Dec 1 2015 9:30am

First Look: J.R. Ward’s Blood Kiss (December 1, 2015)

Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward
Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1)
Signet / December 1, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

Old-school fans of the WARDen, rejoice! The author who brought us into a gritty world of vampires and their slayers, shitkickers, glymera, The Pit, needing, and the like is getting back to her roots with the new Black Dagger Brotherhood Legacy series. The main series—Black Dagger Brotherhood—has transitioned into more of a family saga with numerous players than the straightforward paranormal romance it captivated us with early in the series.

The Legacy series focuses on new recruits for the Brotherhood. In J.R. Ward's Blood Kiss, the new couple features two students in the BDB training program. Paradise is one of two women in the program. She’s part of the glymeria, but finds their focus trivial after the terror the society has experienced of late. She wants only to do something to help her people. She doesn’t have combat training, but has an iron will. Her focus on life away from glymeria rules isn’t the same as Marissa’s story. We have a woman who knows what she wants here, and her moving toward the Brotherhood isn’t a result of the stifling rules.

Craeg doesn’t descend from nobility. Actually, he has huge issues with the “ruling” class. His father died in the raids, while working for one of those families. He joins the training program with nothing else to lose. He wants to learn how to protect the vampires, sure, but he also wants vengeance. His steadfast focus makes him a hell of a match for Paradise.

Neither of these two wants to be caught up in bonding scents and the distraction of lust, but isn’t that how it always goes? Both are very much tied to one another, but fight it. Craeg gets caught in the moment with Paradise often, and then pushes her away when the lust-fueled haze dissipates. For her part, Paradise is naïve when it comes to the other sex. It isn’t that she doesn’t know guys, but she hasn’t had any experience. She needs a few meddling friends to put her and Craeg together in order to see the chemistry is really there.

And, hot damn, is it there. The intensity of the scenes between Craeg and Paradise in Blood Kiss may be liable to melt e-reader screens and singe paperback pages. J.R. Ward has again created a couple that craves one another and fights it because they’re stubborn. Except that inherent frustration only makes every interaction burn brighter. Sure, Paradise’s blindness to Craeg’s feelings can make you want to intervene like any good friend, but every moment between those two is palpable, purposeful, and will positively leave you needing more.

Just like Craeg and Paradise.

Blood Kiss will certainly sate fans of the early Black Dagger Brotherhood novels, but it also splits plot time with ongoing threads with Butch and Marissa and vampire societal issues that work whether you’re up-to-date on the series or not.


Learn more about or order a copy of Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward, available on December 1, 2015: 

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Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club and writes SF/F novels. Her appreciation of Alexander Skarsgard is well documented. Bother her on Twitter — @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.


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2. ChelseaMueller
@Night-owl - I had heard the publisher say it was more like the original books, and I wasn't sure that could be true, but I was so incredibly delighted to find out it was. The new couple is so good.
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