The Challenge: Trying to get past page 1. Seriously – I couldn't get past this page for a week. I've since realized it's probably because the page starts out with dialogue and we all know how much I love the dialogue *end sarcasm*. Now, the challenge is writing my review.
The Setting: My room
The Music: Jay-Z bumpin from the speakers j/k
The Couple: Rhage (aka Hollywood, Hal E. Wood) and Mary Luce
The Surprise: The book was dedicated to me. What, you doubt me? Read 'em and weep people. Read 'em and weep:
Dedicated to: You. In the beginning, we didn't hit it off, did we?See, told ya so. JR Ward obviously had Vishous prognosticate my reaction to book one, Dark Lover.
Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover—for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Possessed by this dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships, is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. Her faith in miracles was lost years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves…
Mary and Rhage's story starts out pretty good. I found it to be an easier read, once I got past page one, than the first book. We see how hard it's been for Rhage to live with his beast and we meet Mary who's had a rough life. She took care of her sick mother and watched helplessly as she faded away into death. Mary also battled leukemia and after two years of remission, may now have a recurrence. I was very interested in these two until everything got repetitive. Here's a summary:
Mary: I'm plain, why is Hal (aka Rhage) with me?
Rhage: Your voice, it's so soothing yet it also makes me hot.
Mary: He's only being nice because Bella told him I'm sick.
Rhage: You're so beautiful and you make me all tingly in my special places. Wait, even in my non-special places.
Mary: Stop pitying me. You're way out of my league.
Rhage: But I'm so hard for you. Oh no! I'm also dangerous for you. See how my teal eyes glow for you. My secret beast wants out and will probably eat you.
Mary: Hmm….his teal eyes are glowing but that doesn't bother me at all because glowing teal eyes are oh so normal. Oh and I'm wet for you, but you're just being kind to the unattractive girl. See you even pull away from me because I disgust you.
Rhage: I love you! Stay here with me in my room. You're my girl now and forever.
Mary: What? You don't even know me, I don't know you. We may be practically sexin' it like monkeys but you, Mr. Hottie McNaughty, cannot love me, Ms. Demure Insecure.
Rhage: How can you think me so unworthy? I only want to love and take care of you.
Yada, yada, yada. Shampoo, rinse and repeat a couple dozen times with some breaks for kissing, fondling and feeding (food not blood) because apparently it means a whole lot in the vamp world to feed another. Whatever….moving on.
There was one part that I really liked in the first half. It's when Rhage is reflecting on the burden the beast has been on him. I really feel for him here:
God, he was tired of being stuck inside his body, managing its demands, trying not to fall into a brutal oblivion. Sure, his stunner of a face and the strength were all fine and good. But he would have traded both to a scrawny, ugly mo'fo, if it would have gotten him some peace. Hell, he couldn't even remember what serenity was like. He couldn't even remember who he was.
The disintegration of himself had started up pretty quick. After only a couple of years into the curse, he'd stopped hop-ing for any true relief and simply tried to get by without hurting anyone. That was when he'd started to die on the inside, and now, over a hundred years later, he was mostly numb, nothing more than glossy window dressing and empty charm.
Early on in the book, we meet a young man named John Matthews who Mary befriends despite his stalkerish behavior. She also introduces John to her neighbor Bella, who happens to be a civilian vampire. John is mute but of course Mary, in all her holy goodness, knows sign language. While chatting/signing with John, Mary and Bella discover he is an orphan. He is also wearing a bracelet he made that has symbols he dreamt about. Guess what those symbols are? They're old school vamp talk and Bella just happens to read OSVT. The following is what she discovers after reading the symbols. It is also the point at which I set the book down and laughed:
Putting her hands on her hips, she stared at the floor. What the hell was she going to do? When she'd searched John's conscious mind, she'd found nothing about his race, his people, his traditions. The boy didn't know a thing, had no idea who he really was or what he was going to turn into. And he honestly didn't know what those symbols meant.
She did. They spelled out TEHRROR in the Old Language. A warrior's name.
Seriously? TEHRROR? Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
*picks book back up and continues reading*
So apparently John Matthews is destined to be one of the Brotherhood. I love how Tohr is with him. Again, Tohr is one of my faves from the books and I can't wait to read more about him and Wellsie.
There's also a part where Rhage cheats on Mary. She knows where he's going (and why) and I see why he did it but after all his sweetness towards her, he lost many points in my book.
After Mary finally admits her feelings for Rhage things go a little smoother. There's still a lot of repetitiveness but I was less annoyed by then. There's a part where Rhage realizes that his beast wants to sex it up with Mary too, and she agrees to let him. So they proceed and I won't lie, that scene was kinda creepy. It had nothing to do with the chains (they had to chain Rhage so the beast wouldn't hurt Mary) but with the actual thought of some alien-like creature up in there too…CREEPY!
The Lessers are snoozeville for me. I don't see them as any real threat except to Johnson and Johnson, the makers of baby powder. Have nothing else to say about them.
One of the things I really like about the BDB world is the brotherhood aspect. I like the solidarity they show towards Rhage after his punishment for breaking the Brotherhood's rules. I LOVE the scene afterwards with Zsadist at Rhage's bedside chanting or praying for him. I wished for more scenes of the brothers together WITHOUT the slang. That would have made a huge difference for me! I also wanted more interaction between the ladies. When Mary first arrives, Beth is there for a brief second and Wellsie is mainly in scenes with Tohr. At the very least, I would have expected Beth to befriend Mary since she was living there. She could have provided some advice on dealing with the brothers considering she was fairly new to the group as well.
I did get a little bored towards the end with the exception of the scenes with Bella and Phury, then Bella and Zsadist. It really got me interested in learning more about both brothers. I liked Bella because she was upfront, she straight up told Z she was attracted to him and wanted to sleep with him. You.Go.Girl. Very refreshing after all Mary's wishy-washy ways. We also learned earlier that Bella has a brother named Rehvenge, probably a future member of the brotherhood.
The ending wasn’t unexpected but rather a bit unsatisfying. I seriously thought the path they were taking was heartbreakingly beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I wanted a happy ending and knew there would be a twist but didn't think it would be that. Since the rule was Rhage couldn't go to the new Mary, I thought somehow the new Mary would cross paths with him and they would rebuild their relationship. I actually would have preferred it that way. Anyway……
I still have my issues with JR Ward's writing (the names, the slang, the caveman talk - see link above for the list in my review of the first book) but I have to admit the little peeks she provides on the other brothers are enough to catch and hold my attention. My faves are still Zsadist and Tohrment. I want to learn more about what happened in Z's past and I want to see what happens with Tohr, Wellsie and their baby. I also, want to see how they help John Matthews since they pretty much adopted him. I even want to see what's up with Phury and why the celibacy. Oh yeah, not to mention V and his awesome yet burden laden gift of prognostication.
In short, these books are mind-crack and I have succumbed. Well played, Ms. Ward. Well played. I still need recovery time from each book so I'll see you in another 3 months when I read the next one.
Liked the premise of this book but aspects of its execution were WEAK. Enjoyed it enough to continue riding the series/author out at my own leisurely pace. Beyond the hype, this book is fine for a fluffy, generic read and has more of a library rental/swap quality rather than a keeper for my personal bookshelf
Around The Net:
A Journey of Books: A+
The Romance Reader: 3 Stars
Love Vampires: 5 Stars
Dear Author: B
The Hope Chest Reviews: 4 Stars
Romantic Times: 4 ½ Stars