J. R. Ward
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Few Word about the book:
‘Dark Lover’ is that the first during a series of novels about the Black Dagger Brotherhood. In the Black Dagger novels, the vampires are a separate species to humans, to be a vampire you’ve got to own been born carrying vampire blood. At the beginning of their lives vampires appear to be humans, they need no special strengths and may venture out in daylight but they’re going through a dangerous transition to vampire hood in their mid twenties.
Although vampires can drink the blood of humans it’s little nutritional value for them and that they have to drink the blood of other vampires (of the alternative sex) to survive. a person’s bitten or drained by a vampire doesn’t rise as a vampire – they’re just dead.
The vampires are few in number because of the legions of slayers hunting them down over the centuries, high infant deathrate and therefore the rigors of the transition to vampire hood that not all vampires survive.
The story focuses on the romance between Wrath, the sole pure-blooded vampire left on the earth, and Beth a human/vampire half breed who is close to undergo the transition from human to a vampire but isn’t awake to her vampire heritage.
This is the primary novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a series of paranormal romance books written under the pseudonym of J. R. Ward. it’s not the author’s first novel because she has already written several romance novels under the name of Jessica Bird but I feel it’s her first paranormal novel. Either way, it’s a good book!
To help the reader understand the vampire words and terms there’s a helpful glossary at the beginning of the book, which is great to fill the reader in on the background, but the book is so well written that you simply don’t must keep looking things up within the glossary.
The action within the book is fast and exhilarating making the story a true page turner. The brothers like popular music, fast cars, black leather, knives, guns and martial arts and have this whole alpha male macho thing happening, yet as characters they’re all intriguingly flawed and have weaknesses likewise as strengths.
Unlike some romance (and vampire) novels the sex scenes aren’t accustomed prop the story up when poor plotting means there isn’t much else occurring.
I particularly liked Dark Lover because it’s the beginning of a replacement vampire romance series. it’s an exciting, original and well written book. I always get excited when the primary book of a replacement series is that this good because it makes me hopefully optimistic that further books on this series are going to be equally good. i’m intrigued to search out out whether the vampires win their battle against the Omega and his lessers and the way the lives of the opposite brothers play out.”
Read book Short Summary below:
A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood By
A dangerous passion…
Wrath walked into the hall, feeling particularly ferocious. Man, Beth had better be alive and well. Or God help whoever had hurt her.
And if she’d decided to avoid him? That didn’t matter. Her body was about to need something only he could provide her. So sooner or later she would come around. Or she would die.
He thought of the soft skin of her neck. Felt the sensation of his tongue stroking over the vein that ran up from her heart.
His fangs elongated as if she were before him. As if he could sink his teeth into her and drink.
Wrath closed his eyes as his body began to shake. His stomach, full with food, turned into a bottomless, achy pit.
He tried to remember the last time he’d fed. It has been a while, but surely not that long ago?
He forced himself to calm down. Get control. It was like trying to slow down a train with a hand brake, but eventually a cooling stream of sanity replaced the whacked-out, blood-lust spins.
As he came back to reality he felt uneasy, his instincts crying out for airtime. That female was dangerous to him. If she could affect him like this without even being in the damn room, she might just be hispyrocant …
First Printing, September 2005
Dedicated to: You, with awe and love.
Thankyou for coming and finding me.
And for showing me the way. It was the ride of a lifetime, the best I’ve ever had.
Thankyou so very much: Karen Solem, Kara Cesare, Claire Zion, Kara Welsh, Rose Hilliard.
To my Executive Committee: Sue Grafton, Dr. Jessica Andersen, Betsey Vaughan. Burning up the Internet, the phone lines, and the Hutchins andSenecaParkring-arounds with you has kept me focused, sane, and smiling.
With love to my family.
