Book Review

Doc Turtle: Dark Lover by JR Ward Chapters 10-15

Title: Dark Lover
Author: J. R. Ward
Genre: Paranormal

Book CoverKilling me softly with this tome: Chapters 10 through 16 of J.R. Ward’s Dark Lover

Oy.  Another six chapters.  The action’s heating up and the plot takes a few odd turns, but the characters are pretty much stuck in place.  There’s pretty much no characterization beyond “Beth is bold and sexy” and “Wrath is a total bad-ass.” These characters are flatter than a stretch of Interstate in Indiana.

Let’s pick up where we left off…

Chapter Ten: Mangled metaphors on aisle six

Beth lies in bed near the end of her steamy Wrathful night.  She looks over her partner dreamily.

“He was huge.  And stacked.”

Mm hm.

“He had no hair on his torso or arms and legs at all…even down there…why he’d go the Full Monty with a razor was a mystery.”

Mmmmmmkay.

“His abdomen was ribbed as if he were smuggling paint rollers under his skin.”

Now that’s romantic.  Six points for proper use of the subjunctive mood, but only one for metaphorical flourish.

The two of them make small talk, and it’s evident already that they’re falling for one another.  Wrath pledges his vigilant protection, and Beth assumes he’s a bodyguard sent by Butch to keep her safe.  Before he goes, Wrath schedules a tête-à-tête at Darius’s house and promises Beth that Bill Riddle will pay for what he’s done to her.

Back at the ranch, Rhage gives Wrath a little good-natured manly ribbing about his late-night rendezvous the previous evening.  “You got some grind tonight, didn’t you?”  After a little more teasing Wrath threatens his friend with bodily harm, at which point Rhage relents in yet more stilted “gangsta” slang: “I’m feeling you.”

Okay, if all of these guys are supposed to be centuries old, why in the hell do they talk like twenty-something bangers?  Or at least how forty-something (sorry, J.R., I’m just taking a wild guess…you might want to update your own Wikipedia page) romance writers imagine twenty-something bangers probably talk?  Shouldn’t they be doing the dozens in Old High German or something like that?  How frickin’ cool would that be?!?

“Rhage, du nalles unwan ein waldesil bist!”

Sadly, it is not to be.

We end the chapter with Mr. X, who’s dragged Cherry Pie’s body into a filth-encrusted alleyway to serve as vampire bait.  (Did you think I was kidding before?)  The plan works.  Kinda.  After pelting the poor vampire who shows up to the smorgasbord with ineffectively weak tranquilizer darts, Mr. X flees the scene.  Back to the drawing board.

Chapter Eleven: This is a public service announcement on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control

Beth awakens.  “With the dawn’s arrival the hot night’s mystery had faded, and she was forced to face what she had done.  Unprotected sex with a total stranger was one hell of a wake-up call.”

Props for social consciousness, J.R.  Little does Beth know that STDs are the least of her worries.

She sets about her day, breakfasting on Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers (I wish I were kidding) and finding herself more and more sensitive to the sunlight.  She’s off to the police station to see what she can get from Butch on the big doin’s in the downtown dens of deceit and destruction.

“Oh my God, this is Mary,” she tells Butch when she’s shown a picture of Cherry Pie.  It appears that Ms. Randall and Ms. Pie (née Mary Mulcahy) were once residents at the same orphanage.  Small world!  Butch tells Beth that evidence indicates the same culprit in both known murders: “Another throwing star.” The plot thickens.

Especially once Beth thanks Butch for sending her a guardian palooka and he reacts as we’d expect him to: “Friend?  What the hell are you talking about?  I didn’t send anyone over to your place.”  Um.  Yeah.

Beth scratches her plan to meet Wrath that night from her mental to-do list.

Back at Darius’s house, Wrath thinks back on the night before, not without another ham-fisted product placement on behalf of an American automaker.  After leaving Beth’s place he’d joined Vishous (in his Escalade!) in an attempted rescue of the vampire Mr. X had beaten from the bushes that night.  The poor kid (“he’d been six months out from his transition”) hadn’t made it.  Oh, the humani…er…vampirity!  Wrath tries to clear his thoughts by listening to Jay-Z’s The Black Album (now available at Tower Records!).

