Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review - J.R. Ward - The Chosen

The Chosen is #15 in JR Ward's stratospheric successful Black Dagger Brotherhood series any paranormal/urban fantasy romance fan out there that hasn't picked this up need to stop living under a rock! And my personal favorite way to savor them is listening to the soft, mesmerizing baritone narration of Jim Frangione.
ISBN-13:  9780451475190
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Release Date: 04-04-2017
Length: 544pp
Buy It: Amazon/B&N/Kobo/IndieBound/Audible

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A scorching forbidden love threatens to tear a rift through the Black Dagger Brotherhood in J. R. Ward’s newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.
Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.
As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone.

Read an excerpt courtesy J R Ward:

Mountains of Caldwell, New York, Present Day
The Black Dagger Brotherhood were keeping him alive, so that they could kill him.
Given the sum of Xcor’s earthly pursuits, which had been at their best violent, and at their worst downright depraved, it seemed an apt end for him.
He had been born upon a winter’s night, during a historic blizzard’s gale. Deep within a damp and dirty cave, as icy gusts had raked o’er the Old Country, the female who had carried him had screamed and bled to bring forth unto the Black Dagger Brother Hharm the son that had been demanded of her.
He had been desperately wanted.
Until he had fully arrived.
And that was the beginning of his story . . . which had ultimately landed him here.
In another cave. On another December’s eve. And as with his actual birth, the wind howled to greet him, although this time, it was a return to consciousness as opposed to an expelling unto independent life that brought him forth.
As with a newly born young, he had little control over his body. Incapacitated he was, and that would have been true even without the steel chains and bars that were locked across his chest, his hips, his thighs. Machines, at odds with the rustic environs, beeped behind his head, monitoring his respiration, heart rate, blood pressure.
With all the ease of unoiled gears, his brain began to function properly beneath his skull, and when thoughts finally coalesced and formed rational sequences, he recalled the series of events that had resulted in him, the leader of the Band of Bastards, falling into the custody of what had been his enemies: an attack upon him from behind, a concussive fall, a stroke or some such that had rendered him prone and on life support.
At the non–extant mercy of the Brothers.
He had surfaced unto awareness once or twice during his captivity, recording his captors and his whereabouts in this earthen corridor that was inexplicably shelved with jars of all kinds. The returns to consciousness had never lasted long, however, the connectivity in his mental arena unsustainable for any length of time.
This emergence was different, however. He could sense the shift within his mind. Whate’er had been injured had finally healed and he was back from the foggy landscape of neither–life–nor–death—-and staying on the vital side.
“. . . really worry about is Tohr.”
The tail end of the sentence uttered by a male entered Xcor’s ear as a series of vibrations, the translation of which was on a delay, and whilst the words caught up to the syllables, he shifted his eyes over. Two heavily armed figures in black had their backs to him and he reclosed his lids, not wishing to reveal his change of status. Their identities were duly noted, however.
“Nah, he’s tight.” There was a soft scratching sound and then the smell of rich tobacco rose up. “And if he slips, I’ll be there.”
The deep voice who had first spoken became dry. “To chain our brother back in line—-or help him murder this piece of meat?”
The Brother Vishous laughed like a serial killer. “Such a dim fucking view of me you got.”
’Tis a wonder we are not better aligned, Xcor thought. These males were as bloodthirsty as he.
Such an alliance was never to be, however. The Brotherhood and the Bastards had been e’er on different sides of Wrath’s kingship, the line drawn by the path of the bullet Xcor had put into the throat of that lawful leader of the vampire race.
And the price of his treason was going to be exacted here and soon upon him.
Of course, the irony was that a countervailing force had since interceded upon his destiny and taken his ambitions and focus far, far from the throne. Not that the Brotherhood knew any of it—-and nor would they care. In addition to sharing an appetite for war, he and the Brothers had in common another core feature: Forgiveness was for the weak, pardoning the act of the pathetic, pity a capacity possessed by females, never fighters.
Even if they became aware that he no longer carried any aggression -toward Wrath, they would not release him of the reckoning he had so rightfully earned. And given all that had transpired, he was not bitter or angry at what was coming his way. It was the nature of conflict.
He did find himself saddened, though—-something that was not familiar to his makeup.
From out of memory, an image came unto his mind and took his breath away. It was of a tall, slender female in the white robing of the Scribe Virgin’s sacred Chosen. Her blond hair waved down o’er her shoulders and trailed off at her hips on a gentle breeze, and her eyes were the color of jade, her smile a benediction he had done naught to deserve.
The Chosen Layla was what had changed everything for him, recasting the Brotherhood from target to tolerable, from enemy to co–existable tenant in the world.
In the short year and a half Xcor had known her, she had had more effect upon his black soul than anyone who had come before, evolving him a greater distance in a lesser time than he would have e’er thought possible.
The Dhestroyer, Vishous’s fellow Brother, spoke anew. “Actually, I’m down with Tohr ripping him the fuck apart. He’s earned the right.”
The Brother Vishous cursed. “We all have. Gonna be hard to make sure there’s anything left at the end for him to have at.”
