J.R. Ward – Lover Unleashed

Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #9
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother: A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.

When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.

As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.

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Always a pleasure to see strong females in the BDB series…

“Love can conquer everything but reality. Which will win every stinking time.”

Let me start with the following warning: It is impossible to review any book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series without mentioning spoilers for all the books which came before it. With that in mind, you might not want to read this review if you haven’t read the first eight books in the series…

The BDB Series focuses on a new couple with each book, yet keeps the reader updated with all of the other brothers. The plethora of POVs can be a bit daunting at times, but you get used to it once you get this far in the series.

The unofficial breakdown of plot:
40% Payne & Manny
40% Vishous & Jane (who had their own spotlight 4 books ago)
8% Lead up of Blay and Qhuinn (Who get their own story in book 11)
8% The band of Bastards (Who are a brand new addition to the series)
4% Caldwell Cops Jose de la Cruz and his new partner Thomas DelVecchio

Payne
Blooded sister of the Brother Vishous, son of The Bloodletter

Payne looked back through the glass at the human on the bed. “Yes. I am in love with him. And if you try to dissuade me by the fact that I have not lived yet enough to judge, I say unto you…fuck off.”

Payne is the twin sister of Vishous. She was kept in forced hibernation by the Scribe Virgin for centuries, and only let out of her cage at the end of Phury’s book. She’s every bit the warrior that her brother is, and simply does not fit the mold created for Vampire Females.

At the end of the last book, she was sparring with Wrath on the Other Side when she cracked her head. Payne was paralyzed by the hit, and Wrath managed to bring her back to the mansion in the hopes that she could be healed.

Unfortunately, Doc Jane is ill-equipped to handle the devastating injury to her spinal cord. Her only choice is to reach out to one of her old contacts in the human world…

Dr. Manuel Manello
Chief of Surgery, Caldwell Medical Center

It finally happened, he thought as he burrowed under his shirt and took hold of his heavy cross. All his life he’d wondered why he’d never fallen in love, and now he knew: He’d been waiting for this moment, this woman, this time. The female is mine, he thought.

We first met Dr. Manello in Lover Unbound. He was the Chief of Surgery who had the hots for Jane. The poor guy is brought to the mansion by the ghost of the woman he once cared for. He’s asked to operate on a gorgeous woman who isn’t real enthusiastic about the idea. If he fails, he’s pretty sure that he’ll be murdered, and even if she does walk again, her brother might kill Manny just for being around his sister…

Manny manages to get through the surgery, but his memories are wiped clean by his vampire abductors before he ever has a chance to learn if it was a success. The memory wipe really does a number on the good doctor – he’s losing his mind with the vague memories, vivid dreams, headaches, and lost time…

Vishous & Jane

“I wish I were whole. I wish I could have given you young if you’d wanted them and could conceive them. I wish I could have told you that it killed me when you thought I had been with anyone else. I wish I had spent the last year waking up every night and telling you that I loved you. I wish I had mated you properly the evening you came back to me from dead. I wish. . .”
“I wish I were half as strong as you are and I wish I deserved you. And. . . that’s about it.”

Vishous was stunned to discover that he had a twin sister and heartbroken to realize that she might die before he had the opportunity to know her.

In the wake of these revelations, V’s psyche is taking a tumble. His relationship with Jane is deteriorating rapidly, and his self destructive tendencies have shifted into high gear.

Apparently the solution to V’s internal suffering is to let go with a good dose of physical pain. Enter Butch and the infamous black candled condo filled with all the trappings of V’s former BDSM lifestyle. I think many readers have been fantasizing about that particular scene for a while now…

Blay & Qhuinn

But by God, he was going to stop running from his cowardice. He had to own his shit – even if it made him hate himself to the core. Because maybe if he did, he’d stop trying to distract himself with sex and drinking, and figure out what he did want.
Apart from Blay, that was.

We pop into Qhuinn’s life several times throughout this story. He’s still convinced that he’ll never be with Blay even though he knows he will never love anyone as much as him… He’s been whoring and brooding and running himself ragged to the point that John Matthew finally has to set him straight…

Qhuinn vows to turn over a new leaf, stop whoring around and get his shit together. His growing friendship with the Chosen Layla is obviously leading to something bigger. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to the poor naive girl when Blay & Qhuinn stop denying what’s between them…

For the love of The Scribe Virgin – I can’t wait for their fucking book!

Xcor
& his merry Band of Bastards

Wrath and the Brotherhood had too long ruled this continent, and to what end? The Lessening Society persisted. The Vampire population had scattered. And those arrogant, flabby, feckless humans where everywhere.

Where previous books in the series might have provided a POV to see what was happening in the Lessening Society, this book introduced us to a brand new enemy in the Vampire War. The Band of Bastards – chiefly comprised of warrior males who trained with The Bloodletter but didn’t make the cut to become members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. They have a serious chip on their collective shoulders from being rejected by the BDB, and their leader, Xcor, has a few issues of his own…

Turns out, Payne escaped from the other side to commit patricide a few hundred years ago. Her completely justifiable, kinda badass, right in front of the Band of Bastards murder of The Bloodleter left them hungry for revenge.

Xcor arrives in Caldwell looking for a way to dethrone the Blind King. I guess we’ll just have to read on if we’re going to find out how that goes 😉

Complete honesty:
I’ve been steadily chipping away at this series for one reason – I’m dying to see Blay and Qhuinn get their HEA. It kills me to know that Ward is going to drag these two through some awful shit before we get there. She systematically strips her characters of all dignity before granting them their own book.

I’ve been a bit underwhelmed with the series for several books. I haven’t felt satisfied after finishing a BDB book since Z’s story… and that was book four!

I hate how angsty and pansy-assed some of these warrior vampires can be…
I hate that we keep replaying the “I love you but I push you away” theme over and over…
I’m getting aggravated by the constant deluge of brands…
I’ll never believe that an 800 year old vampire texts like a 14 year old girl…

*sigh*

But so help me, I’m oddly in love with this damn series. I seem to grant JR Ward a lot of slack that I might not give to other authors. Mostly, I’m just determined to get to Lover At Last – Blay & Qhuinn’s book… We’ll see if I continue after that…

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