Wednesday, May 28, 2008

REVIEW: Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: BOOK 6
A loving shout out to to my 'darling' California girl for sharing her ARC of Lover Enshrined with me. You've got great taste in authors and heroes, girl! I have such a blast reading books with you (across the continent) and discussing all the juicy bits and pieces along the way. You're the best, baby girl! MUAH! xoxo ;)


If you've been reading J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, a.k.a. the BDB, a.k.a. crack, you basically know what's going on at the onset of this book. Always acting the hero, Phury volunteered to take the role of the race's Primale away from Vishous so he (Vishous) could be monogamous with Jane. So as the Primale, Phury is supposed to save the race by mating with the forty Chosen so that more vampire warriors will be born to fight in the war against the Omega and his lessers. But there is a few problems. Phury took a vow of celibacy since way before his transition hundreds of years ago and is therefore still a virgin. Well sort of. There was that one time in the bathroom at ZeroSum a few months ago, but since he pulled out, he seems to think he's still somewhat of a virgin. Anyway, he's got another problem as well, and this one is really fucking him up and putting him in a bad place. Phury is a drug addict and it's not only affecting his relationships, which is sad in and of itself, but it's also interfering with his ability to do his job.

Since Lover Unbound was a somewhat controversial installment in this series, many followers of Ward's BDB series have been waiting with uncertainty for Lover Enshrined. While I certainly cannot predict readers' responses to this series, I can say with fair amount of confidence that Lover Enshrined will satisfy many a crack... errr... BDB addict. It is not Ward's best love story, as the romance between Phury and Cormia is somewhat overshadowed by so many other intense events that are taking place, yet the novel is a very well written and cohesive installment to this mesmerizing series.

Aside from the less than stellar romance (which still works, by the way--its just not super developed-- better than Jane & V, though IMHO), there are two hang ups I have with this book, one being significantly disappointing and the other being more of an annoyance. Fortunately both these line items take place in the first few chapters of Lover Enshrined, but thankfully I put these issues aside, and moved on because the rest of the story was intense and amazing, and I really loved it.

The significant disappointment occurs in the prologue and made me heave such a sigh that my hopes for the entire story's integrity almost plummeted to nothing. Without revealing all the specifics, a particular character basically goes back in time to oversee an important event (an event that said character had previously gone back in time to initiate), and then poofs back to present time once the character's mission is set in motion. *heave-ho-sigh* Why has this time travel ability never been revealed before? And most importantly, if this character had this ability all along, said character would have gone back in time to set many other agendas in motion way before this! And I'm sure said character would have done this more than once. Is this rule breaking? Or am I missing something? Hence, the disappointing sigh while reading the prologue. I read on, shelving this disappointment to work out later--or maybe even forget. Or at least forgive. Maybe.

Next up is the annoyance factor. Enter on scene, the Omega's new Forelesser. This dude annoys the hell out of me. Yes, he's a lesser, so I know I'm not supposed to like him. He has the worst grammar and vocabulary ever. It's bad enough that he speaks horribly, but Ward also uses this language when she narrates his scenes. *head desk* I found it rather annoying, if not insulting, that Ward describes him, his thoughts and his perceptions using the same atrocious language. I suppose she was just trying to get the reader into the mindset of the character, but it was a bit much. Again, thankfully it doesn't take long for the story to progress away from the specifics surrounding the Forelesser, so the language wasn't revisited too often after his opening scenes.

One more item that might be disappointing news to many BDB fans is the genre style of Lover Enshrined. Whereas the first three novels in Ward's BDB series clearly focused on the love story between the hero and heroine with a few minor subplots, the love story between the hero and heroine in both Lover Revealed and Lover Unbound are each subsequently more and more overshadowed by other important plots within the novels. Ward's trend in this plot style continues with Lover Enshrined, as the love story between Phury and Cormia is once again not the central plot of the novel. But....

With that being said, however, I think that Lover Enshrined is possibly Ward's most intense and cohesive story yet. The character developments in Lover Enshrined are strong, natural and accurate extensions to the characters we already know and love. In addition, each character is well connected to the overall series story arc, and to each other, which really makes this novel so tight. After reading Lover Enshrined, you will feel like you know and understand many of the characters and their relationships more so than ever before.

