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Literature / Black Dagger Brotherhood

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A series of paranormal romance novels written by J.R. Ward which follow the lives of the titular Brotherhood: the vampire race's most powerful warriors and protectors. Each book focuses on a different brother as he battles the de-souled human vampire hunters called lessers, and his inconvenient growing attraction to a beautiful woman.

  • Dark Lover (Wrath and Beth)
  • Lover Eternal (Rhage and Mary)
  • Lover Awakened (Zsadist and Bella)
  • Lover Revealed (Butch and Marissa)
  • Lover Unbound (Vishous and Jane)
  • Lover Enshrined (Phury and Cormia)
  • Lover Avenged (Rehvenge and Ehlena)
  • Lover Mine (John Matthew and Xhex)
  • Lover Unleashed (Payne and Manny)
  • Lover Reborn (Tohrment and No'one)
  • Lover At Last (Qhuinn and Blaylock)
  • The King (Wrath and Beth again)
  • The Shadows (Trez and Selena; iAm and Catra)
  • The Beast (Rhage and Mary again)
  • The Chosen (Xcor and Layla)
  • The Thief (Assail and Sola)
  • The Savior (Muhrder and Dr. Sarah Watkins?)
  • Where Winter Finds You (Trez and Therese)
  • The Sinner (Syn and Jo)
  • A Warm Heart in Winter (Blay and Qhuinn again)
  • Lover Unveiled (Sahvage)

While The Black Dagger Brotherhood line of books is continuing, J.R. Ward has been writing a spinoff series about the newly recruited soldiers of the Vampire Race called The Black Dagger Legacy books. These books occur alongside the main series, revisit some of the old couples in a Where Are They Now fashion while introducing a whole new cast.


  • Blood Kiss (Between The Shadows and The Beast; Paradise and Craeg; Butch and Marissa)
  • Blood Vow (Between The Beast and The Chosen; Elise and Axe; Rhage, Mary, and Bitty)
  • Blood Fury (Between The Chosen and Dearest Ivie; Novo and Peyton; Saxton and Ruhn)
  • Blood Truth (Between The Savior and Where Winter Finds You; Boone and Helaine)

J.R. Ward has also added a spinoff series about a prison camp run by the Vampire aristocracy called 'The Black Dagger Brotherhood Prison Camp'' books.

  • The Jackal (Between The Sinner and A Warm Heart in Winter; the Jackal and Nyx)
  • The Wolf (After Claimed; Lucan and Rio)

And a series set in the same world, called the Lair of the Wolven books.

  • Claimed (Between Lover Unveiled and The Wolf)

Now has a character page.

Unmarked spoilers lay beyond. You have been warned.


This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Phury and Zsadist's parents, though only inflicted on Phury (emotional abuse, neglect).
    • Vishous' and Payne's father, who was abusive in almost every imaginable way, including castrating his son by tearing off one of his testicles. His mother, alternatively, is also seen as abusive by ignoring her son's childhood plight and trying to force him into an arranged marriage. He spends most of his time acting as though he is unaffected by his childhood until it all comes to a head in Lover Unleashed, and his grief over the fact that his parents did not protect him is forced to the surface. He demands to know why his parents hurt him, as he did not ask to be born to them.
    • Jane's parents, though to a lesser extent. They were seen as cold and emotionally unavailable to their daughter after the death of Hannah, Jane's younger sister.
    • Butch's father who really isn't was physically and emotionally abusive, even blaming him for the death of his sister.
    • Qhuinn's father, because Qhuinn is born with heterochromatic eyes. After Qhuinn's transition they expected it to be magically cured. When it isn't, Qhuinn's dad decides he's going to punch Qhuinn in the face. He is excluded from family events with decreasing amounts of subtlety, eventually being disowned entirely.
    • Bella's father and Rehvenge's stepfather. He used to police his eight-year-old daughter's eating habits due to the petrifying fear she'd gain weight. This meant Bella went hungry a lot. Watching Bella pour herself another bowl of cereal is a very emotional moment in Rehvenge's life.
    • Saxton's father, who disowned him after Saxton came out. In The King we see Thyme forbid Saxton to address him as "Father."
    • Trez and I Am's parents sold their son into sexual slavery in exchange for status and gifts.
    • Xcor's mother used to chain him up outside at night.
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • Sharp pointy object in the chest of a Lesser and POOF!
    • Sunlight is this to pureblood vampires. Half-breeds range in tolerance.
  • Action Girl: Plenty of love interests do this, but this is Xhex's bread and butter.
    • After seeing Wrath shot, Beth brains a man with a blunt object. Then she crouches over Wrath with a small knife and kills an attack dog coming after them. When Butch and Vishous arrive to back them up, she is in full protector mode and hisses at them.
      Vishous: She was standing over his body, ready to take the cop and me on with her bare hands if she had to. Like Wrath was her cub, you feel me?
    • Payne is the only vampire allowed to spar with Wrath.
    • Sola has a cat burglar vibe going on, and she's a definite criminal. Then in The King we watch her beat a man to death with a chain and then cut off his hand.
  • Action Girlfriend: Xhex, which given the extremely protective nature of bonded males, creates rifts between her and John.
    • Also Payne for Manny, who is a doctor.
  • After Action Patch Up: They're warriors, who fight. This happens between several characters. It actually makes up an important part of Vishous' book with him and Jane. Also happens between Rhage and Mary after he offers a rhythe, between Blay and Quinn, and between Marissa and Butch after he gets beat up in Rehv's club.
