I've been a fan of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series since a friend suggested I read the first book, Dark Lover. Ward has those two crucial things that keep readers coming back to her paranormal/vampire series: 1) Characters so real you feel you could actually bump into them on the street somewhere and 2) fantastic, three-dimensional world building.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood are a group of vampire warriors who are charged with protecting the vampire race from the Lessening Society, another group of creepy undead beings who look like they've had all the color drained from them and smell like, of all things, baby powder. Now the vampires in this series aren't the suck blood from humans kind. Well, they can suck blood from humans, but they'd rather not since it's not all that tasty or filling. Instead, they feed off each other, and really not all that often. They can eat regular food -- and believe me, these boys can put away the chow. They're wealthy, super-alpha, have funny and distinct senses of humor, and when they finally find the woman for them, wow, they bond like crazy. They would do anything for that woman.
The latest in the series, which is now up to six books, is Lover Enshrined, the Brother Phury's story. Prior to this, his Brothers Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, Butch, and Vishous have had their stories told. Woven throughout the books, also, are the stories of other vampires, including some younger guys who may very well become Brothers in their own right someday. Phury has long been one of my favorite characters. He's been the epitome of self-sacrifice, particularly in helping save his literal twin brother, Zsadist, from a horrible situation and the aftermath. But all his self-sacrifice has come at a cost. In order to escape the pain inside him, he smokes what is called red smoke, which is basically an illegal drug. He's becoming a junkie and he knows it, and yet he seems powerless to help it. He's so messed up emotionally that he doesn't even realize he's found the woman for him until it's almost too late.
As the series has progressed, Ward has moved a bit farther away from having a single book be a single couple's story. There's still a love story in each one, but so much else is going on too. I've read books by other authors who've tried this writing style and not fared as well as Ward. I've enjoyed the gradual telling of other characters' stories, all of which contribute to the world Ward has created. In fact, the only parts I don't actually look forward to are the scenes from the point of view of someone in the Lessening Society, though I can admit they add to the reader's knowledge of what the Brothers and all of vampire society are facing.
A testament to how much Ward's fan base has grown is the fact that the next in the series, Lover Avenged, is coming out in hardback in April.
So, any other Black Dagger Brotherhood fans out there? What has been your favorite book in the series and why? Are you looking forward to April's release of Rehv's book?