Review: Lover Mine – J.R. Ward

Back Cover:
In the darkest corners of the night in Caldwell, New York, a conflict like no other rages. Long divided as a terrifying battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the city is home to a band of brothers born to defend their race: the warrior vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.

Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.

First a warning: If you haven’t read LOVER AVENGED, this review will contain spoilers so if you don’t like them, reading further is at your own risk.

What to say about Lover Mine? It wasn’t a perfect read but it was most certainly one of the best of the series so far. It was flawed yet awesome. It was definitely a trip back to Ward’s earlier books in this series when it comes to romance and yet she threw in some great new stuff too. Her signature writing style with all its annoying slang and mid-scene breaks didn’t do anything to prevent the enjoyment of combination of a wonderful love story that was not only powerful and strong but also hot as hell and an action-packed plot and subplots that were fast-paced and excellently put together. The subplots, main plot and romance came together in the end in a way that I don’t remember experiencing in the previous books.

LOVER MINE opens with a prologue that takes us way back to the time where Tohr, Wrath, Vishous and Darius were young vampires and these flashbacks form one of the storylines in the book. A storyline I liked because it provided me with more insight into the Darius/JM connection. However I still think that that thread was a bit glossed over in JM’s POV and would have liked to see more about it.

Then after the prologue I got a bit confused because the real start of the book was in a POV of a totally unknown and new character…At first I thought: WTH? But soon it clicked into place as we went to Xhex’s POV. If you’ve read LOVER AVENGED, you know that at the end Xhex was taken by Lash and now we get to find out what happened to her. The only thing I can say about Lash is that he’s a very sick and disturbed character and I was very glad that what he put Xhex through was mostly off-page because I wouldn’t have been able to stomach reading what happened between them.

To me LOVER MINE had a very different vibe from the other, most recent (LU, LEn and LAv), BDB books I read. I can’t exactly pinpoint what it was that was different about it but the focus on the romance between Xhex and JM was definitely part of it and the flashbacks with Darius and Thor too. I absolutely loved the romance between JM and Xhex. For me it was the best in the series so far, romance wise. Also, the way Ward went back to the beginning and worked her way to the present, bringing storylines together was another part of it. It felt more coherent than the other recent books in the series. Furthermore, as much as I despised Lash as a character I must say that he did make the Lesser storyline a lot more interesting than in the other books. I admit that I have skimmed Lesser scenes in all the other books, except for LOVER AVENGED and LOVER MINE and I can’t deny that Lash has something to do with that.

Xhex is the kind of heroine who has no illusions about herself. She knows who, what and how she is. Her honesty and directness stretches towards herself too and that’s one of the things I liked so much about her. She is realistic and strong and yet there’s a kind of vulnerability to her that really resonated deeply in me. There was no trickery or manipulations; just what you see is what you get. She epitomizes a strong and capable female and to me she’s the strongest Ward heroine to-date. I never would have thought this before reading LOVER MINE but Xhex is my favorite heroine of the bunch. I really didn’t expect to like Xhex as much as I did. The stuff she’s suffered and lived through (and not only talking the Lash stuff here) just baffled me and made her strength even more admirable. I also loved that Ward feminized Xhex but kept her strong and powerful. She softened her up without sacrificing her strength.

While writing this review I realize all of a sudden that I made absolutely no notes of JM’s character! Why? I can only speculate that I was consumed by how much I liked Xhex. It seems that for me she was the one who carried the story and the romance. But I do remember liking JM and the way he was determined to rescue Xhex and love her, no matter what. The scene where he is in the room where she was held broke my heart as I felt his despair and pain. However where Ward succeeded in putting Xhex in a very prominent position for me, she wasn’t able to do this with JM. He too was a character that before this book, wasn’t one I was totally into and despite the way he cared for Xhex and despite Ward’s attempts to make him a very hot hero, the click that was there with Xhex’s character, wasn’t quite achieved with JM’s character for me.

Risking the wrath of all the Qhuay fan girls out there I must say that I am not on that bandwagon. The story line just doesn’t awe or touch me the way it does others. Despite it being an emotional and heartbreaking storyline, Qhuinn’s attitude towards Blay and his reasons for not taking a chance with him, just annoys me and Blay’s self-pity in some parts of the storyline was just too much for me. I actually liked seeing Blay with Saxton but sadly I suspect that’s not going to end up in a HEA. However, knowing Ward, she’ll probably be able to make the Qhuay story work for me when the time for their book comes.

