I'll tell you what: JR Ward gave me my money's worth with Lover Reborn
. A far cry from the anemic Lover Unleashed, this book is massive in scale. It brought me back to the characters I care about. It gives the primary romance the attention it is due, and weaves in subplots that interest me. Ward revisits old relationships and lays the groundwork for new ones. She made me laugh; She made me cry; She made me curse. She took me on a journey and made me glad to be back in Caldwell.
I wasn't happy with the idea of Tohr getting a new mate. I've never gotten over Wellsie's death. And I figured that if I couldn't get over it, surely he shouldn't be over it either. But once I started reading the book, I realized that the whole point of the story is that he's not over it. He can't let Wellsie go and by holding onto her so desperately, he is preventing her from going into the Fade. Wellsie and her baby are trapped in the In Between and their spirits are fading. As Lassiter explains, either Tohr finds a way to let go, or there will be nothing left of the woman he loved.
The story begins just weeks after the events of Lover Mine
and it felt more like a continuation of that book than the last one. (Thank goodness for that.) No'One is staying with the Brotherhood, hoping for a chance to get to know her daughter. She finds herself becoming friends with Tohr. She knows he still mourns his wife, which makes her more comfortable around him than other men. Their friendship --and Lassiter's prompting-- lead her to offer her blood to him when he's in need. And from there, the bond between them grows.
It's definitely not an easy road and it's one filled with starts and stops. (And I felt it drag occasionally, especially early on.) Tohr's grief is tangible, but there are times his behavior is extreme and harsh. No'One is a difficult heroine to get excited about. She is meek and subservient, broken and pitiful. She puts up with alot of crap and sometimes stretches the limits of believability in how accommodating she is. But at least that is addressed as the story progresses. I like that their relationship is an evolution; that there is no quick fix. And we see them move forward through trial and error.
While all this is going on, the main b-plot is focused on Xhex and John Matthew. The honeymoon phase of their relationship is over quickly. And they are struggling to reconcile Xhex's warrior nature with John's instincts as a bonded male. I loved this part of the book. I've always had a real soft spot for these two and their problems make total sense within the world-building of the series.
We're also brought back into the Band of Bastards and their plans to overthrow the king. And in doing so, Ward sets up a fabulous possibility that I never saw coming to get rid of give an HEA to Layla. Alas, it doesn't happen soon enough. The one thing I feared most would happen in this book, does indeed come to pass. I'm sorely disappointed Ward picked this predictable route. Without telling you outright what happens, I will simply remind you what a big Qhuay fan I am and leave it at that.
Before I find myself back in the cursing fit this initially brought on, I'm going to skip to the end. The end, which was amazing. I cried and cried and cried. Ward saved the most powerful punch for the last few chapters and left me feeling satisfied, optimistic, and excited for what's ahead.
I'll leave you with my favorite line of the book: "Our future has come." You'd better deliver on that, JR Ward. Verily. 4 stars.