And herein was the conundrum, Xcor thought behind his closed lids. The only possible way out of this deadly scenario was to reveal the love he’d found for a female who was not his, never had been, and was not e’er going to be.
But he would not sacrifice the Chosen Layla for anyone or anything.
Not even to save himself.
As Tohr walked through the pine forest of the Brotherhood’s mountain, his shitkickers crunched over the frosted ground and a bracing wind hit him square in the face. In his wake, as tight on his heels as his shadow, he could feel his losses filing along with him, a grim, mournful lineup as tangible as chains.
The sense he was being pursued by his dead made him think about all those paranormal TV shows, the ones that tried to pin down whether ghosts actually existed. What a load of bullshit that was. The human hysteria around supposed misty entities floating up stairwells and making old houses creak with disembodied footsteps was so characteristic of that self–absorbed, drama–creating lesser species. It was one more thing Tohr hated about them.
And as usual, they missed the point.
The dead absolutely fucking haunted you, running their cold fingertips of remember–me up the back of your neck until you couldn’t decide whether you wanted to scream from missing them . . . or from wanting to be left alone.
They stalked your nights and prowled your days, leaving a minefield of sorrow triggers in their path.
They were your first and last thought, the filter you tried to push aside, the invisible barrier between you and everyone else.
Sometimes, they were even more a part of you than the people in your life that you could actually touch and hold.
So yeah, nobody needed a dumb–ass TV show to prove the already known: Even as Tohr had found love with another female, his first shellan, Wellsie, and the unborn son she had been carrying when she’d been murdered by the Lessening Society, were never further away from him than his own skin.
And now there had been yet another death in the Brotherhood household.
Trez’s mate, Selena, had gone unto the Fade mere months ago, passing away from a disease for which there had been no cure and no relief and no understanding.
Tohr hadn’t slept properly since.
Refocusing on the evergreens around him, he ducked down and pushed a limb out of his way, and then sidestepped a fallen trunk. He could have dematerialized to his destination, but his brain was banging around so violently in the prison of his skull that he doubted he could have concentrated enough to go ghost.
Selena’s death had been one big–ass fucking trigger for him, an event affecting third parties that had nonetheless grabbed his snow globe and shaken it so hard that his inner flakes were whizzing around and refusing to settle.
He had been down in the training center when she had been called unto the Fade, and the moment of death had not been silent. It had been marked by a sound torn from Trez’s soul, the audio equivalent of a gravestone—-and Tohr knew that one well. He’d done it himself when he’d been told about his own female’s death.
So, yeah, on the wings of her love’s agony had Selena been carried forth from the earth unto the Fade—-
Dragging himself out of that cognitive loop was like trying to pull a car from a ravine, the effort required tremendous, the progress made inch by inch.
Onward through the forest, though, through the woods, through the winter night, crushing what was underfoot, with those ghosts of his whispering behind him.
The Tomb was the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s sanctum sanctorum, that hidden site where inductions occurred, and secret meetings were held, and the jars of slain lessers were kept. Located deep within the earth, in a labyrinth created by nature, traditionally it was off–limits to anybody who hadn’t gone through the ceremony and been marked as a brother.
That rule had had to bend, however, at least with respect to its quarter–mile–long entrance hall.
As he came up to the cave system’s inconspicuous entrance, he halted and felt his anger surge.
For the first time in his tenure as a brother, he was not welcome.
All because of a traitor.
Xcor’s body was in there on the far side of the gates, halfway down the shelved passageway, lying on a gurney, his life force monitored and kept going by machines.
Until that bastard woke up and could be interrogated, Tohr was not allowed inside.
And his brothers were right not to trust him.
As he closed his eyes, he saw his King shot in the throat, relived the moment when Wrath’s life had been slipping away along with his red blood, recast that scene as Tohr had had to save the last purebred vampire on the planet by cutting a hole in the front of his throat and sticking tubing from his Camelbak into that esophagus.
Xcor had ordered the assassination. Xcor had told one of his fighters to put a bullet through that male of worth’s flesh, had plotted with the glymera to overthrow the rightful ruler—-but the motherfucker had failed. Wrath had lived in spite of the odds, and in the first democratic election in the history of the race, had then been appointed the leader of all vampires, a position he now held by consensus as opposed to bloodline.
So fuck you very much, you sonofabitch.
Curling his hands into fists, Tohr easily ignored the creak of his leather gloves and the constriction along the backs of his knuckles. All he knew was a hatred so deep it was a mortal disease.
Fate had seen fit to take three from his and his own: Destiny had stolen from him his shellan and his young, and then taken Trez’s love. You want to talk about balance in the universe? Fine. He wanted his balance, and that was only going to come when he snapped Xcor’s neck and gouged the fucker’s warm heart out from between his ribs.
It was about time for a source of evil to be taken out of commission and he was just the one to even the goddamn score.
And the waiting was now over. As much as he respected his brothers, he was done cooling his jets. Tonight was a sad anniversary for him and he was going to give his mourning a special little present.
Party time.