    • Beth first meets Rhage when he's giving himself stitches in her downstairs bathroom.
    • An Establishing Character Moment for Beth in Dark Lover, when she brings Rhage some Alka-Seltzer after a fight. This endears her to Wrath.
  • Alliterative Name: Manuel "Manny" Manello. And arguably, Rehvenge, son of Rempoon, also qualifies.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: All the canon couples. You know it's bad when the 'softest' guy in the bunch is an alcoholic ex-cop fired for police brutality.
    • Inverted with Xhex and John. He's damn near a saint compared to the rest of the brotherhood, and she's a maneating assassin with no qualms about killing for revenge or money.
    • Also inverted with Payne and Manny.
  • Alien Blood: Pureblooded sympaths sport blue blood, even after the stuff's been exposed to the air. Half-breeds like Rehvenge and Xhex have normal-looking blood but it tastes slightly different to other vampires.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The obvious headquarters for a secret society of vampire warriors is...Caldwell, NY. This is occasionally lampshaded.
  • A Love to Dismember: Zsadist's relationship with the skull of his mistress, who held him in sexual slavery for over a century.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Inverted in The King, when Beth has to engineer a divorce with Wrath so he can hold on to his throne, but sidesteps Vampire law by marrying Wrath in a Human ceremony.
    • Played horrifyingly straight with Trez in The Shadows.
  • A Match Made in Stockholm: Vishous and Jane. It's even lampshaded by Jane at various points in the novel.
    Jane: (after beginning to trust V) Gimme an S! A T! An O! A C! Followed by a K-H-O-L-M! What's it spell? HEAD FUCK.
    • And again:
    Jane: (thinking) Stop it. Do not feel safe with him. The Stockholm Syndrome is not your friend."
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Played with by Lash. Technically born of the Omega and a female Vampire, he's raised in Vampiric society as a sociopath aristocrat until he's killed by Qhuinn and brought back from the dead by his real father. His first act after being resurrected? Leading the Lessers on a mass killing spree of the Glymera- including his adoptive parents. Most of the political fallout in the more recent books is a direct result of this bloodbath.
  • Antidisestablishmentarianism: In Lover Eternal Rhage really likes to hear Mary talk.
  • Anti-Hero: All of them, but especially former nice guy Phury, who by the time we get to know him better is a drug addict, who hears voices in his head, and whose hobby is torture.
    The Scribe Virgin: The Black Dagger Brotherhood is cursed. There are none left in it who do not suffer.
    • Zsadist's arc moves him from out-and-out bad guy to this through the healing power of love.
  • Anything That Moves: Rhage was like this before he met Mary, and more recently, Zypher, compared to a Lenihan, a beast known for its sexual prowess.
    • Qhuinn was like this for everyone except Blaylock, for whom he was Sleeps with Everyone but You. Blay actually lampshaded this at various points in the series.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The glymera as a whole. They may not necessarily be out-and-out evil, but you'd be hard-put to find any bunch of people more self-serving, cowardly, head-in-the-sand, hidebound, and obsessed with appearances than the vampire aristocracy. From plotting to kill the king and impose a fake democracy, to treating their own family members like shit for genetic flaws that they had no control over (like Qhuinn) or for perceived or actual behavioral transgressions (like Marissa), these people will make you root for the lessers to butcher them all and improve the vampire race's overall level of decency.
    • Responsible for the attempted assassination of Wrath's mother, Ahna, because they didn't feel she was a suitable candidate for queen.
    • In The King they force Wrath to choose between Beth and the throne. Beth takes a third option.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Mary's voice is so appealing John calls the suicide hotline every night just to hear her talk, and Rhage is so attracted to her voice he practically assaults her on their first meeting, trying to get her talk to him.
  • Arranged Marriage: Vishous almost is subjected to this; Phury takes his place and falls in love with the Chosen he is mated to, Cormia.
    • Tohrment and Wellsie had one of these. Luckily, they fell in love all the same.
    • Wrath's parents. Wrath's father falls in love with Ahna on sight.
    • Wrath's first (unconsummated) marriage to Marissa, which made Marissa Wrath's Unwanted Spouse.
    • Trez was nearly subjected to this.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Marissa, in the middle of extreme character development, quips about her eventful night.
    Well, wasn't this the night for firsts. Arson. Sex. Pants.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Rehvenge and the sympath colony.
  • Awesome McCool Name: Oh, the point of narm. We have Rhage, Vishous, Wrath, Zsadist, Phury, Tohrment, Rehvenge, Dehstroyer, Tehrror, Lash, Hharm, Torhture, Ahgony, and Hurt. The list goes on and on.
    Butch: Yeah, no Tom, Dick, and Harry names for the vampire types. But come on, could you really imagine some lethal bloodsucker named Howard? Eugene? Oh, no, Wallie, please don't bite my—
    • There's even a one-shot human tattoo artist named R.I.P..
    • As of Lover At Last, we have Trez, iAm, Assail, Qhuinn, Blaylock (Blay for short), Zypher, Throe, Syphon, and Balthazar.
    • Xcor's name seems to be a weird amalgamation of Xtreme Kool Letterz until you realize it's a shortened form of 'excoriate' - to severely criticize or to flay off skin.
    • In The King we have a guy named s'Ex.
  • Baby Factory: The primary job of the Scribe Virgin's Chosen. Aside from record keeping, feeding other male vampires their blood, and worshiping their goddess, they are trained to serve the Primale and deliver his children and ensure the continuing of the vampire race. Phury sees the Fridge Horror behind this system when he becomes Primale and opts to shut the Baby Factory part down.
