Book Review: The Sinner by J.R. Ward

July 31, 2020 Book Reviews 0

Book Review: The Sinner by J.R. Ward

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.

The Sinner by J.R. Ward
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Published by Gallery Books on March 24, 2020
Pages: 512
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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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

Eighteenth in The Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) paranormal romance series revolving around the lethal vampire bodyguards of the Blind King and set in Caldwell, New York, in a chilly March. The couple focus is on Jo Early, a reporter, and Syn, one of the Band of Brothers.

My Take

It’s a subtle clue in that first line of the story, as Jo chomps away on a Slim Jim, one of the few foods she can keep down.

A truly awkward courtship ensues with Syn fascinated by Jo and Jo wanting more of Syn, but neither being able to come forward with the other. It’s all complicated up with Jo’s true self of which she knows nothing.

Speaking of awkward. Mr F. He’s gotta be the least interested — and least informed — of the Omega’s lessers. The guy is so not interested and in such a whirlwind of fear and introspection. Ward does nice work of making us feel his pain without going into gory detail.

Life only gets more complicated with Butch and his future. None of which is helped by all the scotch the boy is putting away! Good thing for him that Vishous is there to help with the purging. Then there’s that abrupt turnaround Butch does! I never would’ve thought the boy would be giving up his fancy wardrobe!!!

I hate to say how reliant I am on Amazon Prime when I read of those abandoned storefronts.

I’ve absolutely loved the BDB series for its freewheeling attitude and the love and support they give each other, not to mention all them f-bombs, ahem, etc., lavishly sprinkled throughout, lol. And yet it’s so family-oriented. I know, I know, you wouldn’t expect it, but the Brothers are all about their mates and the children, protecting them and supporting them in their interests. Marissa’s story is a good case in point.

The Sinner is no exception although there seems to be more of a dramatic and poetic approach at the start. It was kind of weird as it made the story seem more of a cartoon. Of course, learning about Syn’s childhood is enough to throw that for a loop. Jesus. Talk about dysfunctional. It makes for quite the visual character arc for Syn, who started out as a protector and became a serial killer who has rules to ensure he doesn’t become like his father. Oh. Boy. Wonder if Syn is smoking some of V’s stash?

Ward surely has a colorful turn of phrase that immediately sets the scene — and the sounds!

Awww, that Butch…he’s such a romantic…

“We are all sinners — and yet our creator still loves us. … You’re worthy of love. You deserve to be respected and cherished…”

I don’t remember if we ever learned why this war started up between the Omega and the Scribe Virgin, but Ward lays it out now. Oh. Brother. Too typical. It is interesting how the Scribe Virgin sees her role, these days. And she is too right in that bearing a child and parenting that child are two completely different things.

Whoa, Manny learns more than he expected about himself as well! And ain’t that a kick in the pants!

Ward uses third person global subjective point-of-view, as we get perspectives and insight from a number of characters, primarily from Jo, Syn, and Butch, as they have the most prominent stories.

In some ways, it’s slow as Syn and Jo interact at a glacial pace, but the events do speed things up. It’s Butch and his fears and ills. The Scribe Virgin’s planned aid that goes awry. The deus ex machina of Devina, that was too easy. Appreciated, but not that believable. That jumpstart of fear when the Omega’s “burglary” is discovered…whooo-boy.

“…money and assets were not the true way of judging whether someone was rich.”

Oh yeah, there are a ton of surprises in this, and you really don’t want to miss The Sinner.

Just when we all think the story is coming to an end, we find out it’s all about balance, just as the Scribe Virgin discovers…and Lassiter takes his turn at bat.

The Story

The combined Brothers are still patrolling, determined to eliminate every lesser, but it’s not enough for Syn. His need to kill finds him hustling contracts on the side, his mercenary activities a secret from the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

When he takes another hit job, he not only crosses the path of the vampire race’s new enemy, but also that of a half-breed in danger of dying during her transition.

Poor Jo. The Brotherhood keeps scrubbing her mind just as they’ve been scrubbing away at the Omega’s power base. The question is, who will win?

The Characters

Josephine “Jo” Early is technically an online editor for the Caldwell Courier Journal, but she’s chomping at the bit to do some reporting, especially if it involves the paranormal. Adopted, her wealthy parents are Randolph Chance and Philomena “Phillie” Early, who live in Philadelphia. Maria is her parents’ maid; Tom is the chauffeur. (Her mother is off with friends, Constance Franck and Virginia Sterling.)

