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Review: The Chosen by J.R. Ward (BDB #15)

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The Chosen by JR Ward // VBCThe Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)
J.R. Ward
Published: April 4, 2017 (Ballantine Books)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased

Reviewed by: Jo

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

Note: While this review will be spoiler free, it will reference events from previous books. If you haven’t started this series yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Dark Lover.

After the safe birth of her two young, Chosen Layla feels she should be over the moon. But she plagued with guilt over her clandestine affair with Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards and sworn enemy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Xcor may have ended things, but Layla still cannot deny her feelings for him. With Xcor now held captive by the Brotherhood, awaiting trial and ultimately execution, she has information that may save his life, but it will mean exposing herself as a traitor and threatening her place in her new family unit.

I can’t think of many couples in paranormal romance that have had quite as much build-up as Layla and Xcor (although Qhuinn and Blay certainly gave them a run for their money!). Their star-crossed romance began way back in Lover Reborn, steadily running in the background. The Chosen finally sees them take center stage. I was worried when I started this book that it would take forever for Layla’s secret to be unveiled. I needn’t have been, the proverbial s#!@ hits the fan very early on, and it’s straight up D.R.A.M.A from almost the word go.

Xcor has been an adversary in this series for a while now, so I was interested to see how Ward was going to turn that around. This has already began some what with his behavior in previous books, but in The Chosen we get much more background on him. Through flashbacks we see just how hard Xcor’s early life was, as, like Qhuinn, he was born with a ‘defect.’ The BDB is no stranger to tortured heroes, and Xcor definitely joins those ranks. But for all his brutally, he treats Layla with an almost reverence. With an expiration date hanging over their heads, there is a deep sadness to their romance, making their interactions feel bittersweet. The deep love was obvious but the melancholy desperation made it feel almost too sweet and lacking in intensity.

When Layla’s involvement with Xcor becomes public, half the Brotherhood lose their ever-loving minds, but none more than Qhuinn. I’m a huge Qhuinn fan, but he acts like a total asshat in The Chosen. His blind rage spills out in violence, selfish and downright stupid decisions, and words that are borderline unforgivable. This creates a huge rift between him and Blay. One of the things I’ve liked most about the latest BDB books is that previous couples don’t just act as supporting characters. They have real relationships that continue to have real issues, and keep these much-loved characters at the forefront of the series. But after this, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to look at Qhuinn the same way, and that makes me sad. It did, however, showcase just how far Layla’s character has come, finally finding a sense of identity, and the will to stand up for the things she loves.

As with any BDB book that are 101 plot lines running at the same time. To name a few, there is a side plot with Throe, which looks to be the beginnings of the next Big Bad. Lassiter has… things going on. Trez is deep in mourning for Selena, when a female vampire arrives looking identical to his lost mate. I’m really really interested to see where that particular storyline is going to go.

The Chosen wraps up many storylines that have been running in the background for a while now. It feels like most (if not all, I’m looking at you Vishous) of the internal issues have been solved. I’m hoping this means, with a united front, we going to see the war heat up again, with a Big Bad worthy of Mr. X or Lash, something this series has been lacking for awhile for me. And with an injection of fresh, single, warrior meat introduced in this installment, I’m pleased this paranormal soap opera shows no signs of slowing down!

Sexual content: graphic sex, references to rape

10 Responses to “Review: The Chosen by J.R. Ward (BDB #15)”

  1. Gemma says:

    This review is reflecting all of my feels. I do feel that this may be the transitioning point of the series and i too miss Lash and Mr X as the big bad.

    Great review

  2. Christina says:

    Although I grew tired of this series a few books back. I have been thinking about getting back to them. i want to thank you for the honest review.

  3. Angie says:

    I agree with everything you said and esp. the sideplot around V feels a bit tedious to me. However I did love Wrath in this one… again. 😉 I do look forward to the next one as I like to know more about Assail and luckily the BDB Legacy Books do make the wait easier.

  4. Diana says:

    Thanks for your review, Jo! I completely agree with you about Qhuinn’s behavior, although you and I are in the minority. I expect his insanity was meant to make readers reconsider their view of Layla who has been blamed for everything except poor stock market performance. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. She has been, and continues to be, treated with scorn, venom and worse by female readers since before The Chosen was even published. “Die, slut, die!” is just one choice comment. We females are much harder on our own sex than we are on males, in my experience. In contrast, Bad Boy Xcor has actually fared somewhat better with females. That is a double standard IMO unless it’s highly warranted. I don’t think it is in TC and I’m glad you didn’t take that route.
    It’s clear from TC that a very worthy Big Bad is next up at bat and we know exactly who he is. It should be a huge battle because it concerns the Dehstroyer Prophecy so it’s going to be good! As far as Trez and Selena’s story, we know who is behind their meeting and we know the why, but the details are still to come. All the “internal issues” are never all going to be solved, and Vishous’ situation is one I wasn’t expecting and badly want to read about.
    Finally, I have to say I don’t understand your statement, “The deep love [between Xcor and Layla] was obvious but the melancholy desperation made it feel almost too sweet and lacking in intensity.” I think their love was fraught with problems they thought couldn’t be surmounted but they couldn’t deny it. Xcor bonded with Layla and I think their very desperation and fear made it extremely intense. Since they were the featured couple I wondered if that’s why you rated the book 3.5. Of course reviewing is all subjective anyway so again, thanks for your work!

    • Hi Diana, and thanks so much for commenting 🙂

      When it came to the actual physical relationship between Xcor and Layla, I felt like their interactions were based on love, of course, but because there was so much pulling them apart I didn’t feel like they could really ‘enjoy’ each other–every time felt like their last. While that made for very emotional reading, it was more sad than passionate to me–that’s what I what I meant by intensity.

  5. Kelly says:

    There is discussion on fan websites that the inexplicable behavior of many of the male characters in this novel (including V, Quinn, Tohr and Assail) may be the result of a metaphysical ‘disturbance’ which has not yet been revealed by the Warden. The thought is that the disturbance or imbalance relates to Lassiter’s new role as the Scribe Virgin. Frankly, that is the only explanation as to why so many of the males acted out of character.

  6. DC says:

    Yes! Been waiting on this review from you all! Honestly I feel the exact same way about Quinn. The things he said to Blay and Layla in this book left a bad taste in my mouth (seriously-Layla was only a receptacle and Blay wasn’t their real dad) and once the HEA part of the story came into place-I wasn’t so sure I was as willing to forgive and forget with everyone else. The part about him not being able to look at his daughter was ROUGH. I’m a fan of Blay and have always been a little weary of Quinn being his HEA and this book just added more fuel to that fire. I’d be interested to see if after getting feedback like this about Quinn he’s maybe on the back burner for the next few books until ppl can forget how terrible he kinda is

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