This review is riddled with spoilers. No, really. In fact, we reveal EVERYTHING. The ending, the twists, the identity of the villain… [Shuzluva Note: You have been warned, so bitch to us about some other shit.] It’s also really long and a little self-indulgent, but man, we had a blast. If you wanna hang out with us and read on, please do so. If not, feel free to skip this one (I won’t mind) and read this one, which is well-thought out and more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. Boo! Shuzluva and I have been waiting for this book to come out for a long time, so we hope you understand why we feel so passionate (so passionate in fact that we might have crossed some lines and in the process, cussed a helluva lot) about it and decided to share our thoughts with you in this format.
Bam: I’m here, homie. What’s doin’?
Shuzluva: I was just wondering if you were going to show up.
Bam: shaddup. I said 7:30. it’s 7:30. Damn, beeyatch, you know I ain’t functional without my morning Red Bull.
Shuzluva: Well, it’s 10:30 here.
Bam: Whatevz. Let’s start this thing.
Bam: For starters, what the hell is up with—
Whoa, hold up! What’s This Book About, Anyway?
This particular contribution to the Black Dagger Brotherhood Saga focuses on VISHOUS, the Brother with the “Ahh! Ahh! Evil hand!”. He is the smartest Brother, the “sex freak” who likes tie up his women and stick gag balls in their mouths, and is currently so in love with his ex-roommate, new Brother Butch— that he is constantly aching with it. In the previous book, Butch dumped him for some dumb broad with dependency issues and now Vishous is all “waaah-waaah, I’m so ronery!” and no one can stand him anymore. On top of that, the EEEEVOL Scribe Virgin reveals to him why he’s so speshul… oh, and why he must now take over as Primale and impregnate all fifty (or something) of the Chosen (who are they? Basically, they’re a harem of submissive chix created for the Brothers’ usage— altogether now: EWWWW) for the propagation of the Species. Gross. Since no one lurves him anyway, Vishous says “yep,” and he is distracted enough about it that his ASS GETS SHOT and he passes out from blood loss and finds himself in a hospital and in luuuurve with the surgeon, Jane, whom he instantly declares as his “mate”. And he kidnaps her! OH NOES, why would he find his mate now when he has just agreed to become the prime stallion for the broodmares? DAMN YOU, FATES!
Meanwhile, Jane has issues of her own. She had a shitty childhood (meh, what else is new?). Her father was constantly disapproving of her (he was a doctor too) and her mother wasn’t much of a mom to begin with. The one person Jane loved most, her little sister Hannah (whom everyone doted upon), died of a heart disease when they were children, which is why Jane resolved to be The Best Surgeon Evah (and I’m suuuuure had nothing to do with getting Daddy’s approval). Now she has a wonderful career of her own, a budding relationship with a friend/mentor (who is rumored to be the next human-turned-brother), and a fabulous opportunity to become some Big Cheese Doctor when— Yeah, her life really went to shit after she met V, huh?
This book really should have been titled “Lover Angsty Drama Because my Daddy Sucked.” We also get a bunch of flashbacks explaining why V is a whiny-babyman and a sexual deviant (Shuz, pleasepleaseplease stop me from ranting about this whole “childhood abuse as a justification for liking BDSM” thing).
On the B, C, D, and E plots: Phury continues his whinefest about his stupid leg and his unrequited love for Bella, John Matthew finally transforms into a XXXL freak, the Scribe Virgin cries about her stupid birds (no, really), Jane’s human boss starts investigating the patient with the “six-chambered heart,” and Cormia, the Chosen meant to be V’s sex-toy, decides she’s Belle from Beauty and the Beast and sings, “There must be more than this [life as a Brother’s sex-toy and broodmare]!”
Bam: Let’s get the plot, character, storyline stuff out of the way before we get to the OMGWTFBBQthat’snotanHEA thing that everyone was freaking out about
Shuzluva: you start, BUT GIVE ME A CHANCE TO DELIVER A WELL THOUGHT OUT RESPONSE
Shuzluva: this shouldn’t be instantaneous, you know…
Bam: Virgin, preggo women are snappy
Bam: ok, so what did you think of the overall arc of this particular story?
