Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother: A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.
When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.
As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.
Each time a new release for the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is on the horizon I find myself becoming more and more excited as each day passes to the countdown to the big day. Time and time again J.R. Ward has wow’d me with this series of books with only the occasional disappointment. While I’m not completely disappointed in Lover Unleashed it was not all that I’d hoped it would be.
The romance between Payne and Manny–while semi-sweet– basically fell flat. There just wasn’t anything outstanding or extraordinary about their relationship and offered little more than “irresistible attraction and lovely bonding scent”. Their coming together lacked the emotional peaks and valleys that we’ve seen in past romantic relationships in the series and was just okay and fairly predictable.
I had really high hopes for Payne as a good strong heroine. She is V’s twin sister and is a warrior. She’s supposed to be a skilled fighting machine, yet even when she is in great personal danger she’s damned polite about defending herself. I wanted action and she just never really delivered. I was disappointed to say the least.
After reading Lover Mine I was really looking forward to reading more from Qhuinn and Blay. Unfortunately this was not the book for any big revelations or life changing events for these two. Qhuinn and Blay each got a little page time as Ward begins to set a foundation for what could become a very complicated future for this couple but we really got nothing solid regarding their relationship.
What I found interesting in Lover Unleashed was the absence of the Lessors. They do make an appearance here and there but they are not the villains this time, instead we get an introduction to the Band of Bastards. They are set up to be dastardly (and a little horny) however I couldn’t help but sympathize just a little bit. They are a threat from the past that the Brotherhood is aware of and will perhaps be the new bad guys in the series? We’ll see.
What carried this book for me was the storyline involving Vishous. He has a very tortured past and is dealing with having Payne in his life and the threat of losing her. There has been some strain in his relationship with Jane, and of course the demons from his past that continue to torment him. He’s very much in love with Jane but turns to his best friend Butch for help. Butch and Vishous have had a complicated relationship in the past. Their relationship goes well beyond friendship and they explore that in depth making for some extremely, emotionally intense scenes. The emotional peaks and valleys that were missing in Payne and Manny’s relationship were more than made up for in V’s heart wrenching journey.
I may be in the minority but I have never disliked Jane. Like most people, I don’t like that she is a ghost, but as a heroine I’ve always thought she was okay. But I really thought her character stepped up and stood out this time. The problems between Jane and V were quite heartbreaking and although she showed some serious vulnerabilities, she was strong and sensible and I just loved what she did for V. (I can’t say more without spoiling)
I complained about the lack of passion and bedroom scenes between Payne and Manny but WOW did V and Jayne pick up the slack! These two burnt up the pages with their chemistry and passion and brought the love and passion back up to white hot levels!
Although I was disappointed in several aspects of this book, I still found Lover Unleashed mostly enjoyable. V is one of my favorite characters from this series and I am so glad that Ward decided to devote so much of this book to Vishous and his story. Fortunately his story was enough to carry this book for me and if there hadn’t been so many pages devoted to the uninspired romance between Payne and Manny I could have given a higher rating.
“I wish I were whole. I wish I could have given you young if you’d wanted them and could conceive them. I wish I could have told you that it killed me when you thought I had been with anyone else. I wish I had spent the last year waking up every night to tell you I loved you. I wish I had mated you properly the evening you came back to me from the dead. I wish…” Now his shimmering stare flipped up to hers. “I wish I deserved you. And…that’s about it.”