Friday, June 24, 2016

The Beast by JR Ward

The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14)The Beast by J.R. Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so late reading this for me. I usually read these when they first come out. I couldn't afford the hardcover, so I was glad that it was at the library and available. I still plan to pick up my copy when I can afford it, but at least I had the trusty loner copy to read. God bless you, Round Rock Public Library!

This book was fantastic. I am an unashamed Black Dagger Brotherhood fan, I would never dissemble about that. I truly enjoy each book in the series. The last book didn't make five stars for me, but this one does. I felt like this book was almost like a status update for the Brotherhood, as odd as that sounds. And when I say that, I don't mean that the book was phoned in. I just mean that Ward doesn't go overboard with trying to introduce major plotlines, but instead explores threads that have been ongoing in the series. She does introduce a few intriguing new characters, but it's not done invasively where you get annoyed because she isn't following up with the ones you are so assiduously following.

I recently reread Lover Eternal, and that was a good move. I first read Lover Eternal many years ago, probably like eight, and it was so nice to revisit the early books and go back to the basics of the storyline. Unlike some of the BDB fans, I do really love the later books (including the much maligned Lover Enshrined. But one of the things I really appreciated about rereading Lover Eternal was the more pared down storyline before so many characters got introduced and the world became so complex. In the process, I realized what a sweet guy Rhage really is. He's drop dead gorgeous, and he's been with a whole lot of women. My guards go up with that kind of hero because life seems so easy for them. But that's the really interesting thing about Rhage. His life is so not easy. Some parts of his life frankly suck. So when he and Mary got their happy ending, that was very satisfying. I worried that Ward would go for the drama and do something to make trouble for this couple, but thankfully she doesn't do that at all. instead, their relationship is cemented in the most vital of ways. They deal with the issue that neither has wanted to focus on, knowing they got their very own miracle in being together. That is dealt with beautifully. One might argue that things come together a bit too conveniently, but I don't think so. I loved it. The Beast plays a major role is a very satisfying way. I think of him like a very big, rowdy pet. Is that wrong of me? Anyway, I think Mary/Rhage fans will be very satisfied with this book. They are one of the most unqualified romantic couples in this series, and I say that sincerely, since everyone knows my favorite couple is Xhex and JM.

When I look at other aspects of this book, I felt they were also well done, although Xcor and the BoB storyline is rather sidelined. Assail has a very forward plotline in this book, and I wasn't sure where it was going. I'm still not sure, but it promises to be interesting. While Assail is quite the anti-hero, I can't help liking him. But then, I do like my antiheroes. :)

Layla's storyline is very focused on two aspects of her current situation. I still hope that she will somehow gain the opportunity to be more developed in other ways. While her complex relationship with Qhuinn and Blay did grow on me, we don't really get to see her interact with Xcor, which I was disappointed about. Now that a major source of angst for her is resolved, I hope to see something else with her narrative. I like Layla a lot.

Vishous seemed to have a very prominent role in this book. I'm convinced that Ward is very partial to him. I was talking to my sister about Vishous and I really nailed his character in a way that surprised me. I feel that his relationship with Jane is disappointing to many readers, but while they blame Jane for not being the right person, I think the reality is, Vishous is just not an easy guy to be in a relationship or be mated to. I don't think that he would do any better with Butch, although I know there are some hardcore Vutch fans out there. Don't get me wrong, I love him, his big hairy warts and all. But he's not an easy guy to be around. I liked the developing friendship shall we say, with Assail. That was different and kind of unexpected. His relationship (or not) with the Scribe Virgin was explored and I am ambivalent about that. I wonder where Ward is going with it.

I have to say that I can't get enough of these characters. I always feel like I want more of of them than what Ward gives me in each book. In my secret heart of hearts, I hope that HBO does a show for the Black Dagger Brotherhood, just so I can look forward to weekly episodes with the Brotherhood and Co. instead of having to wait a year to read more about them. I trust HBO to do a good job after how wonderful they have done with the Game of Thrones series. Maybe one day....

This is probably one of my shortest BDB reviews in a long time. I think it's a combination of my reviewing just becoming more concise because of life and also because this book is really back to basics. Even though it was as long as her other books, I feel that Ward trimmed a lot of the fat and she keeps her focus on the main storylines that need exploration. She does drop some breadcrumbs to intrigue the fans to keep reading, but it's not as audacious as typical. I am intrigued with the new female character and what role she will play in the series. And I am still wondering where the heck is Murdher? I'm having a Murdher deficiency here.

This was a great book. It helped me through a difficult situation I had to face this week and kept my mind off some of the ramifications of that. That's the power of great fiction. Thanks for that!

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