A friend asked me how I can review books and whether or not doing so destroyed my enjoyment of the story. She suggested that concentrating on the ins and outs would take too much away from the story and ruin the reading experience. To me, that is what makes the difference between a good book and a great one. In reading Lover Reborn, the latest in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, never once did I worry about the review and I was never pulled out of the story and that is how I know it was a great read.
In the beginning of the series, Tohrment was the only “normal” Brother. He wasn’t living with a curse and, ironically, wasn’t tormented by his past. He had a happy mating with his shellan, Wellsie, and he was the one steady and responsible Brother. When Wellsie was tragically taken from him, his torment became worse than all the other Brothers and he disappeared from the Brotherhood. A year later, he is now back with the Brothers trying to rejoin life for the sake of his adopted son, John Matthew, but he has no interest in living anymore. When the Fallen Angel Lassiter tells Tohr that he has to learn to let Wellsie go and love another to save Wellsie’s after life, Tohr can’t imagine it ever happening.
But a ghost from Tohrment’s past, No’One, starts to give Tohr hope that he can save his Wellsie. Though Tohr doesn’t think he will ever love anyone but Wellsie, he hopes that by “going through the motions” with No’One, he can help Wellsie move into the Fade. Obviously, that doesn’t work out too well for him. As he keeps his emotions disengaged, Wellsie and his unborn son slip further and further away.
In order for Tohr, Wellsie, and No’One to be saved, Tohr and No’One must come to terms with their pasts – both separate and together. But this is not an easy journey and as the two emotionally scarred characters start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, Tohr puts them in a position where they are almost all lost. As the Brotherhood starts to fight new enemies and Caldwell becomes a battleground for the future of the Race, Tohr and No’One have to learn forgiveness and accept the possible futures before them as they race to prevent disaster from happening.
As a romance, to me, Tohr and No’One are a home run. The sensitive issue of first love versus second love is handled wonderfully. Tohr avoids the No’One vs. Wellsie pitfall and as he starts to have feelings for No’One, the struggle is internalized. It is a matter of his feelings being the issue rather than one against the other or one being better than the other. Many fans are worried that Wellsie gets “replaced” or that No’One gets stuck as second fiddle, but I think that Ward did a great job preventing either scenario. By the end, I felt that both were his fated females, but for different times of his life. The one was a love based on shared happiness, while the other love grew through shared struggle. Each relationship was strong and valuable and it clearly came through to me.
If there were weaknesses in the book they were in the greater story arc and the secondary characters, not with Tohr and No’One. Some of the plot decisions will undoubtedly be controversial. Since I am not going to give anything away, I will just stick with an overall concern that I had. At its heart, the Black Dagger Brotherhood books are about the Brothers. Since Tohr was the last original Brother, I saw this book as the last chance to interact with the Brothers the way the first books did. The series is moving on to the Band of Bastards and other characters, as it needs to, but this book could have dealt more with the original seven Brothers. They fell by the wayside to the “new” characters. Old beloved characters like Z, Phury, V, Rhage, and Butch were barely seen and their own changing relationship with Tohr is never explored. Though in the end they show their Brother their full support, it really isn’t shown throughout the book and I thought that was a lack.
Overall, the Brotherhood is still definitely going strong. The romance is different from the other books as it is the longest book in terms of the time that it covers. While most of the books in the series cover a week or two of time, Tohr and No’One’s love grows over a full year. This makes their love story filled with less urgency and need, but just as much love and passion. It is a love that grows rather than jumps in fully formed. For me, that worked with the backstory that the two main characters had and I loved it. Overall, Lover Reborn was well worth losing a couple of nights of sleep to read.
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