Friday, April 8, 2022

Lover Arisen by J.R. Ward

Available Now. Lover Arisen. True love brings a deadly threat to the Black Dagger Brotherhood in this sizzling new novel in J.R. Ward’s #1 New York Times bestselling series.

True love brings a deadly threat to the Black Dagger Brotherhood in this sizzling new novel in J.R. Ward’s #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Possessed by the demon Devina, Balthazar is once again on the hunt for the Book of Spells—and fighting an undeniable attraction to a woman. As a thief, he has stolen a lot of things… but he never thought his heart would be taken by another. Especially not a human.

As a homicide detective, Erika Saunders knows there is something otherworldly going on in Caldwell, New York. Mutilated bodies that cannot be explained are all over her case list—and then there are her nightmares in which she’s hunted by shadows and captivated by a mysterious man who is both a suspect and a savior.

When Devina’s wish for true love is finally granted, Balthazar and Erika unwittingly become the gateway for the rebirth of an old enemy of the Brothers. Will the very thing that brings them together lead to the ultimate destruction of the Brotherhood? Or will they have to lose everything in order to save the race’s most sacred defenders?


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Lover Arisen by J.R. Ward

Book 20
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4.5 stars

As with any Black Dagger Brotherhood book, I was drawn in from the very first page even though I haven't read several of the previous books. I was lost on a few characters, but it did not hinder the story in any way.

The story started out fast and had a few slow parts, but you needed them to catch your breath for the next fast-paced part.

As Balthazar hunts for the Book of Spells, he still tries to fight off the demon Devina. While he is drawn to homicide detective Erika Saunders, a human. She wonders what is going on in Caldwell, things can't be explained, and then there are her nightmares that seem so real.

What will Erika do when she realizes what Balthazar is? Can she accept him and his way of life? Will he ever be rid of the demon Devina?

I have been a fan of this series for many years but have not followed it as closely as I should have. This story is all-consuming as any of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books are, you have to finish them as quickly as you can, they are that good, and author J.R. Ward knows how to make the Brotherhood something we, as readers, want more of. I can't wait for more and I will go back and catch up on the ones I have missed.

Mary Jo☆☆☆☆
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars

J.R. Ward does an excellent job of world building having created a hidden-in-plain-sight world where vampires live side by side with humans. Only the humans have no idea that vampires really exist and there are things that cannot be explained, so they are chalked up to the supernatural.

In Lover Arisen, the reader is taken on a journey involving Balthazar and his quest to find the Book of Spells. The Brothers as well as the Band of Bastards believe the book was destroyed but Balz knows differently. How else could the hated demon Devina have entered his body?

The police detective Erika Saunders is investigating several unsolved murders and can’t help but believe she’s missing something. However, she is beginning to believe that she is losing her mind with the perpetual headaches and things she cannot recall. The latest murder scene has her reliving her own painful past.

As Devina seeks true love from the Book of Spells, she bargains both with the book and with the fallen angel, Lassiter. True love comes, but what it brings with it is something that she, nor the Brothers, ever expected.

There are many plots interwoven in Balz and Erika’s story that further the world building and leaves the reader wanting answers.

An old enemy is back and seemingly in full power and looking for trouble. A female is lost to time, once more taking the Book of Spells with her; however, we are left to wonder if a fallen angel will follow her.

A few elements of this book seem to be out of place, even for the Black Dagger Brotherhood world, and it took me out of the story for a bit. The romance of Balz and Erika seemed a bit rushed, but there was a lot going on during the days this book covered.

Will I read the next book in the series? Yes, I can’t wait to see what the Brothers are now up against after a brief reprieve from the war with the Lessers. I also wonder if we will see the Scribe Virgin in the next book.

Lover Arisen is the 20th installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. You absolutely must be current with the series and read in series order, as there was a shift in the series, the world building changing from the first half of the installments, which would lead to confusion for the reader.

