Review: Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

 In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, a deadly war rages between vampires and their slayers. 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 his only passion—until he rescues a beautiful female from the evil Lessening Society.

Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for each other begins to overtake them, 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….

***Adult Content***
Of all the characters I had been introduced to in the first two books… Zsadist easily intrigued me the most. His physical description, his disposition, the fact that the other Brothers steered clear of him was too tempting to resist. Hang a sign saying “Danger” in flashing lights over a guy and I’m bound to come running. Yep, I like the tortured, dangerous-to-your-health kind of guys…

More on Z and his scary ass after you click on “continue reading”… go on, you know you want to!

For those of you who know me, you might end up wondering, so I’m just going to warn you now… I’m going to be leaving behind the snark for a few minutes. This part of the review is serious, people! Zsadist has a very good reason to be the terror he is. Abducted when he was just a baby, leaving behind his parents and his twin, Phury, he is raised as a servant in an aristocratic house of vampire society. After his transition, he is forced to become a blood slave for the household’s mistress. Through her ministrations, he experienced the worst abuse imaginable, including physical, sexual, and mental abuse, for a century. As a consequence, his heart is bitterly cold and his soul is scarred. His views of even the most fundamental necessities of life, such as nourishment, is tragically skewed. He doesn’t deem himself to be worth much to anyone, let alone to a female such as Bella. Okay, serious moment over.

Bella, who’s family is part of the glymera (vampire aristocracy) has so far lived quite a sheltered existence due to her protective (okay, domineering) brother, Rehvenge (oh… you’ll meet him later… *bites fist*). She had only recently moved into a house on her own, having lived in the family home with her mother. She’s also only ever been in one relationship, but that dude was a dick so they went their separate ways. If you’ve read Lover Eternal, you’ll recall that Bella met Zsadist inadvertently at the mansion. Even though he scared the living daylights out of her, she cannot get him out of her mind. Here is a description of Z 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 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 this vicious, uncompromising will and all of his high-test hatred. He was terrifying, a horror of her species. Ruined, not broken, in the words of his twin…

You wouldn’t expect a classy gal like Bella to want to hook up with Zsadist but I totally get where she’s coming from… she obviously has a thing for dangerous males too. Rawr. When she sees Z, all she can think of is getting close to him, to know him. Then Bella is kidnapped by the Lessening Society and Zsadist is on a rampage to find this female vampire whose presence unsettles him and affects him on an emotional level he’s never experienced. Once she is found, their shared experience of captivity leads Bella to discover why he is the way he is… a man who has been gravely hurt but has never healed. And she still wants him. He does his damndest to scare her away and she doesn’t budge an inch. I have so much respect for this woman!

It also helped that Bella experienced her “needing period” while staying at the mansion. This forced Z to deal with his feelings for Bella and to exorcise a few of his own demons. If you’re new to the series, every decade or so, a female vampire experiences a time of fertility that lasts for approximately two days. It involves intense sexual cravings, that can cause severe pain for the female if not assuaged. All males will respond in some manner if in vicinity of the female in her needing, which can be a problem if she is not mated. So its not just Z that’s affected. All the males in the house are affected… this part of the book is quite humorous. *giggling uncontrollably at the thought of Phury, Butch and Vishousand how they survived her needing period* Anyway, here is an excerpt from Bella’s needing… poor Z! *snicker*

Z stopped in front of the his bedroom door. He was just going to check on Bella and then he was going to make a beeline for Phury’s room and get himself good and stoned. He hated any kind of drugged-out feeling, but anything was better than this raging urge to have sex.

He cracked the door and sagged against the jamb. The fragrance in the room was like a garden in full bloom, the loveliest thing that he had ever shot up the inside of his nose.

The front of his pants pounded, the it screaming to get out.

“Bella?” he said into the darkness.

When he heard a moan, he went inside, closing the door behind him.

Oh God. the perfume of her… He started to growl deep in the back of his throat, and his fingers cranked into claws. His feet took over, marching him to the bed, his instincts leaving his mind behind.

Bella was writhing on top of the mattress, tangled in the sheets. When she saw him she cried out, but then she settled down, as if she’d willed herself calm.

