Saturday, May 03, 2008

Lover Enshrined Review


There are quiet a few of us who jokingly call the books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by JR Ward, “crack”. And if you are a fan of this series, you definitely know what I mean by that term. There is something about a book or books that become an addiction to the point where you refuse to stop reading (makes for good bathroom reading) because you are so engrossed in this world. And when you are done, you need your next fix much like an addict does.

The question you are probably asking is if Lover Enshrined delivers? And do I still have those cravings for the next book? The answer is both yes and no. The addict comparison I use is so perfect for a book like Lover Enshrined because it is the perfect description of what Phury has become.

JR Ward is an incredible storyteller. She has invented an amazing world and her dedication to her series and her fans are very strong. Lover Enshrined has thrills, shocks and more WTF moments than the past five books combined. (You thought Jane’s outcome in Lover Unbound was the ultimate WTF moment? Think again) This is a book with some weaknesses, which mainly involves the love story between Phury and Cormia. This is well known to be Phury’s story and assumed that this is a romance first and foremost. I hate to disappoint you, but if you were looking for an incredible and sexy love story like the past ones, look somewhere else. The romance here is more of a subplot if anything else and Phury and Cormia’s relationship is the weakest storyline. I have lead myself to believe that Ward is slowly moving away from the romance umbrella and moving toward the Urban Fantasy genre, with romantic undertones. Ward is now at a crossroads with her series and with Lover Enshrined her readers have a decision to make. Her hardcore fans will most likely stick to the very end. The other circle of readers will become casualties because after Lover Enshrined, some will not want to continue on.

There are three main storylines that caught my attention out of six possible ones that occur during this book. First and foremost is the one about Phury.

At the end of Lover Unbound, Phury became the Primale to the forty Chosen, women who were born and bred for the sole purpose of being impregnated and giving birth to future warriors or brothers to ensure their race’s survival in the fight against the evil that is the Omega. Phury took over this responsibility from his brother in arms, Vishous, who found his soul mate, Jane. Phury, knowing this responsibility would likely destroy Vishous, volunteered for the job. Phury was also given a First Mate from one of the Chosen, Cormia. She resides in the mansion with Phury and his brothers, waiting anxiously for Phury to mate with her. She is ready and willing to open her legs for The Primale and be whatever he wants of her. But Phury is in a very bad place. He is a full blown drug addict and has a demon on his shoulder called the Wizard who whispers seeds of doubt into his ear. To escape, Phury smokes to the point of being numb, and he has even moved on to injecting needles with even more deadly drugs with the help of his dealer, Rehvenge.

Phury and Cormia suffer, as both cannot reach each other because they are very much strangers and products of their making. Some readers are going to be on the fence about Cormia much like they were about Marissa in Lover Revealed. But keep this in mind; Cormia is who she is because of her environment.

And, you think their HEA is going to be easy one? Think again.

The one group of characters that truly shined was Blaylock, John Matthew and Qhuinn. These three musketeers are so dedicated to each other that you will get a good idea of what the future holds for them. The one character who made this book and changes the whole vampire society and Brotherhood as we have known it is Qhuinn. There is quite a cause and effect that happens and because of Qhuinn’s reaction to a certain situation and the way he acts, he starts a domino effect that will enable the Omega to have more power then ever and the possibility of destroying the vampire community in Caldwell. (Some may be shocked by these turn of events, but for once my spec-u-meter was right) Because of Qhuinn, his “brotherhood” with Blaylock and John Matthew becomes stronger than ever. One of my favorite scenes, which was quite beautiful, is the one between Blaylock and Qhuinn. These two have such an incredible friendship filled with love and they must decide where they are headed and what road they should take with each other. JR Ward can write some of the best relationships between men that I have ever read and with this scene she has done wonders.

Rehvenge is also very prominent and we find out why he is being blackmailed and what he must do to keep his blackmailer happy. I have always thought of Rehvenge as an anti-hero and he is such a big presence whenever he appears. Well, I can happily say Rehvenge is a true hero in every sense of the word, as worthy as any of the other Brothers. You thought Zsadist was tortured? Sorry, what Rehvenge goes through puts all these men to shame. Again, it is all about sacrifice, and Rehv has made a lot of them He and Phury are alike in many ways.

So, where does this leave me and my final impressions of Lover Enshrined? I was very much hooked from the first page of the Prologue to the very last word. Ward gives us quiet a shocker in the Prologue and doesn’t let up for the next 500 plus pages. This is a very dark and intense book filled with more bloodshed and deaths than any other before. There are many victims and the strongest ones realize they may not be able to save everyone and maybe even themselves.