The last several pages are a pretty dull recounting of Mr. X’s double date with a pair of students from his dojo, the now-famous Billy Riddle and another we’ll know only as “The Loser.” Mr. X. picks them up in his Hummer (of course) and takes them off to…Laser Tag!  Ah ‘80s, may you forever live!

Chapter Twelve: Beth uses the Internets

“Boy, the Internet was handy.”  Beth pulls a Nancy Drew on the address Wrath had given her the night before and finds little useful information.  The house is in Fritz’s name, but despite the house’s fame (it’s on the National Register of Historic Places!) no one knows much about it.  She calls the cops, hoping to get a hold of Butch, but he’s out.  Luckily he calls her back in a little while.

“Butch O’Neal’s voice was a gravel pit, she thought.  In a good way.”  Not in the suck-you-under-and-suffocate-you way, I guess.

Meanwhile Wrath can’t get Beth out of his mind.  He wonders if she’s his pyrocant, which Ward defines as a vampire’s “critical weakness.” I guess my pyrocant is Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.

Even if she’s a weakness, Wrath can’t let her go…after all, who’d look after her?  One by one he mentally eliminates his brothers from the list of potential protectors.  Rhage would only sleep with her, and Vishous is too messed up.  And Zsadist?…out of the question.  Nope, it’s gotta be Wrath.

Before the chapter ends we learn a little bit more about Vishous: he’s mildly clairvoyant, but the futures a bit hazy.  (Later we’ll learn that, as has been hinted at before, Rhage can channel a demon so terrible it makes Trogdor look like Teddy Ruxpin.  But we’ll save that for later…)

Chapter Thirteen: The green-eyed monster

Butch and Beth, having just enjoyed a lovely night together, are about to part company while Wrath looks on from afar.  He sees Butch’s car (“a nondescript American sedan”…but what make is it?  What model?!!), and he could smell Butch’s lust (“through the sedan’s glass and steel”).  His temper flares more hotly still when Butch mans up and plants one on Beth’s lips.

He’s not a bad kisser, it turns out, but Beth feels nothing real.  “I’m not doing it for you, am I?” Butch asks.  And then, “What’s up with you an men?  Do you, ah, do you like them?  Us, I mean?”  Smooth, Butch.  Smooth.  Further evidence that every man in this book talks like a steroid-addled high school jock.

Alas, Butch, her heart’s been claimed already.  Very easily, I might add.

I can’t help but interject, having at this point read far more of this book than the first thirteen chapters, that I found the lack of romantic tension in this book pretty unappealing.  Now, the current chapter ends on page 109, not even a third of the way in, so you might think there are plenty of twists and turns awaiting our would be paramours as they struggle to reconcile their unholy love for one another.  Ah, but you’d be wrong!  As we’ll see later, every potential obstacle to their love’s requital falls down faster than a Star Trek extra in a bright red shirt.

Chapter Fourteen: Another short chapter, in which our two lead lunkheads fight over the female

The last chapter closed as Butch spied Wrath making his way toward Beth across her apartment complex’s lawn.  Quicker than you can say “Bela Lugosi” Butch is out and after Wrath.  “Police!  Halt!”

Yeah, that’ll work.

Butch takes Wrath into awkward custody and pats him down, revealing a wad of cash and a sample of every weapon known to man, and probably a few that aren’t.  After roughing Wrath up a little bit, Butch hauls him off at gunpoint, bound for the station.  Before he’s shoved into Butch’s car, Wrath tells Beth why he’d come to her: “your father sent me.”

Chapter Fifteen: Twenty-seven signs you may be a vampire

Down at the stationhouse, Wrath turns the tables on Butch.  He frees himself of his handcuffs and gets Butch in a chokehold.  Even as he strangles the life out of Butch’s body, Wrath can’t help but be impressed: “the human’s total lack of fear was remarkable.  The cop had been pissed to get jumped, and he’d fought back admirably, but he’d never been scared.” Do I sense a buddy cop film coming on?

Beth shows up just in time to plead for Butch’s life, which Wrath grants.  As Butch struggles to regain his strength, Beth and Wrath have it out with one another.

“You’re a killer and a liar,” she shouts at him.

“At least you got the first part right,” he replies.  And then he shows her he knows what she’s going through by listing all of the symptoms of an imminent transition:  “You’ve been really hungry lately, haven’t you?  Hungry, but not gaining any weight.  And tired.  So very tired.  Your eyes have been stinging, too, especially in the daytime, right?  You’re looking at raw meat and wondering what it tastes like.  Your teeth, the upper ones in front, have been sore.  Your joints ache, and your skin feels tight.  And it’s getting tighter.”

And so on.

What’s next?  “Your lumbago’s acting up.  You’ve been craving gummi gears, but only on Thursdays.  You have a strange obsession with Bob Barker, and want to lick the TV screen every time he implores you to spay and neuter your pets…”

Everything Wrath describes is spot on, and Beth buys his bit well enough to go with him back to Wayne Manor.

What will she there find?

Join me for the next installment, as I make my way into Chapters Sixteen through Twenty!

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Leslee says:

    I am laughing so hard! This stuff is priceless! Thanks Doc Turtle!!!!!
    I still love the BDB for it’s over the top commitment to the intense and overdone!

  2. 2
    Terry Odell says:

    I have to agree – the book, even if it were good, would be a total letdown after reading these reviews. I avoided the coffee-sprayed monitor and soaked keyboard, but I’m going to be late for everything this morning.

    In truth, the “flat characters” is enough of a reason not to want to read the book. How can there be a story without great characters? Not to mention the fear of addiction. I have enough stuff I read despite the desire to throw the books against the wall. I keep hoping maybe the next one will be good, I guess.

    I would LOVE to see what the good Doc would do with Naked in Death, or a Suzanne Brockmann. 

    Thanks, Doc, for a great start to another hot, miserable, Florida day.

  3. 3
    Rae says:

    Ah Doc….wonderful analysis.

  4. 4
    Star Opal says:

    It is just way too early to laugh this hard. I am so using “Oh the vampirity!”

    You actually used “Back at the ranch.” Honest, every time it goes back to the mansion, that’s what pops up in my head. But it should be stately Wayne Manor.

    “Your lumbago’s acting up.  You’ve been craving gummi gears, but only on Thursdays.  You have a strange obsession with Bob Barker, and want to lick the TV screen every time he implores you to spay and neuter your pets…”

    This whole installment is great, as usual, but that is just perfection. Word up, Tuhrtle.

  5. 5
    HeatherK says:

    My personal fave was the Star Trek red shirt mention. hehehe There’s always a red shirt…somewhere, just waiting to get got.

  6. 6
    Shelly says:

    These characters are flatter than a stretch of Interstate in Indiana.

    And I’d enjoy driving over the characters more.

    Mr. X is somewhat reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote, isn’t he?

  7. 7
    MicheleKS says:

    Doc, your reviews are hilarious and right on the money.

    I gave up on the BDB series after the second book because it just didn’t really do anything for me. Kind of a ‘meh’ reaction.

  8. 8
    Terry Odell says:

    My personal fave was the Star Trek red shirt mention. hehehe There’s always a red shirt…somewhere, just waiting to get got.

    Yeah—I have a couple of short stories that will be coming out in an anthology,  because I just HAD to write something using the line, “He’s dead, Jim.”

  9. 9

    Count me in as another vote to intro Doc to JD Robb.  Pretty please…

  10. 10
    Ava says:

    Or at least how forty-something (sorry, J.R., I’m just taking a wild guess…you might want to update your own Wikipedia page) romance writers imagine twenty-something bangers probably talk?

    Apparently JR was/is a lawyer before she was/is a writer. Her dialogue style came from all of her defending of the big nasties in Boston (New York? Wherever it is she’s from). I got through maybe three pages of dialogue before I flipped to the back “about the author” and then did a compulsory internet search to figure out what her deal was. She’s quite proud of how “with it” she is and how “true” her dialogue is to how the “real bad-ass of today” talks.

    I wish I was kidding.

    Although now I’m envisioning a six foot eleven, three hundred pound, blind, paint roller smuggling behemoth verbally abusing a guy in Old High German (or Middle English—Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote) and it’s cracking me up.

  11. 11
    rebyj says:

    Oh YAY! I didn’t think we’d get another installment for a week. What a great way to spend breakfast, reading Doc Turtle and wiping chocolate milk off my monitor! (Don’t read Doc Turtle while drinking any beverage!)

    My favorite too was the star trek extra reference. Too funny!

    Doc to bait your interest for the later books: My favorite line of the entire series is in Lover Avenged, this line is by a woman, gently reared upper class vampire civilian nurse: “The night was out of the cool zip code and into chill city”  Nothing has topped that yet LOL. Doesn’t it make you want to read more??

  12. 12
    Obskuretris says:

    For shizzle Jay Zizzle’s The Black Album is worth a trite reference to “urban” culture, but I thought vampies preferred screaming death metal. Perhaps Ward thinks that gangsta rap speaks to the realness of their mean and hard existence. It’s hard being a

    pimp

    vampyr.

  13. 13
    Lostshadows says:

    After roughing Wrath up a little bit, Butch hauls him off at gunpoint, bound for the station.

    Down at the stationhouse, Wrath turns the tables on Butch.

    I admit that I’ve never read the book, so maybe these points make more sense in context, but 1) since he’s a vampire, wouldn’t Hwhrath be immune to bullets, and 2)if he isn’t, wouldn’t waiting to get to a place where there would be more cops be a really dumb idea?

  14. 14

    One always can grip my attention with a Star Trek or any fantasy hint!

  15. 15
    Lori S. says:

    What’s next?  “Your lumbago’s acting up.  You’ve been craving gummi gears, but only on Thursdays.  You have a strange obsession with Bob Barker, and want to lick the TV screen every time he implores you to spay and neuter your pets…”

    Oh lord, I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself, which would have been REALLY hard to explain at work! 

    Although I have to admit, I still love this series, flaws and all…

  16. 16

    I can see a problem for Doc here, in that his reviews of bad books are inevitably funnier than his reviews of good ones.  Clearly, the Bitches will have to strike a careful balance between giving him bad books to produce the funniest reviews, and good books to keep him coming back to take the bad books.

  17. 17

    * However, I’m somewhat fed up with vampires lately, due to Twilight rubbish. Vampires are not the same like they were in good old times of Stephen King and others.

  18. 18
    Lisa J says:

    I lurve Doc Turtle.

  19. 19
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    “His abdomen was ribbed as if he were smuggling paint rollers under his skin.”

      ROFLMAO!

    Seriously?  OK, I think I have to read this book, if only for the laughs.  I can see describing a ripped-but-not-too-threatening comic villain this way, but this is supposed to be sexy?

  20. 20
    Tina C. says:

    What’s next?  “Your lumbago’s acting up.  You’ve been craving gummi gears, but only on Thursdays.  You have a strange obsession with Bob Barker, and want to lick the TV screen every time he implores you to spay and neuter your pets…”

    Others have beat me to it, but I have to mention how full of win this line is.  The rest of the review was very entertaining, but this made me laugh out loud.  (My officemate gave me a funny look about it, too.)

  21. 21
    Babs says:

    “Shouldn’t they be doing the dozens in Old High German or something like that?  How frickin’ cool would that be?!?”

    He he he he he! I’m cryin’ but in a good way. Thank you Doc Turtle.

  22. 22
    Kalen Hughes says:

    Okay, if all of these guys are supposed to be centuries old, why in the hell do they talk like twenty-something bangers?  Or at least how forty-something (sorry, J.R., I’m just taking a wild guess…you might want to update your own Wikipedia page) romance writers imagine twenty-something bangers probably talk?  Shouldn’t they be doing the dozens in Old High German or something like that?  How frickin’ cool would that be?!?

    “Rhage, du nalles unwan ein waldesil bist!”

    Sadly, it is not to be.

    Once again I must pledge my undying love to the Doc.

  23. 23
    PK says:

    Doc T is ROLLING this a.m!  The hilarity is ensuing like a MOFO.  I’ve been laughing throughout the review.  Like others, the Star Trek reference made me snort my tea and then the howling really began when we started licking the Bob Barker-infested television screens.  ‘Playing the dozens in Old High German’ brought the children running to see what all the screaming was about.

    I didn’t mind this book, but the snark has me hooked and I might just go read it again.  Bring on the next chapters.

  24. 24
    Tae says:

    I completely agree about the centuries old vampires talking like 20 something gangstas.  I definitely would prefer them them talking in German.  I would also prefer if they listened to some Rammstein or other industrial music.

  25. 25
    Madd says:

    I think part of what I find so jarring about the slang usage is that hearing these vampires, who’ve been around for centuries and have a totally separate culture, speaking like ghetto boys puts an image in my head of suburban kids trying to be hard. It’s not pretty. Some of her slang is pretty dated.

    Though, the thought of them running about speaking like the Amish, is just too out there for me.

    I admit that I’ve never read the book, so maybe these points make more sense in context, but 1) since he’s a vampire, wouldn’t Hwhrath be immune to bullets, and 2)if he isn’t, wouldn’t waiting to get to a place where there would be more cops be a really dumb idea?

    Initially Wrath let Butch take him so as not to freak Beth out. He wasn’t worried about his ability to get away from the cop later. As to why he waited until they were at the station, well, maybe he just didn’t want to risk the car crash that might ensue should he break while the car was in motion? If there is one thing movies have taught me it’s never cap the driver.

    And in closing I would just like to say … TROGDOR!!!!!!

    That is all.

  26. 26
    nlowery says:

    I’m not a doctor, but I think Beth is diabetic.

  27. 27

    OK, between the hooker shakin’ her booty like a paint can and the hero with the paint roller abs, isn’t anybody else thinking someone might have a thing for paint?  Just sayin’.

    Doc, thanks again for a tea-snorting good time. The makers of Colorx antibacterial wipes thank you…my computer keyboard does not.

    Note to self: beverages not allowed when opening SBTB. No exceptions.

  28. 28

    I love JR Ward’s vampire world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood (outside the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris BDB is my favorite vampire paranormal series of all time).
    The reason Wrath doesn’t have body hair is that NO vampires in the BDB series have body hair – males or females.  The only hair on their bodies is the hair on top of their heads.
    Wrath isn’t my favorite of the series, that would Rhage and Zsadist – they have (in my opinion) the best stories of the series and are definite rereads for me and other fans of the series.
    The language took me a long time to adjust to because prior to picking up this series I had never read an urban fantasy novel.  Once I began reading more urban fantasy and this series I don’t even notice the language much.  It’s like reading romance…the first time you read romance things like ‘pebbled nipples’, ‘soaked panties’ and ‘throbbing hard-ons’ seem to jump off the page at you.  After you’ve read dozens of “trashy books” you hardly bat an eye at such terms.

  29. 29
    DS says:

    My laughter workout for the day.

    I don’t know whether I liked best the red shirt reference or the Old High German.  Maybe the gummi bears. 

    This clearly demonstrates why being hip and up to the minute in a book is probably not a good idea.  Published 2005 so she probably wrote it 2003-2004.  Even the small town bad guys don’t talk this way.

    Spam Blocker:  Old45—makes me sound like a fondly remember steam locomotive.

  30. 30
    Jan says:

    Oh Doc. You have to give less time to your day job and read more trashy books, sharing your howlingly good reviews with the rest of us poor mortals. I rarely laugh out loud at what I read – this review got five! Keep going. I will also vote for giving you a break from the awful and a chance to read Naked in Death by JD Robb. Or, if you’re in for a long, lyrical read, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. The JD Robb would give you a “quickie” before the dratted students occupy your life again. Keep up the great work – love the comments!

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