Friday, 1 July 2011

Black Dagger Brotherhood: Dark Lover - review

Here are the series of events which lead me to this book, you can skip ahead to the actual review part if you wish, but I couldn't really address how I came across this book without a little background first.

I'm always on the search for a great paranormal romance series.  I got hooked on them when as a teenage student, I lived with a bunch of girls and that was all they had to read.  I loved reading LJ Smith's nightworld series and I was always on the lookout for books of a similar nature.  I got sidelined on paranormal romance for a few years whilst I was an extremely active and also completely obsessed member of the Harry Potter fandom.  Of course, after Deathly Hallows managed to kill all enthusiasm I once had for the series in one crappy epilogue and I began seeing the flaws in the books I'd previously glossed over due to my passion for all things Hogwarts, I returned to looking for a new series to read.

I've read some really badly written books and some merely sloppily written books, I've read good books and also life changing books.  The problem with romance is that everyone has different taste and finding a series which strikes a perfect balance to your taste can be a rare, rare thing.

I was recommended Black Dagger Brotherhood on a forum, quite some time ago and it's only now that I actually got around to buying a copy of the first book in the series.  I had just read the entire run of Sookie Stackhouse books in the space of about 3 weeks and for me, they are my perfect series.  I LOVE them and the wait for the next book is becoming quite painful, the worry that the tv series will completely miss out on the best parts of Dead to the World, on which the next series of True Blood will be based, is actually causing me a bit of anxiety as it's my favourite book in the run.

Even after reading that Laurell K Hamiliton was a nutcase, I thought I'd try the first Anita Blake book, as apparently the series jumped the proverbial shark later in the series, I didn't really like it, but I have another of Hamiltons books from a different series waiting on my shelf as maybe that will strike the right cord.  I ummed and ahhed at the first Cassie Palmer book, I found it ok, nothing too exiciting, nothing too crap.  Charlaine Harris's Harper Connolly series was a bit dull to start with but I really liked the third book, which I only picked up due to it being cheap at a charity shop.  I was entertained by Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, but for all the wrong reasons.  I hated Twilight.  Though to be clear, I hated Twilight before all the internet backlash started, I hated it back when it was just a crappy book my friend sent me in the post as her revenge on me for liking Vampire Knight, which I admit is just as craptacular, looking back on it now.

So finding ONE perfect series for me was a gold mine.  I got Black Dagger Brotherhood, not looking for a perfect series but looking for decent series to fill in the gaps between Sookie Stackhouse novels.

My worry began when I saw the first page.

Here's the problem with adding a glossary of terms at the front of your novel.  When you are creating a new world with new terms to go along with your world, you face the problem of being able to adequately explaining these things to your readers.  Your readers, however, are probably already very familiar with different worlds and different terms within them for various creatures of the night and as long as you can convey this properly in the narrative, there is no need for a glossary, unless your name is JRR Tolkien.  Black Dagger Brotherhood: Dark Lover is written by JR Ward, she is not JRR Tolkien.  It gets especially insulting when the last word in her glossary is the word vampire.  That's right, she takes the time to explain to the reader what a vampire is in her paranormal romance novel.

I gave it a chance, maybe these words do get explained in the text and for some reason the author just decided to place this in the front of the novel instead of in the back. 

We open in a nightclub called Screamer's, really, two vampires called Darius and Tohrment, no, really, are discussing their vampire king, Wrath, seriously.  At this point I decide to give it a pass on the incredibly cheesy names, maybe there's a completely rational explanation later.  Even though I'm only on the first page I start getting the feeling that this is going to be a bad book, if I had written this particular scene, I'd have thrown it away or re-written it or had my beta look over it to make it less cheesy, but I press on as sometimes books have really, really badly written first chapters and then get good later, I'm fairly sure I must have read one at some point.

