This one feels overstuffed with multiple storylines, highlights the author’s problems in creating compelling women, and frequently left me with a WTF expression on my face. Needless to say, these are not good things.
The book picks up where Lover Avenged left off. Xhex is being held and tortured (!) by Big Bad Lash, while John Matthew is tortured (!) at his inability to find her. In the meantime, Blay is tortured (!) over his unrequited love for hound dog Qhuinn. As if all that weren’t enough, throw in a series of backstory vignettes featuring Darius and Tohrment and their torturous (!) search for a tortured (!) missing daughter of the vampire aristocracy and a completely off-the-wall diversion into a modern day paranormal ghost hunting TV show filming on a Charleston estate that doesn’t make sense until the book’s final pages. The latter is not tortured (!). Just sayin’.
Now, in case you don’t know this already, Lover Mine is most definitely not a standalone for readers unfamiliar with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Not even remotely. So, I’ll assume that you know the basics of the plot, but here goes anyway: Newly minted vampire and all around good guy John Matthew and sympath assassin Xhex want each other in a deeply tortured (!) kind of way. But there are torturous (!) issues that keep them apart, chiefly the J.R. Ward version of “I’m not good enough” which is far more tortured (!) than most. Beyond those details, most everything else is spoiler-y. And if you’ve gotten this far in the series, heck, you know where’s it going, anyway, right?
So, what worked? For the most part, the author delivers on what readers come to expect from her books: Tortured (!) characters dealing with the tortures (!) that go along with being a member of a race hunted by torturing (!), evil bad guys out to annihilate them. And, on the positive side, the story moves along apace and the author definitely coughs up a page-turner.
Problem is, I was more interested in the secondary story of Blay and Qhuinn (hey, maybe she won’t cop out this time) than I ever was in John Matthew and Xhex. I’ve always found Xhex difficult to relate to and turning her into a tortured (!) soul in the literal sense didn’t help matters. And, hey, morphing a previously strong (if emotionally distant) woman into a helpless victim proves once again that Ward doesn’t know how to write women.
What also hurt my enjoyment of this one was the fact that the author writes action scenes that are so muddled I had to go back and read them again when it became clear I’d missed something. Simple truth: When you are writing about things that are not in people’s normal frame of reference, you need to be clear. The author sometimes isn’t.
And then there are multiple scenes to wade through featuring the nauseatingly subservient Chosen. And, yes, they are still nauseating.
So, why the B-? Because even when J.R. Ward isn’t delivering a full-on rush, there’s still enough there to get a nice buzz going. And, even if it wasn’t very satisfying and didn’t last long, a buzz is still a buzz. As for rehab? I’m not quite there yet but one more Chosen might just push me over the edge.