To be honest, I'm a fan of Ward's but no longer a die-hard fan of the series itself. I will continue to reread the first 10 books or so, knowing them like the back of my hand. The latter books in the series are a one and done, and sometimes a struggle to wade through at that. Read purely out of nostalgia, and in Lover Arisen's case, it was just that. Nostalgic.

Now on to the review.

Full Stop. There were just too many threads being woven together, too many plots, to the point they all got lost in the wash, so to speak. None of them were fully explored, the knots not necessarily tying together without holes. It was a struggle for me to get through, because with the more going on, the less time I have to connect with the characters and the story.

I liked the homicide detective just fine but that was about it, as I truly didn't know much about Erika. Just surface level emotions, shallow. The same for Balthazar, liked him just fine, what I read about him. There wasn't much there, either in their backstories or their present, with the thinnest of ties in their romance. As what they receive as "their book" was more like a quarter of the pages, if that.

See, this is why I enjoyed the first half of the series more. The main characters were the focus, the continuing threads were secondary. Unless they're a main character across an arc of novels (like Lassiter's love triangle), characters like Erika and Balthazar, their romances are insta-love, forced proximity with no true connection, where a couple is tossed together, a couple that wouldn't be together, never having anything in common, and never balancing each other out. But they're never given the page-time to make that connection, shortchanging both characters and the reader's experience. Erika and Balthazar were no different, they're together because Ward told us so. They're just there, being driven over by the rest of the story for the added romance.

Overshadowing the connection between the main characters – to the point where they aren't truly the main characters, were they? – are two predominant plots. Sure, it all connects, but the main characters are only the passengers. Main characters are supposed to drive, right?

Lassiter is our new Scribe Virgin, which is awesome. Who doesn't love Lassiter? I've enjoyed him since he first stepped onto the pages many, many books ago. I enjoyed his plot. See, that's the thing. Lassiter outshined the meh main characters. Not hard to do when you quite literally shine. So why not just focus on Lassiter, right?

Well, because Lassiter's book is next. Okay. Great. But instead of feeding the next novel, how about we concentrate on Erika and Balthazar then? Sure, we want more Lassiter, but don't outshine. Just makes it feel like filler, padding the excitement for the next novel, totally shortchanging the current couple. Just saying...

Many scene-stealing characters, none of them the supposed main characters. Rahvyn, a power unto herself. Nate. The demon, Devina, is a force to be reckoned with, an enjoyable villainess – a unique and interesting character who spawned the reemergence of a character who I wished was long gone, to the point I doubt I will continue reading the series onward, sticking to my tried and true favorites.

We got rid of this heinous character. There are villains, entertaining villains and bad villains and redeemable villains, and then there is this character of pure evil. I'm not interested to discover if he is reformed or made even more evil, because in my opinion, I was just thankful to never see his name on the pages. Nothing is as creepy as a demon who wants to "love" this creep. Frankly, it triggers me on an emotional level, even seeing his name. This is a line-crosser for me, so I'm outie!

No doubt readers are wishing to know if any of the main brothers are on-scene. Several cameos offering classic Black Dagger Brotherhood banter. V. My man, V gets some page-time. To be honest, we needed more of this humor-laden entertainment, because the mood of the novel was dark. The romance was not strong enough to lighten it. The novel was sorely lacking the usual levity. The WARDen's voice is so distinct, a voice I miss and long to hear more. The spin of the words, making me chuckle unexpectedly, thoroughly entertained, but I felt this novel was missing that spark.

Bottom line: the world building is addictive and original. Many characters are intriguing, but those characters just so happen to NOT be Erika or Balthazar. The romance is ho-hum, the smexy meh, because the romance is just there to cushion what could have turned the novel into more horror than paranormal romance.



Author Bio

J.R. WARD is the author of over thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood. There are more than 15 million copies of Ward’s novels in print worldwide and they have been published in 25 different countries around the world.

After graduating from law school, Ward began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.

Connect with J.R. Ward

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Gallery Books.

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Lover Arisen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #20) by J.R. Ward to read and review.

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