Caldwell, NY, has long been the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and leader of the Brotherhood. Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood, even though his sister is married to a member. Because he’s a sympath, his identity is a deadly secret- the revelation of which will
result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. And as plots within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in a darkening world- Elhena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him- and the only thing standing between him and
Black Dagger Brotherhood Book 7
Rehvenge, a.k.a. the Reverend, is the most glamorous baddest of bad boys in J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood world. Drug Lord, pimp and owner of the night club, ZeroSum, it's not unusual for Rehv to pull down 200K a night. Keeping his Chosen mother in the lap of luxury is expensive, but it's nothing compared to the monetary demands of his blackmailer, the princess, for Rehvenge has a secret. Beneath the sable coat, couture suits and mohawk, this amethyst-eyed vampire is half sympath. Also known as sin-eaters, sympaths have evolved from their vampire genes into cerebral beings. They are complete sociopaths and feed off the emotions of others. For these and many other reasons, sympaths were banished to a colony in upper New York. Any sympath discovered in the general population must be reported and deported. For a half breed like Rehv, deportation to the colony would mean torture followed by death. Sympaths despise weakness of any kind and a half sympath would surely be deemed weak.
For the last twenty-five years, Rehv has been blackmailed by his half sister, the princess and mate to his uncle the sympath king. Threatening to not only reveal his dirty secret but the same secret that's being hidden by Rehv's head of security at ZeroSum, the female Xhex. In order to protect the ones he loves, Rehv has sold his body and his soul to the princess by whoring himself out to her one night a month and using the drug profits to pay her to keep her mouth closed. The monthly experiences are horrific and Rehv feels that no matter how many times he washes, he'll never again be clean. The deaths of so many can't be washed away and the taint of the princess runs deep.
Rehvenge, despite his sociopath sympath genes, at his core he's intrinsically good. While he doesn't believe it, it's clear to not only the reader, but to those close to Rehv that he'd easily sell his soul to protect those he loves. The proof positive is in his dealings with the princess. But Rehv is blind and considers himself a male of no worth. He has lived his entire existence with the knowledge they he'll never be normal and he'll never have love for no female of worth would ever want him. Except maybe one.
The only drug that Rehv acquires through legitimate means is his dopamine. The drug acts as a suppressant of his sympath genes but it also has dire side effects by not only numbing his entire body, but rendering him impotent as well. Rehv's nurse at Havers Clinic, Ehlena, has always intrigued him. He can tell that they share something in common: Loneliness.
Ehlena, once the daughter of a prominent member of the glymera - the vampire upper class - is now penniless with all available finances being used to help her father and his condition. Suffering from severe schizophrenia, Ehlena's father requires round the clock care. With the onset of his disease, her father lost everything. Not only his social standing and wealth but also his shellan who committed suicide. Ehlena is all that he has left and she does everything she can to make him comfortable. Living in a crumbling rental house, all Ehlena knows is work and caring for her father. Mentally and physically exhausted she can't seem to take her own advice that she delivers to patients in similar situations. But one day, the patient Rehvenge is able to shake her out of life's stupor.
The nurses at Havers Clinic have never particularly liked Rehvenge and that works just fine for him. But for some reason he wants the perfectly starched and coiffed nurse to see him. In classic Rehv attitude, his flirting is more like blatant sexual aggression. It's almost as though he doesn't even take his own words seriously for he knows he'll be shut down anyway. Yet the idea of being shut down by Ehlena irritates him. Acting extremely out of character, Rehv offers an apology for his behavior by extending his card to Ehlena in the hopes that maybe one day she'd need him. For what he couldn't say but he wants to be reachable by this beautiful and intriguing female.
