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JR Ward – BDB 01 – Dark Lover

Posted by Wanderer on May 2, 2009

I’ve had JR Ward’s books in my TBR pile for a long, long time and upon finally reading book 1, I realized why. The character names are rhediculous. No, no, no that was no spelling error, that was in honor of Ward’s characters: Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, Phury, Vishous and Torhment. Cheesy names aside, the book started out interesting.

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.

The hero is Wrath, the King of the vampires and the last purebred of his line. He also happens to be blind. He is part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a group of specially trained warriors who protect the vampire race against a group called the Lessening Society (aka vampire slayers). The other members of the BDB also have some sort of physical imperfection. The descriptions of the characters drew me in and made me anxious to continue reading and discover more about these flawed mens’ lives.

The heroine is Beth who doesn’t know she is half vampire. Her father, Darius, is also a member of the BDB but has only watched his daughter grow up from afar. He wants to approach her now because she is reaching the age of her Transition, where she will become a vampire. Apparently a Transition isn’t a guaranteed thing and some do not survive the change. In order to give his daughter the best chance at survival he wants Beth’s first drink during the change to be from Wrath-of-the-pureblood.

So the story goes thru the meeting of Wrath and Beth. I found it funny that she never questioned his name or any of his brother’s names for that matter. Basically, he say’s “My name is Wrath” and she’s all “Hi Wrath my name is Beth”. Guess Wrath is the new Michael? I liked the fact that we got to see how Wrath experienced the world using his other senses. There’s a part where he first scents Beth and he says “she smells beautiful”. I thought that was sweet, it’s like the Jerry Maguire “you had me at hello” line. They get it on early in the story and eventually Wrath tells her about what he is and what’s about to happen to her. After some disbelief, thankfully it wasn’t too drawn out, she accepts what he says as truth. Through all this I didn’t really like Wrath until much later in the book. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate him but I didn’t feel the fondness I normally would for the hero of a book. Part of it was his treatment of Marissa, the female vampire who was his one and only (in blood exchanging only) until Beth came along and he got the blood/sex/lust/love TKO combo. Then there was how he treated Fritz, the caretaker of the house and the brotherhood, and the comments he made to Tohr about Wellsie. In fact, I liked Torhment more than him for a while and even Zsadist made me laugh at one point.

Beth also has a human cop friend, Brian “Butch” O’Neal, who warns her against Wrath. He thinks Wrath is a drug lord but eventually is told about the vampire’s existence due to his first meeting with Marissa and something that happens in front of him. We also learn about the lessers and one of the main guys, Mr. X, is out recruiting for new members for the vamp slaying society. He finds one kid in particular who has all the right moves but aside from one battle where Rhage’s beast makes its appearance, I didn’t find the lessers much of a threat to the brotherhood. Maybe future books will have more interesting battles between the two groups?

Anyway, after the initial intro of the main characters I didn’t get caught up in the story again until about the last third of the book when we get to Beth’s Transition. The emotions of that part of the story and the way Wrath treated Beth finally won me over.

Overall, there are definite pluses and minuses in the world of the BDB. I found the death ritual Wrath performs and the Fade to be interesting. The concept of the Brotherhood is cool and I like the reverence they show Beth later on in the book. That scene reminded me of the end of the Return of the King movie. I found the slang annoying (outie, whack, you feel me, pimp juice, off the chain, true?, rap music references) and at times it made the story comedic. I didn’t like the terms Mating and Needing, kept making me think of animals in heat. Then we have the villain’s of the story, the Lessers, whose scent is….baby powder. Huh?

I’ll keep the rest of the series in my TBR pile but I’m thinking of skipping to Tohr and Zsadist’s books since those are the two that caught my attention in this story. For those who have read all the books, do they need to be read in order? Also, I checked Ward’s website for Tohr’s book but it doesn’t look like he has one. Why is that? I would love to see how he and Wellsie met or even what happens with the baby.

On a completely random personal note, I grew up with a dad who loved WWF wrestling and the BDB reminded me of the old school wrestlers. With over the top names and the slang, especially them calling each other “brother”, it’s definitely the WWF era redux. So without further ado, I present to you my WWF/BDB comparison (they don’t necessarily fit look-wise but characteristically, this is how I’d match them up). Enjoy!

Wrath = Hulk Hogan

Rhage = Jake the Snake

Zsadist = The Undertaker

Phury = The Ultimate Warrior

Vishous = Sting

Torhment = Macho Man Randy Savage and Wellsie = Elizabeth

Butch = Bret Hart

I was on the fence on the grade for this one. My gut reaction after completing the book was a C but then when writing the review and realizing it reminded me of the WWF (and good memories of dad) I wanted to bump it up to a B-. But alas, gut reactions are absolute truth for me so…..

Final grade:

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.


9 Responses to “JR Ward – BDB 01 – Dark Lover”

  1. Mistress said

    You had me at the WWF match-up. = )

    I’ve read the 1st 3 books in this series and wasn’t impressed, it’s all very regurgitated Carpatians IMO. But the monkey sex and tortured hunks, are fun enough. The Lessers’ (aka The alphabet gang) plot grows from book to book. But since I think their presence is pointless, skip away. I doubt it’ll effect the enjoyment yay or nay, if your main interest is the romance plot.

  2. Mandi said

    LMAO at your WWE match-ups!

    Tohr’s book will be the last one in the series – the series is open ended so not sure when that will be. I think they should be read in order because all the brothers appear in all the books so it would make more sense if you read them in order.

    I say try the next one, Lover Eternal – Rhage’s story. It is a bit different than Wrath!!! (Zsadist is after him anyway:)

  3. Mistress said

    Ohh, I didn’t know it was open ended. I wonder if Ward will do a novel or short story for teen in book 2. I’ll have to give it another go for Thor, he was one of my favs in DL.

  4. Nicola O. said

    John Matthew's book is planned to be the next book, about a year from now.

    I do think they're worth reading in order, and I do think of the first 4, DL is one of the weaker ones. Mostly because in the next 2-3 books, the really best part is the interaction between the brothers. You see the most of that in books 2,3,& 4.

    I *never* skip pages when I read (really!) but I do kind of skim over the lesser stuff. I heartily agree with your list of WTFs but I love the books anyway. πŸ˜‰

  5. Wanderer said

    Ah, glad you all enjoyed the wrestling reference πŸ™‚

    Mandi and Nicola, you’ve convinced me – I’ll read the books in order. Looking at the author’s website strengthens the open-ended series idea since Rehvenge wasn’t mentioned in DL yet he is the star of the latest book. Also, as Nicola mentioned, John Matthews is the hero of the next book and he’s another character not mentioned in the original BDB.

    So my journey with the BDB lives on. πŸ˜‰

  6. MsMoonlight said

    Rhage’s story is the best one in my opinion- he’s my favorite BDBH vampire. :o)

  7. Steph Shradar said

    Love the WWF analogy, and I totally agree that the rap slang is a little weird. But I suggest reading the next book (Rhage's) because it sets up Zsadist's book when he meets his girl. Zsadist book was by far my favorite, it was the one out of the series that I would reread in a heartbeat, the rest I thought were ok and worth a read but that's it. I'm VERY curious to read John Matthews book, not sure what to expect?

  8. Wanderer said

    Ok, I think 3 months is enough recovery time from book 1. So book #2 is Rhage's story? Ok, I'm going in ladies but if I don't resurface in say…a week….please send The Rock to find me.

    Peace out – W

  9. Mistress said

    Use the force Wanderer = ). Dwayne and I will bash heads and perform an emergency removal if it gets too sticky lol.

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