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Stuff I'm reading... Mostly romance and Scifi/Fantasy.

Lover at Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series #11)

Lover at Last - J.R. Ward 4.5 stars. This long awaited tale of warriors Qhuinn and Blay has kept me enthralled for the past two days. I think the best compliment I can give this book is that I completely forgot it was the "First Big Mainstream M/M Romance". Rather it felt like a great mainstream Romantic Urban fantasy that just happened to have two male leads. In that respect I think the author couldn't have succeeded more.Qhuinn/BlayThere has been a lot of backstory about Qhuinn and Blay's relationship in the past few books. In LaL the story picks up as Qhuinn realises that he loves Blay but both men are under the mistaken belief that they are still with their previous partners (Layla & Saxton). Saxton breaks things off with Blay at the beginning of the story but Blay deliberately keeps this from Qhuinn because he doesn't believe that Qhuinn is free or that he would let himself feel anything for Blay apart from sexual attraction. This is the basis of the conflict between them and even though it's satisfying it does stretch thin over the course of the book. That would probably be my only negative reaction to the story. The sex scenes are great. Graphic and steamy and they get the same page time as sex scenes in any of her other stories. I really got the feeling that these were two very powerful guys fucking with all the furniture breaking, wall-banging and curtain ripping going on! I was so grateful the author didn't have all that 1-2-3-lube stuff dragging down the physical scenes. I was glad to see these boys finally got their romantic resolution and I get the feeling the author was too as the cheesy but slightly 'final' last line in the book suggests. There is a brilliant new development regarding someone related to Qhuinn at about the 73% mark. I was gobsmacked that this person was introduced and what had happened to him and I have no idea how this person will be integrated into future story lines... but I LOVED it!Xcor/Layla/Band of BastardsYou couldn't have paid me to read a book with Layla or any of the Chosen as heroines a few days ago. But after reading Lover Reborn and LaL I've changed my mind. Layla is going through more personal growth than any other female character in the series. In this book her oppressed status as a 'Chosen' female is really brought home to her and she goes postal on the slimy, toadying Dr Havers in a big way! LOL. I hate Havers. I really feel like Layla's coming into her own and I hope it continues like this. Her extremely forbidden attraction to arch nemesis Xcor is ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. They both have this olde worlde way of speaking and viewing life. They are both strangers in a strange land. And at this point it's impossible to see how they will be able to be together because Layla is pregnant with another man's child and Xcor is resolved to orchestrate the downfall of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. We see some ongoing machinations in this struggle throughout the book. The final change in Xcor's plans gives me high hopes that we are going to see more of the urbane and honourable lawyer (and Blays ex) Saxton.Assail/Sola/LessersAssail is a real bad guy who despises humans. A drug dealer, a killer and he even works with the lessers. You can't get any lower than that in the world of the BDB. But I love anti-heroes and when he meets human professional thief Sola, you just know that he is ripe for redemption. I thought the brief physical scenes/interactions between Assail and Sola were actually the most arousing in the whole book. Their storyline ends with a real cliffhanger. Trez/Selena/ShadowsI have a feeling this couple might be the stars of the next book. I'll have to reread Rehvenge and John Matthew's books before I start it because I've sort of forgotten about the Shadows who seem to be a different breed of vampire, able to dissolve and move around as smoke, and ruled by a tyrannical Queen whose daughter was mated to Trez at birth. The priests are after Trez to force him back into that old life but he doesn't want to go. I won't spoiler what happens to him in LaL but suffice it to say that he is now in hiding and has got his eyes set on another woman. At this stage his storyline reminds me of Rehvenge's.We do see other past couples in this novel but unlike some series they don't wander into the scenes unless there is a need for them to be there. You never get the feeling that the author is just gratuitously writing them in for nostalgia's sake. Every person in the book has a dynamic essential role to play. All of these people are complex, fascinating and totally FABULOUS. I've fallen back in love with the Back Dagger Brotherhood again and will be eagerly awaiting the next instalment.I can't imagine anyone reading this book without reading all of the series. I know a lot of m/m fans, who don't read het romance, will be tempted, but I don't think you could enjoy it if:a) You didn't know Qhuinn and Bay's backstory.b) You didn't like m/f romance as well - because there are other minor plots in this book that dwell on the relationships between m/f couples (nothing graphic but quite involved storylines building up to future books).c) You didn't like Urban Fantasy - this is heavily plot driven with a complex paranormal world, a very idiosyncratic lexicon, many supporting characters, and lots dramatic twists and turns that have absolutely nothing to do with the main romance. You need to like long books as well. This one comes in just under 700 pages I think.