J.R. Ward has outdone herself in the 6th installment of The Black Dagger Brotherhood, Lover Enshrined. Not only does she focus on the main couple, Phury and Cormia, in this novel but she really opens up her vampire world to the reader taking us farther and deeper than she has before. Ms. Ward has a very complex and completely different view of vampires and slayers than I've seen in any other works and believe me; I've read a lot of vampire fiction. Vampires are mainly what I read (and write) about.
In Lover Enshrined, the reader is introduced to new and interesting characters and some characters that were previously minor ones, just shadows in the background, were revealed more in depth and brought into the spotlight in some cases. The nature and depth to which she opens up these previously minor and new characters raises many questions and really spins and twists promises of stories to come, new plots, and subplots that will hopefully unfold in the future.
A few main characters were relatively out of the picture in Lover Enshrined, but hey the last two books were completely about them so that's understandable, I just kind of missed them since they are two of my favorite characters. Other characters that came into the spotlight were John Matthew, Blay, and Qhuinn. I suppose John Matthew will be the focus of the 7th book, which raises so many questions about how Ms Ward is going to handle the whole John/Darius thing. Reincarnation intrigues me, but that's a very long philosophical discussion I'll save for another day.
Lover Enshrined was full of action and a lot of twists and turns in the story line that kept me wondering what would happen next. From the very beginning it was like, wow, that's deep. The Omega gains ground with a new weapon against the vampires. The lessers get a new, completely unexpected leader, one of the vampire's own and an angel wants to be part of The Brotherhood. What was lost is found and the vampire princeps council also gets a new and completely unexpected leader, you'll never see that one coming.
This book seems a little bloodier that the previous books in the series, but even though it is filled with violence and death Ms. Ward balances it with new life and hope for the future of the vampire race. She does a splendid job of mixing romance, sex, violence and hope into what some may just disregard as vampire/romance/trash without meaning. There's always meaning, you just have to read between the lines. Plus give me a good fiction novel to escape in any time. I have enough heavy "meaning" in my life; fiction is my escapist drug of choice.
The main focus of Lover Enshrined is of course, the romance and the conflict between the two main characters in this novel, but I love how Ms Ward takes the basic romance formula and spins it in with other major plots and sub plots.
The book opens with Phury still struggling with the Primale role he took over from Vischous. He feels he is in no form to have the fate of his race resting on his shoulders. Hero complex aside he's so messed up he can't get his own head on straight yet now he's supposed to essentially be a vampire stud and sire young with his First Mate, Cormia, and the rest of The Chosen females. Needless to say it may be more than he can handle. After months he still hasn't sealed the deal with Cormia let alone moved on to her sisters.
Throughout the book Phury struggles with his past, fears his future, and can't seem to get past all his mistakes (real or imagined). He worries about his twin and his twin's pregnant mate Bella. Phury falls farther and farther into darkness letting his addiction eat away at him and lead him to the very edge of disaster.
While Phury hovers at the edge of everything, including being on the outside of the whole of what is going on in the vampire world and The Brotherhood, he is also distanced from Cormia as she discovers there is much more to her than just being one of The Chosen. She learns about this
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. And now, a dutiful twin must choose between two lives...
Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood's bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.
As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself- she sees the emotionally scarred male behind all his noble responsibility. But while the war with the Lessening Society grows more grim, and tragedy looms over the Brotherhood's mansion, Phury must decide between duty and love.