I honestly can’t count the times I’ve debated which member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood is the best (My pick will forever be Zsadist, if you’re keeping track at home). Those vampire warriors from J.R. Ward’s series have endeared themselves to us—heh, can you imagine Wrath’s reaction to me saying he endeared himself?
When I look back, my favorite books in the series are always those with strong females.
Each novel finds a warrior finding his one true mate, complications ensue, there’s fighting with vampire slayers and lots of gasp-inducing sex scenes. But each book still includes the other members of the Brotherhood. So, while you meet Vishous in the first book, he doesn’t find Jane until book 5.
So, then, why is it I loved Butch—a cop-turned-Brotherhood member—up until the novel where he takes center stage? One word: Marissa.
Butch is still great in Lover Revealed (BDB #4), but his counterpart is a bore. Butch loves Marissa, a sheltered society vampire. When we first meet her, she comes across as weak, in need of saving and a bit irritating. And that impression doesn’t change as we get to know her. Don’t get me wrong; I like the big strong man coming to save the day. I just don’t want the woman to lack any strength at all—emotional strength or strength of personality goes a long way.
And, it’s with this thought of Marissa and the good-but-not-great Lover Revealed, that I finally pieced it together: When it comes to BDB books, the female makes the Brother. All my favorite novels have dynamic heroines who challenge their respective Brothers and can snap the group in line.
We’ll start with my favorite Brother Zsadist. I wasn’t interested in him as a romantic hero until Bella saw him as such. He wanted to run from her and hide behind a callous and cruel façade. She wasn’t having it. She wanted him and only him. A shared victimization brings these two closer in Lover Awakened (BDB #3). If Bella hadn’t forced Zsadist to be honest with her, himself, he wouldn’t be a favorite. Her strength fortifies him, makes him a better protector.
Vishous is used to giving orders in relationships. Jane? She is game for some of that in the bedroom (and, better yet, over the sink), but no-one runs her life. She’s a doctor and expecting her to give any of that up? Not happening. By the end of Lover Unbound, V’s leading lady is the official BDB doctor and even the king listens to her final word. She helps shift the dynamic in the house, adding another woman who carries authority, much like Beth.
Ah, Beth. The woman who started it all. The one who brought a king to accept his role. In the first BDB novel, Dark Lover, Wrath agrees to look out for Darius’s half-human daughter. She may go through the change into vampire or not. He doesn’t like the idea, but once he’s around her, the two can’t deny the mutual pull (though they sure try). Beth is willing to fight to protect Wrath and other vampires, no matter the personal consequences. She transforms Wrath from grumpy guy, griping about his lot in life, to a true king. If Beth had never acquiesced, The Blind King wouldn’t be ruling, as was his destiny. The Brothers would be weaker for it, and, really, so would the series.
As romance readers we often get caught up on the heroes—with good, delicious cause—but without the right heroine, these men would likely remained scarred, flawed and never start on that bad boy road to redemption.
While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. (Her husband often reminds her that she’s taken.)