In academic circles, a legacy is the child of a graduate of a particular institution. The Legacy is a reflection of the parent (or older family member). JR Ward’s Black Dagger Legacy series takes that concept and uses it to tell a new story while continuing stories of characters we love. I love this idea! Ward has shown me over the years that she has an almost endless ability to create characters I love and care about. The BDL series is no different, but after two books I’m concerned that we’re seeing a bit of an overreach.
First, I had a blast reading this book. Even though I have a lot of issues with it, I know that I’ll read it again. This series reminds me so much of the early BDB series, focused on relationship building without a lot of peripheral voices chiming in. I love the introduction to a new generation of warriors. Ward is doing a nice job of developing the trainees as individuals and their dynamics as a group. And, I’ll never turn down a chance to slip into the BDB mansion and spend time with the Brothers and their families.
Second, this book is about family. It’s about what it means to be a parent. Throughout the book we see examples of dedicated, loving parents and totally crappy parents. Ward shows how the loss of a child or parent can change the dynamic of a family, altering the members forever. She handles this with care and emotion, making me-as a parent-sit back and think about how I would handle the situations she created.
But, just like in Blood Kiss, Blood Vow’s “main” couple doesn’t get the time it deserves. It just about worked in Blood Kiss, but, sadly, failed in Blood Vow. Axe is a character that intrigued me from the moment he showed up. Who doesn’t love a bad boy? I was eager to learn the story behind his tattoos and piercings. I wanted to explore the side of him that led him to a place like The Keys. The potential with his character felt like it could fill multiple books! Instead, he gets, at best, half of this book and he completely fell flat as a character. The hype was definitely bigger than the show in this case. Elise didn’t fair much better. We’re introduced early on to a female focused on getting her degree and mourning the death of her cousin. Ward handled the mourning wonderfully, slowly peeling back Elise’s grief for Allishon and the impact on her family. But, I felt Elise’s education just became a tool to bring her and Axe together. I did enjoy their moments together as a couple, though. Elise’s honesty allowed Axe to open up and their unabashed joy at being together jumped off the pages of the book.
As with the earlier Legacy book, this book featured a younger couple and a BDB couple. If you read The Beast, you know that Rhage and Mary’s story wasn’t finished. That book ended with them fostering Bitty, an orphan with a missing uncle. When that uncle shows up in Blood Vow, Rhage and Mary have to face a future without the daughter they’ve come to love. Their part in Blood Vow is all about the angst. Angst over Bitty’s health. Angst over the uncle showing up. Quite frankly, it got a little tedious. I LOVE Rhage and Mary, but after awhile it was just too much. Rhage, in particular, didn’t know what to do with himself. He seemed incapable of dealing with his emotions and the fact that he rushed into a suicidal situation two books in a row? What is that about? I’m all about the males facing their emotions, but Rhage seems reckless.
3.25 Stars for Blood Vow. Heat level: 3.5
Blood Vow is book 2 in the Black Dagger Legacy series and was published in by Ballantine Books in December 2016.