  • Badass in Distress: At least once a book. Usually the protagonist of said book, but not always.
  • Badass Normal: Butch, at first.
  • Bash Brothers: The Brotherhood itself.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Phury while detoxing from drugs; he is fighting an internal battle against the reasons why he took the drugs in the first place. His Love Interest, Cormia, helps him from the outside.
  • Beast and Beauty: Zsadist and Bella
  • Better as Friends: Phury and Bella, though it was really only Phury who had the romantic feelings.
    • Beth and Butch. They made out in Dark Lover and Beth complimented his technique, but said she felt no chemistry. By this point she was already involved with Wrath, which made Butch something of a Hopeless Suitor.
    • Marissa and Wrath. After they dissolve their Arranged Marriage, it's clear that Wrath still respects Marissa very much, which is why he doesn't kill her brother for the assassination attempt.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: For such a long running series, more than a few villains have been introduced across multiple arcs.
    • The Omega, an Omnicidal Maniac deity and Overarching Villain of the series, looking to exterminate the Vampire race with his Mooks, the Lessers, just to spite his deity sister the Scribe Virgin.
    • The Fore-Lessers, the chief lieutenants of The Omega who often have their own agendas they pursue alongside the Omega's; the last time the Lessers killed a named character was near the beginning of the series- they've been drifting into Harmless Villain territory ever since Lover Unleashed.
    • Lash, the child of the Omega who briefly took over the Lessening society. Word of God says he'll soon be resurrected to lead the lessers again.
    • The Band of Bastards led by Xcor, trying to unseat Wrath and replace the Brotherhood. They achieved what the Brotherhood couldn't- exterminating all of the Lessers in their home country. As of The Chosen Xcor and the Bastards are loyal to the King and the Brotherhood, having moved into the mansion.
    • Throe, formerly a member of the Band of Bastards, who seems to be fomenting a coup against Wrath from within the Vampire nobility. After his coup fails, Throe has turned to mysticism to gain Wrath's throne. He summons a killer ghost/demon/shadow to do his bidding in The Chosen and hopes to summon an army of them soon.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Havers towards Marissa. Perceiving Wrath to be abusing Marissa, Havers calls a hit out on the king. However, he's younger than Marissa by five years. Then he tries to have her put under permanent house arrest when she's perceived as "damaged goods" by the Glymera.
    • Rehvenge and Bella are a textbook example.
    • Phury and Zsadist; ironically, Phury is the younger twin but has to constantly pull Zsadist's ass out of the fire.
    • All of the Brothers have this instinct with John Matthew.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Zsadist's *ahem* hardware is treated in this way. He is repeatedly described as being "enormous" below the belt or otherwise regarded by others with a sense of envy and/or awe.
    • This is a running theme throughout the Brotherhood, but Zsadist is definitely a standout.
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: Piss Zsadist off and his yellow eyes turn black. Everyone who knows him thinks he has naturally black eyes, until he falls in love with Bella and starts to mellow out. Everyone is baffled to realize that he and Phury actually have the same eye color.
  • Blind Mistake: Shortly after Wrath's vision finally fails completely he makes lots of these, dropping and breaking things and even falling down the stairs at one point.
  • Blood Knight: All the brothers, but especially Zsadist.
    • Wrath's first description in the series is "off the chain when it came to the business of vengeance, and he hunted their enemies with a single-minded purpose that bordered on the insane."
  • Blue Blood: The glymera. Any scene of their parties, balls, or political discussions involves at least a dozen brand name items, gold rings, or diamond jewelry being described. Usually subordinate to the King of the Vampires while ruling over their servants with diluted bloodlines, they prove to be just as dangerous to the Brotherhood as the Lessers. At least two attempts to unseat Wrath have been made by the glymera, one by assassination and another by invoking Vampiric Law.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Xhex has this; to John she is 'deliciously androgynous.'
  • Brains and Bondage: Vishous, who is well-read and the most intellectual of the brothers, enjoys bondage. When he reveals this to his surgeon shellan, she is highly disturbed. However, after a session in V's "penthouse," she comes around to the idea.
  • Break the Badass: Zsadist completely loses his shit over having to whip Rhage—presumably flashing back to his own abuse.
  • Break the Haughty: Rosalhynda was prideful about her beauty and her father's high place in society. After being captured and forcibly impregnated, committing suicide and being resurrected as her daughter's maidservant...not so much. In fact she takes to being very servile and takes joy in doing menial tasks that were beneath her before.
  • Car Bomb: How Darius dies, kickstarting the plot. Noted by the Scribe Virgin as being a "dishonorable" death.
  • Casual Kink: V's preferred after hours activity. He practiced BDSM with both men and women, humans and vampires. The Brotherhood even asks to borrow some of his high end restraints for holding a comatose Xcor during The Beast.
  • Celibate Hero: Phury until he meets Cormia.
  • Child by Rape: Rehvenge, Xhex. Most half-sympaths are stated to be this.
  • Chosen Conception Partner: Layla asks Qhuinn to service her during her needing with a plan to get pregnant. They had been sexually, but not romantically, involved prior to this.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: All of the members of the Brotherhood are this towards their shellan's, as its said in the lore that all vampire males are extremely possessive once mated.
  • Cool Shades: Wrath, though out of necessity, not by choice.
  • Cowboy Cop: Butch, while he's on the force. He had a tendency to break suspects' noses while they were being held...
