Author: J.R. Ward

Retro-Review: Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

Posted March 8, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 16 Comments

Retro-Review: Lover Enshrined by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #6
Also in this series: The Shadows
Published by Signet Eclipse
Publication Date: June 3, 2008
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 534
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three-half-stars

Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood's bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is obligated to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive, and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body, but his heart for herself. She is drawn to the noble responsibility behind the emotionally scarred male. But Phury has never allowed himself to know pleasure or joy. As the war with the Lessening Society grows grim, tragedy looms over the Brotherhood's mansion, and Phury must decide between duty and love....

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Where to begin? This is going to be a review that is all over the place, b/c the book was all over the place. So I’ll try to dumb it down, more for my sake than yours.

With each BDB book, it is less about the couple in question and more about the Brotherhood and where it’s going. Lover Revealed was the platform for Lover Unbound. Lover Unbound was the platform for Lover Enshrined. Lover Enshrined was the platform for whatever JRW has planned next. That is really a shame b/c JRW can really write romance in a way that I certainly appreciate. So Lover Enshrined was less about Phury and Cormia and more about the direction that JRW is taking the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

There were way too many POV’s in this book. Coming from me, someone who loves different POV’s, that’s saying a lot. So I’m going to try to break the various characters and their situation down using one word and then a short description.

Phury/Cormia: yawn

While I’ve never professed to be a Phury fan, I’ve never disliked him either. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling the love between Phury and Cormia. Phury is nothing but a junkie. I felt no love for him. When all was said and done, I could have cared less about him or his addiction. Cormia, on the other hand, was surprisingly likable. At first I didn’t really care for her, but then I thought about exactly who she was and the world that she was now in. She grew the most out of all the characters. By the end of the book, I really admired her quiet strength. I had one huge peeve about Cormia. She didn’t refer to Phury as Phury until page 456. It was “Primale” this and “Primale” that. It really got annoying, even considering where Cormia came from.

John Matthew/Qhuinn/Blaylock: Amazing

These three are the reasons that I kept reading this book. You can tell that JRW has big plans for these three. Something happened between Lash/John Matthew/Qhiunn that I didn’t see coming (that’s not saying much). I really enjoyed the friendship between these three b/c you could tell it was genuine. There is nothing that they won’t do for each other. Nothing.

The brand name dropping/slang did get eye-rolling. Here’s one of my favorite passages. I could not stop laughing. This was when Qhuinn and Blay took John Matthew shopping.

John got jacked into some sweet ragged jeans, a bunch of those deconstructed button-downs, and a couple of tight muscle shirts, which even he had to admit showed off his guns and his pecs like they were worth seeing.

Yes, that amused me for a good long while.

Rehv/Xhex: Fascinating

This book was definitely a platform for Rehv’s book. JRW did a fantastic job of generating interest in the sympath’s, even more than she’s done in the past few books. There’s also a tiny peek into Rehv and Xhex’s past. Oh and does anyone know for sure if Xhex is John Matthew’s mate? Because I would be thrilled to see that. Finally a female character that is actually interesting.

The Lessers: Intriguing

Finally JRW has a direction for the Lessers. See, the Omega has a son. A son who is a vampire. I won’t spoil it, but it is revealed in the book. So while I wasn’t exactly thrilled with all the face time that the Lessers got, it wasn’t as yawn inducing as it has been in previous books. They finally have a purpose and a leader. A leader that can actually make trouble for Wrath as King as well as the BDB. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

So there are at least 9 different POV’s here. That’s why this book is so long. If it was whittled down to only Phury/Cormia, it maybe would have been 100 pages. Maybe. Oh, also, the friendship between John Matthew and Cormia was really sweet. I really enjoyed reading how John Matthew introduced Cormia to the wonders of technology and color. John Matthew is really going to be a special hero.

Oh and how could I forget??? TOHR IS BACK!! I know that wasn’t a big secret, but it was still a tad bit shocking. I’ve given up hoping that we’ll actually see his book within the next 10 years. I’m sure he has “a lot to do” before we’re able to get his book. I’m not bitter or anything, though. Wait, yes I am.

