Mar 2 2013 1:00pm

Black Dagger Brotherhood’s Blaylock and Qhuinn, Part 1: Qhuay? Nay.

Lover at Last by J.R. WardIn a 2-part discussion (part 2 will be up tomorrow), Kate Nagy and Rachel Hyland talk their differing levels of interest in J.R. Ward's forthcoming Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, Lover at Last, which will focus on the relationship between Qhuinn and Blaylock (Qhuay).

Let me begin by saying that I really like the idea of J.R. Ward’s lovestruck vampires Qhuinn and Blaylock finally, finally getting their joint act together in the forthcoming Lover At Last. I don’t have the least problem with the idea of two hot male vampires getting it on, and I don’t actively dislike either character. (Although Qhuinn was walking a mighty fine line there at one point.) And, as I’ve noted before in Mainstreaming M/Male Romance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the prominent depiction of what promises to be a committed gay relationship in a popular mainstream romance series is, culturally, huge. Good on J.R. Ward and good on her publisher for agreeing to it.

And yet…and yet. I am not excited about Qhuay. I can wait quite easily for Lover at Last to drop. In fact, I may have been known to refer to the two, upon occasion, as “Blah” and “Qwhine.”

OUCH! I can feel all those shoes you’re flinging in my direction, and I can hear your outraged voices: What in the world is my problem?

Well, it’s not an insurmountable problem, but in a nutshell: At the end of the day, I really don’t find Qhuinn or Blay particularly compelling as characters, and I don’t find their romance more than mildly interesting.

Yes, I said it. Oh yes I did. Why? Let us review:

Blaylock and Qhuinn met as trainees of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Qhuinn, a member of the glymera whose mismatched eyes made him an outcast, was a bit of a man-slut, and indeed one with a truly impressive breadth of taste. Blaylock was a smoldering redhead who was the first among his tight circle (himself, Qhuinn, and John Matthew) to go through his transition and become a mature male vampire. Blay realized he was in love with Qhuinn, but Qhuinn feared the reaction of the glymera, whose approval he craved despite their mistreatment of him, and spurned poor Blay. Blay, reasonably enough, moved on with urbane lawyer and fan favorite Saxton.

Qhuinn promptly fought like hell for his man–-no, wait a minute. Actually, he went on a hunger strike. He pouted in his room. He glowered a lot. He pined like a Victorian virgin for his Love That Was Tragically Never To Be. Blay hinted that there was still a chance. Saxton—-Saxton! more or less told him and Blay both that he knew the score and that he was okay with Blay hooking up with Qhuinn. Did either man take him at his word? No. Blay “knew” that Qhuinn would never accept him. Qhuinn “knew” that Their Love Could Never Be.

So then, Qhuinn serviced–-there is no better word–-his good friend Layla when she went through her needing, and she became pregnant. His day of passion with Layla seemed to awaken something in Qhuinn, and we last saw him gazing at Blay in Saxton’s arms—and Blay gazing back—both aware that it was time to fish or cut bait. “That’s right, buddy. Our future has come,” mused Qhuinn somewhat smugly.

My problem? Simply put, apart from chronic emotional immaturity, I’m not seeing any real obstacles here.

One of the things I’ve really appreciated about the Black Dagger Brotherhood is that Ward throws some truly heavy stuff in the way of her pairings. Rhage fell in love with the human Mary right before she learned that she was terminally ill; his devotion earned him a beat-down from his own sworn Brothers, as “fraternization” with humans was very much against the rules. Jane had to actually die before she and Vishous could be together. Zsadist had a dark history of physical and sexual abuse. Rhevenge had a talent that made him anathema to most other vampires, AND he was screwing his own sister to boot. Heck, even the oft-reviled Phury was a drug addict.

Qhuinn? Has multicolored eyes, craves acceptance, and…is really, really young for his age.

