BDB Week! Day 3 - Review: Lover Awakened

Review: Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Of these, Zsadist is the most terrifying member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is
his only companion, and terror is his only passion—until he rescues a beautiful aristocrat from the evil Lessening Society.

Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for one another begins to overtake them both, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now, Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past, and find a future with her…

Black Dagger Brotherhood Book 3

'Lover Awakened' is probably the most beloved novel in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by readers. I can only hope to do the novel justice. I've reread the series several times and I must confess that with Zsadist's story, I was only able to read about his experiences with the Mistress once and never again. It's too painful to revisit so I'll not be touching that aspect of the novel overly much, if at all. Here's my take on Z.

Zsadist, twin brother to Phury and hands down the scariest Brother and vampire in Ward's BDB world and not just because of the horrid scar that bisects his face, nor his black eyes. He's a man fueled by pain and anger and really a being who has nothing to live for. You could say that he has an unfulfilled death wish. While his twin, Phury, ties him to the real world, he'd not feel overly guilty leaving his brother behind. But someone has managed to change Z. At first, it's ever so slightly, but the seeds of change have been planted and are threatening to grow and evolve. That person is Bella, a beautiful female vampire.

Abducted by the lessers and after six weeks of searching, Bella has been pronounced dead but Zsadist doesn't give up the hope that he'll find her alive. She has become the center of his thoughts and while the ice in his heart is far from melted, he's feeling...something unfamiliar and wholly unidentifiable. When a tip leads the Brothers to a lesser compound, Bella is found beneath ground, held in a metal cylinder. The Brothers, especially Zsadist, are horrified by the condition they find Bella in. Her eyes have been sewn completely shut, her body bruised and a carving of the name David, her lesser captor, mares the perfection of the soft skin of her belly.

Z's Brothers are no more astonished than he when Z takes an unconscious Bella to his own room in the mansion and lays her upon his pallet. The desire to have her near and protected is overwhelming.

He became aware that Phury had come over, and he didn't like it as the brother knelt down. Z's instinct was to barricade Bella's body with his own, preventing his twin, Wrath, the doctor, any male from seeing her. He didn't understand the impulse, didn't know its origin, but it was so strong he nearly launched himself at Phury's neck.
And then his twin reached out his hand as if to touch her ankle. Z's lips peeled off his fangs, a growl launching out of his mouth.
Phury's head snapped up. "Why are you acting like this?"
She's mine, Z thought.

Lover Awakened © J.R. Ward

Z isn't the only male affected by Bella and her presence in the mansion. Phury has longed for her since the first moment they met. She'd touched his golden mane with such reverence that he'd immediately been transfixed by her. But Z's perplexing behavior towards Bella throws him through a loop. Although he petitions the king that Bella should be in his care, the unnatural venom over Bella's body by Z leaves him taken aback and he has little choice but to step away for the time being.

Zsadist doesn't get much of a reprieve from his irrational behavior over Bella. In a moment of sanity he tries to scare her into leaving but the female is persistent and his conflicting desires to have her stay, win him over. But nothing prepared him for Bella wanting to not just stay in his room, but wanting to stay with her body flush against his.

Phury stopped dead.
His first thought was that Zsadist was going to fall off the bed. The brother's body was on top of the comforter and right on the edge of the mattress, as far over as possible...
But his head was turned in the opposite direction. Toward Bella. And those distorted lips were parted ever so slightly instead of sneering. And his brows, usually drawn down in aggression, were loose, relaxed.
His expression was one of somnolent awe.

Lover Awakened © J.R. Ward

Despite the new and warm sensations thrumming through his body, Zsadist's tenable peace is very short lived. Bella needs to feed and she's requested Z as her host. The thought of Bella taking his blood for her nourishment horrifies Z. He's dirty, his blood poisoned. Forever to be tainted by the evil of the Mistress who kept him chained and abused for over a hundred years. Thick black bands about his writs and neck forever mark him as a Blood-slave, a being of little worth except to please its owner. Z refuses to poison Bella with his tarnished blood. But she refuses to use Phury which Z knows is killing the brother. Left no choice, Z, with his need to be as clean as possible for Bella, scrubs and scrubs his wrists till blood flows in swirling red lines down the drain. And still, he feels dirty. But all Bella can see is the one. The vampire she wants...forever.