Shuzluva: Regarding Vishous and Jane specifically? Honestly I was jazzed up about it in the very beginning, and while I wasn’t thrilled that Ward didn’t go the Vishous/Butch route (which would have been very exciting, and I’m sure we’ll cover this in a moment) I was thrilled to see that a female character was introduced that was an intelligent functioning member of society. However, re-reading the book, there was so much other stuff going on outside of V and Jane that I felt this book ended up partially serving up Phury’s story.
Bam: isn’t that always the case, though? the previous story being the jumping off point for the next one?
Bam: I just wish it wasn’t like that this time around because there was SO MUCH GROUND TO COVER with V and Jane
Bam: 1) V has to deal with his feelings for Butch 2) Jane accepted V’s world a little too readily 3) Uh… his feelings and stuff about his mom
Bam: and all of that was wrapped up a little too quickly to make room for all the other stuff
Shuzluva: Okay, I’m going to respond to each of your above points separately and in order:
Shuzluva: Yes, it is the case, but we’ve never had quite so many pages devoted to a secondary in the book. If you recall Butch and Marissa’s interaction in Z’s book, it was kept to a minimum but continued to pack a powerful punch
Shuzluva: Second, there was a ton of ground to cover with V and Jane. Regarding V’s feelings about Butch, I think Ward simply invoked the “mate” principle and said “okay, now that V has found his woman, he just isn’t interested in his other half”. I found that extremely hard to digest. First, Ward stated in Dark Lover that having more than one mate is not unusual. Now, I didn’t expect V and Butch to…uh…mate, but there were serious feelings there and simply passing it off as Butch was V’s first real “friend” goes down like a habanero
Shuzluva: Lastly, all of this stuff was tied in a neat bow, regardless of what one thinks as an HEA
Shuzluva: V made peace with his identity, got his woman in some form and his relationship with Butch reverted to purely platonic friendship. Okay, have at it, I’m done for the moment.
Bam: well, here’s the thing, as you and I had previously discussed— so much TIME was spent on building up the V-and-Butch “courtship” that when we got to this book, to have it swept aside and tied up like, “Oh… OH, you were in love with me? Naw, dude… that’s cool… I like gay people… but yeah, I’m not gay. I’m glad you found your mate. See ya.”
Bam: was totally insulting to what was being developed in the first place
Bam: It almost felt like… I don’t know… gay panic (as in, “Let’s just slaughter all that ‘gay nonsense’ now! Who’s gay? No one’s gay here!”)
Shuzluva: ROFL, gay panic.
Bam: come on!
Shuzluva: However, I did feel insulted
Shuzluva: It was not implied – it was clear that there was complex stuff going on with Butch and V
Shuzluva: and it was just given the heave-ho
Bam: see, this is why I’m starting to hate this whole “mate” thing
Bam: I told a friend about this and he said, “first, you read stupid things. second, Jane sounds like… a beard.”
Bam: I think the whole “mate” concept was too convenient this time around. it was like… a gay-deflector
Bam: I’m NOT GAy! I’m not Gay! See? My “meant-to-be” has a vagina!
Bam: MINE! MINE! MINE!
Shuzluva: I’m still confused as to why someone would want more than one mate if the feelings and possessiveness run so deeply for one mate.
Shuzluva: That whole MINE thing…it gets me going
Bam: maybe they meant if the previous mate died?
Bam: I meant, if the previous MATE died, he could have another one
Shuzluva: No. it was clearly stated in the first book that Vampires regularly take more than one mate
Shuzluva: and I think it’s also in the glossary. However, I rarely refer to it, so I might be mistaken
Shuzluva: I even remember Beth asking Wrath if he had a mate already
Bam: I thought Ward included it to set things up for the inevitable Tohr-and-some-dumb-broad storyline
Shuzluva: Well, there is going to be a Tohr storyline somewhere, since we’ve just been reminded again that he’s not dead
Shuzluva: Okay, getting back to subject…
Bam: I hope Tohr becomes evil.
Shuzluva: you are evil
Shuzluva: but subject, please!
