The Black Dagger Sisterhood: Women in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Series

Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward // VBC

Fun VBC fact: Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward is VBC’s HBIC Chelsea’s most re-read book.

VBC HQ Note: This post by Chelsea Mueller was originally published on Heroes & Heartbreakers in 2011. Since that time, J.R. Ward has brought us many more strong heroines. If you’re looking for more female leads from Ward, try the spin-off series beginning with Blood Kiss.

That said, Chelsea still says the early BDB books are must reads. If you haven’t dived into this series, let’s talk about the power of the women within those novels that kicked off the powerhouse Black Dagger Brotherhood series. 

I honestly can’t count the times I’ve debated which member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood is the best. (My pick will forever be Zsadist, if you’re keeping track at home.) Those vampire warriors from J.R. Ward’s series have endeared themselves to us—heh, can you imagine Wrath’s reaction to me saying he endeared himself?

When I look back, my favorite books in the series are always those with strong females.

Each novel finds a warrior finding his one true mate, complications ensue, there’s fighting with vampire slayers and lots of gasp-inducing sex scenes. But each book still includes the other members of the Brotherhood. So, while you meet Vishous in the first book, he doesn’t find Jane until book 5.

So, then, why is it I loved Butch—a cop-turned-Brotherhood member—up until the novel where he takes center stage? One word: Marissa.

Butch is still great in Lover Revealed (BDB #4), but his counterpart is a bore. Butch loves Marissa, a sheltered society vampire. When we first meet her, she  comes across as weak, in need of saving and a bit irritating. And that impression doesn’t change as we get to know her. Don’t get me wrong; I like the big strong man coming to save the day. I just don’t want the woman to lack any strength at all—emotional strength or strength of personality goes a long way.

And, it’s with this thought of Marissa and the good-but-not-great Lover Revealed, that I finally pieced it together: When it comes to BDB books, the female makes the Brother. All my favorite novels have dynamic heroines who challenge their respective Brothers and can snap the group in line.

We’ll start with my favorite Brother Zsadist. I wasn’t interested in him as a romantic hero until Bella saw him as such. He wanted to run from her and hide behind a callous and cruel façade. She wasn’t having it. She wanted him and only him. A shared victimization brings these two closer in Lover Awakened (BDB #3). If Bella hadn’t forced Zsadist to be honest with her, himself, he wouldn’t be a favorite. Her strength fortifies him, makes him a better protector.

Vishous is used to giving orders in relationships. Jane? She is game for some of that in the bedroom (and, better yet, over the sink), but no-one runs her life. She’s a doctor and expecting her to give any of that up? Not happening. By the end of Lover Unbound, V’s leading lady is the official BDB doctor and even the king listens to her final word. She helps shift the dynamic in the house, adding another woman who carries authority, much like Beth.

Ah, Beth. The woman who started it all. The one who brought a king to accept his role. In the first BDB novel, Dark Lover, Wrath agrees to look out for Darius’s half-human daughter. She may go through the change into vampire or not. He doesn’t like the idea, but once he’s around her, the two can’t deny the mutual pull (though they sure try). Beth is willing to fight to protect Wrath and other vampires, no matter the personal consequences. She transforms Wrath from grumpy guy, griping about his lot in life, to a true king. If Beth had never acquiesced, The Blind King wouldn’t be ruling, as was his destiny. The Brothers would be weaker for it, and, really, so would the series.

As romance readers we often get caught up on the heroes—with good, delicious cause—but without the right heroine, these men would likely remained scarred, flawed and never start on that bad boy road to redemption.

Which BDB heroine is your favorite? Hit the comments and share your love for the WARDen.

10 Responses to “The Black Dagger Sisterhood: Women in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Series”

  1. Tj Harvey says:


  2. Donna Bossert says:

    Beth will always be my favorite!

  3. Cindy says:

    Beth and Bella

  4. Anna Otranto says:

    Bella, Beth..Jane…and Blah (as a Mate? He’s one of he strongest too) in that order…I just love, love, LOVE this series. I re-read the whole series from book 1on EVERY year before new books comes out. That’s HOW MUCH I love this series. I’ve tried finding one as good, unique as this one, and even though I found a few I truly like, the BDB, to me, itll always be my fave. Ward just keeps getting better and better…and while some of the books may not be as good as others, overall I love all of them. Some are ddfinegly better because of their Mates…it does make all the diference. And like you, book #3 is one my top favorites in this series, too. Zhadista deserves a strong. Mate like Bella.. as does Wrath with Beth and so on. Please, keep writing because I will never stop reading this series. Ever.

  5. Anna Otranto says:

    Oh. I meant BLAY above…because as a Mate? He’s way stronger than Quinn and he makes Quinn look less of an a***hole…BLAY is the stronger of the two. And I love, love that about him.

  6. Eileen Predmore says:

    Though I agree Beth is the prototype for a strong shellan, Rhage chose well with his Mary. After all she went through in life she manages to soothe the beast in Rhage and at the same time fit in seamlessly with all the brothers and their drama.

  7. Nicole Newman says:

    This is my all time favorite vampire series. I love all of the women in this series. It is hard to pick a favorite.

  8. Valerie Luptak says:

    Omg. I absolutely love this series….. On book 2 of the legacy part. I found these by accident and omg. I’m been stuck ….

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