  • Cursed With Awesome: Rhage's alter-ego is a fire-breathing dragon that likes to devour lessers whole, can take mortal wounds on Rhage's behalf, and can use its wings to fly. Eating lessers causes Rhage some pretty bad indigestion.
  • Dating Do-Si-Do: In the beginning of the series, Marissa and Wrath are mated. But then Wrath leaves Marissa for Beth, on whom Butch has a crush. Then Butch meets Marissa. In later books, this causes jealousy from Vishous, who has an If It's You, It's Okay thing going on with Butch. But then Vishous meets Jane. Jane worked with this guy named Manny, who asked her out once. Then it turns out that Vishous has a twin sister, Payne, with whom Manny falls in love.
    • Blaylock and Qhuinn have Unresolved Sexual Tension. Blaylock starts dating Qhuinn's cousin, Saxton. Qhuinn has an encounter with Layla, and they decide to raise a child together. Through this, there is continued Will They or Won't They? between Blay and Qhuinn. They do. Then Layla ends up in a love triangle between Throe and Xcor. Then Throe moves on, but the remaining two are on opposing sides of a civil war.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: EVERYONE.
    • Wrath watched his parents murdered in front of him when he was a pre-trans. He was locked in an air vent at the time, and deals with a lot of guilt because he stopped screaming so his parents' murderers wouldn't be able to find him and kill him too.
    • Zsadist is the biggest one. To sum up: stolen as an infant, enslaved, raped, beaten, gang raped, beaten and raped some more for a couple hundred years before being horribly mutilated in the course of his rescue and reunion with his brother. Oh, and his parents are dead.
    • John Matthew was abandoned as a baby, raised in an orphanage and then sent out into the world at 16, with no idea what or who he is. As a young adult, he is raped by a large man in the hallway of his apartment complex.
    • Vishous spent his childhood in a warrior camp run by his ruthless warrior father. He dislikes the combat, preferring to read. He is punished for this. When he comes into his empathic powers, he tells his father of his own death. Disturbed, his father has him tattooed as an outcast, and partially castrated.
    • Butch grew up emotionally and physically abused by his father who wasn't his biological father, and knew it, and was blamed by his entire family for the rape and murder of his older sister, Janie even though he couldn't stop her from going out that night. It's pretty obvious throughout the books that this has messed him up a bit psychologically.
    • Qhuinn was treated as a living defect by his Glymera parents for his heterochromatic eyes. After Quinn killed another child of nobility defending John Matthew, his family legally disowned him, ritually burned his belongings, and dispatched an honor guard to beat him to death on the side of the road.
    • Trez was sold by his parents in an arranged marriage to the Royal Family for wealth and status. He was treated as their meal ticket and was only saved from his living prison by the actions of his brother before meeting his beloved Selene, who quickly dies.
    • Xcor was given up by his father and mother for his birth defect, and the nursemaid who raised him occasionally kept him chained outside her house like a dog. He was then found and raised by the Bloodletter...
  • Dating Catwoman: Xcor and Layla become this to each other—whilst neither is a villain, per se, they're closer to this than anything else, what with him trying to kill her king and all.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Surprisingly, ingenue-waif Marissa becomes a bit of a First-Person Smartass.
  • Death by Childbirth: Extremely common as pregnancy is very risky for vampires. Bella is noted to have a very shaky pregnancy and much time is spent by all characters hoping against this.
    • Beth narrowly avoids this by having an emergency hysterectomy.
  • Death Seeker: Most of the brothers at some point or another, but much of Butch's character arc involves overcoming his death wish. With Marissa's help, of course.
  • Defiled Forever: Zsadist initially believes this of himself, to the point of not wanting to touch his daughter because she'll "get it on her."
    • Havers and the Glymera had this view of Marissa after Wrath divorced her- despite the fact that it was a political marriage and the two never even slept in the same room, let alone the same bed.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Xhex for John. Though if you think she's any less of a hard-ass after they become an official couple, you don't know her that well...
  • Disposable Sex Worker: In Dark Lover, the lessers use these to lure civilian vampires out of hiding.
  • Distaff Counterpart and Spear Counterpart: Payne & Vishous and Doc Jane & Manny.
  • Domestic Abuse: Bella's father (Rehvenge's stepfather) towards their mother. This is one of the reasons Rehvenge kills him.
    • Also, Bitty's biological father towards his wife and Bitty.
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: Mr. O obsesses on Bella because she looks like an idealized version of his deceased girlfriend.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Highly averted with Zsadist. His past as a sex slave is written very darkly, and he suffers a great deal of psychological damage as a result. Nobody faults him for killing his "Mistress" and keeping her skull. A little out of the ordinary for a series that portrays males as "macho" and always concerned with looking "weak" in front of their mates. In fact, Zsadist is probably one of the most staunch observers of these gender rules (likely stemming from his abuse), but shows just how seriously these issues are taken when he tells John Matthew that his own rape was not his fault.
  • Dystopia: Vampire society is deeply patriarchal and has very rigid gender roles. Their religious beliefs can be crazy and cruel. And the general social fabric is decaying to a feudal state where pure vampiric bloodlines hold the most value.
  • Easy Logistics: Played straight in the first few books. The Brothers and the Lessers trade enough bullets, knives, and explosives after dark to equip an army, and nobody comments on where they get all of this material- much less the cash for it. In later books the Brotherhood is forced to use Assail's drug cartel contacts to get more weaponry. Meanwhile the new Fore-Lessers increasingly comment about how cash-strapped their organization is and how they're running out of lessers faster than they can be made. The newest Fore-Lesser has turned to drug trafficking and mass conversion of Caldwell's lower level gang members to restore the society.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: In a weird version, the Brothers talk like gangsters in English and Shakespeare in the Old Language.
