Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #9
Author: J.R. Ward
Pages: 511 (Kindle edition)
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother: A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.
When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.
As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.
The major themes of the previous book were vengeance and healing, but now Lover Unleashed seems to focus on rebirth, or at least people coming back from the dead: Doc Jane returns to her old colleague, Manny Manillo, and Detective Jose de la Cruz recognizes a certain someone's Boston accent during a report of a dead body. Then there's Payne, who is finally free of the Other Side, only to be trapped inside her paralyzed body. Quinn is also questioning past decisions and trying to figure out who he truly is. Finally, there's the arrival of some vampires from the Old Country.
There is a sweet innocence about Payne that I really enjoyed. We know she's a great fighter and that she wants to be independent, but she's also sheltered from most of life's events, including relationships. When she meets Manny, she finally begins to understand what the other Chosen mean when they talk about being with males. Their relationship gives a whole new meaning to "sexual healing." I really liked these two as a couple. They're probably one of my favorites.
Of course Vishous plays a major role in this book. He's super stressed out over his mother's lies and secrets, and his twin's injury, but there is also some tension with Jane. V needs a release in the form of pain, but he's afraid to talk to Jane about it. Wait, what?! Maybe I was reading this wrong, or this was a huge oversight by Ward. But we witnessed Jane step into the role of Dom with Vishous in Book 5, and it was briefly mentioned again in Book 6 when Ehlena materialized outside the wrong penthouse. Now why is he acting like his need is a huge secret from his shellan? She knows. She's done it with him before...multiple times! Maybe not to the extreme that he needs now, but she is aware of this part of him. This shouldn't have created problems between them! It seemed like drama for the sake of having a conflict within an established romance. I didn't like it. Of course, that is just the start of their problems. But I really liked the scene of V and Butch in the penthouse...
I'm still finding that Quinn and Blay's story is my favorite. Although this time it's just Quinn. He knows he made a mistake letting Blay go, but he also knows he can't keep throwing his sorrows into booze and anonymous sex. However, his new coping mechanism may be even more damaging. He only had a handful of chapters, but each of them was charged with emotion. Only one more book, and then woooo!
As for the plot with the Old Country vampires...I just didn't care. I felt like that plot thread served no purpose, especially since the climax was pretty anti-climatic. I much would have preferred if that "Paranormal Investigators" plot from Lover Mine had been continued. That's actually what I was expecting, since the purpose of that plot wasn't revealed until the very end of the previous book. Maybe these new arrivals will be featured in the next book?
While I do enjoy this new direction to the series, I'm starting to really be bothered by the romance taking the backseat to the action. There was plenty of (smokin' hott) sex in this book though, but still not as much as the first few books. I'm hoping there'll be more in the next ones.