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Lover Mine by J. R. Ward
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After reading the latest novel in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I'm not sure that J. R. Ward is capable of writing a bad book. Lover Mine was another great installment in the series which broke out of the box in a couple of different ways. It had the first alpha-female heroine who is also a commitment-phobe. This led to something of a role reversal from the earlier books with the hero essentially saving the heroine from herself and her demons, rather than the other way around. Lover Mine also had what appears to be shaping up as the first gay romance in the series between two secondary characters. I have to give the author kudos for doing something different even though both of these stories occasionally frustrated me in some ways. I really liked that John Matthew and Xhex were on the canvas more than the most recent heroes and heroines, albeit not always in each other's company, and the majority of the sub-plots directly connected to them in some way. All in all there was quite a lot to enjoy here.

I've adored John Matthew since the moment he first appeared way back in book #2 of the series, Lover Eternal, and have been hoping for great things for him. With his muteness (the only hero I've ever read who is), he has always been a unique character, but J. R. Ward does a great job with his communication skills even though he can't speak. He is a truly gentle soul with a nice mix of alpha and beta, but I think he leans a bit more beta than any of the other brotherhood heroes besides Phury. Except for one brief lapse of selfishness in the last book which didn't suit him well at all, John is always thinking of others, putting them first, and trying to do the right thing. I love what he did at the beginning of the story to show how completely devoted he was to Xhex even though they had never shared a real relationship and he believed she might dead, as well as his determination to find her, dead or alive, and bring her captor to justice. Once, Xhex is found, John showers her with love and affection in little ways, by being tender and performing small tasks for her with great care, and then later by making the ultimate sacrifice for her. John is her steady rock, always just quietly there for her even when Xhex doesn't seem to want him to be. He does have his limits though, and when Xhex stubbornly pulls away from him, he retreats as well, but not before giving her an ultimatum which I really appreciated at that point. John isn't all sweetness though. When the bonded male in him comes out, we get to see a side of him that is as fierce as a hurricane, and quite different from the docile John of earlier books but still quite appealing. John's utter devotion to Xhex is amazing and to say that he's a fabulous guy would be an understatement. He has definitely taken a place as one of my all-time favorite brotherhood heroes.

Xhex was a character I wanted to love every bit as much as John did, but at times she frustrated me. I've never had an easy time relating to tough, kick-butt heroines, and that may have played into my mixed feelings as well. I admired her strength and determination in the face of Lash's torture and how she always kept her wits about her, doing whatever she needed to do to stay alive. I also love the way she fights out in the field. Her grit and independence worked to her advantage until she was reunited with John, and then I felt that it played against her. She waffles between being vulnerable with John without loosing her innate edginess and stubbornly keeping herself at arms length. I understood her need and desire for vengeance against Lash, but she definitely took it too far in my opinion, at which point, it seemed like she cared more about getting revenge than about John's feelings. I really sympathized with everything she had been through in the past and at Lash's hands and suppose all that she had suffered made her dysfunctional behavior understandable, but I still strongly disliked her acting in such a selfish manner. I realize that every person reacts differently to trauma, but one thing that didn't quite ring true to me was how Xhex had flashbacks and pulled away the first time she and John tried to make love after being reunited, but then mere hours later she was perfectly fine and had no further problems. Considering that she still had phobias associated with her other experience in captivity twenty years ago, it just didn't quite make sense that she would overcome her most recent tortures so easily. Otherwise, everything worked all right for me. I was so glad when Xhex finally came to her senses and realized how much John meant to her. She made up for everything she'd done to John in a very touching and emotional scene which put tears in my eyes. In my opinion, Xhex showed her willingness to change for John and as long as she treats him right from here on out (and I truly think she will), then she's OK in my book, even if she isn't my ideal heroine.

Lover Mine also gave me my first taste of a gay romance, something I've never read before. The dynamic between Qhuinn and Blaylock is quite interesting, that of best friends who deep down would like to be lovers, but stubbornness and tradition are keeping a wall between them. I thought it interesting that since Blay's “coming out” a few books ago, Qhuinn's voracious sexual appetite has led him down a path of experimentation and probable bi-sexuality. I've always liked him as a character, but not so much his man-slut ways. I was glad to see though that Qhuinn actually does have some scruples when it comes to his sex life which means that there is definite hope for him to change. Qhuinn obviously cares very deeply about Blay as more than just friends, but still clings to the glymera ideal of a “normal” mating. I've always liked Blay too, because he is a perfect gentleman in a warrior's body. Even though in some ways it seemed like he was giving up on Qhuinn a little too easily, I felt that he had every right to seek out other relationships when Qhuinn gave him the cold shoulder. I might have even liked Saxton, his new love interest, except that it's pretty obvious he's an unwanted third wheel, and I really don't care for love triangles much. I think Qhuinn and Blay definitely have a future together if Qhuinn would just stop being so stubborn and they could find their way back to communicating like they did when they were just best friends.

This being The Black Dagger Brotherhood, there were several other sub-plots too. I really enjoyed the historical flashbacks to the early brotherhood of the 1600's. Readers get to see some of the ancestors of the current brothers and learn the origins of Darius and Tohr's friendship. Since Darius died in Dark Lover, all that has been told about him was through the eyes of others, so it was nice to see him in some actual scenes. Not surprisingly, John Matthew is the complete embodiment of Darius. It was really neat to see the past and present converge, coming full circle in John and Xhex's destiny. There is another side-plot in the present involving a group of ghost hunters who are trying to host their TV show at a civil war mansion that is purportedly haunted by it's former owner. At first, I wanted to get through those parts as quickly as possible to get back to the rest of the story, until I realized that it had a connection to everything else too. I correctly guessed who the “ghost” was right before it was revealed, and I look forward to seeing how he may affect future plotlines. It was great to see John and Tohr finally rebuilding their relationship, and Tohr getting back in the game even though he is still grieving deeply. We also get to see more of Payne, Layla and No'One (I can't remember if she was introduced before or was new in this story), their interactions amongst themselves on The Other Side, and with other characters in the story. I sympathize with Payne's frustration over being locked away by the Scribe Virgin, and how she finally escaped that life was left as something of a cliffhanger. I can't wait to see her as the heroine of the next book, Lover Unleashed, and learn more about her background. Layla is one of my favorites among the Chosen. She has a definite crush on Qhuinn, so I hope she'll be able to find an HEA sometime in the future. The very first scene with No'One had me intrigued with her and when her true identity was revealed I was quite surprised. She is a character who truly deserves an HEA, and I find myself hoping that maybe it will be with Tohr. As usual, the stuff with Lash, the lessers and the Omega was pretty disturbing. Lash saying he “loved” Xhex turned my stomach, and even though I'm not typically the blood-thirsty sort, I couldn't help but enjoy how everything turned out for him. No one could have been more deserving.

For the most part, Lover Mine had all the things one would usually expect from a novel in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The action scenes played out in my head just like the best movies. There were lots of creepy horror moments. Although this book was pretty dark and it took a while to get to them, there was a little comic relief, mostly from Trez, iAm, Rhage and V. All of the brothers, some of the shellans, and several other characters from past books reemerged. The story has some very romantic moments, but it still wasn't quite as romantic as some of the other books for me. I think this may have been mainly owing to Xhex not being a hearts and flowers kind of girl like I am. The love scenes were steamy but in my opinion, not exactly pages-smokin'-burn-your-fingers hot like some of the earlier books. This probably was because I felt that John and Xhex had a great sexual connection but were somewhat lacking in the emotional connection, communication and relationship departments. In spite of a few frustrations, mainly with Xhex and to a lesser degree, Qhuinn, this was still a fabulous book that has earned a spot on my keeper shelf along with the others in the series. Sometimes the ending of a story can make or break it, and in this case, a spectacular ending really helped to make up for my earlier annoyances. Lover Mine is book #8 in The Black Dagger Brotherhood. For the first time since I started reading the series, I am caught up and eagerly awaiting the release of the next book, but rather sad that I won't get to visit with these characters again until next year (2011). ( )
  mom2lnb | Jan 31, 2016 |
Another amazing book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series. I loved it. There were so many different things going on but it all tied together so nicely and a great Segway into the next book. I really enjoyed this story and I would recommend reading it. ( )
  CrystalW | Dec 15, 2015 |
These books are campy, cheesy, adventurous, and original. I hate that I love reading these.

It reminds me of when I go to the grocery and buy something like fiery hot Cheetos, or bacon flavored SPAM. Or even those cheap pot pies in the frozen section, or a bag of pork rinds. I have to shop produce first because then I can...or ONE can hide them under the healthy food. You don't want people to know that you love those things but you can't stop buying them from time to time, or in this case, reading them.

