J.R. Ward’s latest book doesn’t suck

Now there’s a blog title I never thought I’d write. If you’ve read this blog before, you know I think the last five installments in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series have gone from bad to worse to deplorable to not worth reading, so when I heard that Ward was going to start a spinoff series called the Black Dagger Legacy that would go back to the original Black Dagger brothers, I was all kinds of skeptical. I mean, seriously Ward, do you even remember your original characters? But since I am a total masochist, I picked up Blood Kiss and started reading…and was pleasantly and shockingly surprised.

Unlike all the other nobodies (Autumn anybody?) Ward introduced into her initial series, I actually liked Paradise and Craeg (yes, she still does the misspelled name thing). Paradise was interesting in that she was a young product of the Glymera who had no interest in being a perfect little wifey to some pedigreed male peacock. Craeg was interesting because of his tragic past and his future goals regarding that past tragedy. In fact, most of the training class was intriguing, and I cannot wait for Axe’s book, and I kept wondering which if any of them may end up with Saxton as Ward has said on her blog that he would get his HEA in a forthcoming book. Axe would certainly be a hell of an entertaining mate for the pristine male. I guess we’ll just have to see.

But I digress…

As promised, original characters made appearances. Butch and Marissa are front and center in this one, and their relationship is on the rocks. At first, I found it hard to believe that the couple went from total bliss at the end of their book to barely speaking in this one, but as the plot developed, I thought we finally got to know the real Marissa. She was very strong and had some real growth as a character. Sometimes, the way Ward writes the shellans makes them seem like wallflowers who do nothing but wait for their males to come home from the fighting. This was definitely not the case in Blood Kiss.

And now for some things that didn’t improve…

Lassiter. What the hell is the point of this guy? He has these moments of true purpose and guidance (BDB books 6 and 10) which are few and far between and the rest of the time he is this comedic idiot who is so unfunny it is almost painful to read. The banter between him and the brothers is stale and repetitive and has been for the last five books involving the Brotherhood. Ward either needs to get to his purpose or get him out of the series.

The Brotherhood. A group of seriously manly warriors who fight the vampire race’s mortal enemies. Remember them? No? Neither does Ward because they are still acting like a bunch of recently castrated steers every time they spend more than two minutes away from their shellans. So annoying. What happened to the brotherly camaraderie? The scenes of the guys just chilling together? The bromance? Hell, even the team lesser fighting? Remember when two or more brothers had scenes together that did not involve all their shellans? Can we please get back to that? Butch and V have a nice little scene in Blood Kiss (emphasis on little) which triggered memories of how much page time and dialogue those two used to share, and I miss it and want more of it. That’s what made the initial series so good, so if you, Ward, are getting back to the original brothers, how about getting back to what made them brothers to begin with?

No mention of Qhuinn and Blay. Seriously??? Every other character from the BDB series gets mentioned in Blood Kiss: John and Xhex, Manny and Payne, the Shadows, Rehvenge and his lady, the butler, Nobody, oops, I mean Autumn, but not our favorite redhead and hothead? They seriously better get some ink in this series. They sure as hell never get enough in the original series!

But despite all that, this book was good. Not great, but certainly better than the crap Ward has been churning out in recent years. And as much as I wish I could snuff it out like a candle flame, there is this teeny, tiny flare of hope buried deep in my heart that this spinoff may return to the Brotherhood and the Ward writing that I once loved. And I can honestly say for the first time in a very long time that I am looking forward to the next Ward book. And that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!