30 Responses to “Review: Lover Unbound by JR Ward”

  1. Beth September 14, 2007 at 7:12 AM #

    I thank you for your review, but I think you are way too beholden to Ward and her fans to write an honest one.

    Anyone reading a book, movie or play review recognizes that certain features of the plot must be shared, yet you feel the need to defend sharing the information that V gets injured when that was in the excerpt available months ago.

    I also think it is a shame that receiving ARCs seemed to be an issue for you in being honest about the book.

    Maybe we should have a discussion about the ability of online romance reviewers to be honest when they are getting freebies from authors.

    Thank you for your review, otherwise, and for the great website overall.

  2. Angie September 14, 2007 at 7:17 AM #

    I guess I’m a little puzzled by your words, Beth, because I don’t think I could have been much more honest. You might have mistaken my reluctance to write the review having to do with getting the ARC but in reality, my reluctance has to do with how much I’ve loved the Brothers in the past. My difficulties have everything to do with how hard it is to write a balanced and fair review for a book I was so eagerly anticipating 🙁

    But if this is because you think I didn’t write an honest review, then I’m still puzzled, because I thought the review was pretty darn honest, lol.

  3. Megan September 14, 2007 at 7:22 AM #

    And here I was just thinking how cool it was you didn’t gush, despite receiving ARCs and the like. Thanks for your review, Angie, and I bet I will have a similar reaction–I’ve felt that deus ex machina thing in almost (?) every one of the earlier books.

  4. Ember September 14, 2007 at 8:45 AM #

    Put me in the Grateful for No Lesser POV column. I enjoy the series, but every time I get to one of those scenes I skim ahead til the “real” book picks up again.

    The V-Butch storyline – now I can’t wait to see how Ward handles it.

    Thanks for the honest review. :hips:

  5. Kat September 14, 2007 at 9:27 AM #

    The last couple of paragraphs sum up how I felt about Lover Revealed. Do you think it’s because she’s having to spend so much time developing secondary characters now (plus finding space for the old ones that her fans love)? I was anxious when I heard that JRW extended the series from 6 books to 10 because I always feel that when series arcs are changed like that, it’s bound to affect the individual books negatively. I was glad when I heard she’s working on a new series. I’m hoping it’s like a spin-off, but something that will bring fresh ideas and characters so that she’s not so tied down with what she created in the BDB.

    I’m tempted to e-mail you about spoilers, but I just found some out recently and I think they’ll tide me over until release day. 🙂

    One last thing. You didn’t mention how JRW navigates V’s sexual proclivities in the book. Was it done well?

  6. Jana J. Hanson September 14, 2007 at 9:45 AM #

    Thanks for the review, Angie. I almost didn’t read it, but I caved. I hope I can suspend my belief (and that internal editor) long enough to read this book. I also hope I enjoy it…

  7. Angie September 14, 2007 at 9:45 AM #

    Hmm. I think this veers into spoiler territory, so I can’t really speak specifically to that, but I’ll try. I found it odd but at this point, I’m not sure if it’s because the whole book didn’t quite fit comfortably for me or if it wasn’t really sold to the reader.

  8. Willa September 14, 2007 at 12:05 PM #

    Thanks for your thoughts on the book Angie, and for the care you took to navigate past any spoilers.

    Still can’t wait to read it – just love JR’s voice. :cheer:

  9. Robin September 14, 2007 at 2:56 PM #

    I have no idea what Ward *intended* with this book, but as a reader, if *felt* to me like a response to reader commentary, much as the last one did for me, too. For example, people have criticized the women for being too weak, so here’s Jane — see, she’s strong and independent. Or maybe not. Readers (including me) felt there was a real homoerotic vibe between V and Butch, and here’s confirmation, but just in case you’re one of those readers who don’t want that to be the case, in the last book it was made explicitly clear that the road will never be taken, so those readers can relax, too. And readers don’t like the lesser scenes, so, voila, they’re gone, gone like the wind, never mind that they’ve been a prominent element of the narrative since book 1.

    I’m one of those readers who never felt that the lesser scenes served much of a purpose in their extent and length, but banishing them completely strikes me as a sort of inadvertent admission they weren’t necessary or as a concession to reader preference above authorial vision. Neither option makes me feel very good. And as I said, I have no idea if Ward is giving one little bit of attention to readers as she continues the series, but I think it *feels* that way to me as a reader because — for me, at least — the series isn’t getting stronger for the changes, and the characterizations are suffering in terms of consistency and cogency. I’d rather, for example, read women characters who are consistently less assertive and independent than ones who are advertised as strongly independent but then turn out not to be. I may be annoyed by the first type of characterizations, but if they fit within the structure of the book, then on a craft level they work, even if on an ideological level they aggravate me. And once the craft begins to falter, it doesn’t matter what direction the ideological construction of the characters goes in, because I’ll lose faith as a reader.

