Review: Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10) by J.R. Ward
Finally forced to confront and work through the crippling grief that has been slowly destroying him, the time has come for Tohrment, Black Dagger Brother and widower of the love of his life, to let go of Wellsie and move on… or face vicious consequences that are far more serious than a broken heart. The Band of Bastards is back and is more dangerous than ever, and Wrath faces mutiny if he can’t control the devious Glymera’s machinations. And what about Qhuinn and Blay – just where are they headed, anyway? Lover Reborn is a GraveTells “Must Read”!
- Title: Lover Reborn
- Series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood #10
- Author: J.R. Ward
- Prominent Characters: Tohrment, No’One, Lassiter
- Recommended Reader Age: 16+
- Sexual Content Level: moderate
*** This review contains spoilers from previous books in the series, and slight spoilers from Lover Reborn. Read at your own risk. ***
The pace of Lover Reborn was slower than most of the other books, and the story-telling felt almost piecemeal. Gone is the reasonable, level headed Tohr we knew before Wellsie’s death; he is intense, aggressive, violent, moody, selfish, gentle, and vulnerable all at once. While I’m glad that Tohr’s recovery took a long time, as it would have been a cheat to Wellsie’s memory for him to rush into a relationship, his affair with No’One was uncomfortable and low key. As a match for Tohrment, I felt like she was strong yet lacking throughout most of the story. She eventually showed backbone and spunk but it took her nearly half the book to find and project it. Tohr’s personal journey was more what I expected and it was gratifying to watch him finally transverse the stages of grief and healing.
I can’t imagine writing Tohrment in this book was easy. Any normal man who has lost the love of his life would be incapacitated with grief. Tack onto that the very long lifespan and relationship tenure these guys have, as well as their mated-for-life bond (which, incidentally, means no bonding scent for Tohr & No’One/Autumn), and you have an emotional minefield to traverse. And that’s not even considering the fact that this guy is under some serious pressure to move on and take a new mate. It was difficult to like Tohrment at times, because he spends a lot of time being volatile and angry, but without that, his journey wouldn’t have been believable and his woman’s character would have been left too shallow. The main three characters in this are masterfully crafted, and even secondary characters that initially felt like an intrusion end up being integral to current and new plot arcs.
Lassiter, oh Lassiter, let’s talk about you for a minute. What a complicated and vulnerable soul you have become! While I loved getting to see more of him and his snarky, irreverent personality, the asshole, belligerent, button-pushing angel we first met with Tohr’s homecoming has mellowed out, his sarcastic wit relegated to shielding him from the world while his heart becomes more and more human and sympathetic. This dude is definitely a likeable character now, even if you didn’t care for him before. Here’s to him having his own novel sometime in the future!
Looking back briefly, Payne’s book wasn’t as good as the usual BDB stories and I did a lot of bitching about the flimsiness of Payne’s character, the disconnect with Manny, and the lack of Qhuinn and Blay arc. Lover Unleashed wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t Brotherhood gold like I’d been hoping for. This book, Lover Reborn, is set up to pass in seasons, so it slowly ambles its way through the first half. I was worried that everything would continue to stall, but the mad rush toward the end of this story tied up several dangling plotlines and sets the stage for something that has been highly anticipated.
I think it’s interesting how the brothers don’t always initially live up to their names. “Tohrment” makes complete sense now, after losing Wellsie, but in the first couple hundred years of his life, it wasn’t as good a fit. Same for Wrath, as we don’t really get to see the “wrath” of Wrath until his mate’s life is threatened in Dark Lover (where he’s already over 1,000 years old). It leads me to ponder what could be still in store for John Matthew. “Tehrror” is his brotherhood name, but does that refer to the terror he spent his first 25 years living in or will he become that for someone else? Maybe it has already been explained. He was fairly scary when Xhex had been captured and he thought she was gone. OK, let’s get back on track!
Payne and Manny barely have any page time in this one, which just reinforces the “filler” feeling I had while reading their book. JM and Xhex, my favorite BDB couple, had a rough time in Lover Reborn, but the resolution was a necessary one and I’m glad Ms. Ward took the time to address and rectify the hidden issues they were harboring. While I didn’t enjoy seeing him be a dumbass (because I have a giant girl-crush on John Matthew), I did lurve seeing them make up. *grin* The lines between good and bad are becoming blurred as our look at the Band of Bastards gets increasingly more in-depth. Xcor’s character development, and that of the individual members of his crew, makes good progress, but it seems to be at the expense of the Lesser storyline. Are they no longer a threat or just in a slump while the other story arcs build up? I suspect the latter.
