DNF Review: The Shadows by JR Ward

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The Shadows The Shadows by
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood
Published by on March 31, 2015
Pages: 592
Buy at AmazonGoodreads

Two brothers bound by more than blood fight to change a brutal destiny in the heart-wrenching new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward.

Trez “Latimer” doesn’t really exist. And not just because the identity was created so that a Shadow could function in the underbelly of the human world. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the S’Hsibe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer in Caldwell, NY for years- all the while on the run from a destiny of sexual servitude. He’s never had anyone he could totally rely on... except for his brother, iAm.

iAm’s sole goal has always been to keep his brother from self-destructing- and he knows he’s failed. It’s not until the Chosen Serena enters Trez’s life that the male begins to turn things around... but by then it’s too late. The pledge to mate the Queen’s daughter comes due and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no negotiating.

Trapped between his heart and a fate he never volunteered for, Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others- or forever leave behind the female he’s in love with. But then an unimaginable tragedy strikes and changes everything. Staring out over an emotional abyss, Trez must find a reason to go on or risk losing himself and his soul forever. And iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice...


Wow. Where to begin. So I’m not sure how many of you are aware of the spoiler that JR Ward posted, but I’m grateful she did. I decided not to buy this book after reading it. But after a few days online and seeing the reactions, I figured I owed it to you guys to write an informed review of why I didn’t want to read it. And perhaps it would have surprised me? I decided to put my money where my mouth is.

Many many of my friends were torn on this book. Some whose taste is so similar to mine, loved it! Others, felt betrayed.

I felt betrayed.

But I knew this from reading A) reviews B) JR Ward’s spoiler. Words from the author’s own mouth are what decided this for me. I knew I wouldn’t like it, I knew how it would end…and yet…I still had hope.

Ward’s spoiler link here

For example, if I see cheating…I know it’s a hard line for me. I won’t like it. I know my taste. I know whose reviews I can trust to have similar issues. So when I see that heroine dies, but isn’t saved miraculously, I’m out. I’m supposed to read almost 600 pages and NOT get a happy ending? Are you serious? We joked on twitter comparing this to a Nicholas Sparks novel, but the reality is that with Sparks, you know what you’re getting into, he doesn’t call his books romance, AND HE DIDN’T SPEND 13 BOOKS SETTING UP HEAs IN A WORLD WE’VE COME TO LOVE.

That is the worst part of all of this; I feel lied to. You don’t spend years building up a Paranormal Romance series, and base, and fans galore, just to slap them in the face.

She broke my trust.

As an author, I will tell you, part of the plotting of a Romance novel is that you try your hardest to find some insurmountable defining Black Moment, and you make your characters overcome it. They win, they endure, they survive the trials we authors throw at them. They don’t get an easy happy ending, they have to earn it.

As a reader, you pick up a romance novel knowing that you have a hero and a heroine who by the end, will not only have fallen in love, but they’ll have earned that love. They will deserve every happiness they’ve worked for. Could you imagine picking up a Mystery novel and…never finding out whodunnit? Of course not!


In Romancelandia, you have either a Happily Ever After (HEA), or a Happily For Now (HFN). This is the Golden Rule in Romance. They overcome remarkable odds and they win at the end. Someone actually said “Not all books have to have a happy ending…” well, yeah, in romances, they kinda do. It’s the point of reading a Romance novel, rather than say, a Literary Fiction, or Urban Fantasy. And I’ve seen people mention that the WARDen is leaning towards UF, but I call shenanigans. She’s going back to her roots with the Bourbon Kings and the Black Dagger Legacy books. She obviously knew her fans want more romance, or she wouldn’t be going back to it.
And this book wasn’t UF. It was a Romance with no HEA.
I’m done with the Brothers, which is a shame since they were my first introduction to vampires post-Twilight. I’m done with Ward, because I don’t trust she won’t do this again to us.
Her comment about how she grieved for her dog through this book…Okay, then write the ending where everyone dies, let it be cathartic, then put it away. Write the book with a HEA, and then release the other part as a bonus 6 months down the road. It’s a win all around! And I don’t think anyone would be mad, because they’d have gotten the HEA. KMM did it with the The Dark Highlander by putting most of her first draft in Into the Dreaming, it made a lot of money, and we all had the other version so we were happy.
I haven’t even touched on the minor romance where iAm gets his HEA. Maybe maybe if this had been iAm’s book where his romance was forefront, and 500+ pages were dedicated to him, rather than Trez and Selena, I’d be more okay. But his romance is so secondary and so minimal, that it definitely doesn’t take the sting from the betrayal. If anything, I think it makes it worse.