Zsadist makes it through the feeding but he still can't understand why Bella craves him. He even pities her in her yearning and desperation to just be near him. Yet his frustration doesn't stop him from doing his best to care for Bella. He brings her food, picks up clothes from her house so she can get out of the robe that she's adorned since she arrived. And somehow the female steals a kiss from him and instead of wanting to rip her head off in anger, Z allows her do it again and again. Loving every moment of his first experience with kissing. When Bella asks to touch him, at first there is fear but then yearning. A wanting so great he can't say no to her husky request. But when Bella asks that he make love to her his high crashes and burns. Z doesn't know how to make love. He knows how to F*** and he will not subject Bella to that no matter how much she begs. When Bella cries, not out of sadness but due to sexual frustration, Z spills some of the crimes done to him by the Mistress. He feels compelled to explain in some way that he wants Bella, yes, but he can't have her because of his past that still effects him so painfully in the present.

It's when Bella admits that she loves him that Z tries to understand his feelings for her. At first he can only deny her proclamation but when he actually thinks beyond his fears he realizes that she may be telling the truth. She's opened the voids within his soul and filled them with feelings, not anger or pain, but yearning and desire. For the first time he feels male and sexual and he needs Bella. But now that he's decided to stand at this terrifying precipice, he realizes that he has no idea how to proceed. How to make Bella happy. It's Bella's direct and easy guidance that shows Z the path to her pleasure. She's not shy to say what she wants and he finds returning the favor and growling what he wants to do and how he's going to do it. Yet when things naturally progress, Z gets scared. He's so terrified that he'll hurt her and once again road blocks are driven into place.

Despite the fact that Z knows that Bella loves him and desires him, he still believes that she'll change her mind, realizing that Z has disastrous issues. He hopes that when everything is all said and done, that the female will realize that there is no future for them and that she should be with Phury. Z knows that his brother wants Bella. But there is no time to put distance between himself and her. Surges of sexual energy roll like blistering waves through the mansion effecting every male in the vicinity. Bella is in needing. Her body fertile and crying out for a male to service her. While the pain for the males is great, Bella's pain is excruciating until she can feed and have sex until the needing passes. Zsadist will help Bella this one last time, then he will severe their ties forever.

But the miraculous happens. Sometime during the sixteen hour sexual marathon, Zsadist falls in love with Bella. But just loving isn't enough for him. When Bella offers him her neck and the opportunity to take his sustenance from her body, Z is faced with a major decision. Is he ready to give up his death wish? Can he be a full member of society and protect his female? And ultimately, can he respect himself enough to allow Bella to respect herself for choosing him as her hellren?

Bella truly was the perfect match for Zsadist. His character really called for a confident heroine that wouldn't back down in the face of his intense anger. Her responses to him were perfect as well. Z's initial strive for distance was met with Bella's demand that he just say that he doesn't find her attractive and that sex with her would be revolting. Z's reaction is one of amazement. He had felt that she was the one who found him revolting, certainly not the other way around. He is mesmerized by her beauty and by her truthful and wondrous responses to him both physically and mentally. She never leaves him wondering very long on whether or not she wants him. Zsadist had just held on for so long to his anger which truly was his only motivator to live. Bella changes everything in that regard and it took him time to realize that she made the pain bearable and the anger less inflamed. He'll never be normal, but he knows that Bella isn't asking for nor does she need normal. Amazingly enough, she just wants him.

I left a lot out of this review in terms of sub plots and continuing story arcs. First of all, my blog is always and ultimately about the romance but secondly, I want readers to experience the novel for themselves. What I've just written is merely the tip of the ice burg and reveals little of the truth of these characters and their motivations. 'Lover Awakened' was a beautiful romance that continues to capture me wholly with every read. While this novel wasn't what propelled me into the series, it certainly made me a die hard fangirl.