Glossary of Terms and Proper Nouns
Black Dagger Brotherhood(pr. n.) Highly trained vampire warriors who protect their species against the Lessening Society. As a result of selective breeding within the race, brothers possess immense physical and mental strength as well as rapid healing capabilities. They are not siblings for the most part, and are inducted into the brotherhood upon nomination by the brothers. Aggressive, self-reliant, and secretive by nature, they exist apart from civilians, having little contact with members of the other classes except when they need to feed. They are the subjects of legend and the objects of reverence within the vampire world. They may be killed only by the most serious of wounds, e.g., a gunshot or stab to the heart, etc.
blood slave(n.) Male or female vampire who has been subjugated to serve the blood needs of another. The practice of keeping blood slaves has largely been discontinued, though it has not been outlawed.
the chosen(n.) Female vampires who have been bred to serve the Scribe Virgin. They are considered members of the aristocracy, though they are spiritually rather than temporally focused. They have little or no interaction with males but can be mated to warriors at the Scribe Virgin’s direction to propagate their class. They have the ability to prognosticate. In the past, they were used to meet the blood needs of unmated members of the brotherhood, but that practice has been abandoned by the brothers.
doggen(n.) Member of the servant class within the vampire world. Doggens have old, conservative traditions about service to their superiors, following a formal code of dress and behavior. They are able to go out during the day, but they age relatively quickly. Life expectancy is approximately five hundred years.
the Fade(pr. n.) Nontemporal realm where the dead reunite with their loved ones and pass eternity.
First Family(pr. n.) The king and queen of the vampires, and any children they may have.
hellren(n.) Male vampire who has been mated to a female. Males may take more than one female as mate.
leelan(n.) A term of endearment loosely translated as “dearest one.”
Lessening Society(pr. n.) Order of slayers convened by the Omega for the purpose of eradicating the vampire species.
lesser(n.) De-souled human who targets vampires for extermination as a member of the Lessening Society.Lessers must be stabbed through the chest in order to be killed; otherwise they are ageless. They do not eat or drink and are impotent. Over time, their hair, skin, and irises lose pigmentation until they are blond, blushless, and pale-eyed. They smell like baby powder. Inducted into the society by the Omega, they retain a ceramic jar thereafter into which their heart was placed after it was removed.
needing period(n.) Female vampire’s time of fertility, generally lasting for two days and accompanied by intense sexual cravings. Occurs approximately five years after a female’s transition and then once a decade thereafter. All males respond to some degree if they are around a female in her need. It can be a dangerous time, with conflicts and fights breaking out between competing males, particularly if the female is not mated.
the Omega(pr. n.) Malevolent, mystical figure who has targeted the vampires for extinction out of resentment directed toward the Scribe Virgin. Exists in a nontemporal realm and has extensive powers, though not the power of creation. princeps(n.) Highest level of the vampire aristocracy, second only to members of the First Family or the Scribe Virgin’sChosen. Must be born to the title; it may not be conferred. pyrocant(n.) Refers to a critical weakness in an individual. The weakness can be internal, such as an addiction, or external, such as a lover.
rythe(n.) Ritual manner of assuaging honor granted by one who has offended another. If accepted, the offended chooses a weapon and strikes the offender who presents him or herself without defenses. the Scribe Virgin(pr. n.) Mystical force who is counselor to the king as well as the keeper of vampire archives and the dispenser of privileges. Exists in a nontemporal realm and has extensive powers.
Capable of a single act of creation, which she expended to bring the vampires into existence.
shellan(n.) Female vampire who has been mated to a male. Females generally do not take more than one mate due to the highly territorial nature of bonded males. the Tomb(pr. n.) Sacred vault of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Used as a ceremonial site as well as a storage facility for the jars oflessers . Ceremonies performed there include inductions, funerals, and disciplinary actions against brothers. No one may enter except for members of the brotherhood, the Scribe Virgin, or candidates for induction. transition(n.) Critical moment in a vampire’s life when he or she transforms into an adult. Thereafter, they must drink the blood of the opposite sex to survive and are unable to withstand sunlight. Occurs generally in the mid-twenties. Some vampires do not survive their transitions, males in par-ticular. Prior to their transitions, vampires are physically weak, sexually unaware and unresponsive, and unable to de-materialize. vampire(n.) Member of a species separate from that of Homo sapiens. Vampires must drink the blood of the opposite sex to survive. Human blood will keep them alive, though the strength does not last long. Following their transitions, which occur in their mid-twenties, they are unable to go out into sunlight and must feed from the vein regularly. Vampires may not “convert” humans through a bite or transfer of blood, though they are in rare cases able to breed with the other species. Vampires can dematerialize at will, though they must be able to calm themselves and concentrate to do so and may not carry anything
heavy with them. They are able to strip the memories of humans, provided such memories are short-term. Some vampires are able to read minds. Life expectancy is upwards of a thousand years, or in some cases, even longer.
