Hear me out: When it began, way back when Dark Lover introduced us to Wrath (no inappropriately-placed “h”), it was a paranormal romance—a vampire, the leader of the vampires, in fact, was charged with protecting the half-breed daughter of his friend, who is killed in battle. Mating scents occur, as does hot sex, and Wrath and Beth end up as a couple at the end of the book.
Happily Ever After, right?
Not so fast; several books in, and Wrath is keeping secrets from Beth, secrets that affect his ability to lead his people properly. Other couples from the vampire family have since bonded and mated, and all of them live and eat together in a gigantic hidden mansion with devoted servants.
If one of them misses First Meal, it’s remarked upon. Rather like a wealthy family whose patriarch insists his entire family sup upon his table.
And...they all live together! Grown-ups! Living all together in an enormous house where they can hear each other having sex! In an older style of family saga, the family members would have heard each other fighting more than fooling around, but it’s the same principle.
The books have evolved from being paranormal romances to paranormal family sagas; family sagas focus on the evolution of the family, rather than focusing primarily on one couple. Yes, the primary couple is still important, but that’s only about 60% of the entire book, at least in recent BDB books. The favorite part, for me, of Lover Unleashed was not Manny and Payne’s story, but the continuation of Vishous and Jane (and Butch!). In Lover Reborn, Tohrment and No’One’s story is more interesting, but it feels as though their romance is just another aspect of the book, not its primary focus.
Each book layers on more and more family members, with the HEAs we thought were guaranteed in previous books having issues in current books. In Lover Reborn, John Matthew and Xhex are having serious relationship issues, culiminating with Xhex returning to her kick-ass bouncer ways and moving back to her own place. Then there’s Qhuinn, who sleeps with Layla—and impregnates her!—because she is in her “needing,” some sort of fierce vampire heat, even though they both acknowledge they are not in love with each other, they are just good friends. They’ll soon be adding another generation with the birth of their baby, adding a layer of bonded family to riff off of.
(Sidenote: Will Ward pull a Romeo and Juliet/Forsythe Saga scenario and have Layla end up with Xcor? It sure seems as though she is hinting at that. That would prove the thesis as well).
The Black Dagger Brotherhood, like any great family, has enemies. Before, the BDB’s primary enemies were the Lessers, the soulless vampire-hunters turned by the Omega. The Glymera, the vampires’ version of the aristocracy, embodies all of the traits held by their non-paranormal brethren: They’re tied to the old ways, they don’t work, they abhor bad breeding (see: Qhuinn), they look down on anyone who is not them. In this iteration, the Glymera works to undermine its leader, Wrath, since in their opinion he does not put their interests above all others. In traditional family sagas, the role of the Glymera is played by the aristocracy who hold sway over Society and its accepted practices. Or the wealthy landowners who want to keep things they way they are. Or the older generation who is appalled at what the younger generation wants to do.
With the release of Lover at Last coming next March, we can speculate as to whether Ward will continue on her dynastic family saga path or return to the relative sparsity of Dark Lover. Which would you prefer?
The Thorn Birds, the Godfather—and now the Black Dagger Brotherhood? What do you think?
Megan Frampton is the Community Manager for the HeroesandHeartbreakers site. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son.