Loved it, but...
Well, here's the problem: J.R. Ward is one of my favorite authors. BDB is one of my favorite series, so I expect A LOT whenever a new book comes out. Lover Unleashed was good--really good--but it just didn't live up to some of my favorites in the series.
Lover Unleased is the story of Payne, V's sister, and Dr. Manuel Manello, aka Manny. It picks up where Lover Mine left off. Payne is brought to the brotherhood compound, paralyzed, and the still-very-much-human Manny is called in. He's her last and best hope of getting well, and his sensual treatments stir up more than just healing. As usual, Ward delivers the goods, a great love story, hot love scenes, and a deepening understanding of each of the characters. Notably missing was the conflict, the dire stakes that I always expect to see in one of Ward's tales. Where was the antagonist? What happened to the threat of the Lessening Society? Why didn't I ever feel truly anxious about Payne or Manny's safety? I definitely worried about V and Butch... But this could've just as easily have been Vishous's story.
I will confess that V's book, Lover Unbound, wasn't my favorite (really it was close to last in my view, mostly b/c of a craptastically implausible ending. No really, it was bad. Slam the cover closed, throw the book across the room, screaming in my head bad). Seriously though, why was V the only brother to get the shaft? Why should he be the only one cheated out of H.E.A.? I tell you it just wasn't right! But then again, maybe that's why Ward did such a bang-up job of continuing their story here. Finally, finally, V and Doc Jane get it together and find the closure I'd been hoping for. That was good to see, but I think it took the focus away from Payne and Manny.
That same thing happened to Phury in Lover Enshrined (my least favorite in the series. I was so disappointed...I can't...I really...I still can't talk about it). I know that I shouldn't compare the books, but how can you not?? Phury and Cormia's love was totally outshined by some of the other character arcs just like Payne and Manny's.
And in saying, I will add that this was not the story I wanted to read next. It was not the story that left me salivating, literally squirming in my seat, wanting more at the end of Lover Mine. That honor went to a different couple, and to end this post I only have one thing to say.
If Blay and Qhuinn don't end up together, like truly and completely, wiping-tears-from-my-eyes-because-I'm-so-freakin'-happy-that-Ward-did-the-right-thing-and-wasn't-afraid-to-let-them-end-up-together-simply-because-it-was-a-brother/brother-love-match, I will be one very unhappy ninja.
Blay and Qhuinn Forever <3 <3 <3