Lover Avenged & Lover Mine (by J.R. Ward)

After reading 1,257 pages of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood (Lover Avenged and Lover Mine back-to-back), I need a break...  So much blood and action and... angsty boning...  After this, I'm looking forward to a safe historical - with lots of swooning and scandalous parlor dialogues using SAT vocabulary.

Be warned: Some spoilers ahead.

Lover Avenged (by J.R. Ward)
Conflict:  Big Misunderstanding / Big Secret / Reputation Ruination.  We're talking scandal and drama in the worst way.  The heroine (Ehlena) feels lied to (and she was - it was a lie by omission, although, she's not explaining 100% of her situation either) and the hero (Rehv) couldn't reveal his secret for fear of ruining everyone's reputation/life - AND he is being blackmailed.  No matter how stressful the plot became, I never doubted the intelligence of the couple.  I understood their insecurities, and I still believed/hoped they could find their Happily Ever After.  Even when it looked supremely bleak/dangerous, I kept reading to see what would happen next.

Why do I empathize with this heroine:  She used to be in the upper-echelon of society (the 1%, the glymera), but her family got screwed over, so she struggles/works in an underground medical clinic to support her father (who is schizophrenic or suffering from dementia - but he keeps an amazing anthology of his memories).  She proved to be really strong and level-headed, especially considering she grew up in a society that was so intensely focused on social status and wealth.  I can't recall strongly disagreeing with any of her choices and she didn't irritate me.  I felt the hero and heroine reacted realistically in their situation: they both REALLY wanted to date each other (and be in a committed relationship), but they were too worried about the reputation/ruination conflict if his/her secret was discovered.  (He's a complete criminal and dangerous symphath in the vampire culture.  She is ex-glymera and desperately trying to avoid bringing further shame to her family.)

Overall: Lover Avenged was good - very satisfactory, and it met my expectations for a J.R. Ward BDB book - not to mention crazy sub-plots with villains, politics, and major romantic developments between supporting characters.  (Suprise! - Everyone's got a secret!)  It was enough to make me pick up with the next book right away just to see how the drama would unfold.  Which brings me to the next book...

Have you ever been so far into a saga / soap opera / series that all of the plot lines are running together - and there are certain ones you like more than others...?  (Well, hello there, Lost, Revenge, and Game of Thrones!)  That started happening with Lover Mine... and I haven't read books 4, 5, and 6 in the BDB series (oops) - but these plot lines were stumbling like a clumsy baby fawn all throughout the pages.

Lover Mine (by J.R. Ward)
Conflict:  Big Secret / Soulmate Salvation.  Both the hero (John Matthew) and the heroine (Xhex) have suffered traumas, and only they can understand/heal/bone each other.  It's a bit exhausting at this point, because the reader has known this for so many pages/books in the series, but the hero and heroine aren't quite on the same wavelength yet... so we have to read through 600+ pages of them realizing that only the hero/heroine can complete her/his life.  (I got a lot of mileage out of my Keurig machine.)

As for the plot stumbling like a baby fawn throughout the pages:

First, we're reading about John and Xhex (and their present/past/future - and why they're perfect for each other).
Then, we're reading about Darius and Tohr's prequel adventure.
And we're also reading about Qhuinn and Blay's angsty M/M romantic development (Sure, add Saxton too).
And there's a random ghost-hunters kind of plot line, which involves this a couple at a B&B (which is owned by Murhder - the heroine's ex? So, it's Xhex's ex?)
And then there's Payne and No'One hanging out in the spiritual realm area, feeling all sad and stuff.
And then there's Lash (the on-going villain - aka Tony Montana, aka Smoke Monster from Lost) who goes on the ultimate coke bender...of all time... ever seen in text form... ever.  Like he's already dead (evil-reincarnate dead) and he's still taking lines, and talking about taking over South America's whole export, and ruling the world, and more rape, etc.  One day, if I ever write a villain's post - he'll definitely have a shout-out.  He's the villain-iest.  I think on page 442, I stopped and said, "Damn, Lash!" because it was getting beyond lunatic.

Why do I empathize with this heroine:  Aside from her going through a crazy-traumatic rape/kidnapping experience from Lash (again, see above paragraph - no really)... I guess I admire her strong work-ethic and determination for revenge/closure (assisted by the hero and a few supporting characters.  Teamwork, yeah!).  Empathy is more of an automatic response, since practically nothing has gone right in our heroine's life from day 1.  By the time she gets her HEA with the hero, I felt happy in a "Good, I hope I don't have to worry about you anymore," kind of way.

Overall: Good - but again, lots of plot lines, and "WTH is going on?!" moments - so this one you definitely CAN'T read as a stand-alone.  (You'll need to have read at least the first few books in the series and the one right before this one.)  By the end of the book, I felt so burnt out with all the secrets and everyone figuring everything out (or lack thereof in some plot lines) - so basically, get used to a lot of this:

I just can't pick up the next book right now.  I thought that I could, but I just can't.  Maybe if I was younger, and didn't get tired as quickly after work, but 537 more pages of the emotional BDB roller-coaster and non-stop action/blood/boning.  It IS a J.R. Ward book, so I'm expecting even more drama since there are always cliffhangers and new secrets...  after stopping over at Smexy Books, I see that Lash comes back (after he was already "killed").  I just can't right now.

Who knows, maybe in late February 2013.

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