the beast, by j. r. ward

the beastI admit I was not overly excited about yet another book about Rhage. He’s not my favorite character, but I guess Ward can’t always write about Wrath and Zsadist. But wait, why not…Ok, I digress. Anyway, boy was I in for a treat! The Beast far exceeded anything I was expecting.

Rhage and Mary have been going through a difficult period in their marriage—relatable and one of the things I love about Ward’s books. Even though they’re paranormal, her characters have challenges and struggles that we humans face every day and can identify with. But still, the plots carry you away and allow you an escape.

what went right…
While immortal, Mary is infertile, and like any couple who have had the ‘should we have kids’ conversation, it can be a tough one. You have a pretty clear indication early on where things are headed, but it doesn’t matter. Ward handles the entire storyline with real emotions and care.

We also see quite a bit of Assail, who has become another favorite of mine. Yes, as always, there are quite a few story arcs going on simultaneously, but again, she Ward toned this down to manageable and engaging plotlines. Assail’s interactions with Vishous are filled with humor and provide a source of comic entertainment throughout the book.

There’s some fighting with the Lessers but that is not the primary focus. This is less about the ongoing war and more about the intricate relationships that have been formed between different characters, including Layla and Xcor. Now THERE is a story. And what she discovers… And what happens to him…

the verdict…
Really, I can’t say enough good things about this book. Ward has done it, yet again! She’s been on a roll since The King and I can only hope it continues. The Beast is a must read for any Black Dagger Brotherhood fan.

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the shadow, by sylvain reynard

the shadowThe Shadow is the 2nd full-length novel in the Florentine series and overall 3rd book. In a recent Twitter “author chat” with Sylvain Reynard himself, he confirmed that he is working on the 4th and final book in the series.

After reading The Raven, I was less than enthused about this next installment in the series, but because I am such a huge fan of Reynard’s writing, I decided to go forth and conquer. So glad I did! The Shadow, while incredibly sexy, didn’t belabor the bedroom scenes and ramped up the action, intrigue, and humor.

Raven and  William are together and stronger than ever. But the forces around them are trying desperately to pull them apart–and they may succeed. Raven is forced to confront her past, in more ways than one. Her mother, stepfather, sister, and the priest who sheltered Raven and her sister, Cara, when they were children, are all in the fold as old hurts and crimes resurface from the past.

In the meantime, while Raven is dealing with the emotional turmoil from her childhood, William is still in search of the traitor amongst his council; all while trying to protect his city from both enemies within the city of Florence and those outside.

The Shadow has redeemed this series for me and I cannot wait until the 4th and final chapter of this paranormal ride. The heroine was far less annoying than in the previous book, though really, is anyone THAT good of a human being? Anyway, and William is clearly a force to be reckoned with. This book reminds us of the depth Reynard creates in his characters, which makes us fall in love with them. (Even if they’re beheading someone…)

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bloodkiss by j.r. ward

bloodkissThe Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) is one of my most favorite series ever. And, as evidenced by this blog, I don’t read a lot of paranormal series–2 if you’re counting.

Bloodkiss is a spinoff of the original BDB books. The story is focused on a younger generation of fighters but The Brothers are an integral part of the storyline. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Paradise and Craeg were introduced to us in the Warden’s (as J. R. Ward is affectionately known amongst her devotees) last BDB book, The Shadows. Paradise is the daughter of Abalone, adviser to Wrath. She was working as an administrative assistant to her father when last we saw her. She was interested in the training program The Brothers started to train civilians to be part of the fight against the Lessers. With her father’s approval, Paradise applied to the program and was accepted. And so was Craeg.

Craeg is your quintessential vampire from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s joining the training program for very personal reasons–revenge. But the chemistry between him and Paradise is a distraction that could derail his plans.

Bloodkiss is reminiscent of BDB books of old. The sub-plots aren’t overwhelming. You get the essence of The Brothers who are in the book, there’s humor, and there’s a real-world thread weaved in. The new adult genre is definitely benefiting from this addition to its shelves.

