This is my review of The Chosen by J.R. Ward. Three disclaimers first:
- I have been a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood for many years, and
- I have always been a fan of Layla and Xcor (the main characters this book focuses on, and
- I will try to stay organized and not ramble. No promises, though. LOL
Blurb: Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.
Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.
As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone.
It is with a very heavy heart that I have to give a less than stellar review.
NOTE: Some spoilers ahead. I hate giving spoilers but it became necessary for my review.
I have always liked the characters of Xcor and Layla. Many over the years have taken a dislike to Layla for several reasons. However, I felt she found her voice in this book. I felt she was always a product of her upbringing and station in life (being the servant of the Brotherhood and its Diety).
I have liked Xcor since he and his Band of Bas**rds (BOB) came on the scene. I liked the havoc that their characters brought to the world. I have always been concerned that the author would redeem Xcor too early and it was evident from when he came in that he and Layla would be together. I didn’t want Xcor redeemed yet. Having him redeemed lessens the angst in the story, which is one thing that keeps a story going.
One of the reasons people hate Xcor is that he made an attempt on Wrath’s life (the king of the vampires). I understand this. Wrath is a beloved character. Did the author redeem Xcor. Absolutely – by telling his back story. His life is a tragic story of being unloved, unwanted and uncared for since the moment he was born because of a deformity. He was cast out and given into the care of a nursemaid who never showed him any affection and left him as a small child. He was left to fend on his own and then found by the Bloodletter (an evil dude) and put into his war camp where he was treated even worse.
Move ahead to present day. Xcor and Layla love each other. It was obvious from their first meeting that these two would be put together and I really like that pairing. Their story has been told with small scenes during the past several books. But there is a big problem—the BOB is hated by the Brotherhood. Layla must keep her relationship with Xcor secret and Xcor tries to protect Layla by sending her away.
As the story begins, Xcor has been found by the Brotherhood, is critically injured, being held by the Brotherhood in the inner sanctuary and Layla finds this out. The King has issued the degree giving one of the Brothers the right to kill Xcor.
Now, let’s move to my problems.
Qhuinn—Qhuinn is a member of the Brotherhood and a great character who has had problems in the past but had straightened things out and is now with the love of his life, Blaylock. However, before they were together and before Layla and Xcor met, Qhuinn had an alliance with Layla in order to have a child. They had twins. Qhuinn, Layla and Blay are going to co-parent the twins. In the beginning of The Chosen, Qhuinn found out about Layla and Xcor and was incensed. He had every right to be upset—what he didn’t have the right to do was become so enraged that the held a gun to Layla threatening death in the nursery where the twins were. The gun went off with shots into the ceiling! In the nursery! The author spent the story arc of the book involving Qhuinn by decimating the character—even Blay left him. Then, at the last few pages, he does a complete 180 and everything is fine and hunky-dory!! WHAT!? Even he and Xcor end up buddies and deciding that the baby girl will never date! WHAT!? The ending was way too rushed and Qhuinn did not grovel nearly enough for my liking.
At some point, I thought that maybe the author felt she needed to decimate Qhuinn in order to help redeem Xcor. Xcor didn’t need help being redeemed. He is redeemed by learning his backstory and watching how he loves Layla, and speaks so beautifully to her and trying to protect her.
Vishous and Jane—really, they have to go through more trouble? I love this couple—many people do not like Jane, but I really do. If V heads down the road she left his character at the end of this book, she will be breaking one of the rules of her own world building. Granted, the story is hers and we are along for the ride, but really—she will start breaking her own rules?
Let’s talk about what she is doing with Trez for a moment. The author posted on her Facebook page a while back if we believed in re-incarnation because Trez will. Really? She has already done the reincarnation storyline before. We need another one? Now, I felt Trez was cheated with his happily ever after in his book, The Shadows. I felt so bad for his character. The storyline has move just a few months since the end of The Shadows and already reincarnation is happening. My personal opinion is that the author had so disappointed people that she felt she had to give Selena back to Trez. Just my humble opinion.
I hate that I was so disappointed at this book, but it is what it is. I wanted to love it but I just couldn’t.