Shuzluva: We both agree that the V/Butch/Jane arc was unsatisfactory with it’s resolution. What do you think of how Jane’s…uh…transformation was handled?
Bam: is “shittily” a word?
Shuzluva: Sure, I’ll add it to the Shuzluva official dictionary
Shuzluva: or I should say Dicktionary
Bam: I felt as though… Jane was… in aeronautical terms “grounded”
Shuzluva: NICE ANALOGY
Bam: she was a very capable, very alpha female
Bam: HER WINGS WERE CLIPPED, man! SHE WAS ROBBED!
Bam: I thought, “oh, hey, nice… she’s going to keep her apartment, her job…” but then the Ward Misogynist Machine of Contrivance made sure that Jane has NO purpose in life but to serve the Brotherhood
Bam: and that really freaked me out.
Shuzluva: Where to begin…let me start with the wing clippage.
Shuzluva: I agree. Simply said, she was turned into a vehicle that essentially exists for V. So…she might serve as the Brotherhood’s medic, she might do some gene research, but she doesn’t actually exist unless V is touching her
Shuzluva: That right there is the core of the issue I have with whatever happened to baby Jane
Bam: heh. Nice one.
Shuzluva: I try
Shuzluva: this new Jane creates a host of problems: How does V feed? Does Jane actually become flesh and bone when he touches her? I was confused by this.
Shuzluva: Why did she have to become a nonentity. Hah! Sorry, I couldn’t help that one. V is supposed to be the smartest guy in the Brotherhood. Giving him someone with strong mental acuity was awesome…until she just became nothing. I was truly annoyed.
Bam: for real, sister.
Bam: Oh, and I figured out why Wellsie couldn’t come back like Jane did— *beat* there were no birds sacrificed for her. Ha-ha-ha! Fucking birds. What’s with the avian references in this segment? I feel like Tippi Hedren all of a sudden. Stupid… birds. *sniff*
Shuzluva: Well, let’s talk about V for a moment
Shuzluva: and his sexuality.
Shuzluva: he is a Dom, who needs to know he’s in charge
Shuzluva: yet that scene in his penthouse? Yes it was ridiculously hot
Bam: oh. let’s. Especially about the whole “he’s into BDSM ’cause his daddy touched him funny” bullshit
Shuzluva: but so out of line with HIM
Bam: oh, definitely.
Bam: V is very inconsistent. Is he a Dom or a switch? Is he a bisexual or is he fully hetero now?
Shuzluva: I got confused by the whole thing
Shuzluva: I think he tried to say he was never a bisexual, but that he was “forced” to rape his opponent
Bam: NEVER A BISEXUAL? he was a IN LOVE WITH A MAN!
Shuzluva: No shit.
Shuzluva: However, his conversation with Butch went something like: I raped someone…well sort of…but I wasn’t into it…
Shuzluva: and now it’s all about Jane
Shuzluva: which is why I keep coming back to the lack of resolution with his relationship with Butch
Bam: V: I was in love with you
Bam: Butch: Oh, yeah… umm… it’s cool… I’m not… gonna… freak about that
Bam: V: but now I like pussy
Bam: Butch: Um… yeah… I’m gonna… um… find my wife and have heterosexual sex now
Bam: V: So… um… I’m glad we had this talk
Bam: Butch: Um… laterz.
Bam: V: I like heterosexual sex too!
Shuzluva: That was a pretty good synopsis
Shuzluva: not that guys are ever good about talking about relationships and feelings (EWWWWWWWWW…) but you’d think that there would have been more introspection on V’s part and more curiosity on Butch’s part
Shuzluva: What did you think of the switch scene in the penthouse?
Bam: it’s bullshit
Shuzluva: but hot, nonetheless
Bam: while there are genuine “switches” V just didn’t strike me as one
Shuzluva: nope, agreed
Bam: OR… all this time, he was a bottom pretending to be a top and merely waiting for the right person to top him…
Bam: which is entirely possible
Shuzluva: Nah. I just don’t see that one
Bam: but that’s not how Ward set it up.
