Thursday, October 17, 2019

JR Ward - Blood Truth

As a trainee in the Black Dagger Brotherhood's program, Boone has triumphed as a soldier and now fights side by side with the Brothers. Following his sire's unexpected death, he is taken off rotation against his protests—and he finds himself working with Butch O'Neal, former homicide cop, to catch a serial killer: Someone is targeting females of the species at a live action role play club. When the Brotherhood is called in to help, Boone insists on being a part of the effort—and the last thing he expects is to meet an enticing, mysterious female...who changes his life forever.
Ever since her sister was murdered at the club, Helaine has been committed to finding the killer, no matter the danger she faces. When she crosses paths with Boone, she doesn't know whether to trust him or not—and then she has no choice. As she herself becomes a target, and someone close to the Brotherhood is identified as the prime suspect, the two must work to together to solve the mystery...before it's too late. Will a madman come between the lovers or will true love and goodness triumph over a very mortal evil?

Comment: This is the fourth installment in the Black Dagger Legacy series, featuring mostly trainees who decided to join the fight against the same enemies we see the main characters of the original Black Dagger brotherhood series fight.
This series and the original one happen at the same time but, of course, the focus on specific characters and situations changes slightly.

In this installment we have the story focusing on Boone, one of the trainee elements who hadn't yet had his own romance.
Boone comes from an aristocratic family and we get to know he had an arranged mating but by talking to his intended, they decided on canceling it, making it look like she was the one who made that decision since this colors Boone badly but it would be even worse for her, had their roles been reversed.
Boone is now dedicated to his training and the tasks he and the others are trusted with more and more. so when he joins the Brother Butch in investigating the murders of female of the species in a night club, he feels glad he is being active and wants to help. One witness comes froward and Boone is immediately drawn to her, to the point of spending more time with her than what would be necessary.
What will Boone do when he discovers this witness is actually also connected to one of the victims..?

Most times, even when in regards to long series, the authors do try to make things be readable as standalone titles so that when someone unaware picks a random book in a series, there is still some structure to make it easy. I do think this happens here but at the same time, and having my opinion colored by my being a fan, it also feels very unfair to those people. There's a lot to be said about investing in the characters and I feel this series is only good if read in order.

This said, the story follows a very simple premise: there's a small group of characters interacting, some are looking to investigate a crime while we also see them dealing with their personal lives.
Like I said, I'm a fan, so everything gained a special "flavor" for me but I can also see that things are quite simplistic in this plot.
The murder investigation is simple, easy to fix after all when we connect the dots and it's not the most complex situation one can imagine. For me, the interest was not as much in the how or why the crime occurred but in the who was investigating and why it mattered to them.

Butch has always been my favorite character in the series from the start and it was a plus for me to see him have a special role in this novel. It felt like not enough, though but I understand he was not the main focus.
Boone is the main character and we have him doing most of the things and being the main focus, even though the author also set up the next story in the main series. I suppose this is one of the weaker elements of her work: she is so worried to create the perfect atmosphere, to set her characters in the most interesting emotional context that everything else is secondary and the stories/plots lose some engagement, they feel underdeveloped. I'd say this has been recurrent lately and maybe that explains why some readers no longer follow her.

As for the romance in this book, Boone and the witness - Helania - make a connection, they start seeing in each other and despite the fact things happen very quickly, they claim they are falling in love by the end. I confess I don't particularly like how quickly this situation happens. Yes, one can bear in mind the paranormal aspect and how easy things were made up to simplify the attraction between the couples but the authors can find ways to make the romances develop in a more believable manner.
I liked Boone and Helania found common ground but their connection also feels too easy. Considering the emotional hurdles they both claim to have faced, I expected them to bond for longer before admitting things, before it got to matter for real.

I think a lot of these novels sets on fans' loyalty and the fact there are little passages here and there, clues about future situations that make the reader want to stay in touch with this world. The writing is often captivating but there's a lot of focus on difficulties, on some negative situations if they happen, on overcoming bad stuff... I think the positive aspects are a little underestimated so it feels like the only solution is to amp the emotional side for readers to be mesmerized, to be (maybe?) shocked and want to keep reading. I wish this would change and in this book it wasn't as dire as I'm painting it but...yes, some books just don't reach the same level as others by her in the beginning did.
Nevertheless, I love the world, I've invested in the characters... I'll still follow them.
Grade: 8/10

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