Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward #Review

Posted December 18, 2015 by Shari in Reviews / 23 Comments

Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward #Review
Blood Kiss

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Series: Black Dagger Legacy #1
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Published by Signet
Released on December 1, 2015
Pages: 411
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

Get it at: add to goodreads

The Black Dagger Brotherhood has been a series I have adored and hated at the same time. It started out strong and then about the time Phury got his story, I started to lose interest. The biggest problem with the last few books is the epic size of them and how many plot lines you have to follow. I finally gave up after The King. In The King, I basically skipped any section that didn’t directly deal with Wrath and Beth. I think there was at least one more book, maybe more, but I couldn’t get myself to care about this world any more.

Blood Kiss changed all of that and branches out into a new series called The Black Dagger Legacy. If you have dropped out of The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, you should be able to easily jump back in with this spin-off series. It is set at the same time period, but this particular book gives a look at the new generation that hasn’t been trained for the war between the Lessers. Rules have changed, lives have been lost and now we get to start back over in a way with what I loved about the series once upon a time.

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, Abalone II, is loved, but feels tied down with the traditions of old and the glymera. Joining the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training program seems like the logical idea. Right? She wants to learn to fight and be her own woman. Accepted into the initial program, Paradise is unprepared for the trials she must go through to make the final cut. Some of her fellow trainees are out for themselves, some have secrets and some just want to escape life that is going no where. Could she be the last woman standing…or even man for that matter?

Craeg is the one bump in her plans. She meets him when he comes in for an application to join the training program. He’s normal in appearance and fierce. A common citizen to her founding’s blood course through her veins. She can’t deny the attraction she has for him as much as he pushes her away. Is it just a walk on the dark side, the elusive need to be a bad girl or is it deeper? She holds close her secret of being from the glymera, not wanting the others to treat her any different.

Craeg for his part hasn’t had an easy life. Life was normal up until the raids destroyed his family. Bent on revenge, he is determined to shelf the attraction he feels for Paradise. One purpose, become a brother and seek out revenge on those who killed his father. With each step, he is drowning in her scent, lyrical voice and kindness to help others. Pushing her away seems logical, but is the very opposite of what his body is telling him.

Through their story, we get to also see Butch, the Dhestroyer, and his mate Marissa. Butch is off his game much of the story as he has put Marissa on a pedestal that she feels she can never climb down from. There is also a mystery dragging up old memories for Marissa that leads her down a path she never thought she would revisit. While this story is intertwined with Paradise and Craeg’s, it does naturally intersect and come to a conclusion together.

I appreciated the sort of reboot to the series and getting back to what it was all about without so many story lines dragging you this way and that. Paradise was a character I adored that kicked ass in a lady like way and never gave up. She went after what she wanted even though at times she was treated pretty badly. Craeg…well, I loved him and wanted to Gibbs smack him at the same time. He was rough with Paradise, which was fine, but he often rejected her after something she would do for him. Rebuffing her got old at times. Together, their story could have used a few more pages to work things out. It felt like the latter half of their love story was rushed.

Butch and Marissa’s story was spot on in the amount of time it took to get where you needed to be. I love Butch! He isn’t my favorite, but I love where he came from and how Marissa loves him deeply.

Rhage and Mary get page time through other characters. Never in their minds, just interacting. These two are part of my favorite characters and I can’t wait to read more about them in 2016.

Blood Kiss is a great addition to The Black Dagger Brotherhood and an awesome start for The Black Dagger Legacy.

Sophia Rose’s Review

Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward #Review
Blood Kiss

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: Black Dagger Legacy #1
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Published by Signet
Released on December 1, 2015
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback

Get it at:

I was curious and had a certain amount of anticipation built up after reading the author’s post that with this spin-off series (or to be accurate- parallel, in between stories), the books were returning to feel of the earlier books of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. As I really liked those, of course I got excited. Not only does the author return to the style of only one or two plot threads and had a lot of Brotherhood moments (thank you, baby Jesus as Butch would say), but also it picked up what-happens after the HEA for one of the brothers and his shellan, Butch and Marissa. And also started to follow a whole new generation of fighters (and lovers, of course).

