Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14) by J.R. Ward | Review

The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14) by J.R. Ward | ReviewThe Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #14
Published by NAL on April 5th 2016
Pages: 508
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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3 Stars

Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…

For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…

And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world...and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from...

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By book 14, you’d think I’d be over a series but that is so not the case with the Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  J.R. Ward still manages to surprise me with the twists and turns she keeps throwing in her books.

Fair warning: review is spoiler free if you’ve read the first 13 books.  Otherwise, I make no promises.

Pros:

  • Story: Things seem to be moving along with the Lessening Society again.  The Beast starts off with a huge battle and things seem like they are finally back on track with the war between the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Lessening Society.  I admit, it’s a little frustrating because this war has been going on for 14 books and it doesn’t seem like it’s gone very far so it was good to see such a huge, impactful battle in The Beast.
  • Romance: Rhage and Mary have always been one of my favorite couples (let’s be real, it’s mainly because of Rhage) so I was a little nervous about the story coming back to them and threatening their relationship.  While it definitely puts things up in the air for them, it really shows that they have a strong relationship no matter what they go through and believe me, they go through a lot.  Rhage and Mary don’t have a perfect relationship and they never have.  They went through a lot to get their happy ending and yeah, J.R. Ward kind of throws everything up in the air with The Beast, but she definitely knew what she was doing.
  • Characters: I’m still totally in love with all the original characters and I love that J.R. Ward is revisiting some of their stories but I also really like that she still manages to introduce new ones and tie all their stories together.  There is one particular character that is introduced pretty early on in The Beast who didn’t make sense to the story for quite some time.  When things started to fall into place though, I couldn’t believe where things were going.  It’s hard to believe that I can still be so surprised by J.R. Ward’s books but she manages to throw in some amazing twists that I never see coming.

Cons:

  • Rhage and Mary: I had some serious issues with Rhage and Mary at times throughout The Beast.  Take the very first scene, for instance.  I’m not going to spoil anything but Rhage does something so incredibly stupid and doesn’t even have a very good reason for it.  He acts reckless and it really made me mad.  Then there was Mary.  Mary was so obsessed with Bitty (a child that Rhage and the brothers rescued in a previous book from her abusive father) that she loses sight of so many other things, including Rhage.  Those two had some things they needed to work out and they did not make me happy while they were working them out.  And also, they were pretty cheesy at times which is not something I ever expected from them and I didn’t care much for it.

Overall, The Beast is a solid addition to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and really sets things up for the next book and the next step in the war with the Lessening Society.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in book 15, especially with Xcor and Layla.

What others are saying about The Beast:

  • Smexybooks’ review: “To be honest, I wasn’t that excited for a second Rhage book, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.”
  • Vilma’s Book Blog’s review: “Life and death, marriage and love, sacrifices and surprises—J.R. Ward stirs things up in this intimate, evocative next chapter in the Black Dagger Brotherhood.”
  • Total Book Geek’s review: “Once again The Beast was amazingly written, and I love how well all the story-lines mix together.”
Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by J.R. Ward | Review

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by J.R. Ward | ReviewBlood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #1
Published by Signet on December 1st 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 397
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

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I admit I wasn’t sure that I wanted to start this series.  While I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I’m already 14 books in with that one and I have a feeling the Black Dagger Legacy series will be just as long.  I don’t normally get into series that go on that long but I really liked Paradise and Craeg from The Shadows so I wanted to continue their story.  I’m happy I chose to start this series and I plan on keeping up with it as the rest of the books come out.  I don’t know why I’m surprised that J.R. Ward  has hooked me once again.

Pros:

