Thursday, 28 March 2013

Lover At Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11), J.R. Ward

A somewhat disappointing end (for this reader, not the series) to a series that I once loved.

- Review by Cindi

*** This review contains a lot of spoilers.   J.R. Ward fans are known to be brutal so if you are not interested in what I have to say about Lover at Last, do not read my review.  We all have a right to our opinions and this review contains mine.   If you are interested in J.R. Ward squeedom,  read someone else's review.  You will not find that here.  I also apologize in advance for the length of this review and the occasional sarcastic comment.***

This book was supposed to be it.  Blay and Qhuinn were finally getting their story.  No more back and forth.  No more "Will they?" or "Won't they?"  They were finally going to get beyond their past issues and stubbornness and finally find their happily-ever-after together.  So what happened?  Oh, they did eventually get their HEA but am I happy with how it happened?  Not even close.  
Lover At Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11)
Blay and Qhuinn are the sole reasons why I read the books I read these days, LGBT.  Had I not been curious when they were first introduced many books ago in the Black
Dagger Brotherhood  series I may not have ever discovered my love of gay romance/fiction.  I would not be a collaborator on this blog.  I never would have met my closest friend in the world.  So I give the author credit for that.  Oh, and then there were the first few books of this series that I considered phenomenal.  Dark Lover anyone?  Remember back when the author was more concerned about writing a good story than a large word count?  Yes, it's hard for me to remember that far back too.  While reading Lover At Last I tried to remind myself of those days.  The days when I could look forward to a new book in the series coming out with excitement.  I planned my life around Black Dagger Brotherhood releases.  On release day I shut myself off from the rest of the world.  I even admit to being extremely excited when I found out that Lover at Last was finally.. finally being written for Blay and Qhuinn.  I should not have gotten my hopes up.  Especially after the fiasco (in my opinion) of Tohr's book, Lover Reborn.  Looking back, I should also mention Payne's story (an entire book about a non-brother that read like a sappy romance novel) and Phury's... ah, Phury.  I won't even go there.  But yet... I was eager to see Blay and Qhuinn finally get together.  Again, Tohr's book should have prepared me for what was to come (my Goodreads review: Lover Reborn).  Though I can't say I hated Lover at Last as much as I did that one, I can say that I am extremely disappointed in how everything played out.  (Each time I reread that review I am tempted to knock off another star in my rating).

So where to begin?

Let's start with the cast of characters shall we?  No, not Blay and Qhuinn.  I will come back to them.  It is their book after all, right?  Yeah well, not really.  It was more about characters that I personally had no use for and their own particular stories.  Back in the day I enjoyed the back stories because they cohesively brought the rest of the story... and the Brothers... together.  Blay and Qhuinn were two of those former secondary characters so I obviously didn't mind some of the secondaries or their back stories.  In this book, however, Blay and Qhuinn were not center.  Everyone and their mother (so to speak) were.  

- Trez and iAM.  I always adored these two guys.  They were two of my favorite non-brother characters.  Unfortunately the author gave Trez too much time in this one.  Trez, who has always been all about sex, was constantly fucking or thinking about fucking.  Sure, his behavior was as a result of other issues hanging over his head but I lost interest in his sex life after reading again and again and again about him being inside yet another psychotic, drugged out woman.

- Assail.  I have no real opinion of him but he was also given too much time here.  Then there is Sola (Marisol) who will ... in a future book no doubt... be Assail's love interest.  Dear God every time I thought that maybe we were going back to Qhuinn and Blay what do you know?  More Assail and Sola and their back and forth and the sexual tension between them.

- Xcor.  Just give him his Chosen already.. or better yet, find him another woman.  When an author takes a total bastard character (who just happens to be the leader of the Band of Bastards) and makes him out to be a killing machine early on only to have him later fall into mush as a result of Layla?  I don't mind Xcor.  I really don't.  I actually felt a little bit of sympathy for the killer but half of the stuff going on with him and the Band of Bastards was unnecessary and to be honest, boring.