Darius looked around the club, taking in the teeming, half-naked bodies on the dance floor. Screamer’s was packed tonight, full of women wearing leather and men who looked like they had advanced degrees in violent crime.
Darius and his companion fit right in. Except they actually were killers.
“So you’re really going to do this?” Tohrment asked him.
Darius glanced across the shallow table. The other vampire’s eyes met his own. “Yeah. I am.” Tohrment nursed his Scotch and smiled grimly. Only the very tips of his fangs showed. “You’re crazy, D.”
“You should know.”
Tohrment tilted his glass in deference. “But you’re raising the bar. You want to take an innocent girl, who has no idea what the hell she’s getting into, and put her transition in the hands of someone like Wrath.
“He isn’t evil. In spite of the way he looks.” Darius finished his beer. “And show a little respect.” “I respect the hell out of him. But it’s a bad idea.”
“I need him.”
“You sure about that?”
A woman wearing a micromini, thigh-high boots, and a bustier made of chains trolled by their table. Her eyes glittered from behind two pounds of mascara, and she worked her walk as if her hips were
Darius gave her a pass. Sex was not on his mind tonight. “She’s mydaughter , Tohr.”
“She’s a half-breed,D . And you know how he feels about humans.” Tohrment shook his head. “My great-great-grandmother was one, and you don’t see me yakking that up around him.”
Darius lifted his hand to catch their waitress’s eye and pointed at his empty bottle and Tohrment’s nearly dry glass. “I’m not going to let another one of my children die. Not if there’s a possibility I can save her. And anyway, there’s no telling whether she’ll even go through the change. She could end up living a happy life, never knowing about my side. It’s happened before.”
And he hoped his daughter would be spared. Because if she went through her transition, if she came out
alive on the other side as a vampire, she was going to be hunted as they all were. “Darius, if he does it at all, he’ll do it because he owes you. Not because he wants to.” “I’ll take him any way I can get him.”
“But what are you giving her? He’s about as nurturing as a sawed-off, and that first time can be rough, even if you’ve been prepared. Which she hasn’t.”
“I’m going to talk to her.”
“And how’s that going to go? You’re just going to walk up to her and say, ‘Hey, I know you’ve never seen me before, but I’m your dad. Oh, and guess what? You’ve won the evolutionary lottery: You’re a vampire. Let’s go toDisneyland!’ “
“I hate you right now.”
Tohrment leaned forward, his thick shoulders shifting under black leather. “You know I got your back. I’m just thinking you should reconsider.” There was a heavy pause. “Maybe I could do it.”
Darius shot him a dry look. “You want to try and get back into your house after the fact? Wellsie will stake you through the heart and leave you for the sun, my friend.”
Tohrment winced. “Good point.” “And then she’ll come looking for me.” Both males shuddered.
“Besides…” Darius leaned back as the waitress put their drinks down. He waited until she left, even though hard-core rap was pumping all around them. “Besides, we’re living in dangerous times. If something happens to me—”
“I’lltake care of her.”
Darius clapped his friend on the shoulder. “I know you will.”
“But Wrath is better.” There was no jealousy in the remark. It was a statement of fact. “There’s no one like him.”
“And thankGod for that,” Tohrment said with a half smile.