    I adored Dark Lover — was sucked in thoroughly to Ward’s world in that book — but my enthusiasm for the series has diminished a bit with each book. Will I keep reading them? Probably, at least through Phury’s book, as he’s always been my favorite, and I am intrigued by Rhage, as well. I have terribly mixed feelings about the transition of this series to hardcover, though, because I sincerely wonder what the series will look like after so many books, and with a much higher price tag attached.

  10. Lesley September 15, 2007 at 4:03 AM #

    Personally I worry that JRW is overly influenced by the opinion of her readers. Which I think could be ultimately be detrimental to the books. People should either stop posting what they want to happen / or she should no longer frequent the sections of her message board where this sort of discussion is taking place.

    On the message board there were comments well before Lover Revealed about Vishous and Butch’s relationship. With some posters being quite vociferous over the fact that they would stop buying the books if there were any sort of homosexual/bisexual relationship. Though there were equally (if not more) readers saying it didn’t bother them. So we have the ‘this is Never going to happen again’, that’s ‘Never Ever’ – following their embrace in LR.

    Now in LU it’s shown there are feelings from Vishous. I think this is probably JRW’s original angle but she toned it down in LR. I don’t believe you can write to please all your readership, you have to write the story as it comes to you.

    Personally I always thought there was a vibe between them and that Vishous was probably bisexual. Why people then assume he can’t be monogamous to Jane – I don’t know.

  11. Lesley September 15, 2007 at 4:09 AM #

    Yes! Robin you said this so much better than I did.

    It feels that way to me as well.

    I hope JRW gets back to the strong vision she had of the series. I don’t care if the female characters aren’t as well fleshed out, or the lessers have whole sections devoted to them. It was her storytelling that brought me to the series, her wonderfully realized male characters.

  12. Sybil September 15, 2007 at 12:02 PM #

    I wouldn’t say the m/m would never ever happen just that it didn’t happen here. But who knows…

    People hated the SV and poof the next book she was not in it really at all but she is back HUGE in this book. Ward’s answer was the SV wasn’t apart of that book, many readers ‘decided’ she was just doing what readers wanted. Now the SV is back, is that cuz readers asked for her?

    I think Beth didn’t read past your first paragraph angie, it does sound as if you are ascared to be taken off the ARC list and saying sorry for not liking the book but your review is very honest. The things that bugged me are different than you but I mirror the overall feeling you were left with…

  13. Beth September 15, 2007 at 12:20 PM #

    Actually, Sybil, I did read the whole review, and Angie does repeat her concern about being taken off the ARC list in the LAST paragraph of the review.

    I appreciate Angie’s response that her disappointment had more to do with her expectations of a series she really likes than worries about Ward.

    I personally don’t like the apologetic tone of the review, but I appreciate her writing it the way she felt she needed to.

  14. Robin September 15, 2007 at 1:35 PM #

    People should either stop posting what they want to happen / or she should no longer frequent the sections of her message board where this sort of discussion is taking place.

    As a reader, I won’t ever stop having or sharing opinions about books, since for me, that’s part of the joy of reading. And as readers, we have no control over whether authors are reading reader comments. I have no doubt that there are authors (some of whom I probably read and enjoy), who do care what readers think and can somehow address reader concerns in a way that either is not obvious to me or doesn’t, for whatever reason, compromise the author’s craft or vision — as I see it, of course. 😉 In the same way there are authors (e.g. Jo Goodman) who can use hackneyed Romance conventions and bring them to vivid life every single time. The limits of the genre do not IMO breed bad books, nor, necessarily, does the desire for monetary success (think of all the fine art produced under the patronage system, for example).

    I know there are many who disagree with me, but I think the way Evanovich built out Ranger’s character ended up strengthening the Stephanie Plum series, because I’m addicted to the tension between those two possibilities, and the way they seem almost unresolvable. And by how Stephanie gets to have her cake and eat it too, which so often women in any kind of romantically inclined fiction are prohibited from doing (i.e. Rule #1: thou can only share the nookie with the ONE and ONLY HERO). So yeah, I know readers are fed up with the back and forth, but I actually think it’s added a new dimension to the series. Just as there are readers who feel Ward is getting better with every book.

