This summer, I’ve decided to re-read one of my favorite series of all time. The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward is a series of romance novels (yeah, I’m one of those women) 10 books long, 11 as of February 2013 (I do not know what I’m going to do with myself until February 2013, honestly).
It is a series about vampires. Spare your groans. After the Twilight craze, it seem like every time you bring up books about vampires, people expect you to start gushing about how Bella and Edward loved each other so much, how their love is a story more transcendent than that of Romeo and Juliet (don’t even get me started on how bad an influence that story is). Luckily enough, I fell madly in love with romantic vampire stories long before Bella Swan murmured “Vampire.” And even more luckily, Twilight is the exception, not the rule.
Each book of the Black Dagger Brotherhood focusses on a different member within the Brotherhood, and how he falls in love with his soul mate. Swallow that groan about how corny and cheesy romance novels are. Try to remember, that unlike certain novels about shades of grey that I’m not going to mention, there is actually plot to the series I am reading. The Brotherhood is a group of warriors, the vampires’ version of an army, and each book shows more of their fight against the lessers, the race bent on the extinction of the vampires. In a twist of irony, in this series the vampires are born, not turned in the middle of the night by some dude named Vlad, and their foes the lesser are the humans who’ve been killed and reanimated.
These books don’t focus solely on sex and lovey dovey crap. Quite frankly I wouldn’t like them if they did. The world sucks, and it is completely unbelievable to have two people in a completely benign situation declare undying love for each other. People are chicken shits, and they normally don’t admit to their feelings unless they feel some kind of pressure.
These books are about warriors, and there is a war going on. Throughout the series, I’m at times laughing raucously, sometimes I’m bawling happy tears, sometimes they’re sad tears, sometimes I’m oohing and ahhing, sometimes I pant, but I always fall madly in love with the characters, and I can never set the books down. I’ll eat with one hand half the time.
Romance novels often carry a stigma with them. The women who read them are supposedly sexually frustrated single cat ladies. I would like to state that I am neither sexually frustrated nor am I single, plus allergic to cats, and I love romance novels. So does my girlfriend. We share them.
I had someone say to me the other night, “hey, you like romance novels right? You must love Fifty Shades of Grey.” Everyone at the table sucked in a breath, shifting away from the table in preparation of the shit storm of opinionated feministic rage I’m known for spewing. It wasn’t the first time I’d made my opinions of Fifty Shades of Terrible very clear. Unfortunately this poor schmuck hadn’t been present the first couple of times.
To summarize, because trust me, you don’t want me to start ranting, Fifty Shades of Porn is just that: Porn. It’s as though a sexually frustrated 16 year old sat down and thought “I’m going to write a porn script.” Not a romance novel because there is no romancing her. Informing her to bend over the first time they meet and taking her virginity from behind is not romantic- it’s skeevy and she should feel used.
The romance novels I read are about pained individuals finding someone they never thought they would, and trying to figure out how to treat them well. Yes, there is sex, but that is not the only thing in the book. There’s this weird thing called emotions interspersed throughout the action.
I greatly recommend the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, because I love them immensely. When I read them I get this breathless, unable-to-tear-my face-away feeling.