September 13, 2011

Review: Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #9
Format: Hardbound
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Genre: Adult PNR
Purchase Link: Amazon
Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother: A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.

When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.

As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.

This is our first tandem Book Review collaboration so we won't delve too much on the sequence of events as our usual M.O. otherwise this piece will be too long for our ADD-inspired attention spans. We'll each instead focus on the highlights and the parts that we disliked, made an impression and intrigued us.

I love the Brothers and their story have elicited a lot of emotions from me ranging from love to disgust, admiration to pity. At times I feel like there are parts of the story that only J.R. Ward understands, like a secret joke that she only gets. Nevertheless I'm the Brotherhood's slave and after reading Lover Mine and a short break, I didn't realize how much I missed those burly Caldie Vamps and their neurotic tendencies and wicked sense of humor.

I've been looking forward to this book because I want to meet Payne and being Vishous' twin well I know that it'll be a riot. I wasn't swept away by Manny & Payne's love story probably because the bar has been set so high with the previous couples that theirs just seemed ordinary. I would've liked to see more of the warrior Payne though, those training sessions with Wrath were lethal and extraordinary, she'll put Xena The Warrior Princess to shame. Too bad we didn't get to see a lot of that in this book given her injury and distraction.

What I loved was the continuing tale of V, Jane and Butch. I find their intricate relationship very interesting I'm still not sure what I feel about it. Although I find it weird that Marissa has been "quiet" about V's disturbing affections for Butch while Jane has been so accepting, or maybe she's still in denial. I love Vishous and his character is just so unique and violent but loving and funny at the same time. He did a couple of stints in this book that was just pushing the envelope with his hot wax and asking Butch to Dom him. My teeth were clenched the whole time and I was literally cringing on these scenes. But I admire their easy cammaraderie and Bromance I often wish they're my friends.

I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series but there are some particulars that I'm not very fond of. For this book I felt a little bit disappointed on how it ended, I feel like endings are not really J.R. Ward's thing. She could've been more creative than Manny and Butch being half siblings rendering the former part vampire as well. Surely something else could've been written to make Manny's relationship with Payne viable right? And I'm still not over about Jane being a ghost, I still can't wrap my mind about that, even Jane herself in that conversation she had with Manny towards the end of Ch25: I'm not actually alive. That was why I didn't come back to see you. It wasn't about the vampire/human thing... it's because I am not really here anymore. How confusing is that, even Jane sounds unsure about what she is.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and the side stories. I'm curious if Ward will make a book dedicated to Qhuinn and Blay and if she'll make something out of that flash forward she had with Layla. I know Tohr's book is coming out in 2012 and it will definitely be a long wait. I guess I'll settle for her Fallen Angels for now.

Before I delve into my review of Lover Unleashed, I'd like to state how much I am in love with this series.! I've engrossed myself with this series for the past three weeks and have enjoyed every word and page of each novel. It's always refreshing to see an author bring her own twist into the vampire genre and the world J.R. Ward has created is intriguing, sexy and runs you through some emotional roller coasters. This isn't your normal, run of the mill vampire romance. Although Ward's vampires are independent from the human race, they are susceptible to emotional/physical abuse, rape, drug addiction, and family drama you'd think was only present in the human world. With that said, I think that's what I love the most about this series. The Brothers battles, both personal and as a coherent group, comes across a little more realistically compared to other vampire series in this genre. 

Lover Unleashed, the ninth in the series, is Payne and Manny's book but honestly, this book was all about Vishous. True? Leave it to Vishous to steal the show from his twin sister. Payne and Manny have a sweet romance given the obstacles they must overcome, but their story is nothing compared to Vishous and Jane's. Vishous and Jane shined in this novel and made the book for me.

I love Vishous, like so many other fans of the series, but I was left unsatisfied with the ending of his book, Lover Unbound. Jane's return at the end as a ghost was weird and indecisive. Out of all the heroines in the series, Jane got shafted and ended up with with the short end of the stick. A ghost shellan? Really, J.R. Ward? Ending the book with Jane as a ghost left a few unanswered questions. Did V and Jane get mated properly? How did Jane and Vishous feel about her new ghostly figure? How does this vampire and ghost mate work exactly? Honestly, that ish was so out of left field for me that all I could think was, WTF? Not only was I disappointed with the ghost aspect but I yearned for a better conclusion for Jane and V's love story but Ward pulled out some tricks from her bag of goodies and gave me the closure I was craving.

Now as for the main characters, Payne and Manny, I wasn't utterly disappointed with them, more like there was a lot to be desired. Their love story didn't sweep me away and neither characters lived up to what the previous heroes and heroines has offered in the earlier books. The premise for the obstacles that the couple had to overcome was a good stepping stone but I think it failed to let them shine. I was a little irritated that Payne was willing to give up her fight to recover so quickly. The fighter spirit that I was expecting out of her was missing. As for Manny, I'm sorry but the bambina really got on my nerves. Ok, he's Italian I get it but it was just so cheesy and giudo-ish. His assertiveness in the operating room was a real turn-on but outside of the OR there just wasn't a lot to keep me interested in him as a male lead.

Compared to the dynamics of Vishous and Jane, Payne and Manny's story wasn't strong enough to stand alone. At least not yet. After reading this novel, I now wished that Ward had started Payne and Manny's story within another Brother's novel. The build-up between their budding romance could really have taken their relationship to another level. Also, Payne needed to develop a little more outside of the realm of the Scribe Virgin. I was really hoping we could have witnessed more of the "kickass" that she really is and not some paralyzed and helpless woman. I'm only hoping that Ward plans on developing Payne into the fierce Warrior that she was meant to be in future novel. Maybe a Payne and Manny show 2.0? Till then I'll stick to obsessing about Zsadist, Vishous and Wrath until the next book comes out.


  1. Vishous and Payne need a novella where they just kick-ass and bond as siblings. True?

  2. True. I demand V and Payne get their own kickass novella.

  3. LOL! I like that idea. They didn't have as much interaction in this book as I thought they would, but given what they have been going through, it makes some sense.

    @Braine - Yes, Qhuinn and Blay will be getting their own novella and yes, Layla will be with someone, but Ward said we won't like who it is. Also with Jane being a ghost and all. Still feels weird and honestly, I believe the Scribe Virgin is still holding something back where all of that is concerned. I don't know, just can't shake the feeling.

    @Cimmaron - Everyone has said the same thing, this was more V's and Jane's story. But I like Manny and Payne together. But I agree, Payne is tough enough to kick the King's ass, I really wanted to see some of that in this book and I didn't. But it is true, Manny and Payne are still developing. Maybe they will get more story like V and Jane did.

    Great reviews ladies, thank you :)

  4. Thanks for the update but to be honest I'm not sure if I'm ready to read Blay and Qhuinn's book. Ward just keeps on throwing these curve balls about this men that I find disturbing. I'm sure their story will be twisted and I feel bad that Layla will be collateral damage.

  5. With tears in my eyes, goosebumps on my arms, and a huge smile of satisfaction on my face is how I sat upon completing Lover Unleashed, Book 9 of The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward. I was skeptical when I read that this book was to feature Dr. Manny Manello, a human introduced in Lover Unbound, book 5 and Payne (not going to say who she is because I don't want to spoil it for readers new to the series). Wow, was I pleasantly surprised! Ms. Ward continues to deliver to lovers of the Brotherhood by filling their pages with stories of passion, committment, termoil, tragedy, suspense, action, and of course hott vampire warriors!


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