New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward is the pen name of Jessica Rowley Pell Bird. She is best known for her bestselling “Black Dagger Brotherhood” and “Fallen Angels” series. Her first book, “Leaping Hearts,” was published in 2002 under her real name, but it wasn’t until she started writing paranormal romance under the pen name J.R. Ward that she achieved commercial success.
Ward’s books deal with themes of love, loyalty, and redemption, and she is particularly skilled at writing male characters with emotional depth and vulnerability. She has won numerous writing awards, including the RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. She has loads of series, and some are connected to others. It would be a great time to do an author guide to let you know where to start reading the companion series to give you an idea of where to go.
So I will do her Paranormal Romance series, and then we will switch to Francesca, who will talk about her contemporary romance series. Let’s discuss J.R. Ward’s reading order for her series and standalone books.
JR Ward Books In Order (J.R. Ward Reading Order/Guide)
J.R. Ward is most broadly known for her paranormal series “The Black Dagger Brotherhood.” This series is about a group of vampire warriors who do their best to protect their race from the bad guys known as the Lessers, who want to kill off the vampire race. All this is done underneath human noses. One of their prime directives for the bad guys and our Black Dagger Brotherhood warriors is that humans cannot know what is happening.
As soon as they do, they either have to have their mind wiped out, or they are killed. So there are a lot of books in this series, and there are some like series that run alongside it. I wanted to go through where the best place to start Within the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is for the other series she’s written and generally gives you a guide. Let’s go!
Checkout JR Ward Books: J.R. Ward Books List
First read: Black Dagger Brotherhood Series
The place where you have to start is Dark Lover, which is the first in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There is a Black Dagger Legacy series with book number one in it. Do not start with that book to understand what’s happening there. You need to have read the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Although it says it’s a standalone series, it isn’t. It has to be read as part of this series. Otherwise, you will find it hard to understand what is happening and who all these characters are.
It assumes a lot of knowledge of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. So don’t start with the Black Dagger Legacy Series. You must start with “Dark Lover” and approach the Black Dagger Legacy series.
Now where to start? You have to get to book number 13, “The Shadows.” Once you’ve read that, you can begin the Black Dagger Legacy series. So the first book in that series is “Blood Kiss.” Once you’ve read the Shadows, you can read Blood Kiss, but don’t go straight to the next Black Dagger Legacy series. Then it would be best to read “The Beast,” book number 14 in the BDB series. After maintaining the serial, follow this list:
- Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy).
- Blood Vow (Black Dagger Legacy).
- The Chosen.
- Blood Fury (Black Dagger Legacy).
- The Thief.
- The Savior.
- Blood Truth (Black Dagger Legacy).
The Legacy series does need to be read alongside the Brotherhood series. The Legacy series has more of a new adult edge because it’s younger vampires coming in to train to join the Black Dagger Brotherhood to become soldiers in the war. So the books have a different feel to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, but you’ll find two stories within a legacy book. You’ll have the love story between our two younger characters.
Black Dagger Brotherhood series in order by publication:
- Dark Lover (2005).
- Lover Eternal (2006).
- Lover Awakened (2006).
- Lover Revealed (2007).
- Lover Unbound (2007).
- Lover Enshrined (2008).
- Lover Avenged (2009).
- Lover Mine (2010).
- Lover Unleashed (2011).
- Lover Reborn (2012).
- Lover at Last (2013).
- The King (2014).
- The Shadows (2015).
- The Beast (2016).
- The Chosen (2017).
- The Thief (2018).
- The Savior (2019).
- The Sinner (2020).
- Lover Unveiled (2021).
- Lover Arisen (2022).
- Lassiter (2023).
eBooks in the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB World):
- Father Mine (BDB Insider’s Guide).
- Story Of Son (in the DEAD AFTER DARK anthology).
- Dearest IVIE.
I already published a post that covers the Black Dagger Brotherhood series in order with the main theme.
Second read: Fallen Angel Series
Now let’s talk about another paranormal/urban fantasy series that J.R. Ward released in 2000. That is the Fallen Angel Series. It’s set in the same world as the Black Dagger Brotherhood. We get a few cameo appearances from people within the Brotherhood, especially within the first few books.
However, the stories aren’t connected, so you can read them separately until we get to the Savior. If you’re going to read the Fallen Angel series, I recommend it because it’s fabulous. You need to read it before you read The Savior.
