I’ve been half-heartedly following the Black Dagger Brotherhood series for the last few years, and Lover Unveiled is a perfect example of why. Fans of the series will recognize the usual setup of insta-love between two strangers set against the backdrop of a new danger facing the vampire race. As with many of the later books in the series, it continues ongoing storylines and assumes a base level of knowledge about the fantasy world, so shouldn’t be read as a standalone.
Most of the story seems to focus around the new danger facing the vampires – which I’ll call the Book of Unspecified Evil (but which is usually just referred to as “the Book”.) Since they killed off their old nemesis, the Omega, the universe decided to bring them a new one (to maintain the balance between good and evil and give the reader a good story). The full powers of this Book aren’t yet clear, but it’s definitely magical and somewhat animate, as it is able to lure unsuspecting people toward it for unknown nefarious purposes.
Enter Mae, a quiet and unassuming vampire who has decided to go after the Book in hopes of using it to resurrect her brother. After years of living a simple life in Caldwell with her family, Mae lost her parents, and then her brother. Desperate, she blames herself for his death, and with the encouragement of an elderly family friend decides to keep her brother on ice (literally) while she looks for the Book.
It is in the process of searching that Mae runs into Sahvage, a former member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood who is widely presumed to be dead, and who is currently waiting out his time on Earth. Sahvage is troubled, blaming himself for the torture of his cousin decades before, but he quickly latches onto Mae as someone he wants to protect. The two stumble into a romance even as they stumble all over Caldwell looking for the Book, running into everyone, from the Brotherhood to a demon named Devina (another new enemy), who are all also looking for, you guessed it, the Book.
If you’ve followed the series for this long, you should have a sense of Ward’s writing style and the signature character traits which appear throughout all of her novels. As usual, the Brotherhood is full of tough guys wearing “leathers” and making an enormous number of pop culture references. Biology frequently overrides sense, and the males of the species are often focused on honor while their families are more concerned with them living to see another day. To be honest, the series often strays toward stereotypes of overblown masculinity – but as it’s set in a fantasy world of vampires, and since that tone is relatively consistent throughout the series, I generally accept that as simply part of the world. In other words, don’t pick up the Black Dagger Brotherhood series if you’re not looking for a story populated by alpha males.
Unfortunately, Savahge and Mae aren’t developed much beyond Alpha Male and Damsel in Distress as the larger plot around the Book overtakes their character development. Or maybe there just wasn’t much development to begin with? Sahvage is a pretty standard Brotherhood hero, hard to distinguish from heroes of past books, and the main adjectives I would use to describe Mae are ‘quiet’ and ‘desperate’. She doesn’t have much of a personality developed beyond her need to resurrect her brother and her love for Sahvage. And of course, it has to be said – the choice to preserve your brother’s body for an unknown length of time while you search for an obviously evil Book to teach you how to resurrect him… well, she’s not exactly a character I identified with. In fact, I spent most of the book wanting to shake Mae out of her idiocy!
I wish I could say I liked this installment in the series more, but the difficult main characters and lackluster romance made it difficult. As usual, all of the old members of the Brotherhood have cameos and some continued plot development. If you’re a fan of the series Lover Unveiled is probably worth reading, but more to catch up with the full cast of characters than for the main couple.