I also consider 'Lover Awakened' to be the ending to a trilogy embodying a certain feel or categorization of romance within the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series. From here on the subtleties of Ward's writing change and evolve into a world of such vast complexities that it surely takes on a life of it's own. While 'Dark Lover', 'Lover Eternal' and 'Lover Awakened' center primarily around the romance of the Hero and Heroine, all subsequent installments contain an individualism that doesn't compare to any other within the series. And as the story arcs get longer and the sub plots more detailed and complex, one must ask the question; Is this still romance?

Who is your favorite tortured hero and why? Did you feel that this was the last romantic installment in the BDB series?


Erotic Horizon said...

Ladies beware.... i am setting my claim in now...

no rough stuff as much Z loves it. I won't put up with it.

Another great VFG...


VampFanGirl said...

Morning E.H.!! *hands lifted in surrender* He's yours honey. I won't fight ya for him. :)

Wow, first one here, you are a Z girl!! :)

Thanks for enjoying the review.

Happy BDB Week!
:) VFG

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Hey there! Well, as much as I loved Z and his story, which made me cry, cry, cry, he's not mine. I'm a Rhagie girl, with a little of Phury torment thrown in!

What can I say about this book besides it was perfect. Bella is an example of what Z needed in a female! He deserved her, and she was worthy of a male like him.

He was perfectly tormented, but Ward gave us good glimpses into the man that Z was beyond the hurt.

My fav part is when he humbles himself and goes to Mar.That took so much damn courage to learn how to read. And I love, love, love how he wrote I love you in his chilish print. That was just utter perfection for me.

Like LE this book was perfection, from characterization, plotting, was perfect. I bawled like a baby.

Phew! Good stuff.

I've got a few chapter of Velvet Haven to get ready to send to my editor today. Once I do that, I'll be back to play with you all, and Z, too!

VampFanGirl said...

Hey Charlotte!

The ending to LA really was poetic and sweet and just beautiful. I love when Z faints at the news that he's soon to be daddy. LOL! Big ol' warrior hits the ground in a dead faint! Classic!

I agree, Z isn't my main Brother. I loved him, absolutely, but he's not what get's me all hot and bothered.

And I totally agree, Z's book was perfection, really the first three novels were amazing in this way. Ward just delivered, hands down, three amazing novels that fans couldn't get enough of. I believe that it's after this point, that things begin to change with her writing. The books get longer, more complex, more fantasy. But I still find the romance in her books. Maybe not with the main H/h but definitely in the subplots.

:) VFG

Anna said...

Great Review VFG! When I started reading BDB I thought the series was just the best ever and still do. But every time I read a new book in the series I think "this is my favorite brother" LOL! They are all great. But Z is really my favorite. He's got that whole bad boy thing going on, but then there is whole different side to him that comes out where Bella and Nala are concerned.

Both Z and Vishous are my top favorites. But who knows Rehv could to top them. LOL!

I read both Romance and Urban Fantasy so the change in the series doesn't both me. Really it's not about the genre. That shouldn't matter. It's about the characters. If you enjoy the world and the characters, they should be what brings you coming back for each book.

Cecile said...

Wow VampGirl... wonderful review I must say!!! Girl... you sure gotta a way with words! And that was just the tip of the ice berg!!! Damn... okay hook line a sinker were for yesterday's story... today's story.. let's see... Being a herione addict to these brothers! Where are those damn Book-o-holic meetings! There brothers are like drugs to the body.
I lvoe the weakness Z showed, but not out right. When you have a hero, they don't develge into to much of their weakness and faults. But I felt for the poor guy. (No, I am not trying to take anyone's man). My heart really went out to him. Awesome story and great review! You did well little grasshopper!! **LOL**

Cecile said...

I agree with Anna, it does not matter what you read, as long as you fall in love and understand your characters - anything is enjoyed! Now Anna... watch what you say about Rehv... did we not learn that there are major fights over him!!! Girl... watch your back! LOL!!

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Have you ever thought of writing? methinks you should, VFG your reviews are so well written,and turn a good line, you know. You can handle words!

VampFanGirl said...

Thanks Anna!

