Sunday, October 11, 2009

Covet, by JR Ward - Review

Finally.
I know, I know. Inertia has its claws in me. I'm reading a ton, honest, but finding it real work to sit down and do the reviews. So Covet has been out for almost two weeks; I finished it over a week ago. Yeah, finally.

Divided Loyalty
First off, if you don't like the direction Ward has been going with the BDB series, I'd recommend you skip it.

However, if you're good with a somewhat divided focus for the sake of the ongoing series arc, I think it's good news. The new premise feels fresh--don't know about you but I was getting kind of tired of the lessers. Ward's whys and wherefores of demon possession have an original spin while borrowing perhaps more heavily from traditional medieval Catholic lore than some of the current trendy demon-based UF.

I'm trying to think of another series that has a strong romantic focus on individual couples (as romance does) while also keeping a constant, catalyst character in the forefront (as UF does), and not coming up with anything comparable. The closest I can think of is Meljean Brook's Michael, but he's not directly involved in the protagonists' relationships the way Ward's character is. I'm guessing that Kenyon's Acheron might be similar, but I'm only going on buzz -- haven't read them myself.

Anyway, I'm finding it promising how deliberately the structure has been created-- I think it's a bit harder to take when that third-party role evolves through the series and risks feeling like shark-jumping. And it's a risk, because it breaks form-- some readers have complained that the focus is too divided, which I can understand. I'm reserving judgment about that because I did find both stories interesting with satisfying arcs, and the teaser for Jim's continuing story is compelling. Though some of the information about Jim's former life skirts the line between teasing and frustrating.

The new series is also set in Caldwell, NY, which I enjoy. I like having "insider" info, and find the cameos from Trez, Detective de la Cruz and Phury entertaining BUT if you haven't read the BDB first and don't want to, you won't lose any comprehension.

It's the End of the World As We Know It
I think Ward is taking herself-- or this series-- a little less seriously than the BDB, and it's good. She's always been able to write humor and absurdity into her books, especially in dialog, but I think a lot of what happens to Jim is pretty tongue-in-cheek. It might even tempt you into eye-roll territory (cricket-playing angels? a fortress castle = heaven? divine assistance via television messaging?) but it worked OK for me and was effective, if slightly silly, imagery.

Wardisms, and The Very Long Book
You'll find the voicing familiar, as both Jim and Vin sound very much like any given Black Dagger Brother, perhaps V, if I had to pick one. (Vin also gets premonitions about people's deaths, and he is NEVER WRONG-- coincidence?) The weird tendency to add an "ie" to the end of words like "freshie" for a "fresh drink" is still in here but toned down a bit (thankfullie) and O'Donovan? just for you? not a "shitkicker" boot in sight. (I was watching.)

It's no secret that I'm a fan of The Very Long Book. This is probably a requirement for a reader to enjoy this book-- if you merely tolerate long books only when the complex plot and characterization absolutely require it, you might pass this by. If this were Ward's first book, I would dare to say an editor might have been a bit more, um, editorial on this page count. As Mandi* astutely points out in her review, there are a couple of subplots that are not especially pertinent or, um, logical. At least one of them might become clearer as we get to know Jim's sidekicks in future books though, so I'm looking forward to that.

Bottom Line
I think just overall I have lowered expectations from JR Ward these days. I'm happy to see the last two Ward books rise above the barrel-bottom-scraping of Lover Enshrined, but I've stopped expecting to get that heart-stopping OH MY GOD reaction I got with the first few BDB books. Maybe it was the novelty of the formula, and it just only works so many times. If it happens again, that'll just be a fabulous bonus.

In the meantime, I'm still a loyal reader. If I gave ratings, it would probably be something like a B+ for Covet-- good solid read, but not knock-your-socks-off, and I'll be reading the next one. Rumored title is Crave.

Honestly though? I don't think Ward is going to remain a Hardback Author for me. I might be hitting the library or waiting for Lover Mine to come out in paperback.

Around the Web:
*Smexy Books
Smokin' Hot Books
Darque Reviews
Dear Author (Brrr. Cold.)
Bibliophilic
I Heart Book Gossip
... and as always, if you've reviewed Covet and I've missed it, please feel free to leave your link in comments!

Disclosure: Purchased.

Next Up From JR Ward:

Lover Mine, John Matthew's story

13 comments:

Mandi said...

I really liked the world she created..and I loved Jim and the fallen angels. But Marie-Terese? I couldn't stand her. I tried..really. Wasn't a big Vin fan either..he started out so cold and stern, then did a 180 into mushiness.

Otherwise, I like the fact that Jim will be in all the books and you know Adrian and the other guy have some big secrets. The guys in the sky were kind of funny too.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I find it funny that the publisher numbered the ARCs for Covet and it was in paperback thinking it would be the must read book of the fall.

