The seventh book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Lover Avenged, is the first to focus on a love affair outside the Brotherhood itself, though the character of Rehvenge has been central to almost all the other books. Rehvenge, of course, is the half symphath owner of ZeroSum, the club where the Brothers hang out, and also a major drug dealer in the town of Caldwell. He certainly wasn't looking for love when he visited Havers, the vampire doctor, for an extension of his prescription for dopamine, the drug that keeps his symphath side under control, but when he meets the nurse Ehlena, sparks fly and Rehvenge is unable to restrain himself. Ehlena, whose family circumstances have left her with money troubles, isn't looking for anything either, but Rehvenge sweeps her off her feet. This being the BDB, however, things can't go easily; Rehvenge lives in fear that Ehlena will discover all his dirty little secrets and Ehlena simply worries--about mostly everything.
Lover Avenged is filled with all the characters we know well and have grown to love, including all the members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and their various mates, plus the younger set of John Matthew, Qhuinn, and Blay. Added into the mix is the tough girl Xhex, whose story with John ramps up considerably in this edition. Her loyalties are never in question but I had to question her treatment of John (which I'm sure will play out splendidly in a future book). Also making an appearance are Trez, iAm, and Payne, minor characters with more time in this book. Best of all is the reappearance of Tohr; his story is far from over as he works to avenge the loss of his beloved Wellsie; the best part is that Lassiter the fallen angel seems to be part and parcel of Tohr's rehabilitation.
I loved this episode in the series! From Rehvenge (whom I admit to having a soft spot for) and his difficult decisions to the dark and mysterious Xhex, I felt like I was knee deep in the action. The multiple story arcs work very well for me; just when I became immersed in Wrath's and Beth's story, I was jerked along into the horrors of Lash's world and then onward into the downward spiral that is John Matthew. I loved Ehlena's spirit and her ability to see the good in others, and Tohr's fight to survive made my heart ache. And the humor! V had me laughing on more than one occasion, especially while dealing with Lassiter. While I'm not a fan of the symphaths and their odd ways, I am pleased with how the story of Rehvenge's half symphath side is resolved, and there are enough loose ends left that I know I'll be eagerly waiting on the eighth book.
Naturally there will always be things in any series that could be improved upon, and the minor problems with this one include the fact that the cast has grown so large that not everyone can be front and center. Sometimes a few characters (read: the princess) are so over the top that they make me wince. But all in all, this is a great entry in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and it's left me wanting more, faults and everything. Can't wait to see whose story turns up next--John Matthew's? Tohr's? Lassiter's? The possibilities are endless.