I. Loved. This. Book. And in no small part, that is because I love John Matthew. I really had no choice in the matter. JR Ward introduced him to us back in Lover Eternal. He was this sad, scrawny mute kid, who has never had a break in his life. Then he finds a family with the Brotherhood. Only to have the rug pulled out from under him with the tragic death of his adopted mother and the utter breakdown and disappearance of his adopted dad. We've gone through his transition with him. And watched him fall in love with Xhex. Only to have her ripped away from him by his old enemy, Lash.
Now as this book begins, Xhexhas been gone for weeks. And John is determined to find her. Even though he thinks his love for her is one-sided, he refuses to give up. Xhex, meanwhile, is being brutalized in ways I won't get into here. But she does manage to escape and have her reunion with John. It's clear that no one has ever loved Xhex the way John Matthew does. And it is hard for her to accept what he wants to give. She has always depended on herself and fears the weakness that loving him could bring. Their love story is absolutely amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better story for John. Romantic yet still very sexy.
I could have done without some of the cut-scenes. Some of them are necessary, detailing Xhex'sconception and birth, as well as Lash's slide into crazy-land. I could have done without the whole Bed & Breakfast storyline. The reveal on who the ghost was wasn't worth the number of times Ward pulled me away from the parts of the book I was really interested. And speaking of the parts I was really interested in, I have two words for you: Qhuinnand Blay. I love watching their story unfold ever bit as much as I've loved John & Xhex's. Blayis so incredibly vulnerable. And Qhuinn... well, it's about time the guy starts to realize that the feelings his friend has are not entirely one-sided. I want these two together so much. I'm dying to read the next installment for them alone. As far as the real focus of the next book, Payne, is concerned, I don't have strong feelings one way or another. I've never been a huge Vishous fan, and clearly her story will be related to his. So we'll see.
As for Lover Mine, it's my favorite in the series, second only to Lover Awakened. I don't think anyone will ever replace Zsadist in my heart but this one came close. 5+ stars.