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Lady Pokingham says: The 10th instalment of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Reborn, focuses on Torhment’s struggle to come to terms with his mate, Wellsie, and their unborn son’s untimely death. Gradually I had begun to be disappointed in Ward’s series, feeling that some of the books were fillers rather than stand-alone and my utter excitement to read the next one had been dampened. Lover Reborn has reignited my love for the BDBH. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down, yes there are still things that annoy me about the book, but Tohr’s grief was eloquently and beautifully portrayed.

Unlike in some of the previous books where I found myself skipping through the sub-plots to get back to the main action, I found Lover Reborn far more engaging. The book follows Quinn, John, Xhex, Layla, Lassiter, Tohr, No’ One and the Band of Bastards, and the multitude of evolving relationships. I adore the non-romantic ‘bromance’ of Lassiter and Tohr with their banter but underlying respect and love for one another. Previously I felt that the Lesser story line was more filler than actual story-line, but by making the sub-plots revolve around characters that we have already learnt to love, it makes the story far more engaging and enjoyable. With a few twists thrown in there for good measure, some of which are concluded within the story, others we will have to wait for, I couldn’t put Lover Reborn down.

As always Ward’s treatment and portrayal of her female characters perplexes me. The fact that the main love interest (if you can call her that) is named No’ One until Tohr re-names her Autumn, tells me everything I need to know about this non-existent blah character. I was never convinced that her and Tohr found true love with one another because she was never a real and whole person. I did like that Ward explained why No’ One was the way that she was and there is a great twist at the end, but I felt that this wasn’t enough.  No’One is a difficult heroine to get excited about. She is meek and subservient, broken and pitiful. She puts up with a lot of crap and sometimes stretches the limits of believability in how accommodating she is. Ultimately, for me No’ One is my least favourite leading female and to be honest I cannot even call her that, she is exactly what her name suggests, No’ One.

Strangely my other problem with Lover Reborn is the main relationship, between Tohr and No’ One. I never actually believed that he loved her, I think he cared for her and appreciated everything that she gave him the strength to do, but there was never the epic earth-shattering love that he had felt for Wellsie. Perhaps this was Wards point? Tohr would never love No’ One like he loved Wellsie, but that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t love her in his own way. I was happy with the way that Wellsie was dealt with, and I would have been fine to see Tohr and No’ One spend more time together, growing, in future books. What made it lacking for me was the end where Tohr suggests he would mate her, something I find unbelievable.

I felt a powerful emotional connection to Tohr and his grief, it was tangible and for me it overshadowed the No’ One relationship, which personally was a good thing. This was the first of Ward’s novels that I actually cried in and I felt that Ward did Tohr justice. Lover Reborn has become one of my favourite in the BDBH series, but not for the sex! This book contains a lot of foreplay and self-restraint and not as much sex as previous ones, but that is what I like about Lover Reborn. The sex is not the point, it is an added bonus to this character driven piece where Ward portrays the pain and suffering one goes through at the death of a loved one. All of the Brothers have pain in their background, much of which is touched upon but never fully explored, which has annoyed me in previous books; finally Ward has had the courage to lay bare this grief and not been afraid to dedicate a whole book to it. Personally I adored Lover Reborn but if you are not a fan of Tohr or just want the sex, perhaps skip this one.