Review: ★Blood Kiss★ by JR Ward

Review-blood kissBlood Kiss
Series: Black Dagger Legacy
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Author: JR Ward
Release Date: December 1, 2015add-to-goodreads-button-2

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The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

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Review4 starsBlood Kiss-DGR

Do you like playing with fire, girl?” he growled. Because if you keep looking at me like that, I’m going to burn you to the ground.”

The BDB series is sentimental for me. It’s the series that got me into reading in the first place. It began what was to become what I refer to as my PNR binge of 2009. I was obsessed with that series…until I hit book 6. Then it slowly but surely began to lose some of its luster for me. By book 11 I had given up. It became too muddied with too many secondary POVs that the romance began to wane in the background. I missed the original brothers, the romance, the true BDB, true? So when I heard that JR Ward plans to come out with a new series that will be back to what the first few BDB books started off as with the original brothers; Wrath, Z, Butch, V, Rhage? Well, let’s just say I knew I’d part with an ovary to get my grubby little hands on it.

I’ll start my review by answering two questions first:

Is Blood Kiss like the BDB used to be?
Almost. It was probably the best Ward book I’ve read since BDB book 8, and that’s saying a lot.

Is this a true spin off?
Yes and no. Black Dagger Legacy focuses on a whole new slew of characters in the form of BDB trainees. But all the original brothers are also front and center. While the author does a good sum-up of important details, readers that haven’t read the BDB series (or at least the first 5 books) would not enjoy it as much. It’s set heavily in the BDB world, and you don’t get much detail about the world building. The original BDB is what sets that up, so I highly recommend reading that first. So let’s call it a quasi spin-off.
Blood Kiss follows two couple story lines; Butch and Marissa and Paradise and Craeg. I’d estimate it to be about 60/40 with no additional POVs to be found. Just the four. I’ll give you a moment to contain your shock…
The two story lines run flawlessly together and drive the story line for the other. I, of course would never complain about getting more Butch considering he’s one of my favorite brothers.

Paradise is a fully blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor who also happens to be one of the Founding Families of the glymera. She’s expected to follow the protocol of the females of the glymera, but she wants nothing to do with it. Instead, she joins the BDB training program, to learn how to protect herself and her race. While growing up sheltered in the aristocratic society, I was happy to see that Paradise wasn’t the stuffy, formally speaking heroine I anticipated her to be. She knows her own mind and while she may be sheltered on some things, she can kick some ass in her own right. And she definitely proves that when she’s tested to her limits in the rigorous and and intense training program. Her one distraction comes in the form of the one male that should be hands off for her; a civilian.

Craeg is a nobody that came from nothing. After a brutal tragedy leaves him with nothing but thoughts of ahvenging it, he joins the BDB training program. Having handed his application to Paradise when first applying, he thinks that she’s just a simple secretary. But he still knows that he’s not good enough for the likes of her. He has nothing to offer and so no matter how enticing the female may be, he does his damnedest to push her away…even as he lusts for her at the same time.

If I kiss you,” he growled, “there’s no going back. I might not fuck you right here, right now, but I’ll have you on your back the instant I get the goddamn chance.”

In the midst of this story line you get Butch and Marissa who are dealing with issues of their own. Butch continues to put Marissa on a pedestal that she doesn’t want to be on. After the glymera turned her back on her, her sole focus has been the Safe Place and her hellren. But there’s a piece of Butch that he’s still keeping hidden from her and she’s determined to find out what that is.

I absolutely loved getting more Marissa and Butch. Their story line felt like a natural progression of their relationship without feeling like drama was being contrived. Butch’s issues and Marissa’s unresolved feelings with her estranged brother were bound to hit, and they hit here. I think I liked Marissa even more in this book than I did in her own. She truly grew into her own and became a strong heroine. As for Butch? What can I say about my favorite Southie? The man never fails to get my ovaries to flutter.

I have to admit I was a lot more invested in the developing storyline between Marissa and Butch than I was with Paradise and Craeg. Paradise and Craig’s relationship was a tad too stretched out for my particular tastes and I was just itching for them both to get on with things. That being said, I did like them as individual characters. They just didn’t quite have the intensity as a couple as some of the original BDB ones did for me. That’s not to say it was bad, but I’d say that Marissa and Butch were the glue that held the story together.

The suspense story line came in the shape of a bad guy that wasn’t a lesser for once. Admittedly I was a bit underwhelmed by this as well, as I had figured out who it was pretty early in the story. It was a bit too predictable and I wished for a little bit more on that end. I also didn’t quite form a connection to any of the secondary characters that were introduced as new trainees here. They all had their uniqueness but none drew me like the original brothers did. But then again, it is hard to live up to the greatness that was the first 5 books so I may be judging unfairly.

I was happy to have a book with just four solid POVs that finally felt like the PNR it started out as originally. While it didn’t quite blow me away, it was a great beginning to a series that I’m hoping will stay with the same formula and get even better with the next installment.

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