There’s this show that is a total guilty pleasure. I love Spartacus—yes, the original too, but for the sake of this article I’m referring to the Starz Network TV Show. If you haven’t see it, it’s a bunch of very buff guys stabbing each other and then going to an orgy or two, and nobody does orgies like the Romans did orgies, let me tell you.
You see, I have a big weakness for the action movies of the 1980s and 1990s. Showing Commando at midnight? I’m there. Want to watch all the Conan movies, (two with Arnold and one with Khal Drogo)? Sign me up. Hell, I’ve been known to chain watch anything starring Kevin Sorbo, including Krull. So when I started reading J.R. Ward’s Dark Lover I got that same old action movie/Spartacus feel, and I’ve got to say I liked it. Am I ready to call myself a BDB
fan-girl fan-boy? Let’s just say, I’m not ready to call it my new crahck, but it was a hell of a lot of fun.
Before I go on, I want to get something out of the way. Wrath. Lord of the Vampires. Unmatched warrior, merciless killer, and leader of the feared and respected Black Dagger Brotherhood was defeated within the first 100 pages by a roast chicken and a fork.
This guy can dodge bullets, hit a man walking behind him in the throat with a ninja star, and also cut a bra off a woman (while both she and he are very aroused, mind you) with his razor sharp teeth without even nicking her, he could probably even do all three at once, but he can’t eat a chicken.
I know, I know: “But Chris, it’s showing how, despite his strength, he is weak and insecure." I call BS. I started thinking that way, too. That it was like that scene in Beauty and the Beast where Beast tries to use a spoon so Belle wouldn’t feel awkward.
But then they used the phrase “fine-motor skills weren’t his strong point,” and I lost it. This blind-man carries a gun and multiple weapons designed around precision throwing, uses all of them quite admirably, but then can’t eat a freaking roast chicken with some rice. I don’t buy it.
OK, I’m done now. Seriously, though? Kind of liked Wrath. Not as much as I liked Rupert Carsington, but he is definitely a second in terms of favorite Romance heroes so far. His talk about being a warrior and honorable got a little tiresome. I mean, you don’t see Ned Stark running around talking about how great it is to be a true warrior. I wouldn’t have mind seeing Wrath live it a little more instead of always thinking or saying it. It’s like the guy has a one-track mind. But by and large I liked him.
Which brings us to the love interest. Beth. Where Wrath was one of my favorites, Beth is by far my least favorite. She gives up all her agency in the drop of a hat just to be with the guy. All the other ladies I’ve read so far have put up a fight in terms of reconciling feelings of lust and love and the consequences there of. But Beth seemed to take the Bella Swan approach to guys and fell head over heels pretty damn quick. I tend to like my ladies stronger and more independent; Beth just didn’t give me that vibe.
And then there where the people I felt were treated unfairly. They were two relatively minor characters that I did like and felt that they got shafted pretty hard.
The first was Marissa. OK, she is just like Beth in that she is completely lost without a man to take care of her, but Wrath treats her like a whore, and that just ain’t cool. The girl obviously cares for him and he never even tries to explain anything to her. He just says, “peace, found me a brunette,” but only after using her only for blood. Dick move, Wrath. Dick. Move.
I mean, I can fully sympathize with Havers at this point. Had my wife just died and I found out the guy that my sister has been obsessed with, who also didn’t have the testicular fortitude to break things off even though he wasn’t interested, just tossed said sister to the side, I’d be pretty pissed—like, homicidal kind of pissed.
Then there is Butch. This guy is living his life to make things right. In a way, he sees more darkness than any of the Brotherhood ever could dream of, and okay, he’s damaged. But as a wise man once said, you can’t stare into the abyss without it staring back, and then there was something about fighting monsters and becoming one…but I digress. Beth totally blows him off and feels good about it! He risks his life to save her, and instead of helping him out when he is lying on the ground, barely breathing because Wrath didn’t like that Butch was doing his job as a cop, she runs off with the 6’6’’ barbarian. I mean, come on! And then, after she left him to die in an alley, he still helps her, even though she is knowingly aiding and abetting a “person of interest” in a murder case AND he has lost his job defending her honor.
Noooo, can’t have Butch, he’s suicidal, I’m going to go with this guy that kills people for a living and has verbally warned me that I will be/am a target of his enemies if/when they find out he cares for me. He’s a good guy, but not a vampire… Sorry, bit of a soft spot for those plain old humans in UF/PNR. We always get the short end of the stick versus all these things that go bump and such and need someone to look out for us.
Other than those not-that-important things, I really enjoyed the book. It was over-the-top, riduculous fun that made for a quick, fun read. The action was well paced and I’d probably rec this to my buddies that read UF or Robert Howard, because Wrath? Yeah, he’s right up there with Conan and Soloman Kane in my book. Hell, he’s Conan, John Carter, and Soloman Kane all wrapped up and thrown back at the reader.
Thanks to Coleen K for the rec. Thoughts on what’s next? For the sake of fairness I should prolly stick to the cycle, so I’m thinking historical or contemporary.