Lover Awakened

Lover Eternal

Lover Enshrined
by J.R. Ward
(Signet, $7.99, R)  ISBN 978-045122272-5
Wow - there’s so much action in book six of the Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal romance series it’s hard to know where to begin!   

Each of the previous books has provided the back story, so it would be best to read them before reading Lover EnshrinedLover Enshrined is Phury’s story. He’s a member of a team of vampire enforcers living in New York State called the Black Dagger Brotherhood who hunt a group of villains called the Lessers.  Of course, the members of the team are all handsome, totally ripped, and excel at hand-to-hand combat. As well as being manly men, they are also in touch with their feelings.  As implausible as it sounds, the stories and characters have worked.   

As a reader who enjoyed all the books in this series, I don’t remember Phury being such an angst-ridden screw-up in the preceding books.  This brother has some serious mental health issues.   

Way back, Phury took an oath of celibacy, which means right now that he’s a 200 year old virgin.  Ironically, he’s also the recently appointed Primale, the father of the next generation, who is expected to impregnate 40 Chosen females.  Strike one: he’s having a little performance anxiety. 

Apparently Phury is also way more addicted to the “red leaf” he uses to chill out than has been previously discussed.  Strike two: he’s an addict whose hunting skills are endangering him and others. 

He also has a major unrequited forbidden love thing going on with his twin brother’s pregnant shellan (wife/consort/mate), Bella.  And he’s found his own shellan, Cormia, although first he doesn’t realize it and then he decides she’s too good for him.  Strike three: he does not have a clue about what he really wants or needs emotionally. 

Phury isn’t all that likable.  Whining and endless self-loathing are so tedious.  However, if you just let Phury wallow on the back burner, the rest of the story has a lot to recommend. 

As always, J. R. Ward is adept at sensory description.  I can smell the scents: of the Lessers; of Phury’s red leaf; of the roses in the garden.  I can see: the clothing in exquisite detail; the way the room is decorated; the absence of color in The Sanctuary.  I can feel the texture of a sable coat and the night air and cool water during an evening swim.  It’s quite remarkable. 

The author also shines at incorporating contemporary culture into her books.  She often includes what bands the characters are listening to and what designer labels they’re wearing.  She’s also very strong on dialogue using current slang.  It’s a nice glimpse into another world.  

Another plus is the introduction and integration of the next generation of fighters – John, Qhuinn and Blay.  Their training and friendships, before now simply a side story, become an integral part of the plot.  In addition, a creepy and unexpected twist finds the Lesser leader, Omega, right in the middle of the action. Safety and secrecy are compromised, leaving the Glymera looking for new leadership. 

    We also learn more about Rehv, Bella’s brother, a sympath, drug dealer and owner of the club frequented by the Brotherhood.  Turns out he’s a pretty complex character who ends up connecting the dots between characters and plots lines.   

And finally Phury (remember him on the back burner?) gets a grip, finds a purpose, and creates a pretty good solution to his situation with the Chosen.  Yes – somewhat redeeming his value to the story. 

Lover Enshrined, as well as the rest of the series, is not for the faint of heart.  The male characters can be crude, vengeful, intractable and volatile as the mood takes them.  The female characters are strong, supportive and somewhat bloodthirsty themselves. As for the enemy Lessers – torture, death and bloody violence are their stock in trade.  It makes for interesting interpersonal relationships. 

If you’ve been anxiously awaiting this book, it’s worth your time and money.  Enjoy!

--Jean Ward

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