Some things happen in the Savior that connects with those in the Fallen Angel series, and characters from the Fallen Angel series will come into the Black Dagger Brotherhood/Legacy series. Although you don’t need to read it until you get to the Savior, read it at any point. It doesn’t matter! As soon as you get to the Savior, you’ll see what I mean when I say it’s connected.
There is a romance in each book, but it has a storyline that goes across all of it and characters that go all of it who do not have their happily ever after until the end of the last book. It’s a fabulous mix of that urban fantasy feeling.
- Remember, always start with Dark Lover, and then once you get to the end of the series. You can then begin with the Black Dagger Legacy series.
Third read: Contemporary Romances (Standalone)
Now it’s my turn to talk to you about J.R. Ward’s contemporary romances. The first two are standalone novels. The first one is her debut novel, “Leaping Hearts.” In this novel, the heroine buys a stallion that nobody can ride, and she decides to ask for help from our grumpy hero and recluse. He is an equestrian legend, and he has a bad leg.
It’s not quite a cowboy romance, but it does have that small-town and farm feel to it, which I enjoyed. This is a story full of heart, full of hardships. It’s about following your dreams, not holding back your hair, and wanting to ride this stallion for show jumping. It’s also a story of forced proximity as the heroine has to live with the hero.
Her second contemporary romance was “Heart of Gold.” This is also a standalone novel that has a wealthy hero who owns a property that he had. A lot of people ask him to let them dig archaeologists for the asking to let them dig because it’s supposed to have a lot of gold. He’s always said no until our heroine comes. She’s an archeologist, and she wants to solve this centuries-old mystery. He agrees to let her start digging. I enjoyed this one slightly less than Leaping Hearts, but it was still a light-hearted and fluffy contemporary romance.
Fourth read: Unforgettable Lady Series
This series has two books. The first one is “An Unforgettable Lady,” and the second book is “An Irresistible Bachelor.” These are a little bit more romantic suspense in the feel. Our heroine is a society woman. She’s living in Manhattan, and many women in Manhattan are turning up dead. The hero is a security specialist who comes in to work as her bodyguard. If you have an interest in bodyguard romance, then try the series.
Fifth read: Moorhouse Legacy Series
This series covers small-town contemporary romance which has four books. These are much more laid back than what you would be used to from Ward’s books. All her Jessica Bird titles would have in common with the Jay Ward writing style is more of always writing about people with certain levels of wealth, alpha, and grouchy heroes. While I have read and can recommend the Morehouse Legacy, she wrote a couple of other standalone titles as Jessica Bird. Moorhouse Legacy series in order:
- Beauty and the Black Sheep.
- His Comfort and Joy.
- From the First.
- A Man in a Million.
The series follows the lives and romantic relationships of the four Moorehouse siblings: three brothers and a sister. Each book can be read as a standalone novel, but they are connected by the overarching storyline of the siblings’ family legacy.
Sixth read: The Bourbon Kings Series
If you’re not into that over-the-top angst and drama that you would find in a soap opera, you would probably not enjoy this series. You have to read them in the following order:
- The Bourbon Kings.
- The Angels’ Share.
- Devil’s Cut.
Devil’s Cut is my favorite in the series. The Bourbon Kings trilogy is not connected to anything else, so that you can read those three.
Final read: Firefighters Series
The first book of the series is Consumed, book number one in the Firefighter series. Before reading this book, you can read the series of three novellas, which are still free. I don’t think it’s necessary to read them. This book does start with our main hero and heroine having already been dating a little bit. So if you read the novellas, you see where that is coming from. But I read this without reading those novellas. So it’s up to you whether you pick those up before this or not.
This series is much more gritty and intense, especially if you compare it to the over-the-top and maybe a little humor from the Bourbon King series. It’s the one that mixes a little bit more of the Black Dagger Brotherhood flair to their characters, and it brings that intensity a little bit of dangerous plot to a contemporary romance setting. Plus, it does firefighters well and in a realistic way.
All 3 novellas:
- The Rehearsal Dinner.
- The Reception.
- Exclusive Excerpt of Consumed.
That’s all I have for you with the series and contemporary romances from J.R. Ward. Hopefully, you found this order helpful. If you have any questions about any of the books we’ve talked about or any other questions, we didn’t address in terms of what’s related to what and what needs to be read before what, leave them down in the comments below.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to answer them for you. I am curious to see how many of you have read her books, so please leave me a comment below and let me know if you’ve tried them out, which ones, or which ones are still on your TBR.
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