We’re trying something new at VBC. Now that we have a few more reviewers here, we can do roundtable reviews. It’s a great way for you to get to know our new reviewers and their tastes. It’s also great for books like Lover at Last that everyone has an opinion on. Plus, just about everyone at VBC devoured that book. Seriously.
I can remember when I first read Dark Lover. I finished it in a single sitting and immediately downloaded the next book in the series. In fact, I went through the first six books in one week. I have been looking forward to Qhuinn and Blaylock’s book ever since Blay was the first one to be nice to John Matthew on the bus to the training center. I have loved watching his character grow and figure out who he is and what he wants. Needless to say, I had very high expectations for this book. Maybe that was why I was so disappointed. If I had expected less, I might have enjoyed it more.
Without providing any spoilers, which is really hard, my first issue with this book was that I had trouble believing the ‘misunderstanding’ that kept Qhuinn and Blay emotionally apart. When you read it, you’ll know that it literally would have taken one sentence in the first third of book to resolve it. They could have faced the rest of the issues in the book as a united front. Instead, she drags it out for hundreds of pages. I found this very frustrating, and not in the “I can’t put this book down” way, but in the “when is this going to be over?” way.
My second issue was that the author keeps bring people back from the dead (now you really want to read it just to find out who, don’t you?). It really seems like everyone, except for poor Wellsie, gets a get-out-of-the-fade-free card. I love this book series, but this is making it hard for me to believe in the world that she’s created. I bought Darius coming back as John Matthew, was very glad when Mary got to stay with Rhage, had my doubts when Vishous got to keep Jane, got downright pissed when Autumn got a second chance, and now, in Lover at Last, I think it’s gotten a little ridiculous.
In a series this long, I know that there are constantly going to be plots, subplots, and new characters. I’ve been enjoying the political intrigue and the Band of Bastards. However, I feel that there are subplots that haven’t been resolved from previous books. This book has started a few new plot lines, without addressing or resolving past ones (Rhage and Mary wanting a baby, Murhder, the Chosen at the camp, Rehvenge as the sympathy king, etc.). As a reader, the last couple of books have felt like I’m doing my homework, not like I’m escaping into a world I love. If a friend asked me if they should read this book, I would tell them to skip the last three books, and hope the next one gets back to her previous quality. I will continue to read these books because I want to find out what happens, but I don’t have the same sense of anticipation as I have with other books.
I approached this book being both excited and nervous. I was happy when it was announced that Blay and Qhuinn would have their relationship finally hammered out. I was ecstatic when I found out it would be in full novel format instead of the previously announced novella. I even squee’d when the book was finally delivered to my local book store. But I was terrified when I opened Lover at Last and started reading.
I had been disappointed with the last two BDB outings. After the spectacular opening of Lover Unleashed I found the rest somewhat lackluster (the exception being any scene involving Vishous) and as much as I love Tohr, I found myself rushing through the scenes with the main protagonists to sections highlighting other characters. So I was filled with anxiety that Blay and Qhuinn’s story wouldn’t live up to what I had built up in my head. But I shouldn’t have worried– J.R. Ward more than lived up to my expectations; she blew them out of the water. Simply said, Warden we are not worthy.
There has been a lot of buzz and hype about this book being the first mainstream romance novel featuring a same-sex couple as the main protagonists. (I don’t know if this would technically qualify as a first since Suzanne Brockmann did have lead homosexual characters in her Troubleshooter series.) I was curious on how Ward was going to handle the same-sex relationship in the context of a romance novel. In the end it was a story of a relationship between two individuals, sexual orientation be damned. I was submersed in the emotions and angst each of the characters were dealing with as they moved towards each other and honestly the more hot guys the better. I will give it up to Warden the sex scenes in Lover at Last were some of her steamiest and most satisfying.
But OH MY GOD THE ANGST! Qhuinn’s angst, Blay’s angst, and every other character that was featured on the pages’ angst. It was a giant angst fest. Now I am quite forgiving with Blay and Qhuinn because they are only a few years out of the male vampire version of puberty, and who isn’t a full bundle of angst in their 20s. A lot of the time I wanted to slap the characters so they would get out of their own way but in hindsight the angst only pulled me deeper into the book. After reading the book I now have my own bucket full of angst. Ward has left so many plot lines and characters HEA up in the air. I don’t know how she is possibly going to be able to resolve them all. Lover at Last has made me even more of a Black Dagger Brotherhood fangirl, and I will probably squee even louder when get my grubby little hands on The King.
I used to fangirl over Black Dagger Brotherhood books. It’s true. I still think Lover Awakened is worthy of fangirling. Then again, it’s one of the few books I re-read. I haven’t been so invested in the series after John Matthew’s book. I’ve been trying, and I hoped Qhuinn and Blay’s story would be the one to hook me back in properly.
