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?