Lover Unbound

J.R. Ward
2007, Vampire Romance
Signet, $7.99, 528 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451222350
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Hot

To begin, if you havenít read any of J.R. Wardís Black Dagger Brotherhood series and you plan to start, please donít read any further because this review does contain series spoilers.

Still here? Letís get to the big question: Does J.R. Ward deliver on the Vishous book? From my perspective, she sort of does. Pretty much. I wasnít, however, as blown away as I really, really wanted to be. And, taking into consideration that V is my favorite of the Brothers, itís fair to color me a teeny bit disappointed.

If you read the excerpt at the conclusion of Lover Revealed, you know that Vís mate is Jane Whitcomb, a brilliant trauma physician. Jane meets V when he lands in her emergency room close to death. Soon enough Jane realizes that V is...well, not human since he possesses amazing recuperative abilities, not to even mention a six-chambered heart. But the plans by the Brothers to wipe her memory clean after they take the healing V out of the hospital are scuttled when V insists they kidnap Jane and take her with them. Thereís just no ignoring those Bonded Male stirrings.

To be totally honest, there is a plot development on page 37 and another one that follows upon the first that I really donít want to reveal here Ė hey, I wouldnít have wanted to know Ė so Iím forced to be sketchier than normal on story details. Suffice it to say that Jane is taken to the Mansion where she tends to V and quickly realizes for herself exactly what he is, while also finding herself unable to deny the powerful attraction she feels towards him.

What works here? J.R. Ward does a terrific job of helping us understand just how and why V turned into a sadist. And, even more importantly, she doesnít magically ďfixĒ him through the power of love Ė something I totally did not want to happen. Things evolve here, but in a believable and emotionally satisfying way. V is, indeed, ďunbound,Ē but not quite in the way you might imagine.

And, huzzah, huzzah! There is absolutely no Lesser POV anywhere in this book. I truly hated those passages Ė they just seemed beyond ugly Ė and I regularly skimmed them, so for me this is a huge bonus. Though I can already hear voices on the Internet howling that J.R. Ward gave into readers here, in my view the author manages to scuttle the repulsive stuff while still doing a good job of keeping the Lessers sufficiently menacing.

What doesnít work? Well, frankly, Iím still fixated on the Butch and V relationship, one that remains far more compelling to me than either of the women with whom they Bond. Jane is one of J.R. Wardís better heroines, but sheís still just not as interesting as V Ė or Butch, quite frankly.

And, though I canít go into details because it would be a major spoiler, Iíd be willing to bet that there is destined to be a Big Internet Hoohah with regards to the ending. For me, Iím okay with it. That Big Problem in human-vampire relationships is always a hurdle and, God knows, I donít have a better idea. But, to be honest, I still think that Butch and V belong together, so maybe Iíd be slightly less okay with the ending if I believed slightly more in Jane and Vís relationship.

One more heads up. Cormia, the heroine of Lover Enshrined, the next book in the series, is a Doormat. Flat out. Professional, as a matter of fact. And not to mince any words, I found the chapters from her POV Ė and, believe me, they are numerous Ė to be nauseating. (Sad to say, I really mean that.) J.R. Ward has a h-u-u-u-g-e redemption job on her hands and, since I donít think she ever sufficiently redeemed Marissa in Lover Revealed, Iím not very optimistic.

So, bottom line? I loved V going into this one and I still love him. He is an amazing, layered character who completely deserves the happiness he earns when he finds true love. Whether he found it here or in the last book, however, remains open to question.

-- Sandy Coleman

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