Their band of brothers, a tight circle of strong-backed warriors who traded information and fought together, were of the same opinion. Wrath was off the chain when it came to the business of vengeance, and he hunted their enemies with a single-minded purpose that bordered on the insane. He was the last of his line, the only purebred vampire left on the planet, and though his race revered him as its king, he despised his status.
It was almost tragic that he was the best bet Darius’s half-breed daughter had of surviving. Wrath’s blood, so strong, so untainted, would increase the chances of her getting through the transition if it hit her.
But Tohrment wasn’t off the mark. It was like turning a virgin over to a thug.
With a sudden rush, the crowd shifted, people backing into each other. They were making way for someone. Or something.
“Shit. Here he comes,” Tohrment muttered. He tossed back his Scotch, swallowing it whole. “No offense, but I’m outtie. This is not a conversation I need to be a part of.”
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. Wraparound 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 solider he’d become by destiny.
And that wave of menace rolling ahead of him was one hell of a calling card. As the cool haired hit Darius, he tilted his fresh beer back and drank deeply. He hoped to God he was doing the right thing.
Beth Randall looked up as her editor leaned his hip on her desk. His eyes went straight to the vee of her shirt.
“Working late again,” he murmured. “Hey, Dick.”
Shouldn’t you be getting home to your wife and two kids? she mentally added. “What are you doing?”
“Editing a piece for Tony.”
“You know, there are other ways of impressing me.” Yeah, she could just imagine.
“Did you read my e-mail, Dick? I went down to the police station this afternoon and talked with Jose and Ricky. They swear a gun dealer’s moved into town. They’ve found two modified Magnums on drug dealers.”
Dick reached out to pat her shoulder, stroking it as he took his hand back. “You just keep working the blotter. Let the big boys worry about the violent crimes. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to that pretty face of yours.”
He smiled, eyes growing hooded as his gaze lingered on her lips.
That stare routine had gotten old three years ago, she thought. Right after she’d started working for him.
A paper bag. What she needed was a paper bag to pull over her head whenever she talked with him. Maybe with a picture of Mrs. Dick taped to the front.
“Would you like me to give you a ride home?” he asked. Only if it were raining thumbtacks and hairpins, you letch.
“No, thanks.” Beth turned back to her computer screen and hoped he’d take the hint.
Eventually he wandered off, probably heading for the bar across the street that most of the reporters hit before going home.Caldwell,New York, wasn’t exactly a hotbed of opportunity for any journalist, but Dick’s big boys sure liked keeping up the appearance of carrying a heavy social burden. They relished cozying up to the bar at Charlie’s and talking about the days when they’d worked at bigger, more important papers. For the most part they were just like Dick: middle-aged, middle-of-the-road men who were competent, but not extraordinary at what they did.Caldwellwas big enough and close enough to New York Cityto have the nasty business of violent crimes, drug busts, and prostitution, so they were kept busy. But theCaldwell Courier Journal was not theTimes , and none of them was ever going to win a Pulitzer.
It was rather sad.
Yeah, well, look in the mirror, Beth thought. She was just a beat reporter. She’d never even worked at a national-level paper. So when she was in her fifties, unless things changed, she’d have to be at a free press polishing classifieds to have a shot at reflected glory from herCCJ days.
She reached for the bag of M&M’s she’d been nursing. The damn thing was empty. Again. She should probably just go home. And pick up some Chinese down the street.
On her way out of the newsroom, which was an open space cut up into cubicles by flimsy gray partitions, she hit her buddy Tony’s stash of Twinkies. Tony ate all the time. For him, there was no breakfast, lunch, and dinner: Consumption was a binary proposition. If he was awake, something was going into his mouth, and to keep himself supplied, his desk was a treasure trove of caloric depravity.
She peeled off the cellophane and couldn’t believe she was biting into the artificial swill as she hit the lights and walked down the stairwell toTrade Street. Outside, the heat of July was a physical barrier between her and her apartment. Twelve straight blocks of hot and humid. Fortunately, the Chinese restaurant was halfway home and heavily air-conditioned. With any luck they’d be busy tonight, so she’d get to wait a while in the coolness.
