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.Blood Vow by J.R. Ward
Published by Ballantine Books on December 6, 2016
Source: the library
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Also by this author: Possession, The Shadows, The Bourbon Kings, Blood Kiss, The Beast, 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, A Warm Heart in Winter, Claimed, The Wolf
Second in the Black Dagger Legacy paranormal romance spin-off series from the Black Dagger Brotherhood (I reckon this puts Blood Vow at 14.5 in the BDB) and revolving around an elite unit of vampire warriors based in Caldwell, New York. The focus is on Elise and Axe and Rhage and Mary’s new family.
It’s all about survival. Illness, curses, abuse, murder, school, keeping up with the Joneses. As for perspective, there’s no question that it’s third-person omniscient point-of-view. How else would we know what everybody is thinkin’?
Baggage and preconceptions, guilt and hope, hypocrisy…there are all sorts of lessons being learned in this for Peyton, Elise, Axe, Novo, and Rhage and Mary.
One of those preconceptions is the grief that Elise’s aunt and uncle are going through. You’d think that grief would be for one thing, one person. But it’s not. It’s a grief for two people, and their own trials and tribulations. It’s no wonder that Elise was dry heaving.
“…there was a tendency to assume that the anonymity of strangers translated into calm, clear slates for their lives, but that was just bullshit. Everyone had drama. You just didn’t know what it was if you didn’t know them.”
I must confess that I wish people would consider this when they think someone has snubbed them, that maybe there’s some kind of drama going on in that person’s life. That you need to cut them some slack.
It makes sense that a Brother would go to a sex club. They’re pretty sexual guys, and they never seem to lack for money. Now, I’m also expecting that belonging to The Keys costs money. So, as we get into the story, learning about Axe’s financial status, I gotta wonder how he’s affording this.
I did appreciate how Ward used The Keys to get us inside Axe’s mind. Poor guy. God knows, Elise tries to get in there, and Axe really rips her a new one. There are further psychological reveals as Ward makes an excellent point of Axe’s tattoos and piercings. Wow.
“Send some more sunshine my way just so I’m sure I heard you right.”
Then Elise follows up with hypocrisy. I don’t get that bit. What was the purpose of that irrelevant segue? How did that scene contribute to the overall storyline? A greater annoyance was how easily the secondary conflict was resolved. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE how it turned out. But it was way too easy. Talk about your fairytale ending.
As for that stupid trope with Elise… That girl needs some real world experience before she gets unleashed on the world as a psych counselor. Jesus, she doesn’t give anyone a chance to say anything before she stomps all over them, as she’s made her own decision. As for her honesty issue…Axe has an excellent point!
As for Rhage being a father. Oh, man, it is so dang cute to “watch” as he struggles to adapt his lifestyle to a young one. In fact, all the Brothers and Lassiter are twisted around Bitty’s little finger. Quick! Gotta find an online course on how to be a father! Ya gotta laugh at the entourage who accompanied Bitty to Haver’s clinic…it’s Lassiter in his hockey mask and football pads that really cracked me up.
Ahh, poor Bitty. She’s having to have all her major bones broken, and it’s so pitiful to read. I found myself cringing in my chair. Rhage is so worried that…well, ya gotta read about that dragon, lol! Between this and all the other drama revolving around Bitty, I do think they should be keeping Rhage at home until it’s all settled. His mind is not where it should be.
And, oh, man, does Peyton ever get a wake-up call in this…phew…
Elise is desperate for a life outside the glymera. She’d be bored to tears when, instead, she could be helping her race. But she’s up against a traditional, determined, father who is threatening her with sehclusion.
It will be a life made possible when she hunts down Peyton and meets his teammates.
More of life’s possibilities revolve around Bitty, for Mary and Rhage have fallen in love with the child, but a sense of right tumbles them right into a terror at the threat of losing her.
Axwelle “Axe“, son of Theirsh, battles a raging sense of inferiority. His dad never got over his wife leaving him for greener pastures. Axe’s dad has been mentioned in different stories for his senseless, murderous death. And his artwork sounds so incredible.
