Patricia is guest-blogging
I have always been a big fan of vampire novels. I faithfully read the Lestat series by Anne Rice, was reading Sookie Stakehouse's adventures before they were turned into a TV series (True Blood) and have even read the Twilight series, but my favourite are the Black Dagger Brotherhood novels, by J.R. Ward.
When I started reading book blogs, a couple of years ago, I was constantly coming across references to the vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB for the fans). Avid fans refer to this series as 'crack'. There are blogs and facebook pages devoted to BDB where fans dissect each book, their favourite brother and discuss which actors they would like to see playing the different characters if the series was ever transferred to movies. So I decided to see what the fuss was about and bought the first novel 'Dark Lover'. I started it reading it one evening and I have to admit that I did not get much sleep that night. I was hooked. I immediately rushed out to buy the rest of the series, which I devoured and avidly await each new addition.
The novels focus on the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a group of 'highly trained vampire warriors who protect their species against the Lessening Society. As a result of selective breeding within the race, the Brothers possess immense physical and mental strength, as well as rapid healing capabilities.' Each novel focuses on one warrior and his mate against the backdrop of their ongoing war with the Lessening society, an 'order of slayers convened by the Omega for the purpose of eradicating the vampire species', and vampire politics. The mythology is very straightforward and easy to follow, unlike some other paranormal romances where elaborate timelines and background notes are sometimes necessary to follow the books.
'Dark Lover' opens with the murder of Darius after he has just asked Wrath, the vampire king, to help his half human daughter Beth through her transition. All vampires are physically weak until their mid twenties when they go through a transition and 'he or she transforms into an adult. Thereafter, they must drink the blood of the opposite sex to survive and are unable to withstand sunlight.'
The BDB vampires are fine specimens of their race. For example Wrath is described as 'six feet, six inches of pure terror dressed in leather. His hair was long and black, falling straight from a widow's peak. Wraparound sunglasses hid eyes that no one had ever seen revealed. His shoulders were twice the size of most males'. With a face that was both aristocratic and brutal, he looked like the king he was by birthright and the soldier he'd become by destiny'. Despite being strong warriors all J.R. Ward's heroes have an Achilles heel; Wrath watched his parents being slaughtered as a teenager and fan favourite Zsadist was kidnapped as a baby and kept as a blood slave before being rescued by his twin brother Phury. Yet when they meet their mate they fall instantly and passionately in love (and in lust). It is so heart warming to see these big men brought to their knees, willing to do anything for the one they love. There is a lot of passion in the books, with the warriors going mad with rage when a misfortune befalls their mate. The BDB books are also well known for their graphic love scenes.
What makes the books so addictive? It is very difficult to pinpoint the reasons but I would say one reason is the way the reader is absorbed into the lives of these badass tormented yet honourable and loyal warriors. As Wrath says at one point 'I love her. I want to honor her, not just have her to warm my bed'. The books are quite long averaging 500 pages each, so you get know the characters very well. I also like the fact that their stories evolve through each book, so even after their HEA (happily ever after), J.R. Ward still shows you what their married life is like with its ups and downs. In fact in the latest book 'Lover Unleashed' the new 'couple' have to share the spotlight with Vishious and Jane, the central characters of 'Lover Unbound'. J.R. Ward's language is very direct, using slang and colloquial language in her descriptions. 'Butch looked into his glass. Six months ago he had nothing in his life. No woman. No family he was close to. No home to speak of. And his job as a homicide detective had been eating him alive. Then he'd gotten canned for police brutality. Fallen in with the Brotherhood through a bizarre series of events. Met the one and only woman who'd ever awed him stupid. Also had a total wardrobe makeover.'
One thing I do not like about the novels are the villains; the Lessers and their leader the Omega. In my opinion they are not evil enough and the sections of the book which are devoted to their storyline I tend to skim through as I find them rather boring. They are such disagreeable characters and it is difficult to understand their motives.
I am currently rereading the novels for the fourth time in anticipation of the next book 'Lover Reborn' due to be released on 27 March 2012. The main character will be (spoiler alert !!) Tohrment, whose mate was killed by lessers in the third book 'Lover Awakened'. There is already a lot of speculation on internet on who will be his love interest and J.R. Ward has been releasing snippets of the novel on her facebook page. I ordered my copy months ago.
If you are looking for a paranormal series that is good fun to read I recommend you give these books a go. One word of warning - do not start a book just before going to bed. J