I feel like I've been waiting ages for this latest installment and now that I'm finished reading it, I feel... dissatisfied. It wasn't bad. It felt like it was a transition book. Like JR Ward ran out of stories linked to our core cast of characters and is setting up the characters for the next cluster of books.
Obviously, we've run out of Brothers, so we need new warriors. Enter Xcor and his five "bastards." They're hardcore killers, who fight dirty. They kill Lessers and live in the old-ways. Hey, look: There's a pretty aristocratic one, a scarred one... Maybe we'll hit the jackpot and one of them will go blind or develop a BDSM predeliction. But I digress.
This book is supposedly about V's sister Payne. She was paralyzed at the end of [b:Lover Mine|7046495|Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #8)|J.R. Ward|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51H8UbRKB8L._SL75_.jpg|7370233]
and only Dr Manny, Jane's old friend, can save her. Let me say, it takes freaking-forever before Manny and Payne even meet. It was nearly a quarter of the way into the book before they lay eyes on each other. The beginning of the book really dragged for me. When our couple finally did meet, there were hardly the fireworks I usually feel for a couple in this series. There was nothing particularly wrong with either character. Verily (snicker), I liked them both. But by the time they got together, their relationship (for lack of a better word) was rushed. And frankly, not much to speak of.
There is actually much more going on between V and Jane. Payne's arrival and injury really tweaks her brother out. And he goes on a downward spiral that causes grave problems in his relationship. And he slips back into his S&M bag-o-tricks to help him deal. I was disturbed by his coping strategies. And saddened for Jane at how some of it played out.
If I'm being honest, I spent most of the book scooping up the crumbs Ward sprinkled in on my beloved Qhuinn and Blay storyline. Yes, our boys are in there. But not very much. Most of the soul-searching and pining about this relationship has been from Blay's perspective. What we get here is almost all Qhuinn. And it's just so sad. For everyone involved: Qhuinn, Blay, Saxton, and Layla. God, maybe I need some Lagavulin. It seems to work for everyone else.
I can see why there are such mixed reviews out on this one. I wasn't thrilled with it, but it wasn't bad. It was just missing some of the heart that the series usually has. Maybe it's because John Matthew has provided such a consistent and emotionally resonant b-story in so many previous books --and that is noteably absent. Q & B's scenes were too few and far between to fill the gap. The new warriors are too, well, new to care about. And I don't know what the serial killer storyline was even doing in the book. So like I said earlier, it's a transition book. Hopefully the next installment will have a little more heart. --Oh yeah, and some more sex.
3 1/2 stars.