Author Profile: J.R. Ward

This week’s author profile focuses on J.R Ward.  I chose her today because she has become one of my favorite authors and I think she is well overdue for her profile.  She is the best-selling author of the Black dagger Brotherhood and Fallen Angel Series’.

Born Jessica Rowley Bird in Massachusetts.  As a child she was a very avid writer.  This love of writing continued through the summer before college where she wrote her first novel.  When she went to college at Smith College, she continued to write but just for herself.  She majored in history and art history concentrating on medieval period.  After graduating from Smith College, she went on to get her law degree from Albany Law School.  With her degrees she worked in healthcare administration for many years and even became the Chief of Staff at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston, Ma.  In 2001, she married her husband and he encouraged her to really focus on her writing and get her manuscripts published.  In 2002, that is exactly what happened, Leaping Hearts was published.  Many years following her initial book she published the first of the paranormal romance series Black Dagger Brotherhood and from there it is what you call history.  She currently lives in the south with her husband and her furbaby, a golden retriever.

J.R Ward is an outstanding writer.  She is one of the most dynamic and creative storytellers that is currently being published. Not only is her writing phenomenal, but she also has a connection with her fans that not many authors do.  I have to give her a lot of credit for that.  She is at a point in her writing career that she can just sit back and write and her fans would still buy her books without question. But, she does not do that.  She continues to reach out to her fans through both her books and her many social media outlets (message boards and facebook).

One of the main reasons I personally connect with her books is that she makes the characters relatable even if they are vampires or angels.  If you have not read any of J.R Ward’s books step away from the computer and run not walk down to the local bookstore and buy one.  You will not regret it.

Since I am a huge BDB (Black Dagger Brotherhood) fan I figured I would post an excerpt from Dark LoverDark Lover is the first book in the BDB series.  Enjoy!

Walking through Screamer’s, Wrath sneered as the bar crowd tripped over itself to get out of his way. Fear and a morbid, lusty curiosity wafted out of their pores. He breathed in the rank odor. Cattle. All of them. From behind his dark glasses, his eyes strained against the dim lights and he shut his lids.

His vision was so bad that he was just as comfortable with total blindness. Focusing on his hearing, he sorted through the beats of the music, isolating the shuffling of feet, the whisper of words, the sound of another glass hitting the floor. If he ran into something, he didn’t care. Whether it was a chair, a table, a human, he’d just walk over the damn thing.

He sensed Darius clearly because his was the only body in the place that wasn’t reeking of panic.

Although even the warrior was on edge tonight.

Wrath opened his eyes when he stood in front of the other vampire. Darius was a blurry shape, his dark coloring and black clothes the only information Wrath’s vision gave him.

“Where’d Tohrment go?” he asked as he caught a whiff of scotch.

“He’s taking a breather. Thanks for coming.”

Wrath lowered himself into a chair. He stared straight ahead and watched the crowd gradually swallow up the path he’d made.

He waited.

The pounding beat of Ludacris faded into old school Cypress Hill.

This was going to be good. Darius was a real straight-shooter who knew Wrath couldn’t stand having his time wasted. If there was silence, something was up.

Darius tipped back his beer then let out a deep breath. “My lord-“

“If you want something from me, don’t lead with that,” Wrath drawled, sensing a waitress approaching them. He had the impression of big breasts and a strip of flesh between her tight shirt and her short skirt.

“You need a drink?” she asked slowly.

He was tempted to suggest she lay herself on the table and let him go to work on her carotid. 

Human blood wouldn’t keep him alive for long, but it sure as hell tasted better than watered-down alcohol.

“Not right now,” he said. His tight smile spiked her anxiety and gave her a shot of lust at the same time. He took her scent into his lungs.

Not interested, he thought.

The waitress nodded, but didn’t move away. She kept staring at him, her short blonde hair a halo in the darkness around her face. Spellbound, she seemed to have forgotten her own name, much less her job.

And how annoying was that.

Darius shifted impatiently.

“That’s all,” he muttered. “We’re good.”

As she backed up, getting lost in the crowd, Wrath heard Darius clear his throat. “Thanks for coming.”

“You already said that.”

“Yeah. Right. Ah, you and I go way back.”

“We do.”

“We’ve fought some damn good fights together. Cut down a lot of lessers.”

Wrath nodded. The Black Dagger Brotherhood had been protecting the race against the Lessening Society for generations. There was Darius. Tohrment. The four others. The brothers were vastly outnumbered by lessers, de-souled humans who served a nasty-ass master, the Omega. But Wrath and his warriors managed to hold their own.

