I have a love/hate relationship with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I loved some, like: Dark Lover, Lover Eternal, Lover Awakened, Lover Avenged, Lover Mine. I will re-read these books whenever I need a comfort read or if I find myself in a book rut. Some books were okay and a few books I just didn’t like. But, it was The Shadows that shattered my trust with future books. I was hesitant to read The Beast. It only took three months and a ton of spoilers to get me to actually read it. That’s unheard of for me. I can read a BDB book in one day.
Since the author/reader trust was broke for me, every book that comes out I am not so keen on jumping right in until I know what I am getting into. I know all the arguments. But, Sam, it’s real life and shit happens. Fuck that noise. When I pick up a book that’s a romance, I don’t expect the hero or heroine to be killed off period. While I love J.R. Ward’s voice and her world, I am now leery and it kind of sucks feeling that way about a series that I could talk about for hours at a time to anyone who would listen. After reading The Beast I was really looking forward to Layla and Xcor’s story to be told. Yes, I know all about the Layla haters. I’m not one of them. As a matter of fact, she is one of my favorite heroines in this world. I am going to be upfront and tell you, dear readers, this review will contain spoilers and if you haven’t read the book, read no further, I don’t want to ruin the book for you. I am also going to change the format up a little bit because there are so many threads I want to break them down. The good news is I didn’t hate it.
Right off the bat Layla confesses to Qhuinn that she has been seeing Xcor. Qhuinn is pissed off that she has been spending time with the Bastard who tried to kill Wrath. At this point he tells her if she lies to him he will kill her. Qhuinn loses his damn mind, he feels that she put his unborn young in harm’s way and he’s going to make her pay dearly. He calls her a whore, accusing her of sleeping with Xcor with his baby’s in her belly. Then he goes from losing his mind to being a fucking piece of shit. I would like to add I was pretty shocked about his behavior and the way he was speaking to her. Not to mention firing a gun in Layla’s room with the twins in her arms.
Qhuinn just keeps firing off really devastating words at her, like when he tells her he would have rather not have his young born because they have half her blood in them. He tells her that she lost her right to be their mahmen and things go from bad to someone please throat punch the fuckhead. Layla at this point poofs over to the mansion and that’s when Qhuinn pulls out his gun and aims it at Layla with the babies in her arms. Blay steps in between them and, of course, Qhuinn tells Blay to mind his business, they’re not his kids. This devastates Blay and it takes the King and the brothers to get Qhuinn, the dickhead, under control.Layla is banned from the mansion and Beth and the other shellans are fighting for Layla to get visitation. Blay went to stay with his parents because of the horrible things that his mate said to him. These scenes were brutal. I don’t even know who this Qhuinn is in this book.
Layla really comes into herself in this book. She’s no longer the sheltered chosen who was born to breed warriors and other chosen. She has freedom to become whomever she wants to be and she finds her voice and her convictions. Layla, in my opinion, is one of the best female characters written in this series. She is so torn between her children and the vampire she is bonded with. She’s also mourning losing Qhuinn and Blay. She is feeling guilty about loving the enemy of her King and the brotherhood whom she loves. The turmoil is so thick you feel like you’re choking on it. Layla gets banned from the mansion and they put her in another of the Brotherhood’s properties with Vishous playing babysitter. The King decided that Layla can see her kids every other day up in Sanctuary for a 24-hour period on the nights that Qhuinn goes out to fight. It’s heartbreaking, to say the least. Over the course of the books, the one thing she wanted for herself was unconditional love. She always watched the mated pairs and wished she would have the same. Those children are everything to her. Make no mistake, she is willing to give up Xcor for her children. That’s just as heartbreaking that she has to make these decisions. She’s in a no-win situation. Yes, Xcor made some really dumb moves, but as you read his part of the story, you can truly understand how he becomes who you see on the page.
Everyone was wondering how the hell is Ward going to pull this off? I mean, he almost killed the King. How is she going to redeem this asshole? Let me reassure you, readers, she does a magnificent job. The flashbacks to when he was born, who his parents are, and what happens after he comes out of his mahmen’s womb will kill you. The utter abuse he had to take was brutal. No less traumatic than Zasdist’s backstory. I love reading about his origins but, I also read those parts with a heavy heart. It doesn’t excuse what Xcor did to the King, it just gives you a clearer picture of the horrors this vampire had to endure and why he is who he is. The thing about Xcor is that he’s not all evil. Deep down, when you watch him with Layla, you see the real Xcor, not the bloodthirsty warrior. It’s those moments in the book that he is the light to all the darkness.
