Dark Lover by J. R. Ward | Audio Review

February 12, 2014 Reviews 11

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Dark Lover by J. R. Ward | Audio ReviewDark Lover by J.R. Ward
Narrator: Jim Frangione
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
Published by Recorded Books on January 22, 2009
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
Length: 13 hours 35 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Borrowed

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.   The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.

My Initial Reaction…

You ever leave a book and think, “man, I wish I’d gotten a bit less of the main characters and a bit more the supporting characters”? That was my feeling at the end of Dark Lover. I loved the world building and mythology, I loved pretty much ALL the supporting cast. I just never fell for the leading male – Wrath – or the TSTL heroine – Beth.

The Narration…

Jim Frangione is both great and horrible. LOL let me explain. For the male characters he was pretty much spot on. There was great variance between the different male voices, great emotional expression, and appropriate pacing. But then we get the women. Jim is a narrator that, in my opinion, should be paired with a female narrator. Because he cannot do female voices. I think, his one saving grace, is that he seems to be aware of this and doesn’t really even try. Their voices are different – a little softer, sometimes a bit squeaky (because apparently that’s feminine?) – but for the most part, they just sound like quieter men. I’m torn on whether I will continue listening – I don’t think it hurt the book for me in the long run, though I do wonder if it made it that much harder for me to connect to Beth.

The Characters…

Let me start with the two central characters – who you already know I don’t love. Wrath is the leader of the brotherhood – and basically king of the vampires, though in title only – and for the word go, you get the sense that he is all tough and rough – without a gentle bone in his body. It’s quite clear though that we’re supposed to connect with him because he has this softer, more vulnerable side. For some reason, that never happened fully for me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate or even dislike Wrath by the end of the book (I did hate him early on, to be fair), I just didn’t love him. His softer side didn’t really work for me because it either felt like he was just feeling sorry for himself (there’s this scene where he “opens up” to Beth and I rolled my eyes at least 100x!) or it hasn’t something to do with his ridiculous insta-love / testosterone driven “ownership” (for lack of a better word) of Beth. Both annoyed me and didn’t make me completely fall for his softer side. And his rough side – well let’s say he really could be an ass. But frankly, his regret at being an ass towards Fitz or Tor spoke to me more than his softness toward Beth. It felt so much more sincere. Like this is a guy who doesn’t want to be an ass, he’s just awkward as all hell.

And then there’s Beth. I liked Beth, probably more than Wrath. She’s an independent woman and she’s had a hard life as an orphan that has left some scars. There are some really truly great moments when she’s with… well just about everyone BUT Wrath… that I enjoyed seeing. Beth, though, suffers from what has been called TSTL Syndrome, or Too Stupid To Live Syndrome. Beth just made one stupid decision after another. What made it worse, was that generally speaking, her stupid actions worked out most the time. So I rolled my eyes right out of my head when it came to Beth. Oh and what’s with every male just loving her? I’m telling you, she had men falling all over the place for her and it just got way old.

On the other hand, I pretty much ADORED the supporting characters. The Brothers all clearly have interesting stories and histories and I want to get to know them better. Especially Tor and Zadist – there the ones I want to know the most. I also had a soft spot for Butch, a police detective that is friends with Beth (and would perhaps like a bit more – which I routed for!). He has a story that we get bits and pieces of and I would really like to know better. And then there’s Marissa, Wrath’s blood donor basically. She’s supposed to be so much more, but he has never cared for her and treats her like a blood donor. I felt so bad for her most the book – even though, to be fair, it’s not all Wrath’s fault – and it didn’t help me like Wrath any better. Her’s is a story I’d really like to know better. Oh and then there’s Ftiz – the butler. He was most definitely my favorite character in Dark Lover. He’s just so warm and loving to everyone. And he has these little comedic moments, where he’s not trying to be funny at all, but I laughed my ass off. A really fantastic supporting cast.

The Story…

The story for Dark Lover had a lot of high points for me, though it kind of ended on a lackluster note for me. The basic premise surrounds Beth, who (unbeknownst to her) is getting ready to go through the change to become a vampire. Wrath has been asked by Beth’s father to help her with the transition and that’s what brings him into her life. In addition to her change, though, is what’s going on in the human world. There’s been a string of recent murders and the detectives are getting closer and closer to their supernatural community in their efforts to solve the mystery. We know what’s going on all along and it’s like watching an inevitable car crash… that never happens. Which is good for a car crash, but not so great for Dark Lover. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the final events of the book were extremely anti-climatic for me. I wanted to see Beth get all bad-ass, but she doesn’t. And I thought there was going to be like an epic battle, but really it was just a fight at best.

