Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Review: Lover Avenged

Lover Avenged

Author: J.R. Ward
Published by: New American Library, a division of Penguin Group Inc.
Release Date: April 28th, 2009
Source: First Edition Hard Cover owned by Reviewer
Where to buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Audience: Any warm-blooded person over age 18

Caldwell, New York has long been the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It's also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and owner of a notorious night club that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he's approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King and leader of the Brotherhood.

Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood-even though his sister is married to a member, for he harbors a deadly secret that could make him a huge liability in their war against the lessers. As plots within and outside of the Brotherhood threaten to reveal the truth about Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in his darkening world-Ehlena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him-and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

This was the first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series that focused on a male who was not a Brother, and because of that, I was little nervous about how it would play out. But upon reading the dedication from the author to the protagonist before the story even began, I knew that I would fall in love with this book.

And fall in love I did.

From the previous books, we had already known that Rehvenge was a slew of contradictory personas: a heartless assassin that would kill (and has killed) to protect his family and loved ones, a drug lord who wholly relies on medication to function at a fraction of normalcy, the neighborhood pimp who only really ever wanted a woman to love and love him in return, and finally, the vampire whose symphath side repeatedly threatens to harm the little good he has going for him in his life.

As per J.R. Ward’s usual recipe, this book not only focused on the love story between Rehvenge and Ehlena, but touched on the continuing stories of the lessers, including Lash, the somewhat volatile relationship between Xhex and John Matthew, Wrath’s tragic deterioration into complete blindness, Ehlena’s familial and financial struggles, the odd, but cherished friendship among Rehv, the Shadows, and Xhex, and the symphath hierarchy and culture.

Unfortunately, with the previous installment, Ward did not give the main couple their time in the spotlight, and the book suffered for it. This was not the case with Lover Avenged. Seeing at it was the largest book to date, there was plenty of time and pages for Rehvenge and Ehlena to fall in love in what seemed to me to be a natural progression. So different from each other, they found in common the things that would lead them to their ultimate mating. And it was beautifully done. Aside from Mary, Ehlena was a shellan that I feel was the most deserving of the love she acquired. In addition, the breath of relief that came along with her financial windfall was matched by my own. I’d already liked Rehv before his book, but I was surprised at how perfect his Ehlena was for him and I found myself rooting for them from the first moment we saw them together in the examination room.

As for the subplots, they kept me either entertained, emotional, or just downright glued to the book. Reading about the lessers and symphaths, especially the princess (Rehv’s half-sister), kept me nervous about how they could ruin everything.

Wrath’s story absolutely broke my heart right in half. And then John Matthew and Xhex’s shattered those halves into millions of pieces.

And the ending did exactly what the beginning did: it grabbed the reader’s attention and kept us wanting more. But instead of wondering if Rehv would ever kill the vampire king for the glymera, we’re left biting our nails at the fact the the evil blondie, Lash, took Xhex to a place unknown: a perfect cliffhanger for the next installment.

And the fact that both of the protagonists saved each other, instead of the usual man saving the damsel-in-distress, made this book all the better.

Ok. So Rehv be sportin’ a Mohawk, purple eyes, and sexy-as-sin tattoos. What more could a female ask for?

How about a beautifully conflicted soul? A tall, hard body riding around in a sleek, smooth Bentley? A beyond experienced, loaded vampire who loves phone sex? A beyond stunning specimen ready to take care of his female…in EVERY WAY POSSIBLE?!

Excuse me while I pick myself up off the ground.

I’m not gonna front on this…the main reason I read The Warden’s books is for the romance and the S-E-X. Personally, I feel she is one of the best urban fantasy author’s out there in that she is able to take those sex scenes to the next level. Mainly because she makes us care for the protagonists so.

From the examination room to the backseat of the Escalade, we can feel…hell, we can practically smell the sexual tension our two heroes exude. And Rehvenge didn’t even have to use all of his appendages to keep his female, and us readers, receptive and ready for him.

And now I’ll finish my review with my favorite quote from the book (Ehlena and Rehvenge):

“I’m just going to take your blood pressure and your heart rate.”
“My temperature, too.”
Do you want me to open my mouth for you now?”


Keep up the great writing, Warden.

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