New Release Review: Blood Kiss by JR Ward

Blood KissBlood Kiss by JR Ward
#1 in Black Dagger Legacy
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: December 1st, 2015
Publisher: Signet
 

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

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Wendy’s Review

The Black Dagger Brotherhood books were undoubtedly the romance series that I valued the highest.  I will happily admit my obsessions.  Unfortunately I went from absolutely in love with every single character, to completely disheartened and disappointed in the later books.  The fall was far.

I’m not the only one, either.  I think a large volume of BDB readers all felt the same way.  It felt as though the author had put aside the core group that we loved so much, and was bringing in a lot of new characters that just didn’t feel relevant.  Creating new characters is fun, however most of the time it’s not needed, and at worse can create an environment that feels muddied.

In my opinion, Ward recognized the frustration of her fanbase and attempted to appease them by bringing the main characters stories back to the forefront with The King, The Shadows, and the up and coming installment The Beast.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe it worked.  I readily admit that I didn’t make it even half way through The King.  Everything about the story felt like a shallow version of what I used to love, and I was further disappointed when I felt the characters personalities were compromised.  I haven’t even attempted to read The Shadows, but I did hear that people continued to be upset.  Part of me is sad and feels like I should try, the other part is happy I put it aside before everything was ruined.

I know I sound harsh, but it’s the reality when a beloved series is shredded.  It feels pretty dire.

When the Black Dagger Legacy spin-off series was announced I was initially turned off.  I immediately thought to myself that Ward needs to stop beating a dead horse.  THEN, the series was advertised as Ward getting back to the BDB roots with one romance per book, and setting it in the training facility where she could bring the story back to our original boys, (Wrath, Rhage, Z, Butch, V, Phury, Rhev, etc), and I finally started to perk up.  That was exactly what I had been missing… so of course I was curious.  Still wary, but curious too.

IMG_20151119_184103Then, when I got this package in the mail I felt my tummy flutter.  I opened it up and saw the letter from Wrath with Blood Kiss wrapped in the prettiest packaging, sealed with a kiss, and damn it if I didn’t start squeeing like a teenager.  It turns out that all that obsession was still inside me.  All that love and need for more was still right there in my heart, buried under cynicism and disappointment.  All I needed was the book in hand to feel myself geek out.  Even though I had other reads to accomplish first, I couldn’t wait to crack this baby open!

Now, any time there’s a spin off like this you’re going to get the usual info dump.  Of course the author has to give you the highlights on everything that happened previously, leading up to why there is a need for a training facility, why it’s a big deal that civilian vampires are now allowed to train, and we totally got the play-by-play on how Butch and Marissa came to be.  For anyone who jumps on the BDB bandwagon starting with the Legacy books, rather than the Brotherhood books, the inclusion of all this information is very important.  For someone like me who has read eleven and a half of the BDB books, in addition to all the novellas and deleted scenes, it felt a little bit monotonous.  Not a big hang-up though.

If I were to list one thing that annoyed me, it was probably that at times it felt like Ward was trying to throw in as many characters as she could.  It wasn’t necessary.  This is going to be a whole series, with plenty of time for each of them to pop in naturally.

Other than that, though, this book was GOOD.  It had all the laughter, all the one liners, all the jokes.  It had the sweet romance, it had the Alpha bonding.  It wasn’t cluttered with too many stories.  The names weren’t even too weird!  Paradise didn’t have a random floating H anywhere, and Craeg may be spelled oddly but no more so than any other names I may see in my day to day life.

Rest assured, for those of you hardcore BDB fans, there is the same amount of shit-kickin, base thumpin, cheesiness.  The same amount of pop-culture references.  The same bromances.  It stayed true to the core of the world, but it brought everything it promised including a more focused story, more of the Brotherhood, and the heat!  It also gives us a new group of Males and Females to learn about, which maybe could have been a bad thing, but it’s wasn’t.  It felt natural.  It felt like when Blay and Qhuinn were introduced and they seemed to fit.  These characters belong.  It reinvigorated me.  I’m hoping that Peyton and Novo are next, and (just like my love of Zhadist & Qhuinn) I’m hoping for something spectacular for Axe.

The only thing that made me sad when I finally closed this book, is that all of my fellow BDB-lovin friends have given up.  Most of them decided not to read this.  I’m all alone with nobody to discuss with… sniff sniff.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  = B

Thank you to Signet and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Series Reading Order:

Black Dagger Legacy
1. Blood Kiss

Black Dagger Brotherhood
1. Dark Lover
2. Lover Eternal
3. Lover Awakened
4. Lover Revealed
5. Lover Unbound
6. Lover Enshrined
7. Lover Avenged
8. Lover Mine
9. Lover Unleashed
10. Lover Reborn
11. Lover at Last
12. The King
13. The Shadows
14. The Beast (released April 5th 2016)

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