And then some.

Darius cleared his throat. “After all these years-”

“D, you’ve got to cut to the point. Marissa needs to do a little business tonight.”

“Do you want to use your room at my place again? You know I don’t let anyone else stay there.” Darius let out an awkward laugh. “No doubt her brother would prefer you not show up at his house.”

Wrath crossed his arms over his chest, pushing the table out with his boot to give himself a little more room.

He didn’t give a crap that Marissa’s brother had delicate sensibilities and was offended by the life Wrath lived. Havers was a snob and a dilettante who had his head up his ass. He was totally incapable of understanding the kind of enemies the race had and what it took to defend the population.

Wrath wasn’t about to play dandy while civilians were getting slaughtered. He needed to be in the field with his warriors, not taking up space on some throne. So Havers could shove it.
Although Marissa shouldn’t have to deal with her brother’s attitude.

“I just might take you up on that offer.”

“Good.”

“Now talk.”

“I have a daughter.”

Wrath slowly turned his head. “Since when?”

“A while.”

“Who’s the mother?”

“You don’t know her. And she, ah, she died.”

Darius’s sorrow rose up around him, the acrid smell of old pain cutting through the stench of human sweat, alcohol, and sex in the club.

“How old is she?” Wrath demanded. He had a feeling where this might be headed.

“Twenty-five.”

Wrath cursed under his breath. “Don’t ask me, Darius. Don’t ask me to do it.”

“I have to. My lord, your blood is-”

“Call me that again and I’ll close your mouth for you. Permanently.”

“You don’t understand. She’s-”

Wrath started to get up. Darius’s hand grasped his forearm and then was quickly removed.

“She’s half-human.”

“Jesus Christ-”

“So she might not survive the transition if she goes through it. Look, if you help her, at least she has a chance of living. Your blood is so strong, it would increase the likelihood of her making it through the change as a half-breed. I’m not asking you to take her on as a shellan. Or to protect her because I can do that. I’m just trying to… Please. My other sons are dead. She’s all that could be left of me. And I… her mother is one I loved.”

If it had been anyone else, Wrath would have used his favorite pair of words, fuck and off. As far as he was concerned, there were only two good positions for a human. A female on her back. And a male face down and not breathing.

But Darius was almost a friend. Or would have been one, if Wrath had let him get close.
As Wrath stood up, he closed his eyes. Hatred washed through him, directed into the center of his own chest. He despised himself for walking away, but he just wasn’t the kind of male who could help some poor half-breed through such a painful and dangerous time. Gentleness, mercy, they were not in his make up.

“I can’t do it. Not even for you.”

Darius’s agony hit him in a great swell and Wrath actually swayed under the emotion’s force.

He squeezed the vampire’s shoulder.

“If you really love her, do her a favor. Ask someone else.”

Wrath turned and stalked out of the bar. On his way to the door, he wiped the memory of himself from every human cerebral cortex in the place. The strong ones would think they had dreamed him. The weak ones wouldn’t remember him at all.

Out on the street, he headed for a dark corner behind Screamer’s so that he could dematerialize. He passed a woman getting felt up by some guy in the shadows, a bum who’d collapsed in a stupor, a drug dealer arguing on a cell phone about the going price for crack.
Wrath knew the moment he was followed. And who it was. The sweet smell of baby powder was a dead giveaway.

He smiled widely, opened his leather jacket, and took out one of his hira shuriken. The stainless steel throwing star felt comfortable in his palm. Three ounces of death ready to hit the air waves.

With the weapon in his hand, Wrath didn’t change his stride, even though he wanted to rush into the shadows. He was spoiling for a fight after shutting down Darius and the Lessening Society member behind him had perfect fucking timing.

Killing the soulless human was just what he needed to take the edge off.
As he drew the lesser into the dense darkness, Wrath’s body primed for the fight, his heart pumping steadily, the muscles in his arms and thighs twitching in anticipation. His ears picked up the sound of a gun being cocked and he triangulated the weapon’s aim. It was pointed at the back of his head.

In a fluid motion, he wheeled around just as the bullet exploded out of the muzzle. He ducked and threw the star which flashed silver and twirled in a deadly arc. It caught the lesser right in the neck, splitting his throat open before continuing on its path into the darkness. The gun dropped to the ground, clattering across the asphalt.

The lesser grabbed his neck with both hands and fell to his knees.

