I have read reviews of this book that state it’s Vishous’ and Jane’s second volume but I’m going to disagree with that. This is very definitely Payne’s and Manny’s love story. But because Payne is the twin sister of V, you can’t not tell her story without having him heavily involved and naturally, that also involves Jane, doubly so seeing as Manny was her boss. Not forgetting of course, V’s main man, Butch.
We already know who Payne is having been introduced to her over the past few books in the series and Lover Unleashed follows directly on from the impact of events in Lover Mine which left Payne critically injured. Payne is very much like Xhex in that she is a warrior, much to the disappointment of her mother, Scribe Virgin. This story, therefore, could have easily been another Xhex story but with a different name.
However, J.R. Ward has done stirling work in giving Payne a very different character make-up to that of Xhex. For a start, because Payne has until now been confined against her will to her mother’s domain, her speech patterns resemble that of Shakespeare. However, the line that goes something like "Verily, I say unto you – fuck off!" had me in stitches!
Payne is also very innocent in the ways of the world such as never having used a phone, been in a car or even been on a date. Yep. She’s like Marissa was.
Manny is also a character that we’ve been introduced to previously, specifically in Lover Unbound, V’s and Jane’s story and he’s bought into Payne’s world as he’s the only one that can help Payne with her injury. However, it’s this injury which causes a major bump in V’s relationship with his shellan and how that gets resolved is a major part in this book. Not to the extent that it eclipses the beautiful love story of Payne and Manny but certainly has its own fair share.
Another good thing about this book is that the Lesser plot is practically zero. Indeed, they serve merely as fodder for Xcor and his Band of Bastards who a group of warrior vampires like the Brotherhood but without their code. Xcor has his own score (see what I did there?!) to settle with Payne for an act that she did centuries ago. But the question remains, who are the Band? Are they good guys or bad guys? That is a question that remains unanswered for now but one thing is clear; they have their own agenda.
Lover Unleashed is, in my humble opinion, an excellent addition to this outstanding paranormal romance series from the superlative J.R Ward. The only downside is that now that I have caught up with the series, I have to wait until the next in the series is released whenever that is. Personally, I hope it’s about Layla. For all the shit that she’s been through, she deserves her HEA.