Book Review

Doc Turtle: Dark Lover by JR Ward Chapters 6-9

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

Book CoverOn, on, deeper into J.R. Ward’s Dark Lover!

In reading the comments to my first post on this bit of dreck I feel as though I’ve found several dozen kindred spirits.  Now on Chapter 33, I’m having to backtrack a bit to keep up with the chapter summaries (but what fun they are! well worth the trouble), and I too am sick and tired of gratuitous references to gangsta rap artists (J.R., puhleeze: just because you know who Jay-Z is doesn’t mean you’re still wit’ it.  Embrace your badass old school self!) and prominent product placements.  Can somebody please tell Ms. Ward that though specificity makes for a strong setting, that’s no excuse for plastering every page of one’s book with billboards for Pepperidge Farm and Chrysler’s Town and Country.

Meanwhile, as romances go, I’m finding this one decidedly…unromantic.  As someone pointed out in the comments to my post, there’s really no meaningful treatment of the feelings these two have for one another: one minute they’re off, another minute they’re on.  Wrath comes around too quickly for it to be believable.  “Human?  Pshaw!  Weaklings, hardly worthy of a warrior’s love!…but wait!  But soft, what light through yonder window breaks!”  I ain’t buyin’ it.

Ah, well.

Not to be put off so easily, I’ll put it in reverse, back up to Chapter 6, and continue my drive through the first of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series of paranormal romances…

Chapter Six: Several close encounters

As this chapter begins our dark hero sets about stalking our heroine.  His first attempt goes a bit awry, and he ends up scaring the bejesus out of her, forcing him to wipe her mind clean using an old Jedi m…I mean…vampire hoodoo.  “Of course she’d have a bad dream after what had happened last night.” Silly billy.

Then it’s back to Wayne Manor for Wrath.  “As Wrath walked down into the earth under Darius’s mansion, exhaustion followed.”  If you’re like me, you’re hoping that Exhaustion (“Exhaushun”?) is another vampire.  But no, it’s nothing more than a bit of world-weariness.  Nothing like having to perform a vampire death ritual to take it out of a guy.  This particular ceremony requires that Wrath kneel onto a mess of diamonds that he’s scattered onto a marble slab.

Makes sense to me.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Butch “Butch” O’Neal is wrapping up his processing of Billy Riddle.  On his way out Butch takes time to flirt with hooker Cherry “Cherry” Pie before heading off to meet his bit of stuff, a bartender named Abby who smells like dried beer and maraschino cherries.

Okay, this chapter didn’t really go anywhere, did it?

Chapter Seven: Official BDB drinking game rules

Lesser Mr. X, the brainchild behind Darius’s killing, and proprietor of the Caldwell Martial Arts Academy, has been promoted to Fore-lesser for his successful assassination.  “Fore-lesser” trips off the tongue as easily as “above-lower” or “over-underer,” terms I’m sure J.R. Ward toyed with before settling on the current one.

Oh, and take a drink, everyone!  The BDB drinking game resumes on this page as J.R. whips out this standalone paragraph: “Leader of the Lessening Society.”


Read one of the BDB novels out loud with a roomful of friends, switching off every page.  Everyone takes a drink if…

1.  someone catches a sentence without a subject, or includes a subject without an article.  (Example: “Shoulders were twice the size of most males’.”  J.R., would it kill you to say “his”?)

2.  Make it a double if that sentence is a paragraph unto itself (see the above example).

3.  If more than one consecutive sentence as in (1) appears, the current reader may select any person in the room to finish the reader’s drink for her/him.  That person must automatically take over as the new reader (after refilling her/his own drink).

4.  If a person is the only one to catch a sentence as in (1), s/he immediately takes over as reader, and may command any person in the room to finish her/his (the catcher’s) drink, before getting her/him a new one.

Have fun, peoples!

