In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race.
Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood...
Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the
strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover—for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Possessed by this dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships, is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own,
Mary is not looking for love. Her faith in miracles was lost years ago. But when
Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows
that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights
desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves…
Black Dagger Brotherhood Book 2
I remember when I first discovered the Black Dagger Brotherhood through Amazon. I was so insanely excited for the first three releases and it seemed to take ages before they arrived in the mail. But unlike most readers, it wasn't Zsadist's book that I was in desperate need of, it was Rhage's. I must have read the excerpt on Ward's sight for 'Lover Eternal' a million times. The scene she had posted is the one where Mary and Rhage first meet and he begs her to speak to him, well he really kind of demands it actually. That scene still remains to be one of my favorites in the novel as well as their first date at TGI Fridays. I must have daydreamed about that scene so many times and I nearly know it by heart. I've shamelessly added a ton of quotes to this review because I absolutely love Rhage's words. He's so honest and even brutal at times, but so immeasurably romantic.
Rhage, nicknamed Hollywood because of his stunning good looks, hides a ravenous beast beneath his skin. As penance for his blatant disrespect in his youth, The Scribe Virgin cursed Rhage with a beast that he'll shape-shift into during moments of extreme stress and anger. Sex is the only viable option Rhage has to tame the Beast for however briefly. His gorgeous face and body keeps a steady stream of willing bed partners flowing but unknowingly to his Brothers, Rhage doesn't exactly enjoy all the anonymous and meaningless sex and most times, he just feels dirty. Scared to death that he may one day be the cause of one or all of his Brother's deaths, Rhage tries his best to stay in control and counts down the days till his curse is lifted. The last thing he needs right now is for his Brother V and his gift of foresight proclaiming that a virgin will one day be Rhage's mate. Rhage hopes that day is far in the making.
"I'll tell you this. Your destiny's coming for you. And she's coming soon."
Rhage laughed. "Oh, yeah? What's the female like? I prefer them -"
"She's a virgin."
A chill ran down Rhage's spine and nailed him in the ass.
"You're kidding, right?"
"Look in my eye. Do you think I'm jerking you off?"
Lover Eternal © J.R. Ward
Mary Luce is devastated to learn that a round of blood tests has caused some concern from her doctor and she's been called in to under go more testing. Mary knows that the cancer she fought into recession is back. She can feel it sapping her strength with each passing day and another round of tests will only confirm her suspicion.
Working as an assistant in a law office pays the bills, but what Mary truly finds solace in is volunteering at the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Helping people through their problems relieves the anxiety of dealing with her own. There is one particular caller that has been of interest to her. The person never speaks but Mary can hear their breathing. After leaving the hotline offices and fighting desperately to hold her fear and despair over her hopeless situation at bay, Mary rushes out under the night sky in the backyard of her home. Looking up she sees an emaciated youth standing beside her pool, staring at her with giant sad blue eyes. Instantly the youth reveals that not only can he not talk, but he's also the caller that has been breathing into the phone at the hotline center. His name is John Matthew and his story is more than tragic. But it's Mary's beautiful neighbor, Bella, that notices something very familiar about JM.
Recouping from the another episode with the Beast, Rhage's body and eye sight are more for the worse when he runs unknowingly into Mary. While walking through the underground tunnels of the mansion, he encounters a female human. A female human that shouldn't be there but one that has the most unusual and profound effect on him.
"Say it," he commanded, needing to feel more of what she did to him.
"Fine. Nothing. Nothing." Abruptly she laughed, and the sound shot right through to his spine, burning him. "Nothing, nothing. No-thing. No-thing. Noooooothing. There, is that good enough for you? Will you let me go now?"
She fought against him again, creating a delicious friction between their bodies. And he knew the moment when her anxiety and irritation turned to something hot. He smelled her arousal, a lovely sweetening in the air, and his body answered her call.
He got hard as a diamond.
Lover Eternal © J.R. Ward
Bella, recognizing that John Matthew is a pretrans male vampire, calls the Brotherhood who escorts her, JM, and Mary to the mansion to confirm her suspicions. It's while Mary is in the corridor that the most gorgeous man finds her, traps her body with his and begs her to speak to him. She's overwhelmed instantly by not only her attraction to the man, but also his unbelievable attraction to her. But these memories are not to last. Scrubbed clean of any recollection of her night at the mansion, Mary goes back to her life, blissfully unaware that a male vampire is in lust with her and planning another rendezvous.
Rhage yearns for the human female sexually and demands that Bella set him up with Mary on a date. Mary isn't all that interested in a blind date at this point in her life but Bella hounds her incessantly into complying with her request. But Hal E. Wood certainly isn't what she expected and Mary can't help but feel angry and humiliated that Bella would set her up with him. Gorgeous beyond belief, Mary feels inferior next to Hal's undisputed perfection. There is nothing remotely exceptional about her looks that would inspire a man like Hal to actually have an entire meal with her. She's more than surprised that he didn't take one look at her and leave the restaurant without her ever being the wiser. Mary would be even more surprised to learn Rhage's, AKA Hal E. Wood's, thoughts.
Dear God. Her eyes didn't match the gentle lilt of her voice at all. They belonged to a warrior.
Gunmetal gray, surrounded by lashes the color of her hair, they were grave, serious, reminding him of males who had fought and survived battle. They were staggeringly beautiful in their strength.
His voice vibrated. "I am so going to...have dinner with you."
