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