    Rhage: I am barren of words, my female. For any sounds from my mouth are unworthy of your hearing.
    Mary: What did you say?
    Rhage: I like being here with you too.
  • Emergency Transformation: Done three times, with Mary (human-turned-immortal and cancer-free), Butch (human-turned-vampire), and Jane, (human-turned-tangible-ghost.)
  • The Empath: Vampires can smell emotions.
    • Vishous can go a step farther and read minds (and see the future).
    • Sympaths can both read emotional "grids" and influence them.
    • The Shadow Brothers are something between the two.
  • Enemy Within: Rhage and his tattooed "friend".
    • Also, Phury and his Wizard.
    • Serena's disease, the Arrest
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Subverted. Wrath only puts on ceremonial robes for...well, ceremonies.
  • Erotic Dream: Manny has one about Payne after having his memory wiped in Lover Unleashed. Jane had one about Vishous after her memory was wiped.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Butch goes in to interrogate a would-be rapist, knees him in the crotch, and grinds his broken nose into the floor while Mirandizing him.
    Butch: Now let's get your paperwork done. I'd hate not to follow proper police procedure.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: It's a series of erotic novels. This one is a given.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Assail crosses a lot of lines in his rise to power. Murder, drug dealing, working with the lessers to expand his criminal empire despite the fact that they plan to exterminate all Vampires. But blood slavery? There's a line even he won't cross.
  • Everyone Is Related: Both played straight and averted; the Brotherhood call themselves "brothers," but are not related (most of them) by blood. However, if a new (usually male) character is introduced, there's a high chance they're related to the Brotherhood in the traditional sense. Butch turns out to be a cousin of Wrath's, Manny is discovered to be Butch's half-brother, and Xcor is initially introduced as Vishous' half-brother through the Bloodletter but ends up being Tohr's half-brother. John Matthew is an interesting case; he is thought to be Darius' son due to a close DNA match, and therefore Beth's half-brother, but Word of God implies that he is Darius, reincarnated. Which still makes him related to Beth, but in a very different way.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Subverted by the lessers, who give off a smell of baby powder.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: When John finds out where Xhex is being held, and why, his vision reds out and his claws extend. He comes to himself hunched over on the floor which is now slick with lesser blood—the lesser's severed head sitting on the countertop staring at him in horror.
  • Fantastic Racism: Wrath towards humans, before falling in love with the half-human Beth.
    Wrath: (thinking) Cattle, all of them.
    Wrath: (thinking) There are only two good positions for a human. A female on her back. And a male facedown and not breathing.
    • Lessers, towards vampires. Mr. X thinks of the race as a good excuse to get away with a murder spree.
  • Fiery Redhead: Wellsie.
  • First Kiss: Zsadist and Vishous receive theirs over the course of the series. And John, though that's a little more understandable.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires
  • Funetik Aksent: When Butch imitates his father's South Boston accent, it's rendered phonetically. Ditto Mr. D's Texan twang.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Subverted. Their eyes glow only in the presence of their mates or people they love.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: Miracles from the Scribe Virgin don't come free, and the price does not seem to be negotiable even for her. For Darius' reincarnation he willingly sacrificed his voice, but in order to grant Vishous' prayer for Jane, the goddess herself gave up her beloved songbirds.
    • The Brotherhood may have hit their miracle limit now that the Scribe Virgin is dead/de-powered while her brother the Omega is still largely empowered.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Wrath sums this up pretty nicely in Dark Lover.
    Wrath: (thinking) Welcome to the wonderful world of jealousy. For the price of admission, you get a splitting headache, a nearly irresistible urge to commit murder, and an inferiority complex. Yippee.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Marissa is this trope. Beautiful? Check. Kind? Check. Innocent? Check. She gets past the naive stage pretty damn fast though.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Beth, Butch, and Manny. Only Wrath is full-blooded of all the vampires. And since most of the narrative is from the vampire POV, the vampire-sympath hybrids function in the same way.
    • A big sticking point for the glymera, who use this as a reason Beth is unworthy to be queen in The King. Their logic is that any children she has with Wrath, and therefore any heirs to the throne, will be too human.
  • Happily Married: Most of the mated main couples, though Beth and Wrath hit a rocky spot in Lover Avenged and The King. So do V and Jane in Lover Unleashed and The Thief.
    • Tohr and Wellsie. For a while.
    • Xhex and John have a lot of issues with Xhex being in the field. They get better, though.
    • Butch and Marissa hit a very rough spot in Blood Kiss. Butch's Catholic upbringing drives him to shelter Marissa while he investigates the murder of a vampire that turned up at Safe Place, Marissa sees this sheltering as just another cage like the glymera tried to force her into. They work through it by talking, hugging it out, and going to a sex club.
  • Happiness in Slavery: The doggen, a subspecies of vampires able to withstand sunlight.
  • Handicapped Badass: Phury. And later Wrath, when he loses his sight completely.
  • Hand Signals: John Matthew, being born without working vocal chords, communicates by way of a pen and paper, using American Sign Language, or by a whistling system.
  • Happily Adopted: Mary and Rhage's marital troubles over her inability to conceive are solved when they take in the orphan Vampire Bitty. Mary worries over Bitty's mental health and Rhage's ability to handle the stress of being a parent- until Bitty falls in love with Rhage's GTO, treats Rhage's beast-form like an enormous puppy, and starts calling Mary "Mother."