Now, while this is a ‘new’ beginning, I wouldn’t recommend jumping in here without having read most of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The Brothers, the situation of the vampire world, other key players and situations are all coming into the series as an ongoing, assumed thing.

The story opens with Paradise, daughter of the King’s First Advisor and member of the aristocratic Glymera finishing up her work as secretary and ready to try out for the Brotherhood’s training school. Her dear father allows it because he wants her to know how to defend herself even though he is nervous about her in warrior training. Paradise has been shelter and feels the heavy burden of expectation from her rank. She doesn’t want an arranged mating or to be an ornamental shellan to some boring aristocratic male. She wants to be free and follow her own star. Paradise has no plans to fight in the war, but taking the step of joining the training school puts her on an adventurous path. That becomes even more of an adventure when her whole insides light up after encountering the aloof commoner, Craeg.

Craeg has no prospects after his family was destroyed in the killings by the Lessers. His father was a floor layer and that is the humble roots Craeg comes from. Being accepted into the Brother’s warrior training is his big chance. He will not be sidetracked even for the most beautiful, alluring female he has encounters. And this resolve grows more difficult each day. He wants Paradise so badly. But then he learns the truth and how deep and wide the gulf is between their situations.

Marissa is working at Safe Place and she is shocked out of complacency when a brutalized female mysteriously appears on the lawn and is dying. All the Brotherhood physicians are busy and so she must ask her estranged brother, Havers, to help. Marissa is affected by the unknown girl’s death, by seeing her brother care for a stranger when he doomed her to death by throwing her out of the house right before sun-up because Marissa was with the then human, Butch. All her feelings come boiling to the surface. But worse than those is the distance that is forming between her and Butch as both choose not to share with their mate what deeply affects them. Will what is left unsaid eventually break them apart?

Butch loves Marissa more than anything. She is his shining, pure light. He doesn’t want her to know about the shadows of him mind or the things that disturb him in his sleep. But Marissa is drawing away and keeping things from him. Has she woken up and realized what he already knows? That he’s not good enough for her? Butch might just have to delve into his deepest nightmares if he wants to keep his mate.

Alrighty, so yes, this was a reunion of sorts. I felt like I did back at the beginning when I was just encountering the Brothers and their new recruits. I wanted to cry a little when V and Butch return to the Pit and V uses the light in his hand to remove the lessers black blood from his body. I mean how long has it been since we saw that? Or to see the Brothers working to train the newest recruits in hand to hand and other defensive and offensive skills? Oh, and the mystery of the unknown brutalized woman with Butch and Marissa on the trail of the perpetrator was exciting.

As promised, the story stuck to two main couples. I could get used to this pattern of new younger couple paired with an older Brother and his shellan. The main younger couple are not entirely unknown. Paradise was a minor character in the BDB series and her story thread was already in motion. Her love interest was the unknown.

I was pretty much in hog heaven with this one with the exception of one thing. I’m not a Paradise fan. I didn’t have a love at first sight with her and I didn’t warm much from there. She’s a spoiled, self-absorbed rich kid, but also a warm, caring, vibrant woman (i.e. a normal person with flaws). I would have been alright, but I felt like she was a manipulator because her lies and her refusal to see there are repercussions for lies particularly to the people you claim to love. She does this with her father and she does it with Craeg and feels no responsibility when things go south as a result. It is Craeg who has to do the ‘I’m sorrys’ for getting the eensiest bit upset that he got lied to over something fundamentally huge. He tells her that he, as a commoner, could be killed or at the very least in heaps of trouble for taking an aristocratic daughter’s virginity so she goes off on him about discrimination. Really, Parry? Point flew right past her head because she was busy working up some anger because he was angry. He’s upset that she set him up for death if her dad gets angry enough, but her comeback is to tell him to get over himself in an ‘I am woman hear me roar’ speech. I will concede that he did have hang-ups about the aristos because his dad and several other commoners died partly because of their selfish actions, but knowing that he was already sensitive about her kind, she chose to seduce him without telling him the truth because she knew he wouldn’t sleep with her if he knew the truth. That is manipulation to me and is the opposite of love. Deep breath…gal hit a touchy spot for me- thus the tirade here.

