Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dark Lover

I have been hearing so many people rave about this series that I thought it was time to give it a try.  It occurred to me as I was reading it that these "paranormal" or "urban fantasy" series seem to fall into two categories.  The first is a romance novel with trappings of the supernatural, including demons, werewolves, vampires, etc.  The second category centers on a problem or issue that involves a fantastical or supernatural element - and if that element were removed, the story would fall apart.  There is often a romantic relationship in these books as well, but the relationship is not the point of the book.  Series that I would put in this category include Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, Karen Chance's Cassandra Palmer series, and Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series.

I much prefer this second category, and it seems to me, judging by this first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Dark Lover falls into the first.  Yes, there are vampires, and there is some world building, but it felt to me that the story was mainly about bringing together two people who are destined soul mates, the woman frightened and bewildered by the supernatural circumstances, the man tortured and bitter (and of course unbelievably hot) but suddenly struck by true love.  I guess I've read this kind of thing so many times before that I didn't find it terribly compelling.

Part of the problem was that certain things kept me from getting sucked into the narrative and successfully suspending my disbelief.  One was the names of the characters, these unbelievably handsome, dangerous, and rather twisted band of vampires who make up the Black Dagger Brotherhood - they call themselves Rhage, Tohrment, Wrath (why not Wrahth, I kept wondering?), Phury, Vishous, etc.  It was hard to take them seriously as people.  The villains were uninteresting - yes, they have evil intentions, but why?  Beyond the fact that they are led by a Satanic sort of force bent on evil and destruction?  Some complexity there would have made me become more emotionally involved in the story, I think.

I haven't given much of a synopsis for this one, have I?  Well, it's about a young woman, a reporter, who is a bit of a loner.  She's amazingly gorgeous but has always been fairly uninterested in other men.  She doesn't know it, but her father was a vampire, and when she reaches a certain age, she's going to be a vampire, too.  Her father's friend Wrath finds out about her and takes on the responsibility for helping her through her transformation - but he is incredibly attracted to her, and she to him.  He already has a sort of wife, but he never cared about her anyway, and has apparently not noticed that she's been trying to be everything to him.  For the past few centuries.  Evil "lesser" vampires are bent on their destruction, and Wrath and his Black Dagger brothers must stop them.

This has a fast pace, some interesting characters, lots of romance and steamy vampire sex, and it certainly has a huge following of very enthusiastic readers.  It didn't work so well for me, though, so I think I will pass on the rest of this series.

Dark Lover (#1 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series) by J.R. Ward (Signet Eclipse, 2005)

Source: My local public library

Also reviewed at:
Avid Book Reader: "This series is wildly pop­u­lar so, count me in the minor­ity who just didn’t 'get it'."
Love Vampires:  "I particularly liked Dark Lover because it is the start of a new vampire romance series. It is an exciting, original and well written book."
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:  "Dark Lover is…well, I don’t know if it’s an out-and-out bad book, but it’s definitely cheesy.  The dialogue is forced and in places unbelievable, and though the action is appropriate it almost seems silly."


  1. I do admit that this is the series that got me started on the whole paranormal romance/urban fantasy genre, and I'm a complete fan! I did feel the same way about the characters names - I thought they were so cheesey, however, somthing clicked after awhile, and I absolutely love them now :)

    Most of the books in the series are just like you mentioned: two soul mates destined to be together, but of course each story builds more and more on the vampire and the lessers and, in my opinion, gets really exciting. I can understand how some people can just not get into the first book, but I would suggest, at the very least, you not give up on the entire series. :)

  2. I went through this stint this summer where I was reading supernatural romance novels and I started this one but just couldn't get into it. I agree totally about the names! Between the names, the unoriginality and predictability I just couldn't do it. I'm open for this sometimes, but it got to be too much for me with this book!

  3. Stephanie - Wow, I'm glad to hear that this one was your "gateway drug" to one of my favorite genres, LOL. I hate to be too hard on the first book in any series, and there were certainly things I enjoyed about this one. Just not nearly as much as some of my favorite series - and I guess the more favorite series I have to compare things with, the more judgmental I become!

    Rachel - That's pretty much how I felt. And sometimes if it's the wrong book at the wrong time, that makes it an even worse fit.

  4. I really love this series! I have issues with certain things but for the most part it's one of my favorites. Thanks for the reminder that I need to pick up the latest.

  5. Ladytink - Huh. Maybe I should try the next book - do you think they get better as they go along?

  6. Oh yes! The second one has one of my favorite Brothers as the main hero.


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