(The subtitle of this post is “Why is this so good, I don’t know why I like this so much, I probably shouldn’t like this so much but oh my god this is amazing.”)
Christ, poppets, I forget all about you and this silly blog. I’m living it up on this FUNemployment vacation – some days I even brush my hair! I can wear pajamas all day! Bras are optional! Can you believe it? GOOD TIMES.
Seriously, though, kiddies. Learn from my mistakes. Stay the fuck away from the humanities. Get yourself a god-damn STEM degree. Or better yet, marry rich.
So. Today, I am not reviewing a single book, but a series of books. (Or bhooks). Hold on to your butts, babies, today we’re talking BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD!!!!!
I will attempt to use my words today but I cannot guarantee coherency, nor can I deny the (very high) chance of descending into post-verbal communication (so, gifs, basically).
Let’s begin with my own introduction to the insanity that is the Black Dagger Brotherhood, for it is a moment I remember well, the way some people can pinpoint their exact location when they found out Jason Momoa would be playing Aquaman (18 February, 2o15, 21:37 EST, my mom’s house, unfamily room, corner spot of shitty couch, wearing Foghorn Leghorn boxers and an avocado facemask BUT I DIGRESS). Here, let me paint you a word picture:
It was July 2011, and young Robyn was three months into her Masters degree, pursuing her super-smart and not in any way doomed journey to becoming one of those righteous guardians of knowledge, those warriors of intellectual freedom, a librarian. Oh, but all was not well. The summer heat of the hellscape known as London, Ontario, was sucking the young girl’s will to live, leeching her of what little motivation she already had, the slacker. As the papers and projects and readings upon readings upon readings piled up, our wise heroine found herself doing as great minds do when faced with tasks that require the greatest intellectual rigor and dedicated hard work: she started reading a metric fuck-tonne of smut. Thanks to the suspiciously high numbers of smutty e-books offered by London Public Library, Robyn of Procrastina was able to procure her smut without even leaving the tiny, single-room apartment she was only able to live in thanks to a canny combination of emotional blackmail and subtly-executed revenge. Her first pick: Dark Lover, by one JR Ward. Who knows what fateful forces led her to choose that particular book as her first attempt to put off writing essays about library-related shit, but it was undeniably a choice written in the smutty stars, setting her on the path to Brotherhood lust…
I’m serious, though. It’s funny how some things become so important to you that you find it odd that at one point in your life, they weren’t this essential part of your existence and identity. Like, who was Robyn before the Lord of the Rings and Pern and Scarlett O’Hara? How was I a full person without Gogol Bordello and We Were Promised Jetpacks, or Eleanor and Park, or Celaena and Chaol (#TeamChaol forever) – or Sharpe and Harper? As much as I love to make fun of them, the Brothers are another thing I love dearly.
I guess I should explain for you poor, unfortunate souls who have not yet partaken of the chrack. The Black Dagger Brotherhood are the elite warriors of a vampire race that secretly exists in our own world. they aren’t undead and they don’t need human blood to survive. Rather, they are a different species – long-lived, but still mortal – that feeds off the blood of their own kind. They are engaged in an ancient war with this evil dude called the Omega but let’s face it, no one really cares about that. We’re all here for the super-sexy Alpha heroes that are at once ridiculously lust-worthy and also kind of silly, who have their own eccentric vocabulary (shit-kickers…), and who are utterly devoted to their chosen lady-love.
Oh, and every possible word from the invented vampire language has an extra h thrown in. I.e, the band of vampiric bros has to ahvenge any loved ones who were harmed, particularly if they were whards, which means, you guessed, their wards. No one knows why, don’t question it.
The thing about these books is that if you haven’t read one, and all you have to go by are the synopses, they are fucking absurd. And then when you do read them, they’re still kind of absurd. But they are also fucking amazing. There’ a reason this series is so well-loved, and it deserves all of that love. Check out the ratings on goodreads here, and know that they deserve every goddamn star they have.
BUT WHY, ROBYN, you ask plaintively. I will tell you why, my scrumptious, salty baked pretzel.
Well, the whole concept of Ward’s vampires is an entirely original take on an old, over-used trope. The only really vampiric things about them are the aversion to sunlight and the super-human strength. I love that they’re mortal, can have kids and eat food and age, albeit slower than humans – oh, and that they can have really hot, non-creepy sex.
And it is definitely some hot sex. Like, volcanic (get your mind out of the gutter, perv). Steeeeeeamy. Face of the sun hot.
On a more serious note, the story-telling is insanely masterful. Ward can suck you in so fast you wouldn’t notice a hoard of ravenous zombies moaning outside your window. And once you’re in, it is, much like the mafia, virtually impossible to get out. You will read these books in as few sittings as you can manage. I may have even pulled all-nighters to finish one or two of the books (*cough* Zsadist *cough*). Seriously, it’s a miracle I managed to finish that degree. Who needs Dewey when you can have Rhage? (Which is a sentence I did not expect to ever write but there you go.) To call them book crack is not merely an amusing turn of phrase – they are addictive. I tore through the whole series like Sherman to the fucking sea. I don’t know how Ward does it, but sweet one-eyed Odin, I hope I one day manage to possess even a fraction of the kind of writing skillz it takes to craft a story that pulls readers in so completely and effectively.
Most importantly, though, are the characters. By which I mean the Brothers, of course, even with their odd names and ridiculous hip-hop slang. Oh, the heroines are (generally) pretty great, too, but yeah, no. We’re here for the guys.
The king, Wrath, and his four – and later more – warriors are the main event. Each one is 6 feet plus of muscular, ass-kicking, adorable, smouldering-hot alpha males. You know there’s gonna be another gif, right?
Yeah, that’s kind of what you could say about most other romance heroes, right? WRONG. Whole other level here, dahlings. But it’s more than that, too. Despite being similar in many ways, each is own distinct character, and that’s pretty hard to do as a writer (trust me, I know, because I suck at it). And Wrath and co are funny. This is especially true of the scenes in which they interact with each other. It’s more like an ensemble cast, really, because they all appear in each book, to varying degrees. It’s like watching a bunch of bros who’ve been friends forever just hang out, rib each other, give each other advice, and save each other’s asses when that pesky plot interrupts all of the chilling. Sometimes they can be kind of dickish to their ladies when they’re still in that adorable refusing-to-admit-they’re-in-love stage, but then when they come around and realize how dickish they’ve been, it is so goddamn satisfying. And they’re by no means perfect. Each hero is broken in his own way… and because this is romance, ONLY LOVE CAN HEAL HIM. God, I love when that happens.
We all have our favourites. I think a LOT of people will say Zsadist, but personally, I’m a Rhage girl all the way… which is pretty fitting, all things considered. Just look at the Rhage tag on Tumblr. I promise you will not be disappointed.
DON’T YOU JUDGE ME, DAMMIT.
Yes, the books have flaws. There are entire subplots I skim because I simply don’t care, the world-building is flimsy, and the spellings and slang can be downright silly. One serious issue that used to irritate me was that the heroines don’t recur throughout the series in the same way that the heroes do, but recently, Ward seems to be attempting to remedy that. In the last few books, the storylines weave past plots and characters into the current story, and the happy result has resulted in a new feeling to the series as a whole. As heroesandheartbreakers.com puts it, it’s less a series of paranormal romance novels as it is a sexy, supernatural family saga.
And frankly, the books are so goddamn amazing that I find it difficult to discuss even the most obvious flaws. So I won’t. JR Ward is a goddmann genius and grass before breakfast to anyone who says differently. A
And if you don’t believe me, read the books. Start with Dark Lover, because it’s the first, and Wrath is the perfect introduction to the madness that is the BDB. Soar through Lover Eternal with a heart borne aloft by the powerful wings of a majestic Golden eagle, whose gilded plumage pales in comparison to the burnished locks of the resplendent Rhage. By the time you finish Lover Awakened and Zsadist has ripped the throbbing heart of your ribs and taught you what feelings are, you’ll be sending me a basket of gratitude muffins.
IN CONCLUSION: the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward. Come for the
but stay for the
and always, the
LOOK, EVEN CATS LIKE IT.