The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling 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.
“Blood Kiss” is book 1 of a spin-off series of JR Ward’s wildly popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There is a special place in my heart for BDB. It was one of my earlier reads in the romance genre and also ended up being my first foray into male/male romance with the introduction of her characters Qhuinn and Blay. (aka Qhuay for those of us in the know. :))
Despite being a new series, I’m not entirely sure if I’d recommend this as a standalone or to readers who’ve never been introduced to the BDB world. The backstories have some prominence and this might not be the best book to get used to Ward’s style, per se.
As with her other books, there are multiple story arcs going on. This one takes place shortly after the raids on the vampires by the lessers. We revisit the relationship between Butch and Marissa (from the book Lover Revealed). And we are introduced to a whole new group of recruits vying for a chance to be trained by the Brothers.
Butch and Marissa were never really a favorite couple of mine in the past, and thus I wasn’t entirely engaged with their storyline in the beginning. That changed as the book went along and I found myself more and more interested and less and less annoyed with Marissa’s whiney ways. The interaction between the Brothers was super fun to revisit. There were some classic scenes between Butch and V (swoon) and the always-laughable Lassiter had some epic moments. And one brilliant part featuring the movie Magic Mike that had me belly-busting in tears!
But, the real treat to this book is the story (and potential for future arcs) about the new recruits. I found each of the new characters super interesting and have already committed myself to reading the next books featuring each of them. The romance between virginal aristocrat Paradise and hunky, blue-collar, man-on-a-mission Craeg was sweet and hot and worthy of it’s own new adult novel!
This book revisits some of your favorite BDB characters (Butch, V, Thor, Lassiter) and despite some flubs in other recent releases, feels like “classic Ward” style. I was reminded what I liked so much about the series from the past! Yes, she has a ton of her over-the-top product placements, but I kinda liked the familiarity of that and wasn’t put off.
I think the new cast of characters was a GREAT way to introduce this new series. Each has their secrets that I just can’t wait to have revealed. I’m also already guessing as to who will be paired up! The other huge plus is the introduction of a possibly pansexual character, Novo.
Without sharing any spoilers, the ending did wrap itself up a little too quickly and way too tidily. The story was building and building and suddenly, at about the 85% mark, everything just started to work itself out. It was a bit of whiplash and what ultimately turned this book from great to just really good for me.
If you’re a fan of old-school JR Ward and haven’t given up entirely on her with her recent releases, this book is for you. She’s back to old form and it felt…good…natural…to fall back into this world. I think BDB fans will be surprised and pleased! If you’re looking for a new urban fantasy/vampire book and haven’t read any of the series, you *may* want to give this a go (though I’d rather suggest you start with Dark Lover (book 1 of the BDB series)