Father Mine - Following the birth of his daughter, Nalla, Zsadist experiences a recurrence of the nightmares of his horrific century-long captivity. His fear and reticence causes a rift in his relationship with Bella, making her threaten to leave again, but more miracles are in store for Z as he reconnects with his shellan and discovers the joys of fatherhood.
Other Content - In The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide, J. R. Ward takes fans of the series on a fun-filled journey through the lives of the brotherhood. She conducts intimate interviews with each of the brothers who have helmed a book to date, Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, Butch, Vishous, and Phury, giving readers even more insights into these to-die-for vampire warriors. She also shows the brothers at ease in their everyday lives and in their funniest and most mischievous moments. Fans should be delighted with the deleted scenes which add just a bit more to a few of the brothers' stories, including one particularly touching scene in remembrance of Wellsie and the life she and Tohr once shared. There is an inspirational section just for writers, several reference sections, a Q & A with fans, and then the Brotherhood turns the tables by interviewing J. R. This book is packed cover-to-cover with fun and interesting information that is sure to delight both long-time and new fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
Father Mine - Father Mine is yet another incredible story in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. It fills in the blanks for Zsadist and Bella, covering the events that occurred in their lives between the final chapter and epilogue of Lover Awakened. It relates the narrative of Nalla's birth, and the subsequent return of Z's nightmares of his horrific past. Z is one of my favorite brothers, because he is tough as nails on the outside but broken and vulnerable inside. He is such an amazing character, I could read dozens of stories about him and never get tired of them. Z is extremely complex and multi-layered which is one of the things I love about him. I liked that J. R. Ward didn't make the end of Lover Awakened the end for Z. In real life, recovery from abuse is never, in my experience, something that is miraculously overcome, and there may be unexpected things that can trigger unpleasant memories even after one thinks they've been put to rest. With this in mind, it made perfect sense that the birth of Z's daughter would reawaken some of his past issues, and it became an opportunity for him to take the next step in the healing process. I had been somewhat disappointed that the effects of Bella's abuse at the hands of the lesser in Lover Awakened was not really explored, so it was nice to see how she had been able to get closure as well. Father Mine was a beautifully told story in which Z and Bella, once again, show the unfathomable depth of love they have for one another, and now for their new daughter as well. All of the brothers except Butch put in an appearance in this novella, as well as Mary and Jane. There was a little hint of what the future may hold for Rhage and Mary as well, and I'll be interested to see how that plays out. Father Mine was a sweet, tender, romantic story. It was a definite keeper for me, and in my opinion, a must-read for fans of the series. I've been away from the brothers for far too long, and I'm glad to be back, anxiously looking forward to reading the rest of this book, and continuing the series. Although it doesn't have an official book number, Father Mine falls between Lover Enshrined and Lover Avenged in the series ordering. Star Rating: ***** Sensuality Rating: 4
Other Content - I thoroughly enjoyed the Brotherhood Dossiers. The questionnaires and J. R.'s interviews with the brothers are a combination of sweet and LOL funny just like the brothers are in the novels. As I read these sections, I alternated between cracking up at their jokes (my hubby asked me what was so funny) and feeling touched by how genuinely real these characters seem to me. It must have been a challenge for J. R. Ward to play herself plus get in character to play each brother in turn at the same time. I really appreciated her efforts on this, because I had a blast reading each one.
Ms. Ward's craft comments on each book gave me a lot of insights into her personality as both a person and a writer. She also made me think about certain aspects of the stories and characters in a deeper way, so that I now understand a few things about the world she has created even better than I had before. I love time travel in stories, but strangely hadn't really considered how the Scribe Virgin and the Omega had altered the space-time continuum in this series. I'm glad Ms. Ward brought that up, because I had a fun, mind-blowing time pondering all that.;-) I was thrilled to discover that some of my favorite scenes are also hers, and that some of her self-critique mirrored my own critique of her books in my reviews of them. It seems that we think quite a bit alike which I've come to conclude must be one of the reasons I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series so much.