Other than that, I’m sure the die-hard JRW fans will love this book. As a paranormal romance, it really missed the mark. I’d say it’s more fantasy than anything else. Or maybe sci-fi? I can’t decide. I know that I will read the next book and probably the next one after that.

If I was only rating this book on romance, I’d have to give it a 2 out of 5. Everything combined, I give it:

3.75 out of 5.

Other books in the series:

Dark Lover Lover Eternal Lover Awakened Lover Revealed Lover Unbound

Read my review of Lover Unbound here.

three-half-stars

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Review: The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward

Posted August 24, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Angels’ Share by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
The Angels' Share by J.R. Ward
Series: Bourbon Kings Series #2
Also in this series: The Bourbon Kings
Published by NAL
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Rich & Famous
Pages: 414
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four-stars

#1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward delivers the second novel in her Bourbon Kings series—a sweeping saga of a Southern dynasty struggling to maintain a façade of privilege and prosperity, while secrets and indiscretions threaten its very foundation…   In Charlemont, Kentucky, the Bradford family is the crème de la crème of high society—just like their exclusive brand of bourbon. And their complicated lives and vast estate are run by a discrete staff who inevitably become embroiled in their affairs. This is especially true now, when the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder…   No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.   Everything has consequences; everybody has secrets. And few can be trusted. Then, at the very brink of the family’s demise, someone thought lost to them forever returns to the fold. Maxwell Bradford has come home. But is he a savior...or the worst of all the sinners?

I loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Once again we’re pulled into the worked of the Bradford Bourbon Kings, but this time their patriarch is dead. At first it was thought to be suicide until his finger is found buried on the grounds of the grand family estate. Then, it starts to look more like murder. But who would murder William Baldwine?

Lane Baldwine thinks he has an idea and it’s one he’s not to happy to have and not one that he’s going to share. He came back to Easterly when his momma, Miss Aurora was sick and he had no intention of staying. That was until he saw his Lizzie again and he knew he had to get her back. Get her back he did and he wanted nothing more than to leave with her. Until he learned that the Bradford Bourbon Company was in trouble, his father all but bankrupting the company. Lane brought his good friend Jeff down from Manhattan to follow the numbers and it didn’t take Jeff long to realize that someone has been embezzling from BBC and Lane decides to take the problem on himself. There is no way that Lane is letting the company that has been in his family for generation go belly up. He just doesn’t know how he’s going to turn it around.

If anyone can turn the company around, Lane thinks it’s his older brother Edward. Yet after their father arranged for his kidnapping and declined to paid the ransom all but leaving Edward for dead, Edward wants nothing to do with the family or the company. All Edward wants is to be left alone with his horses. Yet Edward feels a pull toward his siblings that won’t be denied. He also feels a pull toward Sutton Smythe, BBC’s number one competitor and the woman that Edward has been in love with half his life. Though there is nothing more Edward wants than Sutton, he knows that the shell of the man he is now is not what Sutton needs in her life and he can do nothing more than let her go.

In the meantime, Lane and Edward’s sister Gin (short for Virginia) has hopped on the money train that is Richard Pford. Gin has nothing if not an enormous sense of self-preservation and she’s never in her life had to support herself. Yet she starts to question whether she’s made the right decision with Richard when she gets advice from an unlikely source. She also realizes that though she’s been a terrible mother to her daughter, it is never too late to change that. Gin was just about unbearable in The Bourbon Kings, but in this book there was a slight turnaround as if she could be someone that her daughter and her brothers could be proud of.

As if there wasn’t enough drama, the middle son Maxwell shows up. It’s not clear where he’s been or why he’s there. He heard about his father’s death of course, but he seemed to be gone for so long, it’s a wonder that he showed up at all. There really wasn’t too much about Max, so I imagine that we will be seeing him in future books.

