Literary Review: Lover Avenged (Book 7) by J R Ward

Note: I actually listened to all the books in the series straight through and will be re-listening to them in order in another week or two. Since I didn’t review all the books from the beginning, a lot of these will be out of order but eventually I will get to all of them.

Title: Lover Avenged
Author: J R Ward
Series: Book Seven
Format: Audiobook

Rehvenge was slowly gaining steam in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series as more than just a passing mention. Even though we’ve had glimpses of him in the first two books (Dark Lover and Lover Eternal) we didn’t really know how he is connected to the Brotherhood if at all until Book Three: Lover Awakened. Since then we’ve learned the following
– owner of the club ZeroSum a regular hunting ground of the Brotherhood
– major drug supplier in the Caldwell area
– brother of Bella shellan (wife) of the Brother Zsadist
– lover of the Symphath princess

As of the end of Lover Enshrined, Rehvenge was also tapped to be the “Princeps Leahdyre” the leader of the council run by the aristocrats of the vampire society… similar to the “House of Lords” in Britain. Even though we know bits and pieces of the kind of front that Rehvenge presents to the world we don’t really know him as a person except from heresay (Xhex and Bella) so he appears to have a kind of dichotomy surrounding him.

In fact, Lassiter the fallen angel describes him best:

The righteous do not always right, but their souls remain pure.

Available summary:

Now, as the vampire warriors defend their race against their slayers, one male’s loyalty to the Brotherhood will be tested – and his dangerous mixed blood revealed.

Caldwell, NY, has long been the battleground for the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and leader of the Brotherhood. Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood, even though his sister is married to a member. Because he’s a sympath, his identity is a deadly secret- the revelation of which will result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. And as plots within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in a darkening world – Elhena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him – and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

In any case for a thorough look through the backstory and present story of Rehvenge just head on over to Book Thingo’s Cheat Sheet below… the page includes the following:
Book Thingo: Black Dagger Brotherhood Cheat Sheet Part 7
– Rehvenge, son of Rempoon, aka The Reverend
– Xhex
– Symphath culture
– Trez and iAm

One of things I noticed here was the parallel storylines between Wrath coming to terms with his disability and having to take up the mantle of his birthright and Rehvenge with his symphath side and coming to terms with the fallout of this side of him being public knowledge. Having these parallel storylines, to me, helped in understanding the nature of what was happening and what was to come. Wrath, as leader of the vampire society was always reluctant of becoming king, never seeing himself as a strong leader like his father. It is through his shellan, Beth, that he starts to feel comfortable with his birthright and duty:

“Transformative events weren’t always scheduled and not always expected. […] Every once in a while, from out of the blue, someone reaches the quiet place where you spend your private time and changes the way you see yourself. If you’re lucky, it’s your mate, and the transformation reminds you once again that you are absolutely, positively with the right person. Because what they say doesn’t touch you because of who they are to you but because of the content of their message.”

On the other side of the coin, Rehvenge was created through a forced conception via his mother and the then symphath king. He was unwanted by his step-father and bore the burden of his mother’s guilt for his creation. He spent the majority of his life trying to assuage that guilt, it took the love of his sister, Bella assuring him:

It’s not your fault.

Before Rehvenge could finally accept that for himself. After a series of events Rehvenge found himself in the unenviable position of being in the leadership position of the symphath colony and right when he thought he could wash his hands off from the culture Wrath suggested that it would be in everyone’s best interest to take up the mantle.

Rehvenge’s growth from what we knew in previous novels to this novel was realistic and impressive. I never believed Rehvenge’s exterior especially with what his sister believes him to be, but that’s the writer in me to read in between the words. So when reading “Lover Avenged” you start to see and realize just where his intentions lie and which side of the fence he belongs. When the aristocracy suggests that Rehvenge find a way to kill the king (Wrath), Rehvenge instead kills the instigator and warns Wrath of the possibility of assassination attempts.

Rehvenge’s character is very selfless when it come to the people her cared most about and although he never really considered himself as a “good person” his intentions – as Lassiter mentioned in Lover Enshrined – were righteous thus making him a righteous person. To most people this can be considered a bit of a contradiction, an oxymoron… but when applying that mentality in our reality in a lot of ways it makes sense and definitely realistic.

