Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Review: Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

Hi Guys, time for another review. This is Lover Unleashed by New York Times Bestselling author J.R. Ward. The Brotherhood are BACK!

Title: Lover Unleashed
Author: J.R. Ward
Publisher: Piatkus (UK) | Signet Eclipse (US)
Release Date: March 29th 2011
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 9
Source: My personal copy

From J.R. Ward'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.

As you all know I am a HUGE fan of J.R. Ward, her Black Dagger Brotherhood series is one of my all time favourites. Despite this, I was hesitant about starting this Lover Unleashed, Payne was not a character that had interested me. Manny however, I was curious about. BUT, this is not Manny and Payne's book...oh no...this is Vishous and Jane part 2. In theory Lover Unleashed is Payne and Manny's story of true love with Vishous and Jane's relationship blues as a side story. It doesn't come across like that though, Vishous' story has such passion that it completely overshadows Payne's storyline. Don't get me wrong, this book is still pretty good, and to be honest I was more interested in reading about Jane and Vishous/ Blay and Qhuinn (yes, they're in here too!) anyway. 

Manny and Payne's story probably only amounts to about 1/2 of the book, and begins where Lover Mine left off. Payne is in a hospital bed in the Brotherhood's compound where she has remained since her sparring accident with Wrath which paralysed her from the waist down. Dr. Manuel 'Manny' Manello (who some may remember from Lover Unbound) is chief of surgery and the only who has any chance of reversing Payne's paralysis. One problem...he's human...she's not. Payne is the Scribe Virgin's daughter and Vishous' twin sister, making her extremely off limits to Manny, however when this unlikely pair first meet they forge an unbreakable bond. They struggle through Payne's recovery together and have a few blips in their relationship (mainly when Vishous wipes Manny's memories in an attempt to protect his twin) but you can feel Manny's passion for this delicate woman.
The pair discover truths about themselves as the relationship progresses, Payne begins to heal despite all the odds and Manny uncovers a secret from his past that ties him to the Brotherhood forever. I liked Manny as a character, he's strong willed and quick witted, plus is able to stand up to Vishous - no mean feat, he scares me too! Payne however is another matter, up until now she's been this kick-ass warrior who bows to no-one. And yet in this book, she seems to have lost most of her fight, her spirit...plus I find it hard to get my head around the way she speaks. As a couple they don't seem to fit together as well as some of the others do, and their story didn't move me as much as say...Rhage and Mary's. It's not awful, but definitely not my favourite.

Now for the part of the book I loved. There are cracks forming in Vishous and Jane's relationship, most of it due to Vishous still not believing himself to be worthy of his female, and he's still tormented by his horrific past. Their relationship fractures over Payne's treatment and I thought it was irrecoverably broken. I couldn't see a way for Vishous to work through his issues, after all they're so ingrained into his being that I don't think he even knew how badly damaged he was. Then I remembered...THIS IS J.R. WARD, if anyone could help Vishous then she could! And oh my God! There is a scene (well several if I'm truly honest) that brought tears to my eyes. For the first time, Vishous, the fierce hard hearted warrior that he is...was laid bare. It's a treat for fans of the BDB because it also adds yet another level to the relationship between V and Butch (as if it wasn't complicated already). 
'Vishous screamed around the ball gag...and kept at it. He screamed for all he had lost...screamed for the half male he was...screamed for Jane...screamed for who his parents were and what he wished for his sister...screamed for what he had forced his best friend to do.... He screamed and screamed until there was no breath, no consciousness, no nothing. No past or present. Not even himself anymore. And in the midst of chaos, in the strangest way, he became free.'
His path certainly isn't an easy one,  Vishous becomes increasingly self destructive throughout, and it takes an unbreakable friendship between him and Butch (which by God is put through the wringer) to bring stability back to Vishous' life. It's a heart-warming story of true love - not just the love between Vishous and his shellan, but the love between two best friends who would die for each other. In one word, beautiful.

For hardcore BDB fans (like myself) you will be pleased to know that there is some more Blay/ Qhuinn action, though their story still isn't progressing the way I want it to. Also there appears to be trouble heading the Brotherhoods way in the form of the Bloodletter's old crew. Xcor has his sights set on Wrath and the throne. The Blind King seems to have a war coming his way. Is it one he can win? I don't know...

Though I've picked at Payne and Manny a bit I still thoroughly enjoyed Lover Unleashed. I cannot get enough of J.R. Ward's writing. Her characters are full of vitality, they practically jump off the page and pull you into their world whether you like it or not. I cannot wait for Lover Reborn in March and anyone who has even a slightest interest in paranormal romance must checkout the Black Dagger Brotherhood - starting with book 1, Dark Lover!

My Rating: 4.5/5

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