Everything that happens grabs you by the throat and won’t let go; other than Phury’s story and the very one-dimensional love he has with Cormia. Their courtship was my main pet peeve. Phury has become a martyr for no reason and I really wanted to smack some sense into him. But his brother does that job for me. There is this great scene between Phury and his brother Zsadist where Phury confronts him. Phury is angry because Zsadist never thanked him for rescuing him. Zsadist is fed up and they have a knock down fight where Zsadist tells Phury, in not so many words, what I was thinking –

“…get off the cross, someone else needs the wood.”

There is so much more that happens within these pages that I can’t mention, because you do need some surprises and to learn them would ruin your enjoyment. But, one tidbit I will give you is that there is a new character introduced that gives something special back to the Brothers and brings even more life into this series. (If you are a member of JR Ward’s message boards you can probably figure out who I am talking about)

Lover Enshrined may not be my favorite title from JR Ward but I find myself still in awe of her world building, characters and her ability to write such books that can not be compared to any other. To figure out what grade to give is a hard one. Overall, I did enjoy the crack... oops, I mean Lover Enshrined even though the love story was a bit too stale for my tastes.

So, what grade should I give this book that reeled me in but left me a bit unsatisfied because of the romance?

3 ½ stars out of 5

Katiebabs (KB)

And as always comments are always welcome **ducks away from the fruit**


Brie said...

I figured that the romance would suffer in this book and I was prepared for it.

I definitely think that this series is headed more toward Urban Fantasy. We saw the beginnings of that with LU, and I think it will continue with the future books.

I have no problems with Urban Fantasy, and I might continue reading them if they go that route (Depends on my reaction to LEn). But I do find it a little unfair that those who began reading this series for the romance won't get that for the future brother's stories. Oh well.

Thanks for the review, Katie!

PS. Who is Rehv's mate? Inquiring minds (I) want to know.

Christine said...

Nice job with the review, Kate.
I'm super lucky to have another friend who got an ARC of LEn and am reading it right now. I'm only about halfway through, but definitely agree with your assessment that it reads more like an urban fantasy with romantic elements than it does a true paranormal romance. Even though there will be an HEA at the end (I'm pretty sure Ward won't ever stray from that), there is so much going on to so many of the characters that its not all about Phury and Cormia at all. BUT... it is definitely of Ward's signature style with tons of action and important plot developments on practically EVERY page. It is just as addictive and emotional as her previous works. Having said that... I've got some reading to do!

Kati said...

Ah Kate, great review. Nicely balanced. It makes me more than ever want to read the book. I'm looking forward to being able to share my reactions with everyone else who is a fan.

Nice job, girl!

lisabea said...

Thanks for the Z tidbit. With V and B no longer an option, and the boys too young to play, I am left pining for my Z. He's my guy.

And holy crap I want that book.

kiss kiss. Nicely done.

Kristie (J) said...

OK - your email is still bouncing so I'll have to say it here.

A real thumbs up review. I'm not one of the BDB addicts *g*. I've read the first two and liked them well enough but somehow managed to escape getting hooked on them, but your review is well balanced and interesting.

azteclady said...

*vibrating* oh oh oh maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!

How much longer til the release???

(thanks, katie(babs)--thank you muchly!)

Unknown said...

Hi, I don't want real spoiler, but it just kiling me... is Revhenge HEA known in this book? Just a yes or no... You are the second one that I red that had the same impression about the romance's plot being secondary... I don't like the idea of that , but I am still waiting for LEn to read it... and certainly Lover Avenged because Revhenge is one of my favorites after Z... but it is not that promising to know that the romance in her books is becaming secondary... :(

Tracy said...

Great review Katie - as usual. I'm sad that Ward is getting away from the romance because she did it so damn well in the first 3 books. But I love her style of writing and will continue to get my crack fix even when it's Urban Fantasy with the romantic undertones.

Can't wait to read it!

LorelieLong said...

Thanks for the in depth review. :) I think you're definitely right about viewing the series in more of an Urban Fantasy vein to enjoy them. A body could see it coming over the last couple books.

I notice you didn't say the five little words I wanted to hear, or any variation thereof. And I'm sorry but saying "Cormia is who she is because of her environment." doesn't absolve her of being a dishrag. It's in much the same way that I don't buy that guys in Historicals can get away with all sorts of Alpha asshatish behaviour by saying "But men were historically like this." That may be true but I don't want to read about them.

That being said, I'll still be at my local dealer the day it's released.

Jace said...

Thanks for the great review, Katie. I've linked it to my blog.