At one time, I looked forward to seeing how Phury's mate would simply help him overcome his drug addiction and his martyr complex, but I got so much more than I expected from both Phury and his mate. Maybe their love story doesn't take center stage in the novel, but the impact both Phury and Cormia have on each other and on the entire vampire world is huge and wonderful... more so than any other couple within the Brotherhood thus far. Phury's addiction is sad, debilitating and dangerous, but forces him to confront his past, address the present and think about the future in ways he's never done before. Ward actually uses some really beautiful symbolism for this in one or two scenes. Cormia is a quiet observer, yet not afraid to verbalize her insight to those she cares about in a confident yet calming way. Despite the fact that the romance between Phury and Cormia is not super strong, their relationship develops realistically and their love for each other is believable, so it works for me.

There is also some long awaited resolution to Phury's martyr complex that involves his relationship with his twin, Zsadist. As one of the best continually developing characters in this entire series, Zsadist's role in this story as a secondary character is, as always, heart-wrenching and beautiful. It's truly no wonder he is still the most favorite Brother. Although after reading Lover Enshrined, I confess that Qhuinn is fast becoming my favorite. Okay, okay!... my equal favorite to Z.

The dynamics between the troika of John Matthew, Blaylock and Qhuinn are absolutely amazing. The bonds that these three vampires are forging as the series progresses are undeniably strong and genuine and their relationships are a literally a working definition of Brotherhood. Readers won't be disappointed with this troika-- they're fun, sexy, dangerous, and truly males of worth.

As expected, Rehv has a more visible role in this story and there are many new insights to this enigmatic half sympath, half vampire male of worth. For readers who don't quite get the appeal of this male, if you don't get it after you read Lover Enshrined, you're not really reading these books. He's already a hero in my eyes, albeit it a dangerous one whose stability is marginally kept in check, but a hero nonetheless. If you don't believe me, you'll just have to take a certain fallen angel's word for it. ;) He's extremely amusing and quite lethal....


Lover Enshrined is a fast paced, action packed, dark, heart wrenching, insightful, uplifting, and hopeful story.I truly laughed and cried and panicked several times throughout this book. Every single chapter contains many plot twists, insights and revelations on characters and plot --the kinds that fans of Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood have been waiting for and will eagerly devour and savor. And you'd better savor this story, because the next novel in this world, Rehv's story titled Lover Avenged, isn't going to be released until May 2009 and you'll be dying for your next fix! *eep!* So far away.....



GRADE: B++


Although I haven't written reviews on J.R. Ward's previous books, in retrospect, I would give the novels the following grades. This way you can compare your feelings on the series so far to mine and get a better feel for what my grade of B++ for Lover Enshrined translates for you. See the post on my grading system for a more detailed explanation of the grades.


Dark Lover (Book 1): A
Lover Eternal (Book 2) : A
Lover Awakened (Book 3) : A
Lover Revealed : (Book 4) : B
Lover Unbound (Book 5) : C
Lover Enshrined (Book 6) : B++



PLEASE NOTE: If you've read Lover Enshrined and want to leave a comment that contains a spoiler, please include ****SPOILER**** at the beginning of your comment so other visitors can avoid them, if they choose. Thanks! :)

Other reviews:

38 comments:

  1. Hmmm.... we agree on many things my fellow Ward crackhead. Great review!! You put mine to shame! But I still disagree with you on Lover Unbound. But OMG REVH!! I loved the scene where... heh heh heh.

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  2. Hi Christine, We had pretty much the same reaction to this book. I did wonder if it was time travel that the Omega experienced or if it was him reminiscing. I couldn't quite figure it out, and now I still question it. But the overall story was really good. I enjoyed it, glad you did, too.

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  3. Oh I love the way you posted grades for the previous books, it gives a really good idea of where you stand vis a vis other readers.

    Thank you muchly, Christine!

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  4. Nice review, Christine. I'm about sold on the idea that I'll start haunting bookstores this weekend to get an early shelving of it. And then...spend all weekend reading it.

    The reason that I'm sold on this book is...

    ***SPOILER***

    the return of Tohr.

    I've been living for it for two books now. I hear tell he comes back...other, but I don't care, I'm just relieved he's back. And Tohr and Tohr alone is the reason I'll keep reading these books. Well, at least until I read this one, maybe I'll fall in love unexpectedly with one of the other brothers.

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  5. **SPOILERS AHOY**


    MK: Wait till you see how he comes back! It is a doozy!! :D The person responsible will bring some laughs to the series.

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  6. I'm still not sure if I will read this. Ugh. I hate JRW. She is so cruel.

    *sobs over Butch/V disappointment*

    I was never really a Tohr fan, I don't have any special feelings for Zsadist (Rhage and Wrath are my favorites) and I think Z should kick Phury's ass...I've never been all that impressed with JM...I hate Marissa and Jane...and I already know my two favorite characters are mostly offstage in this book.

    *grumbles* I have nothing positive to say about BDB. So why the fuck is it my favorite series??? Damn JRW.

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  7. *MK pats couch*

    Jen, you can sit next to me.

    I'm confounded by my addiction to the series. If this book doesn't deliver, my record will be three books I loved (Dark Lover, Lover Eternal and Lover Awakened) and three that I've hated.

    I can already tell from Chrissy's review that the time travel thing is going to PISS. ME. OFF.

    And yet...will I be haunting multiple bookstores to get the book this weekend? You bet your ass. But if this book doesn't deliver, I absolutely will not be making the jump to hard cover with her next go round. I figure I've pimped the book to enough people that someone will lend it to me in HC if I need it.

    I'm confounded though by the ability of these books to continue to induce me to pay hard earned cash money for them when the last two have royally pissed me off.

    What *IS* that about?!

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  8. Kate: I do not put yours to shame! Silly girl.

    azteclady: Thank you! :)Out of curiosity, where do you fall with grades on the other BDB novels? Anywhere near mine? LOL I think I tend to grade on a curve compared to most reviewers. :s

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  9. Brie: I hope you post your review soon. I want to compare notes! :)

    ****SPOILER****
    I went back and reread those Omega scenes. He definitely poofed back and forth through time. Ward even went so far as to say he went back to do his deed just because he was losing the war against the vampires in the here and now and knew he needed to 'create' his own 'weapon.' All together now.... *SIGH*

    ****END SPOILER****

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  10. ***** SPOILER *****

    MK: There are several scenes with Tohr in them. I cried a few times. I see on Ward's message boards that she tells people to buy Kleenex for this book... you'll need them for Tohr more than anyone else. So sad.

    And if you fall for another character when you read LEn, remember Qhuinn is MINE. He's in my hut. :p ... although I'd be willing to share him once or twice a month for Roarke. Whadya say? LOL ha ha.

    **** END SPOILER ****

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  11. And I have Revh who is no longer a limp biscuit.

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  12. Kate: I love those scenes with you know who. OMG so funny... and interesting...

    JenB: I know what you mean. I think a lot of people are in the same BDB boat with you. Rhage is barely in this book. Wrath is there... doing a fine job as King. But his scenes are not show stopping ones.

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  13. *covering eyes to avoid the effin' spoilers*

    Christine, I fall pretty close to your grading, actually--except that my grades for Butch's and V's books change a bit depending on my mood.

    At times I can't help but say, "Cop out! cheating! world building inconsistency!" and drop the grades lower than yours. At other times, the crack kicks in, and I get sucked back into the characters and the grades go up to yours.

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  14. Okay I guess it was time travel, I was hoping that wasn't what went down, oh well.

    And I posted my review last weekend. Oh, yeah, I've called dibs on Qhuinn, so you have a fight on your hands.

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  15. LOL Brie! Sorry! I was just at your blog, too. For some reason I landed on your "my review is coming" post... I'll go check it out now! :D

    And hands off Qhuinn! I claimed in the the DIK Hero draft weeks ago!

    azteclady: LMAO! No pun intended with 'Cop out?' ha ha.

    I think I waver just like you do with Lover Unbound. I'm just so emotionally vested in these characters at this point, that I just can't break away from the series. And now I'm even more attached to JM, Blay and Qhuinn than I ever was, so I won't be going too far from these guys.

    I guess Ward is doing something right, huh? But like MK said, what is it that she does? Maybe there's subliminal messages in these books. Now there's a thought.

    Bottom line is that Ward's talent lies in writing men and their inter-relationships. And not just sexual, but... well... brotherhood, you know?

