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On J.R. Ward's Use of The Hip-Hop Culture, Sans The Blacks...

A reader posted this comment on on an old AztecLady thread about JR Ward’s BDB books, and I found it very interesting.

Reader ‘Maggy’ writes:

I’m falling away from this series due to the OBVIOUS case of severe internalized misogny J.R. Ward has. Her females are bland Barbie dolls who are almost always damsels in distress. It’s like they’re token characters and nothing more. An excuse to show the male protaganist naked.

As for the whole Black subculture thing, oh I agree whole heartedly. A goodreads.com group I’m part of has debated this issue before, the lack of anyone who isn’t white… or Catholic in this series is ASTOUNDING. And everytime you think you may be looking at a Hispanic character… NOPE… turns out to be Italian.

Oddly when she seemed to have a bolt from the blue about this she made up a subspecies called Shadows who are cannibalistsic vampires from Africa and the Middle East. There goes her nattering on about how there are no races in the vampire world. Though… why did she need to make the Black and Arabic people in her series… CANNIBALS?

Oh note: Her TWO Black characters don’t really talk all that much like the Brotherhood. I’m sure that says something, but at 2am, I’m not sure what that is.

I don’t think the whole appropriation of the black sub-culture thing used to bother me so much, but I find that the older I get, the more I’m annoyed by it. It’s not to say that J.R Ward is anywhere near being racist, however, I’m ready for some of her BDB characters who aren’t cannibals to be black. Enough’s enough already.

And yes, her whole ‘there are no races in the BDB world’ argument is a total cop-out. If it looks like a chicken, and squawks like a chicken, it’s probably a chicken. Just sayin’.

…Is more fucking expensive than the paperback version on Amazon UK, how messed up is that???

The kindle version is £6.99, and the paperback version is £5.99. I find this highly annoying, especially as I’m dying to read the book. I’m gonna wait until it reduces in price out of principle.

I received my copy of J.R. Ward’s Lover Mine yesterday, and as of yet, I haven’t started it, even though I’ve been anxiously waiting for it to arrive for months.

The problem is, I’m afraid it’s gonna suck Great Big Hairy Balls.

The last book that I really looked forward to reading this much was Sarah McCarty’s Promises Reveal and that story didn’t have a happy ending. In fact I never even got to the end because the book sucked. A lot. Sigh.

Am I the only person who feels like this about the last book in a series?

Which Last Book are you guys afraid wont live up to the build-up and the hype?

(or, the Black Dagger Brotherhood phenomenon)

Reader beware: spoilers up to the sixth book peppered willy-nilly throughout, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, please don’t keep on reading. Thank you.

And with that taken care of, let’s dive in.

This here is not a review, and please note that I’m not trying to bash JR Ward—nor complaining about where I want her to take the series or what I want her to write or anything remotely like that.

No, really, that’s not it.

It’s more like a rambling wondering as to why and how this series is still so successful—and there is no doubt it is successful. Not only is it selling like crazy (just count the number of reviews up in the blogosphere) but it definitely engenders strong emotions in the vast majority of its readers (check out the many threads discussing the series).

I don’t know if I can shed any light on the matter, but that won’t stop me from trying. (It never has, really.)

Personally, I am a firm believer that, you either drank the Kool-Aid and will remain addicted—either as a guilty pleasure or as a rabid fan—for a good long while; or you didn’t, and therefore are unable to understand what the big deal is.

Me, I’m still addicted, albeit reluctantly.

Bottom line, though, what is it that makes this series so addictive? (more…)

Lover Enshrined, by J. R. Ward

Is anyone tired of seeing reviews for this one all over the place? Well, tough luck, it’s my turn and I’m not forfeiting it, so there!

*ahem*

(Besides, this one is going to be much more superficial than most of my other reviews, so it’s not as if you’ll learn anything interesting here.)

Lover Enshrined is the sixth installment in Ms Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. While the first five installments are mostly paranormal romance, this novel seems to take this universe in a slightly different direction, more into the urban fantasy saga with romantic elements subgenre.

To begin, trying to get into the series by starting with this book would not be a good idea. While the first three books (Dark Lover, Lover Eternal and Lover Awakened) can be read out of order with minimal gaps, and focus on the romance between each main couple, the next three are increasingly more dependent on the overall arc to make sense. There is also much more detail in the world building to keep track of.

