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Black Dagger Brotherhood - J.R. Ward

The Black Dagger Brotherhood is a Paranormal Romance by J. R. Ward. It's one of the first I've ever read, or maybe it WAS the first since before that I actually read one Urban Fantasy series.. So it was a GREAT introduction to the PNR world and it's no wonder that now it's my absolute favorite genre :)

I was always a HUGE vampire fan. Back when vampires were loved by geeks only and well, since I WAS a geek it kinda worked ;) But all the books I've read of vampires and other creatures have been under the Fantasy genre, meaning it was more about the adventure and nothing to do with any kind of romance between the characters and when there WAS romance it was a side story and quite naive and sometimes even juvenile in the way it was described. 

But you see, I'm a grown woman now, and since regular romance had no appeal to me (or so I thought ;)) the world of PNR was exactly what drew me in. 

The series follows the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a contingent of vampire warriors in charge of protecting the Breed against their mortal enemies the "Lessening Society" which are a group of ex-humans transformed into soulless being with the sole purpose of harming the vampire race. The head of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath, is also the King of the race but he was struggling to deny his right to be king. In the mean while a group of vampire aristocrats called the Glymera runs the political and traditional side of things. 

The vampire race have been living by the human society without a lot of interaction between one another. Unlike most vampire lore Ward created a very unique concept in which vampires feed from one another (of the opposite sex) to sustain themselves so there is no real reason for vampires to attack humans (which can't sustain them on the long run, their blood isn't potent enough). Ward's vampires have a lot of animalistic attributes. She refers to them as male and female (not man and woman), they have a kin sense of smell which they use for more than just "smelling around", they mark their women with a specific sent the other males can detect on them, warning them this female is taken. They can also sense general feelings (fear, excitement, desire). Also the way they reproduce is somehow similar to animals, the female goes through a "needing" which is the only time she is fertile and other vampires can smell the needing becoming more aggressive and protective when it's their woman on this specific time. 

Ward really created an interesting species, not the usual "undead" gig but something different, interesting and very sexy :) 

In each book one of the brotherhood finds their HEA, some of them are Breed like them, some have an interesting special story that makes it possible for them to be together. As the series continues, more brothers are introduced and also some side characters that are not brothers also receive their own book (trying to say it's not JUST brothers). One of the last books in the series "Lover at Last" was a MM Romance novel (the first I've read actually, also a genre I was new to and became a huge fan) and it won the "GoodReads choice 2013" as the Best Romance (I agree! :)). 

Besides the story of each brother and his HEA there are multiple POVs within and outside the brotherhood. Characters that are of importance to the occurring of the plot line like the Lessening Society or characters that being introduced to the series for the next books or are part of the brotherhood at the moment. I'm saying that there is more than one basic plot line and the global plot line that frames the series (which also changes quite a lot throughout the books with changing schemes and"villains"). 

Ward built very interesting characters. If you like them or not, that's up to you, but even if you DON'T like them you have something to say about them, you get an emotional reaction. 

All the brothers are damaged, each in his own way and each forgo some sort of a change when finding their mate but most somehow stay the same bad-ass as they were (just less suicidal in their fighting). They ARE vampire warriors after all! But the way they treat their mates is very gentle. Ward created something very romantic there. There are whole rituals concerning the way to treat a female (or, should I say - lady).

I have my misgiving about the series. I don't give every book 5 shining stars and faint over my bed whenever I finish a book. But all in all, it's one of THE best PNR I've read. So even when I complain that a book annoyed me, or I wanted to slay one of the characters, it only shows how much of depth the series have to create this reaction inside of me. 

The only thing left to say is that there IS a series quite similar to this one (mostly in the characters and their "part" in the world as warriors the world and it's concept are different). I'm talking about Midnight Breed by Lara Adrian which is also an AMAZING paranormal romance. If you like this one, if you're interested in the genre it is also HIGHLY recommended. I was a little pissed in the beginning realizing all the similarities between these two (and there is no question of who's the "original" since the BDB started 2 years prior to the MB) but after I put all my misgivings aside I realized these two are great series on their own and the similarities soon disappear anyway.

RECOMMENDED! 


Please notice that at the very end of this page there is a list to all books, their review and date published

Here is detailed data on each of the main characters in the series by book order. Please notice that the data bellow might contain spoilers if you haven't finished reading all the books in the series. Tread carefully ;) 
[All data of the brothers and their mates extracted from Wikipedia]


Wrath
Son of Wrath, is also known as the Blind King—the King of the Vampires and last pure-blood vampire in existence. As such, he is a well-known legend to the lessers. When the series started, he was almost blind and not willing to ascend to the throne. He falls in love with Beth, the half-breed daughter of his Brother-in-arms, Darius. His and Beth's story is told in Dark Lover (BDB #1). By the end of Lover Avenged, Wrath is completely blind and relies on a service dog, George, and his shellan (wife), Beth.

