Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…

For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…

And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world…and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from…

 

 

Reader to Reader:

First, I’m gonna do my best to be objective here because y’all know I love me some BDB, right? Wrath and Rhage are my faves and the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is one of my all-time favorite series. Very briefly, here’s why

1 – I love a good vampire book. Love them.

2 – Vampires are pretty much the only supernatural entity that I would like to be real.

3 – I love a series when each book can hold its own if read out of order or as a standalone

Knowing this, BDB passes my checklist. Since I can only be honest here, reader to reader, The Beast wasn’t my fave book in the series. It’s probably ranked 6 out of 14. Sorry but Dark Lover and Lover at Last are hard to beat. However, I was definitely looking forward to another Rhage book and 12 books later, I got it.

You can’t talk about Rhage without talking about Mary though. Let’s be honest here…being married to a vampire or mated to a vampire…whatever you want to call it…seems pretty damn awesome in my opinion. Just their sex drive alone makes the BS kind of worth it, IMHO. Plus Rhage is gorgeous and definitely all MALE. You’d think that Mary would be a lot more interesting just by association. WRONG. Mary is still so dull. Reading about her is painful when she isn’t interacting with Rhage and by interacting, I definitely mean having sex. For some reason, I can’t get past how mind-numbingly boring she was in book 2 and by book 14, she’s still just the same. But Rhage is completely in love with her and I’m completely in love with him so I powered through all the Mary bits that didn’t have Rhage in them.

Nothing’s changed since book 2 in regards to their relationship. I still think Rhage and Mary have an unfair union, unfair in terms of what the Scribe Virgin put on their relationship. (If you’re not familiar with this series, you might want to move on to the next review because it gets worse from here). What’s so unfair is that not only does Rhage have to keep his beast, but Mary can’t bear him any young either. Yeah, so what that the SV made her immortal and they’ll meet in the Fade..yada yada yada. It’s so lopsided. Then they’re living in a house where Layla’s about to give birth to twins, Wrath and Beth have L.W. and Zhadist and Bella have Nalla. All these damn kids running around and the one person who would probably be the best mother ever can’t have them is so wrong! It’s sad but to them, being together is all that matters…until this book anyway.

I’m a big fan of couples beating the odds – vampire or human – and this book shows a different struggle for Mary and Rhage. Not that falling in love with a vampire that harbors an inner dragon that will eat you if given a chance isn’t a real struggle. After they got over that, Mary and Rhage’s relationship seemed nearly perfect so seeing them go through something as deep as infertility and the longing to be parents was quite a shocker.

When I was reading The Shadows and Rhage started tripping out with his panic attacks, I knew there was about to be some real shit going down in book 14. Since he is such a good…person…his emotional stress and pain kind of sucks you in and no matter the reason, you want the issue to hurry up and resolve itself so he’ll be alright.

Mary, on the other hand, we already know she can handle tremendous amounts of stress. It’s her never let them see you sweat nature that bugs the hell out of me. I found myself wishing that she had more range of emotion. We spent a lot of time in Mary’s head in this book and it felt like the same ol’ thang, page after page after page.

As she and Rhage worked through their issues, it became obvious real quick what the outcome of the book was going to be. I wish JR Ward hadn’t played her hand in the first quarter of the book because then I was just rushing through to see how it all played out since I already knew exactly what was going to happen. Still, I enjoyed Rhage and Mary’s growth as a couple. They are a true testament of “together, we can get through anything”.

As with any BDB book, there are multiple plots and sub-plots and way too many characters. I believe JR Ward and George RR Martin are vying for the title of who can put as many characters you won’t remember in a book.For some reason, Layla’s pregnancy and story line isn’t as interesting as I thought it would be when she first got pregnant.

Assail’s still hanging around and his story is getting more interesting. Thank God! Ever  since Tohr’s book, I’m still trying to figure out why Lassiter, the angel, is still hanging around. Hopefully, we’ll get real explanation of his usefulness in coming books.

Overall, this book made me happy so I’m willing to give it at least 4 stars. If you’re just getting into the BDB, start with book 1, Dark Lover. Do not start here.

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