Reviewed by: Jannelle
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Note: While review will be spoiler free, it does make reference to books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. If you haven’t started that yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Dark Lover. You do not, however, need to be up-to-date on BDB to enjoy this book.
Black Dagger Legacy is a spin-off series from the widely popular and fan-inducing Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward. The first in this new series, Blood Kiss, centers on Paradise, who is the daughter of Wrath’s first advisor. As the Brotherhood is now open to accepting trainees, Paradise jumps at the opportunity, turning her back on the ancient traditions that speak against a female in her social standing doing much other than being a slave to these customs with no choices of her own.
Much to her surprise (not ours), the training program is rigorous and exceptionally difficult with a competitive edge, setting Paradise slightly against the other recruits as they all fight to win their way into the program. During the initial challenges the Brotherhood throws at them—particularly Butch, the Dhestroyer—Paradise meets Craeg, a fellow recruit in a completely opposite social class, who instantly catches her attention. While Paradise is all for breaking the ties from her family and their preconceived ideas of who she should be—and who she was—Craeg is hesitant to fall soul-deep into a connection with her.
At first glance, Paradise is weak and idealistic. Craeg, on the other hand, is strong and experienced in a way that almost guarantees him a spot in the program. It was empowering to see Paradise struggle and advance through the strenuous tasks set in front of her, determined in her goal–she was a fantastic heroine. Craeg, however, is the one who goes through the biggest character development, his mindset and personality opening up through their growing connection.
Overall, Blood Kiss was an interesting read for me. Surprisingly, I’m not a long-time fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (I’ve only read the first book). That’s not to say I didn’t like the novel, I just haven’t had the time to binge-read the entire series (as it so rightfully deserves). That being said, I felt like I was missing out on a lot of information involving silent storylines from characters previously featured in the BDB series.
Don’t get me wrong; Blood Kiss reads great as a standalone and first in a new series (and it’s not necessary to have read the BDB books before), but you definitely feel like you’re missing out. Most importantly, Butch’s relationship with Marissa was pivotal to the overall storyline involving Paradise and Craeg. While Ward did a wonderful job at seamlessly providing history on Butch and Marissa’s past and intertwining that with the main storyline involving Paradise and Craeg, I feel that my overall appreciation for the story would have been amplified had I read previous installments in the original series.
Blood Kiss has a wonderfully fast-paced plot that keeps you engaged while still being able to process and understand the backstory to this multi-faceted world. If you’re a long-time fan of the BDB series, you can’t miss Blood Kiss as it has literal laugh out loud moments and a constant stream of dialogue and action from characters initially featured in the BDB series. If you’re new or semi-new to this world (like I am), you don’t want to pass Blood Kiss up; I’m already ready for book two in the Black Dagger Legacy series, Blood Vow, and gearing up for that binge-read of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series I mentioned earlier.
Sexual content: graphic sex