaylock romance.  I have to say that it was great to see male/male romance take center stage in a mainstream series and I admire Ward's determination to make sure it happened.  This book, I believe, is Qhuinn's story above all.  Long-time readers have seen him develop from a mouthy pre-trans to an abandoned child to a brave, selfless warrior.  Flashbacks and inner thoughts really showcase the guy's journey to the man he is today and what a hell of a time he has had growing up. I think earlier books have allowed readers to understand Blay's feelings for Qhuinn so it makes sense that the bulk of the story would concentrate elsewhere though I liked seeing his relationship with his family.

In terms of the romance, I think I got everything I wanted.  The chemistry between these two is just as well-written and obvious as the first time they walked onto the scene.  There is a steady dose of angst and humor that is commonly associated with them.  And it was nice to see how much they have meant to each other since they were kids.  I have to really give props to Ward for having the gumption to go for the full, detailed male/male love scenes.  While they were not the best I've ever read, I think they were appropriately hot and well-developed.  And I can't not mention the super emotional ending that had me crying my eyes out at two in the morning.  Well done, Ms. Ward!

Next, we have Layla who, if fans remember from the last book, just went through her needing with Qhuinn and is now pregnant.  Unfortunately, things do not seem to be going well with her health which is causing some major drama for her and the main couple.  I will admit that I was not a huge fan of Layla's when she was first introduced, but I never hated her as much some others in the BDB community did.  So, maybe that is why I can easily say she impressed me in this book.  She really stepped it up in terms of development and strength of character.  I think her emergence also shows how sheltered the Chosen were before Phury came along and that it is going to take time for them to adjust to their new lives.  Plus I love the Layla/Xcor dynamic that we see more of in this book!

And, speaking of Xcor, I have to mention the Band of Bastards and their continuing effort to overthrow Wrath and the Brotherhood.  I am really becoming more intrigued by them and their mission.  They are ruthless and seemingly cruel, but there were moment in this book where I saw hints of vulnerability come from them that makes me think things aren't always what they seem.  Xcor is probably my favorite of the group and I really want to see him get his own story soon.

Two characters that have been on the sidelines of the BDB books are Trez and iAm, the Shadow brothers who used to work for Rehvenge.  I love that JR Ward is putting them into the spotlight because I have always been interested in them.  It was cool to read about the Shadow subculture and how they are similar and different than regular vampires.  Plus I adore reading well-written sibling relationships and Trez and iAm were great examples of that.

The only subplot that I had trouble with in Lover At Last was the one involving Assail, the European transplant who seems to be following in Rehvenge's footsteps a little bit.  I will admit that there were times I got bored with this story and I started skimming through those chapters.  But, things did start to pick up by the halfway mark and I am left with quite a few questions involving his overall motives and his relationship with the very intriguing Sola.

Lover At Last does a good job of continuing the overall storyline of the series by giving most characters a brief appearance and building this already complex world.  Overall, I liked this book and its many plots.  I did get a bit annoyed with all the jumping around, but I think that has to do with my personal preference rather than the writing style.  Can't wait to see what JR Ward has in store for the BDB clan next!

--You've always had me ... and my heart. My soul. Everything. I wish it hasn't taken this long for me to man up.
--Love’em or hate’em, by blood or by heart, family was a kind of oxygen. Necessary for the living.

1. Dark Lover
2. Lover Eternal
3. Lover Awakened
4. Lover Revealed
5. Lover Unbound
6. Lover Enshrined
7. Lover Avenged
8. Lover Mine
9. Lover Unleashed
10. Lover Reborn
11. Lover At Last


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