Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book could have easily broken my heart. I've been waiting so long to see John Matthew and Xhex find their happy ending. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I adore this couple. If it's even possible, I probably love them twenty times more now.
The WARDen is so good at writing stories about human nature, all the weaknesses, the vulnerabilities, the strengths. How, at the end of the day, all of us just want to feel special, to feel loved. And when we don't feel that, how it has the power to destroy us.
John Matthew had the worst start in life possible. He was born in a bathroom stall in a bus station. He was born without the ability to talk. He was horribly assaulted at a young age. He had no one to love him. And just when life started turning around, he lost two people he loved very much. And then he met Xhex. From the beginning, she was the one for him. No one can explain what causes us to fall in love with someone. You can call it hormones, fate, destiny, attraction, random coincidence. There is no concrete way to rationalize it. I for one, felt that pull between them. I knew it was going to be big and life-changing for them both. JM fell apart, big time in Lover Avenged. It was very painful to read, and his actions made me so angry. But, I realized that he had been driven to his breaking point, and he was acting out of complete despair. So, it was really good to see him pull himself together so he could save Xhex. And boy, did he! Oh, could John be a more worthy male? I don't think so. He's so sweet, but so strong. He has a protective instinct, but at the same time, he embraced Xhex's strength, and didn't try to change what made her the woman he loved. He came from nothing, but is full of so much. The WARDen made me fall in love with JM all over again.
I was so glad that the WARDen took a big, huge chance with crafting a heroine like Xhex. There are a lot of Xhex haters out there in the Black Dagger Brotherhood fandom. They have said some really ugly things about her. It bothers me, because Xhex is such a great character in my opinion. She has so much going on inside of her. She is so strong, yet she has the things that define a woman in my opinion. Some people think she's too manly or not feminine enough. If she can be who she is and have a man like JM totally in love with her, I say sign me up for her version of manly. I say that in a half-serious manner. But with all seriousness, if Xhex had not been the strong woman, the fierce warrior that she is, she would not have survived what she's been through in her life. She lived in a dark, bleak world, with little to support her. She had to be a strong person, to build a fortress around her inner self, or she would have been decimated. And had she been any less fortified, Lash would have destroyed her. It's pretty clear that I adore Xhex. I think she's sexy, beautiful, loving, intense, intelligent, empathetic, formidable, intriguing, the list goes on. She is now my favorite heroine ever. I felt she was the perfect complement to John. It gratified me that Tohr could see it, from the beginning. I didn't need the backstory of Xhex to love her, but I love her even more now. I didn't need to see her as vulnerable and broken as she was in this book to respect and love her. But, seeing her that way, well it just made the happy ending that much better.
I couldn't have written the ending better. It's like JR Ward took my wish list for Xhex and JM's story and wrote this book based on it. Oh, there were some really hard moments, but I kept the faith that things would work out for them, and boy was I rewarded. I finished this book yesterday morning, and I had to go and reread some of my favorite scenes. The interaction between John and Xhex was so powerful, it turned my heart to mush. The steamy moments really made up for the hurtful interactions they had in Lover Avenged. How unfulfilling their intimate moments were in that book. Their love scenes set my book on fire and singed my hands. Boy, this couple has some chemistry. But, even better, their love for each other had the power to heal them both. Verily, this book makes me believe in true love, and that there is someone for everyone.
