I was late to the party with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Six of the books had already been released when I started the series. This was in the days when a title like Dark Lover would have me going all Zsadist and cocking a brow. The perk here was I devoured those first books. I read the first four in a week—aand then I hit book six Lover Enshrined and my pace came to a near stand-still.
How could a series with so much momentum and sexual energy become that? A series known for now-that’s-impressive sex scenes had a hero who was celibate and a heroine who’d rather stay in her room and play with toothpicks. If the first four books hadn’t been so damn good I might have called it quits. I pushed my way through Phury and Cormia’s story because I trusted J.R. Ward had more badass books in her back pocket. She did.
And that makes Lover Enshrined a breather book. Ward used the oddball hero and heroine’s story to tie up loose ends, start new plot threads — Qhuay!—and generally transition the series into a new tone.
She’s not the only one who needs a breather book to keep her series going.
The highly-anticipated, tenth Hollows novel A Perfect Blood was recently released. I wanted to love that book. I did. All the pieces were there. Rachel, Jenks, Ivy and Trent being open and honest. And the book fell flat. Rachel doesn’t behave in ways we’d expect after the big growth of the previous book, Pale Demon. She laments the past and tries to reconcile a future.
Unlike the previous books by Kim Harrison, I wasn’t able to read A Perfect Blood in a single sitting. The fun was sucked out the journey by the disconnect, and instead I could only push through in small pieces. I won’t give up on Rachel Morgan. Oh, no. But this book was getting people, emotions and drama out of the way with (I hope) the purpose of staging new complications and a return to the Ever After.
Harrison isn’t the only one to get ten books in and take a break. Charlaine Harris did the same thing with her Sookie Stackhouse novel Dead in the Family. The case here was more Harris throwing references to supernatural political tension and dangling tons of plot starters and not taking them anywhere in the book. Instead, we had a few short plots hobbled together to make a book with lots of teasers to make us stick with it. Dead Reckoning, the follow-up, was better enough to tell me book 10 was a breather and we’re amping to a big finale for Sookie.
Sometimes it’s not that the whole book lacks a plot, but that the ending just ties up everything in a quick bow and pronounces ta-da! I’m talking about Chloe Neill and the are-you-kidding-me ending to Drink Deep. Heroine Merit made emotional progress throughout 90 percent of the novel. We’d been waiting for one event to happen, but it just never did. Then suddenly everything happened in a handful of pages and everything was all better and totally confusing.
Like with my groan-inducing experience of Lover Enshrined, I told myself Chloe Neill can make it better. When she returns with Biting Cold, I’ll read it, because Drink Deep had to be a pause after the mass chaos of the earlier book Hard Bitten. J.R. Ward pulled it off bringing me back into the BDB world with her sixth book, and my fingers are crossed the same will be true for book six of the Chicagoland Vampires series.
What keeps a “meh” book from being ending up in your did-not-finish pile? Hit the comments to lament with the group on the books you’ve slogged through because the next one had to be better. Because, I do feel your pain.
(Also, ten bucks says someone says Anita Blake.)
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.)