Review: The Shadows by JR Ward


The Shadows
JR Ward
Jen Twimom

What I’m Talking About:

I freely admit that I am a JR Ward – Black Dagger Brotherhood junkie. I will devour a book, pick it apart, complain about what did or did not happen, and still go back for more the following year. I preordered The Shadows the day it was available. I cannot stop myself. With that said, this book may be the one that breaks me. I don’t know if I can keep coming back… I guess I’ll find out next year.

Please note, this review is written in mind of those who are familiar with the series and characters, and may not make much sense to those who’ve never read the books. I plan to make my review as spoiler-free as possible, while explaining how I feel about The Shadows. If you have remained spoiler-free to this point, kudos to you.  When I started the book and heard that spoilers were running rampant on social media, I stayed away. However, I did hear that people were very angry about something that happens. I thought, “What could possible happen to get people that worked up about with a JR Ward book? This is the same woman who tells us her characters hate her and made a heroine into a ghost that isn’t a ghost.” Well… I can fully understand now why folks feel the way they do. I can honestly say that Ward did something that she’s never done in any of the BDB books, nor is it something I ever thought I’d see from this series. What was it? Just visit Ward’s own sites or any of the numerous reviews that spill the beans.

The Shadows is one of the better books from Ward in recent years. Filled with product placements, pop culture references, and rap songs, Ward gives readers exactly what we expect. I felt that the story overall was very cohesive and flowed smoothly, which is something that has been missing. She finally got back to spending most of the book focusing on the primary romantic pairing. With the book title, The Shadows, I expected romantic storylines for both Shadow twins, Trez and iAm. While both brothers received page time, the Trez-Selena story ate up probably 75% of the book, whereas iAm’s story was a much smaller percentage. Although it didn’t necessarily bother me during the bulk of the book, in the end I felt Ward should have spent more time on iAm and made the two stories more balanced. Additionally, there are a couple of Assail POVs, one or two Lesser POVs, some Xcor/Layla and Band of Bastards time.

There was also some significant page time for Rhage which I was totally geeked for at first. However, something odd is going on with Rhage and it’s left unresolved by the end of the book, which makes sense since Ward announced at her Q/A session over the weekend that Rhage and Mary would be the focus of next year’s story. But I would have liked it better if there had been less face time for Rhage since he will be getting his own story next time. In addition, Ward spent a decent amount of time introducing us to Paradise, daughter of Wrath’s First Advisor. She is one of the central characters in the BDB spinoff series, coming out later this year. I didn’t mind the page time, however at well over 500 pages in this book, these scenes could have been edited out and it probably would have made for better flow.

Back to the primary focus… the Shadows. I really liked Trez and iAm’s intertwining story and how the complications of Trez’s forced mating with the Princess all played out. I adored Selena and Trez’s love story. It was one of the best romances from BDB in a very long time. Selena is a heroine I could get behind. She didn’t take any crap, and although she’s got a horrible disease, she refuses to let it control her life. She loves Trez with everything she’s got, and she won’t let him love her back without the same ferocity. And Trez completely changes because of his love for Selena and her love for him. It was pretty much near perfect.

So why the hate? Without spoilers, I will tell you that the ending of this book, the ultimate resolution, was so egregious in my mind and heart, that it left me unsettled and speechless. I honestly enjoyed so much of the book and was pleased with the direction Ward took with several of the parts. But the way the story ends is unacceptable within the parameters and personal expectations I have for the series.

Now what? I don’t know how to rate The Shadows. I’d say for the first 80% of the book, I was ready to give the story a B+ or A-. The last 20% … I just don’t know. The thing is, the writing was pretty good even in that last 20%, and I kept reading, waiting for something, anything to make me feel better about what happened, but it never came. I don’t feel the book deserves a failing grade, yet the ending failed me. So for the first time since I started reviewing, I am leaving a book without a rating.

My Rating: No rating


About the Book:

Trez “Latimer” doesn’t really exist. And not just because the identity was created so that a Shadow could function in the underbelly of the human world. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the S’Hsibe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer in Caldwell, NY for years- all the while on the run from a destiny of sexual servitude. He’s never had anyone he could totally rely on… except for his brother, iAm.

iAm’s sole goal has always been to keep his brother from self-destructing- and he knows he’s failed. It’s not until the Chosen Serena enters Trez’s life that the male begins to turn things around… but by then it’s too late. The pledge to mate the Queen’s daughter comes due and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no negotiating.

Trapped between his heart and a fate he never volunteered for, Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others- or forever leave behind the female he’s in love with. But then an unimaginable tragedy strikes and changes everything. Staring out over an emotional abyss, Trez must find a reason to go on or risk losing himself and his soul forever. And iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice…

Release Date: March 31, 2015
Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) #13
ISBN: #978-0451417077
Paranormal Romance
hardcover (592 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Purchased with my own funds

Purchase Info:
The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood #13)

Reviews in the Series:
Lover Mine by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #8)
Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #9)
Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10)
Lover at Last by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #11)
The King by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #12)

  • I am glad I gave up after Rhevs, I would have been so mad

    • You know, at this point I’m just sad and disappointed. Sad that I was let down by one of my staple series. 🙁

  • Melanie Simmons

    I had to walk away from this book for a little bit. I was listening and at 22+ hours, it was just too much for me at this time. Add that to the drama on Twitter and I decided to wait. I do know a little bit of the spoilers (I should’ve been smart like you and stayed away), but don’t know the details.