    • Made legally binding in Blood Vow after her uncle Ruhn makes contact with the three of them. Mary and Rhage worry that he will demand full custody as a blood relative. Ruhn worries that Bitty will grow up without knowing the love of blood-related family. Bitty decides to Take a Third Option by inviting Ruhn to live in the mansion while she's formally adopted by Rhage and Mary. Wrath signs off on the idea in a heartbeat.
    • John Matthew is happily adopted by Tohr and Wellsie.
  • Harem Seeker: The most notable would be Rhage, before falling in love with Mary. Vishous to a lesser extent before his own book.
    • Subverted by Phury; he accepts the role of Primale of the Scribe Virgin and is expected to... "service" 40 of her Chosen. He manages to weasel out of this requirement, free the 40 Chosen, AND be with his beloved Cormia.
  • Has Two Daddies: Lyric and Rhampage have not one, but three daddies by the time everything is said and done.
  • Have You Seen My God?: As of The Beast V has discovered that the Vampire deity, the Scribe Virgin, is dead/un-ascended/no longer a deity and will be appointing a successor for the race. The Brothers are all confused by how this could happen but universally agree that this is a bad thing, especially when the war with the Lessers was swinging in their favor. As of The Chosen there is a new deity for the vampire race: Lassiter. And only Layla knows it!
    • Per Word of God the Scribe Virgin is living out her life as Beth's cat, Boo.
  • Heartbroken Badass: At least once a book.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather
  • Hemo Erotic: A vampire's feeding usually entails sex too.
  • Holy Is Not Safe: There's a good reason Vampires/Lessers fear and revere the Scribe Virgin/Omega. Questioning either of them over any of their pronouncements will usually bring unpleasant consequences.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Butch, for Beth, in Dark Lover.
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: More and more in recent books, as the war with the lessers heats up.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: It's always noted just how large male vampires are, but how large they are in comparison to their female lovers is mentioned a lot. Averted with Payne and Manny, and Xhex and John.
  • Hurting Hero: Rhage in his book mentions how thanks to his Beast he needs the constant sex he has, in order to keep himself under control enough to not attack his friends, and how it was just emotionless, connectionless grinding to him—he feared he neither deserved nor was capable of truly loving someone or being loved.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: All the males are referred to this way on formal occasions.
  • Idle Rich: The Glymera families. Their nights are spent dancing at balls or politicking over cigars and fine wine while comparing the purity of their bloodlines or arranging marriages between their children. Their homes and bodies are adorned with so much gold, jewelry, and name-brand clothing, attended by so many servants, and given such deference by common Vampires that one has to wonder where they got all of this wealth from in the first place- and why the Brotherhood fights so hard to defend them.
  • I Have No Son!: Happens frequently when the Glymera are unhappy with their offspring.
    • Qhuinn is thrown out of his house by his father and all of his things are ritually burned after he kills Lash while defending John Matthew.
    • In The King Saxton point blank asks if his father, Thyme, hates him. Without skipping a beat he responds "Yes," and later disowns him for being homosexual.
  • The Ingenue: Marissa
  • If It's You, It's Okay: While each are in their very happy relationships, Word of God states that Butch is this towards V.
    • In Lover Unleashed Jane tells V she'd be okay with him cheating on her, as long as it was with Butch.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Vampire females are only fertile once every decade, and pregnancy is very highly likely to result in miscarriage or death of the mother in childbirth. As Tohrment puts it, 'It's a goddamn shellan-robber'.
    • The reason Wrath is so resistant to having children with Beth.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Initially between V and Butch, with V coveting Butch who was in love with Marissa. Recently, it's been Quinn and Blaylock with Blay covering Quinn who doesn't seem to know what the hell he wants.
    • As of Lover At Last Qhuinn has actually gotten his head out his ass and realized that he is in love with his best friend- cue their scheduled HEA in 2013 and many fangirl squeals.
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: In Lover Reborn, Tohrment has to do this to Wrath after he's shot in the throat and bleeding out. In the back of a moving car, with a pocketknife and a straw, no less!
  • Intimate Healing: Vishous does this with Butch, after the latter sucks up a lesser. To the point that Jane initially assumes Vishous is gay.
    • Manny finds that sexual arousal is the way to heal Payne's paralysis in Lover Unleashed. He even makes reference to the Marvine Gaye song "Sexual Healing"
  • Interspecies Romance: Technically, humans, vampires, doggen, and sympaths are distinct species that only occasionally successfully cross-breed.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Rhage's curse turns him into a dragon whenever he loses control of his emotions. When he's in human form, it forms a tattoo on his back.
  • It's Personal: This is pretty much how all the males react if someone hurts their female, but it is especially apparent in Lover Mine, when John finds out that Xhex had been raped by Lash. It's personal because he, too, had been raped, though by a stranger, as a pre-trans. John's drive to kill Lash goes from a 10 to a 20 on a scale of 1-10, and even his friends remark that by raping Xhex, Lash had signed his own death warrant.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Zsadist and Bella, near the end of Lover Awakened, though they get married in the end. Butch and Doc Jane for V in Lover Unleashed.
  • James Bondage: When Rehvenge is taken by the sympaths.
  • The Jeeves: Fritz.
  • Kill It with Fire: During the climax of The Beast Assail and Zsadist assault the home of a glymera aristocrat who'd plotted against the king, hastened her husband's death, and kept a blood slave. Assail brings a pistol. Zsadist brings a flamethrower.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Beth's cat, Boo, brings this out in a lot of the Brothers. Wrath is really scary to Beth until Boo leaps into his arms and Wrath starts purring. I Am comments how he hates Boo, but won't stop petting the cat whenever he visits the mansion.