“I’m okay.” She rolled over onto her stomach, her thighs rubbing together as she pulled the duvet over her body. “I’m… really…It’s going to be–”

Another shock wave came out of her, so strong it pushed him back as she jackknifed into a ball.

“Go,” she groaned. “Worse… when you’re here. Oh… God…”

As she let out a ragged curse, Z stumbled back to the door even though his body roared for him to stay.

Getting himself out into the corridor was like hauling a mastiff off a target, and once he shut the door he raced for Phury’s.

Don’t worry, there’s a LOT more to it than that. Just like the two books previous, there is no shortage of hot schmexing. There are so many things to love about this particular book in the series. If you love angst, its riddled with it. Zsadist’s flashbacks as a blood slave are bound to give you heart fail. In his own memory, he’s referred to as “the slave”… the impact of that was gut-wrenching for me.  The Lesser’s are ramping up their assault on the vampires and it leads to some great action (of the violent kind, get out of the gutter). We learn a lot more about Phury’s life as Z’s twin and what drives him to live the way he does… the drugs and the celibacy. It’s really difficult to write this review without spoilers… I could go on and on.

Zsadist’s story is heartbreaking, and you might be inclined to pity him for all that he has experienced. However, I can’t help but feel immense respect for him, despite his attempts at scariness and striking terror into the hearts of all he meets. Especially women. Can you blame him? He was brutalized for a century by one sick bitch. Yes, he’s fucked up. Major. However, he’s still here. Most would not have even survived what he went through. The fact that he’s stuck with the Brotherhood, kicking Lesser ass to protect the vampire society, speaks volumes of his true character. Not to mention how he loves Bella… he is an unlikely romantic hero but he is exactly that. The dichotomy of his character is extremely enticing. I don’t blame Bella for falling head over heels.

Join me next week for the review of Butch’s book, Lover Revealed.


6 thoughts on “Review: Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

  1. Stefter says:

    After reading this book, you’ll have a special place in your heart for Z. It’s definitely one of the best of the series!!!
    Great review Gina!!!!
    P.S. I too love Phury, Vishous and Butch hanging out at The Pit while Bella goes through her needing. VERY FUNNY!


  2. Stefter says:

    Reblogged this on In Stefter's Humble Opinion and commented:
    Gina does such a fine review. Wish I could review a book like she does. So instead, I will post her review here.


  3. Elena says:

    Beautiful review Gina! I want to hug Zsadist now. I’m adding this one too to my to-read list. And I really like the cover, pretty sensual 😉 ( I have a thing for book covers) .
    Great job as always! Looking forward to your next review!


  4. rdmickey1989 says:

    UGH!! These weekly reviews are killing me. I promise this series is next on the list after I complete Cataclysm. They have been waiting for me for over a year.


  5. Z is my favorite Brother! I think his story was the most emotional for me to read. It really had a lot of depth to it. I love his relationship with Bella too! They are one my most favorite book couples! Great review!


  6. rdmickey1989 says:

    OK, I had to really search your history Tamie to find this. I have consumed this book in almost 24 hrs. YAHOO for vacation. That and I didn’t have internet when I was out of town. So I brought real books!!!

    The first one, ugh. The second one was better. This one, WOW. The pace of the series has gotten so much better and I am involved in the series now. I never really paid much attention to Zsadist in the first two, but this one grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Good thing I only did 6 loads of laundry today. 😉

    You start off feeling pity, yearning to ease his pain. By the end, you are happy, you are proud of him overcoming his obstacles he has endured all his life. All for the love of a woman.

    I still feel sorry for Phury, his twin, but I am sure his time will come.

    I am not sure what will happen to Butch, but I am sure there is a plan.

    I have started reading through the lesser parts since they are becoming more intricate to the story. The flipping back and forth has also gotten better. She has learned how to change scenes much better.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the needing period and sorry to see that only occur once a decade.

    A lot happened in this book. I am excited to see the pace pick up. It was what was so concerning in the first book. It took forever for the plot to get anywhere. The pace of this book, is exactly what I want.


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