Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***Bigtime Spoiler Warning. I can’t write this review without them. Sorry!
****Super-duper Long Review Disclaimer! I have so much to say!
When I started reading this series back around 2005 or 2006, I was drawn into the dark, seductive, dangerous world of JR Ward’s vampires, and something took root in me. I knew I would come back for more when I finished Dark Lover, and so I did. Again and again. Every year, I look forward to a new book in this series, and rightfully so. I believed the culmination of my love for this series would be Lover Mine, since John Matthew and Xhex are two of my favorite characters. While that book will always have a special place in my heart, I am happy to say that I still believe this series has more to offer me with every book.
I knew I would enjoy Lover Reborn, but I had some anxieties about it because it’s a pivotal entry, and a difficult storyline to read about (and to write about, from Ward’s perspective). So many expectations! I am happy to say I believe that Ward has stayed true to who she is as a writer with this book.
Tohrment always seemed like the most grounded, stable, mature member of the Brotherhood. When this series began, he was a family man, happily mated to Wellesandra. He was the voice of reason in the Brotherhood, and many looked to him for advice, leadership, and moderation. All that disappeared in a single act of violence, one that tore his beloved shellan and their unborn son away from Tohr, leaving a broken wreck of a male behind.
The opinions are varied. Many feel that it was too soon for Tohr to find another mate. Some believe he never should be mated again. Some want Wellsie to come back. As much as I love Wellsie, the realist in me didn’t expect her to be brought back. I feel that this would be way too fairy tale a resolution for this quite dark series. Personally, I would rather someone who had lost their wife/husband to move on and find love again. If I died, I would want my husband to be happy in this life. I believe Wellsie definitely felt the same way. Although I’m not a widow and I haven’t lost my soulmate, I have lost people that I loved, and grief is a part of life. It hurts like nothing else, and the loss makes a void in one’s life that cannot easily (nor should it be) be filled with anything else. Yet, over time, you feel those horrible claws of loss easing their way out of your soul and psyche, and you feel the healing begin. I for one feel that Ms. Ward did a very good job at portraying this with Tohr’s journey in this book.
There is no question whatsoever that Tohr loved Wellsie. But I loved the message that part of loving her was letting her go, and allowing her to go to her eternal resting place, and moving on and living his life. It felt right to me how the storyline showed that Tohr was actually keeping Wellsie from going to the Fade by his horrible, wrenching, unchanging grief. Although this is fiction, I do believe in the message about healing from grief being so integral to the process. And that felt so real to me.
My other concern was how Tohr and No’One’s relationship would develop. I didn’t want the whole book to be about how No’One would never measure up in his eyes, and that she was just a consolation prize, since Wellsie was gone. On the other hand, I didn’t want Wellsie to be forgotten about like being gone meant she didn’t matter anymore. That makes a very hard path to walk for a writer. For me, there was a lot of symmetry in how Tohr and No’One came together. It was naturalistic to the story, and I was satisfied with the outcome. Like most of the courtships in these books, there was a rocky road; but both Tohr and No’One both learn and grow from the experience.
Many readers have speculated on her, and how she could end up being Tohr’s mated shellan. In Lover Mine, I learned enough about her to think that there could be a foundation between her and Tohr.
Although Tohr spent many years with Wellsie, and their love was the cornerstone of his life, he also had a very crucial relationship with No’One in his formative years. As a young vampire, he helped to save No’One when she was kidnapped and abused by a sympath male. He nursed and cared for her through her pregnancy, and he buried her when she killed herself, with his dagger. From a spiritual perspective, an unbreakable bond formed between them that is pivotal to the healing that is necessary for both. So it made sense for them to come together for me. She wasn’t just a random female that dropped out of nowhere.
Regardless, Tohr doesn’t make it easy for No’One to claim his heart. He is truly mean to her a couple of times in this book, and I wanted to slap him upside the head. And she hates herself so much, that she doesn’t feel she has the right to be loved. So No’One has to go through a sea change to claim her happiness in this world, this time around. It was painful to see how she hurt herself emotionally, how she denied her right to happiness, but that too was realistic. How often do we blame ourselves for the mistakes we make and the bad things that happen to us in this life, which aren’t our faults? We feel that we have to claim that misfortune and assume that we deserved it. No’One had an elephant’s weight of guilt sitting on her back, and until she divested herself of it, she could be no freer to love than Tohr was. There was balance in that.
Tohr and No’One
Tohr is a really good guy. Despite all the horrible grief he suffered, he still tried to be courteous and to make sure that No’One had what she needed, as far as he could give it. Other than his two freakouts, which were pretty nasty, I think he treated her well. He didn’t make any false promises. I loved how he gave her a new name that he felt was worthy of her because she refused to go by her name when she was a young member of the Glymera. Autumn is a very fitting name, and I loved it. I liked how it tied into the cover so well. And it also ties into the whole storyline. People think of Autumn as the harbinger to the darkest part of the year. Autumn is a time of transition. It has a beauty all its own. It’s the season when the bright beauty of summer edges into the crisp purity of winter. Autumn is like a time of rest for the earth. To me, that is representative of what Tohr is going through. He is learning to live without Wellsie and to find joy and beauty in what had promised to be a very dark future.
The love scenes between Tohr and No’One/Autumn were very good. It showed that although Tohr’s first shellan had died, his heart didn’t have to die with her, nor his body and his capacity to feel desire for another woman. I liked that they eased into it over several months. I also liked how Autumn was able to see that she could have joy in a physical relationship with male. Being kidnapped and assaulted by the sympath male had made her feel disgust for males. With a gentle, loving male like Tohr, she was able to embrace the physical side of being a female. It felt right to me.
