Reviewed: July 13, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 4
Rating: 3 Stars
Length: 455 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Nook
Butch O'Neal had been a cop with a shady record and a painful past the night that a car bomb exploded and Black Dagger brother Darius was executed by lessers. The investigation into that homicide pulled him out of the world he knew and life he half loathed and dragged him into a world of vampires and battle, expensive suits and beautiful females. He is the only human to have ever gained entrÈe into that world, into the haven of a brotherhood of warriors. Not that his rise in station did much for the poisonous maw of guilt and self loathing, really, but it did clothe his posterior much better.
Still feeling the sting of rejection by the aristocratic vampire female Marissa and at a loss what to do with himself amongst vampires who see him as someone to protect, not someone to depend on in a fight, Butch's growing depression is putting a hurt on his liver as he wallows in booze and escapes in random sex. On his own, he's a disaster waiting to happen, so when he's snatched by lessers as he steps in to save a civilian vampire, he's not all that surprised at what goes down. What one lesser and his master the Omega do to him, though, is a vicious, unending nightmare of torture and defilement.
As Butch lies broken and eternally corrupted by the poisonous evil inside him, he knows that none of the brothers, not even his best friend V, will be able to save him.
J.R. Ward's trailblazing Black Dagger Brotherhood series kicks off its fourth installment with the human cop Butch, whom fans will remember from previous installments, as the main character. His well-documented love for the vampire female Marissa is twisting him up even more than normal as he tries not to be too pathetic about it, but as all males in this series, human or no, Butch has a lot of scars on his soul and doesn't always make good choices when he's hurting. Some of those choices will change his life and the lives of the members of the brotherhood forever.
As much as I enjoy this series and recognize it for the innovative fiction it is, I can't say that Lover Revealed is a favorite of mine. In fact, it's my least favorite of the first four books, and after my shameless worship of Z and Bella's story and the supporting subplots in Lover Awakened, this book was a sharper disappointment than I had anticipated, even on this second reading.
The book stumbled as a paranormal romance because I couldn't warm up to Butch, who came off as sort of pathetic with his poor-me attitude, depression, and willing self destruction throughout most of the book, and I detested the prim and proper and oh-so-spineless Marissa for a painfully equal length of time. In Marissa's case, even when she grew a spine and started to stand on her own two feet, the relationship evolution with Butch was painful, with rocks the size of prehistoric land mammals on the thin, overgrown path towards a shaky HEA. I didn't care much for either character individually, and I didn't like them together at all - and, according to most of the book, neither did they, which is a pretty darn big problem.
Hell, best friends Butch and V had more scintillating sexual tension and romantic presence, not to mention wicked stronger bonds of trust and concern than the supposed main romantic pair of Butch and Marissa. There is something seriously wrong with that in a het paranormal romance. When all was said and done, I would have preferred Butch kick Marissa to the curb and strap himself down for a little bromance V-style - it would have been a hell of a lot more interesting, anyway.
If I ignore the 'romance' and focus on the book's urban fantasy elements, the book fares much better (it would sort of have to). The Warden's imagination and ability to weave complex subplots into a cohesive and darkly delicious whole are what makes this series so very special to me, and there was some serious new development and a few twists and turns that I hadn't expected on the first read several years ago, and on this reread got to sit back and just enjoy.
The subplot with John was well done; very thorough, believable, and flashing big neon signs of impending explosion. I'd have to be dead not to feel for that poor kid. The weightier presence of the Omega was also important...if not a bit ironic considering how that all works out. I wasn't as interested in Van's descent to the dark side - it felt a bit too similar to a plot thread in a previous book, but it wasn't bad, and the fore-lesser Mr. X's issues were an interesting twist.
I wish that Marissa's project had been initiated earlier in the book and given more page time, because it was a good and worthy cause with a ton of potential plot development, and maybe I wouldn't have disliked her so much had I seen more of her coming into her own and at a quicker pace. On the other hand, I didn't at all care for the glimpses of Butch's sister's life and could very well have done without them. I was so annoyed in those passages I skimmed most of them and wish Ward had found another way to get the character development and information they imparted out to her readers.
As a romance, this book doesn't work for me, and as the book that directly followed Z's, it failed pretty handily in that regard, but the other elements make it a worthwhile read and at least a decent installment in the series. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is definitely not a series you should read out of order, regardless. Each book is so very well written to build up and around the romance of each main couple that single installments become individual stepping stones towards the evolution and eventual culmination of a fantastic overall series arc. Miss one and you may just fall off the path and get hopelessly lost. And what a shame that would be.
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