Friday, November 18, 2011

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: Lover Eternal

Oh man, I think I'm in love....

I've always had a thing against arrogance, particularly arrogant men.  They just make my inner feminist want to put on her shitkickers and bring out a blowtorch.  It's an irony to call oneself humble, but I'm generally not the type to trot out my accomplishments or act in a superior manner to others (unless they are arrogantly ignorant, which is a subclass of arrogance that really sets me off).  To see others act as though they are the best and only game in town just makes me want to go to another playground.

Now, I say that knowing that I find confidence attractive.  Without getting into a semantics debate over the difference between arrogance and confidence, suffice it to say I have often found self-confidence to be more of turn-on than a well-tailored suit or a fast car.  Confidence in one's abilities, knowledge, and talents denotes a sense of honesty and introspection; you have to know yourself before you can sell yourself.

Arrogance, on the other hand, is a front; it's a paint job to hide the underlying fear of inferiority and lies told to cover up that fear.  Arrogance usually comes out in a public display of false feathers, a showmanship of self that leaves others feeling less, engendering a sense of envy that might not be based on anything tangible.  Sometimes, though, arrogance blinds the self more than it does the group.  The lie that covers up a sense of inferiority is sometimes on that makes the self seem less, a false sense of modesty.  Arrogance can blind us to what is in front of us and can keep us stuck in a parody of reality.  The fantasy that we tell ourselves, that we bolster ourselves with, is in fact the most detrimental confidence we could give ourselves.

The second book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Eternal, is focused on Rhage.  The story begins about a month after the end of the first book.  The Brotherhood has moved in together at the Tombs mansion, and they are settling in to a more coordinated team, being led by Tohrment.  The brothers are now living, working, and training with each other 24/7; one hopes the end result is a more cohesive group to go after the Lessening Society.

Rhage is an arrogant git at first glance.  By far the most gorgeous member of the Brotherhood, he would make actors feel like trailer trash.  He's a blond beauty, an angel with the nickname of Hollywood, and he has a talent for having a big mouth, usually pissing someone off at least twice a day.  (Personally, I think of this guy, only with blue eyes instead of his normal brown.  Mmmmmmmm...).  He also has a talent for getting laid; he would make Wilt Chamberlain look like a choir boy.  Of all the vices to have, being a god of random hook-ups is one most guys respect.

However, Rhage's excesses are not so much by choice as by necessity.  Due to previous bad behavior, which is explained in the course of the story, we learn Rhage has been cursed by the Scribe Virgin.  Intense emotions will bring on an immediate change, forcing him to transform into a violent beast (think along the lines of an Eastern dragon, like Haku in Spirited Away).  Certain releases found in intense physical activity, such as extreme exercise routines, binge eating, and sexual release, help keep the beast at bay.  If he could choose for himself, Rhage would choose the life of a happily monogamous man.  Unfortunately, he can't choose, so he puts up a front, showing the world an arrogant man who is thrilled to be a love god.

Mary Luce feels like "ordinary" should have her picture next to it in the dictionary.  At age 31, she sees her life as mostly over, having never started in the first place.  Alone after her mother's death, and taking a mandated break from her volunteer work at a suicide hotline, Mary's life spins further out of control as she learns her leukemia is out of remission with a vengeance.  All this in just the first thirty pages.  However, a chance meeting with a young mute man propels her life in a whole new direction.

John Matthew is a total mystery.  To date, he is an orphan raised by nuns, mute since birth as far as they can figure.  He becomes friends with Mary and her neighbor Bella; Bella recognizes John as a pre-transition vampire, and she calls in to the Brotherhood for help.  Mary, John, and Bella are almost instantly caught up in the thrall of three of the brothers.  One can only hope it is for the better.

When Rhage begins to show interest in Mary, she assumes it can't be real.  Someone who looks like an angel shouldn't be going for the plain girl, right?  Everything in Mary's mind tells her that Rhage's attentions cannot be anything more than pity.  Relying on anyone, much less someone who she feels vulnerable around, scares Mary to the core.  This time, her confidence in her conclusions about Rhage is true arrogance.  Despite the truth to Rhage's feelings, Mary's refusal to let him in borders on the annoying.  She confuses being a strong person with an unwillingness to be reliant on anyone.

In the end, Mary finally gets it, and learns that Rhage's unwillingness to do anything for her is real.  To him, confronting her illness head on walks the same line of humility and sympathy as his own hard-won self-control.  The author does a good job experimenting with plot twists in this particular story.  Though everything ends well, the author tosses in a major plot twist twenty pages before the end of the book.  I imagine she did it as a bit of a fake-out for the audience, and also as a way to play around with (and solve) twists in plot lines.  Also, the writing style is definitely developing, though the continual use of certain abbreviations does annoy me because I hate losing the flow of the story to figure out what they mean.  And it looks like I'm going to have to get my sister to make me a Brotherhood soundtrack; she would know most of the songs mentioned in the books, and I'd like to listen to it to get a better feel for the story.... and get my Rhage on.....

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