Chapter Eight: Wherein…holy crap, I got so into the drinking game that I forgot to finish my recap of…

Chapter Seven, Redux: A lesson in vampire hunting

We now learn that vampires are most prevalent in New England, so that’s where the lessers tend to clump, too, and this is where Mr. X now finds himself.  He’s got a plan to eliminate the Black Dagger Brotherhood once and for all: he’ll lure them into the open using the females as bait, once he found them by getting at the civilian (yes, that’s what they’re called, all right?) vampires first.  As we’ll see in a later chapter, his brilliant plan involves slitting hookers’ throats and leaving them in darkened alleyways while he lurks in the shadows cooing “here vampie vampie vampieeeeee…”

We get another shock in this chapter when we find out that Billy Riddle, self-styled ruffian and would-be rapist, is a member of Mr. X’s dojo.  I wonder…maybe Mr. X will attempt to recruit him into the Lessening Society?  Hmmm…

Oh, here’s something I found laugh-out-loud funny: “Adhering to the standards [Beth’s boss at the paper]’d gotten familiar with at the New York Times by being a stickler for accuracy was actually one of his strengths.” Would this be the same New York Times for which worked Judith Miller and Michael Gordon?

But I digress…

Chapter Eight: For reals this time, or, Hey look!  Sex!

As Wrath wraps up the death ritual he’d undertaken on behalf of his fallen warrior friend, Marissa rematerializes in his bedroom.  The most crucial element of the ensuing scene is the revelation that Wrath is picky about his underwear: “Oh, not fucking likely.  He was not going to fight in BVDs.”  Real vampire warriors wear boxers.  He barks at Fritz to get him a pair, posthaste, before heading off once more to stalk Beth at her apartment.

In the intervening pages we learn a bit more about our hero.  In the 17th century, before his own transition, Wrath was a pigeon-chested pipsqueak, an orphaned English stable boy so frail that the transition nearly killed him.  As it was, the change kicked his ass.  After drinking his first blood from Marissa’s veins, he grew thighs as thick as tree trunks, beat back a passel of stable hands who stumbled upon him as he awoke from his blood-soaked stupor, and finally found refuge in the darkness of a grain cellar.  Many hours later he emerged a changed man.

What would the transition do to Beth?  And would she have to change her name to Bheth afterward?

Beth comes home.  After feeding her cat (Fancy Feast!) and washing off her face, Beth steps back into her living room to find herself face-to-face with nearly three hundred pounds of vampire.  Wrath steps blithely into the room.  “God, he was gorgeous.”

In awe of his beauty and physical presence (not to mention the drug-filled haze coming out of Wrath’s cigarillo), Beth is drawn near.  “God, everything about him radiated sex, from the strength of his body to the way he moved to the smell of his skin…‘Kiss me,’ she said…Another moan boiled out of her mouth.”

Wrath’s liking it, too: “This half-human was the hottest thing he’d ever gotten anywhere near.  And he’d cozied up to a lightning strike once or twice before.” Okay.  Soon he pulls a neat little trick which I, for one, would like to learn: “He bared his fangs, let out a hiss, and bit through the bra’s front closure.”

From there it’s all downhill.  Sex Scene Number One is consummated on Page 67.  Though the scene itself is smokin’ hot, there’s little to believe in here: neither character even knows the other yet, and we’re meant to believe that Wrath’s bound and determined to have nothing to do with Beth.  While there’s something to be said for a little quickie on, say, Page 67, this scene manages to be a farce of itself.

Chapter Nine: Vampire, love thyself!

What a difference a page makes…we’re thrown back into the seedy side of town, where we find Mr. X cruising Caldwell’s red light district in his Chrysler Town and Country.  It’s not long before he finds what he’s looking for: “ ‘Wanna ride?’ another [prostitute] said, shaking her ass like it was a can of paint.” [Insert image of woman’s rear end in an electric paint mixer.  Ouch.]  A page later, Mr. X happens upon Cherry Pie, whom we met briefly before.  “When she bent over to pick the money up, he drove the needle into the back of her neck and pushed the plunger home.  Moments later she slumped like a rag doll.” Ah, Cherry, we hardly knew ye.

