Black Dagger Brotherhood 1 – Dark Lover – Better Late Than Never!

Soooo, I finally decided to dive into the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series.  With so many people faving it I couldn’t go wrong, could I?  The first book kicks off primarily focusing on Wrath, vampire “King” of the Brotherhood.  With their race dwindling, it’s up to him to lead a small “special ops” group of leather-clad and dagger-wielding vamps in their war against a formidable brood of vampire hunters.  He’s blood thirsty, ruthless, and…blind? That’s certainly a twist.  Add to the mix the little complication of a fallen brother who leaves him with one dying wish–for Wrath to help said brother’s secret daughter as she transitions into her own vampirism.  Never fear, there’s no incest involved. These guys are “Brothers” in the symbolic sense.

Personally, for me the book started off pretty strong, but as it progressed I found myself enjoying it a lot less.  One area that sort of irked me involved the villains.   This group of vampire hunters has a special calling card; they smell like baby powder.  Yes, I am totally serious.  Sometimes I can go with the flow, but that really made it difficult for me to be intimidated a lot of the time.  They also have no sex drive, though that is perfectly fine with me as the Brothers have plenty to go around, maybe too much.

I liked the characters at times, but I don’t quite love them…yet.  They have a lot of promise, so I have to say that I was disappointed to notice a number of pointless, drawn out, and completely out-of-character scenes (the wedding scene comes to mind).  There were many stretches of purely overdone sap, and that’s really not my thing.  I believe there can be a good balance of action, badassery, and gradual relationship-building.  It suffers from the typical paranormal romance dynamic: feelings literally change overnight.  I can handle it to an extent depending on the story, but that typically doesn’t jive well with me and it didn’t here.  I need a little more complexity.  While I try to keep from mentioning other series outright, I can’t help but say “Damn you Jericho Barrons for setting the bar so high!”  I don’t really like major development and character evolution over the span of a few pages.  I appreciate it happening, but I’d just like it to be a little more interesting, realistic, and creative.

While Dark Lover has its quirks, there are some good things here.  The title of the book certainly doesn’t disappoint as it does deliver what it promises.  But aside from that, I can say that it was truly a breath of fresh air to read this series in third-person as well as shift to different scenes with different characters.  I’m so used to the first-person past tense with Urban Fantasy books, so this was a nice departure.  I also appreciated that J.R. Ward took the time to develop her own kind of vampire, and they make sense.  Vampires feed from other vampires. Human blood is too weak to sustain them.  That makes it more possible to keep their society secret.   These vampires aren’t completely invincible either.  They have their own battle scars and inner demons, while still managing to be sexy.  I do look forward to seeing how their stories are fleshed out in later books.

All in all, if I were to base my recommendation on just this book I would be on the fence.  I was really feeling it up until the 60% mark, and then it became a chore.  However, I have heard great things about future books and I know all too well how many series suffer from “first book syndrome,” so I think the next few sequels are worth a try after I read a few other books in that ever-growing “to-be-read” pile.