Lover Eternal © J.R. Ward
Although Mary still doesn't think being in a relationship at this time in her life is anywhere near a good idea, she accepts Hal's invite to join him for dinner again. Amazingly enough, he's providing her a momentary respite from her fears, even if only for a few hours. Meanwhile, Rhage is bonding with Mary despite his determination to stay distant. He's supposed have sex with the female then wipe her memory of him but he just can't bring himself to do it. He's continually convincing himself to wait just a bit longer. Meeting a woman who remembers him feels so warm and good. And while his intention is to get into Mary's pants as soon as possible, he's finding that he doesn't want it to be like all the other times. A quickie in the bathroom or within his trench coat in a hallway. No, he wants no witnesses, and he wants to make love to Mary over and over again until she's immersed so heavily in his bonding sent that no male would dare to come near her. And these thoughts and impulses terrify him.
Unfortunately, after a surprise attack by lessers, Rhage's charade as Hal E. Wood is busted. Mary's purse is stolen by the attackers and Rhage now fears for her life. But Mary isn't scared of Rhage's unveiling of his vampiric nature. It's while Rhage is trapped inside Mary's house after sunrise that the relationship really begins to heat up. Mary still isn't fully convinced though that Rhage wants her and it takes amazingly hot moves on his part until the proof is wholly undeniable. But there is still another complication. Rhage's beast becomes riled when Rhage starts to become unbearably aroused for Mary. He fears that the Beast will break free of his control and that scares him to death.
"I'm not a man, Mary, even though parts of me look like on. What you just had is nothing compared to what I want to do to you. I want my head between your legs so I can lick you until you scream my name. Then I want to mount you like an animal and look into your eyes as I come inside you. And after that? I want to take you every way there is. I want to do you from behind. I want to screw you standing up, against the wall. I want you to sit on my hips and ride me until I can't breathe." His stare was level, brutal in its honesty. "Except none of that's going to happen. If I felt you less, it would be different, easier. But you do something weird to my body, so totally controlled is the only way I can be with you. Otherwise I'm liable to lose it, and the last thing I want to do is scare you the hell out of you. Or worse, hurt you."
Lover Eternal © J.R. Ward
When Mary finally bears herself before Rhage, her shame over her body and the physical reminder of what she suffered from the numerous cancer treatments that left gruesome marks all over her body, is immense. But all Rhage can see is beauty. Beauty so wondrously perfect that he wishes Mary to never be clothed in his presence. He bends forward and pays homage to the evidence of her strength in the battle for her life by plying her body into supple repose as he laves her skin with his lips and tongue. A scene that moved me to tears.
Fearing that Mary's house is no longer safe now that the lessers have her information, Rhage decides to face the wrath of his Brothers and defy orders by bringing Mary to live at the mansion until the threat is neutralized. It is here that Rhage's and Mary's relationship begins to unravel. Rhage's Beast seems to be greatly antagonized by Mary's presence. Wanting to be with Mary but frightened that his Beast will burst free, Rhage leaves for a night on the town with one intention: to have sex with as many woman that it takes to calm the Beast. These scenes are some of the most difficult to read. Rhage's shame is almost tangible as it saturates their burgeoning relationship.
Infidelity and the Beast aren't the only things that Rhage and Mary have to contend with. Mary's health is declining rapidly. Rhage goes berserk at the numerous bruises that arise continually and the fevers are becoming more consistent. Mary is dying. And she doesn't want Rhage to watch as her health goes from bad to terrible. She becomes resolute in her determination to keep Rhage out of her heart and at a distance. But Rhage isn't ready to let Mary go. He's just as determined to fight to be at her side even if it is for a very short time.
Mary does come to her senses as far as being with Rhage despite the fact that the next steps in her life with the cancer isn't going to pretty or fun.
Dimly, he heard a pounding noise coming from inside of Bella's. Some kind of rhythmic beat.
Rhage glanced behind him as it got louder.
The front door flew open, and Mary shot out of the house, jumping off the porch, not even bothering with the steps to the ground. She ran over the frost-laden grass in her bare feet and threw herself at him, grabbing on to his neck with both arms. She held hims so tightly his spine cracked.
She was sobbing. Bawling. Crying so hard her whole body was shaking.
He didn't ask any questions, just wrapped himself around her.
"I'm not okay," she said hoarsely between breaths. "Rhage...I'm not okay."
He closed his eyes and held on tight.
Lover Eternal © J.R. Ward
But Mary's inevitable death looms tragically on the horizon. Rhage, desperate for Mary to live, appeals to the Scribe Virgin and makes the greatest sacrifice of his life. The Scribe Virgin is all about balance. She can't grant anything without taking something else away. She tells Rhage that she'll heal Mary and that she may live as long as she wishes. But, to balance the gift, Rhage must never, ever make contact with Mary for she will be wiped clean of any memory of him and Rhage must also accept to live with his Beast forever. And he agrees.
'Lover Eternal' was perfection. I loved every word from beginning to end. OMG, and the ending! I was so devastated that Rhage would have to live without Mary, never to see her smile at him or laugh. Doomed for eternity to love a woman he couldn't be with. How Ward resolves this is beautiful and I still smile every time I reread the novel.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me about Ward is that her plots are always unique. I've never before read about a heroine dying of cancer in a romance novel. I suppose it only really works for the paranormal genre for death certainly doesn't equal Happy Ever After. But I think the plot device was as genius as it was refreshingly different.
Rhage was an amazing hero. I loved the concept of a gorgeous vampire paired with a plain human, but a plain human that he can't possibly get enough of. Mary's skepticism felt so real too and I loved how Rhage proves to her that he found her beyond attractive. He's so persuasive. And what he sacrificed for Mary was amazing. He's a man whose looks would have allowed him to want for nothing, but he has to give up everything for what he truly wants: Mary.
What other novel have you read that either the hero or heroine had to give up everything for the one they loved? Any other drop dead gorgeous heros out there?