For the first time in a long time I am enthusiastic about a BDB novel. For the first time in a long time I felt in sync with the characters. For the first time in a long time I have this butterfly giddy feeling in my stomach again when reflecting upon a BDB novel. While LOVER MINE was not a 5-star read for me, I am excited that the incredibly good and addictive overrode the irritations for some of J.R. Ward’s signature writing style ingredients. I must say that initially JM and Xhex romantic set-up gave me a déjà-vu feeling. There were certain commonalities between JM/Xhex and Zadist/Bella’s romance that made me fear it would be a carbon-copy but my fears were quickly put to rest as JM and Xhex are such different characters, which made their story take a course all on its own.
What can I say; I feel that John Matthew and Xhex brought back the romance with a capital R that resonated with me. John Matthew had a long character progress and I loved his character from the moment he appeared in LOVER ETERNAL but he really hit the hero button for me in his own story. He was in pain and I felt it, he was in love and he made me feel the entire spectrum of emotions that came along with that fact. He was also angry and revengeful with Lash being the trigger, his whole persona radiated emotions and I couldn’t get enough of him. Even though he couldn’t speak his feelings, his personality, blasted off the pages with a force that had an undeniable impact with me.
Now Xhex has always been an Amazon warrior in my mind but in Lover Mine she showed that behind this tough-as-nails exterior hid a well of emotions. She is a survivor but to bounce back from her ordeal takes more than inner strength, the pain needs a way out and needs to find a reciprocator who understands the source of that pain. Xhex will forever remain an Amazon warrior but in combination with girly-girl moments it is an interplay between her warrior and feminine side that turned her in to a woman I could respect, admire and like.
The romance between JM and Xhex encompassed the bittersweet with the outright passion. The courage combined with the fear. Their story rang true from start to finish where they laid themselves on the line for the other who meant everything. With Xhex and her ordeal the sensuality had soaring sensual highs and raw painful lows but it fitted perfectly within the character development and only enhanced the impact of the healing that needed to take place.
Now next to JM and Xhex, who rule with their romance and their much desired revenge, there are also Qhuinn and Blaylock. Their angst but also their needs are formidably told from both sides and it led up to a balcony scene that was so heart shattering to witness that it had my heart bleeding for them. The build-up between Quinn and Blay through this novel is hard to let go of and it is one of the storylines that has me pining for the next novel. For so many novels I shared their ups and downs, came to care so deeply about them, the second generation BDB heroes definitely has me in their grips and I only want more of them, much more.
Like always J.R. Ward has various storylines going on simultaneously and every one of them captured my interest on some level. The Darius/Tohr storyline piqued my interest and in the end it was nicely entwined within the larger story that it brought more depth to it. Yet I remember the beginning about JM/Darius and wondered why there was no real explanation in Lover Mine about the reincarnation, about the epileptic episodes. It’s not so much an irritation but more a thought I had while closing this book. Darius might not be a living character but he is one who I will always adore.
Another secondary storyline is the one of the Paranormal Investigators Gregg Winn, Holly Fleet and Stan. The relevance is only revealed at the very end and still, even then, I got no idea if it is meant as another character introduction or if it was just a connection to Xhex in the end. Aside from the multiple storylines there is also the slang which still doesn’t always fit the larger-than-life vampires in my opinion and the abbreviations, I’m grateful I knew nine out of ten this time so that it didn’t pull me out of the story. They still irked me, it still isn’t my favorite aspect of JR Ward’s writing style but because the rest was so good the irritations slid to the background.
Lash as an enemy bears all the signs for a true evil and his transformation is a gruesome one. I really had a few gag moments in the book regarding his character. With his transformation I thought he would become a very powerful and evil character, yet I wonder with the ending if he delivered on that promise. I will have to see if J.R. Ward has more in store for him!
For a five hundred plus pages novel J.R Ward always seem to pack the story to its capacity with plot progression, character development and lot’s of dialogues. I never feel I’m reading such an extensive novel as the pages just fly through my fingers. In LOVER MINE this was also the case but what surprised me is when I read the final page I wanted to start all over again. Something that hasn’t happened to me since LOVER AWAKENED.
LOVER MINE worked for me and since a long time I’m actually closing a BDB novel with the instant desire for the next. JM and Xhex brought romance, action, emotion and many cherished characters together for a pulls-pounding addictive read.