This is an extremely hard story to rate. 5 stars definitely goes to Qhuay but 2 stars for the rest of the story.
I adored Qhuinn and Blay. After all the years they've spent yearning for each other and the torture they put themselves through, I can honestly say that their romance fit them. I was satisfied with their struggle and how it all played out but OMG did I want to smack them both... but then kiss the shit out of them. My only problem with their part of the book was in relation to their bonding scents. Blay doesn't give his off until the end, which I totally understand, but Qhuinn never gives his off. I was so sad for that because he's done it in previous books but not when he actually has the guy to cover his scent with :( I can say that them together was extremely hot. I'm not one for reading smut but damn I loved those boys together... even if they didn't use lube (ouch!) and never really had sex face to face.
Beyond Qhuay, this story had some serious issues. For one, it is a chaotic mess. I've noticed this trend for the last several books where the side stories do not generally relate to the main couple or the Brotherhood. The POV switches are so brutal that you literally are thrown out of scenes like you just got whiplash. In [b:Lover Reborn|10993282|Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #10)|J.R. Ward|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1319144072s/10993282.jpg|15911884], it wasn't so bad because it was a subtle shift, IMO, and the side stories were related to what the series has mostly revolved around so far and that's the Brotherhood, the Lessening Society and the king, Wrath. Unfortunately, with this one, two of the side plots have almost nothing to do with what I just mentioned. In fact, most of this book is pretty much a set up for three couples - Layla/Xcor, Assail/Sola & Trez/Selena - for what I'm assuming will be future books. Now, I don't have a problem with this, however, I had a problem with Ward's execution of them. For one, Assail and Sola? Probably the most boring characters I have ever read. I hate saying that but it got so bad that I ended up skipping scenes that were from either of their POVs. Assail is an asshole and Sola is one of those girls that just has to do the opposite of what someone else says. Not my cup of tea because she had no personality. In fact, she got pissy when Assail followed her but it was okay for her to follow Assail. Trez, oh man was he a slut, and had pretty much nothing to think or say unless it was related to fucking females. It was a real struggle to get through those three POVs. I kept hoping that there would be a point to them but I never saw this point. Mostly, it felt like a set up to create conflict and a filler to make this novella of Qhuinn and Blay into a novel. They added nothing to where the series is currently at, IMO, and I was very frustrated with them and disappointed to an extent.
Before this book, I wasn't a Layla fan. She was an annoying, needy female but in this one, she really suffered and now I like her. She's not just taking up space anymore. I also hated Xcor before this book but now I think I love him. He's a bit like Qhuinn in a way. A hard, violent warrior who's had a hard life with really nothing to lose but now he's got this soft spot for the Chosen and I can't wait to see how that plays out considering all roads lead to either Layla becoming a traitor or Xcor giving up his desire to take down Wrath. It's going to be an interesting journey for them. They're already starting to break my heart and I sincerely hope their story is next and not dragged out through the next four/five books like Qhuay's was.
There are some shocking moments in this one that I'm really curious how Ward will progress them. Like Luchas coming back. I had a total 'Say what?!' moment. All I can say is that I'm soooo glad for Luchas and I'm already fantasizing that he and iAm are meant for each other. I loved that Blay's family was so understanding and OMG it made me cry when he came out to his mom, his parents are so freaking awesome. Qhuinn's induction into the Brotherhood was something else in the way Qhuinn finally felt like he belonged somewhere. His emotions overall are really heavy and intense. They made me ache at times and his love for Blay was so nice to finally see in more than just glimpses.
All in all, I loved, loved, loved everything to do with Qhuinn and Blay. They broke my heart and then patched it back together. They are one of the sweetest couples I've ever read even though it took years for Qhuinn to pull his head out of his ass. I'm really glad we finally got their story not only because they deserved it but also because we got to see the real Blay, which we haven't really gotten up close and personal with even with how ingrained he is in the series. The epilogue was sooo sweet, I know I'll be smiling about it for days. Unfortunately, the rest of the story needed more work. It was a hot mess that was not at all appealing and full of some, IMO, useless scenes that did nothing beyond adding ridiculous conflict (uhh stalker prostitute anyone?).
With all that said, m/m fans that haven't read this series will have a hard time liking it because they wouldn't understand the agony these boys have gone through but those that are a fan of this series? I think they'll be satisfied with Qhuay (if not the whole story), I know I was.
P.S. I love Saxton and I think he really deserves his own story!!