This is the first book of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood vampire romance series and it is a series that you should read the novels in order. Dark Lover is an introduction to the BDB and we can begin to see the series initial story arch and that these warriors will be future novel installations.
Wrath takes up a last wish of a brother in the BDB to help his half-vampire daughter, Beth to get through her transition. Basically all vampires have a “coming of age” event that physiologically marks their adulthood (about 25 years of age). There are times that vampires do not make it through the transition, and there is an even greater danger because Beth is half human.
We learn that Wrath technically is the vampire world’s King, but he is not an active participant in the politics and would rather lead his warriors. The story evolves as we learn most about her family history and the vampire world through her involvement with Wrath as he helps her through. We learn about the vampire culture, including their religious figure the Scribe Virgin and the war against lessers.
Of the female leads in this series, Beth to me is actually one of the weakest, compared to other future leads like Jane and Xhex. Beth steps up and saves her hero in the end, but to me, there is no true personal growth for her character. To me she is just a “typical” female lead with no unique characteristics or issues. It did not hamper my enjoyment of the book, but I somehow wanted more from her.
To me Wrath is a bit of an Aragorn character, a reluctant king that must take up the mantle to save his race. As with most romances he is the big badass Alpha hero, and it is their private moments in his bedroom with Beth that show his vulnerability that are some of the most powerful scenes in the book. Just a small quote here:
Words fell from his lips, a stream of consciousness spoken in the old language, a guttural expression of what she was doing to him, how beautiful she was to him.
With Wrath, there is a huge transformation; his acceptance of himself as a leader and acceptances of Beth’s love is beautiful to watch.
This is a novel about a man who while outwardly confident, is not confident in his honor and aptitude in leading his nation. Through Beth’s love, he learns to accept himself (for the most part, we will revisit his blindness in later books).
This is a well-written book that has a satisfactory pace. Ward does an excellent job of employing foreshadowing into several future books and future problems, while tying off the current story arch of Wrath and Beth’s relationship
What could be better?
This is one of my favorite series, and I have read this book probably close to 20 times. The only complaint I have is in the development of Beth’s character, she to me seems mostly like a typical romance character, with little hills and valleys in her personality.
Ward does a good job in this series of letting us get a peek into previous books characters in later books, so we will see Wrath and Beth again periodically and their characters are further developed. Overall, this is an excellent book to the start of the series and it is one of my repeat reads.