Wrath walked over and went through its pockets. He took the wallet and the cell phone he found and put them into his jacket.

And then he withdrew a long, black-bladed knife from his chest holster. He was disappointed the fight hadn’t lasted longer, but going by the dark, curly hair and relatively inept attack, this was a new recruit. With a quick thrust, he pushed the lesser on to its back, flipped the weapon in the air and caught the handle with a swipe of his palm. The blade plunged into flesh, cut through bone, reached the black heart.

With a strangled sound, the lesser disintegrated.

 Wrath wiped the blade off on his leather pants, slipped it back where it belonged, and stood up. He looked around. And then dematerialized himself.

J.R Ward’s next book,  Rapture (Fallen Angels #4)  will be in stores September 25, 2012.  Her next BDB book Lover At-Last will be out Spring 2013.  For additional details about J.R Ward you can visit her website www.jrward.com.  For information regarding her Black Dagger Brother series or her Fallen Angel series you can visit Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

Girls Rule…Boys Drool…or not?

A theme I have noticed in a lot of the books I have been reading lately is the development of strong alpha female characters.  There aren’t as many stories that focus on the female character being the damsel in distress. There are a lot of female ass-kicking characters now then there ever were.  But, that being said there are quite a few book series that feature very overly Alpha male characters.  You are hard pressed to find many series that balance the two well.  A series in which both are Alphas and work well together.

Female characters such as Anita Blake, Charley Davidson and Mackayla Lane, to name a few, all have very similar character requirements.  They are tough, witty, strong both of character and physically and yet still very feminine.  They are exquisite examples of Girl Power.

Anita Blake, of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Series,  is also known as the vampire hunter.  Her series revolves around her but also include a male counterpart, Jean Claude.  The stories illustrate her strengths, weaknesses and her ability to over come them herself not relying souly on Jean Claude to bail her out. The story between her and Jean Claude also does not lead to them automatically jumping into bed.  She sticks to her guns even though there is definite chemistry there.  She is not the shrinking violet or damsel in distress.  In a fight you wouldn’t mind having Anita Blake at your back.

Charley Davidson, of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson Series, is also known as the Grim Reaper.  She is a part-time private detective who can communicate with the dead because she is the light that spirits must go into.  She is one of the funniest characters I’ve read in a long time.  She also has a male counterpart in Reyes.  Now, she and Reyes have had hot, sweaty sex but she still keeps her wits about her and still questions the Son of Satan’s  (Reyes) motives.  Charley is definitely headstrong and no non-sense but very relatable.

Mackayla Lane, from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series, is our most human of the three female characters I chose.  She does have special powers but it’s not really something most people would want to have.  She can see the Fae without their glamour.  Which means all the awful and ugly facades come crashing at her.  The only reason she learns of these powers is because she leaves her very isolated Georgia home town to Dublin where the Fae are very prominent.  It is here she meets one of the best Alpha males that has been written, Jerricho Barrons.  Mackayla isn’t always the strong character she develops into.  It is her situation, determination and Barrons incessant bullying and pestering that drives her be become what she needs to be.

Since we have covered the female characters we must give props to some of the very strong male characters out there. But, I find that many of the male characters are parts of groups. The Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Lords of the Underworld are some of the strongest male characters that are currently placed on the bookshelves.  They know how to be both sensitive and totally take someone out for messing with their mates.  These men are all Alpha males even though there are leaders in both groups.

J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood contains ALL strong characters.  Each one of them must overcome obstacles from Vishous and his need for pain, Rhage and his inner monster, Zsadist and his tormented past and John Matthew and his human past to name only a few.  But, with overcoming these problems whether physical or mental allow for them to grow as characters and still kick ass and show the Lessers who is boss.  These males take care of theirs and no one better ever threaten what is theirs or face the dire consequences.

Gena Showalter’s the Lords of the Underworld are a bit more complicated considering most of them are two entities.  One half is the man and the other half is the demon they house.  These Lords face similar issues like that of the Brotherhood except they are constantly fighting themselves. Most of the Lords must do things like consistently lie, win every challenge or cut themselves or they are in immense pain.  These cursed men fight those who are trying to destroy them while still protecting their mates.  These men, like the BDB, are strong-willed Alpha males.