Elise is the blooded daughter of the very traditional Princeps Felixe the Younger, rebelling against her father’s expectations to attend university to get her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. Her cousin, Allishon, was beaten to death four months ago in Blood Kiss, 1 (13.5). Allishon’s parents are…something else.
Other trainees include:
Peyton, first-blooded son of Peythone and third cousin to Elise, is out of the Perfectly Bred Handbook and trying to hide wanting Paradise — Axe thinks he’s as out of control as a “Lamborghini that had lost half of its wheels, most of its undercarriage, and all of its brakes”. The never-relaxed Boone. Craeg, the alpha of all alphas, and Paradise, daughter of the King’s First Advisor (Blood Kiss, 1 (13.5)), are a couple. Novo is the cobra in the group; Axe reckons he’ll never hit that.
Elise works for psychology Professor Troy Becke as his TA.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood, a.k.a…
…BABUs (Bad-Ass Big Uncles), a small group of incredibly lethal, mostly gorgeous, incredibly muscled, and amazingly compassionate vampire warriors. They include Zsadist (Lover Awakened, 3) mated to Bella (Rehvenge’s sister), and they have a daughter, Nalla. Phury is Z’s twin and mated to Cormia, a Chosen (Lover Enshrined, 6). Butch, a.k.a., Dhestroyer, a former detective, is mated to Marissa (Lover Revealed, 4) while Vishous (“V” of the too-lethal hand) is mated to the ghostly Doc Jane (Lover Unbound, 5); the two couples live in the Pit. Tohrment “Tohr“, the leader of the Brotherhood, is mated to Autumn (Lover Reborn, 10); the mute John Matthew is mated to Xhex (Lover Mine, 8); and, Qhuinn is mated to Blay (Lover at Last, 11). Wrath, son of Wrath, is the Blind King of the vampires; George is his seeing eye dog. He’s mated to Beth (Darius’ daughter; Dark Lover, 1), and they have a son, “L.W.”, Little Wrath.
The Brotherhood’s medical personnel include Dr. Manuel “Manny” Manello, the former chief of surgery who is now mated to Payne, V’s sister (Lover Unleashed, 9); Doc Jane who has no experience in vampire pediatrics; and, Ehlena (mated to Rehvenge, the leader of the symphaths who is also one of the King’s closest advisors; Lover Avenged, 7). Fritz is the household majordomo, a doggen.
The too-funny, pervy Lassiter is the fallen angel who has attached himself to the Brothers. Trez and iAm are Shadows who live at the mansion; they still own shAdoWs and Sal’s (The Shadows, 13). Boo is the black cat. Saxton is the King’s head counsel and a former lover of Blay’s. Beline is Paradise’s second cousin and working for the King.
Lizabitte “Bitty“, the young battered child from The Beast, 14, (Mastimon is her stuffed tiger) is being adopted by Rhage, a.k.a., Hollywood, and Mary Luce, a trained therapist at Safe Place and infertile cancer survivor, who never expected to have her own child (Lover Eternal, 2, and The Beast, 14). They hope. Ruhn is the uncle Bitty claimed to have.
Safe Place is…
…a shelter for battered female vampires that was started up by Marissa, Dr. Havers‘ sister.
A lesser is…
…a human who has given up their soul to the Omega, a godlike being from another plane of existence. This Omega’s purpose is to destroy all vampires. The BDB’s mission is to destroy the lessers, with luck the Omega, and protect the race.
The Keys is an extreme sex club, members only. The glymera are vampire nobility. Amber is one of the students. The Scribe Virgin is no more. Anslam was a serial killer. A shellan is a wife. The All-Nighter is Rhage’s favorite diner. Pie. Mahmen means mother.
The Cover and Title
The cover is red exploding with black ink spatter in one corner. The rest is taken up with a hard-eyed, hard-edged Axe, part of one tattoo showing on his neck, his black hair merging into the ink, wearing a beat-up black T over his heavily muscled torso and arm. The author’s name is large in an embossed black-outlined metallic silver font. The title is below it in an embossed bright red. Between them is a quick blurb about Ward’s bestselling status. Below all of it is a black-handled dagger, lying horizontally, separating the silver series information from the rest.
I’m thinking the title is all about Bitty’s adoption, a Blood Vow, making her family, officially.