Bearing in mind that this book was written in 2005, here is some of the exchanged dialogue between Darius and Tohrment (gag);

"And how's that going to go?  You're just going to walk up to her and say, 'Hey, I know you've never seen me before, but I'm your dad.  Oh and guess what?  You've won the evolutionary lottery: You're a vampire.  Let's go to Disneyland!'"       Tohrment, page 2

"No offense, but I'm outtie"   Tohrment page 2

I'm pretty sure that no one but, 15 year old girls have used the phrase 'I'm outtie' unironically since the film Clueless came out.

The crowd parts and 'Tohr' leaves in order to make way for the most cliched vampire ever put to paper to enter the scene:

Wrath was six feet, six inches of pure terror dressed in leather. His hair was long and black, falling straight from a widow's peak. Wraparound sunglasses hid eyes that no one had ever seen revealed. Shoulders were twice the size of most males'. With a face that was both aristocratic and brutal, he looked like the king he was by birthright and the solider he'd become by destiny.  Page 4

The chapter switches to the point of view of Beth Randall, a bland Mary Sue, who is a reporter suffering from the worst case of cliché, sexist boss, known to man.

"You just keep working the blotter. Let the big boys worry about the violent crimes. We wouldn't want anything to happen to that pretty face of yours."   Dick, page 5

I'm going to take a guess right now that JR Ward has been isolated from society for many, many years and only knows about real human interaction from 80's and 90's tv shows.

Blah, blah, blah, Beth walks home and on her way, she meets two would-be rapists who drag her into an alley and rip her clothes off, I won't repeat most of their dialogue as you won't actually believe me that this was in the actual book, but the one line which I think summarises how these 2005, college aged, guys speak is:

"Maybe I'll just pick a name for you. Let me think... How's pussycat sound?"  Would be rapist, page 8

After Beth beats up her attackers and runs home we then meet our third main character a cop who is called, I shit you not, Butch O'Neal.

         Butch O'Neal looked up when the police radio under the dash of his unmarked patrol car went off. There was a male victim, down but breathing, in an alley not so far away.
        Butch checked his watch. A little after ten o'clock, which meant the fun was just getting started. It was a Friday night in the early part of July, so the college turks were still fresh out of school and aching to compete in the Stupid Olympics. He figured the guy had either been mugged or taught a lesson.
          He hoped it was the latter.
          Butch grabbed the handset and told Dispatch he'd head over even though he was a homicide detective, not a beat cop. He had two cases he was working right now, one floater in the Hudson River and a hit-and-run, but there was always room for something else. As far as he was concerned, the more time away from home, the better. The dirty dishes in his sink and the wrinkled sheets on his bed were not going to miss him.
        He hit the siren and the gas and thought, Let's hear it for the boys of summer.  
  Page 11

This book is bad.  It's really, really, bad and I'm really disappointed.

The character names in this book are just ridiculous, Phury, Zsadist, Rhage, Vishous, it's really jarring and throws out completely out of the narrative when you read names like this.

The characters are the most awfully clichéd stereotypes I've seen since...  actually, no, they ARE the most awfully clichéd characters I've ever read.

The plot is dull and underwhelming and overall is reads like an average fan fiction that has rave reviews because it has good grammar and spelling.

I do not recommend Black Dagger Brotherhood: Dark Lover, it really wasn't for me.  Personally I'd recommend not reading this book and finding something good to read instead, but if you do happen upon a copy and read it and maybe even enjoy it, then good for you because my copy is being sent to the 'god awful book' box under my bed, where it will live until the day figure out what to do with the crappy books I'll never read again.


  1. Have you continue with the series? I have to say it does get a lot better.

  2. I have to disagree with you Ben. I am just starting Book 3 and I'm loving this series. It just has to be taken in the right perspective. It is written in a very campy, comicbook, graphic novel kinda style. The author has created a world similar to ours, but with an overlying dark seamy atmosphere, a la Underworld. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud hilarious at times, and no doubt the author had a lot of fun and her tongue stuck firmly in her cheek as she was writing it. As she is a mature adult woman, obviously the use of the teenager-ish slang is intentional, and once I got used to it and became immersed in the story's vibe, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Like a super-hero story, but with a whole troupe of outrageously sexy alpha hotties instead of just one. I have to say too that I'm an AVID Sookie Stackhouse fan (Eric *sigh*, say no more...), and that I put this series right up on the same pedestal. Very different styles, but equally genius and thoroughly addicting.

