Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 7
Genre: Paranormal Romance
(c) May 2009, New American Library
Rating: 5 stars
Available at the Book Depository.
"Chock full of danger and excitement, and at the heart, a sweet romance between Rehvenge and Ehlena"
Rehvenge, Bella's brother and owner of ZeroSum club that the Brothers frequented, is half-symphath, his heritage a secret for fear of deportation to the symphath colony up north. Suffice it to say, symphaths and vampires don't get along, and any vampire who has knowledge of a rogue symphath has the duty to report such to the king. However, someone does know the truth about him and Rehv is asked to assassinate the king, Wrath.
In the midst of this upheaval in his life, his former professional relationship with Ehlena, a nurse at Havers' clinic, turned personal, but he couldn't risk Ehlena finding out the truth about him for then, she would be in danger...
I was charmed by Rehv's and Ehlena's developing relationship. It was sweet and romantic, and reminded me of the uncertainties and hopes that I went through when embarking on a new relationship. I couldn't get enough of their scenes together and I want more (This sentence is going to be a recurring theme in this review. Don't say you weren't forewarned.)
We have seen evidence of J.R. Ward's willingness to tackle issues that other authors wouldn't or to take on unsavory (how we perceive them usually, anyway) characters and give them a valid motivation and dress them up as a hero. It's no different here.
Rehv is a pimp and a drug lord, and every month, he whored himself out as part of a blackmail, and really, how could such a man, er, vampire, be seen as a hero? Yet, he is. He's a vamp who was forced to go into those avenues in order to raise blackmail money (although we're never told what Xhex ever did to the princess of the symphaths, only that Xhex fucked up), to ensure his and Xhex's survival, and within the boundaries of his life and his business, he did his best. His saving grace was that he cared for his girls and there was a regret in his soul at the things he's been forced to do. A feeling of dirtiness that clouded his soul, that no matter how much he washed, he never felt clean. This, I feel, is very different from an out-and-out villain who pimps and whores and is a drug dealer with no conscience at all. To borrow a phrase from the book, at his core, Rehv is a good vamp, and he's just trying to survive with what life has dealt him. Much like you and me, if you think about it, only that we're dealt with different, maybe kinder, hands.
As for Ehlena, I like how she accepted Rehv as he is. When he's embarrassed because of his impotence (due to the medication that he takes), she was matter-of-fact about it and just said if he could get it up, then fine. If not, then it's still fine. That kind of total acceptance is just what Rehv needs, and no wonder that he should fall in love with her. She's one of my favorite BDB heroines, and I truly wish there was more about her and Rehv in this book, but I guess I should be contented. After all, there's more interaction between her and Rehv, making the romance and eventual "I love you's" more believable than in the previous book, Lover Enshrined.
Aside from the expected showdown with the symphath colony, given Rehv's background, we see a lot of Beth and Wrath too, how it's not easy being king when the lessers are killing off your people day by day. It makes you angry and frustrated and like Wrath, will make you itch to do something. You couldn't just sit inside the Brotherhood mansion and do nothing. This, of course, led to problems between Wrath and Beth, especially after she found out that he'd been lying to her. I like this realistic look of a couple's life after the HEA in their own book (Dark Lover) and it made Beth and Wrath more real to me. (I found Dark Lover to be so-so, and like any other vamp romance out there.)
There are also the requisite John Matthew updates, leading up to his story in the next book. I feel for JM. That boy has really been dealt several bad hands since his birth. Being the adopted son of a Brother didn't turn his luck. Still...I think...the level of emotion I feel for him as a reader still couldn't match up to what I felt for Zsadist or Vishous or Rehvenge when I was reading their books, but we'll know for sure when I get my hands on Lover Mine.