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  16. OMG!! I read the spoilers...at least one of them.
    Anyway, thanks for the review. I am sure I will like this because you and I see eye to eye on the BDB action. Yay! More crack!

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  17. Do you have any idea how hard it is to follow comments when you have to avoid spoilers? Um, really hard. I will continue to buy crack and enjoy it. Now that I've given myself over to the fact that the romances will be less prominent I will enjoy them with no problem. I completely agree with every grade on these books - well, except for LEn since I haven't read it.

    Great review btw. They always are! :)

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  18. Dang it! I went to BooksAMillion tonight, they are my usually reliable early shelving bookstore. But Noooooo, the girl was all, "Yeah, we have it in the back, but it's got a strict street date on June 3rd."

    That high school student clearly has too much power.

    That's just mean, don't you think?!

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  19. I came over from Kristie and Katiebabs - great review! And I'm glad for some of the spoilers - now I can gird my loins so to speak ;)

    Also, I'm glad you put the grading up for the rest of the books. I loved the first three and just about died with Butch's and V's book - what a train wreck. Knowing you also had some problems and graded this book better convinces me that once again I need a hit off the ol' pipe. Bad Cindy.

    PS Z's book was my favourite but then I loved him from the start. I also fell for Butch in the first book which is why I couldn't handle everything that happened to him. I wanted him to remain human and he didn't. And I still think he and V have something ;)

    CindyS

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  20. Great review! I have been waiting with baited breath to see what happens to the poor Chosen Lola or lolita or whatever her name was - you know the one who was so traumatized when John Matthew didn't have sex with her? Does she get a HEA? I hope LE has some happiness for her.
    And I admit to hoping that Cormia gets knocked up. I know, I know - this baby obsession I have is weird. But I don't understand how they are going to repopulate the dying Vampire species if Bella is the only one having a baby. It isn't as if Jane or Mary are going to be any help, and JRW said Wrath isn't planning on knocking Beth up for a hundred years. Anyways.....
    I can't wait to read it.

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  21. JenB - I guess your taste in men isn't terrible after all. Wrath and Rhage are my favorites too.

    But still....JAMIE IS BETTER!!!

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  22. Damn, you're getting my hopes up here. I'm definitely going to read it, no question, but I have to maintain a level of low expectations in order not to totally hate myself for giving in. Yeah, the time travel thing, not liking it. I'm finding little plot devices like this to be an easy out for our dear author instead of some grand, clever revelation. But I'm hopin...

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  23. Great review, although I had to skim some; trying to avoid too much spoilage prior to reading it. But what I did read was in-depth and helpful. Good job!

    The part you talk about in the prologue...well it sounds to me like it will only reinforce the swiss-cheese worldbuilding many think is a problem with this series. It seems to more books we get, the more convoluted aspects there are. I'm not as gungho about the world building with this series as I am with the characters.

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  24. Wow, what a great review! I'm one whose put off reading Unbound, but now I'm thinking I'm gonna have to soon so I can get to this one!

    Thanks!

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  25. Ciara--Prove it.

    And I should probably clarify my statement about my two favorite characters that supposedly don't show up in this book...***POSSIBLE SPOILER***

    I was talking about Butch/V (sorry, I know y'all don't read minds...LOL). Wrath and Rhage are my two favorite heroes as far as the romance goes, but the Butch/V storyline is what kept me reading the series. Damn you, JRW.

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  26. excellent review... although I am bummed that JR seems to be writing less of the love story aspect, but hey I still can't wait to read it:)

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  27. CJ: I'm looking forward to your awesome insights on LEn as you're reading it. :)

    Tracy: Sorry about the spoilers. I tried to make sure they were marked. Don't be too mad, what you saw takes place in the first 20 pages and there's 500+ pages of crack to follow.

    MK: I hope you find LEn over the weekend.

    CindyS: I heart Z, too!! I wasn't too keen on Butch becoming vampire either. I loved him as a human.

    Ciara: You're looking for a lot of deets there, my friend! lol You can keep reading!!! ... or email me. :p

    Stacy: That's exactly what I did. I used to be really active on Ward's message boards and I think I was inadvertently mislead about V's character complexity AND my expectations were raised way too high by the daily hype there. So I rarely went on there since LU, and was able to read LEn with a clear head, so to speak. I think LEn is definitely written better than LU, but I also think my expectations were fairly neutral.

    kmont: I tried to write my review with as little spoilers as possible. It was difficult considering how much 'juice' there was to this novel.

