Last Friday night my younger son took me for an early Mother's Day dinner to Old Chicago Pizza. He's recently taken a shine to the piano, and Barnes & Noble is right next door, so we stopped in to see what kind of sheet music they had. Let me interject here by saying that any bookstore, but especially a big, shiny one like B&N, is like a crackhouse to me. I have no business going into one if I don't have extra money to spend. But see...I had just grabbed a new Christine Feehan in paperback at WalMart, and I thought I'd be okay...straight to the music section and straight out.
The moment I walked through the door, the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee (which I don't even drink, but associate with bookstores) and brand new books assaulted me. A brief glance at the new releases and this book junkie fell completely off the wagon. JR WARD'S NEW BOOK IS OUT!! How did I not know that? My life has been extremely busy, and I knew it was soon, but it completely escaped me that LOVER AVENGED had been released. I literally snatched the book off the shelf and did a dance of joy in the front of the store.
Connor was mortified. His embarrassment was compounded when I looked to the left and saw the display for Charlaine Harris' new Sookie Stackhouse book. I grabbed a copy of that as well, bemoaning the fact that both new releases were in hardcover. Even in the fog of new release euphoria, I knew I had to choose. Connor would have left me standing there, but he needed my help in the music section. He said something to the effect of, "Oh my gosh Mom, they're just books," and "You're really loud."
I tamped down my excitement, sadly put down the Charlaine Harris (at least until payday), and trudged to the back of the store behind my thoroughly put-out son. I heard Bruce snickering behind me as I grabbed Karen Chance's new Cassie Palmer paperback on the way. My husband finds my addiction amusing...that is when he's not complaining about the stack of books by the bed. I did manage to get out of the store with only the JR Ward and the Karen Chance, but I'm going back for Charlaine as soon as possible.
So about LOVER AVENGED... I finished it last night with that same happy-sad feeling I always get when I come to the end of a long anticipated book.
JR Ward's characters are larger-than-life, in-your-face, alpha males that would probably scare the hell out of me in real life even without the vampire powers. But OMG, I love her books, and this was no exception. I have always thought Ward has big brass ones because she gives her heroes character flaws that are hard to overcome. Phury was a drug addict, Zsadist was the victim of chronic abuse, and Vishous...just wow, but she topped herself with Revhenge. (Don't you love those names?) Revhenge is a pimp and a drug lord. He was Phury's dealer for heaven's sake. How do you rehabilitate someone like that and make him a romantic hero? By giving him a heroine that's up to the job of course.
If you followed the link I posted yesterday to the article about romance and social justice, then you know that the old "bodice-ripper" stereotype of romance is just that...a stereotype. The women in romance novels are strong. They have to be to keep up with the alpha males they are matched with. Seriously, who wants to read a book with a doormat, passive heroine. Not me. I disagreed with her assessment of paranormal romance, though. She said there was an inherent imbalance of power in the relationship because the men often have supernatural abilities. In all the best paranormals, these same men need the women they are matched with because of their strength of character.
Anyway, I digress. Revhenge needs his Ehlena to save him. Yes, I know, classic beauty and the beast plot, but holy crap Ward writes it well. She also handles multiple plot lines incredibly well. Each book has the romance that is resolved by then end, but each book also includes long story arcs that set up future books. John Matthew (who might be Darius reincarnated) and Xhex are going to be the focus of the next book I hope. Ward has been teasing readers with bits and pieces of this story for three books now. Tohrment's story is intriguing. How is the angel, Lassiter, going to play a role? What about Qhuinn and Blaylock? And Wrath and Beth's story continues to unfold, proving that real life happens after the happily ever after.
Some new characters were introduced in this book that I hope are here to stay. Sexton, the lawyer, made a brief, but memorable appearance. Trez and iAm need a story, and my favorite new character? George. I can't say anything about George without giving away a major spoiler, but George is great.
I highly recommend the book, but if you haven't read the earlier books in the series you will be lost. The first book is DARK LOVER. I am aware that this blog reads more like the worshipping of a crazy fangirl than a serious review, but if the shoe fits...