Sunday, September 5, 2010
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."