Elizabeth "Beth" Randall
The only surviving offspring of Darius and an unknown human woman. Originally a journalist prior to her transition, she is Wrath's beloved shellan and the half-breed Queen of the Vampires. She is also John's sister. Her close relationship with Butch allows him to be taken in by the Brotherhood. She owns a cat, Boo, who gets along with Wrath's dog, George, very well. Beth and Wrath's story is told in Dark Lover (BDB #1).

Rhage
Son of Tohrture, is the strongest and most beautiful of the Brothers. Aptly nicknamed "Hollywood", he is also the most sexual because of his beast. Cursed by the Scribe Virgin, Rhage is possessed by a dark creature known only as the "Beast", making him a danger to everyone, including his Brothers. However, the beast harbors feelings for a human named Mary. Rhage falls in love with her and longs to take Mary as his shellan. Their story is told in Lover Eternal (BDB #2).

Mary Madonna Luce 
Named after the Virgin Mary by her religious mother. Once a secretary in a legal office and a regular volunteer at a suicide hotline, Mary is Rhage's human shellan. Mary's leukemia is relapsing when she first meets Rhage. Her voice immediately attracts him, and her acceptance of his beast makes her unique and fearless. All of the Brothers fear the beast, but it knows Mary and loves her, too. She was healed of cancer after Rhage made a deal with the Scribe Virgin in which he sacrificed a life for a life. Essentially, this meant giving up his life—Mary—in return for her not dying. Soon after Rhage agrees to this, the Scribe Virgin realizes that Mary's previous medical treatments have rendered her infertile, therefore negating the deal. She allows Rhage to be with his human because Mary will never hold "flesh of her own flesh" and thinks that this is sacrifice enough. Mary is also a teacher and confidant of Zsadist, first teaching him to read and write and then helping him overcome his fears about the Mistress who held him captive and what he would tell his daughter once she grows up and inquires about his slave bands and scars. Her and Rhage's story is told in Lover Eternal (BDB #2).

Zsadist
Son of Ahgony, is the scarred, menacing Brother. Taken as an infant from his family, he is forced into blood and sexual slavery until his twin, Phury, rescues him a century later. He was described as being "ruined, not broken" by all those who knew him prior to his meeting the beautiful, aristocratic vampire Bella. His transformation from tortured soul to Bella's hellren (husband) is told in Lover Awakened (BDB #3). Zsadist and Bella have a young daughter, Nalla (told in a short novella "Father Mine" BDB #6.5). In addition, his eyes, once black as pitch, have regained the same yellow-gold of his twin's, reflecting the change that Bella and Nalla brought about in him.

Bella
Born to an aristocratic family and was Mary's neighbor until she was captured by a deadly lesser named David. She is Rehvenge's younger sister and Zsadist's shellan, their story is told in Lover Awakened (BDB #3). They have a daughter, Nalla, whom for the first few months after her birth Zsadist avoided touching for fear of his past tainting her. The three finally become a family in the novella "Father Mine" (BDB #6.5).

Butch/Dhestroyer
The only human male ever to be allowed within the Brotherhood. However, he is descended from the line of Wrath, which allows him to be "turned" and subsequently initiated as a Brother. A former homicide detective, Butch was given the nickname "Cop" by the vampires. He lives at the "Pit", a two-bedroom gatehouse connected to the mansion where the King and other Brothers dwell. Friends with all of the warriors, he is especially close to Vishous, who also lives at the Pit. He is the object of an ancient lesser prophecy and has the ability to sense them wherever they are. After absorbing them into himself, he is only able to be healed by Vishous. His and Marissa's story is told in Lover Revealed (BDB #4).

Marissa 
The "great beauty of the species". For over 300 years, she was the Shellan of Wrath, the Vampire King. Their match, however, was a loveless one and ended when Wrath fell in love with Beth. Marissa, for her part, was attracted to Butch from the moment they met. Her brother, Havers, evicted her from their house after discovering she harbored feelings for a human. When Butch is later transformed into a vampire, Marissa becomes his shellan, their story is told in Lover Revealed (BDB #4). She helps run "Safe Place", a shelter for battered females and children.

Vishous
Son of the Bloodletter, is the most intelligent Brother, and the one who is specially gifted/cursed. Tattooed on his face, genitals (which are scarred because his father tried to castrate him), and one hand, he has the gift of psychometry. His curse is his ability to prognosticate: He sees the future, though not the 'when' of events, so he is plagued by his inability to save those he loves from danger. All of this was inherited from his mother, the Scribe Virgin. Long attracted to both males and females—particularly Butch, his fellow Brother—he eventually falls in love with a human surgeon, Dr. Jane Whitcomb. Their story is told in Lover Unbound (BDB #5).

