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)

Paranormal Romance
Piatkus Books (2006)

Ebook: 434 pages

Website || Goodreads || Amazon UK: Paperback / Kindle || Amazon US: Paperback / Kindle


A self-confessed bookworm who's favourite genres are urban fantasy, horror and a good love story with a sexy supernatural beastie. Also has a bit of a handbag fetish… actually, let's not mention the handbags; they seem to be breeding!


Donna Barton March 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm

You’ll be happy to know that Rehvenge gets his own book too!!!!! Love Avenged is his!!!!!! I’m a big fan of BDB!!!!!!!


Laura March 8, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I’ve read Rhev’s book now and it was good (like all of them), I’ve become such a fan of this series!


Christy Wilhelm March 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Can I just say that I prefer the UK cover over the US one. I read this one a long time ago. It was sad and Z was more than I thought he was going to be. For some reason this sentence sticks out in my head
“He’s not damaged, he’s broken” I think his brother said something along those lines. Geez that was a sad moment.


Laura March 8, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Yes I agree I think the Uk cover is better. This is sad, Z is so painfully broken. But I love how he grows and falls eventually in love.


Shae Carcar March 9, 2013 at 1:28 am

This book was so amazing! Words don’t really describe how gut-wrenchingly powerful and painful (like you said) it really was. Definitely one of my all-time favorites!!
Shae @ Understanding Shae’s Story


Laura March 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I think Zsadist’s book is a lot of people’s favourite book, it’s definitely up there for me :)


Gemma March 11, 2013 at 9:16 am

I think Zsadist rivals Acheron from the Dark Hunter series as one the characters with the most tragic of backgrounds. Have to admit this was the book that made me stand up and really take notice of the series. Since then its been a bit of an addiction.

Glad you enjoyed the book


Laura March 20, 2013 at 8:02 am

Sorry Gemma I thought I had replied to this, for some reason V’s book reminded me of Acheron, but there are similarities from both characters I think. He is definitely one of the brothers who has gone through the worst experiences :(


Lesley March 19, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Youve really made me want to reread Zsadist’s book again Laura, he’s 100% my favourite brother, I also loved the little Bella and Zsadist extra in the Insider Guide it melted my heart completely!

I absolutely agree with Gemma Zsadist does rival Acheron from the Dark Hunters series for tragic background, but whereas the Dark Hunter series got a bit samey BDB never fails to disappoint.


Laura March 20, 2013 at 8:00 am

Thanks Lesley, I loved Acheron’s book too. Oh I haven’t read the Insider’s Guide, it sounds like I need to make a purchase! Zsadist is one of the brothers who has definitely I had some of the worst experiences.


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