So yes, I loved this book because I loved the drama. The alternating points of view, which drive me batshit in the BDB series, work wonderfully in this series. The soap opera-esque way that this series has will draw you in so if you don’t want to be obsessed, don’t bother reading The Bourbon King series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

four-stars

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Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

Posted July 25, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
Series: Bourbon Kings Series #1
Also in this series: The Angels' Share
Published by Signet
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Rich & Famous
Pages: 432
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

This book was like a really bad soap opera that pulls you in and doesn’t spit you out until the last page. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a romance, though there are definitely romantic elements between Lane and Lizzie. There are varying points of view as there always are in Ward’s book. I didn’t plan on reading this book (I never do plan on reading Ward’s books), but I was helpless to stop myself. Intervention, please! I’m glad I did read it because it did show me another facet to her writing.

Lane Baldwine has no intention of ever returning to the Easterly estate. Having left two years ago after losing the woman he loved, only one thing could bring him back–the woman that raised him. It took no more than three words “Your momma’s sick” for Lane to drop everything and rush back to the home he grew up in, the home he hates. Everything is exactly as it always has been. Betrayal, secrets, and lies. The only thing that has stayed the same is Lizzie Smith, Easterly’s head gardener. Lizzie is the only person that has ever seen Lane as he truly is and that is one of the many reasons that he has never forgotten her.

It doesn’t take Lane long to realize that his family’s billion dollar legacy is in trouble. The bourbon that carries their family name and is known around the world is in jeopardy of going under and Lane is determined to find out why. To do that, he needs his older brother’s help. There is no one that wants to help less than Edward. After getting kidnapped in South America and held for ransom, Edward hates their father with a passion that surpasses a million suns. When Lane comes calling and tells him what’s happening, Edward offers his help for no other reason to bring their father down.

In the meantime, their sister Gin has her own problems. Her father has arranged a marriage to a man that is horrid. Literally the worst character in the book by far. At first she fights in, but then she realizes that to live the life she is accustomed to, she has no choice in the matter. I really lost respect for her when she decided to marry such an asshole, but I respected her for admitting to herself why she did what she did.

Lane and Lizzie in the meantime have rekindled their romance, but they are still in the same boat. Lane is the crown prince of Easterly and Lizzie is the hired help. Where can their relationship go? Not to mention that Lane is in the middle of a messy divorce (yes, he’s married though he hasn’t seen her for two years).

This was definitely more fiction than romance. Good fiction though. Fiction that you’ll want to read. I tried to read it about a year ago when it first came out, but I didn’t give it a fair shot because, well, it was J.R. Ward. I wasn’t going to let her suck me into yet another one of her series. Damned if I didn’t let that happen.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

four-stars

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Review: The Beast by J.R. Ward

Posted May 3, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Beast by J.R. WardThe Beast by J.R. Ward
Series: BDB #14
Also in this series: The Shadows
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: April 5th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal
Pages: 592
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Rhage and Mary return in a new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a series “so popular, I don’t think there’s a reader today who hasn’t at least heard of [it]” (USA Today).   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...  
From the Hardcover edition.

I stand by my feelings about J.R. Ward. Always. I still don’t have an inkling of an idea why I read her books when they keep getting worse. One of the reasons I read this book was because it was about Rhage and Mary. I loved their book. Lover Eternal was one of the best books in the series.

Rhage is just special. He always has been. He had my heart since he placed his order at TGI Friday’s. He ignored every female that looked his way and kept all his attention on Mary. He saw the special in Mary and he never let her go.

Fast forward to The Beast. I liked it because it shows that characters don’t always have HEA’s. They have problems just like normal couples do. Rhage has been having panic attacks for some reason that he doesn’t know about. Mary on the other hand, is deep involved in Safe Place. Safe Place is the safe house that Marissa created for women and children to come to that have been abused by their hellren’s. Mary is deeply involved with one of the children whose mother died.

They are together, but separate, something that is affecting both of them. While Mary is helping the young girl at Safe Place, it reminds her that she can never have children, something that she thought she had come to terms with it. She realizes she hasn’t. Soon she realizes that Rhage hasn’t come to terms with it either. But they have each other and that gives them both hope.

