By: J. R. Ward

Series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood

Book Number: 0.5

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


Darius, son of Marklon, is struggling to keep the Black Dagger Brotherhood together. Their king refuses to lead and most of the Brothers are scattered around Caldwell. Darius has a dream of bringing them all together under one roof, both for camaraderie and to make their fight against the lessers more efficient, but so far, no one else is buying into his vision. Although lonely, he isn't looking for love the night he takes his new car out for a drive and must swerve to avoid hitting a human woman who has run into the road. He takes the woman, Anne Wurster, to a hospital where he makes sure she receives the best care, but although deeply attracted to her, he thinks he'll never see her again. However, after learning that Anne was fleeing an abusive boyfriend, Darius can't resist looking out for her safety. Soon one thing leads to another and they find themselves madly in love and caught up in a whirlwind affair. But when the truth of what Darius is comes out in the worst possible way, Anne runs from him in horror. Little does he know that she's pregnant with his young, a daughter who is destined to become the queen of the vampire race. Nine months later, they share a brief and tragic reunion, after which Darius pledges to keep their daughter safe no matter what. Fearing that he's doomed to a lifetime of sadness, he tries to keep hope alive that he'll somehow one day be reunited with the love of his life.


Darius is a prequel to J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series that tells the love story of Beth's parents Darius and Anne. It takes place in 1981, over two decades before the main part of the series begins. All is not well in the BDB world. Wrath, the blind king, is refusing to lead his people and the Brothers are mostly in disarray, still fighting the war with the lessers, but not really as a cohesive whole. Darius is the one who has been trying to hold things together, but he's beginning to tire of being the only one who seems to care. In an effort to combat his ennui, he's just bought a custom-made BMW, which he's itching to take for a drive. However, on his first outing with his new car, he swerves, plowing into a tree, to avoid hitting a human woman who staggers into the road. Darius immediately rushes to the woman's aid and ends up taking her to the hospital, where he makes sure she receives the best care possible. He also learns that Anne was in the road because she was fleeing from her abusive boyfriend who had just threatened to kill her. Both of them are quite attracted to the other, but once Anne has been cleared to go home, they think it will probably be the last they'll see of one another. Darius takes it upon himself, though, to ensure Anne's safety, and then visits her the next night. They start falling for each other quickly, but just as Darius is going to tell Anne the truth about him being a vampire, she finds out in the worst possible way. After being lied to repeatedly by her ex, Anne can't forgive Darius for not being honest with her from the start and things end badly for them. Nine months later, Anne comes back into Darius's life, but only for a brief, tragic moment, leaving him to make the heart-wrenching decision to protect his daughter from his world by watching her grow up from afar in the human world, hoping that she won't ever have to know that she's half-vampire. But Darius has never forgotten his beloved and hopes for a miracle that might somehow reunite them.

Darius may have died in the opening chapters of Dark Lover, but he's still been a driving force behind the entire series, his spirit lurking in the background in more ways than one. He was the one who had the vision of the Brotherhood coming together as one and living in the beautiful mansion he had built for them, but sadly in this book, it still sits empty and forlorn on top of the mountain. Instead, he's fighting to keep them together in the face of Wrath's refusal to lead and his fellow Brothers scattered around Caldwell. Darius has always been the glue holding them all together, both in this story and even later after his demise. But here we see him tired and feeling rather defeated, with only his loyal butler, Fritz, by his side, until a human woman comes into his life in a very unusual way, awakening a part of himself that he thought was dead. From the moment he meets Anne, while caring for her after the accident, she starts burrowing her way into his heart, making him want nothing more than to protect and love her. That's why, Anne's rejection of him after finding out the truth, devastates Darius. However, that heartbreak is nothing compared to how he feels when she calls him to her side while bleeding out, trying to give birth to their young. After losing Anne, Darius is deeply in mourning for his beloved, but with her last breath, she made him promise to take care of their daughter, which he chose to do from afar in hopes of keeping Beth safe from the lessers. Darius is a character I've always loved for his commitment to the Brotherhood and how he ultimately was the one to bring them all together. He's always been a rather tragic figure, but one who's love and devotion to both Anne and Beth was quite heartwarming. I knew he was there, which helped soften the unfortunate track his life took, but I liked being able to see him finally happy by the end of this book even if it was in a rather unconventional way.

Anne has been in a relationship with a coworker for a while, but he's always been too controlling. She recently discovered that virtually everything she thought she knew about him was a lie, and when she confronted him, he flipped out, nearly killing her. She barely escaped with her life and went running blindly, ending up in the middle of the road, where she was clipped by Darius's car. She awakens in the back seat of a strange vehicle on the way to the hospital. Although she's reluctant to go to the ER, Darius insists and offers to pay for everything. He also never leaves her side, making sure she's well cared for. Afterward, she hates to say goodbye to this gorgeous stranger, but just coming off a bad relationship, she figures it's for the best. Then Darius shows up at her house the next night. As they talk, she feels very comfortable with him and can't help feeling like she's known him all her life. Their next date, though, is pretty chaotic with many things happening that don't entirely make sense to her. Anne is so crazy about Darius, though, that she chooses to overlook them until she finds out the truth of what he is from someone else and sees some truly freaky things happening right before her own eyes. After the dust has cleared and considering all that she's been through with her ex, Anne feels utterly betrayed by Darius and ends their relationship. In spite of everything, when she turns up pregnant, she can't help loving the child in her womb, no matter what it might be, and when she finds herself at death's door while in labor, Darius is the one person she knows she must see. Anne was a sweet woman who'd been through a lot. I like that she felt safe enough with Darius to open up to him so quickly, but I also understood how she could feel betrayed after all that had happened to her. Even though it was disappointing, I already knew it had occurred in the past, so that helped soften the blow. The important thing was that in her final moments, she wanted Darius with her and trusted him to look after their daughter.

Chronologically the events of Darius come long before anything else that happens in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, making it an official prequel, but I will warn that the epilogue contains some minor spoilers and/or things that new readers might find confusing. Therefore, I'd probably recommend that readers who are unfamiliar with the series might want to read it much later, probably in publication order. In this way, I think it enhances the reading experience, because it fills out a story that we've known all along but hadn't had many details about until now. I really loved learning more about Darius and Anne's romance. Although short-lived, it was sweet and heartfelt, and I thought it hearkened back to the early days of the BDB and some of our first couples. I also enjoyed learning more about Darius, who is pretty much just as I thought he'd be, loyal and caring, but also a brave fighter just like any Brother would be. All of the original brothers, Wrath (Dark Lover), Rhage (Lover Eternal), Zsadist (Lover Awakened), Vishous (Lover Unbound), Phury (Lover Enshrined), and Tohrment (Lover Reborn) play parts in the story. It was fun visiting with all of them and remembering what a mess they all were before finding their mates. Wellsie's appearance hit me right in the heart and brought a few tears, while Fritz was just as funny and awesome as always. Knowing that Darius and Anne's story was a tragic one, I went into reading Darius bracing myself for the inevitable sadness, which does come, but by the very end, there's happiness, too. Even though there were only so many ways it could have been written and still give Darius and Anne an HEA, I was still a little surprised by the way it wrapped up, mainly because it slightly altered something I'd thought to be true for a while. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, so I was totally fine with it. This is very much an insta-love story (not my favorite), but it was sweet or perhaps more accurately bittersweet. Also it maybe wasn't quite as detailed and memorable as it could have been, but I recognize that it wasn't necessarily meant to be since it's basically a side story in this universe. So in spite of those things, I did really enjoy Darius and think that most long-time fans like myself will, too.


J. R. Ward