A Novel of the Black Dagger
by J. R. Ward (Author)
Let me say first that I love the BDB books; I love the characters; I love the storylines and I LOVE the action. I’ve been a fan since 2007 when I first discovered this remarkable author and her fabulous Black Dagger Brothers.
THE BEAST is the 14th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I liked it. I did not, however, love it.
This book focuses on Mary Luce and her Hellren (husband) Rhage…and, therein lies the rub. Mary and Rhage already have a book devoted to their story, Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 2) which—for me—said it all. THE BEAST (as a full book) is, at best, an unnecessary thumb-tacked addition. It’s all about the struggles Mary and Rhage must endure to become parents. I have to say that this story would have made a great SIDE-story in another book with another focus. I just don’t think it had enough…oomph…to carry a book alone.
I found myself speed reading through the pages focused on Mary and Rhage so that I could get quickly to side stories in this book which focused on Assail (and the mystery mission the King has assigned to him). I want more of him! I feel that the author may be working her way into a full book about Assail…at least I hope she is…especially now that he’s working with the Brotherhood and not against them. I wish Assail had been the focus of this book.
There is another smaller side story that involves Layla and Xcor. Their story has been a side-story in other books as well. I would love to see their romance become a book of it’s own. And in truth, I would love to see the Band of Bastards, with Xcor in the lead, become part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. That’s not too much to hope for, is it?
Now that I’ve told you what I wasn’t crazy about, let me tell you what I loved.
The Beast himself. Rhage’s other half (literally), the dragon, is amazing! He only appeared twice in this book, but both times my heart was racing and my excitement level rose exponentially. This is such a cool, fantastical part of Rhage’s story! When he gets really angry or loses control of his emotions, the dragon bursts forth from his vampire body and eats a path through whatever it is that has threatened Rhage or his loved ones. Just think about it—a big purple dragon that eats Lessers like candy and loves Mary as much as Rhage does. Amazing!
Also, in another scene in which Rhage is asked to hold the king’s baby son, Wrath (the 3rd), I found myself so engaged in the happenings I wanted to reach out and hug Rhage. While holding the youngster, Rhage’s deeply hidden yearnings for a child of his own spill out of his heart as tears that run down his face. It was heartbreaking and at the same time relatable and genuine. I’ve cried those same type of tears myself. Rhage became a very real person to me at this moment.
(SPOILER ALERT—AVERT YOUR EYES AND SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU MUST) I also enjoyed “meeting” Bitty. The young girl that so captures Mary’s and Rhage’s hearts. She is a delight. She reminded me very much of my own granddaughter who is precocious and adventuresome and fearless. Bitty will fit right into the family of Brothers and their wives!
I also need to mention the newest character: Jo Early. She is a (fully human) receptionist/secretary, working in a real estate office in Caldwell, NY, with a real schmuck for a boss. Her roommate, a drug addled video “artist”, has actually managed to capture Rhage’s beast (and a battle between the Brotherhood and the Lessers) on film. He shows the tape to Jo who doesn’t believe at first. Then, with the help of an investigative reporter, she begins to realize that the beast is not only real but he’s just the tip of the iceberg. I believe Jo will feature heavily in at least one of J.R.’s books to come. At least, I hope so!
So, yeah, there was lots to like in this book. And I did, like it. Would not have skipped it for the world. (I read these books in order as they are released—not everyone does, but I do.) I just wish the focus had been concentrated in another direction.
Because of the overall likeability of this book, I rated it a four. If you like the Brotherhood (and I know you do) you’ll like this book!