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Synopsis Set in present day Caldwell, New York ‘Dark Lover’ is the first in a series of novels about the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is an ancient order of warrior vampires who defend their race against the lessers, vampire slayers who have been recruited by the Omega (an evil supernatural being who wants all vampires destroyed.) There are six warriors in the Brotherhood and these warriors are all that stand between the civilian vampires and the extinction of the vampire species at the hands of the lessers. In the Black Dagger novels the vampires are a separate species to humans, to be a vampire you have to have been born carrying vampire blood. At the start of their lives vampires seem like humans, they have no special strengths and can go out in daylight but they go through a dangerous transition to vampire hood in their mid twenties. Although vampires can drink the blood of humans it has little nutritional value for them and they need to drink the blood of other vampires (of the opposite sex) to survive. A human bitten or drained by a vampire doesn’t rise as a vampire – they are just dead. The vampires are few in number due to the legions of slayers hunting them down over the centuries, high infant mortality and the rigors of the transition to vampire hood that not all vampires survive. The story focuses on the romance between Wrath, the only pure blooded vampire left on the planet, and Beth a human/vampire half breed who is about to undergo the transition from human to vampire but isn’t aware of her vampire heritage. There are a lot of obstacles in their path. Wrath hates humans and doesn’t want a mate. Beth finds it hard to believe in her vampire heritage and doesn’t want to need Wrath. That would make their relationship difficult enough without them being the prime target for the lessers who are hatching a new strategy for wiping the vampires off the face of the earth. The Review This is the first novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a series paranormal romance books written under the pen name of J. R. Ward. It is not the author’s first novel because she has already written several romance novels under the name of Jessica Bird but I believe it is her first paranormal novel. Either way it’s a great book! To help the reader understand the vampire words and terms there is a helpful glossary at the start of the book, which is great to fill the reader in on the background, but the book is so well written that you don’t need to keep looking things up in the glossary. The action in the book is fast and exhilarating making the story a real page turner. The brothers like rap music, fast cars, black leather, knives, guns and martial arts and have this whole alpha male macho thing going on, yet as characters they are all intriguingly flawed and have weaknesses as well as strengths. Dark Lover has some wonderfully erotic scenes between Wrath and Beth. Unlike some romance (and vampire) novels the sex scenes are not used to prop the story up when poor plotting means that there isn’t much else going on. In Dark Lover the erotic parts are blended seamlessly with the romance, the vampire fantasy world and the action parts of the story making it a book that will satisfy a wide female audience. I particularly liked Dark Lover because it is the start of a new vampire romance series. It is an exciting, original and well written book. I always get excited when the first book of a new series is this good because it makes me hopefully optimistic that further books on this series will be equally good. I am intrigued to find out whether the vampires win their battle against the Omega and his lessers and how the lives of the other brothers play out. More please!