Gentle reader, have you seen the pigs flying? That’s right, The End is upon us. To celebrate that dogs and cats are living together in mass hysteria, Patty (a.k.a. *Name Redacted*) and I have decided to review a book together. We’ve chosen J.R. Ward’s Dark Lover since it’s a guilty pleasure we both adore.
Patty: And it’s totally not because we’re codependent or have some kind of blood bond or anything like that. Swear.
Katie: First off, let me just say how much I adore books that require a glossary. I take it as a good sign that the author has put in a lot of thought and planning into world building. If done well, just glancing over it can help transport you some place else.
Patty: I hate glossaries. They make me feel like there will be a quiz at the end and I already know I am not going to study. See? We’re already disagreeing.
Katie: Buzz kill. Sheesh. You couldn’t let me have this one thing?
Patty: SORRY. Go on…
Katie: Seriously though, this glossary is kinda fun and punny. The alternate homophonic (is that a word?) spellings make me giggle.
Patty: Yes, well that’s because your vampire name would be Khatie and mine would be Phatty.
Katie: *giggling uncontrollably* EXACTLY.
So, Wrath is the last full-blooded vampire on the face of the planet. He is a huge, angry, tattooed mofo, and the king of the vampires. He’s also blind.
Patty: This vampire society exists (of course) in secret, their main hub is located in Caldwell, NY. They co-exist with humans, interacting as necessary while trying to remain undetected; and by interacting, I mean some have totally had THUNDER SEX™ with human people. The resulting fruit of these unions are known as half-breeds.
Katie: Beth is half human, half vampire, but doesn’t know it. She’s never met her father, Darius, who is Wrath’s best bud. She’s also a reporter.
Darius, knowing Beth is about to come of age as a vampire, asks Wrath to help her through her transition. This involves drinking blood and LOTS of sex. Darius is promptly blown to bits in a car bombing without ever having met Beth.
Patty: (I think it’s because he was the only one with a normal name, but what do I know) Because we need an antagonist, our vampires’ #1 enemy are Lessers: humans who have literally given up their humanity and soul to serve the Omega. The vamps and the Lessening Society basically spend their nights trying to eliminate each other because… Starbuck’s isn’t open late? Actually, I have no idea why. LISTEN: I did not pick this book up because the plot mirrors the underlying political machinations and complex social dynamics we see in everyday life. I read this precisely to escape everyday life.
Katie: Wrath’s closest peeps are his “Brothers”, the warriors of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. They’re the baddest of all vampire badasses. They come in size huge and name drop product placement and make pop culture references like crazy.
Patty: And leather pants. Tell them about the leather pants.
Katie: I can only assume you’re referring to the fact that they seem to wear nothing but leather pants and what they refer to as shit kickers. I think shirts may be optional.
Patty: Do you know how hot leather pants are? I mean temperature-wise. Would not be my first choice in activewear for fighting the soulless, but whatever. Anyway, Wrath and his boys are a close, tightly-knit group and their flavors run the gamut of archetypes.
ROLL CALL~ Rhage, the Handsome One; Zsadist, the Crazy One; Vishous, the Smart One; Phury, the Nice One With A Prosthetic Leg (What? Don’t vampires have the ability to regenerate? I mean, my kid’s lizard can regrow its damn tail)
Katie: don’t forget that the Lessers reek of baby powder.
Patty: Yeah – that was different and random. I almost wanted to search for the symbolism in the baby powder and then I remembered I was reading a book about vampires in leather pants.
Katie: hot vampires in hot pants. Wouldn’t they reek of baby powder, too? I mean, isn’t that how you get into leather pants?
Patty: I miss Friends…
Katie: me, too… wait, this brings an important detail to mind. Jennifer Aniston was in that terrible movie with Vince Vaughn, you know the one where she got the “Telly Savalas”. As vampires come of age, they lose their body hair. THAT IS SO UNFAIR. Can you imagine how fantastic this would be? No waxing or remembering to shave…
Patty: I KNOW! Freaking vamps have all the luck…Oh, and of course they live for hundreds of years and never age and can eat people food and never gain weight and they are stupid-strong and they never catch the flu. They do have to consume blood but they can only really get the recommended vampire nutritional values from vampire blood – they have to drink from another vampire of the opposite sex because the author didn’t realize she was painting herself into a plot corner when she came up with that little bit of Vampire Canon. And now the word Vampire doesn’t seem like a word anymore.
Do we want to talk about the bonding scent or should we let potential readers wonder if that’s something one of those little trees you hang from your rear-view mirror and a little Febreze will cure?
Katie: PHATTY! you know you’re not supposed to show pictures of my bedroom! (Ahem. Moving on.)
Anyhoo, Wrath realizes Beth is about to come into her “needing” (I guess saying she’s going into heat is too uncouth…) and tells himself he’s only going to help her through that brief time and then leave her alone. FOREVER.
Patty: [Cue Wrath riding off into the sunset. Alone. Because he left her. On account of the feelings]
Katie: Yeah, right. Look, we all know how this is going to play out. He’s going to be all alpha male and a little grunty. She’s going to “tame” him. Happily ever after ensues, along with hot sex, amusing supporting characters you grow surprisingly attached to, and explosions. Because of course there have to be explosions.
That actually sells the book short. It’s well written and paced, there is actual character development on all levels, not just the main couple, and the world building is very complex and detailed. Definitely worth your time and money.
Patty: It is campy fun. Remember the first season of True Blood? That I-don’t-know-why-I’m-watching-this-OMGERDERICNORTHMAN feeling? That. JR Ward isn’t lazy and for what it’s worth, Dark Lover is better written than one would think a book in this genre would need to be.
Although, I hate the title. HATE. Probably because I can’t ever say the word lover without melodramatic squinting and sticking my tongue out way farther than it needs to go. LAH-VAH.
JRWard eventually gave up the MadLibs Title Game around book 5 or 6 (this one was followed by Lover Unleashed, Lover Reborn, Lover Revealed… you get the picture).
Also, I dug Beth – she was a perfectly normal heroine. Not a kick-ass, warrior girl nor yet a damsel in distress, she reacted to the irrational the way one would expect a rational person would.
Katie: I think that says it all, really.
Patty: This was so much fun! We totally have to do it again 🙂
Katie: Next year you can write your own. In the meantime, what shall we talk about next? We’ll take suggestions in the comments below.