  3. Sorry for the late replies, firstly.

    @Myth, I actually got another book from the series the other day, I picked it up second hand from a hospital shop where they sell the books patients have left behind and donate the money to charity. I will probably get around to reading it at some point. Like with the Harper Connolly books, I didn't really like the first one, but I found the later books were better, so I'm happy to give it a chance.

    @codewoman I'm really glad you're enjoying the series. I think I can't really get along with the dialogue as it doesn't come across as it's supposed to be tongue in cheek, at least to me, but as I said above, I've just picked up another book from the series so I'm happy to give it another try. Bizarrely, I have had the opposite situation occur, I really liked the first book in the Uglies series, then as they continued I found myself disliking the characters more and more. I've been told that the Hunger Games series has some laughably bad moments in it, but is meant to be enjoyable, so it's on my list. I've far too much to read and never enough time to read it, but if I pull my finger out I'm sure I can get to the other BDB book soon.
    (Ooh, also, yay for Eric/Sookie, love. Though I was a bit disappointed with Dead Reckoning, it wasn't very plot driven. I'm hoping the next one might do a bit of an All Together Dead and have a really cool plot with all the stuff they've been building up with. I really hope the show does that book justice, I think it's probably the best written in the series.)

  4. I just finished reading the "Anita Blake Vampire Series" and wanted another vampire series to sink my teeth into. I saw this book listed as a recommendation from another reader and saw that several people thought it was really good, so I bought it. I bought it yesterday, started reading it today and now I'm done with it. It was so good! The storyline really drew me in from the first few pages... I'll definitely be buying the rest of the books in the series.

  5. I agree, this is the worst book EVER WRITTEN. And that so many people like it? Are overwhelmed by it? Gag, there is no hope for humanity. May be all be olbliterated by our own stupidity; we deserve it.

  6. Once they made it a point to specify that the vampires were listening to Jay Z, I lost all interest. It really reminds me of what a couple of 15 year old girls would imagine vampires to be doing. Very oddly cliché. I loved the idea of the lessers vs. the vampires, and the non traditional feeding, but that is too little of the story. The author was more concerned with vampires wearing leather and being tough but needing bland walk all over ladies, than the plot.

  7. On the last 2 books in the series now, the first 4 had me absoloutly hooked I read 1 a day and ordered the rest of the series in straight away. As a working mom I was hooked and read through the night , a little obsessive I must say! I think because I've always picked easy reading books, chick flick books the whole vampire idea had me hooked.
    I'm now on one of the later books in the series Payne and the doctor and I am bored. The brotherhood story's were ace but we seem to be venturing out to.the story's of other characters which were never really mentioned in the previous books. It's starting to get rushed , too much going on all at once. I loved the first few the story's of wrath of zsadist vishous ect but now I feel the story's are getting lame less about the vampires are more about sex scenes that are cringe worthy to say the least.
    I wish J.R ward had concentrated purely on the brotherhood maybe each of the brothers meeting there "shellans" and extended the series based around them and not about characters that mean nothing. Its almost as if mrs ward got trapped in this imaginairy world and lost herself. Shame as first books get a thumbs up from me. Seriously scribe virgin? Chosen ones? Sympaths? I'm lost.

  8. you vs thousands of other readers. You ever think its not the books but your lack of imagination? As a Brother would say, you can suck it, true.

