Lover At Last, Black Dagger Brotherhood Series #11, by JR Ward

16042863[1]-002From Friends to Lovers – Dark Sexy Paranormal at its Best!

m/m Romance Adult Content

In this long awaited book vampire super hotties Qhuinn and Blay, whom readers have known from their pre-transition days, finally succumb to their mutual attraction. The emotions and sexual tension are high and misunderstandings abound. Moreover the lovemaking scenes are off the Richter scale –  what you would expect when two male vampire warriors finally get it on – the furniture in the mansion takes some serious pounding! Also I take my hat off to the author and publisher for not shying away from telling this couple’s story.

In Lover At Last Qhuinn has done his best to cope with the knowledge that for the past year Blay has been shacked up with Saxton, his own cousin, living alongside him in the Brotherhood mansion. Qhuinn has not had sex for a year, apart from with the Chosen, Layla, who came into her needing in the previous novel. However, their sexual union was strictly between friends, both of them keen to sire a young. Qhuinn believes that Blay is devoted to Saxton, for how can his own rough edges compete with such suave, sophistication and honeyed words? Blay for his part has been rejected by Qhuinn in the past and believes that Qhuinn has secured the future he has always sought as  Layla is carrying  his child.

I love the characters of Blay and Qhuinn, they complement each other so well. Blay comes from a stable, loving and supportive family. Qhuinn on the other hand, with his mismatched eyes, was considered a curse by his family and disavowed by them before his kin were brutally slain by the Lessers, enemies of the vampire race. The couple have had a long friendship, training, fighting and clubbing together, but despite their attraction they have never been lovers. Both are compelled to confront their true feelings and Qhuinn especially his own sexuality and it is a very emotional ride. Throughout much of the novel Qhuinn is subjected to one sucker punch after another, not just his relationship with Blay, but Layla’s pregnancy, events within the Brotherhood, in which he plays a key role, and a past which comes back to haunt him.

It is a very tangled web indeed that JR Ward weaves. Whilst I was itching for Qhuinn and Blay to find their HEA, I also sympathised with Saxton, who is deeply in love with Blay. I also enjoyed the scenes with Layla, who has really come into her own as a character. As one of the Chosen, who have decided to leave the home of the Scribe Virgin and reside on Earth, she has been faithful in her service to the other vampires when they have required sustenance in the form of her blood and is desperately seeking to make a life for herself. Her own life is complicated by the mutual attraction she has for the traitor Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, who recently made an attempt on Wrath the King’s life. I am looking forward to where the author will take their relationship. Xcor is still busy manipulating members of the glymera, the vampire aristocracy, for his own political ends in this novel. Although Xcor and his men are enemies of the Brotherhood, I am nevertheless both fascinated and entertained by their exploits, in battle, politically and sexually.

The Lessening Society  is under the leadership of a new Fore-Lesser who is seeking to replenish their coffers via the drug trade. This brings them into direct contact with Assail, who is busy gaining control of the local drug circuit. Both the Brotherhood and the Band of Bastards battle with the Lessers throughout and there is one fantastically memorable battle scene between the Brothers and the Lessers early on in the novel. Also characters we have met in previous books make appearances, not just the other Brothers and their Shellans, but notably Trey and IAm, who we learn more about. Indeed, there are some interesting developments afoot for Assail (I am so in love with this bad boy character) and Trey in particular, with the introduction of possible love interests. Wrath and Beth’s relationship also begins to come into focus as the author begins to set the scene for the next book, The King, scheduled for April 2014. I can’t wait!

Lover At Last is a must read for fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. For those not inducted into the fabulous  Brotherhood, I seriously recommend that you begin with the first novel, Dark Lover, which introduces the reader to their world and recounts the romance between Wrath, the King, and Beth, a human who does not realise that she is half vampire. The series is one sexy and addictive dark paranormal read, which just keeps getting better and better. I cannot recommend it more highly.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

If you like J R Ward you may also want to check out our review of Rapture, #4 in her Fallen Angels Series

Lover At Last Published 2013 by Piatkus

Cover images: Man copyright Shutterstock, city copyright the-parish.com

Design: www.the-parish.com

J.R. Ward website

Rapture by J.R. Ward

 Rapture (A Novel of the Fallen Angeles, book 4)
Compelling Urban Fantasy

Rapture is the fourth book in J.R. Ward’s Fallen Angel’s series, which focuses on the battle between good and evil for the souls of seven chosen humans. The chief protagonists are Jim Heron, a fallen angel, representing Heaven and Devina, a demon, who bats for Hell. I will try not to give away any spoilers in this review, in relation to events in previous books.