Ehlena's initial reaction to Rehvenge may appear haughty on the surface but inside she's really confused by the male's attention. Besides, why would a male of obvious wealth be interested in her? She turns down his offering and refuses his card. But even after the handsome male leaves, Ehlena can't get him out of her mind. She forces her thoughts towards a clinical avenue as an excuse for her dwelling. Remembering the busted veins in Rehv's arm that suggests infection, Ehlena calls the male to question why he didn't have Havers tend to his condition. Rehv, the master manipulator, convinces Ehlena that what she really needs to do is meet him for dinner at his high rise penthouse. Ehlena says yes to his request and Rehv finds that he loves this female's acquiescence.
In a total spur of the moment act, Ehlena pilfers some penicillin tablets from the clinic pharmacy. She has to make this dinner about his health for her mind simply can't process any other means for her irrational behavior. It's upon her very arrival at Rehv penthouse that Ehlena realizes the two of them couldn't be any father apart in the social stratosphere. She makes the decision then and there that this "relationship" is going nowhere. She'll deliver the meds and leave. But as she stands outside his glass doors she can't bring herself to dematerialize. Instead she's transfixed by the obvious remorse that Rehv feels over her departure. She watches as he sits at a table elegantly set for two complete with flickering candles. He took the time to make the night special for her. It's when his head lifts up and he pierces her with amethyst eyes that Ehlena goes back on her earlier decision and once again walks though the sliding glass door, realigning both their fates.
Rehvenge is a complete giver when comes to pleasureing his female. It doesn't matter that she can't recipricate because of the dopamine's effects. He takes total satisification pleasuring Ehlena to the point that she can't even see straight. Yet Ehlena, wanting to return whatever pleasure that she can, offers Rehv her vein. It's the only part of her that she knows he can feel, taste and touch - her blood. But Rehv can only feel his worthlessness at her offering. Ehlena is far from too good for him, he shouldn't even be touching her much less be given the honor to take her vein. Except Rehvenge can't fully explain these thoughts for it would mean revealing his true identity. It's not just the need to hide his sympath nature that's holding him back, he's also reminded how many lives he's taken, the drugs he's sold, and that his body has been tainted by the princess. The last thing that Rehv wants to do is taint Ehlena. She represents all that is good and he won't blacken her with his dark baggage.
On the flip side, it's Ehlena that feels unworthly of Rehv. She lives one paycheck away from the streets. She's been shunned by the glymera. How would a male of Rehv's worth even be tempted by her. With these thoughts, all Ehlena can feel is anger and humilation. It's as she's thrusting her body into her clothes with all the determination to leave that Rehv stops her and takes her offering. He can't let her go. It's selfish and wrong, but he needs Ehlena.
Of course as always, one can't free fall through love forever before hitting rock hard earth. The walls that Rehv has paid in blood to contain his secret are crumbling. The charade is up, leaving him fighting a losing battle and is left with one option: Protect the ones he loves by returning to the sympath colony. In the loving need to drive Ehlena away for her own saftey, Rehvenge reveals all his ugly truths in the harshest way possible to ensure her hatred and her desire to never look for him. Rehv suceeds.
Don't you just love the cliffhanger review?? *wink*
First of all, I want to thank J.R. Ward for returning to the ROMANCE. 'Lover Avenged' was relationship central! There was romance throughout the novel and not just with Rehvenge and Ehlena but with Wrath and Beth and even with John Matthew and Xhex.
I loved Rehv and I thought that Ehlena was definitely worthy of him. I was worried about whether any female would be right for Rehv in my reader heart and I'm happy to report that I couldn't be more satisfied. Reading 'Lover Avenged' was like taking a long sigh of relief. 'Lover Enshrined' was such a disappointment although I want to stress that it was a disappointment only in the romantic sense. Ward still delivered.
The series itself is so much darker now than when it started with 'Dark Lover'. Those early days seem like eons ago and as Ward has evolved and built the series, I've been a willing follower. From what I've read, I can only guess that the series will continue to get even darker.
Next in the BDB series: John Matthew and Xhex in 'Lover Mine'. Supposed release date is this time next year.