Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 6)

Lover Enshrined - J.R. Ward 3.5 stars....This is a tough book for me to review in this series. The author has become adept at interweaving >1 story into the same book, so while, in theory, this is Phury's book, it's about a lot more than just Phury. In fact, it doesn't even really seem like a "romance".We pick up where we left off in the last book... so while I discuss the plot points, I'll vent/state my opinion.* Phury agreed to take V's place to become Primale. He's supposed to be mated to Cormia as his Chosen Mate, but he's also to bed the other 39 Chosen. His "job" is to re-populate the dwindling Chosen females and the even fewer number of Brotherhood males.One of my issues is the whole Primale business. This springs up out of nowhere in the previous book, and it's very unclear to me. I get that the Chosen need pure blood lines. But the Brotherhood? Of those we know:* Wrath is a king of the king line; his father sure wasn't a Primale (never spoken of anyway), and his mother didn't seem to be a Chosen.* Phury and Z had aristocratic parents, unless, again, we're not privy to the particulars of their father being a previous Primale and their mother a previous Chosen. Which would have come up had it been so.* Butch is half-human, half of Wrath's king line somewhere. He doesn't count.* V is the closest, because his mother is the Scribe Virgin. But his father was anything but the Primale.* Torhment seems to be of another line, too. We know his father's name, but we don't know details. It's possible that Tohr is from a previous Primale. But again, nothing is mentioned.* Rhage - same as Tohrment. No true mention of his parents. And no mention in this book that he's descended from a Primale.So, once again, this seems to be a convenient plot device for the author. It seems as if the Brotherhood isn't ONLY populated by those descended directly from a Primale. So why the big deal now? The BDB has already taken on training a new set of young men, turning them into warriors. Most, if not all, seem to be descended directly from the aristocracy, not the Primale. Which begs the question - what's the big deal?Is this only to allow Phury to stew? Cormia to rebel? Is it a way to break down another barrier in the vampire world - perhaps in response to readers' criticism of the Chosen? Hmmm.... Free the Chosen!* But Phury can't quite escape feeling that the Chosen, especially Cormia, have no choice. That they're no better than slaves, as Z was. And he can't overcome his own insecurities and drug addiction to get over himself and his Survivor Guilt and Failure Guilt and do his duty.This is a major issue of mine. I get the background... I can even see the conflict. But Phury becomes a whiny baby, so stuck in his own head with his awful and very irritating "wizard" of doom/gloom/guilt, that he loses sight of who he is. Where is the strong Brother? And why didn't his brothers call him on all of this much sooner?It's tough for me to be overly empathetic for Phury. I respect the author's treatment of addiction; Phury is a prime candidate for addiction and for the Primale. I don't disagree or have issue with this part of the story. I have issue with the fact that this 'noble' Phury is such a fraud; his good behavior has always been about nothing more than trying to be the Savior. So who is Phury, really? I don't think any of us knows.The most honest moments of Phury are when he confronts Z about never thanking him (Phury) for tracking Z down and rescuing him. Z's responses were shocking to me - harsh. I thought Z was over-the-top. And yet, Z spoke the truth, too. So, once again, why didn't Z call Phury on all of this before now? Especially the part where Z knows Phury's in love with Bella - or at least thinks he is.The other honest moments are when Phury ODs, and when Phury's at the "meetings" at the end. The other stuff is... filler, mostly. And so, IMO, it's not really Phury's book - 'cuz with all the other stuff happening, we got to see so little of Phury coming into his own and actually falling in love. I've yet to be convinced that he's in love with Cormia for HER. It's almost as if Phury needed to be in love to have something to hold on to - something good and pure and something to hope for... something to be worthy of. That's not loving the person, that's being in love with love. That's craving love. If V's book had left V without Jane, we would have either had Phury's story a book earlier, or V would have pulled a Tohrment and left.Just tough for me to buy... and I hope that we get to see more of Phury and his actual healing, as we have with the other brothers. I hope that we get to see him really in love with a mate, and not just the ideal.* Cormia is an innocent Chosen, who wants her own life and her independence - something completely against the Chosen way of life. She's in love with Phury, but she thinks that he's disgusted by her, since he refuses to properly bed her. She knows that she was set up for failure as the Chosen Mate of the Primale by the last devious D. Because Phury knows that he's not capable of being around Cormia, he introduces her to John Matthews, hoping that the boy will show her around. Which he does. For awhile, it looked as if JM and Cormia might be a pair...I'm on the fence about Cormia. She's an interesting character, but she's far from fully developed. And I just didn't get the sizzle between her and Phury - not any more than any of the brothers and the Chosen. Yes, Cormia's "hot" and willing... and falls in love with Phury; but is it her innocence that speaks to Phury or just her body? She's getting a personality and a life, but Cormia's far from her own gal when Phury falls for her.