“Love can conquer everything but reality. Which will win every stinking time.”

J. R. Ward, Lover Unleashed, p. 281

I have been a fan of this series since book one and I can’t seem to get enough of them. In this particular book, the main focus is on Payne, twin sister of Vishous, and Dr. Manuel “Manny” Manello, Jane’s boss from when she worked at the human hospital. Even though many of the others are not included in this story as much as the previous ones, there is quite a bit that includes Vishous, Jane, and Butch so it makes for a nice break inbetween bits and pieces of Manny and Payne’s story.

I was excited about this book as I hated how Manny was left behind when Jane had been killed as I seem to feel that everyone should be able to find love at some point. And he desperately needed someone to love. I’m a bit disappointed with their story though, as I thought it was going to be so much more than it was. I was kind of expecting it to be in the lines of what Xhex and John Matthew went through with their relationship given how strong, physically and mentally, both characters are, however, at it seemed to circle around was their attraction to one another. And getting it so Payne can walk and fight again that is, which in this case went hand-in-hand with their attraction to each other. There was a lack of tension between the two of them, making the relationship seem all sexual and not much else. Granted, the vampire world does have quite a bit of sex within it, but there could have been so much more between the two of them to make their relationship stronger outside the sexual tension that boiled between them.

I really like how she brings in a new group of fighters, new characters into the mix so it’s not all the same thing with just the brotherhood and the lessers. The Band of Bastards traveled around Europe with the Bloodletter, fighting the enemy much like the Black Dagger Brotherhood does in the states, however, they are much more evil as they go about doing so much more damage than the simple task of killing off their enemy. One night, centuries before, as the Band of Bastards are out hunting the lessers, Payne comes upon them, killing her father, the Bloodletter. After she had watched in the seeing bowls what had been done to her brother, Vishous, she brought it upon herself to end their father. However, Xcor, now the head of the Band of Bastards, as he didn’t know who she was at the time, decided to make it their main priority for the coming centuries to hunt down Payne until he found her again and brought death upon her as she did the Bloodletter.

What I didn’t like, however, was that situation that Payne found herself in when Xcor and the Band of Bastards had come across her in an alley while she was fighting off some lessers. They ended up kidnapping her, which was to be expected, but other than that everything was said and done so quickly. What Payne had told Xcor about him not being the true son of the Bloodletter, Xcor believed all too quickly for the type of character he is supposed to portray. There should have been more pushback from him, well, more than what he gave at first that is. He believed her all too easy when she told him how she’s the daughter of the Scribe Virgin and a Chosen. I mean, she does glow and can melt away pretty much anything she pleases, but come on! There should have been more of a fight between the two of them than there was. I was expecting some hardcore ass-kicking between the two of them and there was nothing close to that between them. And I know that the group of them were loyal to Xcor, but for how Zypher is, as he’s much like how Zsadist was, there should have been more of a fight between Xcor and Zypher. There should have been a point where Zypher had still tried to get to Payne which would then result in tension within the group of them. I think it would have brought more to the story, but that’s just my opinion I suppose.

One of the best things about this series is how others from previous books get to continue on with their lives/stories with each book. They don’t take over each book, letting it focus on a different couple in each book throughout the series, but I love being able to find out more about the others instead of being left wondering what has happened to them. If that was the case I don’t think I would have enjoyed the series has much as I do.

In this book we get to know more about how Vishous, Jane, and Butch are doing with their relationships. A mention of Marissa is thrown in here or there but not really that much as it mainly focuses on how Vishous and Jane are seeming to grow apart while Butch is there to pull them back together. V’s hatred for Manny began back when Jane had been working with Manny at the hospital and it just gets worse when it comes to the point of saving Payne’s life as Manny is the only one that seems to be able to the surgery she needs. This, along with the hate that V has for his dead father, the Bloodletter, it built up within him and making him ready to explode onto those around him, and not in a good way. It made me mad for Jane, for how V treated her, for how he pushed away from her because of it, but in a way, I also could understand. That’s where Butch comes in to thankfully save the day. Butch is able to break V in the only way possible, he’s able to destroy V’s mindset and help him get over the anger that he has towards his father and help with getting V and Jane back to how they are supposed to be. He does change a bit in character in the end, accepting things way more easily than he has in the previous books which makes me struggle a bit to comply with the change, but I suppose we’ll how things go with him and this change in the coming books in the series.

About Lover Unleashed

A fighter by nature, a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of the Chosen female, Payne is cut from the same warrior cloth as her brother, her twin, Vishous. She is also the daughter of the Scribe Virgin and the ferocious Bloodletter. She has finally been able to free herself from her mother’s strong grasp, but only thanks to a life-threatening spinal injury. And it’s all up to one person to keep her alive.

Dr. Manuel “Manny” Manello has never believed in things that go bump in the night, especially vampires. That is until he gets sucked into their world. He’s drafted by the Brotherhood to save Payne as only he can – but when the human surgeon and the vampire warrior meet, their two worlds collide in the face of their undeniable passion. Manny is more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks him as her own. But as the two find so much more than an erotic connection, a centuries-old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.

A list of J.R. Ward’s books can be found on her site here – Book List – The order of the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) books can be found here – BDB List

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

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