Disclaimer: M'kay so this is totally not a "review". Because the way I see it...everyone who wanted to read this book has already done so and everyone who got pissed off at JRW after V's book has already decided not to bother. So rather than try to condense 500+ pages of book into one short review, I'm going to be lazy and just ramble about stuff that I liked/disliked/noticed/missed in Lover Enshrined.
That out of the way. First thing, this is not a romance. Repeat NOT a romance. Are there romantic elements? Sure thing, but in no way do they take center stage. But despite this fact or maybe even because of it, this book read better to me than the previous outting. There's lots of jumping around between the Phury/Cormia story, the JM/Blay/Quinn story, the lessers, the other random BDB dudes, Rhev (oh yes!), the Chosen (oh noes!) and the ever-more-violent war between the lessers and vamps. If you don't like the scene you're reading, just wait a minute cuz a totally new thread is going to be joined in a sec. Never a dull moment! Oh wait...yeah there are a few. Mainly anytime the "hero" is onstage. *sigh*
Phury is a disappointment. I have to say. He was never my fav Brother (yeah, that would be Rhage, duh) but I always had a soft spot for him and was looking forward to seeing him get his HEA. By the end of this book, as he was contemplating suicide I was urging him to go ahead and do it and save us all the trouble. Horrid, I know. But s'rsly. whine whine whine. Internal monologues. Woe is me. wahhhhh. And both he and Cormia indulged in my ultra-pet-peeve, the old "push you away for your own good cuz i am not worrrrrthy" schtick. ugh.
The upshot is that Cormia actually turned out to be ok. Her introduction in the previous book was less than stellar and I had zero hopes for her, but in fact she learns to grow something of a backbone and comes into her own. Not anything near the level of a Jane or a Bella, but still better than expected. Unfortunately, she and Phury spend most of the book separated for one lame reason or another. Cormia actually has more face time with JM it seems. I was kinda rooting for him to make a move on her and steal her away from Phury. Seeing as Phury couldn't make up his mind about her and couldn't be bothered to get with her. Would have served him right.
Speaking of John Matthew, I have to give him props. In the previous books I have always been bored with his parts and skimmed through them to get back to the main h/h storyline. He becomes much more interesting and complex in this go-round. JM, Blay and Quinn as a trio really work, and their interactions and coming-of-age probably are the best part of the book. Oh yeah, and did I mention that we finally do get a teeny tiny m/m kiss? mmm. I want Blay to have his own damned book. plz. kthx.
However, I have no complaint that the next book is scheduled to be about our drug-dealing mafioso-esque friend Rhev. We get to know a lot more about him and his sympath side and he's not what he seems on the surface. I like how he's got like a dual-nature thing going and how he's both good and evil. Should make for some compelling drama in the next story. At least it sure better if it's going to be in frackin' HARDCOVER. Pffft. Library, here I come.
Other random thoughts. Nice continuation of the Z/Bella story. Z has really been a mainstay throughout the books and he always gets the best lines. And why the hell does my man Rhage only get a few little measly moments? And don't even get me started on the serious lack of V. As for Butch, he never was one of my favs so I didn't much notice his presence or lack thereof. The real star of LE tho. It's gotta be the cat Boo. (excuse for gratuitous LOLcat posting)
What else? Well, the lessers are more interesting and seem to have more of a gameplan this time. Omega is turning out to have an actual backstory and not just be there for the sake of villainy. And who knew...the Scribe Virgin is capable of getting talked back to! Most importantly (spoiler!) Tohr is back. Not in any kind of good shape but he's alive. I knew it all along. Some nice moments between him and JM. And oh YEAH before I forget...nice moments between JM and Xhex. Woot! The boy is growing up and growing into that hot big body of his. I can't wait to see what the future has for these two. I know I'm in the minority but I really dig Xhex. For all of the complaining people do about the lack of strong women characters in the series, she has gotta be the antithesis to the typical BDB heroine. so yeah, looking forward to that one.
All in all? This ain't yo' momma's BDB book! And by that I mean, this series has definitely moved from the romance category to the urban fantasy/paranormal category. As a romance reader it makes me a bit sad because I found the first 3 books to be totally riveting and emotional. However, I get that as Ward delves more into her world, the list of characters keeps growing and you can only cover so many of them in a certain amount of space. The good (or perhaps bad?) thing for me is that I'm still compelled to read them and I still raced through this one just about as fast as I devoured the previous installments. For all the goofy slang and over-the-top-ness, the BDB is still damned entertaining and I believe I am here for the duration.
(pssst, check it out. Gerard Butler as a vampire. LOL!)