Oh. My. God. I frigging LOVE this book!!! I feel like a kid in a damn candy store. Except my candy store has badass leather-clad vampires and they are hotter than a summer day in hell!

The Genre:
Paranormal - Vampire Romance

The Plot:
Set in the present in Caldwell, NY, this is the first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is, and I quote, "highly trained vampire warriors who protect their species against the Lessening Society". The lessers are basically humans without a soul, literally, whose sole purpose is to wipe out the vamps. Now the kicker is that vampires aren't the bad guys. They are just trying to survive. Their numbers are dwindling and their supposed King doesn't want the job.

Wrath is the last purebred vampire left on Earth and he is, or should be, the vampire king. Since his parents were brutally murdered centuries ago he wants nothing to do with the crown so to speak. Being the leader of the Brotherhood his only drive is to get rid of as many lessers as humanly, or inhumanly, possible. Accepting the crown would put him out of the killing business since, well, you can't have the king go around endangering his life.

One of his closest friends, and he really doesn't have many friends what with his attitude and all, is Darius. As the novel begins we find out that Darius has a half-human daughter who he believes will go through the "transition" and become a full vampire soon. Problem is that his daughter doesn't know he is alive. Since Darius is a vampire he stayed away in order to protect her and so Elizabeth was brought up in foster homes and orphanages. Turning vamp isn't an easy thing. In fact, most don't make it and die. Darius knows that, since Wrath is purebred, he is the only one that could help Beth get through the transition during which Beth will need to feed and Wrath has the strongest blood anywhere. Easier said than done. Wrath really, really doesn't like humans. Not even half humans so he declines the offer. Not less than an hour later an attempt is made on Darius life and up to meet his maker he goes.

Wrath and the Brothers vow to avenge his death but, no sooner do they reach Darius mansion, when his faithful butler hands Wrath a letter. In it Darius asked that, if he was to die, Wrath take care of his daughter. Take about having one hell of a premonition. Wrath is not a happy camper. Like he doesn't have enough to worry about now he has to nurse a half human through the excruciatingly painful transition. Nonetheless the guy is dead and they were close so off he goes to find Beth having no clue who she is or what she looks like.

Beth works in the local newspaper but feels her life is wasting away. She longs for adventure or at least something exciting in her life. She is very beautiful yet she's never had a serious relationship. Hell men haven’t even turned her on very often. Her only friends are Jose and Butch, two detectives who help her out on her assignments, and her cat Boo. You'd think she be excited to get a late night house call from an incredibly gorgeous and sexy stranger clad in black and boy is she. So excited she has sex with the guy.

Now, lest you think our little angel is a hoochie mama, let me say in her defense that Wrath is something you do not turn down. Fact, I don't think you could if you wanted to he's so damn sexy. There's the whole vampire lust thing, which apparently affects all the ladies around even if they are clueless as to what he is. Talk about taking animal magnetism to a whole new level. Let’s take a look at the nightclub scene where Wrath is introduced:

"With a sudden rush, the crowd shifted, people backing into each other. They were making way for someone. Or something. Darius watched the sea of humans split as they steered clear of an imposing, dark shadow that towered over them. The flight response was a good survival reflex. Wrath was six feet, six inches of pure terror dressed in leather. His hair was long and black, falling straight from a widow’s peak. Wraparaound sunglasses hid eyes that no one had ever seen revealed. Shoulders were twice the size of most males’. With a face that was both aristocratic and brutal, he looked like the king he was by birthright and the soldier he’d become by destiny. And that wave of menace rolling ahead of him was one hell of a calling card."

Yikes. So you see, poor Beth is only responding as every other female does when they are near one of the sexy Brotherhood vamps.

This is when the fun begins, as Beth is both terrified and intrigued by Wrath. She can tell a mile away that this guy is a killer, she even figures him to be a drug dealer. In spite of that she is attracted to the man like she’s never been attracted to anyone and there’s also the fact that he tells her he knew her father. Curiosity gets the better of her and she is sucked, no pun intended, into the world of the vampire king.

The Review:
As I said at the beginning I loved this book. In fact, I loved it so much, I’m re-reading it and I usually don’t read a book again until a time has passed. The story works for me on many levels. First there’s the love between Wrath and Beth. It’s not the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music type love because that just won’t work here. Wrath is very much against humans, has a lot of issues and isn’t the type to get close to anyone. He may be a sex machine but he has zero clue when it comes to the romance department and Ward does one hell of a good job showing us how he deals with his emotions as well as with the fact that he wants Beth but he knows they shouldn’t be together.

Unlike some heroines Beth doesn’t try to hide the fact that she is inexplicably attracted to this guy she barely knows. However she doesn’t let it get the best of her for the most part and she does put Wrath in his place when she has to. In other words, she’s no slave to sex no matter how much she wants him. I can’t stand those heroines that are so attracted to the hero they can barely string a sentence together and their dignity flies out the window once he’s in the room. Add to this that she is sweet and not some over the top psycho with a Xena warrior complex and she makes the list as one of my favorite heroines. She realizes that she is in trouble and she doesn’t put herself at risk. The girl has a brain and uses it and I say thank god for that.

The rest of the Brotherhood is awesome as well and we are told they will all get their stories. Unlike some books, where the hero is mostly alone and only interacts with the important secondary characters once in a while, the other guys are very active here. I like that since it makes it play out more like one hell of a good action movie. This is necessary in any type of vampire novels, whether romance or otherwise. Vampires are a different species more like animals than humans. They are predators. Also they are almost always hunted by some secret society that hates them for many different reasons. This all makes for action and this book incorporates it very well with the romance. It’s not an out and out action packed book but, unlike some books where you just don’t believe anything will happen, you can really get into the back-story and the underground war the vampires are engaged in. Think Underworld except with a hell of a lot more romance and sex and no lychans.

