Review & Giveaway: LOVER UNLEASHED, by J.R. Ward

Man, talk about making sacrifices for your art. You KNOW how I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. You KNOW how Vishous is my favorite of the boys and that I never quite forgave The Warden for giving him such an unsatisfactory HEA. You KNOW I have this book sitting on my desk. And yet, I have deadlines to make and promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep, so I have not read it. After seeing the rest of this post, you’ll know why I’ll be reading it soon–my own book revisions be damned. (And no spoilers, so don’t worry.)

Today, author Elijana Kindel takes on the task of reviewing Lover Unleashed for us. Read what she has to say about it, and then check the end of the post for the giveaway details!

ABOUT THE BOOK: 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. Manual Manello is called in to treat her as only he can–and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never 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 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. 

Elijana’s Review: When Suzanne and I discussed me doing a book review for her blog, I knew I wanted to review the next installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Unleashed.  This discussion occurred a week or so before the book was released and me being me—a devoted fan to the BDB world and a writer of paranormal romance—I assumed I knew exactly how my review of the book would go.  Don’t get me wrong, there was a tremendous amount of excitement as I sat down and read the book in one sitting.  That same eager anticipation carried over as I read page after page, flipping from one to the next just to find out what was going to happen. By the time I reached the middle of the book, I found myself in danger—of not liking the book. By the end of the book, I had my answer: I both liked and disliked Lover Unleashed.
Oh, don’t get me wrong—it is still a damn fine book and I highly recommend it for any fan of the BDB to read. But I have to be honest in my review and feel obliged to warn my fellow BDB fans out there that although the book blurb on the inside jacket of Lover Unleashed states clearly that this is Payne’s book… it isn’t
*sigh* That was hard for me to type. Probably as hard for me to type as I’m guessing it was for J.R.Ward to write Lover Unleashed (or Lover Unbound, for that matter). And now I’ll tell you why.
On page 34, third line—argh this is hard for me to admit, but I have to—Dr. Manuel Manello (Manny) just about made me cry. Okay, so I had tears in my eyes and was trapped in the emotional zone that every writer hopes will ensnare his/her readers. It was at that point that I knew I would do whatever it took to read through every scene of this 489-page monster of a book to reach the (please let it be happy) resolution of that emotion-invoking incident. It was also the point where I realized that I could cope with Manny (a character that I previously had little interest in). And no, I won’t tell you why I was teary eyed, because I truly hate spoilers in my book reviews, so I’m sorry, you’ll just have to invest your emotions and read the book. But I will tell you that Manny is a good match for Payne and he is as he has always been. And then some.
Which brings me to Payne…  I like Payne. Period. From our glimpses of her in previous books and her sparring matches with Wrath, I have to tell you that I never expected to like her. Honestly, I expected her to be another Vishous and (me being me a hands-down Zsadist/Bella fan) I just didn’t feel I had it in me to read a V story with (oh God, please no) a female version of V. 
Words alone cannot describe my relief when I discovered that my fears were unfounded. Payne is a badass warrior in her own right and a surprisingly well developed personality who gives me hope (serious hope) that one day (in, yes, my fellow readers, yet another installment in the series) that V will break on through to the other side and become the male he is destined to become.
Speaking of V… For anyone who is familiar with other books in the BDB series, you know that Ms. Ward has the ingenious ability to weave several threads through a single book at the same time, using multiple characters in their point-of-views (POVs) to enhance the core story of the main characters and the BDB world as a whole.  Typically, these additional threads are of those brothers who are directly impacted by the events going on in the story at hand (i.e., in Butch’s story, you get the POV from characters who are directly impacted by his particular journey—namely, Vishous). Therefore, it was no surprise in Payne’s book that her brother, Vishous, would play an important role as a secondary POV character as he dealt with the ramifications of meeting a twin sister he never knew existed and her serious injury. 
But what was a surprise was the intensity of V’s impact to what was touted to be Payne and Manny’s story. The depths of V’s supposedly secondary tale threatened (some, including me, may say eclipsed) the emotional impact of Payne and Manny’s developing relationship.  In other words, I (a devout reader and fan of this series) became more emotionally invested in V’s story than I did in Payne’s. And that, my dear readers, pissed me off. 
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a damn fine book and I understand why V’s thread captured my interest and made me more emotionally invested in the book, but… argh, I wanted—no, I craved—to feel the same intensity for Manny and Payne’s HEA. But I didn’t get it.  And I get that, I really do. But if the marketing department is going to force Ms. Ward to assign one book title to only two characters as the primary story, then I honestly believe I would have been less irked had this book been described as V’s (pseudo) sequel.
Which brings me to my final point… I have heard that there are BDB readers who stopped reading the series after V’s book. Mostly because they were not happy with the way things turned out at the end. Well, it sucks to be them, because by not being caught up on the series and reading Lover Unleashed, they’re missing out on what I see as the beginning to an incredible twist in the series. (And yeah, I went there and I’ll go there again if I have to.)  Because this is a great book for the series.  Not so great if all you’re looking forward to is the beginning to end of how Payne and Manny get together and meld into this world.  And, yes, there is no doubt in my mind that we are far from done with reading threads that deal with Payne and Vishous. Far, far, far from done.