Next up is Rhage and Mary. Again. DON’T MESS WITH THEIR HEA, WARD! Why return to them, and give them some contrived issue about his prior promiscuity? Why not move on to Saxton? Or Layla and Xcor? (which btw, WTF, Ward, was that even necessary?).
So, I’m done. I’m out. The End. I won’t be returning to the BDB, I won’t be reading Ward’s spin-off, or her new Contemporary series, even as she cries Romance! I have romance again! I can’t. It’s not even a matter of principles, it’s that, as I said, she broke my trust, and I won’t go back for seconds.



This reads like the previous BDB books, but the heroine dies at the end. I won’t read Ward again, she’s broken my trust as a reader, and pissed me off.







11 Responses to “DNF Review: The Shadows by JR Ward”

  1. Kassandra

    Sadly, I still have yet to read the one prior to Shadows and really have no intention to. As much as I was so happy to finally have Blay & Quin’s story………I was let down by the paleness of it compared to the previous steamy romances in the series.

    Kind of reminds me of the Anita Blake series. I swear (at least for me) there has to be an end to a series. I can only be a voyeur for so long before I lose interest OR the books go on for such a time that it seems the author may be living vicariously (how I felt about Anita Blake series) through their characters.

    It sucks so hard when a favorite author lets you down as a reader.

  2. Linda

    This is why I stopped reading BDB as well, after the ending with dr Jane I just couldn´t trust her with my HEA.
    I need my HEA, it´s why I read, and I refuse to read sad stories.
    TG I stopped before this book, because it would have gutted me *shudders*
    Hope your next read is fluffier =)

  3. Anne

    I stopped really liking her books quite a while ago and stopped completely part way through Tohrment’s book. Blech!

  4. Highlandhussy

    Thanks guys, sadly I see a lot of people are pretty upset :/

    I also saw this book sold the least amount of copies of any of her books, and they’ve already dropped the price to this and the next pre-order.

    I’m not sure what that says for the series, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

  5. Annette

    I knew about the death, but broke down and read it anyway. What a way to break your readers hearts. I agree that it wouldn’t have been such a disappointment if the story lines would have been equally distributed, or Iam’s romance more prominent.

  6. marie

    I´m totally with you. I don´t usually post on blogs, but after reading your post, I just had to.
    I liked the book. It was much better than THE KING, but….this isn´t Paranormal Romance anymore.
    If there is one convention you do NOT break in romance, it´s the HEA or HFN. This rule is unbreakable. It doesn´t matter if you don´t feel motivated anylonger, it doesn´t matter if you´re having writer´s block or are just depressed, you do NOT kill the main character in your romance book.
    When you refered to Karen Marie Moning I was so into your idea, because I still remember when she was going to release DARK FEVER. She posted on her blog and informed her readers she needed a change and that she was stepping away from PR for a while. Some liked it, others didn´t, but she informed of the change in the genre she was going to keep writing in and by doing so, she showed her readers her respect for them.
    When I open a book I want to know what can happen and what can´t. Trez and Selenas ending might be acceptable and beautiful for some readers and I respect that, but I wish Ward would have showed us the same courtesy as Karen Marie Moning and informed her readers that we are not in Kansas anymore.

