The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14) by J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward is truly the master of book endings.

“Time was too finite; no matter how much of it you had with someone you loved, when the end came, it wasn’t nearly enough.”

Seriously, I was rolling my eyes so hard at the predictability of this book all the way through the first 75% that I was so sure I was going to end up giving this book a two star rating. Then, she went and blew my mind with this ending.

Like, my heart can’t deal with the roller coaster ending that was this book. I was ugly crying for an hour straight. I couldn’t even believe I questioned J.R. Ward, AKA: Queen. She has proven, with fourteen books now, that she truly is the master of Paranormal Romance, and this book was no exception.

Also, I know I’ve been screaming this at you for many installments of this series now, but…. LAYLA AND XCOR’S ROMANCE IS EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED! My prayers have finally been answered with the confirmation that book fifteen, The Chosen, will be all about my OTP! *high pitch squeals forever*

The Beast surrounds all of the Brothers, the Chosen, and everyone linked to them in-between, but it mostly centers on Rhage, the beast himself, and his wife Mary. They have been through a lot, and I mean a lot, but they seemed to be in a happy and safe place, until Rhage almost dies, willingly.

(Since this is book fourteen, the rest of this review will have very minimal spoilers, since it’s almost impossible to say anything this far into this series.)

Yes, willingly. Rhage’s unhappiness was being caused by of the fact that he and Mary will never be able to conceive a child together. As we all know, it is very hard to even get pregnant in this vampire world, and it almost always results in loss of the child, the mother, or even both sometimes. Yet, even with all the risks and possible heartbreak, it sometimes does happen. Unfortunately for Rhage and Mary, Mary will never, ever be able to carry a child, and even though they seemed to be somewhat at peace with this, it becomes apparent very early on in this book that they are not.

Mary has been working with a young and abused victim named Bitty, who soon becomes an orphan right before Mary’s eyes. This makes Mary and Rhage’s struggle even more apparent, and makes them question their happiness. Oh, and Bitty is actually too cute for words. I loved her curious and positive attitude, especially with the events that had taken place in her life. Whether it was grocery shopping or discovering the word “Mom”, she melted my heart.

“Rhage! You have a dragon! A pet dragon! I got to rub his tummy!”

I should also probably state that Rhage has never been close to being one of my favorite Brothers. As much as I love Mary and find her personal story so endearing, Rhage and the constant talk about how he is the best looking Brother really gets on my nerves. I think the main reason it took me so long to read this book after its release was purely the fact that I didn’t want to read another book about Rhage.

But, like I said above, this book is far from only being about Mary, Rhage, and their need to fill a void.

My favorite part of this whole book was the absolutely perfect and adorable unconventional family dynamic with Layla, Quinn, and Blay, and, more importantly, the immediate and unwavering acceptance and support. God, just thinking about this dynamic warms my heart! Yes, Layla is still pregnant with twins, and doing everything in her power for a healthy birth. She’s also doing everything in her power to not think about Xcor, and failing miserably might I add.

I know J.R. Ward gets a bad rep because of all the erotic elements and moments in her books (my momma didn’t raise no prude), but this woman writes so much wonderful diversity! Seriously, we have a good amount of different races, disabilities and religions, but the diversity with sexual orientations is nothing short of outstanding! I wish more people would give these books a chance, because J.R. Ward’s talent isn’t stunted and she just continues to grow as an author. I will always support all her different series, because she deserves a standing ovation, seriously.

I also know these books surround a bunch of brooding, alpha males, but there were so many feministic themes in this book, too! I’m talking about blatant statements about power struggles and feminism that warmed my heart to no end. The discussion on motherhood and women feeling obliged to have children, women’s struggles getting the same jobs and recognition as men, women being not physically as strong as men, especially the Brothers, but working around it and making up for it in other areas (huge shout out to Payne, who’s impact is totally going to have repercussions); it’s all there and so much more. Again, I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for J.R. Ward.

As many of you may know, my favorite Brother is Zsadist, and his parts of this story really broke me, too. His first part as a father seeing everything going on, and being reminded of Bella and the blessing of having her. Then second, his part in the constant reminder of his past and how far he has come in the healing process. God, my heart. This is truly a once in a lifetime series, with so much constant world and character building.

My second favorite, and very surprising, part was Assail’s story-arc! I didn’t think he’d be able to win me over, but here I am, completely won over. I cannot wait for the further developments with his character, after the ending of this book. I can’t wait to see what Marisol has been up to, and I can’t wait to see more expansion with Throe! Hopefully, at the same time! *wink*

And speaking of book endings, oh, Scribe Virgin, help us all.

I know this is a huge series, and the commitment seems daunting, but these books are worth every page and every penny. I can’t recommend this series, these characters, these stories, or this author enough.

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