Ahh Zsadist. There is something so terribly, terribly broken about Zsadist that as soon as I knew that Lover Awakened was his novel, I knew it was going to be good. Let’s start with a description of him from Bella’s point of view:
An image of Zsadist came to mind, clear as a photograph. She saw his savage black eyes. The scar that ran down his face and distorted his upper lip. The tattooed black blood-slave bands around his throat and wrists. She remembered the whip marks on his back. And the piercings that hung from his nipples. And his muscled, too-lean body.
She thought of his vicious, uncompromising will and all of his high-test hatred. He was a terrifying horror of her species. Ruined, not broken, in the words of his twin.
This sets the time for the book perfectly. Zsadist, a broken man, unable to love or be loved. Doing nothing but existing, destroyed by years of torture and rape as a slave.
Then there’s Bella. Captured and tortured by the Lessers. They make for a broken pair, but it is Bella who refuses to be defeated by her ordeal. I like the fact that even though she is not a warrior, she has a core of steel. And she needs it, because let’s face it, Zsadist is pretty terrifying. It takes a brave lady to approach him, let alone fall in love with him. The man does sleep with a skull!
The love story is powerful and painful. Add into it the feelings that Zsadist’s twin Phury has for Bella and it’s even more complicated. But by the end of it you not only want the two of them to get together, but you need them to. Wanting for the broken Zsadist to become whole again. The love brothers Zsadist and Phury feel for each other is also quite profound. I ached for both of them.
The sub plot around John Matthew continues to grow and as it does he carves away another little piece of my heart. I was delighted to discover he gets his own book later on down the line. I think he is fast becoming one of my absolute favourite characters in the series and greatly anticipate the boy becoming a man. The fact he’s mute only adds to his character.
Another character really worth of mention in Lover Awakened is Bella’s brother Rhevenge. He is fascinating, a new breed of vampire we haven’t met before – a sympath – I wanted to ask lots of questions, but alas I was not able to and fear I may be left waiting for a while as Ward slowly grows his character.
In fact the (many) plots in general build with real significant pace. Interweaving for other stories and other characters. Then there was the twist, holy hell it’s a killer! I did not see that coming. It has far-reaching consequence for some of the other characters. I could say so much more on it, but I must resist! But oh, oh, oh……
Without a doubt the best book in the series so far. Ward’s writing seems to be improving with each instalment. I was impressed how she turned a virtually unlikeable character in Zsadist to an addictive and potent love story. Oh and did I mention the twist???
Rating: 4 Stars
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
(Black Dagger Brotherhood #3)
Piatkus Books (2006)
Ebook: 434 pages