Review: Lover Unleashed

Posted April 6, 2011 by Jen in 3.5 stars, 4 stars, Paranormal Romance, Rating A, Rating B, Reviews Tags: ,

Lover Unleashed
Author: JR Ward 
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Publisher: NAL Hardcover
Black Dagger Brotherhood series Book #9
ISBN: # 978-0451233165
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): Hardcover (512 pgs), e-book
G & U purchased a copy of this book for the purposes of their own enjoyment. Twimom borrowed the book from her local library.

From the author’s website:

     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.

What Gikany & Una are talking about:

     Gikany and Una were waiting with baited breath for this latest installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  The “WARDen” did not disappoint in Payne’s book, Lover Unleashed.
     Gikany loved the introduction of Xcor (pronounced in her head as “Score”).  Unlike the introduction of Lash, the Omega, Mr. X, etc, as the antagonist, he appears, for lack of better term, human.  He is complicated and not just evil, being capable of change.  Xcor’s interactions with Payne highlighted his honor and his ability to hold to a set of moral beliefs.  However, Una still can’t believe his name is Xcor (pronounced in her head as “Core”) after it seems the WARDen received so much grief about her overuse of the word core in her previous novels.  Just like the controversy over the pronunciation of Xhex (as the WARDen says, “Hex” and the rest of us that thought “Sex” until an interview with her on the web cleared this up).
     Una enjoyed the pace of the novel.  Unlike in John Matthew’s book where the interludes with Muhrder seemed completely out of place and unrelated and unnecessary, this book seemed to flow better.  The scene changes were smooth and followed a good rhythm.  Because of the flow, Lover Unleashed was incredibly difficult to put down and was a gripping page turner.
     Gikany and Una both thoroughly enjoyed Lover Unleashed.  Vishous appears to be the one most changed through the course of the book. What defines Payne’s journey is to be accepted and loved for who she is.  By joining her twin, Payne leaves the smothering security of Sanctuary and must deal with the messy realities of life with the brotherhood and a human mate.
     It seemed through the book, the lesser were almost an after-thought in this novel.  Because of this, Gikany and Una feel that Lover Unleashed is a transitional novel, setting up a new conflict for the brotherhood and introducing much needed characters for the continuation of the series.  However, we are VERY glad for this introduction because we do not want to see this series come to an end.  For transitional novel, we feel that it was well played.  The only question in the long run is: will Xcor be the next “big bad” or the next brother?

Their Rating:

Really enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)

What Twimom is talking about:

     Okay, so yes… Black Dagger Brotherhood is crack. If you haven’t started the series, please don’t start with this book. Yes, you could jump in here, but you won’t have the emotional ties to the characters that the rest of us addicts have and you won’t be drawn into the story from the first page.  With that said… here are my thoughts about Lover UnleashedWARNING: minor plot reveals are found in my review.
     I will admit, although I was unsure of Manny and Payne together because there was no set up for the two of them in prior books, I was anxious to read the ninth installment of the series. And yes, it was going to be very hard to top Lover Mine – a story that I waited to read for 5 books. For those that have read the series, we have previously met both characters. Manny was Doc Jane’s boss and friend – we really got to know him in V’s book, Lover Unbound (book #5). Payne is the twin sister of Vishous and we saw her primarily in Lover Mine as the sparing partner of the King Vampire, Wrath.
     At the end of Lover Mine, Payne severely injured her back and once Doc Jane realized she could not help Payne, pursued her former colleague, Manny, to repair her mate’s sister. Lover Unleashed picks up immediately after the conclusion of Lover Mine.  Manny and Payne experience immediate attraction and we are privy to some “vampire-like” traits by Manny that have him going crazy with thoughts such as “mine.” Nothing new, and it is very similar to what we saw with half-breed Butch.
     JR Ward has a way of bringing out my emotions with the simplest of stories. For example, she retells Doc Jane’s death through Manny’s point of view and I was in tears. Ward has me so wrapped up in her characters that I feel so much for them.  She has created a world that I want to experience, even if the story isn’t perfect.
     I loved that Manny and Payne were “meant to be” and they worked their way through the potential problems just to be together. As a couple, they didn’t have the spark or hot-n-heavy romance of some of the other pairings, but I enjoyed their story.  However, I felt that Payne’s character was a weak link. My impressions of Payne (based on earlier books) is that she is a kick-ass warrior. She can hold her own with Wrath and she killed her own father. So why was she so ready to give up after a few hard times after her injury? I know she lead a sheltered life as a Chosen, but she was too naive, shy and “girly” for most of the story. I was disappointed with her character, yet I still was able to look past it so that I could enjoy the story.
     I appreciated the break from the Lessers – less Lessers! I think this was the first book in which Ward did not tell any of the story from a Lesser point-of-view. But, on the downside: there were “new recruits” at every turn. The Brothers themselves commented on the fact that there were so many new Lessers, and the reader is left wondering where did they come from and why are there so many. I felt this was a weakness in the plot.
     Although this was “Manny and Payne’s book,” the heart of the story belonged to Vishous. Ward finally let V shine and have the story he should have had several books ago. She let him hit bottom and there was a point in the book where V turned his back on Jane and my heart just ached. I felt the play between the V and Jane was well done. BUT with that said… I had a tough time with the speed and depth of V’s “recovery.” I appreciate what Butch did for him, but I was hard for me to believe this Brother could make such a significant turn around after only one night.
     Finally, I have to mention the two new characters that had a significant role in Lover Unleashed: Xcor, son of the Bloodletter (V and Payne’s father) and Detective Thomas DelVecchio, Jr., new partner to long-time Caldwell Police Detective Jose de la Cruz.  It seems that Ward has plans for both characters in future stories, but with her… you never know. (Umm… where is Murdher?)  Xcor promises to be an excellent new rival for Wrath and the Brotherhood and a refreshing change from the Lessening Society/Omega. However, I was completely disappointed in his actions when he finally captured and confronted Payne for killing of the Bloodletter.  And DelVecchio – I just don’t understand the purpose behind his character or that whole section of the story – the book would have been fine without it.
     All in all, I have to admit I still thoroughly enjoyed Lover Unleashed. Yes, it seems like I have several issues with the story, but I was able to look past them all for the most part and just enjoy being back in Caldwell. I felt that this story flowed a lot better than the choppy telling in Lover Mine. I completely swooned over the Qhuinn-Blay-Saxton subplot and cannot wait for the Qhuay book/novella. I can forgive Ward for a lot because I love the Brotherhood and relish anytime I can spend with them.

My Rating:

Liked it a lot – recommend (B+)

6 responses to “Review: Lover Unleashed

  1. Una

    That is what is so compelling about the books, even when they are not the best overall (*ahem* Phury’s book *ahem*). I agree there drawbacks, but ACK! I must stop, I need to email you Twimom, we must discuss!!! Especially now that I read your review!!!

  2. I don’t know what to think about this one Jen! I liked it..but nothing like Lover Mine. I hope Tohr can bring it!

  3. You and I are of a similar mind, it seems, Jen! Great review! And I felt the same way you did about the Lessers; not having their point of view kind of left us in the dark about why there are so many around these days. Best in the series or not….I already can’t wait for the next one! 🙂

  4. I just love these boyz, and I loved this book. I agree with most of the criticisms, but none of that stuff bothered me enough to take me out of the story (tho I am wondering where No’One went. Wasn’t she friends with Payne in Lover Mine?).
    I am really interested in the new not-brothers…I don’t think they are bad guys–and Xcor (I am going with “Score”) is very interesting…could he be our new Z?