Now a fully-trained soldier, Boone fights alongside the Black Dagger Brotherhood in the war against the lessers. But a new enemy has risen and unexpectedly taken the life of Boone's father right after Boone made a fateful decision that now leaves him guilt-ridden. Taken off the normal fighting rotation for his own mental health, he finds himself tasked with helping Butch investigate a serial killer who is targeting females of the species at a live-action role playing club. The Brotherhood became involved when they received a mysterious anonymous call from a female vampire regarding the latest murder. When he sees her at the club and confronts her, the last thing he expects to discover is a beguiling female who intrigues him in ways he never thought possible.
Ever since her older sister was murdered at the club eight months earlier, Helania has been staking it out in an attempt to protect other females and in hopes of finding the killer. However, she isn't fast enough to save the latest victim from the same gruesome fate. As someone who otherwise lives the life of a recluse, at first, she doesn't want to become involved beyond making the phone call to the Brotherhood. But when Boone tracks her down one night, his calm, gentle demeanor makes her want to trust him. As they get to know one another, she finds a male who makes her feel more comfortable than she's felt with another person since her sister died. Together, they pool their resources in an attempt to find the killer, and soon the trail leads directly to an ally of the Brotherhood as the prime suspect. But when Helania finds herself in the murderer's crosshairs, will she and Boone be able to defeat him before he kills again?
Blood Truth is the fourth installment of J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Legacy series, which is a spin-off of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. However, as I've warned before, it's desirable to read the BDL books concurrently with the BDB books in publication order, as there are cross-over storylines and references that might not make a lot of sense if you don't. This book picks up right where The Savior left off, following the Brotherhood raid on the traitorous glymera party that ended in a bloodbath in which Boone's sire was killed, an event he learns of in the opening chapter. Also, Band of Bastards member, Syn, plays a pivotal role in Blood Truth that essentially is a lead-in to his book, The Sinner, which will be the next in the BDB series. So, as you can see, there are some fairly strong connections between the two series. However, the main plot of this book involves Boone and Helania who meet while Boone is investigating the murder of a female vampire which appears to be connected to the murder of Helania's older sister eight months earlier. As they work together to find answers, these two develop a tender and passionate love affair. But the killer is still on the loose and may be looking for another target, leaving Helania and possibly other vampire females vulnerable.
Boone was the last of the group of new recruits that the Brotherhood has been training as soldiers in the war with the lessers, and now their new enemy, the shadows. He was always the quiet one with his nose stuck in a book, who tended to stay in the background throughout most of the BDL series. Then at the end of The Savior, after unsuccessfully trying to persuade his sire not to attend the party, Boone proved his allegiance to the Brotherhood by turning in his own father, and the rest of the glymera members who were attending, as traitors to the crown. As expected, he's now experiencing some guilt over his role, which led to the death of both his sire and stepmahmen. However, since he didn't have a close relationship with either of them, he isn't sure how to feel. For his own safety, the Brotherhood removes him from his fighter rotation, something he strongly dislikes. Instead, Butch invites Boone to assist him with the investigation of a murdered female vampire. In the course of looking into this brutal slaying, he meets Helania, the young female who called the Brotherhood help line to report the murder. Boone is instantly drawn to her and despite Butch's warning to exercise caution, he can't seem to stay away from her. In spite of the differences in their social stations, he quickly discovers that they have a great deal in common, leading to a fast-burning, passionate romance between them.
I adored Boone's quiet introverted nature. Out of any of the males in this series, he probably comes the closest to be a beta hero. The way the story opens with him taking full responsibility for the break-up of his betrothal to save his intended from being censured by the glymera set the tone for his part of the entire book. He's kind, compassionate, and a true gentlemale who's sweet but still fairly confident. However, when he's out in the field, he can have a rather brutal nature as we see him taking out an intense thirst for violence, first against a lesser, and later against a human male. It almost seemed at odds with the rest of his personality and admittedly this is the one thing we don't get a lot of insights into. But I'm willing to let it slide, because I sense that we might get these answers in The Sinner, or at least, I hope so.
