Dark Lover is my first read of the First Book Club of Two No Excuses Book Swap. This means that I must read the three books that The Librarian loaned to me; she must read the three I loaned her... or suffer the consequences.
As you may guess by the cover, Dark Lover is a vampire romance. If I lived to be 100, I would never have selected this book for myself. And that's the fun of the No Excuses Book Swap. Sara and I are both voracious readers and have been trading books as far back as middle school. But our tastes don't converge very frequently and in Dark Lover I am being exposed to an entirely new genre: the paranormal romance.
In Upstate New York, in a small city much like where you grew up, there is a thriving underworld. Not just bars and clubs and normal sordid midnight behavior, but of a blood-sucking variety. A war is being waged in Caldwell, NY between the vampires and their slayers. And the Black Dagger Brotherhood--a group of huge, potent vampire warriors--has fought for centuries to protect their diminishing race against the cowardly lessers, the humans who have sold their souls for a right to hunt the undead. And Beth, a 25-year-old human, has gotten caught in the crossfires of this ancient war, just as something latent in her own body is awakening. She has simultaneously garnered the wrath of the lessers and become acquainted with a vampire called Wrath. Who can she trust? And why does she feel so drawn to Wrath, the Blind King of the Vampires?
OK, just typing those words, "the Blind King of the Vampires" makes me chortle a little bit. And when I read the following passage, I smiled... and may have even laughed out loud. This is Wrath's first appearance:
Wrath was six feet, nine inches of pure terror dressed in leather. His hair was long and black, falling straight from a widow's peak. Wraparound sunglasses hid eyes that no one had ever seen revealed. Shoulders were twice the size of most males'. With a face that was both aristocratic and brutal, he looked like the king he was by birthright and the soldier he'd become by destiny. And that wave of menace rolling ahead of him was one hell of a calling card.
HAHAHA. I can't help it--I didn't know this was a comedy. I mean, I'm all about the bad boys, but picturing a 7-foot-tall guy entirely encased in leather with a widow's peak makes me wanna giggle. But not to his face. No way, man, I'm not that dumb of a human female.
Dark Lover was pretty cheesy. The dialogue was borderline ridiculous, but judging the book by the cover, I wasn't figuring this was going to be a literary read. Dark Lover is reminiscent of the Beauty and the Beast story. And that's a love story that never gets old. Wrath, the Beast, doesn't know how to make himself worthy of the Beauty, Beth, who--you guessed it--is about to turn into a vampire.
I like J.R. Ward's vampire mythology better than others I've read. And certainly I was relieved that these vampires don't fight a constant human blood-lust à la Stephenie Meyer. These vampires don't prey off of humans; only the blood of a vampire of the opposite sex can nourish them, and this is the closest relationship a vampire can have. J.R. Ward's strapping warriors and the rest of their race live parallel lives to humans. If you're human and don't mess with the Brotherhood, you should be A-OKAY. So I better stop making fun of Wrath's penchant for full-body leather. Oh, whoops, can't. It's STILL funny.
So. Why do I think The Librarian chose Dark Lover? Because she's a manipulating Librarian and wants to lure me over to the dark side of paranormal romances? No. Well maybe. But she knows I love a good story about the Beast who finds his Beauty. And I'm not gonna say definitively, but I may have leaned into the mirror while I was reading this and imagined what I would look like with fangs. And the answer to that is awesome.
Grade: 3/5 stars. This book was a fun novelty and a quick light read. So what if I laughed a little? That may be part of the point... I mean if 7-feet-tall vampires aren't escapism, what is?