When she was finished with the Twinkie, she flipped open her phone, hit speed dial, and put in an order for beef with broccoli. As she walked along, she looked at the familiar, grim landmarks. Along this stretch ofTrade Street, there were only bars, strip clubs, and the occasional tattoo parlor. The Chinese food place and the Tex-Mex buffet were the only two restaurants. The rest of the buildings, which had been used as offices in the twenties, when downtown had been thriving, were vacant. She knew every crack in the sidewalk; she could time the traffic lights. And the patois of sounds drifting out of open doors and windows offered no surprises either.
McGrider’s Bar was playing blues; Zero Sum had bleating techno coming out of its glass entrance; and
the karaoke machines were fired up at Ruben’s. Most of the places were reputable enough, but there were a couple she stayed away from on principle. Screamer’s in particular catered to a scary-ass clientele. That was one door she wouldn’t go through without a police escort.
As she measured the distance to the Chinese restaurant, a wave of fatigue hit her. God, it was humid. The air was so heavy she felt as if she were breathing water.
She had a feeling the exhaustion wasn’t just about the weather. She’d been pooped for weeks, and suspected she was dancing with depression. Her job was going nowhere. She was living in a place she didn’t care about. She had few friends, no lover, and no romantic prospects. If she looked ahead ten years and pictured herself staying put in Caldwell with Dick and the big boys, she only saw more of the same routine: getting up, going to work, trying to make a difference, failing, going home alone.
Maybe she just needed out. Out ofCaldwell. Out of theCCJ . Out of the electronic family of her alarm clock and the phone on her desk and the TV that kept her dreams away while she slept.
God knew there was nothing keeping her in town but habit. She hadn’t spoken to any of her foster parents for years, so they wouldn’t miss her. And the few friends she had were busy with their own families.
When she heard a leering whistle behind her, she rolled her eyes. That was the problem with working near the bars. On occasion you picked up gawkers.
The catcalls came next, and then, sure enough, two guys crossed the street at a jog and came after her. She looked around. She was heading away from the bars and into the long stretch of vacant buildings before the restaurants. The night was thick and dark, but at least there were streetlights and the occasional car passing.
“I like your black hair,” the big one said as he fell into step beside her. “Mind if I touch it?”
Beth knew better than to stop. They looked like college frat boys out for the summer, which meant they were just going to be annoying, but she didn’t want to take any chances. Besides, the Chinese place was only five blocks up.
She reached into her purse anyway, searching for her pepper spray.
“You need a ride somewhere?” the big guy asked. “My car’s not far. Seriously, how ’bout you come with us? We could go for a little ride.”
He grinned and winked at his buddy, as if the smooth rap was definitely going to get him laid. The crony laughed and circled her, his thin blond hair flopping as he skipped.
“Let’s ride her!” the blond said. Damn it, where was her spray?
The big one reached out, touching her hair, and she looked at him good and hard. With his polo shirt and his khaki shorts, he was BMOC handsome. Real ail-American material.
When he smiled at her, she sped up, focusing on the dim neon glow of the Chinese place’s sign. She was praying someone else would walk by, but heat had driven the pedestrian traffic indoors. There was no
“You want to tell me your name?” ail-American asked.
Her heart started banging in her chest. The spray was in her other bag. Four more blocks.
“Maybe I’ll just pick a name for you. Let me think… How’s pussycat sound?” The blond giggled.
She swallowed and took out her cell phone, just in case she needed to call 911. Stay calm. Keep it together.
She pictured how good the rush of air-conditioning in the restaurant was going to feel as she went inside. Maybe she’d wait and call a cab, just to make sure she got home without being further harassed by them.
“Come on, pussycat,” ail-American cooed. “I know you’re going to like me.” Only three more blocks…
Just as she stepped off the curb to crossTenth Street, he grabbed her around the waist. Her feet popped off the ground, and as he dragged her backward, he covered her mouth with a heavy palm. She fought like a madwoman, kicking and punching, and when she reached behind and belted him in the eye, his grip slipped. She lunged away from him, legs driving her heels hard into the pavement, breath trapped in her throat. A car went by out onTrade Street, and she yelled as its headlights flared.
