Thursday, November 3, 2022

JR Ward - The Jackal

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sinner brings another hot adventure of true love and ultimate sacrifice in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.
The location of the glymera’s notorious prison camp was lost after the raids. When a freak accident provides Nyx clues to where her sister may still be doing time, she becomes determined to find the secret subterranean labyrinth. Embarking on a journey under the earth, she learns a terrible truth—and meets a male who changes everything forever.
The Jackal has been in the camp for so long he cannot recall anything of the freedom he once knew. Trapped by circumstances out of his control, he helps Nyx because he cannot help himself. After she discovers what happened to her sister, getting her back out becomes a deadly mission for them both.
United by a passion they can’t deny, they work together on an escape plan for Nyx—even though their destiny is to be forever apart. And as the Black Dagger Brotherhood is called upon for help, and Rhage discovers he has a half-brother who’s falsely imprisoned, a devious warden plots the deaths of them all…even the Brothers.

Comment: It's been a couple of years since the last book I've read by this author. There was a time when I devoured anything she wrote and her vampire world is still one of the best which I'll cherish eternally. Nevertheless, rarely something remains unchangeable and my appreciation and devotion to the books isn't the same... waiting two years wouldn't feel possible some years ago, but it is what it is now...

In this story, which is set in the same Caldwell setting as the other PNR series, we have another spin off of the BDB series. This time the focus is on a group of characters in a prison created by the glymera (high society) and how, after the events which have disbanded the society in previous BDB books, so many of these people are still controlled by someone, somehow. One night, sisters Nix and Posie rescue someone who claims to have escaped from the prison and upon knowing this, Nix immediately plans to find the prison so she can help another sister, Janelle, whom she believes was wrongly accused of a crime, despite what her grandfather tells her. However, after finally finding a  way in, nothing would have prepared Nix for the problems the inmates face and she is lucky enough to be helped by the Jackal, someone who tries to help her survive inside. But he demands a price for his help, will Nix be able to do what he wants? Will she finally discover what happened to her sister and if she is still alive in the prison?

For a spin-off, this wasn't a bad introduction into a new part of the vampire world readers have gotten fans of and used to. I especially liked that the story is rather focused on the main characters and what they do, with only a few italic chapters which work as background to explain a few things. When I say this, I mean it in a positive way even though I have always like the multiple POVs and situations addressed in the BDB books. Some readers have started to get tired of the lack of focus but for me, that was never the issue.

I'd say what makes me a little disappointed about the books is how so much attention is given to the villain's POV and their actions. I'd love if the author would stick to the main plot line and what is necessary for the reader to know, minimizing villains. I started to get very irritated with this (namely the Devina character, so very annoying) and that did affect my enjoyment of the rest of the stories.

I'm, therefore, happy to say the villain of this book was not Devina and the attention was on the main couple and their joining forces to uncover what happened to Nix's sister. One would think that telling the world about the prison would also be a key subject but since most of the story is about the romantic connection between Nix and Jackal, this seemed to have been slightly overlooked. Still, the tone and vibe was one of hope, in my opinion, even though the prisoners couldn't simply escape at will.

The romance is clearly hastened. From the moment they meet and the moment we realize their connection for what it is, not that long has gone and of course this feels a little too easy. I suppose the fact they're vampires and how usually the dynamics between them have to be different (biologically, for instance, it's easier to confirm a mating) can make up for what I see as a flaw, but since I liked them both, their personalities are definitely strong and resilient, I could accept this as a fact and simply want to see how their path would develop.

I think there are some details, which the author wanted to use as a twist or revelation but that were actually rather obvious as soon as some things were told. There is one twist I didn't see coming, true, so I guess part of the work was well done... I also liked how there are plenty of scenes where the author tries to maintain a certain emotional level, not as obvious as in some previous installments, but I was eager to see if Nix and Jackal could find happiness and some situations on the road there, related to them or to secondary characters, seemed to have achieved a good result.

The plot's resolution was tidy enough to make me happy with how everything ended. I do think this worked pretty well for the type of story I wanted to read, even if I'd change one or two details for my personal preference. There are some things which are just... too much of a coincidence. I think long time readers would just take it for granted, but there's something about the writing that might seem as if it's taking for granted any reader would have knowledge of events in previous books. This does read as a standalone but... the editing could have been a little better, I think.

I liked it enough that I would want to know what happens to the other characters mentioned in this book and who were in prison too. As for Jackal and Nyx, some little coincidences apart, I feel glad they found their HEA.
Grade: 8/10

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