So yeah, the Craeg/Paradise romance, eh. She didn’t seem ready for something deep and long-term so while I was okay with their passionate encounters, I was only meh on a romance. Now, that said, I don’t mind them together and I do like what they each bring to the table as part of the training group.

Then, there was Butch and Marissa. Sigh…loved. So loved this. This was all about a couple working through the grind of a long-term relationship and not just the explosive beginning. The love and fire is there though banked and now they have to wake up the fire and put the work in. Very satisfying and I loved how the author didn’t blow up some empty angst, but something real and complex that took some time to tease out.

All he could do was laugh, and suddenly she was laughing, too- and that was when he forced himself to get with the program and ease off the poor female. She followed with him, and they were scooting around so they were lying on the bed properly…

“I love you, Butch,” she said.

In the darkness, he knew she was looking at him and he f*** loved it. He wanted her undivided attention, craved it, needed it to ground him on some pathetic, talk-about-castrated level. But he would never demand that kind of thing from her- and for an impatient SOB, he was very, very willing to wait for it. God, when given freely? Her love, her focus was a gift, that, like her, never grew old to him.

Closing his eyes, he felt how much she loved him- and it was funny, sometimes, when you were with a person for so long, married to them, living with them, moments like this were just as wondrous and magical as that incredible instant when ‘I love you’ had been said for the first time.

“God, I love you, too.”

  1. 192 Butch and Marissa of Blood Kiss


When he went to open his mouth, she stopped him. “Before you speak, be very aware that I love you. I love you with everything I have and all that I am. But if you do not get real with me, I’m going to go back to the Pit, pack a bag, and move to Safe Place for a while.” She held his stare with unwavering eyes. “You and I are not going to survive long term, regardless of love or bonding, if you keep airbrushing things. If I keep airbrushing things. It’s not a good strategy for us. And if it makes you feel like you’re on the spot? As if I’m giving you an ultimatum? I don’t care. If anything gets in the way of our relationship, anything, I will mow that (stuff) down- even if it is you.”

  1. 301 Marissa of Blood Kiss

The action plot and the suspense was good stuff. Was I ever stunned to discover who was behind that poor girl’s beating and death. Nicely done, JR! I can’t wait to see what comes next for the training group. They are quite the team of misfits that work well together. They are from the aristocracy and the commoners and they each have their own skill sets and secrets. And there is room for any additions that need to come along in the future.

So, even though I got a hair up my nose about Paradise, I feel this book was an overall win and a breath of fresh air for the BDB world. I felt the book was energized and crisp and opens up the opportunity for more of the same. I recommend it for BDB fans in particular to take the time to read this offshoot, but also I’m putting in a plug to paranormal romance and vampire romance fans who haven’t tried the Black Dagger Brotherhood to add it to the list of reads.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Romance Roundabout #415 PNR

New to Me #198 series

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Shari is the Delighted Reader. Married to her Prince Charming and mother to two Princesses and one Prince. When she is not slaving away as Cinderella she loves to get lost in the pages of a good book. Never without a reading device and a few good paperback books, because she never knows when she might get 5 minutes to read!

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  • onlysixofusinmyhead

    Thanks for the review on this. I have been wondering if i should get back into the BDB books as i got turned off after the original brothers set ended and the books got bigger and so complicated. This looks like a good place to get back into it now.

    • Shari Delighted Read

      It’s not as big as they were getting. With only two story arcs that intersect organically, it was a perfect way to reboot the series for those of us who loved the original brothers.

    • I agree with Shari. This is a nice reboot for those who want less complicated storylines.

  • I had said that I was quitting BDB, now this book comes out and everyone loves it. Maybe I’ll pick it up in 2016

    • Shari Delighted Read

      I quit right after The King. I didn’t even read all of that one as I skimmed it mostly for Beth and Wrath’s story. I couldn’t care about anyone else there were just too many story lines. This one give you some of the old feeling back to Butch and Marissa while also introducing a new generation to grow to love. I really want more Rhage and Mary now!