Dr. Jane Whitcomb
A brilliant trauma surgeon who operates on Vishous after he is shot in the chest. She also helps "V" manage issues connected with his troubled past. After Jane is shot and killed by a lesser, Vishous attempts to bring her back by using his blood and the heart of a lesser but is stopped by his mother, the Scribe Virgin, who turns Jane's body into ash. Later on, after mustering up her deeply buried maternal side, the Scribe Virgin decides to sacrifice her love (her birds), in return for Vishous' (Jane). Jane then returns to him in a new form that allows her to go from corporeal to non-corporeal at will, enabling Vishous to touch her through his curse. Their story is told in Lover Unbound (BDB #5). She is the Brotherhood's private surgeon.

Phury
Son of Ahgony, is Zsadist's twin brother. He starts out a celibate who cannot truly live because of everything that his biological brother has lost. Phury is extremely loyal to his brother, even shooting off his own leg to save him. His noble nature went so far as to help release Vishous from being "Primale" to the Chosen. He ultimately falls in love with the Chosen Cormia, his First Mate, and has a young, Ahgony, with her. Phury's story is told in Lover Enshrined (BDB #6).

Cormia
Was chosen as First Mate to Phury the Primale in Lover Enshrined (BDB #6). Once Phury decided to mate with her only, she and the Primale became "parents" to the rest of the Chosen, whom the Scribe Virgin granted free-will to choose their mates and futures under Phury's supervision. Cormia and Phury also become parents to the young, Ahgony ("Aggie").

Rehvenge
Brother-in-law to Zsadist, half symphath, and when the series started, owner of a club called ZeroSum. He is also a member of the vampire aristocracy and the "Princeps Leahdyre" of its council. He hides the fact that he is half symphath even from his own sister, Bella. His and Ehlena's story is told in Lover Avenged (BDB #7).

Ehlena
Works as a nurse at Haver's clinic until she's fired for giving Rehvenge non-prescribed antibiotics. At first she keeps her distance from the male, but soon his pursuit of her changes her mind. When he destroys his life in Caldwell by exposing his history and occupation to her, it disgusts her to the point that she leaves him. He then fakes his own death and moves to the symphath colony. However, once she finds out that her lover is still alive, she asks for help from Xhex and the Brotherhood. Their story is told in Lover Avenged (BDB #7). Currently, Ehlena works with Jane and the Brothers as their nurse and is Rehvenge's shellan.

John Matthew/Tehrror
The reincarnation of Darius. Born mute, John uses American Sign Language and whistling to communicate with others. Before learning he was a pre-trans vampire, he lived alone in the human world. At one point, he was cornered in the hallway of his apartment and raped by an unknown human male. In despair, John turned to a suicide prevention network in Caldwell and met Mary Luce. He followed her home so that he could meet her; during this meeting, Mary's neighbor, Bella, visited and sensed that John was a vampire like her. As introductions ensued, Bella noticed a bracelet John wore which carried his name in the Old Language—the name of a Brother, Tehrror. Bella contacts the Brotherhood, and John learns what he is and that he will soon go through his transition to become an adult male vampire. He was also invited by Tohrment and his expectant mate, Wellesandra, to live with them, among his own kind. Later, he moved into the Brotherhood's mansion and joined the war to utilize his (initially unexplained) skill with weapons and knowledge of lessers. John shares a kinship with Zsadist because of the traumatic similarities in their pasts. He is best friends with Qhuinn and Blay. John's story with Xhex is told in Lover Mine (BDB #8).

Xhex
An ultra tough, hard-core female. She is another half-symphath who works as a bodyguard/bouncer/co-manager at ZeroSum. She is very close to Rehvenge and protects him with her life. It greatly pains her that he has to repay the Sympath Princess over a mistake she made twenty-five years ago. She was once involved with the Brother Murhder and experiences much guilt over his having gone insane. Xhex was captured by Lash in the sympath colony to replace his previous captive, the Sympath Princess. She becomes John Matthew's shellan after the events of Lover Mine (BDB #8) take place. Her full name was revealed to be "Xhexania", meaning "beloved one" in the Old Language, a name given to her by Darius. Her mother is No'one / Autumn who came to the brotherhood mansion when Payne was released from the Scribe Virgin's Sanctuary.

Payne
Vishous' fraternal twin sister. She is the daughter of the Scribe Virgin and the Bloodletter. Although female, she is a warrior like her brother and father. She was kept in a state of suspended animation in the chamber of the Scribe Virgin for many decades because her mother felt that she was too much like her father and therefore a danger to herself and everyone around her. However, when the Scribe Virgin grants the Chosen free-will in Lover Enshrined (BDB #6), she feels that her daughter deserves the same freedom and awakens her. Regardless, due to her mother having put her in such a state to begin with, Payne bears nothing but hatred and resentment for her. Payne and Manny's story is told in Lover Unleashed (BDB #9).