    • Highlandhussy

      Hi Marie!
      I’m glad you posted on our blog-it’s a well-thought-out comment and I think you bring up a great point! KMM did give her readers a heads up. She let us know she had something that she just absolutely had to write, and she hoped we liked it…but it wasn’t Romance.
      A friend of mine said she believes Ward was very brave and this is a fierce move for her…I do agree to an extent, but this isn’t a new series she went in a new direction with, it’s a long-established PNR series that didn’t get a happy ending. I just think there are many different ways she could have gone about this book. Bring the other romance to the forefront. Since she knows she’s killing Serena, make that plot line a side plot. Then she wouldn’t have ruined so many people’s expectations. :/
      Or as I said, release the alternate ending. Thanks for commenting!

  7. marie

    Yeah, totally agree with you. I still don´t know why she didn´t let Trez go with Selena. I mean if she wanted drama, that would have been a heartwrenching twist non of us would have seen comming and it would have been a HEA….sort of.

    The only reason I see her keeping Trez is for writing a second book for him somewhere along the line, when people are more open to the idea and she is in a better mood. Selena tells him when they meet in the Fade that she will be waiting for him and his future love…..then what was the point of this story?

    As if there weren´t enough characters and storylines that are in needing of a serious push (Layla and X´cor mainly) before all the perfect tension she has been building up reaches the breaking point and fades into nothing….in my eyes both lost a lot of interest after the stunt with X´cor and the step back they took.

    Even Assail has dropped from being an incredible and interesting character to such a expendable one in this book, at least for me. He and Sola had so many amazing scenes together and now….I kept turning the pages to get over with him, so anoying.

    I would appreciate her keeping her energies centred on the new stories and wave whatever she has in mind for the classical Brother into these new books, instead of revisiting them. Really, I love them, but there is no point, specially now when she will have to juggle her time and schedule with three different series.

  8. Highlandhussy

    Oh yeah! That’s a good point-Trez could have gone into the Fade too! And didn’t Serena say at one point that she didn’t want him to be with anyone else? Crap, I can’t remember!

    But seriously, if she writes him a new book with a happy ending a year or two from now, I think I’d be even more angry. I mean, why put us through this if he’s just going to get another book later?

    And I would much rather have read Xcor and Layla…until that stunt he pulled anyway. Now I’m just mad at everyone.

    I think a lot of her readers are looking forward to the new spin-off series because it does go back to the old Brothers, but I also think that a lot of them would just be happy to have them more involved in their original series. It seems silly to start a new series but with the same characters as in the established series.

    Maybe it’s just me? I don’t know. It just seems weird to use the same characters from their own series and give them another series?

  9. marie

    Hi, there!

    I checked the Selena line about having him love someone else and yes, while she is still alive she recognizes she lied when she told him to love again, but that she really didn´t want him too. I found that very human an likeable about her. I do believe that no matter how much the mayority of us would like to say the right thing, in this case, while knowing you are going to die, it´s only human to want to keep that special place in the heart of your beloved.

    BUT, after she is already dead, and Trez meets her in the Fade, she says: “I will be here waiting for you and whoever else you love. That´s what the other side is. It´s just love” pg. 561.
    I soo totally see her revisiting Trez in the future….

    As for the spin off series, what I interpreted from what she has said about it, is that we are going to have classical romance books with the different pairings she is going to come up with AND have the Brothers make their appearances so we can enjoy them a bit more, as they barely appear in the main series any longer. I see it more like a gloryfied co-star appearance in a tv show type of thing rather than anything more substantial.

    The heavy story driven plot with the classical Brothers (Like Wrath and Rhage for the moment) I believe she will keep in the main series. I could be wrong and have understood what she commented wrong, as english is not my first language, but that´s how I read it.

  10. Highlandhussy

    so I just checked in with some friends about her Bourbon Kings book #1, and many are saying it’s like a Soap Opera, but in a good way! A few are also saying that while it does have a romance, it reads more like women’s fiction than Romance. I won’t be reading it, but if any of you guys do, come back and let me know what you think!


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