As far as vampires are concerned, we’ve come a long way since Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for the creepy, blood-sucking villain in Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror story. A warrior in 15th century Romania, Vlad was notorious for impaling his enemies (while still alive and writhing) on stakes to be placed in public places – or his dining room. Vlad’s father, as a knight in the Order of the Dragon, earned the surname of “Dracul,” Romanian for “dragon.” Our Vlad, then, was “Dracula” or “son of a dragon.” Incidentally, “dracu” also translates to “devil.”
Inspired by Vlad the Impaler’s horrific love of blood-thirsty battle tactics, Stoker invented Count Dracula, a villain with apparently no redeeming characteristics who travels to London to feed his lust for blood, and as he does so, expand his empire of vampires – because those from whom he sucks blood become vampires themselves.
This portrayal couldn’t be much further from the fierce but elegant society of vampires J.R. Ward created when she wrote Dark Lover in 2005. Subsequent books followed the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a fraternity of vampire warriors committed to protecting their species against the “lessers,” a band of soul-less, ageless humans who want to eradicate vampires.
It’s a violent, endless war filled with gore and unmitigated barbarity, but each of the Black Dagger Brotherhood stories follows one of the Brothers as he falls in vampire love. Love practically overrides the battle scenes and makes Ward’s vampire novels fall unquestionably into the romance genre.
But the Brotherhood needs to train their recruits, and Ward veered off in the Black Dagger Legacy series to tell the stories of a handful of earnest vampires who want to join in the combat. In Blood Kiss we meet a female who intends to prove herself by joining the Brotherhood. We meet the vicious loner Axe in Blood Vow. There are two romances in Blood Fury.
Blood Truth (Gallery Books), the fourth book in the spin-off series, is Boone and Helenia’s love story. The pages where they make love sizzle; their conversations hum with erotic overtones. Their love affair is fraught with the same doubts and nervousness any lovers have when they begin – and the same conviction, fever, and desire as their love grows. One almost forgets that they’re vampires.
The vampire class system is inviolable, and the times characters attempt to break through social mores, the plotline tilts, just as it would in “real” life. To add to the thickly layered story, a serial murderer exacts unthinkable brutality on seemingly random females.
Everyone joins the search for the depraved murderer: Boone, his fellow Brothers, Helenia, Boone’s former fiancee, even the King.
Set against the centuries-old wealth and luxury of the vampire aristocracy where everything must be done during the dark of night (vampires must hide from the sun), everything seems harsher, edgier and more frightening.
Although Blood Truth is part of a series, it stands on its own as an eerily passionate love story and serial murder mystery. Readers unfamiliar with modern-day vampires are quickly schooled in their jargon, politics, their immutable social class system, and their quirks and superpowers.
In a world where everyone is beautiful and love and death explode with the intensity of unimaginable fireworks, a reader can read through the night – and start to feel uneasy at dawn.
Blood Truth is now available.
About J.R. Ward
J.R. Ward is the author of over thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood. There are more than 15 million copies of Ward’s novels in print worldwide and they have been published in 25 different countries around the world.
After graduating from law school, Ward began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.