Then something extraordinary happens. They start spending time with the orphan and it brings them even closer together. Rhage instantly feels a parental instinct toward Bitty. The one thing that Rhage is terrified of is that Bitty will not want to be adopted by them if she ever sees his beast. Which she inadvertently does when Mary gets in trouble. Of course he has nothing to worry about because Bitty treats him like he’s a bit pet dragon.

Although they were always bonded, Bitty brings Mary and Rhage even closer. It was a beautiful thing to read. Seeing the growth of Rhage and Mary, Bitty or not, was beautiful. I have not given J.R. Ward such a high rating since the first 3-4 books. That’s how much I enjoyed this book. They’ve always been one of my favorite couples. This book just brings it back home. Rhage and Mary can conquer anything.

Rating 4.25 out of 5.

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Review: The Shadows by J.R. Ward

Posted April 10, 2015 by Casee in Reviews | 15 Comments

Review: The Shadows by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
The Shadows by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #14, BDB #14
Also in this series: Lover Enshrined, The Beast
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: March 31st 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General
Pages: 592
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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one-star

The #1 New York Times bestselling author returns to the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood as two brothers bound by more than blood fight to change a brutal destiny. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the s’Hisbe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer for years. On the run from a destiny of sexual servitude, he’s never been able to rely on anyone...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 Selena 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. Now Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others—or abandon the female he loves. When tragedy strikes and changes everything, iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice....

 

This is the worst BDB book that I have ever read. The only reason it’s not a DNF is because I bought the book instead of getting it from the library. Forget the series being a train wreck. The was like an explosion. An explosion of epic proportions. Just when you don’t think it can get any worse, it does. Definitely not worth the $12.71 e-book.

The book was mainly concentrated around Trez and iAm, the two Shadows that we’ve seen throughout the series. They both escaped from their people, the s’Hisbe years ago. The s’Hisbe have astrological charts that they follow closely and when Trez and iAm were born (twins), it was read in the stars by the priest that Trez would mate the Princess. Trez wants nothing to do with his people but escape. I don’t blame him. He was going to be a glorified breeder.

Trez and iAm have been living on the outside for years when the s’Hisbe call Trez back to mate with the Princess. The only problem now? Trez has mated with the Chosen Selena which gives him yet another reason not to go back. iAm knows that the Queen’s executioner s’Ex will come after both of them, so he started a plan to run long ago. Then Trez’s mate gets sick. Only a handful of Chosen get what the call the Arrest. Bone grows over their tendons and they are literally all bone. Everyone frantically looks for a cure. The only thing that makes Selena feel better is Trez.

Click for spoilers and my wrath.

View Spoiler »

I also don’t care about this garbage where she explains it all. I don’t care how a book “comes to you”. Nothing about what happened made Trez and Selena’s love more special. Someone flew over the cuckoo’s nest one too many times.

I’m also not a big fan of the Chosen themselves. That was about the only thing I agreed with in the above post. Layla’s pregnant with twins [snooze], Phury’s mate [snooze]. They’re just boring for lack of a better term. They don’t mean to be, I know, but they are. Selena wasn’t boring. Ugh. I’m not bitter, I’m just pissed off. I have stayed with this series since the beginning. Since before there was a message board and the crazy moderators that insulate JRW from us crazies. Back when JRW actually answered her own emails. I even read her other series. So W.T.F.

iAm got his HEA. Yay for him.

Rhage is having panic attacks for the love of God. That wasn’t really addressed. What Brother would have panic attacks? Seriously. Lame much? Don’t try to humanize them. They aren’t human.

The only thing that interests me now is the fighting. I want to see the next time someone tries to take the throne. I want to see what Throe is going to do now that he broke off from Xcor. I want to know what Xcor is going to do now that Xcor broke things off with Layla. Is everyone going to go after Wrath now? I want to know, but I will never, ever buy another of her books. J.R. Ward is firmly in the library category.

1 out of 5.

This book was published by NAL Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format (however, I recommend the library).

one-star

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