As a newly aspiring author myself, I found Ms. Ward's advice for writers section to be both helpful and inspiring. It was comforting to know that I am already on the right track in some areas, and I learned several new things that could be invaluable in the future if I decide to attempt to publish. I also really appreciated the story of her meeting with Suzanne Brockmann at the RWA convention and her feelings that she could never live up to the writing standard that Ms. Brockmann had set. When I sit down to my computer to write, I've had these same feelings usually in regards to J. R. Ward herself and other authors that I really admire. Ms. Ward sharing that small part of herself touched my heart and encouraged me in ways that are difficult to express.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood proposal was very interesting. I enjoyed seeing all the little things that changed between the original concept and the finished manuscript. At the same time I was amazed by how well fleshed out everything was right from the start and that so few changes were made. I think the most major character difference was that Phury had a different backstory, and he and Zsadist weren't brothers. The biggest storyline difference was how Dark Lover ended. From the perspective of an aspiring writer and a big fan of the series, it was all was rather fascinating and a really fun walk down memory lane.
I absolutely loved the deleted scenes. A couple presented extra character development on John Matthew, Butch and Vishous, as well as a far-distant future epilogue for Phury and Cormia. The others were smokin' hot love scenes, one between Zsadist and Bella and the other between Phury and Cormia, both of which were altered before the final draft. I loved reading every one of them. They were so good, I wish that they could have remained in their respective books.
The Kicks and Giggles section was pretty fun to read. The brothers have always had their own special brand of dark sarcasm that frequently makes me laugh, so having all their best humorous scenes and one-liners collected together in one place was a treat that kept a smile on my face almost the whole time I was reading this part.
The Brothers on the Board section is edited interactions between the brothers and the fans on J. R. Ward's website. The first half is similar to the Kicks and Giggles section in that the brothers are in fine form, pulling pranks on one another and letting their silly sides show. The second half is more serious and actually gives some insights into Lassiter's relationship with the brothers. In this part the alpha posturing is pretty intense. I think the brothers definitely need their females to balance them out, otherwise all that testosterone would be pretty overwhelming. The final bit detailed the absolutely lovely mating ceremony of Phury and Cormia which brought a few tears to my eyes. I always seem to cry at weddings.;-)
The Slices of Life section was really good and almost like deleted scenes. The first story was written in a casual "this is what the characters did today" sort of way. The second story about Wrath was written more formally and did feel like an extra scene that might have been in one of the books, not to mention it was quite steamy. The last two were written from J. R. Ward's perspective when Phury came to "visit" her, and when she went to "visit" V and Butch. In my opinion, all of them added even more depth to the characters who were a part of the stories. I know that this section and the Brothers on the Board section can both be found on J. R. Ward's website, but I had never read them before. Even if I had, I think it was nice to have them neatly edited and gathered together in one place, so that I don't have to go searching for them online.
There were some great questions in the Q & A with J. R. section which added insights to the stories already told and a few hints of what might be coming in the future. The Time Line of the Brotherhood, Table of Abbreviations and The Old Language were great references. The Old Language was particularly nice, because I can now visualize the shellans names on the brothers backs. If only I had known that the Old Language was in this book, I wouldn't have had to decipher it in Lover Avenged, but then again, geek that I am, it would have taken all the fun out of it for me.;-)
The Brothers Interview J. R. was a total riot, and not unlike her interviews with them. The In Memoriam was a beautiful family moment with Tohr, Wellsie, and John Matthew which really underscored the loss of Wellsie and the disappearance of Tohr, and what a huge hole was left without them.
Overall, I absolutely loved reading The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide, and in my opinion, it is a must-have for die-hard fans of the series like me. There is so much extra info here that is simply not to be missed, and although the brothers already felt like they truly existed somewhere before, they feel even more real now. For me, reading this book was also a great way to reintroduce myself to the Brotherhood's world after a long absence, and now I'm really stoked to read Lover Avenged. Star Rating: ***** Sensuality Rating: 4
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