    1. That dialog is one of the main reasons why I hate this book. What grown men talk like that? Gross.

  9. I've only just started the series last week, and I'm already on book 5! I've just started it now and I wondered what others thought and found this.
    I must say, the names annoy me, but you do hear more about the names during the next few books. They have a reason for the name, don't worry. Not all vampires have those types of names. They get better, and you kind of just blur them out, they don't bother you after a while :)
    Also, the way they speak does grind my gears. They are hundreds of years old, but speak like wannabe gangsters? Maybe it's just because they live near/in New York?
    Other than that, I've fallen in love with the series.
    Each woman is different, Beth gets better, although she changes in the next few books. Each Brother gets better, Zsadist being my favourite. Bella being my favourite woman.
    I do think the books get better as they go on, and if you don't mind how they talk, it's a great series :)
    Although, everyone has their own opinions and if you didn't like them, then that's cool, but you have good taste in other places!
    I'm thinking I'm going to stop once I get to John's story. I have a feeling it's going to turn into an Anita Blake thing, where the first books have a story, but soon turn into book porn :D
    I loved the harper connelly books!
    Have you read Women Of The Otherworld series? By Kelley armstrong? Brilliant in my opinion :)

  10. I'm a hundred and fifty pages in on "Dark Lover" and I'm so underwhelmed! I actually googled for reviews that did not love it. I agree the names are annoying and you can't take it seriously. I had high hopes after seeing so many raves for this series. I also love the Sookie Stackhouse books and I just finished the fever series by Karen Marie Moning which was excellent. I'm having a hard time finding something that lives up to both those series.

    1. The Fever Series is hands down one of my favorites. I cannot believe that this sh*t gets better reviews. Smh.

  11. Like others the first 3 to four books were good but everything has gone down hill from that point on. The books are horribly written and the world building is completely destroyed not to mention the timeline is completely screwed also.

  12. I am nearly through the first one (notice the effort to distract myself and see if other people share the same opinions), but so far I agree that the book is bad. I bought the box set, and it's not so bad that I will burn and salt the ashes of literature, so I will continue to read the rest. I agree with the names- totally distracting. The characters have no individual voices either, completely lack any substance and are very unrealistic (nothing but clichés). The romance seems forced, (that whole love at first sight and 'I love you' and will marry you within 72 hrs). By far the most distracting part is the fact that the book makes peripheral characters central, which means there are about 8 stories going on in the book. Which means by the time I finally get into one section, it changes to a different character and *poof* my interest is gone.

  13. Oh how I wish I'd found this review before I bought the first two books. How in the HELL does it have such good ratings? Where's the depth? Very, very shallow character building - scratch the surface and there's nothing. Wrath is a crying, growling, pansy ass and Beth... where is your sense of self? Whiners - every one.
    NO shockers - at all.
    With that said, I will ATTEMPT book two this week because I bought it already --- hoping it grows on me.

  14. I find it interesting that when I looked for the top 10 paranormal romance series on Google, Blackdagger Brotherhood was, wait for it, just about everyone's first choice. And I mean everyone. JR Ward is a genius. This is the only bad review I found. Strange, but true. Wannebe author maybe? but never quite good enough?

  15. Thank you for that review! I agree on so many points and can not understand why the Black Dagger series is so popular.
    I have read the complete series so far, the first volumes because paranormal romance was a new genre to me and I liked the idea of it. I read the later volumes because I just wanted to know how the story continued and if there were any improvements.
    There are so many things that made me shake my head in disbelief that Black Dagger is such a reader`s favourite!
    Extreme cheesiness is one point (Who stills wears Ed Hardy?), the weak story line another. I found the way women are treated and depicted in a very sexistic way disgusting.
    I can't understand why so many female readers love this series, as liking a book also means a certain identification with its characters.
    I soon discovered the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian and was finally happy to have found a series that provided good and sometimes even suspenseful story-telling, multi-faceted characters, tasteful sex scenes and everything else you expect when you choose a book like this. I was glad to see that women don't always have to be the weak and dismissive sex kittens waiting to be saved and to be protected by a strong and archaic warrior sex god with a horrible fashion sense ;-)
    Please excuse the flaws in my writing since English is not my first language...
    Thank you for your review, it was good to see that there are other book lovers who don't agree.
    Best wishes, Sabrina

    1. Completely agree! SOOOOOO sexist. Lame dialog. Names are stupid. Cliche down to it's core. I'm not a writer but if this is what it takes for people to like it, then I might give it a go. I could use the easy money.