The bad guys are some of the best villains I’ve come across in the romance genre. Most romance books that have action usually focus so much on the romance that the action and danger doesn’t seem believable or the villains come across as mere caricatures. Not here. Ward did a good job in making these guys evil and their ongoing war with the vampires feels real enough. Mr X., the leader of the lessers, is one mean SOB. As much as I was caught up in the Beth-Wrath romance and the rest of the Brotherhood, I found myself really really wanting to find out about what the hell this guy was up to.

My Personal Pet Peeves:
Much as I loved this book there are three things I’m not too happy with. This has little to nothing to do with the story, the writing or anything else. They are just things that I didn’t care for and, as any good reviewer will do, I have to let you know in case some of you out there think like me. Again I say, these are just personal preferences.

1.The gansta attitude – If you’ve ever heard The Offspring’s “Give it to Me Baby/Pretty Fly for a White Guy then you should know what I’m talking about. The tricked out Escalade, the way the “brothas” talked to each other, the rap music, well, it just screams wigger to me. In case you don’t know, a wigger is a slang term for a white person who emulates the slang, dress, music, and other aspects of Black culture. Don’t get me wrong, I love all music and I happen to love quite a few rappers but it’s the entire package that throws me off here. If you’ve ever been into vampire movies then you know that leather clad vamps are pretty much synonymous with high tech, adrenalin pumping, fast rock or techno music. Vampires are, for the most part, European and have almost always been associated with the European culture, whether underground or not. This calls into mind industrial rock, heavy metal, techno or any other fast pumping music. Maybe if they were more like 50 Cent and the G Unit and less like Neo or the vamps from Underworld I could have gotten into it. Rap and leather don’t go together for me because rap isn’t fast paced enough. Again, it’s not about not liking rap. I’m sitting here writing this review and I happen to have Luda in the background. I love rap but it and leather clad, high tech vamps go together like Martha Stewart and Busta Rhymes did at the ‘97 MTV Awards. Not pretty. LOL.

2.The dog fight – Again this is one of those things that I personally dislike; nothing to do with the book itself. There are plenty of things to kill in a paranormal, humans as well as other species so I don’t understand why the need to bring in animals. I know it may seem rather trite to some but, unlike murder or rape, people don’t get all hot and bothered when there is animal cruelty in a book or movie, as if this is something normal. Since there are a million and one ways to get violent I don’t see the need in any book or movie for that matter to include animals in this. As I said, in the real world people are outraged when rape or murder occurs yet hardly anyone gives it a second thought when an animal is tortured or inhumanly treated. I really do wish that authors and writers would leave animals out of their stories. Include more people or bring in another species, leave the damn animals out especially in scenes like this.

3.Wrath and the crew's "darkness" – Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the guys but once you start getting to know them some of that dark allure is lost to me. Maybe it’s the way they joke and tease each other so much or the way they talk. Maybe it’s the way Wrath breaks down and acts like a love struck puppy around Beth. I don’t know but the guys start coming off more like a group of close adolescent friends than ass kicking vampire assassins. No, they don’t ever get whimpy or whiny or act like children. It’s just that I like my heroes’ dark and well, dark doesn’t do jokes or talk slang or stare at his love with puppy eyes. It’s cute and most people love that but like I said, it’s just me.

Regardless of these things I say again that I LOVED the book. I love Wrath and Beth and the rest of the Brotherhood and I honestly couldn’t get enough of them. In fact, I wished the damn book were longer. I just had to point those out because it wouldn’t be an honest review if I didn’t tell you what was on my mind.

The Verdict:
Don’t trip over yourself as you run to your nearest Barnes & Nobles to get your hands on this puppy. Whether you love vampire stories, romance, or enjoy one heck of a good read you need to get this. The book is great; the characters grow on you even though you love most of them from the get go. The story is interesting and keeps you hooked to the last page and you really wish it would be longer than 393 pages. Thank god Ward already came out with the second book in the series, which I will be reviewing soon and the next book comes out in September. This is one series I wish would go on forever. Yeah, it kicks that much ass. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.


got to read it.

While I too was a bit thrown off by the slang and constant name dropping of hip hop artists, I find it strange that you went off on a tangent about cruelty to animals being marginalized (which I can't truly agree with) but liberally use such an offensive word as "wigger".

Thanks for the review and summary. I equally enjoyed this book and out of all the books in the series, this is my favorite. I love that "beauty and the beast" feeling and didn't mind the hip hop references at all. Not sure I agree with the animal cruelty, since I didn't really see anything that got me up in arms, but to each his/her own. I also saw no need for your "wigger" comment and find it ridiculous that I get the impression that you feel a person who uses slang language and listens to some of these fine rap artists needs to be black to somehow "get it." I can totally see some of the Brothers hanging out, playing pool and listening to hip hop, just as much as I can see a Brother such as Phury listening to beautiful classical music from an opera. My take on it anyway.

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Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with books. Early photos show me with a book in hand, even if it was not exactly my reading level... My first word was a made-up word meaning 'book', actually. I suppose I had my priorities at an early age... Over the years my interest in books has become one of the defining features of who I am as a person. You can probably call me a bookworm. While I have other interests, reading will always be the one I talk about the most, even if I am not focusing on it as much as I used to.



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