Title: The Beast
Author: J. R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #14
Date: April 5, 2016
Rhage and Mary return in a new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a series “so popular, I don’t think there’s a reader today who hasn’t at least heard of [it]” (USA Today).
Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…
For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…
And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world…and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from..
Coming today, the latest installment of the raving warrior vampire series by best-selling author J. R. Ward, Black Dagger Brotherhood.
The Beast is a Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy novel that follows up on the events of the previous books of the series. Unlike other Romance series of the moment, The Black Dagger Brotherhood books don’t follow the traditional scheme of one-book-per-couple, and instead each volume runs on multiple continual timelines and perspectives that constantly introduce new characters and bring forward old ones. The timelines normally extend through several books and influence events within each other like a tight web.
Ms. Ward has introduced great innovation into the genre with this series, and her books continue to be complex, highly dynamic endeavors that cannot quite be read as stand-alone, but instead as an integral part of the entire series.
More information, visit the author’s official page: http://www.jrward.com/bdb/
So, let’s see it! ———-
This book is both a new volume and an inner sequel to the second installment of the series, Lover Eternal, that takes on issues the couple has come across since the events of the original story. A follow up on old characters is something J. R. Ward has done several times before in this series in books like Lover Unleashed, Lover Reborn, and The King. It’s a proven strategy to keep the reader’s attention by bringing forward the characters they originally fell in love with, and in my opinion, it works quite well. Although this is a strategy that quite a good deal of authors use, I have yet to see one do it as masterfully as Ms. Ward.
The main characters in The Beast are once again Rhage, Black Dagger Brother and Mary Madonna Luce, introduced ten years ago in Lover Eternal.
Rhage is the strongest warrior of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. He is beautiful, irreverent, funny, and madly in love with his wife, Mary. Rhage also has a dangerous alter-ego given to him by a deity, which comes out at inappropriate times and creates messes for him and his brothers. At the beginning of the book, we see Vishous, Rhage’s brother who is gifted with precognition, tell Rhage that he is going to die, and the entire action develops from there into a whirlwind of emotion that explores Rhage’s deteriorated psychological state and his relationship both with Mary and his Brothers. Rhage is a character that is well-loved by the fans and for good reason. He is funny, he is sweet and overall fairly uncomplicated, compared to some of the other characters. However, this doesn’t mean he’s shallow. Rhage has been dealing with some survivor’s guilt since the previous book, The Shadows, and to it adds his own guilt and conflict with a longing that threatens the very core of his marriage. As always with this series, the character’s arc for the lead is joyful to read and the ups and down are both heart-wrenching and inspiring, treated with a care and mastery that make them life-size. Rhage’s problems and insecurities are very human and relatable, seemingly mundane at times, despite his vampiric (paranormal) environment, and thus, the resolution of these resonates deeply with the readers.
Mary is Rhage’s partner. She is a former human to whom the goddess of the vampire race granted immortality as a bounty to Rhage. While she was human, she was sick with leukemia, and the heavy cancer treatments left her infertile. Mary’s inability to have children has been one of the unresolved spots of the series ever since book 2, but the issue gets explored and made into a main topic in this book. What infertility does to Mary and Rhage, how they come to terms with it and fix the problem is the principal theme of their timeline. It shows once again the values of compassion, generosity and understanding that compress Mary’s personality, and acts as the component that strengthens her relationship with his husband in a way that is believable and real. For this book, Ward tackles an issue that is very human, when a member of the couple wants a child but the other member is unable to provide it, and does so with a talented and open-minded approach that doesn’t focus in the good over the bad (like many romance novels do) but instead puts every fact on the table and lets the plot resolve itself in a reasonable way according to the attitudes she set up for her characters.
Overall, the whole process is seamless and smooth, the actions and reactions of the characters making sense with their environment and the story developing at a dynamic pace during actions scenes, and a deep thoughtful pace during the self-reflection ones.
The Beast also continues with the timelines of secondary characters introduced in earlier books and resolves issues of the plot that had been left open. A brand new long-term character takes stage and some new conflicts arise to sustain future volumes. Overall, it’s everything you could expect as a mid-series installment, and uses the success recipe Ward has invented and perfected to make sure none of her Black Dagger Brotherhood books ever go below the 4 star margin. This one is no different.
A very good book, with just a couple of minor details that didn’t appeal to me personally, but that in no way diminish the value of the entire piece.