by J.R. Ward
Release Date: March 7, 2006
Book #2 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series
Number of Pages: 468
Ages 16 and up
CW: cancer, death of a parent, domestic abuse,
murder, violence, misogyny, dub-con, cheating,
Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover—for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Possessed by this dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships, is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. Her faith in miracles was lost years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves…
I did not want to put this book down. I liked the first book in this series, but I loved this book. Yes, there are still issues with some of the language and references due to when it was written. You have to know that going in and have to be able to see beyond that or you will not enjoy this story. It may have some problematic language, but it is very obvious that many authors were inspired by these stories.
There was a lot I adored about this book, so I’m actually going to start with what I didn’t like so much. These stories are told from multiple POVs, not just the main couple’s. For the most part, I have enjoyed that. In the first book, I even appreciated the POV of the enemy, the lessers. In this story, I found that every time it switched to the POV of any of the lessers. Even though I found their story to be somewhat important and am sure it will be very important as this series progresses, it just brought the story down for me.
When it comes to the romance between Mary and Rhage, I couldn’t get enough. Their chemistry, their fears, their magnetism, all of it was amazing. Rhage, the guy with a beast even his brothers are terrified of inside of him, is so gentle and tender with Mary. As their bond grows and he, in fact, bonds with her in a more official way, he is beyond romantic. Unfortunately, because he is ashamed of his beast and doesn’t want to scare Mary away, she is confused by a lot of his actions and reactions. It seems to me that Mary’s cancer is the perfect metaphor for Rhage’s beast. For a long time, she wouldn’t agree with that last sentence. But Mary watched her mom waste away and die, she’s already been through one cancer batter and knows how ugly and depressing it can be, and she doesn’t want to subject anyone to her troubles. It takes her a while to open her eyes to what real love is and that she is actually being selfish by trying to keep Rhage at a distance.
The world-building in this story is great, not overshadowing the interpersonal relationships while also adding depth to the vampire/brotherhood part of this world. The friendships and bonds were also deepened and this group felt much more like a family in this book. There are a couple of characters that are introduced through Mary and they are phenomenal new additions. I have a feeling Bella and Zsadist are going to give Mary and Rhage a run for their money in the romance department. And John Matthew will be so interesting to watch grow and become a warrior.