Shuzluva: Think about it: here is a guy who never took his pants off in the presence of a woman (or guy, as the case might be) and now he’s fully submitting to someone?
Bam: no kidding. he brushed off his “issues” right quick
Shuzluva: while I don’t agree with it in the sexual preference sense, it sure makes a statement about V and Jane’s relationship
Bam: Schyeah. That it’s a SHAM!
The Secondary Characters—
Bam: Great emphasis has always been made by Ward on how ginormous in stature the Brothers are. But this time around, it really bothered me. Seriously? XXXL?
Shuzluva: The XXXL makes me think of a big and tall store we went to make a Peter Pan costume for the hubster. We found a green XXXL shirt that I made into a tunic. He looked really cute in tights
Bam: Uh. All right. Let’s talk about John Matthew some more
Shuzluva: Heh. Ok
Bam: I was thinking of him as Peter Petrelli from Heroes. Now I can’t consign him to anyone in my mind now that he’s an XXXL freak
Shuzluva: You know, all of the brothers are XXXL freaks.
Shuzluva: Have you been able to deal with that?
Bam: I don’t see how any woman would find that attractive
Bam: I keep thinking of “Triple H,” the wrestler from WWE
Shuzluva: I’ve usually got a mental image of The Rock
Shuzluva: at least he’s hot
Bam: I don’t think I can handle making lurve to a man who’s six-seven and three hundred pounds
Bam: especially since all the women are so delicate
Shuzluva: yes, but remember Marissa was afraid of tearing Butch to bits
Bam: oh, speaking of delicate, I think even Ward is bored by Rhage and Mary
Bam: notice how they don’t get any screen time
Shuzluva: uh, we were talking about John Matthew, but yes, I’ll go with that. Rhage and Mary might as well live somewhere else. There is so little talk of them at this point that all I know is Rhage is a hotter than hot guy who loves tootsie pops
Bam: heh. and Mary who? is she still a human?
Bam: okay, we’re still talking about John Matthew and why he’s the reason we’re going to keep reading this series
Shuzluva: I guess I continue to find John’s story compelling since I’m curious to see how Ward handles him being Darius, him obviously becoming a Brother (because you know he will) and his vocal and sexual problems
Shuzluva: She’s been more delicate with his story line than most of the others
Shuzluva: I don’t feel like I’m getting hit with a sledgehammer every time I read it
Bam: John Matthew was my emo-lover-man… all skinny and sensitive… like a high school goth boy
Bam: and now…
Bam: I hope he doesn’t turn into some messed-up roid version of his former self. I still don’t know how to deal with this Ginomotron John, who btw, is the most interesting part of the series now.
Shuzluva: 1. John’s story is so damn exciting now. I’m dying to find out what’s up for him next
Bam: I wish his story was next
Bam: a lot of people were like, EWWW JOHN AND XHEX… I thought they wuz hot. Ya feel me?
Shuzluva: 2. I’m not surprised by his attraction to Xhex. I know a lot of people are turned off by her, but after re-reading her exchanges with Rhev in Butch’s book I find that I like her, respect her, and she’s not simply a…female
Bam: speaking of “females” I don’t understand why people were so mad at Cormia
Bam: she just… wanted to be different
Shuzluva: I think it really pissed people off that she whined (to herself) but didn’t exactly do anything
Bam: what the hell was she supposed to do? she was sequestered all her life!
Bam: she didn’t know how to do shit.
Shuzluva: Thanks, I was just about to write that
Shuzluva: stop reading my damn mind
Bam: she didn’t know exactly what it was she wanted changed, she just… wanted something different
Bam: Speaking of which, I’m a little worried about Xhex.
Bam: Ward is going to make her start wearing pink or something.
Bam: I really want to rant more about the butch/v/jane thing
Bam: Butch was shafted… and not in the way I wanted!
Bam: you’d think because Ward got rid of the Lesser POV, she’d have more room to explore the MAIN storyline
Shuzluva: But she didn’t
Shuzluva: she used Cormia and Phury as a replacement
Bam: no. instead she went sequel-baiting in the most heinous way.