The Caldwell Courier Journal is…
…a much diminished newspaper. Bill Eliott is a fellow reporter and friend of Jo’s who got her the job. Lydia is Bill’s pregnant wife. Dick Peters is true to his name, a real dick, and is editor-in-chief, acting like he owns the place and any women in it. The only other reporters seem to be Tony who’s out with a gastric bypass and the part-time Pete.

The Band of Bastards has joined with…
…the Black Dagger Brotherhood; both groups are vampire soldiers who protect the king. Xcor is their leader (The Chosen, 15). His team includes Syn, who is a mess, psychologically and physically. Sunnise is the girl Syn had loved from afar back in the Old Country. Balthazar, son of Hanst, is Syn’s cousin and an excellent thief. Syphon is another cousin. The one-eyed Zypher.

Wrath, son of Wrath, is the Blind King who mated Beth (Dark Lover, 1), who is now the queen. They have a son, LW, a.k.a. Little Wrath. George is Wrath’s seeing-eye golden retriever. Everybody in the house loves that dog, if only because George is the only thing that can check Wrath’s temper.

Members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood include Brian “Butch, The Dhestroyer” O’Neal, a former homicide detective who underwent the transition and is passionate about the Red Sox (Lover Revealed, 4). Now he’s the vampire race’s only hope. He’s mated to Marissa, who started up Safe Place, a domestic abuse center for the race. Vishous, a.k.a. V, is the son of Bloodletter and the Blessed Virgin Scribe, Analisse, the race’s goddess; he’s mated to Doc Jane, a ghost (Lover Unbound, 5). Tohrment, a.k.a. Tohr, organizes their schedules (Lover Reborn, 10). Z (Lover Awakened, 3) and Phury Lover Enshrined, 6) are twins. Qhuinn is the newest Brother. While he is gay and in a partnership with Blaylock (Lover at Last, 11), he has two kids, Rhamp and Lyric, with Layla, a Chosen. John Matthew is part of Qhuinn and Blay’s fighting team (Lover Mine, 8).

Dr Manny Manello is a human surgeon mated to Payne, Vishous’ sister (Lover Unleashed, 9). Robert Bluff was Manny’s father, a surgeon. Shelley Manello was/is Manny’s mother. Sarah (who mated Murhder in The Savior, 17) is a genius researcher. Lassiter is a fallen angel with some bad habits, lol. I gotta say hot pink zebra tights and a Barney T??

The Caldwell PD
Officer McCordle is Bill’s and then Jo’s contact.

The Lessening Society is…
…the bad guys and they’re dwindling. The Omega is their god and brother to the Scribe Virgin. He creates his own army of lessers, humans from whom he’s ripped the hearts, making them stronger. A Fore-lesser is the leader of the lessers. Mr F is a heroin addict who would’ve done anything for his next fix. Oops.

Devina is an immortal who wants to be a woman and is originally from Crave, second in Ward’s Fallen Angels series. The Creator is the father of the twins, the Scribe Virgin and the Omega, and Devina. Jim Heron is the central character of Fallen Angels. Sissy is an art student murdered by Devina in Covet, Fallen Angels 1.

Mob guys
Carmine Gigante is a mob boss in Caldwell who is headquartered at the Hudson Hunt and Fish Club. Jr is his son. Johnny Pappalardo is Frank Pappalardo‘s nephew, targeted for assassination. Frank is a mob boss in Manhattan.

Matthew, a nurse, and Dr Perez work at the St Francis Hospital System’s Urgent Care. Janie had been Butch’s sister, who had been murdered. Melissa was one of five siblings in the McCarthy family back in Butch’s old neighborhood in Boston and included Mikey, Margaret, Molly, and Megan. Joyce is another old friend from the neighborhood. McGrider’s is a scruffy local Caldwell establishment patronized by cops, firemen, and reporters. Dougie, an addict, is an old roommate of Jo’s who thought he saw a purple dragon. Robert J Temple, Esq. had been the adoption lawyer. Curt Schilling is a Boston Red Sox pitcher.

A hellren is a husband while a shellan is a wife. Talhman is the evil side of a person.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a spare mostly black-and-white photograph of a scary-looking Syn, but only of half his face from the eyebrows down and his bare right shoulder and pec. The author’s name and the title are both in an embossed red, center aligned along a vertical black dagger, the symbol of the Brotherhood. At the very bottom, in an embossed-looking white with black shadowing, is the name of the series.

The title is all about Syn, for he’s The Sinner, although I think Ward could also have named it The Stubborn for any number of characters!

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