Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist… and Butch! Whoa, whoa, back up. Yes, I just said Butch. Don’t worry, kids, he gets his own little fake-goth name… but more on that later! You know, as I read this book, I asked myself every other page why JR Ward would give the little human back-up dancer a story of his own. I mean, there’s still Vishous and Tohrment and Rehvenge and Ohdour and Vhomit and Dhisgust and Hherphes (ah, crap, it doesn’t work with words that start with an H)! But by the end of this book, I was sold. Seriously. Okay, I was still laughing and rolling my eyes, but I bought it anyway. This entry to the series tells us Why We Should Love Butch, but also acts as a Saks Fifth Avenue catalogue. Yes, the brand-names with which Ms. Ward liberally sprinkles her books are now accompanied by price tags. (I was wondering how much a Ralph Lauren Black Label suit jacket costs and now I know!) If I had to be frank with y’all, this book is probably the most poorly written one in the series: the dialogue is still heavily peppered with euphemisms that are outright ridiculous and sometimes non-sensical, Butch evolves into THE ULTIMATE MARTY SUE, and the “lessers,” the villains, inexplicably get more airtime and only serve to show us how useless and boring they really are (their boss, the Omega does something pretty scary in this book, though). Fortunately, it’s also the most fun to read because 1) the sex is hot 2) the virgin heroine, a majorly spineless wimp in the previous books, is probably the most developed female character in this testosterone-charged ‘verse, 3) the sex is hot. I’m going to try to review this book with as little spoilers as possible, but if a little something-something slips here and there, you can write me an email and flame me, I promise.
Note: We finally get an explanation why Vishous and Butch seem soooooooo in luuuuuuuuuuuurve.
Butch O’Neal is a former cokehead and cop who is now the human pet of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. We met him in the first book of this series, Dark Lover, where he was the cop looking into the murder of Darius (seriously, how come he didn’t have a fake-goth name?), Beth’s dad. During the course of the invitation, he finds out a little more than he should about the BDB by hanging around with Beth and at the end of the book, the brothers realize Butch knows too much and for that he could not live. Vishous, his darling BFF (but only in a strictly heterosexual way, hags), pleads to Wrath on Butch’s behalf to spare Butch because they’re in luuuuuuuuurve (in a strictly heterosexual way, of course) and will take responsibility for Butch for the rest of his natural mortal life. In that book, Butch also fell in love with Marissa, the wife Wrath had discarded in favor of Beth. The two of them do a little dance, make out a little, then Marissa starts avoiding Butch for no damn reason. Or at least that’s what Butch thinks. Not that any of it matters. As far as Butch is concerned, he isn’t good enough for Marissa. He doesn’t have anything to his name
except for the clothes on his back, his own family hates him, he’s got issues that a year’s worth of therapy wouldn’t cure, and oh, he’s only human. That means he’s not even allowed to fight with the BDB; he’s sidelined and benched at every battle with the lessers and is pretty much useless. Because of this, he spends most of his nights at ZeroSum, a vampire-owned bar where he gets drunk and tries to forget about Marissa and his loser status. Just as he couldn’t get any more pathetic, he gets abducted by the lessers, heavily beaten up, and oh… The Omega does something really, REALLY fucked up to him.
Marissa is a member of the Glymera (that’s the ton for you Regency romance fans!), the creme de la creme of the vampire society. She is beautiful in a delicate porcelain way, but no one in her circle would touch her with a ten foot pole. After all, she was the woman dumped by the Blind King (man, I love that title) for a stinkin’ half-breed, so there HAS to be something wrong with her. Having reached her age without being touched—-even though she was married to Wrath, he wasn’t attracted to her and didn’t touch her unless he absolutely had to—-or loved by anyone, she’s not feeling too hot about herself. There was only one man who ever made her feel desired and that was Butch O’Neal. Not that it matters, anyway, ’cause he doesn’t want her anymore, either. At least that’s what she thinks. Unbeknownst to her, Butch visited her at her home and her brother Havers turned him away and told him Marissa doesn’t want anything to do with him. Now she spends her days helping out the abused women at her brother’s clinic and feeding from Rehvenge (sigh), the ultimate Bad Boy of all Vampiredom. Rehvenge luuuuuurves her, but Marissa only wants Butch. Just as she was about to drown in the pool of self-pity, she and Butch cross paths again. This time, Marissa intends to find out how Butch really feels about her. Only she may be too late. Butch, who got majorly worked over by the lessers, is probably dying.