But then he got her again.
“You’re going to beg for it, bitch,” ail-American said in her ear as he put her in a choke hold. He wrenched her neck around until she thought it was going to snap and pulled her deeper into the shadows. She could smell his sweat and the college-boy cologne he wore, could hear the high-pitched laughter of his friend.
An alley. They were taking her into an alley.
Her stomach heaved, bile stinging her throat, and she jerked her body around furiously, trying to get free. Panic made her strong. But he was stronger.
He pushed her behind a Dumpster and pressed his body into hers. She drove her elbow into his ribs and kicked some more.
“Goddamn it, get her arms!”
She got in one good heel punch to the blond’s shins before he caught her wrists and held them over her head.
“Come on, bitch, you’re going to like this,” all-American growled, trying to get his knee between her legs.
He ground her back against the building’s brick wall, holding her in place by the throat. He had to use his other hand to rip open her shirt, and as soon as her mouth was free, she screamed. He slapped her hard, and she felt her lip split open. Blood rushed onto her tongue, pain stunning her.
“You do that again and I’m cutting your tongue out.” All-American’s eyes boiled with hate and lust as he shoved up the white lace of her bra and exposed her breasts. “Hell, I think I’ll do that anyway.”
“Hey, are those real?” the blond asked, as if she would answer him.
His buddy grabbed one of her nipples and pulled. She winced, tears making her vision swim. Or maybe her eyesight was going because she was hyperventilating.
Ail-American laughed. “I think she’s natural. But you can find out for yourself when I’m finished.”
As the blond giggled, some deep part of her brain kicked into gear and refused to let this happen. She forced herself to stop fighting and reached back to her self-defense training. Except for her heavy breathing, her body went still, and it took ail-American a minute to notice.
“You want to play nice?” he said, eyeing her with suspicion. She nodded slowly.
“Good.” He leaned in, his breath filling her nose. She fought not to cringe at the rank smell of stale cigarettes and beer. “But if you scream again, I’m going to stab you. Do you understand me?”
She nodded once more. “Let her go.”
The blond dropped her wrists and giggled, moving around them as if he were looking for the best angle.
All-American’s hands were rough on her skin as he fondled her, and she held Tony’s Twinkie down by force of will, her gag reflex pumping her throat. Even though she loathed the sensation of the palms pushing into her breasts, she reached for the fly of his pants. He was still holding her by the neck, and she was having trouble breathing, but the moment she touched his privates, he moaned and his grip loosened.
With a hard jam of her hand, she grabbed his balls, twisted as hard as she could, and kneed him in the nose as he crumbled. Adrenaline shot through her, and for a split second she wished his buddy would come at her instead of staring at her stupidly.
“Fuck you!” she screamed at them both.
Beth bolted out of the alley, holding her shirt together as she ran, and she didn’t stop until she was at the door to her apartment building. Her hands were shaking so badly she could barely get her key in the locks. And it wasn’t until she stood in front of her mirror in the bathroom that she realized tears were pouring down her face.
* * *
Butch O’Neal looked up when the police radio under the dash of his unmarked patrol car went off.
There was a male victim, down but breathing, in an alley not so far away.
Butch checked his watch. A little afterten o’clock, which meant the fun was just getting started. It was a Friday night in the early part of July, so the college turks were still fresh out of school and aching to compete in the Stupid Olympics. He figured the guy had either been mugged or taught a lesson.
He hoped it was the latter.
Butch grabbed the handset and told Dispatch he’d head over even though he was a homicide detective, not a beat cop. He had two cases he was working right now, one floater in theHudson Riverand a hit-and-run, but there was always room for something else. As far as he was concerned, the more time away from home, the better. The dirty dishes in his sink and the wrinkled sheets on his bed were not going to miss him.
He hit the siren and the gas and thought,Let’s hear it for the boys of summer .