I am very much a Ward fan girl, but I am dragging my feet to read Covet. It seems it has both good and bad. Also I am not too keen on Covet bring in the same world as the BDB books. And because of that, these two worlds are going to have to collide at one point.

Great review!

Venus Vaughn said...

I agree with everything you said. This book isn't for the die-hard romance reader, and the multiple protagonists is a bit much for some folks. I rolled with it, but I can see how those who are only interested in Hero / Heroine POV would be put off.

I liked the book - read it in a few days, but they were moving days, so it took longer than it normally would have for me. It wasn't a 5 star read IMO, but it was certainly satisfying.

The "freshie" thing pulled me out of the reading. I'm sure I spent a good two minutes wondering if a guy as "Butch" *ahem* as Jim would ever, EVER think of a new beer as a "freshie." I simply can't see it entering into his vernacular. Then again, I've never lived in the Northeast, so there could be a whole lexicon I'm missing.

Though, I hate to correct you, there was most certainly a shitkicker in sight. Tweedledee and Tweedledoofus wore them as I recall. I can't remember their real names, but I'm interested to see who they become as the stories evolve.

I'm definitely going to keep reading. I kind of like the idea she's devised to keep Jim in the action while giving us a new set of characters each time. And I certainly don't mind a long book provided there's enough plot to support the pages.

(Also, have you seriously not read Kenyon yet??? What's wrong with you, woman? Start with Fantasy Lover, take your time, and work your way through. Sometimes Kenyon's syntax is a bit off, especially in the earlier books, but the storytelling is good enough that you forgive her.)

JenB said...

*sigh* This is so not for me. I was soooo hoping it would be, but I'm afraid it'll just leave me more frustrated with the direction of Ward's writing. :(

I actually bought Covet a couple of weeks ago, but I've already put it up for sale online because I know I'll never read it.

Cruel, cruel woman, that Ward.

wcvamp said...

i loved your review...I am glad to see how so not over the moon you are about the book. I for one, did not like it at all, got to page 100 and had to put it down. maybe i might pick it up in about 6 months, which is what i did with SK Acheron's book, which by the way was awesome...

And yeah, you need to read her books, IMO, i like the dark hunters and the shifters better than the dream hunters, those were boring to me.

Nicola O. said...

I dunno why I'm so reluctant to get into Kenyon. Sometimes I'm weirdly oppositional that way.

Mandi, do you think Ward will ever write a real, live woman? I kind of hate all her heroines. They're so bland.

KB, opinion is divided on the Caldwell setting. Most people seem annoyed by it, calling it self-indulgent. I think maybe it's "fan-indulgent", LOL, in the same sorta goofy way the brothers "post" on Ward's message boards. I have to admit, I like it, but I see the argument.

I agree with everything you said. Venus, I knew there was a reason I liked you. You did get the check, right? And dammit on the shitkickers. Now I have to go find it. I'm weird that way.

Jen, it's hard to break up, isn't it? I tend to hang on a long time after the magic is gone. I don't think I'll go quite that far yet, but I could see it happening.

wcv, just keepin' it real (ya feel me?) It's kind of hard to review a book that you liked, but is just sort of average, vs. a standout-- good or bad.

Venus Vaughn said...

Nicola, I did get the check, but I think you left off a zero. Wasn't our bargain for ten dollars?

I couldn't stand not knowing where the infamous shitkicker was after making that statement, so I went back and skimmed Ad n Ed's scenes from about page 200 on. I found it on page 457, near the bottom. But I can't remember if this is the only showing or if there were more I simply hadn't spotted.

Either way, now we can both sleep easy tonight :)

Nicola O. said...

Venus, I love you.

That's all.

Smokinhotbooks said...

I totally agree with Mandi. I'm a huge Ward fan heck I'll even buy her short stories, that's how much I love her. Covet was a good read, didn't excite me as much as the BDB books. Great review!!!

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

What fun! I'm so very glad I've found your blog and will visit often. Thanks for sharing.
Simone

Nicola O. said...

Welcome, Smokin' and Simone! Hope to see you around.

I Heart Book Gossip said...

I posted my review here.

http://juniperrbreeeze.blogspot.com/2009/10/to-covet-or-not-to-covet-that-is.html

But you're right the Wardens heroines are bland, was Marie Terese even considered as a heroine? I feel like after Phury's book, all her writing are there same. There hasn't been a spark since Zadists book.

Anyways I really enjoy your post. Thanks!

-IHBG

couchpapaya said...

Hi, I've been lurking here for while now, just had to say what a great post this is! Overall, I felt the same, I liked it well enough but wasnt in love.

As for the shitkickers, there's a mention on the second page itself (pg 6 in my copy) ... as soon as I read that, I had the very Wardian thought 'Again with the shitkickers' and settled down, happily, for a BDB-style read :)

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