Welcome to the Lover Unleashed Discussion! A few weeks ago we started the Black Dagger Brotherhood Read-a-long and today we’re focusing on Payne and Manny Manello.
While we see many of the Brothers in Lover Unleashed, for today’s discussion, we are only focusing on those events within Lover Unleashed and any characters that impact this story. Many of us have read ahead in the series, but no spoilers please.
Here is the read-a-long schedule:
Dark Lover is now posted here at Dark Faerie Tales
Lover Eternal is now posted over at Literary Escapism
Lover Awakened is now posted here at Dark Faerie Tales
Lover Revealed is now posted over at Literary Escapism
Lover Unbound is now posted here at Dark Faerie Tales
Lover Enshrined is now posted over at Literary Escapism
Lover Avenged is now posted here at Dark Faerie Tales
Lover Mine – Discussion hosted by Literary Escapism
Lover Unleashed – Discussion hosted by Dark Faerie Tales
April 13th – Lover Reborn – Discussion hosted by Literary Escapism
Note: Direct quotes from the book are in italics.
The Brotherhood & Vampire Society
Manny Manello, M.D.
Manuel “Manny” Manello is head of Surgery at St. Francis Hospital in Caldwell. It has been a year since he lost his friend and coworker, Jan Whitcomb. His life is stagnant and his only joy is GloryGloryHallelujah, his race horse. When she is injured in a race, he demands that she be healed and not put down. Manny was not about to lose his horse. Over the last twelve months, he’d mourned the only woman he’d ever cared about, questioned his sanity, and taken up drinking Scotch even though he’d always hated the shit. / If Glory bit it now…he didn’t really have much left in his life, did he. [Manny]
When Jane returns to him and asks his help with a patient, he takes the job. It is the first time he meets Payne. All his life he’d wondered why he’d never fallen in love, and now he knew: He’d been waiting for this moment, this woman, this time. [Manny]
After he initially performs surgery on her back, Manny’s memories of the incident are wiped clean. But Vishous restores Manny’s memories to him after it looks like Payne’s not getting any better. V asks for his help with Payne, even though they don’t like one another. “Careful human-you’re only alive because you’re useful to me.” / “She’s your sister?” / “Don’t forget it.” / Manny smiled by baring all his teeth. “Then there’s something you need to know.” / “What.” / Manny rose up on his toes and met the fucker eye-to-eye. “If you think you want to kill me now, this ain’t nothin’’ compared to how you’re going to feel when I see her again.” [Manny and V]
She wants to die and Manny is the only person Vishous can think of that can talk her out of it. He knew, she thought. More than anything their mother could have done for her, he had brought her the one thing guaranteed to make her want to live. [Payne]
Manny shows Payne a potential for a full life, even if she is permanently paralyzed. “Listen to me… and I want you to remember this. Your legs are part of you, but not all of you or what you are. So wherever we go after tonight, I need you to know that you are no less for the injury. Even if you are in a chair, you still stand as tall as you ever did. Height is just a vertical number-it doesn’t mean shit when it comes to your character of the kind of life you live.” [Manny to Payne]
Even though Payne and Manny have a connection, they do not go “all the way.” He also responses to her as a bonded male of her species would, not a human. Manuel put himself between the two of them, and took her hand at the same time both blocking the view and establishing dominion over her. And that wasn’t all: Dark spices wafted up from him, the scent a warning to the other man that the female being admired was available only over Manuel’s cold, dead body. [Manny]
When Payne goes missing, Manny decides that she is the most important thing in his world and is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. But at the center of it all, he felt so much for Payne… [Manny]
Manny also discovers that his father was a vampire, who also happens to be Butch’s dad. The truth was in the bones. [Manny]
While Payne is in the ER at the Brotherhood mansion, she asks Vishous to kill her if her body cannot be healed. She could not come here to this side only to replicate what she had been so desperate to escape from. [Payne]
She is instantly attracted to Manny, but allows him to leave because she feels that it could not work out between them. For truth, what future could they have? She was a female who didn’t fit in anywhere, a warrior stuck within the tepid skin of a Chosen’s body-to say nothing of the paralysis problem. Meanwhile, he was a vibrant, sexual male of a species different from her own. [Payne]
Manny’s return is the reason she truly begins to heal, both physically and mentally. “Let me make you feel good, Payne. And we’ll see where this takes you.” [Manny to Payne]
Manny takes her out on their last night together to meet his horse, Glory. Payne then uses her gift to heal the horse’s leg. “I wished not for you to lose her.” [Payne to Manny]
When Manny rejects them being together after she got approval from Wrath and Vishous. “Love can conquer everything but reality. Which will win every stinking time.” [Manny to Jane]
Afterward, she wanders around Caldwell. Centered in the alleyway, a female in a billowing white robe was fighting a pair of lessers. [Xcor looking at Payne] While being distracted with the fight, she is kidnapped by Xcor and his gang.