Oh totally, that is also another aspect of Z that I love. He only shows his heroine his soft side and it's truly heart-melting to read.

I know what you mean too about lovin' the Brother of the moment. :) I'm a V girl and Rehv lover. *wink* And I think it has something to do with their stories too.

The change in the series doesn't bother me either. I can still find the romance despite the fact that it's not necessarily center stage anymore, IMO. The Brothers are important to me and each novel is a moment to connect. I'll follow Ward no matter what she writes. My heart and mind are engaged with every installment. Thanks for answering the question the Anna!

Happy BDB Week!
:) VFG

Anna said...

I know Cecile. I'll have to watch myself. LOL! Barbara hasn't even gotten in on the action. I know she'll stake her claim on Rehv. :D

VampFanGirl said...

Thanks Cecile! I'm so happy that you're enjoying the reviews. I've had such a great time power-reading through the BDB books and reliving the romance.

*sigh* Girl, you are so addicted and to be so already means that you're gonna die when you finally get your paws on the novels. If you'd like, I have books 4, 5, and 6 that I send you. *shhhh, I have the whole series in hardback and the first three are already worth hundreds** But I can send the paperback versions. :)

And OMG, Cecile, you have no idea of the torture that Zsadist lived through. I left out his experiences as a Blood-slave cause like I mentioned, I can only go through that once. And his twin, Phury, *sigh* those boys really had it bad. What makes Z so sad to read is that he really was a kind and gentle soul in the beginning....

And really, there is SO MUCH that happend in LA. Damnit, Cecile, READ THE BOOKS!! I want to talk Brothers with you so badly!!!

LMAO!!! You crack me up too Cecile! Little grasshopper! Ha!!

:) VFG

VampFanGirl said...

Oh Sheesh Charlotte!!! You make me blush! Writing about someone elses writing is completely different than writing from ones own imagination.

I'll admit to once having silly dreams and I've started several different projects (historicals too, funny huh?) but I've accepted the fact that I have NO staying power. I'm sure, well duh, of you course you know that writing is a labor of love and one, at least at this point in my life, that I'm not willing to embark on.

It's something that I truly admire of you authors who've not just published and even published many times over, but I also admire unpublished authors like Barbara, that have finished a manuscript before. An amazing accomplishment and one that I'm always in awe of.

:) VFG

Blanche said...

Hi VFG!!

This is another fantastic review and I really need to get these books and read the series!! I took a quick peek at pbs to see how many people had Lover Avenged on their wish was over 600!!!

VampFanGirl said...

Holy crap! No way Blanche! Whew, that's a lot of people who want some Z.

I can't wait for you to try these books out Blanche. *sigh* The Brothers...yum.

Happy BDB Week!
:) VFG

Eva S said...

Another great review! I do love these brothers... I'll have to reread this book too, and Father Mine!

VampFanGirl said...

Thanks Eva! I LOVED 'Father Mine'. I thought it was so great of Ward to shine light on "life after baby" and the real human problems that affect relationships.

Happy BDB Week!
:) VFG

Barbara said...

GREAT REVIEW!! You know, this was my favorite story of the series. Zsadist was so tortured and Bella was just what he needed. I don't think--especially after all he suffered--that Z will ever be 100% back to what he once was, but I think with Bella by his side life is all the more liveable. He has something to live for now.

I agree, this book for me was the end of the romantic part of the series. Well, of course there was Butch and V...but I gather we'll be chatting a bit about that tomorrow, lol. I can't wait to hear your thoughts. I have a general idea of how you feel about those two and you already know my feelings on it ;)

PS Happy BDB WEEK!!! ((hugs))

Cindy W said...

You are doing a great job this week VFG!!!

Is this still romance? Not so much... Even though it has romance in the story, it's not the main focus of the book. Romance books are romance driven. With that said, I am still enjoying the series, and will continue to read, but I really miss the romance Ward gave readers in the first 3 books.Who is your favorite tortured hero and why? Z, Zarek (dark hunter) and Simon (The Duke and I)Did you feel that this was the last romantic installment in the BDB series? absolutely, I hope she gets back to that one day, but probably not.

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...


I've got the first two novels in the BDB series ordered. I now see that I should have ordered the third as well. I must be living under a rock! Holy Crap! How did I miss these books!

Go ahead, start shaking me!!

Dottie :)

VampFanGirl said...

Thanks Barbara! Wow, I didn't know that Z's story was your favorite of the series. Nice choice! He seriously is one of the most tortured heroes I've ever read. And you're right he'll never be truly normal, even Ward has said as much on the Boards.

Yeah, I really felt that this was last BDB book that was centered completely around the romance. Oh yes, There will be A LOT of V and Butch lovin' tomorrow!! Yowzaa!!

(((hugs))) VFG

VampFanGirl said...

Thanks Cindy! Whew, it's been a lot of work getting these reviews done. Each book just gets bigger and bigger!! :)

I totally agree with thoughts on whether or not the books are "romance". Like you said, for it be romance it has to be romantically drive and that's definitely not the main focus of BDB world after Z.

Ah yes, Zarek was definitely tortured. It's been a while since I read that book but I vaguely recall the scenes where he was cruelly beaten and made a slave. Simon..sigh. Poor guy. His father was such an ass!

No, I agree that Ward will probably not get back to the days of DL, LE, and LA. Her sublots are too complex and demand too much page time for the focus to be on the H/h. But I do wonder about her new fallen angel series...

Thanks for discussing those questions with me Cindy!

:) VFG

VampFanGirl said...

Sheesh Dottie, just order all 7 books already!! LOL! pleeeeaaassse. I want to discuss the Brothers with you!

Trust me, once you read the first couple, you won't be able to stand it until you get the rest.

Happy BDB Week!
:) VFG

Charlotte Featherstone said...

As a reader, I will admit to be disappointed that the romance has taken a backseat in the BDB books. It's still there, and I'll still follow her like a disciple, but it's just not as romantic as before. And as a certified hussy,I'm about the sex AND the romance! As an author, I applaud her ability to stay true her vision. To take an adored series where it wanted/and needed to go. She could have done the sure thing. The safe bet and followed the formula of the first three books, but she didn't. And let me tell ya, that takes gonads! lol! I admire the heck out of her.

Now, I have BIG hopes about the new Fallen Angel series. They're billed as romance and I hope they stay that way. Cause the WARDen writes GREAT romance!

VampFanGirl said...

Hey Charlotte!

Hell yeah! The WARDen can MOST definitely write uber hot romance that totally satisfies our hussy cravings!!

And I too am holding out hope for the Fallen Angel series. Not that I don't love the BDB, but I'm lovin' it now for different reasons I suppose. With Ward's evolution of series, I too have evolved with her and I'll always be a dedicated fangirl. I love the world and the Brothers too much to walk away simply cause the romance end is no longer the main focus. She's still a brilliant storyteller.

And to be honest, I was only disappointed with Phury's HEA. But more on that later. *wink*

BTW, Have you found a blurb yet for 'Covet'? I've been searching but found zilch!

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Um, yeah, but I can't say have my addy, right???? wink...

Mandi said...

Great review!!!!

I loved Z's book, but I am not a huge Z fan like a lot of people out there. How sweet was it though when he wrote "love you" after Mary tutored him..sigh.

I think I am in the minority, but I like the turn the books are taking. I don't mind all the plots and in my opinion, there is enough romance to keep me very interested - all I need are some hot alpha males and she gives us them a plenty :) I know there will be a huge discussion about that after we all read Rehvenge...

Anway - back on track:) I'm trying to think of my favorite tortured hero - Jacques from Dark Desire - Christine Feehan or Wren from Unleash the Night - Sherrilyn Kenyon are the ones that stand out to me at the moment.

VampFanGirl said...

Thanks Mandi!

Oh gosh, I know. That scene was so sweet. Z really wanted to better himself for Bella.

I'm the same. I loved Z's book but he's not my favorite Brother. That's okay. Just one less hero to fight over. *wink*

I'm totally with you too on lovin' the new plots that Ward is throwing at us. There are still romantic elements to keep my hussy side satisfied too. Her boooks are still smokin' hot!