The thing that annoyed me most in LOVER MINE were the “What the F” mid-scene breaks, there were several minor ones that only had me raising an eyebrow but there were 3 that really had me crying out: “What the F!” One was in the middle of a fight scene, 2 were in the middle of conversations…Really Ward? One characters asks a rather crucial question and *poof* before we get the answer, switch to a totally different scene. This is unacceptable and I don’t understand why the editor of this book let this pass by in the book…several times even! Maybe I am in the minority here but this really annoyed me and took away from the pace and tension arc.

Don’t get me wrong; I was not annoyed by the multiple storylines. As might be known I really like books with multiple storylines that come together in the end, when done in the right way but I was not happy with some of the points chosen to do those switches/scene breaks. With the exception of the Qhuay story line I really liked all the side stories in LOVER MINE, even the TV crew one, contrary to others. Probably it was because it all the plots worked towards a good ending and didn’t take away from the focus on the strong romance between Xhex and JM.

Despite the flaws or annoyances it cannot be denied that Ward’s writing is addictive as nothing else. Once you start reading you keep reading. Never mind the weird scene breaks, the ghetto-slang, the product placing or names that you only recognize if you were born and raised in the US and therefore familiar with its pop culture. The stories she tells are captivating and thrilling. The way she sets them up is so brilliant you’ll be dying to know what’s next and you’ll forgive her all the annoyance she causes. I really don’t know what it is with Ward’s writing but no matter how much some stuff annoys the crap out of me, it’s impossible to stop reading and liking it.

Once again I notice that I’m not able to write a coherent and logically set up review (as I wishfully think my other reviews are set up) of a BDB book. Every time I read a book in this series and sit down to write the review my thoughts are all over the place and it shows. Sorry for that people but it seems to be the only way for me to review these books…

For all of her life, Xhex’s heart had not been prone to breaking. She’d long suspected that it was a result of her symphath side, a kind of congenital condition that hardened her about things that most females lost it over. Turned out that was wrong, however.
As she stood beside John Matthew, and watched his huge body crumple down by the bed, the organ that beat behind her sternum shattered like a mirror. Nothing but shards. She was utterly and completely ruined as he cradled that pillow like it was a newborn, and in this moment of his utter despair, she would have done anything to ease his pain.

The first taste was . . . a transformation. His blood was so pure it blazed in her mouth and down her throat . . . and the fire it ignited in her stomach tore throughout her body, thawing her, enlivening her. Saving her. With greedy pulls, she took from him to revive herself, each swallow a life raft for her to crawl into, each draw a rope slung over the cliff of her demise, each pull on his vein the compass she needed to find the trail back home.

“I want to get mated to you. Properly mated. Like in front of the king and everyone. I want this to be official.”
Well . . . didn’t that just make his heart stop.
As he sat up and looked at her, she smiled. “Jesus, the expression on your face. What? You didn’t think I’d want to be your shellan?”
Not in a million years.
She recoiled a little in surprise. “And you were okay with that?”
It was hard to explain. But what was between them went further than a mating ceremony or a back carving or a witnessed exchange of commitment. He couldn’t put his finger on the why of it . . . but she was his missing puzzle piece, the twelfth in his dozen, the first and the last pages of his book. And at some level that was all he needed.
All I want is you. However that comes.
She nodded. “Well, I want the whole deal.”
He kissed her again, softly, because he didn’t want to hurt her. Then he pulled back and mouthed, I love you. And I’d love to be your hellren

Rating: 8.5 out of 10


7 thoughts on “Review: Lover Mine – J.R. Ward

  1. Lovely review Pearl, and it reminded me of so much of what I loved about the book. It revived my love for the series that have been continuously waning for awhile now. Glad she's back on track with the series, and I cannot wait for more.

  2. Your incoherent review made perfect sense to me Pearl and loved reading it! :D I was taken by surprise how easy it all read, how connected and involved I was. And I agree, I love Xhex as a BDB heroine. I'm just wondering where Ward is going to take the overall plot arch now…we have to wait, probably a whole year before we find out ;(

  3. I thought the review was great, Pearl! And, for the record, I'm not a fan of Qhuay either and I have doubts about even the wonderful Warden making it work for me but we shall see, I guess. I also like Blay with Saxton but I'm not getting my hopes up. I'm always ravenous for the next book AS SOON as I finish the latest one…and this time is no different! I so love this series…flaws and all!

  4. I agree about the annoying switching from one POV to the next. I never like those and that was no exception here. I didn't liek the ghosthouse scenes but I adore the Qhuay ones. Great review hon.

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