Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lover Avenged by JR Ward

*sigh* Reviewing a JR Ward book is always tricky. For one thing, it's almost impossible to review w/o giving away spoilers. For another, trying to decide if I liked it or not.

I will say upfront that I liked it MUCH better than Lover Enshrined. I still say LE was a waste of space. Phury & Cormia were not my idea of an ideal couple. *sigh*

So, what did I think of Lover Avenged? I have very mixed feelings about it & I'm going to say right up front that *THERE WILL DEFINITELY BE SOME SPOILERS (MAYBE MAJOR ONES...SORRY) IN THIS REVIEW!!!!!!!*

I'm going to say right up front that if you're expecting LA to be full of'll be sorely disappointed. Again Ms. Ward does the usual and throws everything but the kitchen sink into this story, completely overshadowing the "romance" between Rehv & Ehlena. So for me, the romance was completely & totally a waste of time.

I wish she would figure out if she was writing Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance and stick with one or the other instead of trying to force them to coexist. I think that is what takes away from the overall appreciation for the books. For romance fans, the romance is pretty much a flyby kind of thing and the Urban Fantasy lovers are stuck with a romance that's really not fleshed out.

A couple of my friends & I were talking about LA over on Twitter. One of them brought up an excellent point. Ms. Ward is a big fan of name-dropping and product placement. In the first chapter alone we're subjected to a long list of clothing, drink and food manufacturers. In the first chapter! This continues quite heavy-handed throughout the book. Usually with clothes. *sigh* I don't care what name brand your character is wearing. All you have to say is "Charcoal-grey suit" and I'm perfectly happy. I don't need to know the name of each designer of each article of clothing you are wearing down to your underwear. And it's always the guys, not the women. Anyone else notice that? :(

On to the main players in LA. There was Rehv & Ehlena, JM & Xhex, Wrath, Lash, some other Lessers and Mary, Beth & Bella played minimal parts. There were also sympaths and some other characters introduced. Oy.

And I'm going to go into, not a good & bad list, but a breakdown of each character & what their roll was in this book. I'm sorry. It's the only way I can think of giving a relatively cohesive book review.

Rehv & Ehlena: Hmm...well, yes, they did have a "romance" in this book, but I have to admit I was extremely disappointed in it. As we all know, Rehv is half sympath & half vampire. His sister is Bella who is mated to Zsadist who has issues. *ahem* Rehv takes dopamine to keep himself from feeling, thus allowing him to exist in the human world w/o his sympath side taking over. As revealed back in LE, he has an "interesting" relationship w/ a fellow sympath.

Ehlena is a nurse who works for Havers, Marissa's brother and the doctor of the vampires. Ehlena's father is sick and instead of being part of the vampire elite, she has had to sell off all of their belongings to take care of her father.

She works on Rehv one day and that's when everything changes. All right, I admit, watching Rehv try to woo her was actually pretty sweet. However, as is always with a JR Ward book, the "LOVE" kind of happens off-page and the next thing you know it's all, "I love you," "No, I love you," "No, I love you" without any real showing of the development between the two characters. It's extremely annoying.

Wrath-Wrath played a huge part in this book that was pretty much a waste of space. If what happens had been hinted at (as in his fighting & such), it wouldn't have come across as so out of character. Also, the blindness? Not a shock and actually kind of ridiculous. It threw away all of the romance built between him & Beth and almost ruined their relationship at the beginning. I thought Beth was cool though in the sense that she didn't let him walk all over her as so many of the other women are complete and total doormats.

JM & Xhex: Talk about a storyline that annoyed me from the beginning, of this book anyway. We know Xhex is a sympath. It's been out there since almost the very beginning. Watching her treat JM the way she did, I felt nothing but sympathy for her. You KNOW why she did what she did. As for JM? I just wanted to smack him upside the head. Yes, he should have been annoyed at what she did to him and I can understand that up to a point, however, his complete and total personality change really made me want to throttle him. By the end of the book I had no sympathy for him whatsoever. Knowing the next book is probably theirs? Not sure if I'm willing to pay HC price for it.

Lash: Still annoying as always, but plays a key roll at end of the book. I won't go into any details, but I have a feeling the BDB will be feeling the ramifications for a LONG time.

The Other Lessers: Eh...boring as usual.

The Scribe Virgin: Since when did she go and get a lobotomy? Just curious.

The Sympaths: What a waste of space and a couple of gag-inducing moments they were. If you're expecting to know more about the sympaths, be prepared to be disappointed. We still don't know anything about them. *sigh* Which really bugs me because the character development that would have given Rehv would have been HUGE!