Other potential obstacles on the path to Qhuay’s HEA:

Saxton? Unless we see a completely different Saxton than we’ve ever seen before, things will be awkward and Saxton will be hurt, possibly bitterly so, but he’s not going to be a match for Qhuinn in any realistic sense. He’s been watching this train come down the tracks at him for too long. Plus, there’s someone out there for Saxton, I just know it. He’s too awesome for there not to be.

A m/m relationship among vampires? The glymera may not like it, but Qhuinn’s already an outcast and anyway, the Brotherhood are the ones who really matter, and they seem pretty open-minded about the whole thing. Recall that Blay and Saxton have been openly carrying on a relationship for some time without repercussion, and that when Saxton first visited Wrath’s mansion ball all the way back in Lover Avenged, Wrath intuited that Saxton wanted Vishous and didn’t especially care. (Then there’s V and Butch–-another 1,000 words right there, true.) It’s just possible that the Scribe Virgin will suddenly take an interest in the two and be all, “Seriously, guys?” However, there are ways and ways around the Scribe Virgin. Ask Rhage. Or Vishous. Or Payne. I’m not too concerned about her, in other words.

Layla? Layla’s known the score from the get-go, and in any case Layla has bigger problems: She’s in love with Xcor, who has vowed to bring Wrath down and whose second-in-command, Throe, is in love with her. She’ll be a sympathetic ear for Qhuinn, but I don’t see her standing in his way with Blaylock–-even if Qhuinn chooses to be an active participant in his young’s upbringing, which he should in any event. But a gay vampire and his partner co-parenting with a beautiful young miss who happens to be in love with an outlaw? That’s not an obstacle. That’s a sitcom plot. And while I would totally watch “My Vampire Baby Has Two Gay Daddies,” I’m not convinced that this is enough to hang a full-length novel on.

It’s true that if anyone can pull this off, it’s Ward, and she may yet surprise me. Possibly Qhuinn and Blay will be secondary characters in their own novel, similar to Phury and Cormia in Lover Enshrined. Maybe the lessers will kidnap Blay–-like Xhex in Lover Mine—-and the entire book will be a rescue caper. Or maybe she’ll find another way to bring me back into the fold. I hope so. Otherwise, I will forever think what I can’t help but think now–-that the best thing about Lover at Last is that once it’s over, I won’t have to read about these guys any more.


Kate Nagy is Editor at Large of Geek Speak Magazine.

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Liz D.
1. Liz D.
I'm very interested to see how this plays out. I wish Layla and Throe would end up together - he seems to need some serious love after being stuck with hateful Xcor for so long.
Amanda Bonilla
2. Amanda Bonilla
I always find it interesting how readers perceive different characters. I have to agree that I'll be interested to see how this story plays out. I'm rooting for Layla--I know she's not a fan fav--but I actually like her and I'm also interested to see how Ward will endear readers to Xcor and the others in the band of bastards.

I think what I'm waiting to find out is if Qhuinn will become more of an alpha male in this book. I've felt like he's been the beta in previous books, with Blay coming forward as the agressor and the go-getter in fighting for their relationship. Either way, March 26th can't get here fast enough. No matter how readers feel about certain characters, I think we can all agree that Ward knows how to write a damn good story!
Liz D.
3. The Geeky Blogger
I may get things thrown at me (I have a thick skin I can handle it) but I am over the brotherhood for the most part. I am actually excited about the Band of Bastards and yes I hope Layla gets an HEA (far more than Quinn or Blay--they are the only problem in their relationship not someone else).

I know that is an unpopular position but if the Band of Bastards get a spinoff---I will be the first person there!
Carmen Pinzon
4. bungluna
I'm still regretting what didn't happened between Butch-V and what's her name. That would have made the perfect menage story imo. What a wasted opportunity!
Liz D.
5. dragongirl_71
Actually, Blaylock and Qhuinn were friends before the training program. When Lash Raided the glymera it was said that Blaylock's parents were like Qhuinn's second parents.

