Have always loved romance fiction, especially historical romances, and now have discovered paranormal and all kinds of different scenarios. After all, romance told against any background and in any configuration is grand!
Well, would you believe . . . J. R. Ward has done it again . . . given us one more of those absolutely splendiforous novels of the vampire Brotherhood that has kept fantasy/vampire literature fans enthralled through the seven previous novels. And unlike some other series that are perfectly good--great, in fact, each of these novels is really substantive both in length and in content. This latest addition to the saga is no different--it not only expands and enlarges John Matthew's story, but it also recaps and re-introduces some of the other Brothers so that this book could be a stand-alone novel. I have read all the others and have been waiting for this book for quite some time. I have to say, right up front, that I was not disappointed.
The secret is out . . . Darius is back, living again through John Matthew who thinks of Darius as his father. He is the adopted son of Tohrment, who was taken under Darius' wing when he was a boy. We learn of this history as a secondary, sort of back story in the form of a diary that John Matthew is reading. Tohr is still recovering from the traumatic death of his mate, a death that certainly had my jaw dropping and one that kept Tohr out of the story lines for several novels. Here he is in the process of rebuilding his strength in order to once again take his place with the Brotherhood. John Matthew is also still dealing with his anger and frustration left alone after the death of his adopted mother--a death that he believes drove Tohr to abandon him. Together with his two best friends and guards, John Matthew is seeking some kind of peace after the disappearance of Xhex, former assassin/guard for Revhenge and a woman who has captured his heart, a woman who is about as easy to love as a porcupine.
This is a complicated story that is made even more involved as it tells Darius and Tohrment's story in the diary while also expanding the relationship between Blaylok and Qhinn, a best-friend kind of friendship that is gradually becoming more and more difficult to maintain as Blay's love and attraction to Qhinn becomes more apparent along with Qhinn's unwillingness to own up to reciprocating Blay's love. I hope their story is on the way. Meanwhile, Xhex is missing, having been abducted by John's old enemy, Lash, a young man who was changed into a Lesser by the Omega, the Prince of hell and who is now seeking to destroy the Brothers however he may, John Matthew especially.
J. R. Ward certainly has her own style and it is full of raunchy language and overt sexuality. Yet in the midst of all that is the tenderness of John's desire to protect and nurture a woman who has never known what it was to feel accepted for who she is. John understands her sense of being outside looking in, as he has felt that way from the beginning. However, every time it appears he is getting close to her, Xhex finds a way to shuck him like a bad skin and leave him hurting. Even so, he has come to believe she is his mate and will bring her back from wherever she may be, if only to know that she is alive.
This book is filled with the strong and noble as well as those who live to perpetrate evil on others. And while it is filled with questions that don't appear to have any answers, it also answers questions that have been posed in the previous books. It even includes more of the story of the Scribe Virgin and the uneasy relationship between Her and the Chosen who live to serve the Brotherhood. There are twists and turns that have come to be the hallmark of Ward's writing and there are surprises galore. There were a few "jaw-droppers" in this story, just as was the case in almost every one of the previous books.
So Ward fans, this is your kind of book. And even as you are coming to the end of this novel I can guarantee that you will be looking forward to the next. I think this is one of the best in the series.