What I absolutely loved about Dark Lover was the incredible world building and I suspect that that’s why the story was a little lack luster. I’ll forgive that, because the world promises some incredible books in the future. The vampire mythology is like nothing I’ve ever read (which is saying something) and I’m really excited about what’s to come in future books, based on how things were setup. I also hear that future books switch to the other Brother’s lives, so thank heavens for that.

Concluding Sentiments…

Although this wasn’t my most favorite read, I’m excited about the world Dark Lover introduced me to and love most the characters. I look forward to exploring the Brotherhood even more in the future.

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About J.R. Ward

Jessica Rowley Pell Bird was born on 1969 in Massachusetts, USA. She is the daughter of Maxine F. and W. Gillette Bird, Jr. She began writing as a child, penning her thoughts in diaries as well as inventing short stories. She read her first Harlequin Presents novel in a rose garden when she was in her teens. She was hooked immediately. By the time she went to college, she had boxes and boxes of Harlequins and Silhouettes. Every year, her mother would ask why all those books had to live in the house and Jess would reply that if even one of them disappeared she would know. (She’d catalogued them.)

Jess finished her first romance manuscript the summer before her freshman year of college. She attended Smith College and graduated with a double major in history and art history. She then received a law degree from Albany Law School. Shortly after that, she began working in the healthcare industry in Boston. She spent many years as one of the premier medical center’s Chief of Staff. While working as a lawyer in Boston, she completed two novels more and started a number of partials. In 2001, Bird married John Neville Blakemore III. Both her mother and her new husband kept telling her to send something in to an agent, a publisher, the Tooth Fairy, anyone. She thought they were nuts, but eventually got her nerve up and bought a lot of stamps. Since getting published, she has written contemporary romances as Jessica Bird and paranormal romances as J. R. Ward. She has been a Rita Award finalist, received two Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice nominations and has been a HOLT medallion finalist.

New England born and bred, Jess is surprised to find herself living south of the Mason Dixon line. (But that’s what happens when you marry a Southern gentleman.) She and her husband live with their golden retriever, who oversees her writing in a supervisory role.

Also known as: Jessica Bird


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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

11 Responses to “Dark Lover by J. R. Ward | Audio Review”

  1. A Voracious Reader

    I was getting ready to listen to this one (I have it from Audible) when Outlander came in at the library. So I’m listening to it (and I’m bored), but I’ll be back to Dark Lover as soon as I can. I hope I can get into it if the narrator isn’t that great.
    A Voracious Reader recently posted…Guest Review ~ Stone Cold DeadMy Profile

    • Berls

      I loved Outlander, but couldn’t get into it on audio (and I’m a huge audio reader). Maybe try reading it instead? I promise it’s really great 🙂

      As for Dark Lover – some people really like the narration, and I didn’t hate it, just didn’t love it either. finger crossed that you like it!

      • A Voracious Reader

        I tried reading Outlander for a year and a half. LOL I really thought the audio would be the ticket, but…oh, well. So many people just love it and I’m like meh. It won’t be the first time I’ve gone the opposite of what people love.

        As for Dark Lover, I hope I at least can tolerate it. If not, I have the book. Sitting on my shelf. As it has been for 3 years. 😀
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    • Berls

      That’s so good to hear. I think my biggest frustration (which I couldn’t put in the review because it would have been a total spoiler) was that Beth didn’t kick her attackers ass at the end. Why did Wrath and Butch and the guys have to be the heroes? I mean, she’s a vampire now, let her defend herself. That would have made it 4 stars for me I think.

    • Berls

      From everything I’ve heard the characters I loved most shine in the rest of the series so I’m definitely going to continue with the series. And great world building is a really positive indicator, I think.

    • Berls

      I think I do too… probably because I really connect with the female characters more. I think if I’d been swooning over Wrath like Beth was I might have been more into the narration lol

    • Berls

      LMAO! That’s what has me most excited about continuing with this series – I loved the other characters and can’t wait to read their stories. Maybe when the focus isn’t on Wrath and Beth I’ll even like them better. And I do LOVE where the world building seems to be heading.

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