Lover Revealed by J. R. Ward

By | 2 November 2008 | 6 Responses
Lover Revealed by J. R. Ward

Lover Revealed by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 4)

The heroine

Marissa … uh, I don’t think she has a last name … is a 300-plus-year old, divorced, virgin vampire whose market value in the vampire aristocracy took a severe beating when her former spouse dumped her in favour of a half-breed. The only person who really talks to her anymore, aside from the servants, is her brother, Havers … and he’s pretty dodgy. He’s also a big snob, and when Butch, the hero, comes over one day (in a previous book), Havers turns him away. Marissa doesn’t know this and thinks that Butch just lost interest in her. To cut a long story short, Marissa has major self-esteem issues.

The hero

Butch O’Neal is a former cop who is feeling rather useless surrounded as he is by the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a group of super-fighting, scary vampires who pretty much have no use for Butch except as someone to play pool and trade wisecracks with. He’s totally in love with Marissa but doesn’t think he’s good enough for her, which is understandable because as a vampire she could probably kick his arse without even breaking a sweat. To cut a long story short, Butch has major self-esteem issues.

The setup

Butch is happily wallowing in his own misery when he stumbles upon the Bad Guys, who are smart enough to capture him, torture him and do some Really Bad Things to him. It just so happens that Havers is the BDB’s preferred health care provider so it’s only a matter of time before Marissa stumbles upon him and gives him a little sexual healing. (There’s stuff in between but this only takes us to page 123 of 463 and I’m bored writing this already.) Havers kicks Marissa out of home for consorting with the lower-than-lower classes (i.e. a human), she takes refuge with the BDB and voila! forced proximity with Butch. Butch, on the other hand, has major issues, mainly the fact that the Bad Guys seem to have infected him with something that’s made him not-quite-human … and not necessarily in a good way. Eventually, Butch discovers that he’s more Special than he thinks and he’s totally excited. Unfortunately, Marissa’s had enough excitement in her life and just wants to lead a quiet, normal life.

And other stuff

Lots and lots, and if you don’t read the first three books in this series, you only have yourself to blame. There are BDB wannabes, a bad guy who just wants to die in a way that guarantees a not-so-violent afterlife, a one-night stand with a hermaphroditic bodyguard, a prophecy, two weddings and a funeral…

My summary style is sooo not suited to this book. I couldn’t possibly cover everything. Just trust me–lots of things happen.

Oh, I should mention lots of V/Butch loving, some voyeurism, glimpses of chains, whips, leather and ballgags (!), and a particularly delicious not-quite-love triangle between Butch, Marissa and Rehvenge.

Things that made me go, Mmm…

  • Threesomes. Well, they never quite get that far, but there are plenty of sexually charged moments involving three people–V/Butch/Marissa, Butch/Marissa/Rehv (see second excerpt below), Wrath/Beth/Butch. For me, these scenes, most of which involve no actual sex, are much, much, much hotter than the sex scenes between Butch and Marissa. The failed feeding scene between Marissa and Rehv towards the beginning of the book is just delicious. But then, I’ve always loved the way Ward has written these types of scenes in the past (e.g. Layla/Rhage/Mary, Z/Bella/Phury).

    “I’m so sorry, Butch…but it’s over now…And nothing happened other than the feeding, I swear.”She got the blood off his face then stroked his hair, the thick waves damp from the washing. In response, he stirred and turned his face into her hand, but it was obvious he was dead drunk and not coming around.

    “I can smell him on you.”

    She jerked back at the harsh sound of his voice.

    Butch’s eyes opened slowly and they seemed black, not hazel. “I can smell him all over you. Because it wasn’t from the wrist.”

    She didn’t know how to respond. Especially as he focused on her mouth and said, “I saw the marks on his throat. And your scent was all over him, too…How long did it take?”

    She stayed silent, instinct telling her the less he knew the better.

  • Rehvenge. I didn’t like Rehv at all in the previous book, but now I’m totally looking forward to his story. Can we skip Phury and go straight to Rehv? :-D
  • The surprises. The story has unpredictable plot twists, new revelations about characters, and new insights into vampire culture and rituals. I loved these details! I particularly loved seeing the Brotherhood’s initiation ritual and the fairly intense, I-can’t-believe-she-wrote-that scenes.
  • New insights into old characters. On the whole, Ward does a good job of keeping the other Brothers in the background while at the same time revealing new things about V, Wrath and Z within the context of Butch and Marissa’s story.
  • The pining. Oh, the pining! Ward writes angst and pining so well. I think it may be her greatest strength (which might be why sometimes the story feels underwhelming–see comments below on weak internal conflicts). The post-coital/post-feeding scene at the beginning of Chapter 47? Just killed me.
  • V. Oh, my god, V! Some people find the Butch/V vibe very sexual. I find it … well, it’s slightly sexual, but for me the sexual aspects are more about V than Butch. I think they say a lot more about V than Butch, and V’s inability to form close emotional relationships.

    V went over to the bar, poured himself a couple fingers of Grey Goose, and hammered the shot. He swallowed a number of times and then let the words fly.

    “I fed him.”

    A chorus of inhales floated around the room. As Wrath rose in disbelief, V poured himself another hit of Goose.

    “You did what?” The last word was bellowed…”He’s a male. He’s human. What the fuck were you thinking?”

    “I did what I had to,” V snapped, throwing his glass back.

    …”Did he take your vein?”

    “No.”

    A couple of the brothers cleared their throats, like they were urging him to be honest.

    V cursed and poured some more. “Oh, for God’s sake, it’s not like that with him…”

    *snort* V has a weird sexual vibe going on for the entire book, if not with Butch then with Marissa … or both.

