As an aristocrat, Peyton knows he's expected to mate a suitable female from his own class and carry on his family bloodline. He thought he'd found that female in his best friend, Paradise, who'd been there for him throughout the time they'd spent in exile after the raids. But she fell in love with someone else, leaving Peyton adrift and pining for an unrequited love. Lately he's been attracted to his fellow trainee, Novo, but initially he's intrigued more by the challenge she presents than anything else. As a playboy who's used to having females fall at his feet, Novo's repeated refusal to have sex with him is an obstacle that needs to be conquered. But when his thoughtless actions while fighting in the field leave Novo fighting for her life, Peyton must face the truth that she may have come to mean something much deeper to him than merely his next conquest.
As one of only two females in the Brotherhood's training program, Novo feels she has something to prove. After losing the male she thought she loved to her sister and suffering alone through a tragedy that nearly broke her, she's determined to live life independently on her own terms. The last thing she needs is to get involved with a playboy aristocrat who, on the surface, seems to be far too much like her ex. But as her sister's mating ceremony to the male looms closer and Novo feels like she's being forcibly drug into their lives, it sends her down an emotional rabbit hole she doesn't want to revisit again. Then Novo is wounded, and with her family too wrapped up in mating day fever, she finds herself unexpectedly confiding in Peyton about things she's kept to herself for years. When he proves to be far more than the pretty boy aristocrat she thought he was, can Novo set aside her emotional armor long enough to trust him with her biggest secret of all?
As Peyton and Novo contend with their own relationship woes, another couple must face the intense attraction they feel for one another. Saxton has been the loyal council to the King for years and has been nursing a broken heart nearly as long for Blaylock, the male he loved who left him for another. Restless and tired of seeing Blay almost every day, but not able to be anything more than friends, Saxton is seriously contemplating leaving Caldwell, until the newest member of the Brotherhood's household catches his eye. Ruhn is a simple handymale who came to live with them after he was found to be the only blood kin of Bitty, Rhage and Mary's adopted daughter. Despite Ruhn's ordinary origins, he captivates the elegant Saxton with his strength and power. When the King tasks Ruhn with acting as Saxton's bodyguard while the lawyer investigates a civilian complaint, the two begin to get close. But will Ruhn be able to accept the attentions of another male? And if so, will Saxton be able to handle Ruhn's dark, secret past when it's finally revealed?
In the first two books of the Black Dagger Legacy series, we had one new couple from among the trainees in the Brotherhood's newly reopened training program, along with an existing couple from within the Brotherhood world facing new challenges. In Blood Fury, J. R. Ward departs from that format a bit by offering readers two brand new couples. The first is Peyton and Novo who are both a part of the training program, and the second is Saxton and Ruhn. Saxton has been with the Brotherhood as their attorney for quite a while, and Ruhn was newly introduced in the previous book of the series, Blood Vow, as Bitty's long lost uncle and the only blood kin that she has left. I felt something passing between these two at their first meeting that left me wondering if they might become a couple, and I'm so happy that they did. Both couples were captivating and totally perfect for one another, which has possibly nudged this book into the top spot for my favorite in the series so far and that's saying something since they've all rated 5 stars. And double the HEAs? Yeeessss! I'm completely up for that and what HEAs they were!
From the first book of the series, Peyton has pretty much been a spoiled, rich, glymera playboy, who can't get enough booze, drugs, and women. He's never been able to please his exacting sire and went into the Brotherhood's training program in an effort to make something of himself. He's been doing well enough with the training but still playing it loose and easy in his personal life. The only person he really cares about is Paradise, who was his best friend and phone buddy throughout the time they were in hiding after the raids. She was all that kept him going and he thinks he's in love with her, but Paradise chose Craeg, which has left Peyton feeling adrift. He's physically attracted to Novo, his fellow trainee, but she's proved to be a rather tough nut to crack, so to speak. She tends to blow him off, which makes him savor the challenge of pursuing her. But it's all nothing but a game to him until he screws up big time while out fighting in the field, leading to Novo being mortally wounded. She barely makes it, and while she's recovering, Peyton begins to realize some things about himself, while also getting to know Novo for who she really is and not just the tough girl she portrays to everyone around her. Peyton hasn't been the easiest character for me to like, mainly because he's been behaving in a rather spoiled, self-centered manner throughout the first two books and even as this book begins, he's still not quite seeing the bigger picture. But I have to say that he really came around and earned my affection by the end. I very much admired the way that he's there for Novo, not only while she's recovering from her wounds, but afterward, too, by drawing her out and earning her trust. He never turns her away, even when she reveals her heart and soul to him. I also loved how he grew and changed, finally realizing that his father's opinions didn't really matter anymore. The kindness he showed to the female his sire tried to forcibly mate him to, and the way he stood up for both her and himself really had me cheering, as well. He ended up being a totally stand-up guy.
