My rating: 3 of 5 stars
3.5 Not Enough Romance stars.
I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite a while and alas, although Ward’s style is as usual spotless and witty, the story was simply not romantic enough in my opinion. Unlike many other readers, I’d had a good hunch regarding Xcor and Layla. Sure, she has never been Miss Likable, but I loved the Romeo and Juliet vibe she had going on with Xcor.
I was seriously hoping for their romance to be more along the lines of Ward’s first works (the first amazing 6, so to speak). Instead, a great deal of pages was spent creating the context, igniting frictions and fuelling doubts and uncertainties. Their love was a given, without much development. It was pure and all-encompassing, and it did warm my heart, I’ll give you that. But it was not enough.
Also, the whole situation with Qhuinn for me was… I didn’t buy it. Simple as that. (view spoiler).
Another thing: we all know that Ward likes to play with subplots and sometimes her books can stand more on those than on the main one. In this case, she unlikely picked some characters I didn’t particularly care about. I mean, I wouldn’t have minded reading more about Qhuinn and Blay and I was happy that they were secondary characters, but c’mon, we got a lot of Qhuinn and almost nothing of Blay. And in general, almost no scenes of them together.
And believe me, you don’t want to get me started on Vishous. You. Do. Not. I actually liked his character in his own book a lot more than the average reader. I like Jane and I think these two are perfect together. So the bullcrap that’s been happening in this book regarding them… I’m so not a happy camper. He had a couple of funny scenes, especially with the kids, but I wanted to strangle him half the time.
“V, can you give me a hand?” [Qhuinn is asking V to help him put the kids in the bassinet.]
Okay, why couldn’t he just be drinking right now? Still, bassinet jockeying one of these pooping machines had to be better than dodging bullets.
V glanced at the matched set of milk addicts. Fine, maybe the goo-goo gaga/Glock
assessment was more of a fifty-fifty.
“V?” Qhuinn prompted.
“Yeah. Sure.” I’d fucking loooooooove to manhandle you DNA. And maybe afterwards we can take turns doing each other’s hair. “What do I do?”
Then let’s talk about Trez… I think his situation was maybe the most interesting. It was way more romantic in my opinion, than the main romance and it just read way more like the first books. I’m curious about knowing more about what’s going on with him and I’m sure his story will give us readers’ hearts something to pitter patter about.
“And on that note, I’m paying for this meal and you’re going to let me, graciously.” As he opened his mouth, she feigned putting a hand over her heart. “Oh, you’re welcome. Really, it’s my pleasure and a great way to pay back your kindness. And you know, may I just say, I love a secure male who can let a female be his equal. It’s really sexy.”
But let’s go back to the main characters:
Layla. I didn’t hate her, but I didn’t love her. Most of the first part of the book was spent with her wallowing about her situation, how she’s in love with Xcor, how everybody hates her for that, and how she feels like a bad mahem for her kids. All in all, she was quite annoying.
“Love is a matter between souls,” she said as she put her hand on the center of his chest. “our love is between my soul and yours. Nothing is going to change that, nt your past, our present… or whatever futures we may find apart. At least no on my side.”
Xcor. I didn’t enjoy his flashbacks. They were depressing and, yes, they did help me understand his character better, but all in all, he could have just told as much to Layla during one of their conversations and I would have appreciated it more. Also because, these two have very little communication. They’re in love, but almost in a magical way, so that you cannot actually understand why exactly. I mean, it was sweet, and it also got pretty hot, but still, it didn’t hold the emotional punch of some other characters here. There were no confrontations really between the two and Xcor accepted his fate with too much resignation. I would have wanted to see him fight more for a future together his Layla.
As a bonded male, his female’s safety was his ultimate source of purpose, her trust in him his biggest point of pride, her well-being that which was put before anything and everything else.
The ending was a saving grace, in a very guilty pleasure kind of way. The way everything got resolved with Qhuinn, (Tohr I could even understand), the whole brotherhood etc., it was almost too perfect. Doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it. It opens so many possibilities for the future and I’m thrilled to know what Ward will make of it all. Still, after all those hundreds of pages of slow ruminations and not much going on, the ending felt especially rushed. And not just action-wise. Also relationship-wise. Qhuinn and Blay, Layla and Xcor… usually, in her previous books, Ward took a little time after fucking the couple up, to stitch all the wounds back together, right? We all know what her pattern is: the mates are feeling emotional distance from one other, there is some trigger event, one of the mates moves out of the mansion, they’re both miserable, then a Brother talks sense to one of the two and they reunite, usually after something scary too. Well, it was pretty much what happened here with some of the characters, but we didn’t get one of the most important parts, which is a scene completely dedicated to the couple in which they are together, happy, and moved over. This is why the ending was rushed in my opinion.
“My Lord” the doggen exclaimed. “Sire! Oh, it is good that you have arrived home before the storm! May I get you a libation?” Fritz’s smile was like that of a basset hound’s, all wrinkles and enthusiasm, and the butler had a dog’s lack of time conception, his joy as if the pair of them had been gone for five years, not an hour.
“How ’bout a couple bulletproof vests,” V said under his breath.
“But of course! Would you care for the Point Blank Alpha Elites, or is this more of a bomb-detonation occasion requiring the Paraclete tactical vests?”
Anyway, this book wasn’t bad. If you’re a fan, you’ll still enjoy it. It just resembled a lot more her latest crazy-multiple POV books rather than our favorite first 6 or so, in which you could feel the love between the pages.
“I don’t know when Wrath turned into a fucking Millennial.” Tohr started pacing around. “But maybe he should get off the throne and start sharing Snapchats about how everyone needs to forgive and get along. Throw a fucking bunny face on himself and do a guided meditation on unity. This is insane.”
One last thing: Throe. Beside the yawn worthy voo-doo thing which wasn’t truly original, I seriously couldn’t stand reading about this guy. It’s the way he thinks and acts that almost immediately has me disconnecting my brain. Although I loved how Ward managed to finally connect the two enemies of the BDB, so to speak.
“You know, it turns out destiny is a lot of work for someone like me.” He shrugged. “Who knew it took this much effort to give people a chance to exercise free will. It’s like the world is a chessboard and each and every person I’m in charge of. So I’m, like, playing a hundred thousand different games all at once.”
“I know, right? Thank God for ADHD.”
All in all, I think this book was a great step forward in the general narration of the overarching story (BDB and BOB, Throe’s situation, even Lassiter). It just wasn’t much of a romance.