Deemed insane after attacking a human research facility and brutally killing the scientists there twenty years ago, Murhder became the only member in the history of the Black Dagger Brotherhood to ever be expelled. He now lives in exile far away from Caldwell, haunted by the face of a female vampire he wasn't able to save from that facility. But when that female contacts him, saying that she's escaped and is in poor health, but that her son is still being held, and she needs his help getting the boy out, Murhder knows he must fulfill her last request. He returns once again to the life he left behind with every intention of only doing what he must and then finding a way to end his suffering. But what he didn't expect to find there was a human woman with whom he instantly bonds and who give him a reason to live again.
Dr. Sarah Watkins is a researcher at a biomedical firm who is still struggling with the loss of her fiancé and fellow scientist two years earlier. His death was ruled natural causes, but when an FBI agent shows up at her door, asking questions about that night, she begins to wonder just what her fiancé might have gotten himself involved in. After finding a thumb drive of evidence that the research company is holding a "patient" captive while performing illegal experiments on him, Sarah is determined to set him free, no matter the cost. In making this daring escape, though, she meets up with three "commandos" with the same objective, and finds herself drawn into a marvelous hidden world she never knew existed.
The attraction between Murhder and Sarah burns hot from the moment they meet, but Murhder no longer has any standing with the King or the Brotherhood. When his request to bring a human into their ranks is denied and he is ordered to scrub her memory, it seems that his and Sarah's relationship is doomed. But when a deadly new enemy resurfaces, posing a threat to the Brotherhood, there are those who take a stand to advocate that Murhder be reinstated to help them fight. Will he finally be able to reclaim his birthright and can he and Sarah forge a new alliance between a human and a vampire?
I really don't know how J. R. Ward keeps doing it, but even at book seventeen (and counting), I still love the BDB series. There's so much that happens in this book, you won't want to miss it. In fact, I'm going to have a hard time writing this review while avoiding any major spoilers, but I'm going to try my best. This is primarily Murhder's story, and in case you've forgotten, he's the rarely seen, insane former Brother who has the dubious distinction of being expelled by the Brotherhood for acts he committed twenty years ago. He's paired with a research scientist who accidentally discovers that the biomedical research company she's working for has been holding a captured vampire and doing hideous experiments on him. This story also brings John Matthew and Xhex back to the forefront as they deal with the fall-out of Xhex being reunited with her former lover. I'll admit that The Savior was just a tad slow in the beginning for me. I was enjoying the story, but for some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I wasn't entirely connecting with it and the characters in the way that I wanted to. It might be because the romance between Murhder and Sarah ramps up very quickly once they meet, but I also freely admit that it might also have been my own fickle mood. Whatever it was, that all changed when Murhder made his sacrifice (one of those things I can't say much more about). After that I was totally hooked and couldn't wait to read more. And by the end, my emotions were all over the place. I went from cheering, to feeling like my heart might burst with happiness, to tears, to smiling so big my face hurt, to outright laughing, and back to a final "Awww...!" moment, all in the space of only fifty pages or so. Any book that can wring that much emotion out of me deserves five stars, so that's what I've given it.
Murhder has been living a tortured existence in South Carolina in the attic of the Bed & Breakfast he owns. He masquerades as one of the former owners of the house, one Eliahu Rathboone, while terrorizing his guests by making them think the house is haunted. It seems like an almost metaphorically fitting life for this insane former member of the Brotherhood. However, his life is about to change in ways he never expected. First, he has legal papers from the King that were delivered by Saxton and Ruhn in the previous book that must be returned, but he also has other unfinished business to attend to in New York. A female vampire whom he had tried - and failed - to rescue from a medical research facility years ago has contacted him to say that she escaped but her son is still in the facility and nearing his transition. She wants Murhder to find and save him before that happens. So Murhder returns to his old stomping grounds, a male on a mission, but once that mission has been successfully completed, he plans to end his life. However, he didn't count on finding another woman whose face has haunted him for years and with whom he instantly bonds, finally giving him a reason to live. The snippets we've seen of Murhder thus far in this series have painted a picture of a grumpy, get-off-my-lawn, I'm-insane-and-I'd-rather-shoot-you-as-talk-to-you kind of vampire. So imagine my surprise when in the opening chapter, he rescues a hapless bat who's about to be killed by two of his guests. This one scene set the tone for his character for the entire rest of the book. The title is incredibly fitting as well, because Murhder definitely has a savior complex. He turns out to be a selfless male who lays his life on the line time and time again in spite of the Brotherhood no longer accepting him. In fact, he has a kind-hearted nature that's similar to John Matthew's or Phury's. And all that stuff he got expelled for? Well, it turns out he had damn good reasons for all of it, and because he was protecting someone at the time, the Brotherhood never knew the real story. So I ended up absolutely loving Murhder and he'll be ranking highly among by favorite Brothers.