It was and it wasn’t. I had waited, like everyone else, for their chance to be together. I fully enjoyed their story, and I flew through that book like the next chapter would burn if I didn’t get there fast enough. However, I’m guilty of skimming pretty much everything of Trez. Some of the new subplots weren’t strong enough and felt like distractions from the main romance. Additionally, like Mary said above, the angst and complications were obvious. As a reader I found myself seeing Qhuinn and Blay’s angst as manufactured. They got in their own way and just stayed there. Maybe that was J.R. Ward’s intention—to show the way they weren’t ready to accept the relationship yet—but it frustrated me. The honest relationship conversation between Xcor and Layla was perfect, and Qhuinn and Blay could have benefited from something similar.
Also, I found myself saying: Where the hell is John Matthew? He’s in the book, sure, but I wanted to see more of him. His best friends are going through this mega emotional upheaval, and I felt like he’d be there.
It was worth the read, of course, and I’ll keep coming back because the BDB books are worthy of devouring even when I whine about the tangential stuff.
Having watched Quinn and Blay’s rocky saga unfold throughout the previous books, I, like many BDB fans, have been more than eagerly awaiting this book. When a romance has so much angst and build up it can be a worry that when they do finally get their time in the spotlight it might not live up to everything you/me/we have been waiting for. Lover at Last both did and didn’t.
I’ll start by saying I loved the Qhuay side of things. The tension, the sacrifices, the raw emotion (the smoking hot looks across the gym!). These two have been through everything together and it was clear they would never be truly whole without one another. Did I get frustrated with their lack of communication at times? Absolutely yes, but ultimately I was really pleased with how their story played out. There was also some fantastic action (plane ride = epic!) and some real shockers thrown in that had me racing through their sections.
What didn’t work for me so much was the amount of time we spent away from them. I’m usually a fan of multiple POV and have always enjoyed how varied the plots are in the BDB books, but that’s because it usually contains another Brother. Here we see a lot of semi-new voices, not only taking away from our time with Qhuay but also drastically cutting down our catch-up time with the rest of the brothers. (I’m totally with Chelsea, seriously where was John Matthew in this book?! I know he got a lot of page time in Lover Reborn, but he’s best friends with both the main characters!) I struggled to get invested in these other stories lines, partly because there were so many and partly because I was (literally) snarling at the book every time I saw it switching away from Quinn or Blay.
One thing that did surprise me was how much I fell in love with the Xcor/Layla storyline by the end. After Lover Reborn I was not convinced by them as a potential couple but now I’m positively itching to read their story!
Angst, waiting, nail-biting, worry, more angst and more waiting, all in combination with a significant amount of plot lines and a semi-missing best friend make up Lover at Last. But was it worth the wait? Abso-fricking-lutely, true?
Let’s talk about Assail. I feel the same way about him as I felt about Vin DiPietro after Covet and Michael after The Story of Son. The end of the book came and I wanted more Assail. Did he remind anyone else of a certain mohawked Sympath or was that just me? I adored the way he basically gave every organized system of vampiric authority the middle finger and said he was doing things his way.
Now onto the three males tied up in the Qhuinn and Blay relationship—Saxton and the boys. I have never disliked Saxton. Never. And he earned a big literary air hug from me in Lover at Last. Head over heels and irrevocably in love with Blay, he knew that Blay’s heart was with Qhuinn, so [highlight for spoiler] he stepped back. Saxton, you are truly a male of worth and I hope that your intended male of worth finds you soon.
Qhuinn and Blay. First of all, hot damn, yes and hallelujah all at the same time. You get the HEA, otherwise there wouldn’t be a very nice, pretty, hardcover edition sitting on your shelf at this moment. But for the love of the Red Sox Nation, could we please have a little less angst? The he said and she saids and we will, we won’t, he doesn’t deserve me, I don’t deserve him, screw him—I’m done was a bit of overkill. It was like a grown-up version of middle and high school, only with fangs and a serious Vitamin D allergy. I get it, though. Qhuinn had to come to terms with his upbringing and Blay still had to come out to his parents. This was a little more complex, but still, toning down the angst would be great.
But at the end of this book, I can and will put Qhuinn up against any of J.R. Ward’s alphas. He and Blay are a team but Qhuinn, for reasons you shall see in the book, is the one who would want at my back if I were fighting lessers. Way to go J.R. You may have brought a few people over to M/M fandom just by Qhuinn alone.
The icing on this deliciously long-awaited book? The boys. You see the brothers acting the way they did at the beginning of the series. You get two of them ready to kill a loud-mouthed angel (and I would SO have had their backs—go Red Sox!). And you see why J.R. Ward has multitudes of fans, this reviewer included. Bravo. I can’t wait until the next one.