The Warden has set up the next book nicely and I look forward to continuing this series and enjoying characters old and new. But while we wait on the next installment in this new adventure, the release of the next book focused on The Brothers is closing in. The Beast will be here April 5th. True.

read rating: 3 bookmarks

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the shadows, by j.r. ward

the shadowsThe Warden, as J.R. Ward is affectionately known by her many devoted fans, has done it once again. The Shadows, the edible bookmark’s first 5-bookmark read, was an emotional story that drew on the strong history and character development of those we’ve grown to know and love. And true to form, Ward left us chomping at the bit (pun intended) for more. I finished The Shadows over a week ago and I still get emotional thinking about it.

As has become the case, there were multiple story arcs in motion:

  • Luchas, Quinn’s now disfigured brother who’s just barely holding on to life in the medical facility at The Brother’s Compound. Quinn is faced with making even more life-altering decisions on Luchas’ behalf that could forever devastate their already fragile relationship.
  • Selena is fighting ‘The Arrest,’ which has taken the lives of so many of her Chosen sisters. This, in the face of the newfound love she and Trez have just acknowledged.
  • iAm may have finally found love, only to have it torn away from him as quickly as it appeared. And in the midst of pursuing his own happiness, for once, he still maintains ultimately responsibility for Trez and his obligation to the s’Hisbe.
  • Xcor and Layla continue to fight the mutual attraction they have until things finally come to a head with consequences that may not be reversible.
  • Assail is self-medicating his loss of Marisol by getting high on his own supply.
  • Something is brewing with Rhage and it’s not the beast within.

It sounds like a lot of story lines, and it is. But unlike some books of old in the series, there are enough to keep you engrossed and not too many that you can’t keep up. So if you’ve been on this journey from the beginning, you most assuredly will not be disappointed. And if you haven’t hopped on The Brotherhood bandwagon, it’s never too late!

Now, the bad news–we have to wait an entire year for the next installment! And I have no idea who I’m hoping it will be focused on. Assail? Xcor and Layla? I can never get enough of Wrath. But wait…there’s a spinoff!

Bloodkiss, the story of new characters, Paradise and Craeg, a younger generation, is coming out on December 1. Think that just might make the wait a little easier.

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the raven, by sylvain reynard

the-raven-by-sylvain-reynardAs I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was uber excited about this book’s release. Sylvain Reynard is very active on social media and has been building the hype for about a year. On top of that, I loved the prequel novella, The Prince. And beyond even that, I adored Reynard’s Gabriel’s Inferno series that this was spun from. But, I guess it’s only logical that you won’t love everything written by an author and true to form, there was not a lot of love for The Raven.

This is a paranormal romance. And maybe that’s the first challenge for me. The only paranormal series I can read and enjoy is J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. But Reynard’s writing is lovely, so I figured I’d be fine. I wasn’t.

The story of  Raven–the over-weight, Plain Jane (incidentally, her real name is Jane) disabled art restorer–and William–the handsome, centuries old Vampyre Prince of Florence–has the makings of a unique and enthralling story. Unfortunately, it falls flat.

Raven’s story is told very slowly. And William’s is essentially all over the place. At 373 pages, their love story, and the book itself, don’t get interesting until about page 212. Until that point, you only marginally care about either character. I think Reynard was trying to do a deep dive into the character development but instead it’s long and drawn out without much sustenance.

Being a vampyre, William drinks human blood, can have sex for hours at a time, doesn’t like holy water or crosses, etc., etc. Essentially, every vampyre stereotype we’ve all heard. Reynard tires to create intrigue by making William impervious to certain tried and true myths associated with this species of the undead, but you wind up not really caring.

Raven, is essentially a pathetic martyr who will sacrifice herself for anyone. Elderly neighbor. Boy who doesn’t really like her. Homeless man on the street. Female vampyre who she barely knows and doesn’t like.

I am sad to say that for all of the excitement and anticipation I had leading up to this book’s release, I am very disappointed. I had to force myself to finish it and I have no interest in reading the next book in the series. Though my love for Reynard’s writing may get me to come back.

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