I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Warm Heart in Winter by J.R. Ward
Published by Gallery Books on December 1, 2020
Source: the library
Also by this author: Possession, The Shadows, The Bourbon Kings, Blood Kiss, The Beast, Blood Vow, The Chosen, Blood Fury, “Dearest Ivie”, The Thief, "The Rehearsal Dinner", "The Reception", Consumed, The Savior, Blood Truth, Where Winter Finds You, The Sinner, J.R. Ward, Claimed
A full-length Christmas story, 18.5 in The Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal romance series, set in Caldwell, New York, and revolving around the extended family of a host of warrior vampires, their mates, and their friends. The focus revolves around all of them with the greatest intensity on Qhuinn and Blay. So, yeah, be prepared for some m/m action.
If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of The Black Dagger Brotherhood books on my website.
A Warm Heart in Winter is actually two stories. The ongoing story of the Brotherhood and then the short tale of the Allaine family.
Most of the story is a recap of everyone’s past with plenty of angst, regret, fury, and relief. A subtext is of Blay and Qhuinn actually having a mating ceremony, a question brought out into the open by the cake-obsessed Bitty. The Allaine family? A sad tale of lost love…and one that is found…and lost.
Ward makes good use of the angst to bring in therapy, and who’d’ve thought it would be Zsadist who pushes it on Qhuinn?!? I can’t help it, Ward amazes me with how she blends this extraordinary cast of characters with such human-reality. And so much support! And that such incredibly MALE people are still men, even if they are in therapy… Just goes to show that it doesn’t matter who you are, who you love, or where you come from…we all share the same issues.
Geez, some families just shouldn’t procreate. Then again, we wouldn’t have Qhuinn. It’s too bad he had to suffer his bigoted, idiotic parents! And it’s too amazing what an incredible man Qhuinn turned out to be despite his upbringing. Especially when you read how he treats his older brother these days!
Then Ward shoots us straight into the “stolen” car drama, and I wanna smack that Terrie upside the head!
How can you not love the Brotherhood!!? They adore their children and indulge them like crazy — the Party Planning Committee?? Complete with costumes?? Lolololol…
It is so incredibly sweet how Ward maneuvers her stand on “ugliness”. You can’t help but feel Zsadist’s gratitude for the babies’ acceptance and love, and through that, understood how Xcor must feel the same after too many years of the scorn of others.
There’s yet more show as we experience Luchas’ pain and regrets…yep, we know all of this because of third person global subjective point-of-view from the perspectives of many of the characters. And be prepared to cry…
“There were so many ways that people said I love you.
And sometimes, they did it without speaking a word.”
Vampires celebrating Christmas? Why not. It’s a season of family and sharing the love, of supporting each other, even as they juggle crazy work schedules, family dramas, and struggle through a massive storm that threatens everyone’s lives.
Qhuinn had a rough life before he joined the Brotherhood. Blaylock (“Blay), son of Rocke and Lyric, has been Qhuinn’s friend since childhood ((Lover at Last, 11). The fierce Rhamp and sunny, watchful Lyric are Qhuinn’s twin children; Layla is the mother, although she’s now mated to Xcor (The Chosen, 15).
The Black Dagger Brotherhood
Wrath is the Blind King with George as his guide dog. He’s mated to Beth (Dark Lover, 1), and they have a son, LW, a.k.a. Little Wrath. Bitty (The Beast, 14) is Rhage, a.k.a. Hollywood, and Mary‘s adopted daughter (Lover Eternal, 2). (Mary had been a therapist in her wholly human life and now performs the same function for the Brotherhood.) Zsadist “Z”, Phury’s twin, is mated to Bella (Lover Awakened, 3). Nalla is their daughter. Phury, the Primale of the Chosen, is mated to Cormia. Butch “the Dhestroyer, O’Neal had been a detective on the Caldwell PD before he learned what he really was; he’s mated to Marissa (Lover Revealed, 4). Vishous, a.k.a. V, the son of the now-gone Scribe Virgin and brother to Payne, is mated to Doc Jane (Lover Unbound, 5), a ghost who is also the Brotherhood’s physician, along with Manny. Butch, Marissa, V, and Doc Jane live together in the Pit, the old caretaker’s cottage. Dr Manny Manello is a surgeon mated to Payne (Lover Unleashed, 9). Tohrment “Tohr” is mated to Autumn (Lover Reborn, 10); Wellsie had been his first mate. The deaf John Matthew is mated to Xhex (Lover Mine, 8). Ehlena is the nurse in the compound; she’s mated to Rehvenge “Rehv” (Lover Avenged, 7). Saxton, Qhuinn’s cousin, is the King’s lawyer and mated to Ruhn. Lassiter is a fallen angel — who’s taken the place of the Scribe Virgin! The man is crazy!! Darius was the Brother who had built the current home for the Brotherhood. Fritz is the primary doggen for the household.
The Band of Bastards have…
…been absorbed into the Brotherhood. Xcor is their leader. Balthazar has some useful thiefly skills. Syphon.
Qhuinn’s horrible family included his parents, Lohstrong and Violet Beauregarde??; his put-upon sister, Solange; and, his “precious” brother, Luchas (Lover at Last). Lilith is a server.
Ellen “Elle” Allaine, a.k.a. “Bug”, stole her dad’s car, and her crabby sister, Therese “Terrie“, insisted on coming along. The cheating Frenchman Basile Allaine, an international tax attorney, is their dad. He’s divorced from their mother, Anna Sophia Laval, another attorney. Megan is Basile’s girlfriend, of whom the girls knew nothing. Auntie Bette helps out by babysitting. Mr Faulk is their old English teacher.
Ron is the head of the family that bought Qhuinn’s childhood home. Tommy and “Mouse” are his children.
The glymera are the Vampire nobility. Doggen are servants. A hellren and shellan are husband and wife; a mahmen is a mother. The Omega had been the Scribe Virgin’s brother, the complete opposite of her goodness. His followers had been lessers of the Lessening Society. Lash had been the Omega’s son. An Honor Guard is anything but.
The Cover and Title
The cover is of Qhuinn, wearing jeans only, his back to us, both arms outstretched grasping the window frame as he looks out on a snowy day. The iconic black dagger borders the left edge of the cover. The author’s name is in a heavily embossed red with a black shadow, starting at Qhuinn’s left ear and spanning his upper back. The title is below that, starting at his waist, in the same font, color, and style but less intense. At the very bottom in white is the series info informing us that this is a Christmas installment.
The title, A Warm Heart in Winter, should really be in the plural, for there are so many warm hearts this winter…