    I’ve been on the way out with this series. I’m over the excessive ghetto speak, Old World speak and the product placements. I think the books have gotten too long and lack focus. All that being said, she still brings the feels that make me come back, even with the things that I find distracting. I don’t know if I’m ready to abandon this series for good or not. It will probably not be for the spoiler that upset everyone and more because I think the books are just losing focus. I don’t know what the brothers are working towards anymore.

    Great review and great job of keeping it spoiler free.

    • Thanks Mel. That’s one of the tough things about this book… it actually is one of the better written and more cohesive books she’s written of late. I found overall, it was a very good story… except… *sniffles*

    • It will probably not be for the spoiler that upset everyone and more because I think the books are just losing focus <——-

      This is exactly what it is for me and I have no idea how to write my review because the big spoiler didn't bug me. However, almost everything else about the book did LOL

      • Melanie Simmons

        That is how I am. I wasn’t even upset when I heard the spoiler.

      • I wonder if you would have felt the same if you read the whole book and became invested in the story and then BAM!

      • Melanie Simmons

        That is a good question. I usually have finished listening before the signing, but I choose to listen to Total Surrender instead of this. Which shows how the series has been falling for me. I still don’t think I’m ready to give up completely. I still expect to finish the the series.

      • Wow! Really? I actually really liked the book, and the spoiler part was well done, but not appropriate for this series. I felt this was one of her better books in a long while.

  • Jennifer @ The Book Nympho

    Rhage and Mary has already had a book. So Ward is recycling… hmmmm…. Maybe she will get back around to Butch and V and put them together. LOL

    I still haven’t read Lover at Last. Sigh. It’s sitting on my Nook. I just have to get into the mood for it.

    I went online and read the spoilers because the odds of me reading it is very low and now that I know what makes everyone mad I know I won’t read it. I’m over Ward and have been for a long time.

    • The Beast will be the second “recycling” book – with The King (2014) being Wrath/Beth’s second book. I actually like the idea and enjoyed The King. I’d rather her finally follow up on some of the original couples than continue to add new characters that are subpar and I don’t care about.

      • Deelylah Mullin

        I like the recycling of characters, too. I think Wrath & Beth needed ‘screen time’ so that their issues that seemed to be simmering under the surface could play out. Wondering what she’s got up her sleeve for Mary & Rhage. I want them to have a kid, but I’m not up for reading about the Brothers all becoming dads in future books. One in particular.

  • Karen

    I quit the series a few books ago. I was getting so tired of her featuring characters so heavily in one book just to abandon them or give more time to the supporting cast than the main couple (just to name a few things) I feel like she’s lost control of the series.

    Maybe the spin off will be better??

    As for the ending of this one. It seems romance with iAm wasn’t developed enough so it makes what happened even worse. At least from what I read in reviews.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

    • I agree, the story with iAm should have played more of a roll and if there had been a stronger balance, it may not have felt as bad. OR if rolls had been reversed and the big bad happened to iAm…

  • Jeffe Kennedy

    I gave up at the same place as Blodeuedd – and am relieved I did. I read the spoilers and if I’d still been invested in the series, this would have broken me, too. Those of you persevering are brave indeed!

    • It’s the sugar-coated crack that kept me coming back, even when I could list dozens of problems with the books. But now… it’s like I found out that its a bunch of liver and onions and not candy. LOL.

  • B.

    I have this book (bought it over the weekend), but haven’t been able to read it yet. And now, I’m feeling very conflicted about it. I haven’t been able to give the books up yet, and I enjoyed Lover At Last and The King pretty well. I’ll definitely read it, but . . . we’ll see.

    Thanks for the great review!

    • I am one of those that really liked The King as well. And I loved LaL! But I also felt she jumped all over the place, and I could pick apart several issues with both books. Yet, still enjoyed because I still love (most of) the characters.

      Do you know what the spoiler is? I suggest you still read the book, especially if you don’t know. There are hundreds of fans that still loved the book. You could very well not be bothered by what happens. I think the majority are “okay” with it.

      • UnaReads

        I don’t know if I am okay with it, but I agree it was all well written. I don’t want to spoil either, I just finished and I think I’m still numb a bit. However, my emotions and such are still reeling from another aspect of the novel. It brought back memories which are painful and that is what I’m struggling through most right now. I’m sure the “issue” will rise up when I have my emotions from the relive buried back down. I feel conflicted about it, truly.

      • *HUGS* I almost warned you, but then thought better of it. I wasn’t sure how tough it would be for you.

      • UnaReads

        I’m glad you didn’t. Though there were enough clues to know it was coming, I liked having the experience, even though it was tough. Like I said, it was very well written, so real to me. It’s why I’m having trouble deciding if I liked it or not. I’m completely torn by it for so many reasons. I agree, the whole novel was an improvement – well written with less of the irritants. It flowed really well. But, yeah, that’s a big one but it fits. I’m so conflicted.

  • I was told the spoiler the other day and OH NO. That is NOT cool at all. I got this one for review and was thinking about trying the series again (the last few had me calling a halt to the series) but after hearing that. No way. I’m going to have a hard time ever trusting her books again no matter the series and will definitely wait until reviews have started to come out for them. :/

    • If you dropped the series a few books ago and found out the spoiler, I’d recommend skipping this one too. It’s so hard when we realize one of our favorite series isn’t worth continuing. That happens at different times with different people. 🙁

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