If you have read the first five books, follow me down the rabbit hole…

This is the back cover blurb:

In this “frighteningly addictive” paranormal romance saga, there’s a war raging between vampires and their slayers. Here are the stories of a secret band of brothers like no other—six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. And now a dutiful twin must choose between two lives…

Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood’s bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is obligated to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive, and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his First Mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself. She is drawn to the noble responsibility behind the emotionally scarred male. But Phury has never allowed himself to know pleasure or joy. As the war with the Lessening Society grows grim, tragedy looms over the Brotherhood’s mansion, and Phury must decide between duty and love…

Going by the blurb, one would think that this novel focuses mainly on the romantic relationship between Phury and Cormia. That’s not really how it is, though. The novel has a much wider scope than the romance.

There are something like… six? seven? different plots running through the book. Three, no, four of these are overarching plotlines—John Matthew and his sidekicks Blaylock and Quihn; Tohrment’s fate; Rehvenge, Xhex and the whole sympath bit; the Lessening Society, the Omega, and the war. Then we have a few other secondary plots started in Lover Unbound, the previous novel: Bella’s pregnancy, Layla dealing with John Matthew’s rejection, oh, and the Scribe Virgin dealing with Payne—her daughter, Vishous’ twin.

On top of that, we discover in the prologue that time is not fixed in this universe, and near the end of the novel we also learn that apparently the BDB’s Pantheon is not closed of but has some sort of *ahem* relationship with Judeo Christian religious traditions.** (more…)

If you groaned when you saw the title of this blog, then the following isn’t for you. Seriously, leave. Now.

Gwyneth Bolton has a really interesting blog about the popularity of the Romance Novel Sheik. She posted a couple of excerpts from an essay written in BITCH magazine, which focused on the very subject of Middle Eastern men in romance.

The excerpts were interesting, but this comment from Gwyneth was what ultimately caught my eye:

She asks some interesting questions don’t you think?

A lot of the comments that were made during my Racism In Romance posts, seemed to hint that one of the reasons why white women seldom read AA romance was because they couldn’t relate to the characters, or the vernacular. (Or should I say, the assumed difference in vernacular)

Hmmm…

I never bought this at the time, and quite frankly, I still don’t, because if that were true, then J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series would have sunk big time.

Ward writes about vampires who are into hip hop, bling, and expensive threads, and call each other “My Brother”.
Sounds like the stereotypical black man to me, except of course, the Brothers aren’t black, are they? They’re white, and that I’m afraid, is the key to her success.

Had Ward made The Brothers black, how many books would she have sold? Would readers have rushed out to buy her books in their thousands? Would she have inspired the same kind of fangirly following that she has? Even with her gift of turning the written word into a thing of beauty?

I really don’t think so.

Why do I think this? Simple, I just don’t believe that Average Jane Reader finds the black man sexy, and she definitely doesn’t see him as a romantic hero. Now before y’all go and get all defensive, and twitchy, think about it. Seriously.

If you really, truly think about it, you’ll probably come to the uncomfortable conclusion that I’m more right than wrong.

So, considering the current social, and political climate that we exist in today, considering the repercussions from 9/11, considering the current unrest in the Middle East, considering the fact that the majority of men from this part of the world believe that women are ultimately inferior to males, why is it that the Middle Eastern Man, is so much more acceptable to The Romance Reader, as hero material, than The Black Man?

Anyone hazard a guess? Anyone totally disagree with my assertion? Would you have bought Ward’s Black Dagger series, if the Brothers had been black? Honestly?

Apologies for the lack of posts, but I’ve been travelling around, thus no time for blogging. I’m back home now, so all’s right with the world. Although as we speak TTG seems to be taking my bicycle apart in the backyard, and he’s cussing a blue streak.

Anyway, I decided to start Lover Revealed on the train, and I’m glad I did. I really like it so far, although, there’s far too much blood sucking going on (yuck), and Vishous is definitely showing some gay tendencies… OK, he’s showing some major homosexual tendencies, but hey, nothing wrong with a bit of man-on-man love…