- Layla.  Where to begin?  Are there actually readers that like this character?  I obviously don't.  Granted, the author went a different direction with Layla in Lover Reborn and I am grateful for that but each time she came up in this book (and oh does she come up A LOT) I wanted to skim over pages because she tried to come across as this good girl, sweet person who "Oh poor me!  I'm in love with the biggest enemy of the Brothers!" but I remember her too well from previous books.  Thankfully I won't still be around to see her have her so-called happily-ever-after with Xcor.  

Note that I am not going into details in regards to Layla's pregnancy in this review.  That would be too telling for one thing.  Another, I am not willing to give her anymore time in my review.

- Qhuinn's brother.  I didn't see that one coming and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

- The Brothers.  Where were the brothers????  Oh sure they were in the book in passing and even in a couple of important parts but I wanted more.  I wanted more Rhage, V, Butch, Z, Wrath... all of them.  I read these books for the brothers not for characters who have no (direct) connection with them.  Or even Lassiter.  He's not a brother but he's a favorite of mine.  I wanted more of him.

- Saxton.  Poor guy but yet he knew going in what he was in for with Blay.  It was always known where Blay's heart was and it wasn't with Qhuinn's cousin.  Thankfully, Saxton wasn't dragged out too much though Blay and his lack of honesty (with Qhuinn and the others) in regards to him dragged out 600 pages.

Now to Blay and Qhuinn, the characters the book was supposedly written about.

In earlier books we watched as Blaylock's heart broke over his love for his best friend.  We watched as he was shot down again and again because he was convinced that his feelings were not reciprocated.  We watched Qhuinn as he had sex with dozens of females and males alike right in front of Blay.  Qhuinn knew this hurt Blay but yet he kept doing it anyway.  Blay finally moved on with Saxton.  The readers hated where that was going but it was good to see Blay happy even if it was not with the man he loved.  Qhuinn eventually grew up and realized that what.. who ... he wanted had been directly in front of him for years.  At this point it was too late and he was forced to watch Blay have a life with his cousin of all people.  

In Lover at Last, they finally hook up a few times.  These times, of course, were scattered amongst hundreds of other pages in the book where other stories were going on.  I have to give the author credit for one thing.  Blay and Qhuinn do have sex on-page.  I was surprised at this because of the so-called flak that she got over bringing two gay characters together sexually.  Was it great sex?  Nah, not really but I do give her credit for not having it occur off-page as I expected.  Had she done so considering the amount of hetero sex going on my comments in regards to it would not be flattering in any way and this review would read much differently.  

One comment that I actually found funny and I have no doubt it was not meant to be... to set it up, Blay had just given Qhuinn a blowjob and Qhuinn was eager to reciprocate.

"So will you give me something to suck on as I recover" Qhuinn asked.
"I said I'm thirsty.  And I need something to suck on." At this, Qhuinn bit his lower lip, his bright white fangs sinking into this flesh.  "Will you help me?"

It should also be noted that Qhuinn had an orgasm that lasted literally twenty minutes.  Lucky guy. :)

The back and forth between Blay and Qhuinn went on entirely too long.  Blay and Saxton broke up before Blay had sex with Qhuinn the first time but yet he refused to tell Qhuinn this until literally the very end of the book.  The amount of time the two men actually spend together is minimal which was frustrating as the book was supposedly about them.  I wanted more interaction between the two men. I  wanted to see them work together to become a couple.  When it finally does happen it happens during a very emotional moment for Qhuinn and it is rushed.  Yes, this was very nice and I admit to getting a little emotional there for a second as Qhuinn poured his heart out and Blay finally admitted that he was and had always been in love with Qhuinn.  This was given like 2 pages?  All of that leading up to this moment....... all the previous books leading up to this moment... and it is reduced to only a couple of pages?  To say I was angry would be an understatement.  Then let's fast forward to an epilogue two weeks later.  The ending was beautiful.  I will admit that freely.  But what about the previous two weeks?  They finally profess their love for each other and "Okay that's done.  Let's fast forward to two weeks from now without giving any information of what occurred during those two weeks?"  Unbelievable.  

Other issues with the book:

- Rats without tails.  I didn't do a count to see how many times that was used in the book but it was a lot.

- I felt that I was reading bad word porn throughout and I do not mean with Blay and Qhuinn.  There was a gang bang and lots of graphic sex by others (I mentioned Trez).  I read this book for Blay and Qhuinn not to read the equivalent of a poorly written erotica novel about other males and females having sex all over the place.

- There was a two day publishing delay for international readers.  This almost prevented me from reading it.  I have yet to understand why this delay occurred.  2 days  makes a hell of a lot of a difference when you are waiting for a book in a series to come out.  Not to mention the spoilers that are posted by everyone in America who is reading the book two days before you.  I live in the U.S.  My blog partner does not.  While I was reading this book I had to avoid Goodreads and other social networking sites like the plague due to eager fans putting spoilers in their updates.  I got the book the day it was released.  What about those who had to wait an extra two days?

- Product placement got ridiculous.

- Editing.  There were two misspelled words.  Only two out of thousands but my eagle eye caught them.  This would not have been an issue for me had I not spent close to $16.00 on an e-book and had it not been published by a major publisher.  Petty?  Probably but I expected more from a J.R. Ward book.

What I loved (and yes, there are a few things I loved about this book):

- Qhuinn. Watching Qhuinn as he came to terms with not only his feelings for Blay but with his past and his finally coming to terms with the fact that he is, in fact, a gay man.  It was a long time coming but when it came it was sweet.

- Blaylock.  He no longer bent over backwards (well, he did but not in that sense) to get Qhuinn's attention.  His character got stronger and he made Qhuinn work for everything.  He refused to fall back into the Qhuinn trap until he was 100% positive that Qhuinn's mind was in the right place.

- The cover.  I may be a minority in this one but I absolutely love the cover.  With the exception of no tattoos being shown, this is how I pictured Qhuinn in my head.  The same can be said about Tohr and his book as well.

That pretty much sums it up.

Final thoughts.......... Today on March 28, 2013,  I say goodbye to a series I have loved for years and an author who has always been an auto-buy for me. I will forever be grateful for the series and Blay and Qhuinn as I never would have discovered my love for the LGBT genre without them. But there comes a time when an author can take a series too far and that is the case with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I am disheartened as I had high hopes for Blay and Qhuinn. This is the book the fans have eagerly awaited. How J.R. Ward could destroy that is beyond me. I am disheartened and I am extremely disappointed. For those who will continue to read the series after this book... good for you. I hope you continue to enjoy the BDB world. As of this very moment I am officially out.  I get adding other characters and back stories so a series can go in different directions.  I do not fault an author for doing that.  What I do fault her for is taking two of the  most beloved characters in a series and reducing them and their relationship to what she did in this one.  


  1. Great, fabulous, wonderful review, Cindi. I have been busting to read your thoughts and they did not disappoint. Very reasoned and fair. You gave good and bad points in a balanced manner. Thank you :)
    I can't say what I really want to here about J R "chill the fuck out" Ward. Yes, that's how she talks to her fan base. I will never read this book or any more of what was once my favourite series. If this was written by one of our M/M authors most readers in our primary genre would be giving this 1 star. This is a hetero normative bullshit attempt at M/M, not a real M/M. Ward used smoke and mirrors and word count to make sure all the heterosexual action took up more time, hence the size of the book. Oh, and if any of the wardens over zealous cellies says one thing to you about this review, send them to me.
    **For the record, Cindi received nasty emails after Tohrs book because she dared to be honest with her opinion.**

    1. Thank you. I know you've been patiently waiting for me to finally finish it.

      Ah, memories.. :) The overzealous fan base of what amounted to teenagers who were perhaps too young to be reading Tohr's book to begin with. Those old emails are the main reason I put my little red paragraph at the top of the review.

      The sad thing is that this book seriously could have been a great book had she taken out all the other b.s. and focused more on Blay and Qhuinn. They had such a small amount of time together and they are the main characters! Then when it finally, FINALLY started moving in the right "Blay and Qhuinn" direction she threw the resolution into only a few pages. As long as this damn book is she should have focused more on THEM than the other stuff. And then to skimp on the ending? Yes it was sweet. It got me emotional but 2 or 3 pages? I was furious. You know me and rush, rush resolutions.

      It was literally full of hetero sex. In my other M/M books I will stop reading a book because of it. This one? No biggie at first because the rest of the series is M/F. I get that. But this was poorly written word porn. Throw in a ton of hetero sex scenes to take away from the fact that the MC's are two men. Gee... wouldn't want to offend anybody.