I have covered both strong female and male characters.  There are only a few series’ that offer partnerships that allow for both to be Alphas or dominant.  Cat and Bones from Jeaniene Frost’s Nighthuntress series and Elena and Raphael from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series are two that stick out to me.  Both of these strong couples support yet protect each other.  Both allow for dominance and strength in each other while accomplishing their goals.  This type of relationship is rarely seen in novels.  I believe it’s probably just very difficult to write.  It is much easier to have one central character be the dominant.

All this being said, I still am at a loss to which I prefer.  Whether I like the strong, witty, fun female protagonist or the domineering, overly protective/sensitive male protagonist, I am unsure.  But, if those two get together I know they most likely will have fireworks and really sexy love scenes.  And, who doesn’t like a good sex scene?

What do you prefer, A Female Alpha or a Male Alpha? 

Lounging by the Kiddie Pool (My Top 10 Summer Re-Reads)

One of the main points of summer is relaxation, vacation and letting the winter blues float away on waves of summer sun and fun.  For me, summer forces a choice between reading new books and/or  re-reading some of my favorite books.  I can never choose between the two so I do both.  I read a new book then to almost do a sort of cleansing I re-read a book that I have read many times already.  The upside to doing this is you get the excitement of the new book/author but also get to be re-acquainted with previous enjoyable stories.

Choosing what to re-read is one of the biggest challenges.  Sometimes for me it’s just a matter of what kind of mood I am in.  But, for the most part there are certain books I tend to gravitate to when I need to read something that feels like new each time but I have the comfort of knowing what is going to happen and know the characters like they are old friends. One of the many upsides of the summer re-read is that you don’t have to go in series order.  If your favorite book is not the first one it is not necessary to re-read all of them to get to your favorite.  It’s the summer go crazy and start in the middle.  This was a hard list to come up with because I have a lot of books that I could put in this category.  But, I figured I would pick some lesser known authors to include in the list to introduce to a wider audience.  Plus, they are really good and should get noticed!

10.  Juliet by Anne Fortier-This is a unique twist on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  I enjoy the jumping from the past to present and connections between the past characters and the present ones.  Plus, who doesn’t like a good Romeo and Juliet type of story.

 

 

9.  The Mating by Nicky Charles-This is one of the best free books I have ever come across.  The author publishes her own books so you have to take some of the editing with a grain of salt and just focus on the writing.  She reinvents the idea of werewolves and make it seem very believable.

 

 

8.  Lover Reborn (Black dagger Brotherhood #10) by J.R Ward-This is the 10th book in the Blackdagger Brotherhood Series.  This book focuses on Tohrment and No’One/Autumn.  I feel the need to re-read this one because I read it so fast the first time through I don’t think I got everything I wanted and needed.  Plus, for those BDB fans out there…I need my Qhuinn and Blay fix.

 

 

7.  Darkfever (Fever Series #1) by Karen Marie Moning-We meet MacKayla Lane from Ga in this first book in the Fever Series.  You quickly fall for her as she discover’s who she is and why she is being hunted.  All the while she is searching for the killer of her sister. But for those familiar with the Fever Series all I really have to say about this is…BARRONS!!!

 

 

6.  Marked (Eternal Guardians #1) by Elisabeth Naughton-Marked is the first in Elisabeth Naughton’s Eternal Guardians series. You are introduced to the Guardians, but this book focuses on their leader Theron.  If you like Greek mythology with a twist you will like this series.  The story is fast paced and an excellent beginning to a wonderful series.

 

 

5.  The Naked Viscount by Sally Mackenzie-This is definitely my favorite in Sally Mackenzie’s Naked Series.  You won’t find two better Characters than Jane and Edmund.  She is headstrong and he just doesn’t know what hits him when she does.  It’s a really fun Regency romance.

 

 

4.  A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare-I really like all of Lydia Dare’s books.  This is the first in her series with the Westfield brothers.  Once you meet them you will be coming back for more.    Simon is brutish and Lily doesn’t put up with his act.  All the while you throw in some paranormal (werewolves) and its a unique Regency Paranormal Romance.  Not many of those out there!

 

 

3.  Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey-If you like Carly Philips’ books you will like Shannon Stacey.  There writing is similar and very cute.  This is a nice fresh read especially between books.  Her characters are funny and very relatable which helps the story move very fast.  I would recommend all of her books, but this one in particular is my favorite.

 

 

2.  Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison-This book has to be my all-time favorite book that I found for free.  It is definitely a different take on Death (Grim Reaper) and the idea that he falls in love and has a child.  This story is about the child and the powers she has.  The characters are well-formed and the story is very well thought out leading us to believe there is a continuing story.  Adam and Talia are unforgettable characters that will leave you wanting more or to just go back and read about them all over again.

