The Shadows by J. R. Ward

Posted April 16, 2015 by Jonetta in Book Review | | 4 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Shadows by J. R. WardThe Shadows by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #13
Narrator: Jim Frangione
Published by Penguin Audio on March 31, 2015
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Length: 22 hours, 8 minutes
Source: Publisher
Amazon | Audio | Goodreads

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...


This is a difficult review to write without being spoiler-ish but I’ll give it my best shot.

Trez & Selena
This is primarily Trez and Selena’s story and most of the book is devoted to them. What worked? I wasn’t ever really invested in either character (he’s a manwhore on steroids, she’s one of those seemingly vacuous Chosen) so the fact that I cared deeply for both by the end of the book was a fairly large feat. It’s beautifully written, evoking some breathtaking emotions that caught me off guard. It’s also what didn’t work about the story and you’ll just have to read it to understand my meaning. iAm’s role in the story deserved…more. He’s impacted significantly.


Other plot line highlights
Two of the characters who will be the focus of the legacy spinoff series are introduced, one with lots of information, the other really sketchy. It was enough to whet my appetite for the new series.

The situation between Layla and Xcor continued to be explored with some surprises on both ends, some you’ll embrace, others you may find distasteful…I did. I’m not a fan and nothing happens here to change my point of view.

One of the more curious aspects of the story involved Rhage, who we haven’t heard much of since the second book of the series. His behavior was bizarre and I’m uncertain about just what was the point. I could speculate but won’t. He also deserved better.

The continuing storylines surrounding Assail, the Band of Bastards, Throe and others moved forward somewhat. They’re interesting and puzzling at the same time. Classic Ward, leaving lots of loose threads.


I enjoy Jim Frangione’s approach to this series. The writing is campy enough without him adding to it so he plays it pretty straight. That’s what works for me. And! He met with the author prior to recording this one and straightened out the character name pronunciations.


The bottom line
The author’s personal experiences during the past year appear to have significantly influenced this story. While it is poignant and heartbreaking, I’m not convinced it was the character’s story. It just felt off. While I was engaged throughout, there’s a distinct difference between the first and second halves. And, if there was any doubt that the series was shifting from paranormal romance and more towards urban fantasy, it’s pretty much confirmed with this book. I give credit to the fine writing and audio performance. I just don’t think it was the right story.

About Jim Frangione

Jim Frangione was born on January 26, 1958 in Hyannis, Massachusetts, USA. He is an actor, known for Transamerica (2005), Heist (2001) and The Spanish Prisoner (1997).

Jim has recorded over 100 audiobooks. He loves being part of the Recorded Books family. In addition to Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie Mysteries and his new young adult series, the Bowser and Birdie stories, he is also the narrator for J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Series and many others. Jim is a NYC-based actor and co-artistic director of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab, a new play development forum in Great Barrington, MA. He’s performed on TV, in many of the plays and films of David Mamet, with NY’s Atlantic Theater Company, On and Off Broadway, and at many theaters across the country.

About J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times and USAToday Best Selling author of erotic paranormal romance. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. After graduating from law school, she began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.

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4 responses to “The Shadows by J. R. Ward

  1. Una

    I thankfully was able to read it without being spoiled. I too, really loved your review – nicely stated and without giving anything away. Thank you. I thought it was a beautifully written story, in fact one of the best Ward has done, but I too think the story took a wrong turn. I also felt that iAm’s story needed more time, the balance between the two was off for the overall book – but then again, that has been their life. I’m relieved to also know that I’m not alone in not digging the Xcor and Layla thing. I just do not see how he can be redeemed, but it is Ward so you never know…

    • Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

      Thank you, Una! I appreciate your point of view. Like you, I have no idea how Ward is going to turn around Xcor and Layla’s story but I trust she’s got an end game.

  2. I’ve listened to the first half of this book, but with all the drama on Twitter, I decided to shelve it for a little bit. I’m not going to DNF, but just put on hold. I’ve heard some of the spoilers, and I’m not upset at what the actual spoiler is, but I want to see how it is done before I pass judgement, because to me, that is what matters. I’ve seen reviews from all over the place, from 1 star reviews to 5 star reviews and those in between. For me, being halfway through, if I had to rate right now, I would rate 2.5-3 stars.

    Great review and great job at avoiding the spoilers.

    • Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

      Thanks, Melanie. By the way, that spoiler is beautifully written. You’re right about the reviews being all over the place. In the end, it will be your point of view about the story that matters.