    As for Ward, who knows what she’s doing or not doing. All I know as a reader is that — especially around the development of the female characters — the past couple of books have been very problematic for me. There’s something that happens among the women at the end of Lover Revealed that felt very artificial to me, sort of an in your face ‘see they are a community’ moment. In my perception, of course. Which is my ultimate experience as a reader. In a perverse way, I think the over the top elements — the larger than life male characterizations, as you say — have been this series’ real strength. That I have been able to complain about the women, for example, and still find some satisfaction in the books speaks, I think, to their broad appeal. It will be interesting to look at this series backwards, after Ward has finished all the books, to really chart its movement.

  15. Vanessa September 15, 2007 at 1:39 PM #

    I have been searching for spoilers for Lover Unbound and would love it if you would share some with me.

    Thanks,
    Vanessa

  16. Beth September 15, 2007 at 1:41 PM #

    Spoilers galore — here:

    http://z3.invisionfree.com/The_Phade/index.php?

  17. Lesley September 15, 2007 at 1:42 PM #

    Robin,

    I agree – LOL does it sound like I’m contradicting myself here I don’t mean to. I love speculation, I love analyzing plots. You’re right that is part of the joy of reading and part of being in a community of fans that love the same books. It somehow makes the whole experience much more intense.

    What I worry about are authors who are overly influenced by the fans who say – if the author does this or doesn’t do this then I won’t buy the book. Whilst I reserve the right to not follow a series if it goes off in a direction I’m not comfortable with. I don’t feel it’s my place to tell the author what they should or shouldn’t be doing.

  18. Robin September 15, 2007 at 2:44 PM #

    What I worry about are authors who are overly influenced by the fans who say – if the author does this or doesn’t do this then I won’t buy the book.>

    I understand what you mean, Lesley, but I don’t think the reader should shoulder the responsibility for this. I wonder, too, how editors play into the mix in shaping the direction of a series or an author’s choices in crafting each book. We know from the infamous Adele Ashworth virgin widow example that a certain influence may exist in the editorial process.

    To me this issue is one of the most frustrating points of what I see as conflict between *genre* and *market*. Genre makes no demands beyond those imposed by formalistic limits, but the market can push well beyond these. Sometimes I think “commercial fiction” is a paradox, or at least a definitional conflict. Is the priority the fiction or its commercial value? And if it’s the commercial value, is responding to reader influence even a guarantee of commercial success? It’s a mighty dilemma, that’s for sure. Personally, I think part of the problem lies in the idea that what sells is really what readers want — or would like. But who’s going to take the time to really figure out if existing publishing models are valid as long as publishing houses stay in the black. And since Romance readers are so incredibly loyal to the genre, despite their disappointment in individual books, I can’t envision the market bottoming out anytime soon — not that I’d want it to, in any case.

  19. Angie September 15, 2007 at 4:04 PM #

    Oh, well, I’m not going to apologize for the tone of the review because it was honest, and it was how I felt and isn’t that how a review should be? My “concern” was more of a joke, actually, but in the end I do like her and it’s never fun to write a not-overly positive review for any author, let alone one you “know”, and especially for a series that I’ve professed to love so much. However, rabid fangirl I’m not (well, not unless the author’s name is Nora Roberts). I’m having coffee with JR at RT in the spring so I’ll just turn her upside down and shake an ARC out of her then if nothing else 😉

    It’s interesting, this discussion of not listening to what fans say online, because as someone pointed out to me, it’s slightly contradictory to the conversation going on at Smart Bitches, where readers can feel betrayed by the direction an author takes her series because she (or he) wants to, not because of what the fans want.

    Is it that readers want to have their cake and eat it to? Don’t listen to your fans…except listen to me. I do think authors need to beware of listening too much, to what readers are saying. Wasn’t it Lisa Valdez who said her ability to write was nearly paralyzed by listening to fan and not-fan feedback? And her follow-up book does seem to have been delayed at length.

    But by the same token, I think there are authors who might benefit from hearing fan feedback, at least a little: LKH, Candace Steele (though I think it’s maybe too late for her and wonder if the author isn’t going to have to invent another pseudonym before romance readers will buy her again)…and I think authors should listen to feedback from fans about work that’s not theirs, so they can understand just what the consequences of killing off a main character or completely veering from the essential character traits that they built the books on, before they choose to take that path.

  20. Alyssa September 15, 2007 at 4:22 PM #

    I personally don’t like the apologetic tone of the review, but I appreciate her writing it the way she felt she needed to.

    I didn’t read the tone as apologetic. It struck me as someone who is expressing some sadness (perhaps that isn’t the right word) that she didn’t love this book when she’s loved others by this author in the past. More of a reader reaction than an apology. If that makes sense.

