Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Legacy, Book 1) - US edition

Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Legacy, Book 1) - Australian/UK editionLast updated: 26/11/2016 — new information in italics

These cheat sheets summarise what we know so far about the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Click here for a round-up of BDB-related posts on Book Thingo.

This section contains information on:

  • Paradise (heroine of Blood Kiss)
  • Abalone

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(Blooded daughter of Abalone, son of Abalone, First Advisor to Wrath, son of Wrath, sire of Wrath)

The only daughter of Abalone, son of Abalone, First Advisor to the King, Paradise grew up as the apple of her father’s eye and without her mother, who passed away when she was young.

She has survived her transition and is thin, long-legged and blonde, with an ice princess kind of beauty.

Paradise gets a call from her aristocratic stoner friend Peyton (who is also being considered as a potential future mate for her) about the reopening of the training program, now open to civilians and females. The idea to sign up takes root as Paradise realises she wants an identity beyond running a household, being a hostess, and being kept in the dark about the practicalities that affect her, such as finances.

Peyton tells Paradise she would never be accepted into the training program because she isn’t athletic and is far more valuable to the race as a wife and mother to the upper classes who don’t want to lower themselves to mate with a civilian. She has a duty as a rare surviving female of a Founding Family. She tells him to fuck off, but find pushups harder than she expected.

Her father present her with an opportunity to live and work (yes, have a real job!) at the audience house (Darius’s old place where Beth and Wrath stayed in Dark Lover before moving everyone to the mansion). It has nothing to do with their sudden visitor. Nope, not at all.

On her first night on the job as the king’s receptionist, Paradise does her best to be a good hostess by offering refreshments and conversation, while keeping on top of the admin, but there’s a lot to be done. She improves and streamlines some processes, making her father proud and impressing her king, but Abalone will not allow her to join the training program and the war.

One night, she meets a young male asking for an application to the training program. He won’t give her an email address; he needs one that’s already printed out. It’s pretty clear that he isn’t rich, but doesn’t want to advertise that fact.

She hands him the one she would have submitted, forgetting that she had start to fill it in. As she prints him a new copy, he says it makes sense for her to learn how to protect herself.

He takes off his cap and she likes his deep blue eyes and his lips. His cheeks are a bit hollow due to his slightly too lean build, but she thinks that just makes him more masculine.

He introduces himself as Craeg and leaves.

Although the application does not require female applicants to obtain male permission, Paradise finds it hard to rebel against her only living relative. Once Throe leaves, Paradise is asked to move back home, but after the first day of missing her father, Paradise finds that she enjoys having her own space and freedom. She also tells Abalone that joining the training program isn’t about fighting in the war but being able to defend herself.

She ultimately moves back home, and Abalone completes her application to the training program.

Paradise quits her job as the King’s receptionist to take her place in the training program and spends months working out and training her cousin to take over her role.

Paradise recognises a distant cousin, Anslam, in  the group, as well as Peyton, and she finally sees Craeg again. He has nice dark hair without his baseball cap, a big nose, hard jaw, and deep set eyes. Although she is aware that his features may not be everyone’s cup of tea, she’s attracted to him.

Everything on their first night is a trap, from the canapes to the exercise equipment and the doorways. And there are lots of rubber bullets.

Craeg, son of Brahl the Younger, is a strategist and soon proves himself to be a natural leader. He gives Paradise some good advice before leaving her to fend for herself. They’ve only met once, so he owes her nothing. But he notes patterns in the timing of sensory assaults.

As they leave the gym, Craeg and Axe take the lead, with Novo and Boone bringing up the rear. The recruits are forced to keep walking a circuit until they can’t continue and drop off one by one. 60 recruits are reduced to 7, who have made it this far.

Anslam drops first. Paradise wants to help the fallen, but Novo tells her to keep walking. Novo eventually tires, leaving Paradise competing against Craeg. When he collapses, she tries to help him up and almost offers her vein (a very big deal for an aristocratic female). He tells her to keep going and pushes her by telling her she doesn’t belong. She can see that he’s trying to help in his own way, just as he had by checking the water and energy bars for tampering just before the walk.

She gets up and keeps going and going, even though she’s the last competitor. The Brotherhood applauds her and named her the Primus, which doesn’t seem to mean much of anything in later exercises.

She asks Anslam and Peyton to keep quiet about who she is. Peyton apologises for being a sexist dick.

While they’re recovering, Paradise and Craeg acknowledge their connection, but he is determined to keep her at arm’s length. After the death of his family in the raids, the program is all he has left, so he can’t afford distractions. And he feels that he has nothing to offer, without any money or position.

Peyton picks a fight with Craeg for checking out Paradise, bu ultimately knocks himself out. Craeg was winning the fight, but was holding back in case he killed Peyton.