    Zeek: Thanks! I'm so glad you liked my review! :) You should definitely read and review LU. I'd love to hear what you have to say about it!

    JenB: Oh man, poor Jen. Email me. Maybe I could satisfy your itch a bit.

    Candice: Thank you! I'm so glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy LEn as much as I did!

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  28. Wow great review!!!

    I wasn’t really looking forward to this book in fear of disappointment but now I think I’m staring to perk back up :o)

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  30. Hi Christine...again gr8 review! Just wanted 2 comment on 1 of ur replies re The Omega...I think the bk clearly tells us from the b'ing pgs that the storyline will b all about 'balance of life'. It can't all b good & no evil, it can't b all white & no black...there must BALANCE. Just my thought. Ada:)

    May 31

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  31. Hi LeeAnn! I think you should definitely give LEn a try. It was much better than I expected, give the direction the series has been going since LR.

    Hi Ada! Thanks for coming by to read my review! :) I understand the balance that needs to be between the Scribe Virgin and the Omega... the good and the evil. That's not the problem I have.

    ****SPOILER*****

    The SV created her race (the vampires) and the Omega created his race (the lessers). The SV created her own offspring (V & Payne), so the Omega created his own offspring. I have no problem with that balance at all... it makes perfect sense. The problem I have is with the Omega's ability to travel time, not to create his own offspring. If there's truly balance, then the SV should be able to travel through time, too (and maybe would have been able to save Jane?) The fact that neither the SV or the Omega have traveled time in the first five books just doesn't make sense. The Omega's time travel is just another author short-cut in her world rules to allow the story to go the direction she wants. Maybe Ward will have the SV go through time in a future novel, but honestly.... I don't give a lot of credit to the world when new rules pop up so late in the series when the SV and the Omega would have used these abilities from the very beginning if they had them. I take it this new time travel ability didn't bother you?

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  32. Hi Christine...thanx 4 ur reply!

    ***Spoiler***

    I have 2 admit that the whole ‘travel back in time’ thing did kind of surprised me but then again u no JRW luves 2 shock the heck out of us w/ all the twist & turns 2 her BDB series.
    Re if these 2 characters, the SV & the O have the ability 2 travel back in time (1 of which we no of) is coming up now so l8t in the series is another thing that JRW likes 2 throw @ us which somehow bcomes important 2 her storytelling.
    Who no’s if the SV has this ability @ all? Mayb that is y she could have not have gone back in time 2 save Dr. J. Mayb the SV has another hidden ability that we will find out eventually. OR if the SV did have this ‘time travel’ ability, mayb she new if she would have saved Dr. J it would not only have changed Dr. J’s life but everything around it would have change as well...ie: when the O travels back in time 2 the farmhouse 2 do his deed when he travels back 2 present time 2 that same particular farmhouse 2 incident ppl die.

    Just my thought. Ada:)

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  33. I just finished LE and...weeeeellll...I think the whole damn book was just as good as the last one and the one before that!! The romance may not have been the main focus in this one, but it's actually a nice change to get so much detail of the characters and their relationships she has taken so much time to create and perfect. Her characters are phenomenal. I have not one complaint. :)

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  34. I was actually really apprehensive for this book, not really liking the whole Chosen/Primale angle. I'm actually glad I let myself get spoiled. b/c it sounds like the romance is weak, but there's lots of other interesting stuff. I can adjust my expectations accordingly.

    Great review!

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  35. As always I am a day late and a dollar short, but I just adore your review. From the first page this new novel had me hooked. I could not put it down. The action and drama was so breath taking....Damn that WARDen knows how to get to me. I am much happier with this book that with LU and you and I had the same feelings about that. LOL! I am glad to have shared this prized treasure with you. Keep up the amazing reviews. I tell all my friends about them.

    Ohh....before I forget...you soo need to read the new Gena Showlater series...Lords of the Underworld. They are like the BDB but with Greek Mythological characters....Friggin' Hot!! I am already on the third book. Go check them out.

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  36. Thanks, Maribel! I hope you enjoyed Lover Enshrined. :)

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  37. I can look for the reference to a site with a large quantity of articles on a theme interesting you.

    ReplyDelete

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