  • Story: The story hooked me from page one.  I loved the idea of having some new members trained to join in on the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s fight against the Lessening Society.  I also loved the idea of seeing what goes into the training required to be a fighter with the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  While this was a huge part of the story, it wasn’t the whole story.  J.R. Ward is a master at weaving together multiple stories and she did a great job with everything that was included in Blood Kiss.  Craeg and Paradise’s story takes center stage and much of their story involves the training program but they aren’t the only two who have a role in Blood Kiss.  Marissa and Butch’s story is brought back to front and center when a severely wounded female is found outside Safe Place.  The mystery surrounding her circumstances not only brings in the new trainees but also brings to light some issues that Marissa and Butch have been having with their relationship.  There is so much going on in the story that you will not be able to stop reading.
  • Characters: I loved being introduced to so many new characters while still showing us all the original characters we’ve come to love from the original series.  Weaving together both Craeg and Paradise’s story with Butch and Marissa’s really worked for Blood Kiss. I didn’t feel like it was one of the original books but we still got to see glimpses of everyone else.  The trainees were a varied mix of people that I grew to love over the course of the book.  Paradise was raised to be part of the upper class but that’s not what she wanted out of her life and she was willing to do whatever it took to change her circumstances.  Craeg was a bit broody and mysterious but his story really broke my heart.  Axe, Peyton, Novo, Anslam, and the other trainee whose name I cannot remember were developed only briefly in Blood Kiss but I look forward to finding out more about all of them in the future books.
  • Pacing: While I love the original series, I felt like Blood Kiss had a bit better pacing than that series.  Things took off from page one and didn’t slow down even once.  There is no such thing as a short J.R. Ward book (which I’m perfectly happy with) but this one read a lot faster than the Black Dagger Brotherhood books and it seemed like a much shorter book.  I honestly can’t say exactly what caused that but I think readers will find that this one is actually a surprisingly quick read.

Cons:

  • Romance: While I loved Craeg and Paradise as separate characters, I wasn’t all that impressed with them as a couple.  Things between them were very back and forth and Craeg’s reactions a lot of the time got on my nerves.  Paradise was part of the trainee group because of her own merits and strengths but Craeg still looked at her like she was fragile.  He couldn’t see how he would be good for her and he kept pushing her away because of that, no matter what Paradise wanted.  Their relationship also seemed to be very physical and I would have liked to see more of the emotional side of things.

This doesn’t affect my review in any way but I felt like I should throw this out there.  If you haven’t read the original Black Dagger Brotherhood series, you can still read Blood Kiss.  You also don’t really need to read Blood Kiss to continue with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  However, I think both series’ offer more information to readers and I’d highly recommend reading both of them and reading them as they come out.  I plan on staying up to date with both series so that I don’t miss out on anything but that might just be due to my obsession with this series and all things J.R. Ward.

Overall, Blood Kiss will definitely appeal to fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and if you’ve been on the fence, I suggest checking it out.  Also, if you’ve been thinking about starting the Black Dagger Brotherhood series but are intimidated by how many books there are, you could always start with Blood Kiss and see how you feel about things before starting the other series.  I guess, what I’m saying is, check out Blood Kiss if you’re a fan of the paranormal.  I can’t get enough of these vampires.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward | Review

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward | ReviewThe Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on July 28th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal.... For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet. For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets. As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

picadillyblueI’ve always been a fan of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series so when I was given the chance to check out The Bourbon Kings, I jumped at it.  It’s extremely different from what I’ve read of hers but I think it will appeal to her fans.

J.R. Ward is a master at weaving together the storylines of many different characters.  While the synopsis makes it seem like The Bourbon Kings is a story of Lizzie and Lane, it’s actually so much more that that.  It’s a story about the Bradford family as a whole, specifically Lane, Edward, and Gin.  They do have another brother, Max, who I’m hoping will pop up in the next book.  Edward was extremely gruff but his circumstances broke my heart.  He and Sutton had such a crazy relationship but I’m rooting for them.  Gin also has some rough times.  I liked her even though she made some stupid choices.  It seemed like she really wanted someone to love her and she was looking in all the wrong places.  As for Lane and Lizzie, I truly adored how they butt heads but still fall for each other.  Lizzie was a strong heroine but she seemed almost a little too perfect.  I wanted more flaws from her.  Lane was very much a typical J.R. Ward love interest but hey, why fix what isn’t broken?  He was rich and cultured but also seriously messed up due to his family.

The story is so much more than a romance.  There is mystery,  intrigue, scandal, and murder.  Yeah there is romance too but it’s not all The Bourbon Kings has going for it.  Clearly J.R. Ward has a type of story that works for her and she sticks with it.  The romance underlies everything going on but it’s not the focal point of the story.  Also, while most things appear tied up at the end of the book, it’s clear that this will be a series.  I had so many unanswered questions at the end of The Bourbon Kings but it just has me even more excited for the sequel.

For a J.R. Ward novel, it was pretty tame as far as sex.  There were actually very few sex scenes and only one was between Lizzie and Lane.  I was surprised but pleased by this.  There was just so much more to this story than sex.  There is one scene that is pretty rough to read.  I don’t want to give anything away but there is one non-consensual scene.  Just be warned about that before starting this one.

