Readers met and fell in love with Zsadist and Bella in J. R. Ward-s third New York Times bestselling novel in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Awakened. As a former blood slave, Zsadist bore the scars from a past filled with suffering and degradation until Bella came along and helped heal his emotional wounds. Now, though, with the birth of their child, the demons of his past have been resurrected, called forth by the innocent eyes of his beloved daughter, Nalla. Unless Bella and Nalla can bring him back with their love, he may be lost to them forever.
In Lover Awakened, we all know that Bella and Zsadist got their HEA. However, we all know that life doesn’t stop getting complicated because we closed the book at the end of their story. Especially for Zsadist. We know the tragedy and horror he lived through as a blood slave, and though he has found a modicum of peace and self-worth with Bella, it hasn’t magically fixed all the things he copes with on a day to day basis. For me, never was it more apparent just how deep the scars went until I read Father Mine.
In Lover Enshrined, after the harrowing ordeal of Nalla’s entrance into the world that almost cost Bella her life, it seems that all is well with the new parents. Father Mine shows us just how inaccurate that assumption is. It’s been 2 months since the birth and Zsadist has yet to bond in any way with Nalla. He won’t hold her, or even touch her…and goes as far as refering to Nalla as ‘Bella’s’ young, instead of ‘their’ young. As a vampire young, Nalla is cognitively older than 2 months, and is aware of her father’s seeming rejection of her. Bella has also noticed that Zsadist doesn’t treat her the way he used to, and she feels as if he is not attracted to her anymore. Zsadist’s head is still in the past, and his issues seem insurmountable to him. He takes care of Bella and Nalla in the only way he feels that he can, as their provider, but it is not enough. Bella’s is only looking towards the future, and as with most mahmen’s , Nalla’s well being is her top priority. If she must leave Zsadist to achieve that, she is prepared to leave him.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It seems as if vampires are no less immune to the trials and adjustments that humans experience when they become parents. That is what made this story so relatable. Some of the scenes with Zsadist and Nalla will have you sobbing and sighing at the same time. It was heartbreaking, poignant and very romantic…not to mention VERY hot in certain places…Zsadist has some serious SKILLS. *swoons*
So if you’ve passed this short story by, like I did, thinking that it was simply some HEA filler with mahmen, papa and baby…think again. It’s definitely worth reading.
As for the rest of the Insider’s Guide, if you are a big fan of the series and the Brothers, it’s definitely worth a read as well. I enjoyed reading the deleted scenes, as well as the ‘Kicks and Giggles’ section. There are some of the funniest quotes from the books there, some I had forgotten about. If you have questions about why she went the direction she did with certain books, you will want to read her comments about each of the novels to date. I found it to be interesting and enlightening. There is also a last interview with Tohr and Wellsie, but I admit to being a wuss and not reading it. I still can’t go there.
The guide brings up to book 7, which is Lover Avenged. I’m hoping that Ward will do something similar soon, or when the remaining books have been written. She is showing no signs of slowing down though, with the much anticipated release of Qhuinn and Blay’s book in March 2013. I’m not anywhere near my fill with the Brothers. *grins*