In Lover Enshrined, a member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood must make a decision that could save - or spell doom for - his race of vampires. Phury knows his share of pain, but can the Primale of the Chosen experience love as well?
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The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is very addictive reading! Once you've read one, you'll be clamoring to read the next. But be forewarned, these aren't your regular run of the mill romances. These books are darkly emotional and explicitly sexual.
Like all of the other books in this series, several storylines are developed. We get introduced to a new Lesser, Mr. D, and follow him as he does the work of The Omega in a most surprising way. We also learn more about Rehvenge, a preview of his story in book 7. Newly transitioned John Matthew and his buddies are also followed. I'm very invested in this storyline. I really liked following the story of these guys from their pre-trans stage to post-trans. And I'm so looking forward to their stories as they become warriors and also fall in love.
I have noticed that some people have been disappointed with the love story between Phury and Cormia. I have to disagree. The romance between them was satisfying. The book may not have spent as much time on them as the other pairings were in previous books, but their romance develops slowly, romantically. Their story is just as emotionally charged as the others. By the end of the book, you are aching for them to get together.
A note to those who are thinking of starting this series in the middle: To really appreciate this series, I recommend starting from the beginning and reading the books in order. (Dark Lover, Lover Eternal, Lover Awakened, Lover Revealed, Lover Unbound, Lover Enshrined, Lover Avenged) My personal favorites are Lover Eternal and Lover Awakened, but all of them are great.
Ward obviously realized she was running out of "brothers" to hook-up with their mates and decided to broaden her horizons. I resent that she did it here, with Phury's story, because he got VERY short changed. And so did the readers who thought they were going to get another romance. (Or listeners in this case.)
In every book she spends time setting up future stories, but in this book she spent WAY too much time trying to put flesh on a bunch of fringe characters that I still just don't care that much about. She sets up future conflict with them, making THIS story more about the STREETS and less about the sheets - so to speak. In previous books, the reverse was true. I wasn't thrilled with the change. I felt like I had been a victim of bait and switch.
Less than half this book deals with Phury & Cormia's story. Which frankly, SUCKED.
And Phury - who always seemed to be one of the more noble Brothers in previous books - takes a nose dive here, character wise. Of course, Ward had to come up with some conflict to keep the future lovers apart, and the result was lame and tame. She turned Phury into a dysfunctional drug-addict who loved throwing major pity-parties. But his self flagellation reached such ridiculous heights, and seemed so out of character, it was irritating. And Cormia was too meek to be much help.
The author even makes up a new "character" that berates Phury nonstop in his head. The "Wizard" - and where that name or the persona came from is still a mystery (outta left field) - is so extremely annoying, I started fast forwarding through his little tirades. It was bad enough that Phury was wallowing in so much false guilt, but to add a lecturing little voice, with a British accent of all things, took it to eye-rolling heights.
Also out of character seemed to be the Brothers over reaction to Phury's problems. In previous books, other brothers have had dangerous behaviors and they were tolerated and/or accommodations were made. But not with poor Phury. They suddenly got very judgy and it seemed less like tough love and more like turning their backs. I didn't buy it.
But then, the author wasn't interested in involving the Brothers with Phury that much, because this story was less about the Brothers, and more about ALL the other characters. Meh.
When Phury & Cormia finally did get together at the very end, I wasn't sure why. What changed? It was just the end of the book so Phury decided to pull his head out?
Talk about anti-climatic... He finally makes love to his female, and after centuries of guilty abstinence you'd think the author would spend a bit more time on it! I know she is capable of more, so the anemic encounter between Phury and Cormia at the last was the crowning let down in a book full of them.
It's hard to find a good romance that's not just formula, and this series has been good, to this point. Mostly. I had to work to get past the stupid, eye-rolling slang and the blatant commercial product placement. And book 4 was kinda boring... But, I've really loved some of them.
But, I won't be reading another in this series if Ward keeps on this track. I'll be reading the critical reviews carefully next time! Honestly, I'm starting to think half of the rave reviews must be from the author's friends and family.