December 4, 2015

REVIEW: Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1)

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1), by JR Ward
Publish Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Berkley Romance/NAL
Format: paperback, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(Synopsis) Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

If I could give BLOOD KISS all the stars, I totally would. Because this book was everything for me. I've been a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series nearly from the very beginning. And, I don't know - I just haven't been feeling it the past few books. There's been such a swell in characters that it's sometimes hard to keep them all straight. So many storylines. Not enough focus on the original Brothers. Not as much action. The magic had dulled. 

Blood Kiss is absolutely everything I wanted and everything that I've missed about the original series. First, let's talk about the setting. It takes place in Caldwell, NY, which is where all the original BDB stories take place. In fact, most of it takes place in the Brothers' mansion headquarters. The Pit makes several appearances, as does Safe Place. All the settings we've become familiar with are there, so there's no need to acclimate to a new environment.

Blood Kiss follows two couples - newbies Paradise and Craeg and old favorites Butch and Marissa. Butch and Marissa are going through some growing pains as a mated couple. Their communication skills aren't what they should be. Butch is dealing with holdovers from his life as a human, and Marissa is coming to terms with the fact that her relationship with her brother will never be the same again after what he did to her. And neither of them are telling the other about their issues. *shakes head*

And then there's Paradise and Craeg. They are both new candidates for the Brothers' training program. I absolutely LOVED the initial test that all of them had to go through to separate the strong from the weak. It was exciting and suspenseful. And it introduced the new characters perfectly. 

Paradise is a member of the vampire aristocrat society and is sick and tired of being pushed into this mold of how a good vampire female should be. She wants to fight for everyone's freedom, despite everyone's doubts that she can't handle it. 

It was time to break out of the restrictions of her station - and cut the hothouse flower crap. If working around the King had taught her anything, it was that no matter what class you were in, tragedy didn't discriminate, justice could always be served, and nobody got out of this life alive.

Paradise's and Craeg's story is very much like Romeo and Juliet - they are from two very different families, and in their "normal," there's no way they could ever be together. But, this is a new day in Caldwell. Female aristocrats are trying out for the BDB's army. So are members of the blue collar workforce. It's not so much of a stretch anymore that they should get together. And be so. Freaking. HOT. 

The best part about this new series is that, even though we're focusing on a new crop of soldiers in training, there's an equal amount of focus on the original Brothers. Since many of the scenes take place in the mansion, there are appearances by Wrath and Beth, Z and Bella, Rhage and Mary, John and Xhex, and since there's a huge focus on Butch and Marissa, there's lots of time spent with his BFF V. 

With the focus on only two couples, we only have four POVs. There are no POVs from the Lessers - no scenes with them at all, actually. And there is a big focus on the relationships. These are all things that have been missing lately from the main series, and they are big factors in why I loved Blood Kiss so much. 

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