Black Dagger Legacy #1
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…
Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.
And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.
Blood Kiss sees a return to the style that made the early books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood so addicting, Ms. Ward limiting the number of characters we follow to a delightful four rather than subjecting us to the character merry-go-round that has dominated the BDB series of late. Our time is spent divided between new couple Craeg and Paradise as well as Butch and Marissa–a beloved pair who had their happily ever after in book four of the original series–and Ms. Ward manages to make both couples shine equally, neither fighting for our attention but both keeping us rapidly flipping the pages until we sadly find ourselves at the end.
Revisiting a couple who've already had their time in the spotlight can sometimes be problematic, the feeling that new issues have been created simply for the sake of drama causing us to be a bit wary in the beginning, but Ms. Ward gives Butch and Marissa a realistic set of relationship difficulties to overcome in this spinoff. The two of them are still immensely happy together, but as can be the case with established relationships, making time for one another and communicating effectively amidst incredibly busy lives can be a challenge, and it's almost comforting to see familiar struggles reflected in a fictional romance. Nothing between them feels manufactured, and the way they face their problems as a united front brings a smile to our faces throughout.
Craeg and Paradise hold their own against romantic heavy-hitters Butch and Marissa, the two of them piquing our interest quickly as they face the gauntlet thrown down by the Brotherhood's training program and fight to prove themselves worthy. Craeg is a classic J.R. Ward alpha male, physically intimidating and sexually potent, but it's Paradise who ends up being a pleasant surprise. Given her gentle upbringing among vampire high society we can't help but wonder if she's going to be passive in nature despite her desire to join the program, but what we find instead is a young woman unafraid to put Craeg in his place when necessary and stand up for herself both as a trainee and a woman.
The mystery element surrounding a young woman brutally beaten to death could have benefited from more substance and a deeper exploration of the motivations of the guilty party when their identity is revealed, but that is a very minor complaint in an otherwise hugely successful first installment. J.R. Ward fans like myself will love every glimpse of Vishous, Rhage, Lassiter and a few of the other Brothers, their crazy slang and general badassery making us feel as though we've gotten back on a track we veered from drastically in the past few Brotherhood books.
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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.