No’One and Xhex
I loved the bonding moments between No'One and Xhex. They were able to meet as adults and to see each other outside of the fact that Xhex was conceived in a horrible way for No’One, and she had given up Xhex. Xhex realized how much her mother valued and felt pride in her, even though she didn’t meet the Glymera’s standards for beauty and success for a woman. These bonding moments made me happy because Xhex didn’t have a lot of people in her life to open up with and feel acceptance from, and she was going through a rough time with JM and how the Brothers tended to have a sexist viewpoint of her abilities in the field. They could meet on equal ground as women in love, and be there for each other. Those parts warmed my heart. I’m glad they found each other again.
Tohr and John Matthew
Since Tohr views JM as his son, and vice versa, this was a crucial part of the novel to see them come together again. JM was able to help Tohr with his grief, and Tohr was able to give JM advice on his relationship with Xhex. Together, they faced the unresolved pain of Wellsie’s loss, and those moments affected me deeply. Their relationship is so important to this series, so I’m glad Ward came through in this manner.
Xhex and John Matthew
I was kind of frustrated with the issues in their relationship. They had been through so much, I wanted them to have smooth sailing. Regardless of my discomfort with their relationship troubles in this book, I have to say it made sense. JM had to learn to deal with his issues with his mate going out in the field and risking her life, and how that affected his bonded male emotions. I like that he did get past those issues and respect the fact that the female he’d fallen in love with wasn’t the stay at home type. She was a warrior in her own right (actually for many years before JM). That was why he loved her, because she was a tough, strong, independent woman. Who was he force her to turn her back on that? From Xhex’s standpoint, I don’t think she was being unreasonable. She had the right to be herself, even if she was JM’s mate. And it was annoying how the Brothers and even Rehv weren’t taking her seriously because JM wasn’t dealing well with the idea of her being in danger. I felt bad for her, because she really does love JM, and wants to be with him, but doesn’t want to deny who she is, and she’s been through too much to let go of her sense of identity just because she was in love. I could also understand JM’s fears, especially seeing how Tohr losing Wellsie destroyed him. He didn’t want to go through that by losing Xhex, because she is his life. I’m glad that they were able to get past this. Since they are my favorite couple in this series, I loved seeing a lot more of them, even if there were some troubled times in their relationship.
Band of Bastards
I wasn’t sure how things would go with the new storyline of the BoB. I have to say it was very interesting. I don’t view them as villains. I think that things will turn around for them to be allies with the Brotherhood, but it will be hard going. Xcor is a right b*stard, but he has grown on me. I hurt for him. I hope that he does find a female who finds him worthy, and hopefully that will be Layla. We’ll see. I was glad to get to know the other BoB, who now have names! Throe is still my favorite. He reminds me of Phury, in that he is a courtly male. That ain’t a bad thing at all, since I love me some Phury.
Qhuinn and Blay
Honestly, Qhuinn has gotten on my nerves a time or two, but overall he is a worthy male and I do believe that. In this book, I really liked him. He has matured beautifully. I felt bad for him that he had to see Blay with Saxton, but in some way, the eating his heart out has been good for him. I think now he will fight for what he could have with Blay, and I’m looking forward to that.
He cracks me up! I want to see more of him. I liked how he was a huge influence in getting Tohr and Autumn together and in helping them get past their issues. I want to see what this guy will be up to in the future, so I’m glad he’s sticking around.
I have a feeling I will like this character. More please!
Where is Murhder???? I need some Murhder!
Now…..If there was one thing I hated about this book…..
Why did Layla and Qhuinn have to sex because she went into her needing? It just felt all kinds of wrong to me. I am really unhappy about this outcome. If Qhuinn is going to be with Blay and Layla might end up with Xcor, what is the point of them having a child together? I just don’t see the blended family scenario working well in this series. I could be wrong. Maybe the WARDen will work it out. As for now, I am very unhappy about this! Sob! (Danielle admits that she thought about this all night‼)
Unlike some fans (and former fans) of the series, I wasn’t worried that this book would suck. I knew I’d enjoy it because I truly love JR Ward’s writing. I feel that she truly wanted to give Tohr a good story, and the end results show it. I’m sure it was a hard book to write, with many emotional struggles for Ms. Ward in the process of putting it on paper. Even though I don’t always like some twists in the stories, the whole package works for me.
This book touched me in so many ways. It had me laughing outrageously. It had me so sad that I couldn’t even cry. It made me happy. It was smoking hot as far as the plentiful love scenes, but it was also romantic. I felt she had given me resolution on some issues that were hanging out there in the air for me. I loved seeing some of my favorite characters who don’t get enough page time, like,….Phury. Too bad I didn’t get to see much of Cormia or Mary. I ain’t gonna lie, I would love more Rehv, but at least he was around in this book. It was great seeing Marissa again. I always feel great when I get to revisit my favorites, but part of me wants more! Heck, I think Ward tries. If she had pages of each of the characters, these books would be 1000 pages long, so I am not hating on her about it. I loved seeing all the Brothers stand up in support of Tohr in his difficult time. That was so necessary to this book. It warmed my heart big time.
So, for this reader, the magic is still there. I am afraid of the book slump I see coming since I have finished this latest BDB book, and the countdown begins for the next book. Next year. I can make it! I know I can!
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