But I can not wait for this book. I am counting the days down. I do want Layla to get her HEA. And I can not wait to read about the Band of Bastards
Liz D.
6. JeniferS
I agree with pretty much everything you said. I've always been 'meh' with these two characters and their ongoing drama. I like both characters, but I wouldn't really miss them if they slid into the background. It's about how I feel about John Mathew, too. I'm mainly reading to see the direction Ward is taking things with the BoB and hopefully to get a glimpse of the other Brothers. I do want Layla to get her HEA and hope we see that in this book. I'm actually a little sad to say that, currently, I'm not really that enthused about any of the characters left that may or may not get their own story. I'd much rather revisit the original brothers and Rhev and new issues/obstacles with them.
Liz D.
7. EmilyF
Thank you for this post! I could not agree more! I have no issues with the M/M aspect of this story, it's the fact we've seen more page time devoted to them than any other characters and I'm still very 'meh' feeling about them and an entire story devoted to them.
Joyce Sheehan
8. Joyce S
Looking forward this book, but I felt the way you do, about Thor's book.. Only read half of it and hope to NEVER read about him and noone ever again..
Liz D.
9. JeniferS
Oh, Joyce S, I'm with you on Tohr's book. I read the whole thing, but most of time, I was thinking what exactly is so great about this guy, lol.
Liz D.
10. pellington
Fan Favorite Saxton? Oft-reviled Phury? Am I reading the same series?

I'm super hyped for this book, as I have loved every single book Ward has written in this series. But my favorites will always be Butch & V. They are the best bromance ever.
Liz D.
11. BevB
I just could not help myself from inserting my opinion here-- To me, I
could not believe it when I heard that Blay and Qhuinn were getting
their own full book when before Ward had announced to her fans they
would not-- then all of the sudden change of plans. First l'll say it's
not the M/M that really bothers me- I find that I am much like most of
you on here - I just don't have the feel for the two as a couple. I was
hoping she would lean in the direction of a m/m/f relationship with
them especially after I read Layla became pregnant. So now yet I am
excited about this release I am also very nervous because I'm feeling
that my all time favorite series may drop significantly on my ratings
bar and become just so so to me now. For me it will depend much upon
how she spins the Layla/baby storyline as to my future with the BDB.
Crossing my fingers.
Liz D.
12. Lisaredsox
You've said everything I've wanted to say for so long! I'm really hoping the Warden makes their story worth reading
Liz D.
13. Phyllis Marshall 52
Well said!!! I agree whole heartedly with everything you said!!! They were a fine side story, not much there for an entire novel.
Liz D.
14. SassyT
Glad I'm not the only one who finds this couple just Blah. I agree it was all so immature (especially on Qhuinn's side). I think JR just drug it out too long. Their book should have been a few books ago. This will probably be along the same vein as Butch and Marissa and Phury and Cormia (those are the most boring relationships to date). I'll be bored out of my mind but will read it anyway so I can keep up to date on the BDB. Here's hoping I get a little bit more of my favorite boys in Rhage and Z.
Cheryl King
15. fotofix
Well, I am aghast!! That there are actually readers out there who feel the same way I do! LOL I will read the book, but only to keep up with the rest of the guys and the storyline. I hated Tohrment's story, but you can't skip a book because so much backstory around so many other characters would be missed if you did. I still love Tohr and think he's an awesome guy, but I think JR shortchanged him big-time. But I digress, we're discussing "The Boys". Which makes me remember I also HATE!!! John Matthew with Xhex, she's awful! She turned my powerful warrior into a p@#$y! But again, I digress. Quay. I will read their book but I'm not really looking forward to it. JR says "conflict is king" but I believe the major conflict in this book will be between Xcor and Layla. And Throe. Now there's a love triangle I wouldn't want to be anywhere near!
Liz D.
16. Miha
I think the book is just going to be grate just like all of the other ones and we all are going to read it, because if we werent interested in what would happen to Qhuinn and Blay we wouldn't read it it's that simple.
J.R ward has never let me down yet and that is why im excited to read the book.
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