The Beast by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After reading the spinoff book, I was ready to dive back into the world of way more stories than really need to be in one book. Maybe I'm more forgiving right now, but it felt slightly less chaotic and disconnected than the last few BDB books I read. The basic layout was Rhage/Mary as the primary story with Layla/Xcor, Assail/Marisol, and new girl Jo (really? more characters?).
So, back to the main story - Rhage and Mary. The book starts in a battle that had me on the edge of my seat. It hops from that, to Mary and the orphan Bitty going to say goodbye to her mother. I pretty much immediately knew where Mary and Rhage's story would go from there. No surprises, but the story of Rhage and Mary finding their path forward was great to watch. These two are such a good couple and adding a young girl to the mix was absolutely perfect. Being the predictable formula, I found myself slightly more concerned with the more surprising stories in this one.
Layla is very pregnant and still hiding the fact that she's in love with Xcor. When Xcor inadvertently ends up in the brotherhood's hands, she is reminded of her ex(?) again and it brings up all sorts of turmoil. This one wasn't actually buttoned up in this book (surprise!) so there's still a lot of questions. Will the brotherhood find out she's been hiding things by looking in his phone? Will everyone think she's a traitor? Since her story ended on a mostly high note, I guess we'll reopen that wound in the coming installments.
Assail was another big surprise in this book. He is steadily growing on me. In this book he takes on the role of reluctant hero. Sure, he does dirty things to help out, but he's still helping the brotherhood now. Also, the mix of suicidal and lovestruck just hit me as so much more endearing than his previous combination of egotistical and arrogant. Yeah, he's still got those traits, but he is finally able to admit that he needs help. Good job making me root for this jerk! Again, we don't get to see this buttoned up so I'm sure we'll see some sort of reunion between Assail and Marisol (or maybe they'll kill her? That's a thing now).
Overall, this was a solid installment in the series and has lured me back into this world. Where are they going with the new girl, Jo? Is she going to get another main series installment or will she play into the spinoff? I guess I'll just keep reading these until they stop, so we shall see.
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