Their story is heart wrenching, sweet, and extremely sexy. I absolutely love them. The scenes of them together are a beacon of hope, understanding, compassion, unconditional love, and respect. Xcor puts her on a pedestal and Layla is so thankful for how he treats her. She has watched the mated couples around her, always knowing her place in their universe, and the fact that she gets this small taste for a limited time makes for beautiful moments to read. Layla and Xcor finally find an easy way with each other. Xcor feels he’s not good enough for her and is constantly trying to scare her away. When he finally opens up to her about his past, his fears are for naught. Layla makes him understand that no matter what he endured or what he looks like or the things he did will never make her not love him. When Xcor is with Layla and his bonding scent makes its appearance, well, I’m sure you could hear all the BDB fans sighing. This part of the book was fantastic.
Tohr is on a rampage as well in this book. When the King decides that Xcor is not to be touched by anyone in the brotherhood, Tohr loses his mind. We all know that he was given the honor of killing him for putting a bullet in Wrath’s throat. At the end of the meeting he stays back and gives Qhuinn a look with his eyes and whispers for him to meet him in the garage for a quick talk. These two decide they’re going to disobey Wrath’s orders and they will hunt down Xcor and they will both kill him. At this point Xcor has sworn allegiance to the King and he’s working on finding his men so they can make the decision to do the same. If they do, Wrath will allow them all to live and go back to the old country. Tohr and Qhuinn catch sight of him and they have their guns blazing. They nicked him but didn’t kill him. How they didn’t kill him when so many bullets are flying may have a lot to do with a guardian angel. Layla, of course, sees that Xcor was injured and she questions Xcor about who did this to him. He lies to her and tells her it was Lessers. She knows he’s lying. When Xcor takes off to meet up with his men, she takes off to find Tohr. Tohr was pretty brutal to Layla as well. His words were on par with Qhuinn, and that’s when Layla grew some balls and nailed his ass to a wall. It’s a monumental moment in the book. But before she departs, she drops a bomb on him. When Wrath goes back to meet with Xcor about his men, Layla makes sure that he knows someone in the brotherhood shot Xcor. Xcor won’t admit who did it. Wrath goes all kingly and let’s just say between Layla’s bombshell and Wrath’s decree’ Tohr has a lot to think about.
Vishous, Vishous, Vishous. How disappointed I am with you. V plays a big part in this book and we can add him to the list of vampires that treated Layla just as bad as the others. V is downright cruel. While I was hating on him, there is a shred of decency left in his cold, hollow heart. He’s having issues with Jane. Between Jane being busy all the time and V fighting in the war that’s brewing, their relationship is through emails or texts. He’s also been having a lot of thoughts about when Jane was a human and not a ghost. He’s feeling a lot of things, including having to rely on other female vampires for his sustenance. As he is working to remove all the videos that are popping up on YouTube about his species, he tracks down who is running the blog outing his kind. He also finds his old GMAIL account when he would hook up with other people who likes rough sex. Yes, Vishous is on the verge of cheating on Jane. I’ll just let you sit with that for a bit.
He is the new evil. What he’s up to is downright crazy. If he accomplishes what he has been into, the Brotherhood is in for the fight of their lives. I think it’s back in Butch’s book about the prophecy. This is coming to fruition.
Wrath and the Brotherhood have a meeting point with Xcor and his men to swear allegiance, and this is when all the shit hits the fan. Hundreds of Lessers descend upon them and there isn’t one brother or bastard that is not hurt. The whys of the Lessers finding their meeting place will blow you away. Things are changing since the Scribe Virgin is no more and there is a new Deity in town and the only person who knows who it is is Layla. She is sworn to secrecy. After the fight, the Brotherhood realizes that these Bastards can fight, and fight they did. Xcor saves Wrath and Tohr and gets them into the car with Fritz, and this part is very emotional. When all is said and done, Xcor and his men are welcome into the fold. Blay accepts Qhuinn’s apology only if he makes it right with Layla. I feel Qhuinn got off too easy. It was too pat. The words he slung at her were cruel and while fists leave bruises, words kill your soul. I am glad that it’s all rainbows and unicorns for Blay, Qhuinn, Layla, and Xcor. I just don’t feel like forgiving Qhuinn personally. The fact that he wouldn’t even look at his daughter or pick her up because she looks like Layla really pissed me off. Of course, there are other things going on in this book like, Trez meeting a woman named Therese, who is the spitting image of Selena, but I am too pissed off to even give a tiny fuck. That damn book pisses me off. For fans of the series, I am sure you will love the latest installment. For fans on the fence, nothing traumatic happens where you’ll want to burn a village down in the old country. If you’re new to these books, I definitely suggest starting with Dark Lover. These books all inter-connect.
Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.
Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.
As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series:
The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series