Friday, May 27, 2011

J.R. Ward is a great, and disappointing, storyteller. What about Blay and Qhuinn?

I've been reading Lover Mine by J.R. Ward, the 8th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I love this series. For those who don't know, the series is about a race of vampires who coexist with humans. Rather than feeding off humans, these vampires need to feed from the opposite sex of their own kind. The race was created by a goddess-figure known as the Scribe Virgin. Her nemesis, the vampire devil, is called The Omega. An elite clan of warriors, the Brotherhood, protects civilian vamps from The Omega's soulless army, the Lessening Society, or Lessers. The "Brothers" are not literally brothers (except Phury and Zsadist, who are twins).

Ward's writing style takes a little getting used to for those new to the series. She writes in a very noir-ish style. I believe she's heavily influenced by Robert B. Parker. She also invented a language the vampires use, which they call The Old Language. She peppers her novels with Old Language words like shellan and hellren ("wife" and "husband").

The thing about J.R. Ward's BDB novels that makes them so hard to put down is the way she keeps her pairs of lovers separated through so many hardships before she'll finally let them get together. That's the basic plot of every one of these novels, starting with the story of Wrath and Beth in the first book, Dark Lover. It makes for compelling reading, but can also be very frustrating.

At the end of the last book, Lover Avenged, Xhex had been kidnapped by the evil Lash, son of the Omega. John Matthew, the young warrior who can only speak in sign language, fell in love with her, but Xhex thought she had no room for love in her life. There's little doubt in this book that he will find her and that, when they get reunited, she'll accept his love. I've always liked John Matthew, so I was anxious for him and Xhex to make their relationship permanent. I love the twist, toward the end, of King Wrath accepting Xhex into the Brotherhood. Now they're going to have to call it the Siblinghood.

The storyline I'm really interested in, though, is the subplot involving John Matthew's best friends Blay and Qhuinn. Every single one of the Brothers is absolutely gorgeous, all six feet tall and pumped up like comic book superheroes. (My favorite is Zsadist--called Z--with his multicolored hair kept super-short, canary-yellow eyes that turn black when he's angry and terrifying exterior that belies how tenderly he loves his mate, Bella.) John Matthew, Blay and Qhuinn are the three youngest of the Brothers. Blay is a redhead with blue eyes. Qhuinn has one blue eye and one green eye, a trait considered a defect in vampire society that makes his aristocratic family look down on him.

Blay is in love with Qhuinn, but Qhuinn feels unworthy and doesn't want to be with Blay. (Blay feels especially rejected by this, since Qhuinn has shown again and again that he'll have sex with just about anyone.) In the last book, Blay seemed doomed to a life of unrequited love. This book introduced Qhuinn's beautiful, genteel cousin Saxton as a potential mate for Blay. There's a gorgeous scene of Blay and Saxton sharing a good night kiss. They'd possible make a great couple, but Blay's feelings for Qhuinn still aren't resolved, and Qhuinn gets jealous when he sees his friend with his cousin. I'd really like to see the Blay-Qhuinn storyline resolve, one way or the other, in the next book.

I'm really torn about which way I want it to resolve. I was deeply disappointed when Qhuinn rejected Blay, but now I'm kinda rooting for Saxton, a young lawyer who lacks his cousin's warrior physique but has lovely blond, curly hair. According to Qhuinn, Saxton is also a little slutty, but that may just be the jealousy talking. Then there's Layla, the female vampire who feeds Qhuinn and would like to be his lover. Maybe Layla and Qhuinn should get together in a future book. Blay, unfortunately, because he's gay, probably won't get to star in his own book, since every other book has centered around a male-female pair. I think I would be happy if Qhuinn paired off with Layla while Blay and Saxton stayed together.

Things don't always end happily, though--look what happened to Tohr and his pregnant mate, Wellsie.

The next book, Lover Unleashed, will center on Payne, the twin sister of the Brother known as Vishous. Payne has suffered a terrible injury and will fall in love with the human surgeon who tries to save her. I expect to read it soon.

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Ixy said...

Are these similar to the Laurell K Hamilton books? I really enjoy those, so I think I'll check out the J.R. Ward books. Thanks for the review!

Erin O'Riordan said...

I've only ever read a few of Laurell K. Hamilton's short stories, never any of her full books. My personal preference is for J.R. Ward.

Erin O'Riordan said...

So now I'm finished with the 9th book, 'Lover Unleashed,' and while the story of Payne and Manny is very sweet, Blay-Qhuinn is STILL unresolved. Qhuinn has let Layla know that he loves Blay, but at the moment Blay doesn't know that and is still happy with Saxton.