We now meet Marissa’s reclusive brother, Havers (pronunciation, please?), a brilliant vampire scientist who runs Vampire General Hospital and who’s working on a process by which regular transfusions will free vampires from having to feed on one another’s blood.  Uncomfortable with being a vampire, Havers is the world’s first vegetarian vampire…after Bunnicula, of course.  (Incidentally, my wife Maughta adds at this point that “as a kid Bunnicula freaked.  Me.  Out.”)  Havers’s research montage gives us what I think is the book’s first triple-whammy: “He ran more tests and tried different approaches.  [Wait for it…!]  Retried.  [Boom!]  Walked away from the project.  [BOOM!]  Came back to it.  [Bottoms up, y’all!]”

By the way, as I said above I’m about thirty-odd chapters into the book now, and Havers still has my vote for the novel’s most pointless character.  (Not for lack of competition: several of the BDB members are pretty cursorily sketched.)

I’ll leave it there for now, as we’ve come a long way, having met several new characters and surviving our first vampire-on-human sex scene.  Our next set of chapters will come to us courtesy of Grey Goose vodka and the Escalade: Cadillac luxury in a full-size SUV™.  My verdict on the book at this point: slow, but soon to pick up a bit, if only for the silly action and often laughably stilted dialogue.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    I enjoyed the books but I think I’m enjoying the snark even more. *g*

  2. 2
    Terry Odell says:

    Wait, Wait!  Gotta go get coffee so I can savor this review.  Have to say, based on the good Doc’s review of Chase’s book, I rushed out to buy it so I could follow along. Here, I’m simply enjoying the snark. A lot. But not even motivated to request it from the library yet.

  3. 3

    I just discovered you’re blog and after reading the first post I feel like I’m with kindred spirits!  I’m not a huge fan of that series, I couldn’t make it through the first one.  I know she has lots of fans – and more power to her, I wish her well.  It’s just not for me.

    I’m curious to see what you thought of L.A. Banks – that was another bestseller I couldn’t get through.  I’m going to go search now and see what your thoughts are on her.

    Cheers – and here’s to you for starting my day off with a smile –


  4. 4
    Lostshadows says:

    Gotta go get coffee so I can savor this review.

    Not really the best idea to drink while reading this review.

  5. 5

    Oh, Doc Turhtle, I lohve you!


  6. 6
    RStewie says:

    Wow, I feel like such a fangirl.  When I saw Doc Turtle’s review of the next chapters was up, I squeed.

    Like a fangirl. At work.

    Please don’t keep us waiting for the next set of chapters!

  7. 7
    phadem says:

    I waited with baited Grey Goose breath (for which I blame your drinking game and Ward’s sentence structure) for the next installment and was not displeased (dishpleased?). Please to bring it again. Soon. Thanks.

  8. 8
    Terry Odell says:

    Gotta go get coffee so I can savor this review.

    Not really the best idea to drink while reading this review.

    So I realized. But I was very, very careful. Keyboard is intact.

    I waited with baited Grey Goose breath

      I prefer waiting with bated breath, however. Don’t like all that fishy smell otherwise.

    And I’ve begun writing in fragments. Which I do in my books. But not this much. Only for emphasis. Honest.

    And speaking of snarky reviews, I’ve got one on my blog this morning.

  9. 9
    Sandia says:

    I am firmly in the camp of the readers who love and hate these books at the same time.  I got the latest one with the vampire with the barb on his ding-a-ling and it sat in my Kindle for weeks – I just couldn’t bring myself to read it.  But then decided 2 weekends ago to read it and I couldn’t put it down….. I finished it in a day. Wahhh?? 

    I think she puts teh chrackh(R) in the books or something, or maybe it’s like Coco Puffs.  There’s nothing that’s good for you in there – a hero with a barb???? But I can’t stop reading them/eating Coco Puffs.  I just can’t.  I know I will continue to buy them until they get as bad as the Anita Blake novels.

  10. 10

    I’m not sure which is funnier, the books or your review.

  11. 11
    Rhonni says:

    Morning cup of tea
    Doc Turtle clever snarking
    must clean my keyboard

  12. 12
    Sara says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I thought I was the only one who was rather blah bout the book.  Everyone raves about them and all I could was wonder how they could mistake the books as a good romance.