Dr. Manuel "Manny" Manello
Chief of Surgery at St. Francis Hospital and was Jane Whitcomb's old boss and closest friend until her ‘death’. After suffering a paralyzing injury while sparring with Wrath, Payne’s life (as well as her mobility) is in jeopardy. When Doc Jane realizes the damage is too great for her to repair, she goes looking for Manny, as he is a world renowned orthopedic surgeon. His and Payne's story is told in Lover Unleashed (BDB #9).

Tohrment
Was disowned by his father and taken in by the Brother Darius in the Old Country. Both he and Darius saved the life of the female who would become Xhex's biological mother. Later on, when Wrath became King, Tohrment took over the leadership of the Brotherhood. He was the steady and calm Brother, ever serious but with a kind heart, until a tragedy took the life of his shellan, Wellesandra, and their unborn son. He disappeared until Lover Enshrined BDB #6), whereupon he was returned weak and emaciated to the Brotherhood by the fallen angel, Lassiter. Tohrment and Autumn's story is told in Lover Reborn (BDB #10).

Autumn ("No'One")
Was a member of the glymera who named her self No'One when she served her sisters on the Other Side in the Scribe Virgin's sanctuary. She is described as having a prominent limp and is always clad in white robes which completely cover her body. She is friends with Payne and the Chosen Layla, and is revealed in Lover Mine (BDB #8) to be Xhex's birth mother, Rosalhynda. She commits suicide after Xhex is born because she can't live with the pain surrounding her child's conception but is granted life anew so that she can serve the Chosen as atonement. After the events of Lover Mine take place, she is appointed as Payne's personal servant in the human world. She is named "Autumn" by Tohrment in Lover Reborn (BDB #10) and is Tohrment's shellan.

Qhuinn
Despised by his parents because of his mismatched eyes, seen as defects by the vampire aristocracy. Best friends with Blay and John, he takes great comfort in Blay's family. During training he came to the defense of John Matthew, nearly killing his cousin, Lash, when he pinned John to the wall, bringing back John Matthew's memories of being raped. In order to avoid being put to death, he was dedicated John's ahstrux nohtrum (private guard). Qhuinn resides at the Brotherhood's mansion and has proven himself a fierce warrior in the conflict with the lessers. Following his transition, he starts out a playboy with commitment issues, preferring a steady stream of anonymous sex, but in Lover Mine (BDB #8) it becomes clear that he is—and always has been—very much in love with Blay. Qhuinn and Blay's story is told in Lover At Last (BDB #11).

Blaylock
"Blay", as he is most often referred to, is an only child who comes from a warm, supportive family. Friends with Qhuinn since childhood, he met John Matthew at the Brotherhood's training facility and became his ally. Blay was the first of the three friends to go through his transition. Like John and Qhuinn, he lives with the Brotherhood and is a proficient soldier in the war against the lessers. In Lover Mine (BDB #8) Blay has his first romantic/sexual encounter with another male, Saxton, a lawyer for the race as well as Qhuinn's cousin. Although Blay cares for Saxton deeply, the true love of his life has always been Qhuinn. Blay and Qhuinn's story is told in Lover At Last (BDB #11).

Soon to be added Trez, iAm, Selena and Maichen.

Books:
1. Dark Lover [Wrath & Beth] (published 6 September 2005) ★ ★ ★ ½
2. Lover Eternal [Rhage & Marry] (published 7 March 2006) ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
3. Lover Awakened [Zsadist & Bella] (published 5 September 2006) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
4.  Lover Revealed [Butch & Marissa] (published 6 Match 2007) ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
5. Lover Unbound [Vishous & Jane] (published 25 September 2007) ★ ★ ★ ★
6. Lover Enshrined [Phury & Cromia] (published 3 June 2008) ★ ★
--- An Insider's Guide (Including "Father Mine") (published 7 October 2008 ) ★ ★ ★ ★
6.5 Father Mine [Zsadist, Bella & Nalla] (published 7 October 2008) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
7. Lover Avenged [Rehvenge & Ehlena] (published 28 April 2009) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
8. Lover Mine [John Mathew & Xhex] (published 27 April 2010) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
9. Lover Unleashed [Payne & Manny] (published 29 March 2011) ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
10.  Lover Reborn [Thor & Autumn] (published 27 March 2012) ★
11.  Lover At Last [Quinn & Blaylock] (published 26 March 2013) ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
12.  The King [Wrath & Beth revisited] (published 1 April 2014) ★ ★ ★ ½
13. The Shadows [Trez & Selena / iAm & Maichen] (published 31 March 2015) ★ ★ ★

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