This means that there’s now an even number for combat, and he is paired up with Paradise. He refuses to fight her, so she kicks his arse. He’s pretty damned turned on by that, so for her safety, Butch takes her place against Craeg.

Just as Craeg held back with Peyton, Butch holds back with Craeg. It’s a long fight, beginning with hand-to-hand and culminating in daggers. Craig doesn’t stand a chance, but fights as long as he could before collapsing in a pool of his own blood. To demonstrate the honour in Craeg’s defeat, Butch slices his palm before offering his hand to help the trainee up.

Craeg turns down the blood of a Chosen, so Paradise insists on feeding him, which is a sexual experience for them both. He holds back because he knows she’s a sheltered virgin, but she wants to watch him get himself off.

He dismisses her, ostensibly to save her virtue, but she calls him a coward for being a dick when he feels threatened. He apologises and says that rough edges are all he has to offer.

Paradise returns to a home that feels foreign to her. Peyton rings her instead of smoking weed because he feels the same sense that his home feels different now, and she can feel their old friendship returning.

Butch confronts Craeg about living in a crappy tenement and tells him he’s moving into the training centre. Craeg doesn’t want charity, but the Brother says they’re protecting the investment they’re making in him.

Peyton asks Paradise to the ball and she says yes.

Craeg is turned on by watching Paradise train and excuses himself to take care of business. When Tohr relieves V from supervision, Novo sends Paradise to the bathroom as well.

Paradise is ruined if she has sex before mating, especially with a commoner, but most aristocratic males would not want a female with her training anyway. She decides never to get mated, which is a very freeing thought.

Lash’s raids took place six months after Craeg’s transition (could he have been in the same classes as JM, Blay and Qhuinn if they were open to civilians?), where his father, along with all the servants working at the Endelview estate that night, was locked out of the safe room while the aristocrats hid. The family left footprints in the servants’ blood as they made their escape after the danger had passed. The lessers had found his father’s ID, so they knew where to hunt his family. His mother and sister were killed, and he was left for dead.

Craeg buried the bodies not burned by the sun on the estate, but had to take his father home. Someone else notified the other families.

Paradise lost seven cousins in the raids and had heard from Peyton about a family that was apparently away from home when the lesser came, and returned home to carnage. She believes Craeg. After phone sex with Craeg, he tells her he hates aristocrats for what they had done to him and has sworn revenge. Paradise tells him that his bloody revenge is the same as cold-blooded murder.

Paradise finds a red and pink stripes Polaroid. She thinks Peyton dropped it, but he dematerialises to smoke weed with Anslam before she can return it.

She’s so distracted by watching Craeg train that she trips and falls while on the treadmill. He checks on her and their argument over whether or not she needs medical attention lets everyone around them know something is happening.

Peyton enjoys telling Craeg that he had bonded with Paradise; Craeg is in denial because he doesn’t notice when he snarls at males around her. Peyton also warns Craeg to treat her well.

Paradise gets twelve stitches in her face, and although she’ll heal quickly and without a scar, she doesn’t want her father to see her. This means spending the day with Craeg.

Paradise finds her phone in a pocket of her bag that she never uses, but notices nothing missing from her bag.

During the day, Craeg ensures that Paradise has pleasure, but refuses to take her virginity. He does, however, mark her with his scent as he gets off.

Paradise tells her father that she wants to improve things for the race, without fighting in the war. He wants her to be mated to someone she loves as much as he grew to love her mother. He’s hoping for a match with Peyton, but I think she’s mistaken when she interprets his words as him wanting to arrange her mating with another aristocrat.

Most of the trainees are partying at shAdoWs, and Craeg takes Paradise to one of the private bathrooms where she takes control of her fate and demands sex. He wants somewhere better for her first time, but she’s more concerned with who she’s with than where.

She wants to do it again, but her phone keeps ringing. It’s Peyton. He’s at his cousin Allishon’s place and found it covered in blood and she’s missing.

Craeg and Paradise arrive, and when she sees the scene, she calls her father. Craeg says they need to call the Brotherhood, and Peyton says that since her father is the King’s First Advisor, she pretty much has called them.

Paradise takes photos of the scene.

Craeg is distant in his goodbye to Paradise, and after she dematerialises, he uses her blood to follow her home. He discovers that she lied to him in a massive way about who she really is. As a commoner, he could be executed for taking the virginity of the daughter of one of the Founding Families.

When she doesn’t from Craeg, Paradise calls him. They fight over her omission. He lumps her in with the same kind of aristocrats who caused the deaths of his family, which hurts and insults Paradise. She tells him about how restrictive her life is and how she only got the receptionist job because her father was desperate. She also had to lie about not fighting in the war to appease her father. Then she tells Craeg he is just as close-minded and judgmental as the glymera, before ending their relationship.

Instead of joining the other trainees at Sal’s, Paradise tells Peyton she found another Polaroid at Allishon’s apartment, just like the one she found on the bus, and that she now realises was stolen from her bag. Anslam is hanging with Peyton at the time.