So I've heard.... ( )
  fueledbycoffee | Jun 21, 2015 |
I still love this book even the second time around! ( )
  TexasBookLover7 | Jun 16, 2015 |
Lover Mine: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Good

-Xhex. I've loved Xhex since LR and have enjoyed the dance of attraction between her and JM. Seeing her finally accept love was beautiful. I was hoping that she would maintain her toughness and for the most part she did. I loved how she rescued her damn self and didn't need the others to come get her. Hell, they couldn't even find her! If Ward had turned the only badass female in the series into another damsel in distress I would've thrown the book out right then.

-JM finally grows a set. Thank the Virgin. I know he's been through a lot but the male's never ending whining was starting to drive me crazy. He manned up and now is truly a man of worth. The scenes where he takes Xhex through his childhood really showed me how much he's grown and how much he trusted Xhex.

-Darius/Tohr flashbacks. I loved how Darius took care of Tohr when he was so young. The love and respect they had for each other. Makes me hurt for modern Tohr. He's lost so much.

-Blay finally got laid. Thanks be to the Scribe. The male is just a year or so out of transition. Stop moping over some guy that may or may not be into you and find yourself a slice of happiness.

-Payne. She's made it to this side and she's pissed the Scribe lied to her about Vishous. I can't wait to see her and V bond and the reactions of the Brotherhood. April is sooo far away. Waiting for her story will be sweet torture! The male set up to be her HEA I don't really care about but maybe Ward will change my mind.

Bad

That paranormal reality show crap. Sweet Virgin in the Fade why did that go on so damn long? It really took up space that could've been used to flesh out other things. I think Mhurder's going to be a great character but this was a shoddy way to introduce him.

I must be the only fan in the BDB fandom that doesn't really care about Qhuay. I love Qhuinn and Blay a lot but they are young males barely out of transition. They just aren't interesting to me. I'd love to get slices of life with them but the whole Qhuay angst makes me want to shove a dagger in my eye.

Where was Beth? JM is her long lost brother and a female he cares about is missing. Where is she to support him? Beth is the whole reason JM exists in the first place and they share one off screen encounter? I call shennanigans!

No'One. So we finally find out she's Xhex's mom. This should've been a very powerful scene. Not something tacked on the end as Xhex is getting ready to be mated. And Xhex just accepting this stranger dropping in from the Otherside? I don't buy it. It was too rushed.

Ugly

Ward needs to stop with the rape and kidnapping. I know it serves up big drama but enough is enough. It's starting to feel like a cheap ploy for emotion and it shouldn't. Obviously if the raped or kidnapped person is the hero or heroine they will survive the ordeal because we need the HEA to happen. So why do it?

Horrible use of the healing power of sex. I really couldn't buy the whole 48 hours after freeing herself from the son of all evil Xhex was ready to get down with her male. Even though it's a romance I still wanted to see a little more time go by before she jumped in the sack with JM. I didn't want the whole book to focus on her getting over it but isn't there something in between?

Where was Rehvenge? I kept turning pages looking for how he and Xhex connected. Twenty five years he whored himself out to the Sympath Princess to keep their secret. How did they even meet? Did I miss something? Seriously, I'm doing a re-read of LAv because it seems like a big honking hole to me. I know everything can't be put in but maybe if less time was spent on the reality tv show there could've been more time for the Xhex/Rehv relationship. They were a big part of each other's lives and he should've been in LM more. ( )
  Akaria | May 13, 2015 |
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DEDICATED TO YOU:

I cannot believe you and I have come so far.
Your book is not a goodbye, however-
just another beginning.
But you're used to that...
First words
He wished he had more time.
Quotations
Sometimes you had to sandblast in order to clean something properly. -- p. 372
Gray and acid yellow and hot pink. Really? You really think that's hot? -- p. 446
He'd read that book, seen the movie, bought the sound track, the DVD, the T-shirt, the mug, the bobble-head, and the insider's guide. -- p. 446
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Newly made vampire John Matthew vows to free his mate, the symphath Xhexania, from Lash, a paranoid coke addict who's transmuting into a nontemporal entity like his vampire-killer father, the Omega. Once freed, Xhexania joins the Brothers in battling the Omega, but refuses to acknowledge her emotional connection to John. Meanwhile, sexually promiscuous Qhuinn, shockingly jealous of his cousin Saxton's new lover, wonders whether he should have seduced Saxton when he had the chance.
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In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - vampire warriors, defenders of their race...John Matthew has been through his vampire transition and taken to the life of the Brotherhood with a vengeance, but he still can't shake the nightmare of his past and is unsure of his future as a warrior hero. He's made a promise to honour the Brotherhood and their fight with the slayers at all costs, until the love of his life is kidnapped and he is forced to make a choice that could change his life and the Brotherhood's forever...… (more)

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