Helania has been a hermit for her entire life. Growing up, she suffered from a hearing impairment that left her self-conscious, so she kept to herself. Even though the condition righted itself during her transition, old habits die hard. She rarely leaves her apartment, and her older sister, Isobel, was her lifeline to the outside world until Isobel was brutally murdered eight months earlier. Now Helania feels a burning need to ahvenge the sister who was her best friend and last living relative. Nearly every night she goes to Pyre's Revival, a nightclub where the human patrons LARP as vampires and where real vampires sometimes hang out, too, hoping to find the killer and save any other females who might be in danger. Unfortunately she doesn't get there in time to rescue the latest victim, so she anonymously calls in the murder to the Brotherhood's help line. When Butch and Boone figure out her identity, she nearly runs from them out of fear, but Boone's gentle demeanor calms her. She helps them with their investigation, while falling head-over-heels for Boone. They initially bond over their shared grief, but gradually realize that they have so much more in common. Helania feels comfortable with Boone in a way she hasn't with anyone else besides Isobel. As a deeply introverted person myself, who many would probably call a hermit, I related incredibly well to Helania. She just doesn't feel at ease in social situations, but with Boone that's completely different. I love that he was able to draw her out of her shell and help her see more of the world around her as well as become acquainted with some his friends. I like that she maintains her innate personality but grows into a more confident, independent female by the end.
There are a number of key secondary characters some of whom get their own POV scenes. Once again, we get to see Butch at his best as a homicide detective and how he works so hard to solve cases for the sister he lost. He definitely gives his investigations a compassionate, personal touch. V had a couple of his own scenes, too, and many of the members of the Brotherhood and Band of Bastards were present. As I mentioned before Syn is a key player who ends up as Butch's prime suspect in part due to memory blackouts and a history of extreme violence. Without a doubt, he has a genuine dark side, but we also learn a lot about him in just a few short scenes that paints a sympathetic picture of a very tortured male who is wounded in body, mind, and spirit. I'm already intrigued by him and can't wait to read his book. The Warden has been adding some new characters to the palette in recent books, many of whom I hope might get stories of their own, and this one also had two new additions. One was Boone's betrothed, Rochelle. I could tell right from the start that she was a good person and I wasn't disappointed with where her part of the story went. I hope maybe she can find an HEA someday, as well as the anonymous human woman who Boone rescued after she was brutally attacked. Although she has no name yet, she ended up in the Brotherhood's clinic where I hope we'll eventually learn more about her.
Blood Truth was another great addition to the BDL series and to the greater BDB story-arc. Both Boone and Helania were wonderfully relatable characters. As an introvert married to a fellow introvert, I was thrilled to see a relationship like ours positively represented in a fictional story, and I can say without a doubt that it rang true. I just loved seeing these two rather lonely souls find each other and make a romantic connection. The murder mystery was a nice touch, too. I enjoyed seeing Butch in investigator mode again and following along as he tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I started to suspect the killer before the reveal, but there were several plot points surrounding the why of it that were definite surprises that I didn't see coming. I loved learning more about Syn and feel that his part of the story was a tease that most certainly whetted my appetite for the next BDB book. As per J. R. Ward herself at her annual in-person book signing and Q&A, there will be more Legacy books and the next one, The Jackal, is slated to star Rhage's half-brother as the hero. This is a character we have yet to meet, but I'm intrigued by the prospect and look forward to continuing the series when this upcoming book is released next summer (2020).
Note: I was admittedly a little disappointed in the proofreading - or lack thereof - in this book. Books always have errors, but I rarely see this many in one put out by a major publisher. Normally, this would affect my star rating, but I enjoyed the story and love the author so much, I couldn't help giving it the full five stars. However, IMHO Simon & Schuster really needs to do better in the future, as I and many other readers weren't pleased to have paid the hardcover price for a book with this many flaws.
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