After telling Xcor the truth about killing the Bloodletter, and him not being a real son to him, she is released. “I have no issue to settle against you. Your actions directed unto my”-pause-“the Bloodletter… were taken for your own valid reasons.” [Xcor to Payne]
Only when she returns to the Brotherhood mansion, does she find out that she is not losing Manny after all.
As the wind hit her face, she laughed in pure exultation as they took, off in a streak of joy and freedom. Yes…yes! A thousand yesses! /To set upon the night. / To have freedom to move. / To have love waiting upon her. / This was more than just being alive. This was to live. [Payne]
Is having a hard time dealing with the stress. Trouble was, life didn’t come with a “tilt” default to stop the fun and games when your pinball machine got too tippy. [V] After Payne asks him to kill her if she can’t be healed, he goes on a downward spiral of self-destruction. But it’s like looking into a dark room. I want to tell you shit. But I can’t … I can’t see anything I feel.” [V]
He really doesn’t like Manny, V is resentful of him. Not just because Manny used to have a thing for his shellan, but because he begins to show an interest in his sister. V had wanted to be the one to save her-and he supposed by bringing in Manello, he might have, but why hadn’t he done it more sooner? [V]
Vishous doesn’t know how he feels about sharing the twin he just found with a man he feels is unworthy of her. “How dare you-it is for me to choose with whom I mate.” [Payne to V]
He does not talk about his feelings with Jane, even when she accuses his of cheating. Except that rationale simply wasn’t enough. At some point, the love they had deserved better than silence that was grounded in the past. [Jane]
After getting himself beat up, V asks Butch to be a Dom to his Sub. “I do not crave this.” But he needed it before he became a danger to himself and others. [V]
Once Butch finishes breaking Vishous, V finally admits that the trauma of his childhood is still affecting his life today. He screamed for all he had lost… screamed for the half male he was… screamed for Jane… screamed for who his parents were and what he wished for his sister… screamed for what he had forced his best friend to do… He screamed and screamed until there was no breath, no consciousness, no nothing. [V]
V decides that he will no longer hold his emotions in. “And… you?” / “Yeah. Me, too.” / “Cool.” / “Cool.” / Heeeeeeeeeeey, check his shit out with the relating. Any more of this and he was going to get a gold star on his chart. [V to Butch]
He also gives his blessing to Payne for her to go after Manny, even though he is a human. “You’re my sister. And he’s what you want.” [V to Payne]
“You’re sister.” Wrath put his elbows on all the paperwork, and leaned in, his cruel face grave. “You need to prepare yourself for when she asks to go out and fight.” / Oh, hell, no. “I’m not hearing that.” [Wrath and V]
V and Manny finally come to an understanding with one another. The gesture was so very simple; its meaning very, very deep. / Manny grabbed for that palm with his own, and neither of them said anything. No reason to have to because the communication was clear: Respect was paid and accepted on both sides. [Manny and V]
Jane Whitcomb, M.D.