Butch is the tortured King of everyone who’s ever been tortured. If Butch told the Marquis De Sade about his life story, dude would probably sink down to his knees, crying and pleading for Butch to stop. Man, this man’s life TOTALLY SUCKS. He doesn’t have any money, he got kicked out of the police force, he’s pretty much nothing but a glorified pet to the BDB, and when he was a kid, his big sister was abducted, raped, and killed and his dad somehow found a way to blame him for it. He just can’t fit in anywhere. He can’t leave the BDB because they’ll have to kill him for knowing too much and yet he’s not really a part of them because he’s a stupid fleshbag mortal. He’s a liability to them. Luckily, his body seems to be slowly breaking down, so dying soon is probably his consolation prize. Dude is just desperate to belong anywhere. I felt compelled to turn page after page of this book—-even though the writing could be so painful—-because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to this guy. I mean, could his life GET ANY WORSE? He gets no respect, the love of his life is a vampire society chick, and… he just has no purpose. Does he whine about it? YES. Was it annoying? Kind of. Did I love him anyway? YES. Dude was so pathetic that he was like a deaf, blind, and mute puppy with only three legs and you know you should put him to sleep, but can’t help but love him anyway. And BDB fans would probably throw rocks at me for this, but I really, really think he’s the sexiest one of all of them. He reminded me of Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting, except, you know, kind of retarded. But he’s tough and defensive and damaged… even more damaged than
Zarek Zsadist and that dude has a big ole scar carved down his face. And you know, he just really, really wants to be good enough for Marissa even though he knows the two of them could never really work out because he’s human… and she’s a beautiful fairy printheth.
Did I mention how in luuuuuuuuuuuurve Butch and Vishous are in this book? There’s even a part in this book where Vishous comes across Marissa and Butch making sweet, sweet lurve to each other and he gets jealous. Of Marissa. Hawtness!
Marissa, on the other hand, really surprised me. I’ve always thought that JR Ward wasn’t very good at writing female characters, but this girl really impressed me with her own quiet strength. In the earlier books, she was a frail little thing who would faint at the sight of a Brother… heck, in the beginning of the his book, she was still a little porcelain doll, but in the end, she’s really the one who ends up with the most character development. She doesn’t let Butch bully her, instead she bullies him right back, even manages to manipulate him quite effectively a couple of times. I also really enjoyed her relationship with Rehvenge, her blood donor (she can only feed from other vampires). They’re nothing to each other, not even friends, but Rehvenge is in love with her and Marissa only sees him as food. This is one relationship where she has the upper hand. He is putty in her hands. Big ole scary Rehvenge is her bitch. It’s adorable. I applauded for her when she finally stood up to her domineering brother, Havers and pretty much told him to go fuck himself. I guess what I really liked about Marissa is that it’s obvious how scared she is, but somehow she manages to push it aside because she knows she can’t really depend on anyone but herself. In the end, she’s the one who ends up taking care of Butch and showing him how to forgive and forget his family for all the damage they had inflicted on him. In the previous books, I complained of the females in this book being nothing more than the fair maiden in the tower, but this is one woman who is actually willing to stand toe to toe with her man and fight for/with him. I liked her.
