57 Following


I'm a hopeful cynic.

Lover at Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series #11)

Lover at Last - J.R. Ward ** This review contains some spoilers **Halle-fuckin'-lujah!!! I've died and gone to heaven!--------------------20 March 2013I waited four years for this book. I discovered the series a little after Lover Avenged (book 7) came out. The Vutch ship had sailed and gloriously sunk, with the BDB world principles and rules uncompromised, with hearts returning to their place in many fans' chests ("What do you mean they're gay for each other! Ew!"), and Vutch shippers left to stew in their own juices.But that heartbreaking confession of love, that unexpected, but oh-so-sweet, kiss in the Brotherhood's PT Suite, that pledge of protection had already happened between Blay and Qhuinn in Lover Enshrined (book 6) and it had already made my heart beat faster in my chest. It was anyone's guess what direction J.R. Ward intended to take that particular storyline (at first glance, she didn't seem very eager to take it anywhere,) but I started hoping. And shipping Qhuay. Hard.The part at the top of this review about me dying and going to heaven was posted after I learnt Blay and Qhuinn were getting their own book in the series. Their story wasn't going to end up all hush-hush like V and Butch's (the author has alluded to Butch and V getting it on off-page,) and their significance in the overall story arc wasn't going to be played down by telling their story in a separate novella, as if they had to be segregated from the other males of the series because they were gay. They were going to be treated by the same standards as any other couple and I was over the moon about it.In the past year, i.e., the period that intervened between the aforementioned announcement and the release of the book, discussions soared and expectations climbed to heights unprecedented in the series, with fans demanding, among other things and in no particular order: a full HEA for their favourite couple, full on m/m sex, lots of romance, bonding scents, a confession of undying love from Qhuinn, Qhuinn on his knees in front of Blay, Qhuinn bottoming, Qhuinn crying, Qhuinn suffering, Blay developing some backbone (what many fans call 'alpha Blay'), Blay coming out to his parents, and many more, ranging from the relatively typical and valid to the totally unrealistic.Fast forward to last week, when I finally got to read Lover At Last. I tried to contain my excitement because I knew I wasn't going to be happy about everything in the book (not after a year of overenthusiasm and over-inflated expectations,) and I knew J.R. Ward has a habit of shooting herself in the foot when it comes to her plots and keeping her facts straight (Lover Unleashed, anyone?). And, like I expected, I didn't love everything about it. I won't get into many details, because this review is getting long already, but, to put it in a nutshell:I think the author could have and should have approached several major plot elements differently. I knew she would make the characters jump through hoops before she gave them their HEA, but there were many ways she could have done it without making them come across as juveniles. They're young, of course. But not that young, nor that immature. I also think she could have made the side plots shorter and more interesting and relevant. I think her editors should have done a better job, both with the plot and the structure and the consistency and with the copy editing (for instance, there's a physician telling a patient they don't need to be renumerated if the patient aren't able to pay.) In addition, I think she had a great chance to develop her characters further, and to a certain extent she did, mostly with Qhuinn, but she could have managed a lot better and it's not like she doesn't know how to do it. She has done it in past instalments and she's much better at writing male characters anyway.But, the thing is, J.R. Ward does that in all the BDB books, at least in the last two or three. I didn't feel she sold Blay and Qhuinn short and I didn't feel she didn't pay them the same respect. I think she did treat them by the same standards she treated all her previous couples and if she fell short in some respects it's not because it was Qhuay, but because it's J.R. Ward and her shortcomings.Here, I would like to say a few things about the m/m parts in this book. Several fans, who also enjoy reading m/m fiction, are ranting about the absence of finger prep and lube in the sex scenes. I noticed that, too. But just because we've been conditioned to expect certain things in an m/m sex scene (Lots of lube! One, two, three fingers, go!), it doesn't mean we know everything about gay sex and its mechanics. Finger prep isn't always necessary and penetration can be achieved without lubrication, especially if the penis is uncircumcised. Did J.R. Ward omit those steps because she researched gay sex so well, she knew they weren't absolutely necessary? I doubt it. Did she do it because she wanted to make the sex scenes appeal to both m/m and non-m/m readers? Probably. Does that bother me? Not in the slightest. The vast majority of the people who'll read this book will be heterosexual and fist-time m/m readers. They don't need to be indoctrinated into gay sex from the get go. If they like what they read, they'll ask around, they'll try m/m fiction, and if they enjoy it, they'll stay. They are already emotionally invested and curious enough. And, on that level, J.R. Ward does a great job. Because, if you ask me, even without the anal prep and the copious amounts of lube, the sex was still hot and it'll make people want to read more of it.So, in conclusion, for me, the most important things, the things that needed to happen (as mentioned above, in the paragraph about the fans' demands/expectations) DID happen and I'm over the moon about it. I could have ripped the book to pieces if I wanted to. I chose to focus on the beautiful parts in it (and there are quite a few of them), instead. And also embrace it and praise it for the ground it's breaking in mainstream fiction. It's a big deal for me. The book isn't perfect and some hardcore fans and/or avid m/m readers will probably have issues. But it's the Black Dagger Brotherhood world and the way it works; and it's one of the most popular paranormal series out there. Thousands of people will be reading Lover At Last. The story of two men who finally pull their heads out of their asses and admit their feelings for each other. Two gay fighters. Out and proud and fully accepted by their peers. And that alone is awesome.