* Lash discovers his "true" identity... which is a major issue for me. While we've seen that Lash has always leaned towards the "bad" and bully, why the heck wouldn't the aristocracy at large know that he was adopted? His father is the leahdyre, for heaven's sakes, and we all know what a fishbowl the glymera is. How in the world can they not know that his mother was NOT preggers for >12 months? How can they accept this couple suddenly showing up with a son? And their only son?I get that the lessers and the Omega need a shot in the arm. They've become more than predictable and more than boring in their feeble attempts to take out the vampire race and the Brotherhood. The only real threat was Mr. O (David), who was almost his own man. But he's long gone. So the idea of Lash being the Omega's progeny is a good one; it "balances" the powers that be. And Lash certainly has an inside view to the vampire world. And the BDB, having trained with them.But somehow, it feels too contrived. I liked it better when the Omega put part of himself into Butch. That was genius! That was unpredictable. But this Lash thing... well, it sets up an uber-villain with a major grudge, but the how we got there just doesn't sit right.* John Matthews: Hmmm... I really don't get his attraction to Xhex, but obviously, she's the way he's going to go. The whole "sunshine" versus "storms" thing made it obvious. This guy just can't get away from danger and excitement.But what really throws me is that Xhex is supposed to be almost "butch" in appearance. And after his rape in the stairwell by a man years ago, I'd have thought that any female close to looking "butch" would put John off, not attract him. They say opposites attract, and these two are going to prove it. I just don't picture Darius with Xhex for anything more than hot sex. Then again, we didn't get to know Darius too well before he was gone. So who's to say with JM?The riddle of how Darius' "soul" became part of JM, who was already a 20-something when Darius passed on, is beyond me. Guess the Scribe Virgin can do as she pleases. And I suppose JM was always a vampire, but somehow, it seems as if he "became" a vampire when Darius' soul became part of him. So much mystery still here.*Qhuinn and Blay: Well, I called it. IMO, the Butch-V thing was a trial for the possibility of a gay vampire relationship. And while we know that there are possibly bi-sexual vampires (or at least that m-m action isn't completely unknown), I'm not sure about this whole thing. I like Blay and Q together, don't get me wrong; I feel their vibe, as the author might say. And I'm not protesting because I'm a homophobe; I'm just wondering if this author hasn't fallen into the "fad" that seems to have overtaken authors in this 21st century - the need to include at least one gay relationship in the mix.The author set us up in a world where males must feed from females and vice versa. Where females bear the young. Other than V's experiences, where m-m action was more rape/punishment, there's been not a true hint of such things in the vampire world. So I guess we're to assume that they're not "normal". That these relationships are as frowned upon in vampire society as they are in the human society. Which is likely why Blay's not out-of-the-closet. If the author had begun with showing that such relationships weren't out of order in this testosterone-filled, male-dominated, warrior world, then the Q-B thing wouldn't even cause an eye blink. But she didn't. And she didn't give us many clues in this book about how accepted or not accepted this is. Didn't hint as to any other couples.So... I'm a little wary about this sub-plot. I understand Qhuinn's concern about not ruining the friendship, despite his growing longing to explore his feelings with Blay. Obviously, this relationship and this subject isn't done.*Rehv - the whole sympath thing is a very big pet peeve of mine. I don't feel as if the author has done her readers justice by helping us understand any of this. The idea that I get is that it's pure evil - sociopath stuff. I guess the idea that another could read and manipulate emotions and thoughts could surely lead to that path. It's power, and as the saying goes, power corrupts.But the blackmail thing, although alluded to, is another new wrinkle in the sub-plots that doesn't fit. The big Moors that guard Rehv are suddenly another new species - Shadows. And once again, we're not really told much about them. Almost as if the author doesn't really know much about them, herself, but is making up this new species as she goes.The Princess... and Rehv's parentage... freaky, weird, and so not explained. The colony of sympaths - are they vampires or not? Doesn't seem like it from the descriptions. Although Xhex seems to be a half-breed, like Rehv, so it must not be all that uncommon for vampires and sympaths to get it on. But it's not explained as to how/why the sympaths might have evolved separately from the vampires or why the vampires have the authority to banish them. What threat or power do the vampires have over them?The idea that the Princess is married to the Rehv's uncle? Something's amiss here, 'cuz Bella doesn't know thing one about Rehv's sympath stuff, so obviously, she's not sharing the same father as Rehv - is she? Confusing.============So, yeah... lots of mixed feelings and reviews on this book. It's definitely a turning point in the series, and in the number of the book, being that's it's about half-way (so far), it's the right time and place for everything to fall apart. Otherwise, how can it all get better and re-built?