Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward: Review

Lover Unleashed

Synopsis from Goodreads: Few authors give readers such a “powerful rush”* as #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward does in her phenomenal books of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Now she returns to that fiercely intoxicating world in a new novel of a woman’s journey from terrifying enslavement to an erotic rapture that proves equally dangerous…
Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother:  A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.
When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world.  Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.
As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review: WARNING: Do not, I repeat do NOT crack the cover of this book unless you have the time to both begin and finish it! Tuesday morning, March 29, 2011, before I even got out of bed I fired up the Kindle (in the dark) and fumbled around until it was set to page one of this long-awaited novel. I proceeded to rush my 5-year-old through the morning routine and gleefully kicked her and my husband out the door with the warning that I would be reading all day so leave me alone. It took me roughly ten hours to joyfully and excitedly plow through this latest installment of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Lover Unleashed may very well be the best book of the series to date!

At the end of Lover Mine (John Matthew & Xhex’s story) devoted readers knew without doubt that the next installment of the series was going to be Payne and Manny’s story. What we didn’t know was how Ward was going to make it work. After all, she’s already done the immortal falls for a human bit in previous Black Dagger novels. Lover Unleashed had the potential to be a repeat plot with different characters. And this is why J.R. Ward is a best-selling author and I am not. In no way, shape, or form did Ward repeat herself with this plot line!  In Lover Unleashed Ward finds, as she always does, a new and inventive way to make the impossible possible. Payne and Manny’s story is original in so many ways that it can almost survive as a stand-alone novel rather than being a part of a long-running series. For the first time Ward re-focuses our attention on characters she had previously dealt with as she is telling us a brand new story. What I found most impressive about this novel is Ward’s character development. Payne and Manny are both very simple yet very complicated characters that bind the reader to them from the very beginning. Sorry reader but you are hooked right out of the starting gate with these two, and there is no stopping once you start reading.

As is typical of Ward, these two fated mates face incomprehensible and dare I say impossible challenges such as: 1) Manny being brought into a world he can’t possibly fathom; 2) Manny having to deal with the sort-of-not-really-dead nature of Jane; 3) Vishous wigging out over his past, present and future and 4) for the first time ever, the possibility of a mated pair (V and Doc Jane) separating. I won’t lie, I panicked a little at number four. While spending so much time on Vishous and Jane may seem like Ward is repeating herself, I assure you, she is not. Payne and Manny’s story is intricately linked with the evolution of Vishous and Jane’s story. Ward brilliantly and masterfully weaves the paths of these couples’ lives into a fast-paced and exciting read that will be ridiculously hard for you to put down.

Another first in this novel is the very limited appearances by older and beloved characters such as Rhage, John Matthew, Rehvenge and their respective mates. I was very surprised to discover the limited appearances didn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought they would; Payne and Manny’s story is simply too engrossing to really notice the loss of the other characters. Yet another first, the role the Lessening

Society plays has been reduced to a secondary role at best. Oh sure, there was some whacking of lessers by the Brotherhood but the Society’s evil, take-over-the-world schemes weren’t at the forefront as they generally are. To be frank, this was a rather unexpected and refreshing change in the series. But, there is also a diabolic point to this last change: Ward is using Lover Unleashed as the platform for the introduction of a new big bad: Xcor and his merry band of bastards, a group who may possibly be more dangerous than the Omega ever dreamed of being. While Xcor and his soldiers certainly cause problems in this novel, Ward really just introduces them to us and gives us just enough information about them to know that they are going to unleash Hell itself on Caldwell in the future!   Just as Lover Unleashed is a perilous and thrilling ride, the future of the Black Dagger Brotherhood promises even more!

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