The soul up for grabs is Matthias’, Jim’s boss when he was human and worked for XOps. We met Matthias earlier on in the series and he has now been sent back to Earth and given a chance to redeem or eternally dam himself. Jim, aided by co fallen angel Adrian are doing all they can to influence him to make the right decision when he comes to the crucial cross-roads – except, as in previous books, it is not always obvious where that crossroads will be or what the decision is. Devina, on the other hand, is doing all she can to ensure that Matthias makes a very different decision, so that she wins this round.

Mels Carmichael, a reporter at the Caldwell Courier Journal, runs into Matthias when he stumbles in front of her car. Feeling guilty, she seeks him out in hospital to find out the extent of his injuries and apologize. Matthais is suffering from amnesia and Mels offers to help him find out who he is and they form an instant attraction that quickly turns to passion. As Matthias’ memory slowly returns he realises what he must do to redeem himself and seeks to distance himself from Mels to protect her from the dangers that begin to present themselves. Devina plots to thwart any signs of salvation for Matthias’ soul, taking actions against him and Mels and also measures to undermine Jim’s sanity so that he is less effective in supporting Matthias.

Matthias’ character is fundamentally alpha, even when faced with mental and physical challenges, loyal to his friends and devoted to his woman, to the extent of thinking that he is not good enough for her. He is also coldly efficient when it comes to dealing with his enemies or anyone he thinks is a threat to those he cares for. I loved the fact that even though he is suffering from amnesia he soon realised what his previous work had likely been and that he even seeks to protect Mels from himself. However, he is vulnerable due to past events in the series. Mels too is a strong, capable character, who can look after herself. However, she too has vulnerabilities since the death of her father, a cop and Matthais makes her feel more alive than she has felt for a long time. She is attracted to him, despite some initial suspicions and quickly finds herself drawn to his side and that of Jim and Adrian. She becomes more and more embroiled in his life, although she is ignorant of Jim and Adrian’s true nature and the wider forces at play.

Jim is becoming more confident with his powers, although he is not immune to Devina’s machinations, with the  intent of tormenting him, due to his reaction to events in previous books. His ongoing preoccupation with what is happening in Devina’s ‘Well of Souls’ linfluences his actions at the end of the book. Adrian is in self-destruct mode for much of the novel, as he too has been affected by previous events. Jim fears that Adrian cannot be trusted to keep his eye on the mission and provide the appropriate back – up. Both Jim and Adrian grow to both like and respect Mels and Matthias and the development of Jim’s relationship with Matthias, his former boss, is a powerful factor within the novel. Jim realises early on that Mels is the key to Matthias’ salvation and both angels do all they can to foster a relationship between the two.

Fewer scenes in the book take place in Heaven and Hell,  than in previous books, though the references are certainly there and Nigel, Jim and Adrian’s boss, does make a few key appearances. Ward does not shy away from describing violent scenes within the story and the horror that is Devina and we also have rather gruesome depictions of her actions. Devina’s character is as complex as ever and it is clear that her fascination with Jim is not going away. I liked the way Ward continues to highlight Devina’s weaknesses with her visits to the therapist.

I am a fan of this series and also Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Vampire series. I love how the author teases us with the occasional references to places and people who form part of the Black Dagger world. To me this adds both depth and breadth to both series and I am eager to see at what point, if any the two worlds will collide in earnest. I would recommend Rapture to all readers who are already following this series and to all those who love reading about the paranormal or urban fantasy and who love a complex plot and characters. Although the book could be read alone I feel that the reader would find it even more enjoyable if they had read the others in the series, which I also recommend.

Reviewed by Tina Williams