  16. OH MY GOD yes. I only made it through like...2 or 3 chapters before I had to return it. I just couldn't stand it. The names were dumb, the character descriptions were cliche and offputting, and the dialogue was silly in a bad way. Also seemed extremely sexist in every way, INCLUDING the male gender roles.

    I read the descriptions of some of the later books and a character that pops up in like the 8th book is named Xhex!!! HOW DO YOU EVEN PRONOUNCE THAT?!?!?! And I'm flabbergasted that these books have such good reviews! I just....I'm just so confused...

    As a point of comparison, I thought 50 Shades of Grey was a horribly written book (though so popular that I was convinced to give it a shot) and I still actually made it all the way through it. Couldn't last past the first few chapters of this book, I thought it was that bad.

  17. Wow...I've really noticed a trend in the people that have a serious amount hate for this book. Obsessively narrow minded and intolerant of others interests and style. When you read a book you are an onlooker into that written world. I see a lack of empathy and complete objectivity in those who judge these authors so harshly. If you do not like the book then at least dislike it for an actual reason, not because you can't stand the music the characters listen to or the vernacular they use simply because its different from your own opinion. You wouldn't quit on your friends if they didn't like the same music you did or bevause they used out of date slang.

    1. Actually I think the people DO dislike it for a 'reason' If you don't like the 'voice' of a book it's not being narrow minded or intolerant. WHY should you read a book you aren't enjoying? There are too many millions of books out there to waste you time on a stinker. I read the first, and attempted the second about 4 times….just not going to happen.

      Their speech pattern, their names, the horrible dialogue…all negatives in my book.

      I have read MANY different types of books…admittedly these aren't my favorite genre…but I'll go back to my favorites and be pleased for the fans that are enjoying them.

  18. I completely agree with this review. I even said some of these things as I was reading the book. Horrible, horrible book. The dialog made my stomach turn. I mean, what kind of adult grown men talk like that? And Beth was a snooze. I actually did not care about her at all. And the names... wow, stupid.

    Wrath is the tormented, broody, loaner, yet, he is king, There was the lothario. The psycho. The "good normal" one. Blah blah blah... And Beth was useless yet somehow won the hearts of all these heartless men. Gag.

    I can't believe that people cant see this. The Fever Series is hands down one of the best and this swill somehow beats it out in the reviews. How is that possible?

    Makes me question humanity.

    1. Love fever series! Having a hard time reading this series because of all the reasons said here. I just don't understand what the big deal is.

  19. Glad I'm not the only one that thought this book was an atrocity. I just finished Vampire Academy and Bloodlines by Richelle Mead which are YA but still good. This book came highly recommended but I was mortified when reading it. It actually reminds me of Stephen King's style - base, lower level trash talk

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  21. I've been reading English (not my 1st language) books continuously since the 80ies.
    Just read this series' book 1 last night, skipped through some parts (never would I have done this on any well written books) and was totally annoyed I wasted several hours on this trash.
    But I have a habit of giving people (authors included, or I would not have became a Nora Roberts' fan) a second chance, so on to the 2nd book in the series.
    OMG it's even worse *facepalm*. Can't even finish it. Delete ebooks.

  22. i have read these books and i agree with everything.

  23. The biggest question for me was HOW ON EART YOU WILL FUCK SOMEONE WHO JUST BROUGHT INTO YOUR HOUSE. and on top of it after you was almost raped the very day before? Can someone just explain me how this is supposed to work?