I've decided to stop reading this series altogether. UF is not my cup of tea at all.

lisabea said...

Katie(b)~I receive email from you. But I canna send. Why for is that?

So sad is lisabea.

Bev(QB) said...

Katiebabs, EXCELLENT review!

I'm not sure I like the idea of Ward moving towards more urban fantasy. The weakest, lamest parts of all the books have always been the Lessors. They just can't supply enough interesting conflict with the BDBs to carry an urban fantasy story.

And Cormia really IS as bland and boring as she seemed in the last book? GAK!

Any hints whether Rhev will or will not be paired up with the Scribe Virgin? Don't tell me whether he does or not, just tell me if we find anything out. But don't tell WHAT we find out. LOL. My curiosity and my hatred of spoilers are at war right now.

Alice said...

What a fabulous review... even though I didn't read most of it (sorry, I hate spoilers!)

Ward has created a fabulous world and some of my friends have commented that Ward IS, in fact, moving away from the romance genre.

She lost me with Vishous's pathetic story, which was a shame b/c he was my favorite and I waited so long for it. (And no, it's not because of the ending with Jane that had me writhing in agony).

I don't know if I'll pick up Lover Enshrined - too many subplots, not enough romance, too many complications... but after this review, I just might .......borrow it from the library (LOL).

Anonymous said...

thanks for the great review!
I don't like it very much that Ward is shifting to Urban Fantasy with this series and I really wanted to stop reading her books.
but with your review you really got me interested in all the subplots! (I'm still no longer interested in Phury and Cormia. I don't like my heros wimpy and a weak, doormat-like heroine never worked for me).
I think I'll give her a last try, before I detox for good.

Sweet said...

Thanks for the review. :) You told me just what I wanted to know without telling me too much. ( if that makes sense)

Also I'm with Noelia can you please just give us a yes or no about Rehv's HEA showing up in the book.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful review! Best one of all of them so far, IMHO.

Wendy said...

Great review, Katie! I love UF but from the beginning this series has been more of a romance so it's kinda odd that she's straying from that.

I'll read this one because Qhinn seems to have a big part in it but Phury's such a whiny little.. ahem, I really don't like him! And I'm sort of glad to hear the story's not all about him and Cormia.

Carolyn Crane said...

Thanks for the review! You did a lovely job of not giving anything away, and I'm sure that was VERY difficult. It is so interesting about Ward moving more toward UF. Other saw it. I didn't. Why would she do that? Care to speculate? Anyway, oh, wow I am sort of worried for the safety of the brotherhood now. I find I can get very worried about them when they are threatened. I do not like my supply threatened, I guess!

CindyS said...

Katiebabs - what an excellent review! You gave enough without putting in spoilers. Really, well done!

I'm afraid I can't muster up the need to run to the bookstore for this one. I was burned by Butch's story (I loved him so) and V's story was a mess (for me).

I'm sad that Ward is moving away from romance. If the series had started out as UF with some romance then I could probably keep going. My problem is that she wrote one of my all time favourite romances (Z's) and knowing she is capable of such a wonderful love story will only make me judge the rest of the stories as bland.

To compare - Linda Howard's romances blew me away but lately her stories are more Romantic Suspense and in the end I've had to stop buying her books. I was just too disappointed by the lack of a true love story with steam to enjoy what was on the page.

I'm curious to what Ward has done but I won't be hounding the poor book clerks at my local bookstore ;)


KT Grant said...

Thanks everyone for your great posts!*blush blush*
I was sweating bullets trying to come up with the perfect review for everyone.
There is so much more in LE I haven't mentioned in my review, but with Revh you will be craving his book like I am. The letter H-E-A are unknown to him.

His mate...?
MUWAHAHHAAAAA... (my spec-u-meter is broken on that one)

Drea said...

That was an amazing review! You really let us in without giving all away. I, like others, am really on the fence with Ward. I fell in love with her for what she was writing in the beginning...I don't know how I feel about this new direction.

I'm sure I will read Lover Enshrined...I can't start a series and not finish it. I'm just weird that way and really, this review makes me want to read it. Kate, you really do an awesome job!

Drea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KT Grant said...

Thanks Drea! So many people are reading this review and saying great things. I just hope I did a good enough job. Knowing that people like yourself enjoying reading my reviews, makes what I do a real joy :D

Anonymous said...

Cured Forever!
I was bored until para romance-now I’m Hooked! Ward has talent- I need romance. V's story hurt! I know happy endings not required but don't sell the BDB short. I fell in love with the brothers; she made them HOT! I want to read Rhev’s, not if LE is weak. Why? I won’t waste the $.