Anslam picks Paradise up from her house and she thinks about how strange it is that he has this reputation for aggression against females.

He attacks her to get his photo back. She’s faster, but he’s stronger. He almost wins, but Craeg pulls him off Paradise before he could kill her, and Craeg kills Anslam with Abalone’s ceremonial dagger.

Abalone embraces him for saving his daughter.

Peyton outs their relationship to Abalone.

Craeg asks why him, when she could have anyone. He apologises for comparing her to the aristocrats who caused his family’s deaths because he saw how she tried to look out for others on the first night of training.

Craeg takes Paradise to the ball. Abalone gives his blessing to Paradise and his dagger to Craeg, who also receives the King’s Award of Valour, so he is now a titled aristocrat.

Abalone, son of Abalone

Abalone the elder distinguished himself as Abalone the Redeemer in his youth for his service to Wrath the Fair, when he reported an assassination attempt. For his loyalty, he was rewarded with the wealth and status enjoyed by his son.

The current Abalone is loyal to the current king, Wrath; however, he is facing enormous pressure from the glymera and the Band of Bastards, who are only too willing to threaten his life and his daughter’s future to get their own way. He would most want his daughter to mate with a good male first and foremost, with position and wealth as a lower priority. He found love in the glymera, so is unwilling to deny her the same chance.

He is by far the wealthiest aristocrat, thanks to the current king’s father and some savvy investments in the human world, but does not flaunt it, and prefers to stay under the radar.

As the no-confidence motion in the king must be unanimous, a verbal vote was taken. Abalone did not vote yes, but was too afraid to be the lone dissenting voice as much as he wanted to quash the vote of no confidence. He neither voted nor abstained and the motion went ahead. He was the last to sign the document and did so very grudgingly.

After resigning from the Council, Abalone emailed Wrath, apologising for not living up to his father’s legacy and having participated in the coup. He told the former king that he works with a group of civilians as an emissary within the glymera and wants to continue doing some good to make up for the vote.

When Wrath regained the throne, Abalone was named his chief cleric and helped the king get in closer contact with his people.

His daughter was unofficially adopted by the Brotherhood, and when she returned from a date before curfew, having decided the male was not for her, they decided he could continue living.

Shortly before dawn one morning, his very distant cousin Throe, son of Throe, appeared on his doorstep to beg a place to stay, bartering knowledge of the Bastards to sweeten the pot.

Abalone is struggling to keep up with all the admin of scheduling appointments at the audience house, but can’t trust anyone to help, because the only people he knows are the same aristocrats who tried to overthrow the king.

He feels uneasy over harbouring Throe, but actively does not want to know where the BDB lives and can therefore give Throe nothing useful. He tells Wrath, who wants to visit Throe at Abalone’s place immediately.

Throe says all the right things and is very convincing, but is still not to be trusted. So that Wrath would know where he is, Wrath asks Abalone to continue putting the Bastard up. For her own safety, Paradise can stay at the audience house, where she will be guarded.

Abalone dresses up her evacuation as an opportunity to work with him and not because of Throe’s arrival at their home. Not at all. Perish the thought.

He is appalled and terrified to learn that his only daughter wants to learn to fight. He is afraid of her being injured or killed in the war and cannot lose her the way he lost her mother. He’s convinced her mother could have talked some sense into Paradise, had she lived.

He inadvertently leads Throe to the audience house via a hidden GPS unit the Bastard hid in his coat.

Abalone asks Wrath if he could have his daughter back and his guest out. The king agrees and sends Phury and Z to help with the eviction, but Throe has already left, having written a letter thanking Abalone for his hospitality. He already had what he wanted, after all.

Paradise decides she prefers having her own space now that she’s been on her own for a little while, and although he doesn’t go so far as to say it, Abalone would prefer to keep her protected. There has to be a balance between ensuring her safety and holding her back.

She moves back home and he completes her application to the training program.

Butch, V and Wrath have a private meeting with Abalone on Paradise’s last night as their receptionist, to ensure that he is okay with her taking part in the training program. His position as First Advisor comes first, so if he can’t do his job because she’s in the program, she’s out. He both hopes it will be very difficult for her and that she gets cut early, but also does not want her to be disappointed.

It is hard for him to let go and let Paradise live the life she wants to because he sees a lot of danger and wants her to stay safe, especially since he lost his shellan. He wants her to find love and is hoping she could find that in a match with her friend Peyton, just as Abalone did with his arranged mate.

He embraces the male who kills to save his daughter, uncaring of his common blood, even when Peyton outs their relationship without Paradise’s knowledge.

When Paradise finally comes clean about her feelings for Craeg, Abalone is overjoyed and tells her he’s been waiting for her to tell him. He gives his dagger to Craeg, at least for the ball.

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