    • Phury's point when encouraging Wrath and Beth to move in with the Brotherhood is "if she lives with us, we get to keep the cat."
  • Knife Nut: Vishous
  • Kryptonite Factor: Called a "pyrocant", this can be an external factor such as a relationship, or or internal such as an addiction.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: When Bella goes into needing (the mating period for female vampires) for the first time, Zsadist is told that she has a nearly 0% chance of getting pregnant from the subsequent mating. Near the end of the same book, we learn that she is, indeed, pregnant.
  • Legacy of Service: When Darius dies, he leaves Fritz, his butler, to Beth.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The series began with a fairly manageable circle of unique warriors as its main cast. Add in their respective love interests, the members of the Glymera, the different Fore-Lessers, The Symphaths, the Shadows and their society, the newly recruited Vampire Soldiers, the Band of Bastards, and the average humans of Caldwell, then the roster of characters in this series starts looking pretty long.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: With rare exception, the whole Brotherhood, Wrath in particular (he can sit on the ends of his hair without much trouble.)
  • Long-Lost Relative:
    • Phury and Zsadist, though long before the series starts.
    • John and Beth count as this too, though in a strange way.
    • Also Wrath, Butch and Manny.
    • Human Intrepid Reporter Jo, to Butch and Manny.
  • Long-Running Book Series: Sixteen so far in the main series, plus three more books in the spinoff series.
  • Love at First Sight: That's pretty much how male vampire bonding works.
  • Love Redeems: Layla for Xcor.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Overlapping love triangles galore.
    • In Dark Lover we have Marissa/Wrath/Beth and Wrath/Beth/Butch.
  • Love Triangle: Phury/Bella/Zsadist, Rehvenge/Marissa/Butch.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father
    • The Scribe Virgin informs Vishous that she's his mother.
    • Xhex's mother is a member of The Chosen.
    • Butch, Manny, and Jo share the same father through different mothers.
  • Manly Gay: Pretty much all the gay or bisexual characters. The closest to come to flamboyant is Saxton, and he's still portrayed as pretty manly.
  • Masochism Tango: Part of Mr. O's backstory is a mutually abusive relationship with his girlfriend.
  • Masquerade: Upheld by vampires' ability to erase short term, non-traumatic memories from humans.
  • Mercy Kill: After being seized by her final Arrest, Trez asks Selena to blink twice if she wants to die via lethal injection. She blinks twice, and Trez, Manny and Doc Jane assist in the act.
    • This is a part of vampire culture. Terminal patients are often mercy killed by their families as a loophole to suicide preventing entrance to the Fade.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: Butch's first interaction with Marissa. He thinks her innocence is too good to be real. It's not, and she tells him off when he tells her to drop the virgin act.
  • Mr. Fanservice: A group of enormous men chiseled like Greek gods who are skilled lovers and can pulverize anything attempting to harm their woman... with some Ho Yay to boot.
  • Mooks: The unnamed lessers fit this trope to a T, being about as disposable as used tissues.
  • Mook Horror Show: Generally whenever the Brothers engage the lessers in combat. Even when the odds are literally 10:1, the Brothers can mop the floor with the Omega's men.
    • Subverted when the Brothers engage lessers on their own. While the lessers will still be left dead, the individual Brother will usually be left bleeding out on the pavement.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Although most of the male characters have been around the block a few thousand times, their love interests are either virgins or women with limited and/or previously only unsatisfactory experiences.
    • Xhex is an aversion. It is mentioned that she had an affair with Rehvenge and a liaison with Butch; and Lover Mine revealed she was once happily mated to a brother named Muhrder (yes, Muhrder), before he found out about her sympath half.
    • Bella gender flips this; in her case, it was Zsadist who was sexually inexperienced (outside of his abuse) and it's Bella who teaches him.
    • Phury also gender flips this, though Cormia was also a virgin.
  • My Parents Are Dead: Beth does this to Butch in Dark Lover.
    Butch: I heard you'd been in the system. Mind if I ask why?
    Beth: Why do you think? No parents.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Subverted. Most of the scariest names belong to the good guys.
  • Near-Rape Experience: Beth in the beginning of Dark Lover.
  • Never Learned to Read: Bitty's uncle Ruhn has to have her adoption papers read to him because, as a Vampire craftsman, he spent his whole life making works of art for the Glymera. He signs the papers by making a quick self-portrait.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Ruh, Bitty's biological uncle, is introduced as an illiterate, softspoken artist for the Glymera. One book later? Turns out he was some kind of underground, Vampire MMA fighting champion capable of deadly feats of close combat. That information is dropped without any foreshadowing or subtlety, delivered via a phone call from a Brother to Saxton.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Just how exactly the fuck do you pronounce Xhex's name? Not to mention Xcor, the glymera, etc...
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Lash uses this to taunt John Matthew with, having raped his Love Interest Xhex while holding her in captivity. When Xhex vehemently denies that the sex was consensual, John Matthew is reminded of his own rape and mops the floor with Lash.
  • Odd Name Out: Among the Brothers there is Tohrment, Wrath, Rhage, Vishous, Zsadist, Phury, and... Darius. Guess who dies...
