J. R. Ward
Published 2009 527 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Caldwell, NY, has long been the battleground for the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and leader of the Brotherhood.
Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood, even though his sister is married to a member. Because he’s a sympath, his identity is a deadly secret - the revelation of which will result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. As plots within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in a darkening world- Elhena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him - and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.
Lover Avenged is the seventh novel in J.R. Ward’s incredibly popular Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) paranormal romance series. Actually, it’s not incredible that the BDB series has gained major recognition and wide-spread popularity because the writing for this series is consistently of a high quality. If you are not already familiar with the BDB books, don’t be tempted to start here. There is a long-running, increasingly complex story arc that runs throughout the series – so it would be best to read these books in order starting with Dark Lover.
Lover Avenged is the story of Rehvenge (Rehv) and Elhena. Technically Rehv isn’t a member of the BDB but his character is closely entwined with the Brotherhood and the story’s plotline takes him well into their territory.
While the quality of J.R. Ward’s writing is consistently good – a thrilling story that compels the reader to read late into the night is pretty much a given – it is sometimes hard to judge exactly what form the story is going take. The earliest novels in this series placed great emphasis on heart-stopping romance. Later novels have been driven less by the romance of the protagonists and more by the fantasy plot elements of the BDB world itself. Indeed, it is almost as if the characters of these books have taken over from the author and that the protagonist dictates the tone of their own story.
With this in mind, when Lover Avenged arrived on my doormat it was greeted with one-part anticipation and one-part trepidation. After all, Rehvenge – drug-lord, pimp, potential sociopath and impotent – where would his story take me?
Strangely, Rehv actually makes a great romantic hero. As his back story is exposed and his character unmasked readers can empathise with his situation. Rehv is revealed as a blackmail victim, his reasons for submitting to this blackmail and how he handles his sympath side all acts to increase his attraction as a romantic lead.
Elhena’s character is not quite so well fleshed out, her back story is kept brief and her past relationships warrant only a few brief lines of text but there is enough detail to enable readers to identify with her - although I doubt that by the end of the story any readers will feel that they know Elhena as well as they know Rehv.
Lover Avenged manages to balance the complex fantasy plotlines of the BDB world with Elhena and Rehv’s romance well. Their relationship isn’t as overwhelmingly emotional as the romance in previous offerings such as Lover Awakened or Lover Eternal but it holds its own amongst the other plotline elements and romance-orientated fans shouldn’t be disappointed.
Dark fantasy fans will certainly love Lover Avenged. The sympath race is expanded upon and revealed to be horrifically creepy. Rehv’s Shadow bodyguards and Lassiter the fallen angel raise more questions than they answer but the mythology is both original and richly imagined – what more could any fantasy fiction fan ask for?
Lover Avenged also gives a lot of space to Beth and Wrath’s relationship. Something I personally like about this series is the way that characters from previous novels don’t just live in happy-ever-after land but still face continuing challenges in their lives. The story also further sets up John Matthew and Xhex for a future plotline and even Tohr makes something of a come back. If you want to know more you’ll just have to read the book yourself!
Lover Avenged is the first BDB book to be published in hard back. Sometimes it’s hard to justify the extra cost of a hard back book but if it helps, Lover Avenged seems to have a longer word count than previous novels – although this may just be my imagination since the pages were large and the type printed really small…
Lover Avenged is a gripping read. Really, what more do you need to know?
LoveVampires Review Rating: