I'm so glad to say that after the less than stellar recent BDB books, this time Ward delivered all she's promised and more in this last installment. The long awaited book of Qhuinn and Blay may not be perfect in some respects, but it manages to stir the reader's emotions deeply, in the way only the first books in the series did for me, and on top of that, completely avoid the silly or even pointless secondary plots that plagued John's and Payne's books.
In truth, besides the much awaited romance between Qhuinn and Blay, the secondary plots here are what made the book a winner for me; they not only had much to do with the main story, but provided us with some very interesting characters, namely Assail and the burglar, Sola. To say I can't wait to find out what will happen to them is a gross understatement. In fact, they're my new fave characters right now, and what's rare for me in the BDB series, I came to care for the heroine as much as I cared for the hero.
The other highlight of this book, is the introduction of lessers version 2.0. The new lessers have finally become serious adversaries that can fight back, and are not just playthings for the brotherhood to practice with. But what shocked me to my core, is the new Layla. Layla which I used to despise for her whinny, weak, selfish attitude is here no more; she's strong, assertive, kind and caring for others besides herself *gasp*. I doubt she'll ever become a fave heroine of mine, much as Jane never will, but I certainly do not dislike her anymore. And her love story promises to be very interesting indeed, which adds to her appeal.
As for Qhuinn and Blay, their romance was all that I hoped for. Qhuinn's POV of his relationship with Blay is heartbreaking and emotional and powerful enough to make up for the lack of some really hot sex scenes. As Ward is mainly an f/m writer, I can't hold that against her, especially as the feelings between them more than satisfied my need to see the two of them together at last. Add to that a couple of really 'WOW' scenes in the beginning that left me misty eyed, and this 5 stars' book found a place in my keepers shelf. Yeap, I can't wait to re-read it. Still not sure I want to go on with the series, but though I had given them up for good before reading this, now I'm much tempted to continue, if only to read Assail's story.