His female of choice is the humble and one that fell on hard times ever since her family was persuaded into poor business dealings: Ehlena a nurse in the vampire clinic. Ever since her family descended into poverty from the Glymera (the vampire’s version of aristocracy) and their family name tarnished via lies and deceit by friends and relations alike, Ehlena’s mother committed suicide while her father developed schizophrenia. She worked primarily to keep a roof over their heads and learned to question the intentions of anyone and everyone around her.

Like most love interests of the Brothers in the series up to this point, Ehlena has been through tough times of her own and strove to rise above the ashes just to keep afloat. She was skeptical of Rehvenge’s intentions towards her and the moment that she finds out the reality of his life versus what he presented to her, she understandably ran away refusing to talk to him again. Then again that was exactly what Rehvenge wanted to happen so she wouldn’t be sucked into his world. She is a strong female that figured out a way to save her beloved and will do anything and everything to do just that.

Resourceful, determined, and humble it’s hard to dislike her, in fact it was rather easy to relate to her and being able to apply pieces of what she has been through to one’s own life. What I rather like about this particular storyline is that it appears to be rather balanced between the male and female point of view when considering what is going on. Without providing too many spoilers it is clear that Rehvenge had more to overcome than Ehlena, but Ehlena is much more tied into his story than some of the previous females.

Like all the previous novels, there were other storylines that were being nurtured and developed in preparation for a future book. Even if I didn’t already have the next book of the series in my possession, I would say it was pretty obvious that the story of John Matthew and Xhex was next in line. There was a lot of development and precursors between the two that was peppered throughout Lover Avenged and much of the dilemmas and obstacles between the two occurred in this book setting into play the pieces for them to possibly find their ways to one another in the next book in the series.

In Lover Avenged, Xhex is revealed to have insecurities and issues tied with her past that she is unable and unwilling to open to John Matthew. As for John Matthew after feeling abandoned time and time again he finds solace in alcohol and sex. How they overcome their individual insecurities and feelings of abandonment is a classic storyline and one that would undoubtedly be worked through in the next book Lover Mine.

Tohrment, the Brother whose shellan (wife) was killed by lessers in Lover Awakened and who completely disappeared in hopes to following her onto the Fade (equivalent to the afterlife) begins his uphill battle to becoming the male that he used to be prior to his shellan’s death. Unfortunately his realization of his abandonment of John after Wellsie’s death has also put a wedge in the father/son relationship so one could see this as being another storyline in the grow of John Matthew in the next book.

Tohrment’s growth and ability to heal after Wellsie’s death will take time and him moving out would undoubtedly become a storyline unto itself down the road.

As I mentioned earlier, Rehvenge’s story parallels that of Wrath’s continued story from Dark Lover. Wrath is also known as the “Blind King” due to his decreasing sight. What I love about this secondary storyline is seeing (as I mentioned earlier) how he deals with taking up the mantle of not only becoming king but the impending doom of him becoming completely blind.

My favorite line in regards to this storyline I absolutely loved Fritz’s explanation as to why he chose a golden retriever to aid the Blind King in becoming independent:

Wrath: How d’you pick the breed, Fritz?
Fritz: I – uh – I chose him… I chose him over the labradors because he sheds more.
Wrath: Why would that be a good thing?
Fritz: Because your staff enjoys vacuuming. I thought this would be a lovely gift for them.

Speaking of transformations we start learning more about the the second life of the Omega’s son: Lash and his handling of the Lessening Society, how he is picking off each of the drug dealers and middlemen one by one in hopes to killing off Rehvenge in the end. His bullying character being blatantly clear in the previous novels is fully realized in this novel and how he uses it towards anyone and everyone and his desire to “break” those around him so he could become the new “king”. Annoying as hell still, but at least he is becoming interesting now.

This was indeed a book of massive transformations and by far one of my favorites of the series thus far. This was well thought out and there was balances between the primary hero and heroine in the story. You don’t have a classic “damsel in distress”, because as much as Rehvenge tries to help Ehlena she wants everything to be on equal footing and due to external circumstances her family found themselves sitting on a windfall. In the end, it ended up being Ehlena going off to save Rehvenge… and for someone that is so used to saving everyone else that he has loved this was a nice change of pace for him as well.

Much like towards the end of Lover Revealed, we end on a pseudo cliffhanger and knowing who is next in the series, it won’t take too long to figure who and how that would affect things later on.