Blood Vow by J.R. Ward

Blood Vow by J.R. WardBlood Vow by J.R. Ward

Series: #2 Black Dagger Legacy
Published by Ballantine Books on December 6, 2016
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars      four-flames

Didn’t get enough of Rhage and Mary in the most recent Black Dagger Brotherhood release, The Beast?  Well your wish of more has been granted with this latest installment of the Black Dagger Legacy series.  The story of Rhage, Mary and little Bitty picks up right before it left off just in time for a heartwarming tale of family BDB-style.  And let’s not forget it also keeps us apprised of the Brotherhood’s trainee program spotlighting bad boy Axe and the determined very good girl, Elise.

Axe is a commoner, an orphan, and a life-hardened guy who just wants to survive and make it through the Brother’s trainee program.  Life as a warrior who is strong and nobody’s victim has appeal after watching his mother walk out the door chasing riches and his gentle father fade as he yearned for her return before dying in the Raids.  Axe tried drugs and then sex, but nothing fulfills him until he catches sight of Elise.  She’s way out of his league and so not his type so why can he not stop craving her?

Elise is born of an aristocratic family- a family that has become insular and stuck since the horrendous death of her rebellious cousin.  Elise was the good girl to her cousin’s bad, but still her father refuses to allow her her dreams and attempts to smother her under tradition and over-protective actions designed to diminish the scandal to their family her cousin caused.  Elise wants to finish school and get her doctorate in psychology so she can become a counselor to her own race just like the humans have.  To achieve her goal, she agrees to a compromise with her father and that compromise is a bodyguard in the form of the dark and dangerous Axe who she can’t stop thinking about.  There is no way they would work, is there?

Rhage and Mary started the adoption process for Bitty who they see as their daughter and she names them as her parents.  Both worry that somehow the elusive uncle will turn up and destroy their dreams of being a family.  Their nightmare becomes reality.  Their attempt to bring Christmas to the mansion and a happy holiday for Bitty tastes like cinders in their mouths now.

Alright, this was an engaging story that I didn’t want to put down.  Both storylines kept my interest.  I’m going to startle a few people when I say that I was more curious about Axe and Elise than Rhage and Mary- though sigh…love them so that is saying a lot.  Cried and laughed with Hollywood and his girls through their tough situation.

The author wrote an interesting pair of young lovers.  So interesting that I felt they needed more page time.  Axe is a deep person with pain and issues that keep going.  These are mentioned as past tense.  He’s already on the mend, but not quite there yet.  He had a mother walk out and a dad check out before dying terribly leaving Axe with abandonment issues, survivors guilt, and no support.  He is literally barely keeping warm and food in his belly.  But he manages to get into the training program and has coped as best he could.  Yes, even if his choices were dark ones.  He’s getting there even up against the smug attitudes of some of the trainees who see him as trash.  I was really rooting for him.

In an ironic twist of fate, he ends up with a psychology major and an aristocrat for his love interest who has no conception of the deprivations and sacrifices he has lived with.  Elise is attracted to him and the pair are in full-on lust, but brainy girl keeps going into clinical mode and getting all snotty about it.  I was just within a hair of hating her or at the least shaking her until her teeth rattled for her superior and spoiled attitude, but then (grin grin) Axe cut little Miss I-know-better-because-I-have-a-degree and I’ve never done naughty things like you’ off at the knees and called her on her bull.  Elise learns, grows, gains insight and compassion, and, most important, girlfriend knows how to tender a deserved apology.

The story ends on a good moment, but I like where it’s going for this passionate pair, the previous pair, and those teasers for the next Legacy couple in line.

Oh, and if having a reprise of Rhage and Mary, holidays with the Brotherhood, and a young love/adventure isn’t enough, there are some interesting hintings for the future tucked inside.  And there are some serious laugh out loud moments.  The angel and his hockey mask and football pads ensemble… lordy that male makes me cackle so hard.  But Rhage and his fear that he’s might not be dad material got me all swoony.

