Review: Dark Lover by JR Ward

Posted October 4, 2020 by Kate

Review: Dark Lover by JR WardCheck out on Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Also by this author: Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3)
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
Source: My shelves

The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed—orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate—Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.
Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both…

I’ll never forget that day in geometry class during my freshman year of high school, five years ago now, when my teacher looked at this book on my desk, read the title, processed it, and looked me dead in the face and said, “Dark Lover?” I was so embarrassed he saw the title, oh god ?? I started putting sticky notes on the cover of my books for the rest of the year because of this incident.

That said, I freaking love this series!! But it’s been years since I’ve read of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books (BDB), and I am far from caught up (I stopped before The Shadows, book 12, last time, I believe). Now that I’m drawing my Kate Daniels series reread to a close, I can afford to pick up another long series reread for the rest of this year and into 2021 ✨

Dark Lover is an odd book, it should be said. The writing style can take some getting used to, because although it’s incredibly well-written, it does jump back and forth from various perspectives quite a lot. It’s never just one person’s book, even if Wrath and Beth may have been the “main characters” of this one. It’s something that I quite like, even if it requires a bit of acclimation. That said, this book was setting up a large world, and having read this before, I know it gets stronger and stronger with each book – I’m so ready ? This book is just the beginning :)

“Heaven. Now he knew what heaven was like.”

In this world, there are vampires. They cannot bear sunlight, they only drink from each other (human blood doesn’t really sustain their strength), they are born, not bit, and they live in the glitzy shadows of the world. But they’ve also been dwindling in numbers because of the lessers, who are corrupted/regenerated humans whose sole purpose is to wipe out the vampire species. But in order to do that, they must get past the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a band of (currently) five warriors who prowl the streets of Caldwell, New York, looking for lessers to kill and are the last line of defense for their aristocratic race. It’s an original take on an old paranormal cliché, and I absolutely fell in love with how unique this world was!

They are a damaged bunch, not one of them without a curse of their own, but they are brothers, in every respect of the word. Wrath is the “Blind King” of the vampires, the last in a line of purebred vampires… except he refuses to ascend the thrown, and instead chooses to lead the Brotherhood. But he’s been operating without living for a couple of hundred years now, and one can say he’s mighty surprised by Beth when she whirls into his life.

Beth has no idea that the world of vampires exists, nor that she’s one of them. But near reaching the age of transformation (as a half-human/half-vampire orphan, she’d have no way to know what’s coming to her), she requires the blood and presence of a vampire to help her survive. This is where Wrath comes in, and basically just scares the shit out of her over and over again (mostly just by standing there with his natural menace rolling off in waves) until she’s willing to listen. But Beth is a stubborn one – as she shows again and again. She’d have to be, to put up with Wrath! (When he was feeling ~insecure~ and she made him repeat a mantra over and over despite the fact he kept growling at her?? A queen ??)

“I wish I could see your face clearly,” he said, frowning as if trying to focus his eyes. “Just once, I wish…”
She put her hands on his cheeks, feeling the rough stubble of his beard growth. “I’ll tell you what you’d see,” she murmured. “I love you. That’s what you’d see.”

Fangirl time: I freaking ADORE the brotherhood! They don’t all get along all the time, but they are family and it’s freaking incredible to watch them interact. They’re scrounging their way out of the dirt, desperate to build a place where their fellow vampires can live without the constant fear of death or extinction, but they are there for each other, first and foremost. 

Each of the brothers become so distinct through reading this book (and the series), it’s amazing how much they feel like friends to me. I love how they are able to be so vulnerable with each other, and still very much maintain that “alpha male,” “vicious asshole with a heart,” “tough guy” veneer that we love so much! You know why? Because grunting stoic tough guys aren’t sexy! But grunting, stoic tough guys who can show a little bit of vulnerability?? ???? Can we talk about how cute Wrath was when he was getting dressed up for his date with Beth, and he was getting all grumpy because he wanted to wear a suit to look good for her, but he hates suits ? Plus Viscious and Butch’s bromance??? ????

I love this series with all of my heart. It is super action-packed and intricate. There’s always something going on, from a variety of character sets, and it’s a book I can never put down easily! But… admittedly, it doesn’t totally hold up in today’s society. For one, there are rather strict gender roles defined here. They tend to loosen as the series progresses, but there is a definite line for males/warriors vs. females. Second, there is a slave race in this book. Called doggen, they are a servant class within the larger vampire community. All are treated extraordinarily well, like family for some, but it’s still a servant class. Thirdly, there is an instance where a villain makes fun of a transgender/gender-fluid character it wasn’t a cool moment :( Are these enough for you to skip this book? That’s up to you to decide.

“You don’t know this yet. But you are mine.”

Other books you may enjoy…

Kate, a Dreamer Kate a dreamer book blog Fierce Females Book Blogger Book blog reader reading Paranormal Romance Nalini Singh Paranormal Romance Review Changeling Shapeshifter Psy Fantastic book fall recommendations hate-to-love romances enemies-to-lovers forbidden-romance   Curran Julie Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews on Kate, a Dreamer Book Blog Bullet Journaling Urban fantasy Kate Daniels Magic Urban Fantasy Paranormal Romance Sword Fierce Female Vampire shifter changeling slow burn romance  

Do you enjoy paranormal/urban fantasy reads? Have you read a Black Dagger Brotherhood book? Let me know in the comments down below, I’d love to hear from you!

Chat with me!