Aside from Xhex and perhaps Payne, Novo is probably the toughest heroine Ms. Ward has written that is part of the Brotherhood world. She's pretty much an island unto herself, never really letting anyone get past her defenses. She erected the walls after her heart was broken when her sister stole away a male she thought she really cared about. But what really broke her was the tragedy that followed which she had to deal with all alone. After that Novo locked her heart up tight and decided no one was getting in. Instead, she was going to work her butt off to be the strongest person she could possibly be and relationships be damned. Then her sister calls insisting that Novo must be a part of her upcoming mating ceremony, but seeing the male who abandoned her mating her sister is the last thing Novo wants to do. The whole thing starts to send her down an emotional rabbit hole she doesn't want to explore. Then she nearly gets killed, and as she recovers, she finds herself getting far closer to Peyton than she ever intended. Her ex was similar in both looks and the whole slick persona, so allowing Peyton in scares her to death. Normally I'm not quite as big a fan of kick-ass heroines with the hard emotional armor, but Novo really made sense to me. I loved the whole growing process she must go through to put her demons to rest and find peace in both her relationship with Peyton and with her family. She may be hard as nails on the outside, but she has a gooey center. She lives life on her own terms, but she's rife with vulnerabilities that make her relatable, and for that I really liked her.
The first half of our second couple is Saxton, who has been a part of the Brotherhood world for a very long time. Like Peyton, Saxton is a son of the glymera, but his father basically disowned him when he chose to live openly as a gay male and refused to mate a female to carry on their bloodline. Ever since, he's worked for Wrath and over time, became his indispensable right-hand man in matters of law. Saxton was also lovers with Blay until Qhuinn finally got his act together. During their time together, Saxton developed deep feelings for Blay, which Blay was never able to reciprocate in the same way. Ever since the break-up, Saxton has been pining for his unrequited love and thinking he'll never feel that way about anyone else again. As he's beginning to give serious thought to leaving town for good, he develops a surprising attraction to Ruhn, the newest male in the household. I enjoyed how he took things slow and easy, feeling out the waters between him and Ruhn before jumping in headfirst, as well as his ability to be sweet and tender. I also love that Saxton really knows who he is and isn't afraid to show it. His confident defense of his own sexuality when he thinks Ruhn is offended by it is a very poignant moment. Up to now, we've mostly only seen the elegant, classy male in the expensive suits who really knows his stuff when it comes to the law, but in this book, we finally get to see a few new facets to his character. He can be an extremely passionate lover, and he also proves to be a shockingly dangerous male when his love is threatened, both of which I really loved.
Ruhn is a shy, quiet introvert who comes from a common workman's background and is illiterate. He's grateful to the Brotherhood for welcoming him into their family as Bitty's uncle, but he's very uncomfortable living in such opulence, as well as with the fact that he's not doing anything to earn his keep. Because of a background check they ran before allowing him near Bitty, Wrath knows that Ruhn has experience as a fighter, so when Saxton mentions a legal problem to him regarding an elderly female who is being hounded by human developers who appear to be trying to run her off her land, the King assigns Ruhn to act as Saxton's bodyguard while the lawyer investigates. Ruhn is happy to be doing something useful, but he's not too keen on having to use his fighting skills that were acquired in a torturous way. He does, however, become immediately attached to the grandmotherly female they're helping, and he begins to develop as attraction to Saxton that surprises him. He's only ever been with females, but that was under duress when he was a fighter, so he's never really given much thought to his sexuality until Saxton really starts to get under his skin. I thought that Ruhn was going to be a sweet beta male, until his intense alpha protector and dominant lover comes roaring to life that's in complete opposition to his shy, blushing persona outside the bedroom and his bodyguard duties. I found this to be an intriguing juxtaposition in his character, and I totally loved him as a hero.
I've thoroughly enjoyed all the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Black Dagger Legacy books, but Blood Fury ended up being one of the more powerful stories I've read in either series. I enjoyed the way that the two couples mirrored each other with one member of each pairing coming from the aristocracy while the other member was from a more common background. I also felt like both couples were absolutely perfect for one another. The way Peyton and Novo help each other to grow beyond their life circumstances to find hope, peace and love with each other was phenomenal. I was also extremely happy that Saxton finally got the HEA ending he's so richly deserved, and he couldn't have chosen a better partner than Ruhn. They just fit together in a way that almost shouldn't work with them coming from such disparate backgrounds, but it does even though I'm at a loss for words to explain it. I'm totally loving having at least two books a year in the Brotherhood's world. Each time I step into it, I'm transported to another dimension that I don't want to leave. I don't know for certain who the next Black Dagger Legacy pairing will be, but if I had to take a guess, I'd say it might be Qhuinn's brother, Luchas, who was seen briefly in this book, still rehabbing from his time with the Omega, perhaps paired with Romina, the female Peyton's father tried to force him to mate. All I know is that I liked Romina from the second she appeared in the book, and with her and Luchas coming from similar backgrounds they could make an interesting couple. All I know is that I'm all in with both series (which, BTW, I highly recommend reading concurrently by publication date to keep everything straight), and I can't wait for my next visit to the Brotherhood's world. Luckily, with a new novella set in this world and a new BDB book both coming within the next two months, my wait won't be long this time.
Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual situations, including spicy M/F and M/M interactions, as well as a visit to a sex club by one of our couples who engage in a little exhibitionism, which some readers may find offensive.
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