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VBC Roundtable: Lover at Last by J.R. Ward

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Lover at Last by J.R. Ward // VBC Roundtable ReviewWe’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.

MARY

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.

KRISTA

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.

Lover Unleashed by J.R. WardI 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.

Lover Awakened by J.R. WardCHELSEA

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.

JO

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 Lover Reborn by J.R. WardI 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!

CANDACE

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.

Covet by J.R. WardNow 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.

11 Responses to “VBC Roundtable: Lover at Last by J.R. Ward”

  1. Julie says:

    I really like this roundtable of reviews – it’s nice to get multiple perspectives in one place. I hope to see more of them in the future.

  2. La says:

    Loved the round table. I did not devour. Loved B&Q but just didn’t get into the subplots except for Layla/Xcor. And to echo others, where in the hell was John Matthew? Travesty that he wasn’t there for his boys. Angst overkill- just TALK already! But the plane scene ROCKED!

  3. Laura says:

    I really enjoyed this, we did something very similar on Book Chick City about Lover At Last.
    I enjoyed it, but was disappointed with it at the same time. Far too many new plots and not enough ‘Quay’ time, as you said where was John Matthew when his best friends were going through huge angst and turmoil? So bored with Assail, adored the Xcor and Layla star crossed lovers storyline. Overall if felt like she tried to do too much. But it was still a massive page-turner.

  4. Arlene says:

    Great reviews, one and all.
    It’s so nice to see such differing views welcomed. Sadly, that is not always the case on some sites. I’m one of the ones who went from “oooh, great beginning” to “meh” to “WTF?” to “OK” on this book. I SO miss the way the early ones played out. At the same time, I can respect those who absolutely loved this book with no reservations. (I think one of my problems is that I edit books on occasion, and when I catch things that made it to publication it drives me insane. I can’t turn it off. Heheh.)

    Again, bravo, ladies. I declare the roundtable review session a success.

  5. barbara says:

    Love the new review roundtable format… brilliant!

    After Lover Unleashed (which I only enjoyed because of Vishous, Vishous, and more Vishous!) and then Tohr’s story, I was afraid I was losing my BDB love and was a bit hesitant about Lover at Last. But Ward completely pulled me back in with Qhuay’s story and many of the subplots. While I’m anxious for much more Assail and the Shadows, I have zero interest in Layla and Xcor. It feels as if Layla is just in the way (and now I have trust issues with her, lol).

    Thanks to LaL I’m completely looking forward to the next book and am hoping since it’s focused on Wrath & Beth that we’ll get a lot more old school Brother time too.

  6. I agree that the new rountable format is a great idea!

    I have to admit I too got frustrated with the never-ending angst between Qhinn and Blay. But in the end I decided that yes, life is often like that. Fear sometimes has to be overcome before some relationships can happen. It’s easy to see what we think people should do when we’re on the outside looking in, but not so easy for those actually involved.

    I do feel invested in Xcor and Layla’s story. I missed more involvement from the other Brothers. And I didn’t tear up as often as I have in the other books. But overall, I love being involved in the world of the BDB. And please, let’s have more Vishous next time around!
    He really turns me on!

  7. sylviehansen says:

    I’m about halfway through right now, and I’m getting irritated by all switching back and forth from story story arc to the next. Personally, I can’t stand Xcor & company, find them all really unpleasant. So, I tend to skim through their pages. I’m glad Layla’s getting some backbone and I’m intrigued by the Assail/Sola storyline, but I feel like I’m getting shortchanged on Blay and Qhuinn.

    I’m really glad the Shadow brothers, Trez & iAm are getting some time, I hope the Warden gives them each a book at some point.

  8. Leslie says:

    I enjoyed this book but I wanted more John Matthew!!! I mean seriously where was he? I have to ask is anyone else irritated that Quinn became a brother before JM? Also I liked and didn’t like the subplots. They were interesting but there was too much attention given to them. I wonder if the Warden is using this book as a bridge book to take the series from one place to another. You know instead of focusing so much on the love stories from now on the focus will be more on the political aspects. Idk. Maybe. It’s just a thought.

  9. Nicolai says:

    Outstanding book!! J.R. Ward did not disappoint me. The emotions and soul searching were unbelievably perfect! This will definitely join my reread list.

  10. Brad says:

    I have been listening to all audio books of these books I am about to start book 9 Lover Unleashed. I really enjoy the books and the characters. After Lover Mine which I liked a lot except for the Qhinn and Blay angst. I have no problem with the characters, I just do not want to listen to a male/male relationship and I am hoping it wont be graphic at all. I was wondering if I would be hurt by skip this book in the flow of the series. Or as another option just pick up a book copy and skip all the Angst of Blay and Qhinn. I have no problems with homosexuality I just do not want to read or listen to it. I got to the point in Lover Mine where I skipped forward on the Qhinn and Blay angst.

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