Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
Publication Date: March 7, 2006
Format: Mass market paperback
Status: Second in Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are eight books in the series so far, with book nine coming out in March 2011.
Source: My local used bookstore
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Vampire
Location: Caldwell, New York
Other Info: Ward is also the author of the Fallen Angels series: Covet and Crave.
Book Description (from Goodreads):
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret bound of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed bu a deadly beast Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover-for inside him burns ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by this dark side, Rhage fears the time when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant to Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves…
The Black Dagger Brotherhood books are on almost every list of must-read Paranormal Romance. A long time ago, I read Dark Lover, Wrath and Bella’s book and the first installment in the series. I don’t remember a lot about how I felt about Dark Lover but evidently, my feelings didn’t reach the top of the spectrum because I never got around to book two. I’ve been toying with getting reacquainted with the Black Dagger Brotherhood for some time. What I couldn’t decide was whether to reread Dark Lover. In the end, I ran across a list of books featuring wallflower heroines. Lover Eternal was on this list and I decided to stop angsting and start reading.
Sometimes I’ve read books and thought they were okay only to pick them up again and find that I didn’t properly appreciate them the first time around. This was my experience with Georgette Heyer. I’d hardly started Frederica before I put it back down again. But years later, when I read and fell in love with Devil’s Cub, I gobbled up most of Heyer’s oeuvre, including Frederica. What I’m saying is that I try to keep an open mind about books that underwhelm me. Sometimes those books are better read at a later point in your life. This isn’t true about all books, of course. It mainly happens with books that numerous people love and recommend but that I just couldn’t get into. However. I’m glad that I didn’t reread Dark Lover. Not because I hated Lover Eternal, but because I’m not particularly eager to keep going with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Lover Eternal didn’t appeal to me in any substantial way.
For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, Lover Eternal tells the story of Rhage and Mary Luce. Rhage is a member of the previously mentioned Black Dagger Brotherhood, a group of six warrior vampires that have sworn to protect the vampire race. All the warriors (except the king, Wrath, and Zsadist, whose name is an issue of its own) have names with extra h’s in them: Rhage, Phury, Vishous, Rhevenge, Tohrment, Tehrror. I’m not really sure why, except that I think it’s supposed to indicate how bad-ass they all are. All the brothers have issues, it seems, and Rhage’s is a curse put upon him by the Scribe Virgin. Rhage’s curse comes in the form of a beast that comes out when he’s angry. The only ways that Rhage has found of dealing with the beast are fighting and frequent sex. He’s a different woman every night kind of guy, whether he wants to be or not. Until Mary comes into the picture.
Mary is not so much a wallflower as a woman with low self-esteem. She’s spent a great deal of her life at her mother’s sick bed. Then, when her mother died, Mary was diagnosed with leukemia and was sent to the sickbed herself. When the story begins, Mary receives a call from the doctor that strongly suggests that she’s no longer in remission. Which she’s understandably bummed about. I’ve got to give Ward props for not going with the obvious solution to that particular problem. Mary is believably reluctant to enter into a relationship with Rhage if she’s just going to get sick. She’s been the caretaker for a dying woman and she knows it’s not pretty.
This book was okay, but I had a problem with Rhage’s “curse”. I had read that Rhage had slept with someone else during the course of the book, and I had also read that it didn’t happen after the two got together. This is technically true. Rhage does not sleep with anyone else after he has slept with Mary. But. The two are emotionally committed to each other. Which makes it cheating in my book. I also read that Rhage had to sleep with someone else as a result of his curse. I was a little wary of this argument and now that I’ve read the book, my opinion has not changed. Rhage is afraid of hurting others if he doesn’t keep the beast at bay. Though he knows two ways of doing this, the only thing that really works (in the end) is sex. I wasn’t clear on why it had to be several-different-girls-a-night-sex. I also wasn’t clear why the Scribe Virgin cursed Rhage in that particular way. It didn’t really fit the crime. I felt like it was a convenient excuse for Rhage to be promiscuous without actually wanting to be. It was the Paranormal version of “men have needs”.
The other issue that I had with this novel was that I wanted to giggle over the language of the “brothers”. To me, they sounded like a bunch of white boys playing ganstah. There was lots of “my brothers” and “you feel me?” And what was with the constant use of the word “female”? I hated it. Maybe it just made me think of the term “female dog”? I don’t know. It irritated me. In my head it sounded derogatory rather than, I don’t know, sexy and possessive.
The one thing that did interest me in this novel is the story of the boy whom Mary befriends. Unbeknownst to the boy, John Matthew, he is about to go through his transition (to becoming a vampire). I was interested in seeing where his story went. But I don’t want to read through six more Black Dagger Brotherhood books just to follow it. Maybe I’ll catch it as a stand-alone and maybe I won’t. Sadly, this is not the vampire series for me.