Sarah is a doctor who works on the research side of medicine, specializing in immunology. She and her fiancé went to work for BioMed straight out of college, but her fiancé died two years earlier. It was believed to be natural causes, but when an FBI agent shows up at her door, asking questions, she begins to wonder. Then she discovers a thumb drive in a safety deposit box she didn't even know they had, and the data on it is more than disturbing. It proves that her company - and probably her fiancé as well - was involved in torturous experiments on a "patient" whose test results don't make any sense to her from a medical standpoint. Even though she knows it will likely mean losing her job, she's determined to find and save this person before they can do anything else to him. As she's attempting to do just that, three "commandos" show up with the same intention and end up drawing her into a hidden world she never knew existed. Sarah isn't unlike Murhder. She has a strong moral compass and is determined to do the right thing no matter the cost. Once she finds out that Murhder, along with his cohorts and Nate, the boy they save, are vampires, she's very open-minded. Her curious scientist's brain kicks into gear, wanting to learn everything she can about the species, and she becomes instrumental in saving the life of one of our main characters. I think what I loved most about Sarah, though, is her kind, gentle heart that is so giving and loving toward both Murhder and Nate. She was the absolute perfect mate for Murhder and I can't wait to see if her research work plays a role in future books of the series.
Our other focus characters in this book are John Matthew and Xhex. Murhder and Xhex were once lovers, so when Murhder comes back to town, John Matthew's little green monster roars to life. He's intensely jealous until the hidden Darius part of him recognizes Murhder as a friend. The biggest hurdle they face, though, is John being bitten by one of the zombie vamps, because no one really knows how it's going to affect him or how to help him. Through everything, Xhex is John's rock, trying to help him when he needs it and giving him space when he needs that as well, while also trying not to worry. She breaks the unspoken rule, too, by using her symphath abilities to read his grid and discovers something very interesting about him. Best of all, there are some exciting changes afoot for John that will make long-time fans very happy.
There weren't as many perspectives in this story as there often are in the BDB books. Other than the four characters mentioned above, there are only two other characters who get their own POV scenes. The first is Throe, who's gone full-on, Gollum "My Precious" with the creepy book that he's been using to create his shadow army. He's also attempting to manipulate the glymera in order to eventually gain the throne. However, things take a surprising turn for him when J. R. Ward's Fallen Angels world collides with the BDB world. Also, Nate gets one short scene from his POV. After spending his entire life as a lab rat, he isn't quite sure how to live free, but I know he's going to get lots of help with that. I love this guy and can't wait to see what might be in store for his future. The Warden says that he'll eventually get his own story, and I'm very excited by that prospect. Even though he doesn't get his own POV, Lassiter is another key character and I have to say the more I see of this fallen angel, the more I love him. His ridiculously flamboyant style and the way he gets under the Brothers' skin make me laugh, but at the same time, he's settling nicely into his role as the race's new deity. He has a genuinely kind heart and is fast becoming the deity they've always deserved but never had when the Scribe Virgin was in power. Although he was only in one scene, Boone, the final trainee from the new Brotherhood training program, makes a fateful choice that I'm sure is going to have repercussions in his book, Blood Truth, which is the next in the Black Dagger Legacy series and due for release in August (2019). I can't wait for that.
It's sometimes hard to believe that the BDB has been around for so long. It's almost even more surprising that I still eagerly await each new release. Some long-running series tend to lose their momentum, but this one has never disappointed me. The Savior was equally as good as many of the other books of the series. Murhder and Sarah were perfect for one another. I loved the story arc for John Matthew. I can't wait to find how this new Fallen Angels cross-over is going to play out. And by the end of the book, there was a fun juicy tidbit dropped that I'm even more eager to see come to fruition. There's still so much to look forward to with this series. After Blood Truth, there's Where Winter Finds You, a new between-the-books story about Trez and Selena, which I can't wait for. These two deserve their happy ending, too. And after that, the next BDB book will be, The Sinner, the story of Band of Bastards member, Syn, and Jo Early, the vampire/human hybrid who doesn't know she's part vampire and is nearing her transition. This upcoming volume will also see the fulfillment of the Dhestroyer prophecy as well. So much excitement to come. I can't wait!
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