      (Gee.... can you tell I'm still a bit bitter hours after finishing it?)

    2. I understand your frustration at the way things were handled. If I say any more I will be a bitch and that is not cool. So I shall say great review and zip it :)

  2. LOL.. Ok so I'll take it from where Kazza left off and say bravo!! I loved your review it hit all the key points and yes you are fine being bitter. I must say I do not read a lot of M/M (both of you know this) and yet I still felt the lack of action from those two... She as in Ward at least had them have it on paper and did not just blow it by not even putting it in. Props and that's thanks to a good publisher probably who knows true fans of B&Q would have had a field day with it; if it was otherwise. So saying The little bits I got from them was pretty good, again those damn side stories pissed me off, just check the thread out on Bookholics. She pissed me off to no end with that crap. Who the F cares about Assail really yea he is hot and steamy, etc BUT this book was about my boys!!! And I needed more of them, I have half a mind of returning my copy. I mean BDB is the only series I buy the same day it comes out and pay the ridiculous price for it. But no more, next book I will either wait or not read at all. I mean how will she handle Wrath and Beth will they be the characters we love so much or will she butcher them and add so many other side characters that they are nothing... *sigh* damn my blood pressure just went up.

    Well so saying love the review and now I will go bash my lack of B&Q elsewhere
    Hugs and Kisses

    1. Why thank you my dear. :) I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way about this book. My theory is that she and her publishers were willing to do the M/M scenario (because the fans insisted on it) but they felt that if they made the time Q & B spent together short that no one would get offended... the boys would have their HEA and all will be fine. It wasn't. The parts of the book where Blay and Qhuinn actually spend time together are written perfectly... with the exception of that rush, rush bullshit ending. It's the other stuff that wasn't. I didn't pay close to $16.00 for a book about these guys to get the equivalent of 50 or 60 pages of the two MC's... total... in a close to 600 page book.

      I'm not interested in the back stories anymore. I won't be reading The King because Wrath and Beth have already had their story... the best in the series in my opinion. When an author starts fucking up two of the most loved characters (Beth and Wrath) then I am no longer interested. She already did it with Blay and Qhuinn. I won't be suffering through another of her books. And that makes me sad because I seriously loved this series until recently.

      Hugs and Kisses back at ya. :)

    2. Correction... they MAY have gotten a few more than 50 of 60 pages of on-page time. :) (not many more though)

  3. Amazing review Cindi...and so close to what I thought about the book. I was really looking forward to this one as so many others.

    Based on J.R. Ward's previous books, I did expect some back stories...but for me this book felt more like Assail's book with Blay and Qhuinn as the back story. After reading B&Q's back story in previous books I was expecting more angst on both their parts with a serious blow out followed by a touching heart to heart which would then lead to a couple of chapters of B&Q getting used to being a couple followed by the Epilogue that was in the book (I wouldn't change a single thing about the epilogue). I feel like I was cheated out of what could have been a great story.

    There are parts that I did love, but the disappointments were just too many for me to ignore.

    I am with you in saying goodbye to this series. You of all people know how much I loved this series, but the fact that the series is deviating from the BDB and focusing more on the BOB and other secondary characters is a total turn off for me. Lover At Last would've been a great way conclude the series on a high note. All the brothers have had their HEA and the 3 soldiers (John Matthew, Blay & Qhuinn) who've been part of the series since the beginning would have had their HEA too. I'll just pretend that's what happened.

    1. Thank you, K.M. Like you I was expecting back stories but never would I have imagined that they would be the ENTIRE book. I feel that Blay and Qhuinn were cheated simply because the author and the publisher were scared to go too far with the gay thing. I loved almost every single part of Blay and Qhuinn's story. I just felt that they weren't given ENOUGH of a story. The epilogue was beautiful.. when they finally got it together was beautiful... but to build them up over hundreds and hundreds of pages in other books and to give them so little time in their own? Then to rush, rush their coming together at the end? I'm still angry over that.

      I do know your love for the series and I know I got you reading it way back when. I am sad that it had to end for us. :(