J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books are like chocolate chip cookies – they are really good and no matter how many you have had, you always want more. The main series now has 15 (soon to be 16) books, but Blood Fury is the third book in her spin-off Black Dagger Legacy series. The original series has as its focus the fight between the Brotherhood vampires and the evil Lessers, with many, many characters and story arcs, but this series is more narrowly focused on the new trainees the Brotherhood are training to be soldiers in the fight. All books in both series really need to be read in the order they were published, so you shouldn’t be jumping into either series with this book. If you are up-to-date, this is a welcome addition to the group. (You can find the reading order at Goodreads.)
This book, like the previous two books in the Black Dagger Legacy series, is shorter than the books in the main series. It also focuses on two couples getting their happily-ever-after, unlike the previous books which just focused on one couple. In this case the couples are Peyton and Novo, Brotherhood trainees who have never seen each other as romantic interests, and Saxton and Ruhn, two individuals from opposite sides of vampire society. Because of the focus on two couples, this book almost feels like like two novellas joined together. Of the two stories, I was more interested in Saxton and Ruhn, as Saxton has been a presence in the main series since around book 6 or so, and it was nice to see him finally get his HEA.
Peyton and Novo are classmates in the trainee program. Peyton had his heart broken previously because of his unrequited affection for Paradise (who got her HEA with someone else in the first book in the Legacy series, Blood Kiss). Novo is trying to prove herself in the training program and does not want to be distracted by any romantic feelings for a fellow trainee. They both have family issues, and Novo in particular has a secret that is part of why she is in the program and also part of the reason she does not want to become romantically involved with anyone. I found their story to rather routine, and there was a detail with Novo’s story that I felt violated previously understood rules of the vampire world in this series, so I was not as excited about their part of the book. However. J. R. Ward still drew me in, with the crack of her storytelling.
Saxton and Ruhn were my favorite parts of the book. Saxton, the vampire king’s lawyer, has been a secondary character for many books. He was previously involved with the soldier Blay, and is still not over their breakup. He keeps running into Blay (and his mate Quinn) while performing his duties for the king, and it is so difficult for him he feels like he may need to move to get on with his life. He feels a spark when he meets Ruhn, but is unsure if Ruhn is gay or even interested in a relationship. Ruhn is from a lower class than Saxton, and has a painful past. He wants to feel useful in the king’s household and is finding it difficult to find his place. In helping an elderly female vampire with problems she is having with her home, Saxton and Ruhn are thrown together and sparks eventually fly. Their path to happiness was very emotional and sweet. I kind of wish they had their own book to themselves, because I would have enjoyed seeing more of this journey rather than sharing it with another couple.