Shuzluva: with a little John Matthew thrown in
Bam: because I so don’t buy Cormia-and-Phurry.
Bam: heh. Furry.
Shuzluva: I caught that
Shuzluva: Phury just pisses me off
Bam: is it ’cause brother likes the herb?
Bam: ’cause you know, don’t hate the puff-puff-give
Shuzluva: no, it’s ’cause the brother is a self-pitying schmuck
Bam: OH! I SMOKE POT AND STUFF BECAUSE I HAVE A PEG LEG
Shuzluva: AND MY BROTHER GOT THE WOMAN I LOVE
Bam: V has ONE BALL!
Shuzluva: and a fucked up parentage
Bam: there isn’t ONE well-adjusted brother, is there?
Shuzluva: well, there was Tohr…but we got rid of normal right quick
Bam: do you feel like… all the “bad stuff” they do is “justified” by the fact that they all had shitty childhoods?
Bam: 1) BDSM because Daddy beat me
Bam: 2) Drugs because my life is shitty
Bam: BDSM and DRUGS are very fun things that don’t require a fucked-up-childhood for one to enjoy!
Shuzluva: I’m glad you said it because I was just thinking it.
Shuzluva: Are the books too mainstream that they have to have negative justification for these activities?
Shuzluva: Regarding Phury’s drug use, it’s clear that he uses because he is sitting in the depths of self-pity and self-loathing. What I am having a hard time with is: why?
Shuzluva: Bella was CLEARLY not meant for him
Shuzluva: and Z is all better now
Shuzluva: Why the celibacy?
Shuzluva: Why the self-pity?
Bam: for added angst?
Shuzluva: And it makes him incredibly unattractive
Bam: and a crybaby!
Shuzluva: that too
Bam: let’s bring on the Rhev!
Bam: Oh, wait, he’s all in love with Marissa and shit
Shuzluva: Eh, I’m not convinced of that
Bam: fucking unrequited love… HELLO, JR WARD, there are other contrivances!
Shuzluva: like self-pity?
Bam: for real, my sister.
Shuzluva: missing limbs?
Shuzluva: Rhev was using Marissa and he knew it
Bam: oh, god, I want to learn Ward’s justification for why Rhev is a drug dealer
Shuzluva: I’m sending you a pallet of tissues for Rhev’s book
Shuzluva: you’re going to need them all
Bam: oh, god, it’s going to be a sob-fest
Bam: five bucks as to what it is.
Bam: I bet it’s cause his parents never loved him.
Bam: Oh, I miss the Lessers.
Bam: how weird was that?
Bam: no tension, no suspense, all melodrama
Shuzluva: funny you should say that. In the past week I’ve skimmed all of the previous books and realized how important the Lesser interludes are to adding tension to all of the focal point relationships
Shuzluva: Especially with Z and Butch’s stories
Bam: right. The Brotherhood is all about “protecting the race” and the lessers were integral to the previous books because the Brotherhood had someone to protect their people from
Bam: without the lessers hanging around, they were just a bunch of… I don’t know… overgrown thugs.
Shuzluva: The lack of lessers had us focusing on all the other players, which was pretty annoying
Bam: I’m still pissed about the identity of the villian. *sniff*
Shuzluva: the Directrix
Bam: that’s the one that made me go “AHHHHH! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU, YOU FUCKING SERIES!”
Shuzluva: If she was a guy would you have hated it as much?
Bam: oh, good question.
Shuzluva: I was more focused on her desire for power (absolute power corrupts absolutely, ya know)
Shuzluva: rather than her being a female
Bam: the way I see it, she was just bitchy because she was running things just fine but now they’re going to replace her with a male and she was portrayed as an EVIL BITCH because she wanted something greater for herself, like ambition for a woman is such an evil thing
Bam: or I’m reading too much into it. whatevz.
Shuzluva: I think you read WAY too much into that. I think she was power-hungry and didn’t want to lose control of her domain
Shuzluva: which is a simple explanation, but when you’re the top dog you don’t want some nobody coming in to take the reins
Bam: you don’t think she was all, “down with patriarchy” and was just trying to make a difference?