Oh God, I LOVE Wren! I have a thing for virgin heroes. :)

Happy BDB Week!
:) VFG

Cecile said...

Hello My Little Grasshopper!! I thought you like that one!!! I cracked myself up too!!

I love how thorough you were with the review but not so much with the past of the characters. That is what I try to stay away from. I want to tell you all about the book, but no so much that you get to much info. Like I said though, the parts you gave us... well girl, tip of the ice berg does not come close!

I promise I will get my hands on the first 3 books, then we can talk sharing after! I promise.

VampFanGirl said...

LOL, Cecile! I can't wait for you to become fully addicted to the Brothers!

Thanks for your praise on the review. I definitely try to not give away too much and just mainly concentrate on the romance between the H/h. Especially with book 6. Yikes! A lot goes down in Phury's book. It'd take a book of a review just to review 'Lover Enshrined'.

:) VFG

Lea said...

Hey VFG!

Another wonderful review. :) You have put a tremendous amount of work into your reviews and contest - way to go! It is awesome. :)

I have to be honest and say Lover Awakened wasn't my favorite of the BDB books. I liked Dark Lover and Lover Eternal equally.

And, I have to be honest again and say I felt the stories took a very different direction after Lover Revealed. However, that is just IMHO.

When you ask about favorite "tortured hero", are you referring to the BDB series specifically or "tortured heros", in general? lol

Once again, wonderful review of the Lover Awakened VFG.

Warmest Regards

VampFanGirl said...

Thanks Lea!! *sigh* It's been A LOT of work getting these reviews done. As you know, the books just keep getting bigger and bigger and it takes forever sometimes to write the corresponding reviews.

I definitely agree with you Lea the series took on a different feel starting with 'Lover Revealed'.

Oh, and I'm referring to any of your favorite tortured heroes. LOL, all the Brothers are tortured though, huh? Ward likes them to be broken but semi fixable. :)

Have a great weekened!

:) VFG

Lea said...


I think my favorite tortured hero is Eidolon from "Pleasure Unbound", I love that tortured HOT demon doctor!!!

You have a great weekend too.

Warm Regards

Pamk said...

another great tortured hero for me was zarak by Sherrilyn kenyon. He was great.A total badass that turned into a marshmellow for his girl. And I think that the Warden series are still romance. As long as they is a hea or hfn then imo it it a romance.

VampFanGirl said...

Oh yeah, Lea! Give me a tortured HOT demon doctor any day!! :)

Hey Pamk! LOL, I love those big badass boys that turn into marshmellows too!! Great description for them. :)Marshmellows! Ha! I love it!

:) VFG

ann marie said...

Hey VampGirl,
I thought the books took a turn after Butch's book. His book comes in a close second to Rhage's.

For a tortured hero I would have to say it's a tie between Acheron and any of Gena Showalter's main characters.

Thank you for another great review and have a great weekend. :)

VampFanGirl said...

HI Ann Marie!

Oh, a Butch fan huh? Well I hope you like my review of 'Lover Revealed'. I made some assumptions and did something different...We'll see...

I've heard of Showalter's Lords and that they're pretty tortured. I plan on diving into those books really soon.

Thanks for enjoying my review of Z.

:) VFG

Blodeuedd said...

love Z!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nothing can beat him, and him and Nalla, awwwww

jessica said...

omg i have to say z's story was my favorite i loved everything about it, it was everything i was looking for in a book and much more i loved reading and seeing the change in him and i agree with some that my favorite part was when bella told him he was going to be a daddy i was so excited

the only downer in the book was when ward killed tohr wife i was so up set i almost didnt finish the book

but all in all i loved it

VampFanGirl said...

Hey Jessica!

Sigh....I loved Z too. His was written during the time where Ward was still writing "romance".

And Tohr's shelan being shot was horrific. I think that right there should have alerted everyone to the change that was going to happen with Ward's writing. It was the first read flag that she was crossing into Urban Fantasy territory.

;) VFG

Site Design for Lovin' Me Some Romance by Barbara.
Graphics by Maroka323 were manipulated with permission from the artist.