  21. Robin September 15, 2007 at 5:58 PM #

    It’s interesting, this discussion of not listening to what fans say online, because as someone pointed out to me, it’s slightly contradictory to the conversation going on at Smart Bitches, where readers can feel betrayed by the direction an author takes her series because she (or he) wants to, not because of what the fans want.

    In what sense do you think the two discussions are contradictory, Angie? I think they show an ironic consistency in demonstrating the fundamentally capricious and contradictory nature of reader response. What one reader loves another will hate; what one reader praises another will damn. I think we’re rarely fully consistent within ourselves let alone as any definable group, and it seems to me that letting reader reaction guide the writing process will yield fast track pass to Crazytown.

  22. Robin September 15, 2007 at 6:01 PM #

    I think authors should listen to feedback from fans about work that’s not theirs, so they can understand just what the consequences of killing off a main character or completely veering from the essential character traits that they built the books on, before they choose to take that path.

    Do you think there’s a difference between these two things? In the case of developing character traits, that seems to me to be a Writing 101 issue — characters developed logically and consistently. But killing off a main character, while a craft decision, seems a bit different to me, although I can’t put my finger on exactly why.

  23. Ann September 15, 2007 at 6:03 PM #

    I have no opinion on JR Ward’s books, haven’t read them. But I saw Robin’s comment about the Stephanie Plum books and had to respond.

    I’m in the minority as well, but I still like the series. I don’t mind the constant back and forth. I don’t necessarily want her to make a choice because I think Joe fulfills Stephanie’s need for security, and Ranger provides excitement. In some senses, it approaches polyamory, just without the label.

    To a lesser degree, it does irk me that Stephanie hasn’t gotten even marginally better at her job, but that’s another kettle of fish.

    As it stands, I still read the books — I call them “mac and cheese” stories because they’re comforting and I always know exactly what I’m gonna get. There’s something to be said for consistency in a (publishing) world where beloved characters get killed off for reasons that seem highly dubious (at least to me).

  24. Ann Bruce September 15, 2007 at 8:27 PM #

    Just found out about Casper. *sigh* Now I’m torn about this book.

  25. sophie September 16, 2007 at 10:43 AM #

    i am dying for spoilers plz plz plz take pity on me.

    fire_blade_666@ntlworld.com

  26. sula September 17, 2007 at 12:43 AM #

    Just found the book at my local BAM and read it in one sitting. I was nervous based on the spoilers I’d seen, but overall it was a good read. I think if anything the romance between V and Jane suffers from a lack of development. I love the secondary characters in the BDB universe, and I want to spend time with them, but on the other hand, it takes away from time spent with the ostensible h/h of the book. I think that is what happened here. It’s too bad because I really liked Jane and I thought she was a good counterpart to V. In fact, in some ways, she seemed like a feminine version of Butch (particularly in the way she can zing a smart-ass response back to V). I actually was glad to have V and Butch talk heart-to-heart about what was between them….thought it added a lot to the story. But I’m sure there will be those that dislike it too.

    The love scenes between V and Jane…yowza! *g* I just wish there were more of them.

    Overall, I enjoyed the book but it won’t be taking the place of my favorite (Lover Eternal) anytime soon. I do look forward to a re-read though. It’s just so damn fun to spend time with the BDB. 🙂

    And I’m very sorry, but I just HAVE to insert this smiley. lmao!
    :whip2:

  27. Melissa September 20, 2007 at 6:12 PM #

    From some of your reviews I have read in the past, I can tell that they have all been bery honest. I enjoyed this book a lot, but there are a few others that take my top list.

  28. MaryM September 21, 2007 at 10:32 PM #

    I think this was a very honest review Angie. You were more indulgent than I was. I adored JR and the Brotherhood, I was so incredibly looking forward to this book, and in the end LU felt like a natural disaster that left me completely devastated and wondering what the hell happened. Almost everything felt off and there are so many inconsistencies in this installment ( while you could have counted the ones in the first four books on the fingers of one hand) I was unable to fully enjoy any of the storylines. I’ve never felt so let down by a book. I could have stand the fact it wasn’t as mind blowing as I was hoping for, but it didn’t even make SENSE. It’s worse for those who had expectations because they know the normal rules of the BDB world, but even if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have thought it was badly written. To say I am crushed is a HUGE understatement.

  29. Erin June 28, 2009 at 3:19 PM #

    Hello,
    I understand the difficulty in trying to write a review without spoilers and I must say you’ve done it well 🙂

    I would appreciate it if you could e-mail with major spoilers because I can’t really find them and I haven’t been able to get my hands on the book.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Menage a Kat - September 24, 2007

    Lover Unbound linkage…

    Reviews for Lover Unbound have been trickling in through the blogs over the last couple of weeks. Reactions are … mixed….

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