I will admit that the main reason I wanted to read this book was because I was curious as to how JR Ward would get around the problem of Butch being human. The set-up was a little contrived, a little forced, and the resolution itself was a little deus ex machina, but it nevertheless made for a very compelling read. The Scribe Virgin gets a lot of screen time in this book… she’s starting to smell like Acheron. She pops up, waves her magic wand around, makes everything okay, and disappears again. It is a testament to Ward’s talent that I want to read more about this woman. IS SHE GOING TO GET HER OWN STORY? What the hell kind of hero could Ward possibly set her up with? Maybe she’ll end up with Rehvenge. Man, that’d be interesting. He’s a drug dealer and she’s an all-powerful goddess. AWESOME. And she’s a virgin, so Rehvenge would hit that like POW-POW-POW. Anyway, we also find out more about the villains—-groan—-and honestly, can Ward come up with other bad guys for the BDB to fight? These guys are pretty boring and weak. They’re like bowling pins. They get set up one by one and the BDB knocks ’em down all easy-like. There is one lesser that is very interesting, though. I felt really bad for him. He doesn’t want to be a lesser anymore. He just wants to stop… being. Maybe he’ll become a BDB in the future. Who knows. I want to know more about that dude, but Ward could get rid of the rest of them as far as I’m concerned.
My problems with this book are the same ones I’ve had in the previous books of this series. Ward gets crazy with the euphemisms. I mean, CRAZY. A friend and I were talking about Ward’s work—-she lives in the Philippines—-and half the time, she has no idea what homegirl is talking about. Sample convo:
Friend: What does “messie me” mean?
Me: That’s when a Brother invites another Brother to go mud rasslin’ with him. You know, they get “messy” with each other and stuff when they’re rolling around in the mud.
The pop culture references come fast and furious. One after the other. It’s not just like, “Man, this totally feels like The Usual Suspects,” but a character would actually say, “Whoa, I just got Keyser Soze‘d” (or something to that effect). Say a Brother felt like getting all vengeful on someone, he’d probably say, “I’m about to go John Wayne on your ass”. It just felt… lazy. I don’t mind pop culture references in the books I read, but not if the entire page is so riddled with them that the prose comes off muddled and hard to understand. It’s like Ward is almost trying too hard to sound hip and relevant. If you weren’t a big film, TV, or music buff, you’d probably be pretty lost. I was also pretty disgusted with the blatant consumerism that happens in this book. I’m serious, does Ward get major cash for each brand-name she drops? There’s Ralph Lauren, Davidoff’s Cool Water (Rehvenge wears this cologne and Butch thinks he smells delicious), Escalade, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Grey Goose… Good God, I realize that the BDB have a lot of money, but here it just comes off as bragging. It’s… very unclassy (one might say almost chav-like). It makes them all seem shallow and superficial, like they don’t give a shit about anything else but who made their clothes and how much it cost them. IS IT REALLY SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO KNOW THAT THE COST OF BUTCH’S ENTIRE OUTFIT COULD FEED AN ENTIRE MEXICAN FAMILY FOR A YEAR? And here’s another phrase that made me cringe every time I saw it, “What’s doin’?” What does that even mean? Whatever happened to “what’s up?” or “How you doin’?” What’s doing what? Who’s doing What? What’s being done to whom? Oh, it drove me up the wall.
Oddly enough, I really enjoyed reading this book. I’m serious. Butch and Marissa are an interesting couple because they have so much hurdle to get through just to be together. I liked their chemistry, the sexual tension between them, and the fact that Butch actually listens to what Marissa has to say. We also find out more about John, the orphaned baby-vamp who may or may not be the reincarnation of a Brother who died. I can’t wait till Ward writes his book. AND REHVENGE! AND PHURY! I can’t wait for their books. Oh, and Vishous is next! Yay! I can’t even tell you guys how much I love this series, though it really, really infuriates me. I’m not always happy with Ward’s writing, but I will admit that this lady can tell a story. She’s very addicting. Anyway, check this book out if you want to find out what happens to Butch and how Ward gets around the “pesky human issue”. It’s a little hokey, but I enjoyed it. MORE, JR WARD, MORE!!
Kids, you may buy this book here.
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