I really dreaded this book. While I love J.R.Ward, I absolutely loathe stories involving men with the "dead wife"-syndrome (an all the clichés that it will entail), so I was in kind of a bind with this book.
Despite my misgivings, this book is amazing. This is really great storytelling, and while I don't necessarily agree with all the plot developments or think this book is perfect, I still LOVE it. Ward has really outdone herself with this book. The storytelling is great as always, the plots (and there are many) are engaging and really interesting, the character development is really emotional and intense, and all these threads are seamlessly weaved together by Ward to create a great story.
Character development and relations are really where this book shines. The book mainly follows Qhuinn, John, Xhex, Layla, Xcor's Band of Bastards, Lassiter, Thor and No'One, and the multitude of evolving relationships, mainly of the non-romantic kind.
This is probably the least romance focused book of the entire series, and people who miss the style of the first five books in the series will probably be disappointed with the lack of romance in this. I personally don't see the lack of romance as a bad thing, as it actually helps shape the story to a great extent. The romance really takes a backseat to the plot in this book, but I don't think that this will bleed into the next installments of the series. Tohr's circumstances were unique, and affected the way the romantic aspects of the story were paced and developed.
There were many great parts and characters in this book, Assail and the Band of Bastards chief amongst them, but Tohr and Qhuinn's personal and emotional developments deserve honorable mentions as well. I've never been particularly interested in Lassiter either, but I came to love him over the course of this book and he provided quite a few laughs.
My main issue with this book was No'One. I would call her boring, but that would mean there was something to be bored with, and I am not sure I can say anything about her other than, she exists. I am actually really curious about what other readers think of her, because I really can't think anything of her. Nothing good, nothing bad, not completely forgettable, she just is. On the other hand, I think her blandness (for lack of better words) is part of what makes the story work. But yeah, No'One really is the least interesting female character in the series (I wouldn't even call her a lead character).
So all in all, the book was amazing. This book is focused on a broad and interesting cast of characters, as opposed to a single couple, and the romance takes the backseat to the story and plotlines. I am particularly excited about the futures of Xcor, Throe, Qhuinn, Blay and Layla, and I think Qhuinn's story (when it comes out) will be EPIC, so there is a lot to get excited about!