As for the whole bourbon making stuff, it was very interesting although not a huge part of the story.  There was a lot more about the actual money side of things and I loved seeing everything to do with the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  Not everything was as perfect as it seemed at first glance.

Overall, The Bourbon Kings is a wonderful start to a new series that I know I’ll be addicted to.  Go into this one with an open mind and I think you’ll enjoy it.  J.R. Ward as a contemporary author definitely works for me.

What others are saying about The Bourbon Kings:

Fresh Fiction’s review: “Not your average Contemporary Romance, THE BOURBON KINGS is rife with scandal, forbidden love and twists and turns no one will see coming!”

My Para Hangover’s review: “This book reads more like a (cough) soap opera but on fast forward.”

Alexa Loves Books’ review: “In spite of my slight reservations towards the romance, I really wound up enjoying The Bourbon Kings.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood #13) by J.R. Ward | Review

The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood #13) by J.R. Ward | ReviewThe Shadows by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #13
Published by NAL on March 31, 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 592
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

Two brothers bound by more than blood fight to change a brutal destiny in the heart-wrenching new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward.

Trez “Latimer” doesn’t really exist. And not just because the identity was created so that a Shadow could function in the underbelly of the human world. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the S’Hsibe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer in Caldwell, NY for years- all the while on the run from a destiny of sexual servitude. He’s never had anyone he could totally rely on... except for his brother, iAm.

iAm’s sole goal has always been to keep his brother from self-destructing- and he knows he’s failed. It’s not until the Chosen Serena enters Trez’s life that the male begins to turn things around... but by then it’s too late. The pledge to mate the Queen’s daughter comes due and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no negotiating.

Trapped between his heart and a fate he never volunteered for, Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others- or forever leave behind the female he’s in love with. But then an unimaginable tragedy strikes and changes everything. Staring out over an emotional abyss, Trez must find a reason to go on or risk losing himself and his soul forever. And iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice...

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I think it’s safe to say that by book 13 of a series I’m pretty hooked. The Black Dagger Brotherhood series was a series I started late but I’m definitely an invested fan now. Trez and iAm’s story got me just as much as the original brothers!

Trez and iAm are not members of the Brotherhood. In fact, they are a whole different race; shadows. They are similar to vampires but they have different abilities and different rules to live by. Trez has been promised to the princess of the shadows since he was born but he’s been fighting it for years. However, time is about up for him and not only is there no solution in sight, he’s also in love with Selena.

This series really gets me with the characters. Trez and iAm were no different. Trez was a strong male who had a lot of difficulties in life. iAm was his rock. The twins had a special bond and I loved how they were there for each other through everything. As for their females, I wasn’t quite as invested there. Selena was one of the Chosen, meaning she was very reserved and hard to connect with. As for maichen, she was closed off as well but for very different reasons. I eventually came to like the couples but I didn’t have that immediate love for them like I did the other couples in the series.

There was once again a shit ton of stuff going on throughout The Shadows. There is, of course, still the war with the Lessening Society but it really took a backseat to everything else. The Band of Bastards are stepping up their game now but it’s hard to tell whose side they will be on in the end. Xcor and Layla’s relationship took a new turn in The Shadows. I’m not sure how I feel about the two of them together but Xcor has really grown on me and I feel for him.

Rhage also took center stage in The Shadows which I was not expecting. He has always been one of my favorite brothers so I was excited to see more of him but I’m confused about the direction his story is going. He was very shook up by the events of this book and his ending was very up in the air. I’m wondering what is going to happen with him and Mary from here.

There were also a few new characters introduced and it makes me wonder how many more books are going to be in this series since there are so many open stories now. Paradise is the newest character to be introduced and I already like her. She’s young and eager to learn to fight for the Brotherhood. I love females like her and I hope J.R. Ward introduces more in the future books. I can’t wait to read her story in the spin-off series.

Overall, The Shadows left me with more questions than answers but I still enjoyed it immensely. I have no clue where J.R. Ward is going to take this series next but I will definitely keep reading.

What others are saying about The Shadows:

That’s What I’m Talking About’s review: “Without spoilers, I will tell you that the ending of this book, the ultimate resolution, was so egregious in my mind and heart, that it left me unsettled and speechless.”

vampirebookclub’s review: “I would still recommend picking The Shadows up for simply to see where the Black Dagger Brotherhood members are going.”

Red Hot Books’ review: “In the end of it all, I was just left tired… and disappointed.”