My Review
The Chosen by JR Ward
Audible edition narrated by Jim Frangione
#15 in NYT Bestseller Ward’s Bestselling series is full of surprises, action, scorching romance and OMG revelations. And it’s a story that she’s been simmering and I’ve been salivating for. It’s amazing how she has kept her novels fresh so many reads into the series but she does it with her iconic, in-your-face, unapologetic characters, her gritty, street-wise dialogue, the non-stop, fast-paced action and in the last few installments her side stories featuring a past couple. This is not a series you can start this late in the game like you could skip around a bit at the beginning because there’s just too much history you’d miss. But if you’ve been living under a rock and have never experienced this series and you’re a die-hard fan of paranormal/urban fantasy romance it will be well worth your while to pick this series up.
The audible edition is once again put in the oh so capable voice of Jim Frangione who rocks every voice, every emotion, every intonation, every sex, every scene and every species with an unmatched and unforgettable expertise that makes listening to the novel a real edge over just reading it.

The former Chosen Layla should be happy, she has a healthy happy set of twins, a son and a daughter, two bonded males of worth who love her and the young, and a safe place in which to live and raise them. But she also has a secret, a traitorous one that could easily cost her children if not her life, a secret that lays heavy on her heart, a secret that’s costing her, a secret about her forbidden love.
XCor leader of the Band of Bastards is done with his wanting to replace Wrath as King, is done with his fury, and is done with his hatred. And lying here near death as a prisoner of the Black Dagger Brotherhood he’s ready to go Unto the Fade. His only regret is not being a male of worth and causing shame to his female, a female who’s too good for him, a female he can never have, a female he loves more than life.
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Meet JR:J.R. Ward is the author of over twenty 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.

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  1. Gosh how many books are in this series now?! That is awesome that you felt the audio version puts an edge to it you don't get just reading it. Maybe someday audibles will work for me. Great review!

    1. Thanks Kindlemom, I think the audible version is good one of two ways
      1) start the series on audible from the get go
      2) know the series well before you start listening
      fingers crossed that you like it one day too!

  2. I really should start this series. Great review!

  3. I love the way you describe the series in your review, Debbie. It does have an iconic feel and a rite of passage for PNR fans. Can't wait to keep going. I'm glad for the Black Dagger Legacy series so I get the BDB world twice a year. :)

  4. Ah she writes such great books, I read the earlier ones and the spin off series but should really go back and refresh and read on! Unfortunately publishing rights prevent me from the listen.

    1. Oh no Kathryn I guess that means you can't even check the audible versions out from your library. That sucks

  5. I quit this series. For me, the series has gone down hill. I was getting tired of story ideas that just went off into the abyss (Lessers, Scribe Virgin, Lash). It could be that I am burnt out. I will probably start and the beginning and do a binge listen sometime and then continue on. I'm glad that you're still enjoying the series so much. I have heard a lot of great things about this book. Jim Frangione is great!

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    1. Melanie I feel that way about other series and I know that many former fans feel the same way you do. For me they still rock and that saying about no two people read the same book is very true.

  6. Eep. I am working my way through them by reading one a month.

    1. I know and I am enjoying looking back through your eyes kim