Things that made me go, Huh?

  • The sex scenes between Butch and Marissa sometimes feels … clinical. I didn’t find them spontaneous enough. There’s so much description, so much … consideration that sometimes they didn’t sound natural to me. There are two exceptions: when Marissa loses her virginity, and the car scene. I love the way their first time isn’t smooth sailing. Unfortunately, Marissa is borderline clueless virgin, and considering her brother is a topnotch doctor, I can’t imagine that she wouldn’t have had access to a medical text or two explaining all the relevant mechanics for doing the deed. Also, Butch’s reaction to Marissa’s pain is just immature.
  • This book has a very category romancey vibe for me. I grew up on category, so a lot of the contrivances don’t bother me too much, but may bother other readers more. Virgins, secret babies, amnesiacs, big misunderstandings, somewhat sappy love scenes … all of these at once might just be too much for some. The way the ending is resolved niggled at me. I suspect Ward ran out of pages. Having said that, Ward could have just removed that issue altogether. I had a similar problem with Lover Awakened.
  • I feel that the internal conflicts are weak. Perhaps Ward felt the need to introduce so many little misunderstandings to counteract the fact that the book starts with Butch and Marissa already in love with each other. I think they got shortchanged by having their love story spread out over the first 3 books. The external conflicts (Butch’s fear that he might be evil, etc.) and the issue of his humanity and Marissa’s vampire-ness could have been made stronger so Ward wouldn’t have had to rely so much on the weaker emotional problems (especially the one tacked on at the end).
  • To be honest, the language doesn’t bother me as much as it does other people. I noticed the brand dropping in the first few chapters; after that, I don’t think it’s any more noticeable than usual. Probably less. Same with the slang. Actually, the slang never bothered me all that much. I think as a non-US reader, I have a higher tolerance for not being bothered by turns of phrases that aren’t familiar to me. I just assume people do talk like that … somewhere.
  • The baddies are marginally better in this book. Unfortunately, they’re still pretty wimpy and could have done with a tiny bit more character development. I give Ward props for improvement, though. I didn’t skim them this time nearly as much as I did in the previous 3 books.

Things that made me go, Argh!

  • Good god, the punctuation! The grammar! How can you miss question marks repeatedly? One is a typo, two are oversights, but more than that? Gah! Oh, and lie vs. lay. Aaargh!!! My eyes were bugging out. Seriously. The writing also feels. .. not exactly sloppy, but just not tight. There are too many ellipses, too much waffle. It had a kind of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix vibe for me–I loved that it took longer to get to the end, but sometimes the writing didn’t seem to work hard enough to get the point across succinctly. And I’m sorry, but guys? They. Don’t. Talk. Like. This. (The last paragraph of V’s excerpt at the end of the book? *huge eyeroll*) I understand this is for effect. Maybe once in a blue moon is fine. But more than once in a book is just too much, in my opinion.
  • I don’t find John Matthew interesting at all. I hate that he got his own POV in this book–he has nothing to do with Butch and Marissa! I don’t like the way he got flashbacks from his old life. WTF? He had a deal with the Scribe Virgin. I thought that was unbreakable. I thought that was A Rule. Don’t get me wrong, I think JM’s story is interesting, but until he gets his own book, I think his character should be rendered from the Brothers’ point of view. In this story, he has absolutely nothing to do with Butch or Marissa. If he had even a smidgeon of relevance, I would have been happy. But no, he really didn’t.
  • Why do Butch and Marissa love each other? Their relationship has a co-dependent air about it. Butch is always putting her on a pedestal as The Ultimate Woman, while she seems to love him because … well, he’s the only one who ever wanted her. That doesn’t feel healthy to me, and this book doesn’t do a good enough job of articulating any deeper reasons why these two are meant for each other.
  • The Scribe Virgin seems totally out of character. Perhaps there’s a good reason which will be revealed in future books. One can only hope. However, she grants favours to Butch without asking for anything in return, which I thought was a totally cop out. At the very least, she should have asked for a boon in return.

The Verdict

Lover Revealed suffers from the fact that most of the bits where Butch and Marissa fall in love are actually shown in previous books in the series. We already know they love each other to bits and the external conflicts feel like they’re being thrown at us just to keep the lovers apart until the last few chapters. I don’t get a good enough sense of why these two love each other besides than the fact that no one else seems to want them. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this book and some of the writing goes into goosebump territory, but it’s not without its flaws. If you’re not already invested in this series, Lover Revealed probably isn’t going to do much for you. Lover Revealed is like a Harlequin Superromance meets Buffy (those crazy prophecies) meets Karate Kid (think Cobra Kai dojo: “No mercy, sensei!”). A light sabre? Would have been fantastic!

Lover Revealed is fourth in a continuing series, the previous being Dark Lover, Lover Eternal and Lover Awakened. Click here for an excerpt.

Note: This post was original published on April 16, 2007.

Where you can buy this book

AUSTRALIA: Dymocks | Ever After | Galaxy | Intrigue | QBD | Rendezvous | Romance Direct | Romantic Reflections | Siren | More (no online catalogue) Psst … where are these stores?
DIGITAL BOOKS: Dymocks | Amazon Kindle
WORLDWIDE: Amazon US | Amazon UK

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Kat

Killer of Fairies
Kat Mayo is a freelance writer, Twitter tragic and compulsive reader. She is the editor of Booktopia's Romance Buzz and hosts the Heart to Heart podcast for Destiny Romance. Her articles have been published in Books+Publisher, the AWW Challenge blog, and the ARRA newsletter. Kat firmly believes in happy endings. She kills fairies with glee.