  • Old Retainer: Fritz.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Our angels are solar-powered immortal beings that dress in Elvis costumes, try (and fail) to climb down chimneys at Christmas, and can't stop watching Dr. Phil and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: One woman was killed by lessers and was stuck in limbo for awhile before the Scribe Virgin brought her back as a ghost. She's transparent in appearance, but can become corporeal if she tries. To her hellren, she is always solid.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're a separate species from humans, to start — you're born a vampire, you don't get "turned." Unless you have some vampire DNA...
  • Overprotective Dad: Most of the Brothers who have daughters are 100% certain there will be no dating in the future.
  • Painful Transformation: Rhage, when his beast comes out (and the aftermath).
    • The transition to becoming a fully-fledged vampire. The description makes it seem almost like a vastly accelerated growth spurt.
    • Humans with vampire heritage can have the transformation kick-started. It is not pleasant, going by Butch's experience.
    • The transformation from human to lesser involves exsanguination, removal of the heart, and getting the blood of the Omega dumped into the body with a jolt of power. Not pretty.
  • Paranormal Investigation: Two investigators, professional reporter Bill and real estate agent turned Intrepid Reporter Jo, come close to finding out the truth about Vampires in The Beast during their own investigation of the aftermath of a battle between the Lessers and the Brotherhood at an abandoned school. They ultimately drop the story as too unreal in favor of pursuing something more reasonable, like looking for Jo's long lost brother, Manny.
  • Paranormal Romance
  • Panicky Expectant Father: All of the Brothers whose mates become pregnant get like this, to some degree due to the high mortality rate for both the child and the mother.
    • Wrath, in The King. Justified, as it's stated Beth would have died if not for ghostly intervention.
    • Blay and Qhuinn, after Layla nearly has a miscarriage- twice.
  • Painful Transformation: Rhage, when his beast comes out (and the aftermath).
  • Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality: Zsadist, as a result of his captivity as a blood slave
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Qhuinn goes off the deep end in The Chosen when he learns Layla was seeing Xcor while pregnant. He threatens to strip Layla of her parental rights, fires off his pistol in the nursery (while the twins are there), and tells Blay that he is not a father to the twins. Blay packs up and leaves and tells Qhuinn it's over between them. Qhuinn apologizes and practically begs Blay to come back. Blay does forgive him and come back after Qhuinn apologizes to Layla and restores her rights to see the Twins.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Zsadist and Phury. Although they're not so different as the story continues...
  • Product Placement: Holy Scribe Virgin, everyone in the series is a brand whore.
    • Particularly egregious offenders are Butch and Vishous (who wear Gucci and Louis Vuitton), and John Matthew and Qhuinn (who are strictly into Affliction t-shirts and Abercrombie and Fitch jeans).
      • Phury was the one who got Butch started on his clothing fetish. He favors Dior, Tom Ford and Armani.
    • Not to mention specific brands of alcohol, cigarettes, shoes, ties...
    • There is even a mention of a specific brand of cat food in Dark Lover.
  • Property of Love: When a male vampire bonds, he becomes the property of his female. So far, the feeling between the vampire males and their females is mutual.
    • Averted with Xhex, who makes it clear that she's not going to put her life on hold for John's comfort.
  • Promotion to Parent: Rehvenge towards Bella, after the death of her father.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Assail seems to have the ability to do this.
  • Purple Is Powerful : Rehvenge has amethyst eyes. He later becomes king of the sympaths.
  • Rags to Riches: Beth starts out Dark Lover having been through the foster system and then an orphanage. By the middle of it, she is revealed to be a high-ranking aristocrat in the vampire world, thanks to her father's rank as princeps. And she inherits a lot of property as well as a butler.
  • Rags to Royalty: Butch finds out about two-thirds of the way through his book that he is of Wrath's bloodline.
  • Rape as Drama: Treated with remarkable sensitivity in a series otherwise very tongue-in-cheek. Ward showcases almost every form of it, from coercion to physical force, and in every gender combination. In all cases the trauma is taken seriously, and each character responds and copes in their own way.
  • Rape and Revenge: Happens twice. Zsadist gets revenge on his rapist by killing her and taking her skull, though it was not planned. Xhex gets revenge on her rapist, Lash, by killing him.
    • Wrath puts his wedding to Beth on hold until he can avenge her honor by murdering her would-be rapist, Billy Riddle.
  • Rape Is The New Dead Parents: And four of the major characters get both!
  • Really Gets Around: Rhage is the biggest one, before meeting Mary. Vishous, as well, before meeting Jane.
    If sex were food, Rhage would have been morbidly obese.
    • Taken up to eleven with Butch, Manny, and Jo's shared father. The man had a habit of leaving his girlfriend-of-the-week at the first sign of pregnancy without ever informing their mothers of his species.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tohr gives this to Wrath in Dark Lover after Wrath blames Darius' death on Tohr's love for Wellsie.
    Tohrment: And you've been dead for hundreds of years. You're just too mean to find a grave and lie down.
  • Reincarnation Romance: During The Chosen, iAm looks at the resume of a Vampire from Detroit named Therese for his Italian restaurant. When she arrives for an interview, he nearly faints when he sees the spitting image of Selena standing in his doorway. Lassiter also arranges for Trez to visit iAm at the same time she's interviewing and Trez completely loses it when he sees Therese (or Tres, as she likes to be called). It's ambiguous whether this is a true reincarnation a la Darius/John Mathew, or is a mundane but damn scary coincidence.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Villified: Wrath reaches his limit with the constant politicking of the glymera especially around his wife Beth, and, with Saxton's help, abolishes the monarchy and establishes a Vampire democracy. He is ele

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