This is the best Black Dagger Brotherhood book I’ve read in years. I’ve struggled with some of the later books in the series, as JR Ward started including too many secondary storylines in each installment. There were so many threads happening in each book, it detracted from the main romance, which ended up rather lackluster as a result. Not here. Yes, there is a secondary storyline. One. And it ended up merging with primary story quite organically. I didn’t get bored. I didn’t want to skip anything. And both main characters made it alive to the end of the book. Progress.
If you’ve been away from the BDB books for a while and you are wondering if you can jump in here, the answer is an unresounding yes. You only need to be aware of the basics in the Marissa/ Butch/ V relationship. That, and the fact that the hero and heroine met once before, as he asked her for an application to join the Brotherhood and she gave it to him. Now you’re ready.
The whole premise of this quasi-spinoff is that the Brotherhood is opening its doors to trainees. The core romances will circle around these new characters. But this didn’t feel like a spinoff because it’s steeped deep in the core characters from the early original books. Especially Butch and Vishous. But almost everyone is there from Wrath to Rhage, even Bella and Z.
But as promised, our main couple consists of two members of the training class. Paradise (whose name may be the worst thing in the book) is the daughter of Wrath’s First Advisor. She is pure pedigree glymera, but she wants more from her life than to be a cosseted child, with no rights or choices. Craeg is a working class vampire, who has joined the training program after the deaths of his family. He is attracted to Paradise from the beginning, but fights it. Obviously, it’s a fight he loses, but it’s fun watching him fall.
A lot of time is spent with Butch and Marissa, who are a good parallel for Craeg and Paradise. The major themes in the book include the elitism of vampire culture and way the glymera treats its women. Marissa is still struggling with how that affected her past as Wrath’s betrothed and how it led to her break with her brother, Havers. Add to that, Butch’s tendency to put her on a pedestal and she has some stuff to work through, especially when a battered young woman lands on her safe house doorstep, and she has to turn to Havers for help.
I really liked Paradise as a heroine. She is strong and takes control of her life in a society where that is very difficult for a female to do. She goes after what she wants, while still maintaining her empathy and humility. Craeg is sexy and strong, but in a lot of ways, has more growing to do than Paradise does. I liked the tension between them and thought they were a good match, despite the differences in their history.
My only niggle: I thought the bad guy was pretty obvious from early on. You’ll figure it out long before the big reveal. But it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the story. I will definitely keep reading for the next installment. I’m curious which recruit will be up next.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
by JR Ward
Release Date: December 1, 2015