      • That is exactly why I quit BDB. I finished The Shadows. Too many storylines and storylines that go nowhere. I think it is the never ending series. When she is at signing, she talks about her plans. Everyone gets a book and now she is revisiting previous couples. I will not read The Beast, because Rhage is my favorite, and I’m worried she will ruin him for me.

        • Shari Delighted Read

          Rhage and Zadist were my favorites. We got some of Zadist’s in a novella about his daughter. Rhage and Mary have a part in the story, but never together and not from their point of view. I will read his story and let you know if it can be trusted. I just don’t want to read a ton of story lines interfering with the main one that I buy the book. You got further than I did. I didn’t really like Trez or IAm (I think that was their names) so I didn’t even try The Shadows.

          • I cried in the Shadows, but I also had a couple moments of wondering where storylines were going. Still am especially on Assail the drug dealer and Xcor. It was a tough one. Yes, it’s Trez and IAm. 🙂

  • Debbie Haupt

    I am looking forward to reading this, but I’m still in love with BDB series too!

    • Shari Delighted Read

      I loved it all the way up to Phury’s book when it started going downhill for me. This one got back to what I loved about the series.

    • Me too, Debbie! I had to take a break just before I read The King and The Shadows and I do get impatient with all the story threads that bug others, but those were some powerful books to me when all’s said and done. Can’t wait for more of this spin-off series, too.

  • I *still* need to read this book! I feel so bad because I’ve had it from Berkeley for weeks, and I just can’t seem to pick it up. I’ve read The Bourbon Kings by Ward, nothing else. Knowing that you loved this book helps! I need to read it soon. Fabulous review, Sophia!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • I had it for a while, too. I had two BDB books on my shelf to read and I wanted to get to those first. I had put them off b/c I needed a break from the series. I was getting frustrated with the multiple plot threads. But yes, this one is different and refreshing after the older longstanding series and this new spinoff direction. You might want to put it off though if you haven’t read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series or a lot of this will be confusing in many ways.
      I still need to read The Bourbon Kings.

    • Shari Delighted Read

      I decided not to get an ARC of it because I was worried I wasn’t going to like it. So I bought it so I could really decide if I wanted to review it or not and not feel obligated. I am glad I read it! Loved it!

  • RO

    Shari: This probably gives the best description of the Brotherhood Series for those (like me) who were feeling a little burned out, and how this book brings everything back to life! You totally rocked with this review and I loved the depth of it. Ironically, the first time I picked up a JR Ward book, I read the blurb and put it back on the shelf. It wasn’t until months later that I picked one up again and was crying and laughing along with everyone else.(lol)Hugs…

    • Shari’s reviews help me decide on if I want to read a book all the time, Ro. She gives the temp of a book so well.

      That’s funny that you weren’t interested the first time you saw the series. I wasn’t either, but I eventually got around to them. 🙂

    • Shari Delighted Read

      Thank you RO! I struggled at first to get into the series, but fell in love reading them so fast. In fact not all of them were in Kindle format when I started reading. But once I was hooked I soon became disappointed at where it went and how complicated it was becoming. So I decided to quit after The King. Well, J.R. must have understood that and this reboot was much needed. I hope she continues to introduce a new couple while revisiting an original brother’s story.

  • oh my I HAVE to read this now after reading your great reviews ladies!!! I really love Butch and Marissa but wowzers…those quotes. Marissa has backbone and I just want to shout “you go girl”. hehe Love it when a woman fights for what is most important and doesn’t let things slide in the relationship.

    • Shari Delighted Read

      I love how Marissa stood up for what was wrong and didn’t let Butch cop out on things. Butch also loves her to pieces and I loved seeing a hard man want to love and respect a woman to the point she has to stand up and make him see her for a woman instead of an epitome of the gylmera.

  • great reviews ladies! awesome take on the spin off

    • Shari Delighted Read

      Thank you! Finally a way back to a world I loved that went sideways!

  • Awesome 🙂

    • Shari Delighted Read