  13. 13
    Star Opal says:

    “shaking her ass like it was a can of paint.” That was a line that stopped me dead. Like, ‘Really?’ My mental imagine was closer to someone having some pretty extreme muscle spasming going on in the caboose. I literally lol-ed.

    So already having a copy that I put down after reading chapter two, I decided to pick it up again to read along. I’m up to twenty three, and -Sweet Lord!- how can it not even be halfway done?! I swear this book is such a grind for me, making Doc Turtle’s post timely. I was about two seconds from just dropping it again.

    Forghet the ehtra h’s. The non-sentence sentences are freaking killing me. And the product placement. Needs. To. Stop. Anyone here whose seen the movie Idiocracy will get it when I say, “Carl’s Jr.” It’s so distracting and it happens, at least, once every page.

    The characters aren’t engaging at all. I’m not attached to any of them, therefore the sex scenes leave me incredibly cold, as does the rest of the book. I’m so tired of jumping all over the place, (getting a bit ahead of Turtle’s post) what is the point of describing Mr. X’s little date night with Billy and Loser?

    I know some of you love them, and that’s okay with me I have my bookish crack habits too. But it’d better pick up soon or the snarkish posts will (hopefully, hopefully!) come faster because, for me, this book is painful.

  14. 14
    Carin says:

    I love these books.  I’m so addicted.  But I still think Doc Turtles reviews are hilarious!  Can’t wait for the next installment. 
    From Doc Turtle. 
    Or Ward.
    Incomplete sentences.  On purpose.  Totally.
    I’m outie.  *snort*

  15. 15

    Yay, a drinking game!
    Great recap, loved it. In some ways, better than the book and yes, you’re so right about the lack of emotions.
    Just a thought – at Ellora’s Cave we have to list the brands we use and acknowledge the trademarks at the beginning. I tend to have half a dozen or so – would JR Ward’s trademark page be several pages long?

  16. 16
    Tae says:

    The drinking game is brilliant!
    Of course, so is this review.  I’m enjoying it very much.

  17. 17
    shannon says:

    [in a Wiley Coyote voice]….Soooopah Geeenious!!!
    Doc,snark fabulous.
    Drinking game more so. Please read faster.Are waiting . Hurry.

  18. 18
    Alyssa Day says:

    *shrug*  I use incomplete sentences, too.  It’s a matter of beats; hearing the rhythm in your head and translating it to the page.  It works very well when an author writes in very deep POV, which I do, and I’m guessing from those snippets that Ward does.  It gives an immediacy to the way in which the character is experiencing the situation.

  19. 19
    theo says:

    I too experienced a fangurl moment to see part two of Doc’s review. :D I knew better after the first installment though not to be drinking anything at the time. It took two days for my laptop to dry out.

    I started the first book three times before I could get into it enough to make it past the first chapter. I wish I hadn’t tried that third time. That said, I devoured the next three, threw book number 5 across the room, barely skimmed book six and was both happy and sad that the love/hate relationship ended there. This has been like a stroll down memory lane. I think I need to read them again. But this time, I’ll make sure it’s with a group of my friends and we have lots of Grey Goose on hand. That will definitely be the best part of the stories :D

  20. 20
    Jeremy says:

    My wife linked me to this, as she likes to torment/amuse me with bad writing.  She pointed out the “shaking her ass” simile, laughing hard, saying that “metaphors should be plausible”.

    Well, i *think* the author was going for something more like:

    “shaking her ass like it was a can of Dutch Boy in the inept hands of Jimmy the Stockboy, who, being only 17, didn’t have the key to the paint shaker, and therefore had to sadly just jiggle it up and down, hoping it would do.”

