I know, I know. Inertia has its claws in me. I'm reading a ton, honest, but finding it real work to sit down and do the reviews. So Covet has been out for almost two weeks; I finished it over a week ago. Yeah, finally.
First off, if you don't like the direction Ward has been going with the BDB series, I'd recommend you skip it.
However, if you're good with a somewhat divided focus for the sake of the ongoing series arc, I think it's good news. The new premise feels fresh--don't know about you but I was getting kind of tired of the lessers. Ward's whys and wherefores of demon possession have an original spin while borrowing perhaps more heavily from traditional medieval Catholic lore than some of the current trendy demon-based UF.
I'm trying to think of another series that has a strong romantic focus on individual couples (as romance does) while also keeping a constant, catalyst character in the forefront (as UF does), and not coming up with anything comparable. The closest I can think of is Meljean Brook's Michael, but he's not directly involved in the protagonists' relationships the way Ward's character is. I'm guessing that Kenyon's Acheron might be similar, but I'm only going on buzz -- haven't read them myself.
Anyway, I'm finding it promising how deliberately the structure has been created-- I think it's a bit harder to take when that third-party role evolves through the series and risks feeling like shark-jumping. And it's a risk, because it breaks form-- some readers have complained that the focus is too divided, which I can understand. I'm reserving judgment about that because I did find both stories interesting with satisfying arcs, and the teaser for Jim's continuing story is compelling. Though some of the information about Jim's former life skirts the line between teasing and frustrating.
The new series is also set in Caldwell, NY, which I enjoy. I like having "insider" info, and find the cameos from Trez, Detective de la Cruz and Phury entertaining BUT if you haven't read the BDB first and don't want to, you won't lose any comprehension.
It's the End of the World As We Know It
I think Ward is taking herself-- or this series-- a little less seriously than the BDB, and it's good. She's always been able to write humor and absurdity into her books, especially in dialog, but I think a lot of what happens to Jim is pretty tongue-in-cheek. It might even tempt you into eye-roll territory (cricket-playing angels? a fortress castle = heaven? divine assistance via television messaging?) but it worked OK for me and was effective, if slightly silly, imagery.
Wardisms, and The Very Long Book
You'll find the voicing familiar, as both Jim and Vin sound very much like any given Black Dagger Brother, perhaps V, if I had to pick one. (Vin also gets premonitions about people's deaths, and he is NEVER WRONG-- coincidence?) The weird tendency to add an "ie" to the end of words like "freshie" for a "fresh drink" is still in here but toned down a bit (thankfullie) and O'Donovan? just for you? not a "shitkicker" boot in sight. (I was watching.)
It's no secret that I'm a fan of The Very Long Book. This is probably a requirement for a reader to enjoy this book-- if you merely tolerate long books only when the complex plot and characterization absolutely require it, you might pass this by. If this were Ward's first book, I would dare to say an editor might have been a bit more, um, editorial on this page count. As Mandi* astutely points out in her review, there are a couple of subplots that are not especially pertinent or, um, logical. At least one of them might become clearer as we get to know Jim's sidekicks in future books though, so I'm looking forward to that.
I think just overall I have lowered expectations from JR Ward these days. I'm happy to see the last two Ward books rise above the barrel-bottom-scraping of Lover Enshrined, but I've stopped expecting to get that heart-stopping OH MY GOD reaction I got with the first few BDB books. Maybe it was the novelty of the formula, and it just only works so many times. If it happens again, that'll just be a fabulous bonus.
In the meantime, I'm still a loyal reader. If I gave ratings, it would probably be something like a B+ for Covet-- good solid read, but not knock-your-socks-off, and I'll be reading the next one. Rumored title is Crave.
Honestly though? I don't think Ward is going to remain a Hardback Author for me. I might be hitting the library or waiting for Lover Mine to come out in paperback.
Around the Web:
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Dear Author (Brrr. Cold.)
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... and as always, if you've reviewed Covet and I've missed it, please feel free to leave your link in comments!
Next Up From JR Ward:
Lover Mine, John Matthew's story