 

1.  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness-Not much more I can say about Matthew and Diana that I haven’t already said in my book review.  There story is epic and since there continuation in Shadow of Night is coming out I have to re-acquaint myself with all the nuances of the story so they are fresh for the next one.

 

 

If any of these books interest you I would suggest going over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to see the actual overviews of that book.  Also, if you haven’t read the series I wouldn’t always suggest jumping into the middle.  It could be confusing and possibly turn you off of a good series.

For more information about any of these books, series or authors please go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your local retail book seller.  You may also ask me if you have any specific questions.  Happy Reading!!

The Ties that Bind

I was reminded today about the book 5 People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.  This book was thrust back into the front of my mind when I was reading a twitter thread #IfIDiedTomorrow.  The whole purpose of that thread was to put out there what you want remembered about yourself.  I began thinking about what I would post on this thread.  I drew a blank.  Then what came flooding into my mind was watching my father pass away in the hospital and immediately the book I read while sitting with him popped into my head.  I thought how strange that I was reading a book about death and the afterlife as I was watching someone close to me about to take that journey.

Thinking back on that book and re-reading it always hurdles me right back into the time when I was sitting in that hospital room just waiting.  I can still hear the dull sounds outside the room. Smell the hospital antiseptic that is always used.  I see my dad, who was dying of cancer at the time, only a shell of the man I knew.  All of these vivid memories connected to one book.  So, I began to wonder how many other books I could connect to such vivid memories.  I was surprised with how many different books supported and comforted me through sad and happy times like they were old friends.

J.R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood popped into my mind immediately.  I started reading these books when I was 8 months pregnant.  I still remember laying in bed reading and feeling my little guy moving in my tummy.  Reading them when I was in the Doctor’s office getting blood taken.  I think I am so attached to this series and author partially because it carried me through my last month of being pregnant and helped me dampen nerves that were already rampant for a new mother.  The distraction that was the Black Dagger Brotherhood has now intrenched itself in my life and I have become a huge fan because of how these books carried me through to one of the greatest events in my life.

Many authors effect their readers emotionally. But, Nicholas Sparks has to be one of best known authors for taking a chunk of your heart every time you read his books. So, it was strange to realize one of my most prominent memories revolves around one of his books.  It was my first year of college.  I didn’t have anywhere to go for spring break because I lived so far away.   A friend invited me to go home with her and I went.  I remember the look of the house while I sat and read The Notebook.  I remember the quiet that only the deep south can give you.  The breeze that blew through the house occasionally.  The welcoming warmth of the family taking me in for the week.  An overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace comes with reading The Notebook and it’s not from the book itself.

So, it seems that books don’t just impact you with their stories.  It seems your story and emotions can tie to a book and it can become a symbol of a single moment or string of moments  that are emotionally poignant to you.  I know that I have many other books with these connections to my life and I foresee that many more will have an impact and become a symbol all wrapped up in the package of a good book.

So…I ask you reader…Do you have a book or story that ties you to an event in your life?

To re-read or not to re-read…

March 27th is a big day in my book world.  I have two series’s that I currently read that have new books coming out.  Kerrelyn Sparks’s Love at Stake has Wanted: Undead or Alive coming out and J.R Ward’s Black Daggar Brotherhood has Lover Reborn coming out.  I have read all books in both of these series’ so I had a serious choice to make.  Which series do I re-read in time for the new book to come out?

I chose to read J.R Ward’s BDB.  I am currently on the most recent book and will be completed the re-read of the series in time for Lover Reborn.  This is not to say that I prefer one over the other.  They are two different series’ but both are about vampires.  I think I chose to re-read BDB because it has a lot more information that you need to be reminded of.  Love at Stake is a little more simplistic and easier to skip a re-read.

I do however suggest that if you are going to start a series start from the beginning.  It is really difficult to jump onto a bandwagon when the story lines have been so thoroughly established.  I would also suggest to not make any misinformed (stupid) assumptions or questions when you haven’t read or re-read the books.  No matter the series.  You just make yourself look bad. 

So, I say re-read whenever you can…and if you can’t well then just skip to the good parts you remember…hahahaha.  🙂

Currently Reading: RE-Reading Lover Unleased by J.R Ward

Currently Listening: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Coming Up: Lost December by Richard Paul Evans, Lover Reborn by J.R Ward, Wanted: Undead or Alive by Kerrelyn Sparks

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