Shuzluva: not at all
Shuzluva: she was all about herself
Bam: huh. ok. whatevz.
Shuz and I Drank Hate-orade—
Bam: ok, what’s your absolute HATEHATEHATE?
Shuzluva: Top of the list: poorly resolved Butch/V storyline. Nearly there: screen time devoted to Phury and his whining
Wishlist For The Next Book—
Bam: As I was reading this book, I was hoping there would be more angst about V resisting the whole Primale thing
Shuzluva: Yeah, you’re right about that. The SV gives in really easily
Bam: I hope since we get a Take Two with Phury, it will be dealt with
Bam: yeah. I thought she was supposed to be uncompromising.
Bam: I hope we don’t get Cormia as a heroine especially if she’s going to remain a whiner-not-a-doer
Bam: and I hope we get to see John Matthew have sex with Xhex
Shuzluva: Okay, here’s what I’m looking for in the next book:
Shuzluva: I want Phury to become a man (rather quickly, please) rather than the self-pitying whimp he’s currently playing
Shuzluva: I want Cormia (if that’s where this is going) to become a worthy heroine, not just another female who’s purpose is defined as being a mate
Shuzluva: If Phury is really going to be the Primale, I want his love interests to reflect that – and let him take charge of his sexuality. I also want a strongly supportable explanation for his celibacy
Bam: ooh. nice one.
Shuzluva: Regarding the series as a whole, I want the next book to spend more time with the main characters. Give us hints of what’s to come. Tantalize us…please!
Why We Love This Series—
Shuzluva: Wait, let’s talk for a moment of why we’re going to actually read the next few books.
Bam: um. She’s a better-written LKH crack?
Shuzluva: I mean, we were both seriously disappointed by this installment
Shuzluva: yet, I know I will pick it up again
Bam: (though… I’m starting to doubt the “better written” thing)
Bam: uh-duh, we’re waiting for John Matthew’s story
Shuzluva: and Tohr’s
Bam: you know she’s not going to give him Xhex, right?
Shuzluva: of course
Bam: it’ll be some other dumbass girl.
Bam: so let’s not hope ’cause we’re just going to get our hearts broken
Shuzluva: I think we like that
Bam: did we really think she was going to give us a V-butch-Marisa threesome?
Shuzluva: for a moment there, I did
Shuzluva: it was…hot
Shuzluva: and real
Shuzluva: and something she made me believe
Bam: is it kind of like me being in love with this boy even though I know he’s going to break my heart?
Shuzluva: you’re in love? Why do I never know about these things?
Bam: Yeah, only I haven’t told him ’cause I’m not sure he feels the same.
Bam: oh, wait… let’s save that for another Y-Messie
Shuzluva: Do you know I just skimmed over that and didn’t bother to figure it out?
Bam: did you notice they talk like those little assholes from The Hills?
Shuzluva: Don’t watch it, but I believe you
Bam: okay, WHAT DID WE LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK?
Bam: ’cause I’m still willing to give it a B-
Shuzluva: I loved that we finally got V’s history, I loved the initial (okay first 3/4 of the book) of V and Jane’s relationship, but I honestly wish there was more. I loved John’s tension with Lash, his transformation, and his inability to deal with his sexuality. I also love his relationship with Z, who I think deserves to continue to be front and center
Bam: I love the humanization of the Scribe Virgin, that Xhex got more screen time (she’s easily my favorite side-character right now), the fact that Jane was very smart and capable, and… John Matthew
Shuzluva: With all of that said, I know this book is going on my keeper shelf along with the others.
Shuzluva: This series continues to be compelling, even though it may have lost its way a bit
Bam: I know. I really liked it more than I thought I would considering all the stuff I kept hearing about it. It’s still LOADS better than Rhage and Mary’s book
Shuzluva: So what do you think? I think it deserves a B-. Anything less and I can’t justify keeping it. You know how small my keeper shelf is
Bam: B- is consensus
Bam: I think it had a lot of great parts, it just didn’t hold together very well
Shuzluva: when does the next one come out?
Shuzluva: I HATE WAITING
**Much love to Lorelie for sending me the Lolcatz.
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