While I was reading the story, I wanted to delve into what was previously unresolved rather than starting up yet more drama with Xcor and the Band of Bastards. I kept thinking “why no Qhuinn and Blay story progression?” “what about Qhuinn’s dream of Layla?”. In this novel, patience is your best friend. Seriously, wait it out. Ms. Ward wraps this story up with an ending that both gives closure to the main plot arc (Tohr & No’One) and opens up an exciting new direction for the series to expand into, pretty much giving us the start to Qhuiunn and Blay’s story on a silver platter, wrapped up in a bow. Qhuinn has finally grown up, so start your celebrations Qhuay fans; after 5 books of waiting, wanting, and cursing at the frustration, their turn is FINALLY next!
Well, if the cape and booties fit…
In the wake of No’One’s pissed off departure, Tohr decided that short of the fact that John Matthew hadn’t managed to cut himself on the hand and foot thus far tonight, it looked like Tohr and the kid had a lot in common. Courtesy of their tempers, both were now dressed in the Captain Asshole costume – which included, for no extra charge, the cape of disgrace, the booties of shame, and the keys to the Fuck Up mobile.
Hang in there Tohr…
Why couldn’t his memories bring her back? They felt strong enough, powerful enough, a summoning spell that should have had her magically reinflating the gown.
Except she was alive only in his mind. Ever with him, always out of reach.
That’s what death was, he realized. The great fictionalizer.
Poignant and introspective, not a side of Lassiter we’re used to seeing…
When you had the paintbrush in your hand, you were the god you wished ruled your life, capable of picking and choosing among fate’s catalog of wares and destiny’s deck of cards to your prolonged and sustained advantage.
Well, he does have a really cute tail…
“If that bastard’s innocent,” Rhage spoke up, “I’m the fucking Easter bunny-”
“Oh, good,”someone quipped. “I’m calling you Hop-along Hollywood from now on.”
“Beasty Bo Peep,” someone else threw out.
“We could put you in a Cadbury ad and finally make some money-”
“People,” Rhage barked, “the point is that he’s not innocent and I’m not the Easter bunny-”
“Where’s your basket?”
“Can I play with your eggs?”
“Hop it out, big guy-”
“Will you guys fuck off? Seriously!”
Not even angels have perfect faith…
“I don’t know. I don’t put much stock in anything.”
“An angel who’s an athiest?”
Lassiter laughed a little. “Maybe that’s why I keep getting into trouble.”
“Nah. That part’s because you can be a real asshole.”
Time to live, time to love, time to make things happen for yourself…
When you were young, you thought time was a burden. Something to be discharged as fast as possible so you could be a grown-up. But it was such a bait-n-switch – when you were an adult, you came to realize that minutes and hours were the single most precious thing you had.
No one got forever. And it was a fucking crime to waste what you were given.
If you liked Lover Reborn…
If you enjoyed Lover Reborn and the rest of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (starting with Dark Lover – seriously, if you read out of order and are confused, you MUST go back and start from the beginning!) and are looking for a new series to obsess over until the next BDB book releases, check out these long-standing blockbusters (in no particular order)…
- Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series (starting with Fantasy Lover or Night Pleasures)
- Kressley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series (starting with Warlord Wants Forever)
- Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series (starting with The Darkest Night)
- Pamela Palmer’s Feral Warrior series (starting with Desire Untamed)
- Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series (starting with Kiss of Midnight)
- Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series (starting with Slave to Sensation)
- Joey Hill’s Vampire Queen series (starting with The Vampire Queen’s servant)
- Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series (starting with Darkfever)
If you’re already a fan of all those and are looking for something new and fresh, maybe from a less well-known author, check these out (note that, at the time of this posting, some of these have only released the first novel in the series)…
- Rosalie Lario’s Demons of Infernum series (starting with Blood of the Demon)
- Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy (starting with A Discovery of Witches)
- Elisabeth Naughton’s Eternal Guardian series (starting with Marked)
- Laura Kaye’s Hearts of the Anemoi series (starting with North of Need)
At the end of every BDB book when something unexpected and powerful happens, I keep thinking “how is she going to top that? ” and just about every time, she does. If I have learned anything from Lover Reborn, it is to have faith in the WARDen – she most definitely has a master plan. The final quarter of the book finally gets moving and barrels through the twisted strings of fate to end in something alluded to long ago. While I totally saw it coming, I’m glad it worked out the way it did. Without spoiling the book’s conclusion, the ending is moving, powerful and emotional, finishing more than one chapter in this saga. This closure has been a long time coming and it is so sweet.
And I swear to god, J.R. Ward if, after all this setup and pacing and teasing, you don’t resolve this Qhuinn/Blay thing in the next book, I’m going to stop reading your damn books! Okay, I probably don’t have that much willpower but, holy hell, enough with the foreplay… let’s do this already! I totally get it now – you were character developing (and Qhuinn seriously needed it!) but, to paraphrase Q, their time has come and I cannot WAIT! Okay, that is all. *grin* Lover Reborn is a “must read”! (But don’t start here – start from the beginning of the series, Dark Lover!)
Rating: Lover Reborn