Reviewed by Mandi
First – spoiler alert! The heroine actually lives in this book. After The Shadows, you never know. (I’m still bitter – I can’t help it. But I really liked this book so I’m moving on.)
Blood Kiss is the first spin-off book of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood book. It’s 100% set in the BDB world, in the training center and lots of brothers and their shellans are in the book. But unlike some of the recent BDB books, this one has two main focuses – Butch/Marissa and Paradise/Craeg. As the fight against the lessers increases and after that horrible massacre, the Brothers have decided to bring in some new recruits. Sixty applicants apply but after a night of intense hazing, seven remain standing. Paradise is one of two girl trainees and the one that stays on her feet the longest during the first night. I don’t always love JR Ward heroines, but I enjoyed Paradise. She comes from an aristocratic family – her father is an advisor to Wrath, so it is expected for her to grow up, marry, and be the perfect hostess. But she doesn’t want that. When most of her family dies during the raids, she decides she wants to train to fight. Her father reluctantly agrees, but is a good support for her throughout the book.
Craeg is another trainee. His father was killed during the raids and he has a grudge against the aristocrats. He is grumbly and growly and tough. Craeg and Paradise have a pretty immediate connection, but he wants nothing to do with a relationship. He wants to learn to fight and that’s about it. We meet the other trainees as well, as I assume all will get books. I like them all – Novo is the other female, and she reminds me a bit of Xhex. Axe is a goth/scary mofo who intrigues me. Peyton is Paradise’s best friend – annoying but likable too.
What I like best about this training center scenario is that it allows us to have fresh characters yet still have the brothers play a big role – but nothing is too muddled. Rhage, V, Butch all have pretty big roles in this book, as they put the trainees through their courses. They have to act all menacing and tough to intimate the green recruits – and it’s fun. They are there eating dinner with their mates, or just passing through. It felt very warm and family-like. Lassiter is in the book a lot being….Lassiter. At one point he uses a selfie-stick to make a semi-naked calendar of just him. What I love about the BDB – the goofiness, the brotherly camaraderie, the bad-ass, sarcastic, leather-wearing men who are all gooey with their mates – it’s all here. This made me very happy.
While 50% of the book is Craeg and Paradise, the other half is Butch and Marissa. Don’t worry – nothing major goes down with these two. Butch acts like a typical Brother by putting Marissa on a constant pedestal. All Marissa wants to do is be a little more dirty…not as prim and proper and Butch won’t hear of it. But they talk it out through the book and work out their differences. There are some very sexy scenes with them. I adore Butch, so I’m really glad we get a “part two” to his HEA, and also that it’s nothing horrible or stressful.
The other part of the story is an unnamed victim of abuse who dies and Marissa is determined to find out who the girl is and what happened to her. Butch helps out with this mystery. It worked well within the story.
My only complaint about the story is that the “I love you” between Paradise and Craeg felt rushed and forced to me. I definitely felt their chemistry and I like how their relationship was progressing, but it felt no where near the I love you stage. I really feel they barely get to know each other in this book. Craeg has that bonding scent released and his fangs out anytime anyone gets near Paradise, but it felt rushed to me.
Otherwise, Blood Kiss is a fun book. It has that BDB humor I enjoy and lots of sexy times. Blood Kiss reminds me why I love spending time with the brothers.