The Rest of the Book: *sigh* I don't know. Yes, there were some good aspects to it. No Omega, not much of the Lessers, and a lot of action. But, there were also a ton of disappointments. The story development was curtailed by quite a bit of changes to the history that Ms. Ward had firmly established back in book one. I HATE it when authors do that. You should NOT be allowed to change the basic integrity of the world you've created because A. it's lazy writing & B. it drives your readers crazy. We're not stupid. We can clearly remember who, what, when & where. You changing that later on in a series does not a happy reader base make.

What is my overall feeling? Disappointment and annoyance mixed with happy. I know my review comes across like I hated it, but I didn't. As I said at the beginning. I have very mixed feelings. But, since I said I liked it better than LE and gave LE a C+...

Overall Grade: B-


Mistress said...

Wow Bridget, you poor thing lmao. I think a lot of us have a love/hate/confusion connection with this series.

Re: wishing she'd get off the fence and pick Para romance or UF once and for all.

I just wish she'd realize theirs no shame in being a good old fashioned Para Romance Author, because the Urban Fantasy writing she forces in, is just plain horrible (I'm sorry but on a UF quality scale it's dirt) and only detracts from the series.

But I'm pretty sure both our hopes are in vain. Since once the a series formula brings in the dough, positive evolution is rare.

Nicola, tells me John Matthews' book is next at bat; that should be interesting.

LesleyW said...

I've not had a chance to read this properly yet, but I agree with the losing sympathy thing with JM, which annoys me because he was the character I was following the series for.

Also the ending (cliffhanger regards JM) is pretty much a re-run of Lover Eternal.

Anonymous said...

Ditto the disappointment for me too. You are right that JR Ward needs to decide if she's doing romance or urban fantasy. I hate the flip flopping around.

Mandi said...

I thought the first half was weak, second half was much better. I just want JM's book. This was a stepping stone to get there;) I thought the romance scenes between Rehv and Ehlena were bland. Blah. Wrath and Beth were better. I don't mind the UF feel...but I would have liked a bit more spark between the hero and heroine.

JR Ward has said JM's book will be the darkest one yet...eek.

Blanche said...

I've just recently discovered the BDB series and I'm only on Lover Unbound at this point. I was very excited about the books and read through the first 4 very quickly....and I'm looking forward to V's story and the rest of the books!

Lisa C said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog (via Ms. Moonlight)and LOVED your review. You hit the nail on the head for me. At first I thought I just read it too fast and needed to give it another chance, but having seen your review just reinforces all the things that I keep trying to make excuses for with this book. Thanks for an honest review!

Lady of the Review said...

Mistress-Don't get me wrong...I love both UF AND PR, but hate it when they're thrown together in some odd mix that just doesn't work IMHO. And it is a definite love/hate relationship. Grr...

Lesley-I agree w/ you. *sigh* I think if JM hadn't had such a major personality change, it wouldn't have bothered me so much. But he went from being the sweet guy to a complete & total butthead. :(

Ms. Moonlight-Yeah, she's not so good w/ the romance thing, is she? LOL!

Mandi-JM just annoyed me. I know, I think I'm in the minority, but he did. Yes, I could understand why he was peeved w/ Xhex, but I thought his complete & total personality change was just plain annoying. :P Again, that might just be me. *sigh*

Blanche-Don't get me wrong, the book wasn't bad, just not as good as the first ones. Z's book will always be my favorite. :)

Lady of the Review said...

Lisa C.-Welcome! I'm glad you found me. As for what you said...exactly. LOL!

Christine said...

I skimmed over your review because I haven't read LAv yet, but I'm at least glad to see you liked it better than LEn. I think if I wasn't so invested in the characters I'd give up on this series already. I agree with what you, Mistress and the other commenters say in that JR is a wonderful PNR writer. UF... not so much.

I hate the way she is draaaagggggggggging out JM's story. Tell me, does anyone in the world finally have the inkling that JM is Darius at the end of Rehv's book? Anyone?

orannia said...

OK, I will confess to not reading your review as I picked up Lover Avenged from the library today and am hoping to devour it tomorrow (and thus am trying to avoid spoilers :)

I'll be back once I've read it :) I confess I am crossing my fingers as Rhev is my favourite...

Venus Vaughn said...

Christine - Tohr recognizes that JM reminds him strongly of Darius. But no, he doesn't make the leap that JM *is* Darius.

And I gotta say, isn't it enough for JM to be JM? Why does he have to be Darius? Far be it for me to criticize a successful author's character choices, but this one just confuses me. If you want Darius back, do some hocus pocus and get Darius back, don't append him to someone else's life.

orannia said...

OK, I've finally only took me 13 1/2 days - YIKES!

I so agree with you on the product placement. I do not need to know that Rhev eats Quaker oats - oats is fine! And I hadn't noticed that the labels were more for the male characters but now that i tihnk about it...good point!

Part of me could understand JM's complete personality change, but I don't think there was enough explanation...we needed to understand the WHY IMO!

Great review!