This post contains lots of spoilers!!
Yay Qhuay! Can I first say that I am so damned happy that J.R. Ward had the guts to write this book? I've been rooting for Blay and Qhuinn from the beginning, but I didn't think she'd actually do it. The Blay and Qhuinn stuff was pretty damn awesome, way better than the last book (Tohr and No'One - so boring!). Both of these characters have been so well developed throughout this series and I think the drama and angst between them made sense. In the end, Qhuinn proposes to Blay in front of everyone - all the Brothers and Blay's parents. Sweet. I'm a little annoyed that we didn't get to see the actual mating ceremony, but hopefully that will be in the next book. But I'm not going to dwell too much on their romance - drama happens and they end up together, of course. Yay! There's too many other storylines in this book that I'm going to need to keep straight. Actually, that was the one downside to this book - I'd read one awesome bit about Qhuay than then the next 15 pages were all shit about other storylines - torture!!
In this book Wrath finds a legal way to make essentially anyone a Brother. They don't have to be born of a Brother and a Chosen. I was hopeful that this meant that he would make Qhuinn, Blay and John all Brothers. But no, just Qhuinn. Which makes me happy for him but I'm a little pissed on Blay and John's behalf. Hopefully that will be forthcoming in future books.
Xcor and Layla: Wow, Layla is still as boring as ever. Seriously, no personality. I absolutely love Ward's male characters, but she always has trouble developing the female characters. Totally sad and annoying. In the last book Layla went into her needing, Qhuinn serviced her because they both want a kid. (Which I have a hard time understanding, but whatever.) She miscarries but Payne somehow heals her and saves the pregnancy. And apparently she can't stop thinking about Xcor, even though she knows he's the enemy of Wrath and the Brothers. Xcor is interesting. Very damaged male, but as my love for Zsadist can attest - I love damaged males (in my books at least!). He's still intent on overthrowing Wrath. At the end of the book, he has a new associate on the Council (unidentified), who convinces him that instead of violence, he should overthrow Wrath with the law. Apparently if Wrath cannot produce a full-blooded heir, he can be deposed. Since Beth is a half-breed, their child wouldn't be full-vampire. Interesting. Xcor and Layla have an interesting interaction towards the end. It's clear they both are totally into each other but know they can't be together. Um, they met for like a second - seriously, can we slow things down a little? I'm all for star-crossed lovers, but I need a little something backing up the love.
Trez (and iAm) and Selena: Trez and iAm are the brother Shadows (or s'Hibe), although I'm not really sure what that means exactly. The s'Hibe are matriarchial and Trez has been promised to the Queen's daughter since birth. He's not into that so him and iAm ran away into the human world. Trez has been essentially fucking everything possible in a weird attempt to either forget what he's running from or to make himself so dirty that the Princess won't want him. Until, of course, he sees Selena. She's the Chosen that often takes over for Layla in providing blood to the Brothers who need it. It's love at first sight. For him at least, we have no idea what's going on in her head. Toward the end of the book, the brothers end up moving in to the Brotherhood complex - this way they have a place to hide from the s'Hibe and Wrath has two more fighters to protect him against whatever. I'm looking forward to hearing more about these two. I like Trez, but I like iAm a little more - he's super calm and rational. We didn't get any chapters from his POV in this book but hopefully in the next.
Assail and Sola: Assail is a vampire drug dealer. He wants no part of this vampire civil war that's brewing. He even helps out the lessers by selling drugs to them so that they can sell them on the streets and make money. That's the point when he became an unsympathetic character to me. I can handle Xcor plotting against the King, but to aid the enemy of your entire race? Not cool. Sola is just some kick-ass human. She's good at B&E and is hired by Benloise (the drug wholesaler) to spy on Assail. He catches her of course, and threatens her, which gets her excited even though she won't admit it. I have another problem here - I generally don't get turned on when men threaten to kill me, but whatever works for her I suppose. She tries to get him to leave her alone, but he's apparently decided that he just has to have her. At the end of the book, she's kidnapped by unknowns. Her grandmother (who she lives with), finds Assail's number and calls him to help. I really hope this isn't a major storyline in the next book, but I have a feeling it will be.