Would do anything for her hellren, Vishous. She seeks out her old boss to get help on fixing Payne’s back injury. “Is this some kind of joke?” / “No.” She wished it were. “I’m so sorry.” [Jane and Manny]
When she finds out that Payne asked Vishous to kill her if she remains paralyzed, Jane offers to do it in his stead. That way, V will be less hurt. And yet as she thought about her hellren and the time they’d spent together when she’d woken up with him, she knew she couldn’t let him come here and do what Payne wanted him to: He’d taken a small step back from the precipice he’d been about to jump off of, and there was nothing Jane wouldn’t do to keep him from the ledge.
When her relationship with V is on the rocks, she turns to Butch for help. “I can’t do it,” Jane said roughly. “And not just because we’ve got issues at the moment. I just don’t have it in me. He trusts you-I trust you… and he needs it. I’m worried that if he doesn’t break through this wall he’s got going on that he and I aren’t going to make it-or worse.” [Jane to Butch]
She is there to take care of V after his “session” with Butch. “Will you let me hug you now?”she said roughly. / Her mate stretched out his massive arms. “How about I hold you instead?” / As Jane leaped forward and dived into him, she countered, “It doesn’t have to be one or the other.” [Jane and V]
Is Vishous’s best friend and has concerns over his well being. All you had to do was look at him and you could see that the lid on his Crock-Pot was bolting down hard over the heat and turmoil underneath. All that pressure? Had to get let out somehow, and in the past, it had been in the very messiest of ways. [Butch]
He is willing to do anything for the male, including breaking him. V stepped in close, bringing their faces to within an inch of each other. “You don’t have the stomach for it. Trust me.” / Those deep hazel eyes held his and didn’t blink. “You’d be amazed what I would do to keep you alive.” [V to Butch]
“What are the rules?” the cop asked. / “There are none.” Vishous spread his stance and braced himself. “Do whatever you want… but you have to break me. You’ve got to tear me apart.” [Butch and V] Even though V believes that Butch is going to beat him physically, Butch uses physiological mind games to break him.
Butch feels bad about hurting V, even though V asked for it, but says that he would do it again if V needs it. “One other thing.” / “What.” / “I think we’re dating now.” As V barked out a laugh, the cop shrugged. “Come on… I got you naked. You wore a damn corset. And don’t get me started about the sponge bath afterward.” [Butch to V]
Butch finds out that he and Manny share the same father.
Vishous spoke up-which was a good call. Butch had lost his voice and so had Manello, evidently. “Looks like this fine surgeon may be a relative of your, my lord.” / As Manello recoiled, Butch thought, Holy crap. / Didn’t that just throw another iron into the fire.
Is having trouble adjusting to Blay having a relationship with is cousin, Saxton. After sleeping with another man that is also a redhead, like Blay, Qhuinn decides to change is his life and go celibate. Life was about to change. Blay had changed. John had changed. / And he was next on the list, apparently, because he couldn’t keep going like this. [Qhuinn]
Even though Layla wants him, he refuses her. And for a while he’d been happy to show her some of the ropes. / Except it hadn’t felt right. / Well, she’d felt a lot that she’d thought was right, but her eyes had had too much in them and his heart way too little for things to keep going. [Qhuinn]
He admits to Layla the real reason why things will not work out for them. “I’m in love,” he said hoarsely. “With someone else. That’s why.” [Qhuinn to Layla]
Qhuinn has a vision of his future: A daughter of his and Layla’s. “I have seen the future,” he said from a distance. / Layla’s had lifted to her throat as if she were choking. “Is it bad?” / “It’s… not possible. At all.” [Qhuinn to Layla]
Even though he wants to be in Saxton’s place by Blay’s side, he still doesn’t do anything about it. He wants the male he loves to be happy, even if it is with another guy. The thing was, though, the ridiculous, pansy-ass saying was right: If you loved someone, you set them free. [Qhuinn]
Is happy being with Saxton, but he still is in love with Qhuinn. But Blay is also jealous of Layla because he believes that he thinks Qhuinn and her are sleeping together. He hates the idea of Qhuinn being with anyone other than himself. Qhuinn, though… anything about that male unpeeled him and left him raw. And for all he had learned to bandage himself up on the outside, the wound remained just as bad and deep as the moment it had been made-when it became obvious that the one male he wanted above all others was never, ever going to be with him. [Blay]
Confides to Qhuinn that she unhappy with only providing blood to the Brothers, and not her body. “Well, I want you and I cannot have you. That is not of my choosing. At least by servicing you and the others, I have a purpose other than mourning the loss of something I dreamed of. [Layla to Qhuinn]
After talking with Qhuinn, she learns that there will never be anything more between them except friendship. He encourages her to “Take my vein so you can stay longer on this side and figure out what it is that you want from life-not what you’re supposed to be or do, but what you want. I’ll even help you if I can. God knows I’m well-versed in being lost.”[Qhuinn to Layla]
Knows that Blaylock and Qhuinn are in love with one another, even if they will not admit to it. “Qhuinn can’t handle what he feels about you.” / Blay laughed harshly. “Let’s not talk about him.” / “Why not?” Saxton reached out and ran his thumb back and forth over Blay’s lower lip. “He’s here with us whether we do or we don’t.” [Saxton and Blay]
He is willing to bow out of Blay’s life if his cousin, Qhuinn, wishes him to. “It’s okay,” Saxton said quietly. “I know where we’re at.” [Saxton]
The Lessening Society is recruiting at an alarming rate under the new fore-lesser. The Caldwell Police Department has taken notice to the fact that so many people, mostly male, between 18 and 24 years old have turned up missing. Many of the current lessers are new and therefore don’t necessarily follow the unspoken rules of combat: Don’t let the humans know about the secret war between the lessening society and the vampires.
Vampire Band of Rogues
Formally lead by the Bloodletter, these seven warriors fight against lessers even though they are not part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Each man would be considered unworthy to be a Brother. In opposition to that lauded, secretive group of warriors, this band of bastards led by the Bloodletter were naught more than soldiers. No ceremonies. No worship from the civilian populace. Nor lore or laudations. [Xcor] After the Bloodletter’s death, Xcor takes up the mantle of leadership. They choose to come to the New World, Caldwell, in pursuit of lessers to fight and kill. They do not follow any rules, other than what Xcor says. They are brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized. Codeless when it came to killing as well: It mattered not whether the prey was slayer or human or animal or wolfen. Blood would flow. [Xcor]
Was chosen by his father, the Bloodletter, to fight with an elite group of soldiers. This group killed and pillaged and hunted lessers all across Europe. When Payne “…hunted the Bloodletter down. [she] held him to the ground whilst [she] burned him into ash. And [she does] not regret it.”, he swore vengeance upon her.
After coming to Caldwell, Xcor makes a decision. “I am well aware of what you seek, and the end goal is treason at best, suicide, at worst.”[Throe to Xcor]
When he captures Payne, he finds out that the Bloodletter was not really his biological father. “He told me I was born unto a female he had visited for blood. He told me… she didn’t want me because of my…” He touched his malformed upper lip, leaving the sentence unfinished. “He took me and… he taught me to fight. At his side.” [Xcor to Payne] He admits that his grudge against Payne is pointless and releases her.
He approaches his men and asks if they will still follow him. If he was not the son of the Bloodletter, who was he? And would he still lead his males? Would they follow him unto battle e’er again?” [Xcor]
And if they will be a part of a mutiny to overthrow the Blind King, Wrath, from his throne. “I have a larger purpose than fighting parallel to the Brotherhood,” he said in a quiet tone, so that the female on the lower level could hear naught. “My ambitions are a death sentence if discovered by others. Do you understand what I’m saying?” [Xcor]
Is much more cultured than the other members of Xcor’s men. He follows Xcor because of a vow he took long ago. Throe had sold himself to Xcor to get the deed done. Back then, the male had been too much of a dandy to commit the murder with his own hand, and so he had forced himself into the shadows to seek what he would never have invited in through even the service entrance of his mansion. [Xcor]
Throe has a problem with women getting hurt, like his sister was had been. He wants to hunt down a serial killer in Caldwell that has been preying on women. “We must needs depart,” Xcor said. “Come with me now and I shall grant you leave to find the man. Agree?” [Xcor to Throe]
Caldwell Police Department
The CPD have noticed a rise in violence in their fair city. They are getting closer to uncovering the underground war between the lessening society and the vampire community. It is unclear if they will connect the dots between the rise in missing person cases to all the new inductees of the lessening society. With the war heating up, it is unclear if the CPD will uncover the truth of all their existences or not.
Jose De La Cruz
Homicide detective with the CPD working on a serial murder case. “Eleven women have been found like this in the past year. Chicago, Cleveland, and Philly.” [De La Cruz to Veck]
His realizes his old partner, Butch O’Neal, whom he thought dead, is still alive after hearing the man’s voice on a 9-1-1 call related to his case. Now though, after he’d given up all hope, after he no longer woke up in the middle of the night with the wonders…now this recording. [De La Cruz]
He also realizes his new partner, Veck, is just as big of a loose cannon as Butch had been.
Thomas “Veck” Del Vicchio, Jr.
Is new to the CPD homicide department. Veck was one of those types women gravitated to, as the last two weeks had proven: Down at HQ, the females were all over him. [De La Cruz]
After getting into an altercation with the paparazzi, his partner Jose notices his darker side. Veck looked entirely capable of killing in a very calm, competent way. [De La Cruz]
Veck’s father is a well known serial killer. De La Cruz worries about the effects of a crazy dad on his partner. Thomas Del Vicchio had a lot of things going for him: He’d gotten straight As in his criminal justice major… top of his class at the police academy…His three years on patrol were spotless. And he was so good-looking he never bought his own coffee. / But he was the son of a monster. [De La Cruz]
When Veck stumbles upon their serial killer being torn apart by a vampire, his memory of the event is erased. Veck has no idea what happened and is worried that he killed the man himself. Because Veck was a sinner. And he’d joined the police force to drain that out of himself. [Veck]
Veck’s full story and the events that follow after his discovery of the serial killer’s body are in the novel Envy, the third installment of The Fallen Angels series, by J.R. Ward.
- How do you feel about the series so far? Are you still planning to continue to follow the Brother’s story?
- How do you feel about Manny? Is he a strong enough character to stand up alongside the other Brothers?
- What do you think about Payne? Do you think that she will make a good soldier?
- Do you think that Vishous’s reactions about Manny being with his twin are authentic? Do you believe that his strong reactions about them being together are too strong for a sister he just learned he had?
- How do you feel about Vishous’s need to be beaten?
- What do you think about the new dynamics in V’s and Butch’s relationship?
- Do you think that Vishous and Jane are going to be okay in the long run?
- Do you think that Qhuinn’s changes are for the better or worse?
- Do you feel sorry for Saxton for being in a relationship with a man who loves another? Why or Why not?
- Do you think that Layla will take Qhuinn’s advice and learn to live for herself and not others?
- If she does decide to no longer be the go-to blood donor for the Brothers, who would you like to see take her place? Should the Brother’s continue to look to the Chosen for blood or should they look elsewhere?
- What do you think about Xcor and his band of bastards?
- Which male do you think would win in a fight, Wrath or Xcor?
- Does Xcor stand a chance overthrowing Wrath?
- Which Brother do you like best? Which male in Xcor’s group?
- How do you feel about females fighting with the Brotherhood? What should they change their name to if they do decide in include women in the BDB?
- Favorite scene? Least favorite?
- Favorite one liner?
Glossary of Terms and Proper Nouns
Vocabulary from the previous novels can be found on their discussion pages: