Back Cover Blurb (taken from J.R. Ward's Website):
Prepare to enter the dark passionate world of The Black Dagger Brotherhood and get up close and personal with each one of the Brothers…
You’ll find insider information on the Brotherhood, their dossiers, stats and special gifts. You’ll read interviews with your favorite characters, including a heartbreaking one with Tohrment and Wellsie, conducted three weeks before she was killed by lessers. You’ll encounter deleted scenes—accompanied by the whys behind the cuts—in addition to exciting material from the J.R. Ward message boards and the answers to questions posed by readers about the series. You’ll learn what it’s like for J.R. Ward to write each installment of the series, and in a fascinating twist, you’ll read an interview with the author—conducted by the Brothers. For the first time ever, you’ll get an original short story about Zsadist and Bella and see the miracle of their daughter Nalla's birth and the depth of their love for each other. Also, you’ll get a sneak peek at the much anticipated next book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Revenge’s story.
This is a compendium no Black Dagger Brotherhood fan should miss…and an insider’s guide that will seduce you as powerfully as the sexy band of Brothers and the “ferociously popular” world they live in…
While this guide gives fans and new comers a fabulous look inside the world of The Black Dagger Brotherhood, I'll mainly be reviewing the short story,'Father Mine' featuring the Brother Zsadist and his shellan, Bella. At the end, I'll provide a brief overview and my thoughts of the remaining contents.
First of all, THANK YOU J.R. Ward for returning to ROMANCE!!!
I, along with many others, felt that you may have broken away from what was and is so important to fans and that's the sensual and hot romance you provide with the BDB. If anything, you've re-inspired my love for the Brothers and their fascinating world.
I'd also like to mention that 'Father Mine' can be read and understood by those few who are unfamiliar with Ward's unique world and characters. Some aspects may be confusing, yes, but I think all readers can fully appreciate the premise of 'Father Mine' and the emotions it evokes.
Zsadist and Bella received their HEA in 'Lover Awakened'. Yet like all characters in the BDB world, life doesn't necessarily stop spinning after the honeymoon. Z, the most tortured soul of all the Brothers, is still coping with the tragedy of his past and learning how to function as a true contributing member of the Brotherhood. While Bella provides some serious light to his darkness, things are certainly far from being blissful. 'Father Mine' reveals Z and Bella's realistic struggle after the birth of their daughter, Nalla, and the effect she's had on their relationship.
Nalla represents all things pure and innocent, as all children do. But unlike most who are drawn to that innocence, Z has yet to even acknowledge Nalla as his own, let alone touch her. Z has thought nothing of Nalla in terms of possession. She's Bella's young. He does not think in terms of his or ours but only as hers. And while Bella has given Z space to come to terms with his new role as a father, Nalla is beginning to exhibit signs of neglect. She reaches for Z and when Z can't even bring himself to look at her directly, Nalla feels rejected. Bella has now, four months after the birth, come to the heart-breaking decision that she must leave Z so that Nalla is protected from any feelings of failure.
Although, Nalla is not the only reason for Bella's decision to leave her hellran. Since the birth of their child, Z and Bella have ceased to have a sexual relationship. When Bella needs to feed from Zsadist's vein, it offered to her only out of compassion rather than in passion. In addition, Z hasn't feed in return from Bella and is now resembling the skeletal giant that was him at the beginning of 'Lover Awakened'. For these reasons, Bella no longer feels wanted and although her body has returned to it's pre-baby form, Z never looks at her in lust but merely as a beloved sister. While on the other hand, within Z's POV we learn that he feels that she doesn't want him for she is always covering herself in his presence. She no longer touches him in passion. Plus, Z wants Bella to be fully capable of handling her new responsibilities so by staying away he is allowing her to focus on her young.
I think these reactions and circumstances are common for first time parents. While I have no children with my husband, I'm aware of the problems that plague marriages after the stress of children. Z and Bella's thoughts and concerns in regards for one another is something that everyday couples learn cope with. If anything, 'Father Mine' tells the story of two people trying to make the relationship work with the hope of returning to life as it was before children, but the fact remains that babies change everything.
It's only after Zsadist faces a near death experience that he realizes all he stands to loose and finally fights for Bella and Nalla. First he reassures Bella that he still desires her and wow, the love scenes were trademark Ward, with plenty of hot moments involving a very naked, vocal, and hungry Zsadist. After which he makes a valiant effort with Nalla but runs into problems and emotions involving his slave bands. He can't bare for Nalla to touch them in fear that his sordid past will taint her precious innocence. The rest of the story deals with his eventual acceptance that though one day Nalla will force him to explain the bands existence, he knows now that she won't be tainted. That like Bella, she loves and accepts him for who he is. The scenes where Zsadist tentatively reaches out for that first touch of Nalla's tiny infant hand were heart melting and beautiful.
This story, while dealing with very human issues, was poignant and achingly romantic. I hope this is a sign that Ward with do Rehvenge justice in 'Lover Avenged' and give him the romance he deserves.
Now for the remaining contents of the Insider's Guide. I really enjoyed J.R. Ward's author comments for each of the BDB novels. It was interesting to read about her writing process and how each book, though part of series, is unique. These comments provided closure in a lot of ways with regards to certain plot lines and endings. Her reaction to reader comments is enlightening and I truly felt that after reading her thoughts, that Ward takes reader feelings very seriously and very much to heart. I was especially content with Ward's explanation for Jane and her fate with the Brotherhood.
I've always had mixed reactions to the interviews with the brothers, both on her website, message boards, and now with the Guide. It's not that I don't enjoy them, I just find the interview concept a little strange. I never get the details that I want, especially with my favorite Brothers because they are the least talkative and the ones that I want to read about most. But besides my strange preferences they were still fun to read and helped me to maintain my addiction with reading new Brotherhood material. The corresponding Brother specs were pretty cool. I liked having a visual reference for birth years, height, weight, etc.
My next favorite portion of the guide, after 'Father Mine', was the deleted scenes. Yet I wonder if any other fans were disappointed at the conspicuously missing and much talked about pool scene with Rhage and Mary. I'm defiantly wondering why Ward left this out.
The portion of the Guide that I didn't read was the Brothers on the BDB Message Boards because I'm already a frequent lurker and have read all these postings before. But for anyone who doesn't participate on the Message Boards will find much humor in these postings. Plus, for those who are unfamiliar with Lassiter and his history with the Brotherhood will be fully informed as to why he gets a rise out of the Cellies.
I also didn't read Tohr and Wellsie's last interview because I couldn't subject myself to the heartache and I don't think that I ever will. That's it on that note.
I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get a longer excerpt from 'Lover Avenged' but what was provided was enough to give me withdrawal shakes 'til I can once again get my Brotherhood fix.