  21. 21
    S.A. Hunter says:

    Wanna know something funny? I didn’t know what Grey Goose was when it was mentioned in the book. For some reason, I decided it was a sort of British tea, and yes, I thought it was an odd choice of drink in a bar, especially b/c one of the brothers says something along the lines that Grey Goose and violence goes well together, but I rationalized it with, “Well, I guess they’d like a little blood in their tea.” So yeah, I now know it’s vodka, but I sure didn’t when I was reading the book, and I’m kind of disapppointed that it isn’t tea. Imagining the brothers drinking tea with pinky’s raised while the windows rattled from the gangsta rap was fun.

  22. 22
    Babz says:

    This review of the BDB series is the best yet after Bam’s (dionne gallace). I swear it’s like Transformers 2, where the reviews are much more entertaining that the book/movie.

    I have to say I used to love these books like nothing else, but Whard just stopped delivering, if she ever did. And the lessers are just a waste of so many dead tress – I always skip them. Who was it that said in order to have a compelling story you must have a great villain?

    Doc, come back soon!

  23. 23
    militaryspouse says:

    …wait, I thought Lora Leigh was the Queen of Penis barbs…

    Now vampires have them???

    spamword:  addition52

    Penis barbs the 52nd addition to vampires

  24. 24
    Alissa says:

    Doc Turtle, I feel I should bow down before you in all your hilariousness. I read the series and while it was entertaining, to say the least, I am laughing my ass off at your assessment. Why? Because everything you say is TRUE, true? Sorry, I couldnt resist.
    I should point out that the other books pick up the pace a bit and do get better (in the way trashy romance does). The first was a little hard for me to get into (get your mind out of the gutter).
    But, you forgot to critic one of the best terms JR uses. Shitkickers. This would, of course, be used to describe the vamps footwear. Maybe I am jumping ahead of myself, though. I didnt intend to ruin anything for you…but I feel certain that you should’ve come across (ok, stop it!) that term already, seeing as how she uses it about -eh- 1million times!
    And, seriously, what’s with all the gangsta rap? What happened to all the metal and rock-n-roll that kick ass vampires generally listen to?
    Bheth? ahahaha
    Your drinking game? Awesome…

  25. 25
    AmandaG says:

    I love these reviews.  I’m sure you won’t continue with the series, but I would love to hear the snarky comments from reviewing Zsadist’s book.

    Oh and I Agree with Alyssa Day.

  26. 26
    Jennie says:

    I have the love/hate thang with these books too.  Barbed penis boy kept reminding me of male cats, so I kept wondering if he’d morph into a pet housecat, but there were elements of the story I liked.  Not as much as the snark, mind you, but it didn’t suck either.

  27. 27
    Star Opal says:

    For myself, it’s not incomplete sentences I have a problem with. They can be used to great dramatic or comedic effect, or, like you said, give you a feel for a character.

    But Ward doesn’t do that. She uses the device so often it takes any punch right out of them. They’re there when there is nothing that really needs emphasizing. They’re used for all characters, not just to give a feel to one. And there is no rhythm. In fact they’re rather jarring. She makes whole paragraph fulls out of them.

    I assure you, it is a mountain, no molehill.

    Oh, and I was so busy ranting before I forgot to applaud the drhinking ghame! ‘Tis excellent! I too have become a fangirl of the reptile with a doctorate.

  28. 28
    Meggrs says:

    Oh, God, the last book (Rhevenge’s story), where she refused to use question marks? Like, ever?

    Killed. Me. What the hell does she have against the interrogative? She did it so freaking often that I couldn’t hear Rhev speaking in anything but a flat monotone with absolutely NO inflection.

    Perhaps I’m quick to be critical of these books at this point (and I’ve read every single one of them, although I stopped actually buying them myself), but that was just more fuel on that particular fire.

    I actually apologize to friends before lending the first four out. Even when I know they’ll appreciate the crackiliciousness (it’s a word, I checked!) The fifth book truly, completely detoxed me, which I’m actually terrifically grateful for.

  29. 29
    Meggrs says:

    Sigh. I just used the word “actually” three times in two paragraphs. While criticizing someone else’s style. When is this workday over?

  30. 30
    mingqi says:

    awesome review!  and equally awesome commenters!  I’m actually debating now whether or not to read the book.  It’s like you guys are offering me pot and telling me that it’ll be fun!

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