Posted March 12, 2007on:
J. R. Ward’s Dark Lover was awful. Simply awful. Crime against man, nature and the cosmos awful. So awful it wilts neurons. Can I get any more hyperbolic? I adore a good, sexy vampire romp but for heaven’s sakes it cannot be too hard to stretch one’s imagination beyond the black leather-clad, silken black hair, monstrously sized and sexy behemoth who walks on scene to a soundtrack of gangster rap? I nearly died when this dastardly crew of Bloody Dagger Brotherhood…whatever they’re called vampires jumped into their SUV (or whatever) and blared Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”. They even ate dinner to this stuff–laughing raucously while listening to 2Pac. Because they’re tough men, living a dangerous lifestyle!
Ok, I thought, so her image of vampires is a mix of MTV and every trashy B Vampire flick known to man since the late 90’s. Maybe the romance will be good. She’ll write an emotionally powerful story with a heroine I can get behind. It will save the book. Love is like oxygen, love is a many splendoured thing, love lifts us up where we belong, all you need is love!
Wrong. What she needs is writing classes. Workshops? M.F.A? (Do they have those for romance writers?) Perhaps I am too conservative (ha!) but I do need my hero and heroine to have some kind of connection, even if it is the tenuous link of passing each other on a street once every week or so, never saying hello, and similar situations, before I can take any sexual situations seriously. Otherwise I’ll snort, laugh in disbelief and skip the page. Ward uses the famed sexual magnetism of vampires–no doubt heightened by the fact that the two were “fated” to be together, a device interpreted very literally by many authors, Ward no exception–as a cheap way to have Beth fall into bed with Wrath at the drop of hat, not only having never met him before that moment but not more than a day or two after she had survived an attempted rape.
This is not romantic. This is not erotic. This is tying TNT to my already fragile suspension of disbelief and exploding it into tiny, tiny, tiny pieces.
And did you catch that? The heroe’s name is Wrath. WRATH. Even now tears of laughter come to my eyes as I type it out. I don’t have the book with me (thank god, I could buy gazillion cups of coffee with that money) but I believe the heroine remarks that the name strangely suits the fellow. What? She should have laughed in his face! At the time she may have been under his powerful sexual spell and her inexplicably (at the time) overwhelming reaction to realise how ridiculous his name was but surely she doesn’t think with her bits 24/7.
Did I finish the book? I’m ashamed to say I did. At one point I felt it would be torture to continue, but some no good pixie urged me on, questioning all the while if the book could get much worse. It doesn’t, really, it is more or less the same level of waste from beginning to end.
I can’t even bother to get into how boring the sub-plots were. Or how Ward reneged on proper story-telling by smacking a glossary before the start of the story that included chunks of information not explained anywhere else. (That was the first sign that things were not looking good.) Or how Wrath (bwahahahahahaha) is described as the biggest misanthrope of all times, only to see him turn into jelly before the ravishing Beth several times a day, in very melodramatic, over-the-top fashion.
Don’t ask me to consider anything beyond the plot and basic story development. The very thought of considering aesthetics transforms my brain into a blacken arid wasteland.
All you need is love, indeed. – 1 trillion out of ten.