Rating (out of 5): 3 stars
I know what you’re thinking: 3 stars for a Black Dagger Brotherhood book? Yep. Lover Avenged is a chaotic read putting too much focus on subplots. Don’t worry, though, despite the distractions Lover Avenged’s hero Rhevenge’s relationship with Ehlena is still worth your time.
This is the first book that focuses entirely on someone other than a member of the Brotherhood. (You could make an argument that Butch wasn’t really a part of the Brotherhood at the beginning of his book. I wouldn’t say that, though.) We know Rhev from earlier titles: he’s a drug lord, a club owner and half sympath. We gain added insight into his struggles with his sympath side — which wants nothing more than to manipulate others and cause emotional pain. It feeds on it. To keep it underwraps he uses copious amounts of dopamine. It’s on one of his frequent trips to the clinic that he hits on Ehlena, a nurse at Havers’ clinic. And she shoots him down. Most people are uncomfortable around Rhev, but she really isn’t.
Ehlena is more focused on taking care of her ailing father than dealing with her curious attraction to the mohawked vampire. But the guy is charming. These two end up together without really knowing one another. Their lives are drastically different, but emotionally these two are perfectly matched. And the spark of hope at the chance of happiness is lit in both of them — and it’s really heartwarming to read. But things are never simple in the BDB books. Kidnapping. Blood. Secrets. Even a bomb.
I love these two together, and I wish more of the book focused on them. The time spent on the growing John Matthew and Xhex story is totally engaging and feels right within the framework of Lover Avenged. (Don’t expect them to make progress, their book is next, after all.) However, we spend quite a bit of time with Wrath and Beth. To me those passages were often too long and, at times, felt unnecessary. I like revisiting current couples within the story, but this one just felt heavy-handed.
As always, there are tons of hints dropped and groundwork laid for what’s to come. When it comes to Lover Avenged, Rhevenge and Ehlena are by far the highlights. (Xhex makes a strong showing, too, and it did whet my appetite for more of her.) This is one of the few BDB novels where I’d say you won’t miss out much if you skip the lesser/Lash sections, and still get a worthwhile love story.
Bottom line: Worth reading, but if I were to re-read, I’d just be reading the dirty and/or romantic parts with Rhev and Ehlena.
Sexual content: Multiple graphic sex scenes