For the past two weeks, I have been busy pounding my head against the computer with work and spending all my free time soaking up the 8 books in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. It is a vampire series that deals with vampires as a completely different species not perpetuated by biting humans. What I liked was that this was a mortal species that lives off itself - the males must feed from the females and vice versa. Vampires do not hold any of the characteristics that pop culture holds for them until they pass through their Transition, which is somewhere around age 25. The Black Dagger Brotherhood are the vampire guards for the race, protecting the royal family and the civilians, both pre- and post- transition from their enemies, the Lessers, who are humans sans conscience.
The series starts with Darius, a member of the Brotherhood, pleading for the safety of his daughter who he has monitored but never met as she goes through her transition. He was murdered by the Lessers before he could meet her, and his loss is felt in every book that follows. Each book in the series centres around a member of the Brotherhood and his journey from the ghosts of his past and present, towards his shellan and future.
These R-rated books have a lovely sense of camaraderie between the brothers even though they deal with very adult issues such as torture, prejudice, violence, murder, promiscuity, drugs and rape, but they are books whose main focus is on friendship, hope and love in the face of mortality.