And if my review doesn’t convince you that this is an incredible book for the BDB series as a whole, check out the link that follows for what Ms. Ward has to say about Lover Unleashed, its impact on her world, and a smidge of a hint at what comes next! Click HERE for video.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!
Thanks, Elijana. Now you guys see why a Vishous fan such as myself wants to read this ASAP?
Now, who the heck is Elijana Kindel? Elijana is a 2,000-plus-year-old muse who doesn’t look a day over 29. And no she won’t share her Ancient Olympus beauty secrets. Not even with her author. (Dammit.)  She’s been working on crafting contemporary, historical, and paranormal romances for 16 years now and has finally convinced her author that it’s time to get these stories out to readers. (Hooray and there was much rejoicing!)  She is hard at work on the first book in her elf series, loving referred to as The Tales of WOE (Warriors of Eros), and can be found distributing random bits of psychobabble on her blog at

Want to win a copy of Lover Unleashed? (Okay, if you haven’t read the series you can get the first one, Dark Lover, instead.) Just tell me what you thought of V and Jane’s story back from Lover Unbound–or why you’d like to try the series out. You know the drill: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet. Go!
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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

31 thoughts on “Review & Giveaway: LOVER UNLEASHED, by J.R. Ward

  1. Woot Woot! I am a big fan of BDB. Totally not impressed with the V and Jane match up. I mean, she’s nice enough. But, dang! I couldn’t imagine having a ghost as a soul mate! Talk about NOT FAIR!

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  2. Ha! I KNEW I couldn’t be the only one who felt V got cheated out of his HEA. Ghost on toast, but he deserves a sequel, even if it cuts into Payne and Manny’s story. Man, I can’t believe I haven’t found time to read this yet. I love love love this series.

  3. I haven’t started this series yet. I think I would enjoy it. Winning the first book, Dark Lover, would be awesome.

    user1123 AT comcast DOT net

  4. Gosh, maybe I’m easy, but I didn’t mind the end of Unbound. And I’ve read it three times!

    The thing I loved about this book is that it shows that HEA isn’t a moment in time at the end of a romance: “Will you marry me?” “Yes! All my problems are solved! I will never be sad or angry of in conflict with you, by stud muffin hero, ever again!”

    I love, love, love that Happily Ever After is a process, so I was delighted to see V back in Unleashed, no matter who we are claiming the book is primarily about! I thought the V/Butch stuff was amazing.

    And the Manny and Payne stuff was great, and maybe was eclipsed a bit by V/Jane/Butch stuff, but it was still smokin’ hot!

    I totes don’t need to be entered here…I’ve got it on both Kindle and (autographed!) hard copy. Even though I had to be a responsible parent and leave the signing before I got to bask in the greatness of the Warden. Being a grown-up sucks.

  5. LOL–I read your account of the book signing. My kid would SO have been out of luck. Which might be why I have no children, as my priorities are obviously skewed.

  6. Ditto on what Terri said about HEA being a process. That is what I truly loved about the books in this series. Before reading Unleashed, I never was a true V fan, for reasons that I didn’t fully get until I thought long and hard about what happened in Unleashed. But now (and yeah, I feel like I’m eating my slice of humble pie by admitting this) I’ve come over to the dark side and like V. A lot. Just don’t ask me how I feel about Jane–Yet. LOL.

  7. I have the entire series minus the newest installment. I read Dark Lover and fell in love with Wrath and Beth. I rushed out and bought the boxset the next day. Unfortunately, I then realized that Wrath and Beth are not the main characters of the books to follow. I was very disappointed and haven’t continued the series. I’ve been told that Wrath and Beth still play a large part in the series, which makes me think that I will finish the series. After reading this review, I very much want to keep reading. I need an intense read.

    +1 comment
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    Great review! Really enjoyed reading it 😀

  8. I love the series and have not read Unleased. For V, meh, but the series nad the men are yummy!

    +1 commend
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    terilhack at

  9. The ending of the last book was not my favorite and for the characters relationship I was not as happy as I could have been. I am waiting to read Unleashed to bring back my fervor for the series and the characters.

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    kasuranna at yahoo dot com

  10. I was split on V’s HEA…I will never give up on the warden though…One odd book out of the bunch of great ones…who cares she is still awesome…and really we cant all be happy all the time.

    I would love to win though!

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  11. Love the BDB series. I’ve read them all and looking forward to this one. Didn’t like the V and Jane match. 🙁

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  12. I really want to win Lover Unleashed!

    I like V, but I didn’t really like how the book turned out. I thought it was kind of odd, I guess.

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  13. I read the first book in my language, Italian, and I liked it a lot at the time. I wanted to order all the other books but money was tight at that time, so I left it. But it’ll be great to continue it!

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    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  14. I haven’t read this series yet so I’d have to start with the first book. I’ve heard good things about BDB but so many books so little money.

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  15. I’ve heard MANY good things about JR Ward & the Black Dagger series from fellow readers as well as authors, but haven’t yet picked it up. I’d love to get a copy of Dark Lover.

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    tialessa [at] yahoo [dot] com

  16. I haven’t read the series yet. would love to try 🙂

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    uniquas at ymail dot com

  17. I haven’t read the series yet because they don’t have it at the library near me and I only really like to buy books that I have read/like the author/know are awesome. I’ve heard this series is good and would love to start reading it.

    GFC Follower – JessS