Even though I'd love this book enough to light up a solar system just based on the JM/Xhex story, the other aspects also made it a wonderful read for me. The Qhuinn/Blay story line has progressed in a very good fashion. I was so happy to get more of Blay's viewpoint. Blay is dear to my heart. I love that male. It tore me up to see how much his love for Qhuinn was hurting him. Qhuinn had his heart, but he didn't know what to do with it, so he kept throwing it back. And Blay seemed to have no way to get away from his feelings for Blay. So I was glad to see Saxton come into his life. Saxton is one fine male. I liked him from the beginning. He is just what Blay needs. I'm not sure how long they'll be together, but it's good for now. Qhuinn showed some aspects of his character that I needed to see. I have to admit that I did feel for him, and his low self-worth because of being rejected by his family, but I didn't like his lifestyle. I didn't like how he was acting like he was blind to Blay's love for him, and how it hurt Blay for him to sleep with everyone but Blay. I realize that Qhuinn thinks he's not good enough for Blay, but he seemed oblivious to the way he was hurting Blay. I was surprised at how much it hurt to see Qhuinn hurt because Blay had moved on with Saxton. I thought I'd be gratified because he'd know how Blay felt all the time. But, it was so sad for me to read about, because Qhuinn had the opportunity to have Blay, but he was afraid to take the step. And how that must break Qhuinn's heart. I have hopes that things will work out for them, but right now, it's a painful journey. I do think that Qhuinn is going to take a step in a better direction in the forthcoming books. And Blay will get some love and affection like he needs, although his heart will always belong to Qhuinn. I definitely feel for the Qhuinn/Blay fans right now.
I loved the parts in the past showing Darius and Tohr's relationship. It really explained why Tohr took on JM as a son, because Darius had done the same for him. Darius and Tohr are such fine males. You can see how they helped shape and form the foundation for the Brotherhood that we see today. Tohr always came off as an admirable, honorable man that I cared for, but I have grown to love him even more. My heart is broken for his loss. I can completely understand how it nearly destroyed him. I was so glad to see him on the mend, and to see him and John Matthew come to terms. That close bond that was ripped apart by Wellsie's death has evolved into something very wonderful, as JM comes to see exactly how Tohr felt, and Tohr is able to understand why Xhex is so important to JM. And it feels to good to know that Torh approves of Xhex for JM.
There were some really great Doc Jane moments. Her expertise as a doctor, but her understanding of people and how to help them deal with illness was a very important part of this book, as she interacted with Xhex in the aftermath of her captivity with Lash, and also with Xhex's fear of hospitals.
I won't even pretend like this BDB fan girl didn't have some joy-joy moments seeing the other characters. Wow, it was pretty interesting seeing how the backstory with Butch and Xhex, and Vishous' animosity towards Xhex was dealt with. And of course, my smooth criminal, Rehvenge, was in this book enough to encourage me to reread his story again. What a man! I love his relationship with Xhex. And the Shadow brothers, Trez and iAm, have some good moments in this story, as well.
Payne's role expands in this book, and I could see the WARDen setting the stage for her book. Part of me sort of feared that this book would be the penultimate culmination of my love for this series, and it would go downhill, but I have a feeling that WARDen is just getting started. Payne is one heck of an interesting character. And her story is sure to enthrall me, based on how things unfold in this book.
And, can I say that Murhder has this fan reaching for the cold drinks? I can tell he's going to rock my world. I hope to see a lot more of this male!
I cannot do this review without talking about Lash. There are some pretty good words to describe him, but I don't want to be a potty-mouth. He is a perfect contrast to JM in almost every way. He was born with everything and threw it away. His heart is completely rotten, whereas JM couldn't have more goodness in his heart. The fact that he takes and harms the person that JM loves most in the world seemed almost fated, as they come face to face in a conflict that started when they were both soldier trainees. I have to say that he turned out to be a very good villain. I wasn't sure what to think about how the storyline with Lash ended. It needed to go the way it did. But I can't help feeling that there is more to be told on that front. But then, that's one of the things that I love about this series. The way the WARDen plants seeds in my consciousness, and I have questions that make me want to delve deeper into these books. More things for this BDB addict to ponder. Sadly, these characters and this world is frighteningly real to me. Is there a twelve step program for Black Dagger Brotherhood addiction? But then, even if there is a cure, I'm not sure I want it!
This book, oh, this book. I can't say how much I loved this latest installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. You know someone needs help when they start tearing up as they write a review. I am freaking hopeless when it comes to this series and this book. It made my dreams come true, but it also took me to some dark places. It makes me ponder fate, and how the ties between others are so convoluted, yet tightly wound, bringing us together and challenging us in ways we don't ever get to understand. This review will be too long if I keep saying everything I want to say. There is just too much to put into words. But I will say four words to Ms. Ward: Thank you so much!!!! And I'll say it twice: Thank you so much!!!
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