This critique has been a long time coming.
As a dedicated supporter of the good that the romance genre does offer despite all its issues, I bought J. R. Ward’s latest book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Mine in an act of faith.
This book is primarily about John Matthew (aka Tehrror) and Xhex. As a womanist and Black feminist, I tend to focus on what’s going on with the heroin in relation to the men in the story instead of the other way around. I admired Xhex a lot because she was different from all the other heroins in the series, by her very demeanor and life experiences; most of all, she could fight for herself, she didn’t need to be protected by a male and could, for the most part, look out for herself. Eventually, I was disappointed in the way Xhex came out over the course of the book.
Xhex’s breakdown after being captured by Lash and fighting against his torture and rape for months didn’t lead to her becoming a stronger character. It seems it only led to her becoming a more docile version of her former self in order for her to become suitable for being mated to John Matthew. I was looking for her to open herself to what she was feeling, but this isn’t what I wanted, expected, or anticipated. In her eagerness to deliver what on her message forums for the series is called an HEA (“Happily Ever After”), she perpetuates stereotypes, cliches, and archetypes of what its means to be in a “happy” romantic relationship…for white heteronormative audiences.
I read Payne’s scenes with Wrath and all that. As for most of the rest of the book, it wasn’t something I wanted to open myself up to. I’m just trying to forget it right now.
I bought the book to read and returned it to get my damn money back. It wasn’t worth it.
At first I was very amused by Ward’s attempt at writing an urban fantasy with white vampires. Some of it is really funny and it resonates with me. At this point though, I think Ward needs to stick to writing what she knows, not what she fantasizes about.