All in all, abso-fab installment that is best read after BDB’s The Beast.  The world and the characters are still as amazing as ever.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • The first time I saw the cover on Amazon’s latest published stories, it instantly caught my attention. And ohlala, reading your review, it sure didn’t disappoint. I’ll be purchasing this one soon! Thanks for this awesome review Sophia Rose 🙂

    • Hey, glad I could tempt you, Vanessa. 🙂 This is book two in a spin-off series so start back with Dark Lover in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series if you want to read these.

  • Debbie Haupt

    Oh I want this and I want it on audio. Thanks Sophia Rose!

    • Oh lord, Rhages’ voice on audio would really have me melting. Good call on that, Debbie.

  • I haven’t read Blood Kiss! I got it a loooong time ago but never got the chance to read it. I’m not sure if I like Ward’s books enough to start this series or the BDB series. Right now I’ve her two books in the Bourbon Kings series and have enjoyed them. But her paranormal… there are just so many! 😀

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book! Great review, Sophia. =)

    • Yeah, I get the hesitation about starting a whole new series and sub-series. Blood Kiss will feel somewhat confusing for you because there is an assumption that you started with the original BDB series. Grab Dark Lover and go from there if you ever decide to take the plunge.

      Thanks, Alyssa!

  • I quit the original series just short of The King-which i bought on Audio, but it is over 25 hours to listen to-something like that. I just never went on with it.If I started this new series, will I be lost since I stopped that far back? I have loved these books, but The King really got bad reviews so… This one sounds amazing, but I would have to read Blood Kiss first? I didn’t realize this was about the new generation. Lara Adrian did the same thing with her Midnight Breed series, also a favorite of mine 🙂 You have me intrigued!

    • I think you went far enough in BDB series to do alright with these. There will be some reveals and gaps, but you should be able to fill it in yourself to a certain extent to read the first Legacy book, Blood Kiss. Now this one, does have a strong, direct connection to BDB The Beast because that began this new Rhage and Mary storyline so keep that in mind, too.

      Ha, glad I intrigued you, Lorna. 🙂

  • Well you might be tempting me to try these again, Sophia. I’ve got them sitting on the shelf so I’ll try to work myself up to doing them 😀

    • Always fun to be a book temptress. I do like how this spin off series has returned to simpler writing style just as she promised, but I do think it will be hard on folks who want to read these separate from the main BDB series particularly this one b/c half the plot is tied to The Beast.

  • I am so buying this one!!! I love the idea of these two plot lines, and I have such a weakness for Rhage and Mary.

    • Me, too! Big Rhage and Mary fan. Have you read The Beast yet?

      • Yes I read it this summer and LOVED it!!!

        • Super! Then you’ll love this one. It picks up the plot thread with Rhage, Mary and Bitty and keeps going. You’ll get some feels from this. 🙂

  • I am n book 5 of BDB, but will get to these as well 🙂

    • Oh yes! These are like tweenies once you get past The Shadows (#13 BDB). I like what she is doing with this Legacy series fitting between the books of the BDB series and revisiting each Brother and his shellan.

  • My gosh, this series must be immense by now! She always seems to have a new book out!

  • She has too many books and I’m way behind. I need to read the BDB series mainly as I have a few novels…. so late

  • Wait what? There is another series? And just when I was tempted to start Brotherhood! Too many books!

  • The last BDB was heavily about Mary, Rhage & the adoption. So I guess that’s an outro to BDB and intro to this? I loved The beast, a little skeptical about this but still willingn to give this a try

  • I heard a lot about this author, but never had the urge to pick up one of her books. She really seems to have written a lot of books. This one does sound like a good read. I recently read a romance between someone and their bodyguard as well, they can definitely be fun. Sounds like they have an interesting dynamic.

  • RO

    JR Ward is keeping the story going in style and this sounds fantastic, and is keeping us hooked, but I can’t help wondering if she wants to get away from the Brotherhood for good to focus on some of her other stories. Loved your review! Hugs…RO