July 14, 2011

Review: Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #3
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 5, 2006
Source: Library
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Purchase: Amazon
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.

Zsadist is the most menacing, uncouth and tormented member of the Brotherhood. He was abducted by his nursemaid when he was still a baby and was sold to slavery later on. He became a blood/sex slave after his transition to a very cruel Mistress until his twin, Phury, rescued him after searching for him for a century. But Phury was too late, Zsadist is too far gone and the only thing he knows is pain, rejection and cruelty. But maybe his salvation lies with Bella.

Bella is part of the glymera, the aristocracy of the Vampire race. She was abducted from her house by the lesser Mr. O who became obssessed with her and started referring to her as his wife. But even in confinement, Bella have fantasies about Zsadist, there is something about him that she can't shake. She saw past his disfigurement, his slave tattoos and aloofness. There is something about his cold stare that stirs a longing inside of her despite the rumors and his reputation.

This story is about abuse. It's well researched and we're given a a victim's story and what one goes through after sexual or physical abuse. When the book was telling the back story of Zsadist I felt my heart go out to his character. When we talk about sexual abuse it's always the female who is the victim but to flip it and make the victim a man and juxtapose it with someone who is physically strong and guarded is just pure genius. In this part of the series, Ward touches on relative social issues in her novel, drugs, family issues, adoption and abuse to name a few but she does it in perfect harmony with the story.

There is also an intriguing twist, the twins, Zsadist and Phury, both like Bella and although this is your typical soap opera love triangle it wasn't written as such. It didn't have a lot of mush in it but there is tremendous drama. You will understand why Zsadist is practically throwing Bella on Phury's lap which stems from his insecurities and mental scars. But at the same time you'll be rooting for Zsadist because you understand his pain and there are a lot of moments in the book that made his character beautiful despite his description that of being disfigured scarred, lethal and dark.

How JR Ward tells the story of her characters is not sugar-coated. It's very real, the happy ending doesn't ecplise the pain, sorrow and loss that are also present. The way she paced the events of the story is not rushed, it's logical and explained but not in an extensive and boring manner.

As for the Lessening Society, the Brotherhood's arch nemesis, they are a little bit all over the place in this book. Mr. X just disappeared and his replacements are just not as enthralling. It was just mentioned in passing as if their story was just a minor inconvenience in restrospect so Ward decided to do some extensive editing focusing more on Mr. O and his obssession with Bella.

There are a couple of funny scenes, like when Bella went through her needing (think animals in heat) and how the males responded to her mating call. And Butch (whom I imagine as Mark Wahlberg), who is the only human "member" of the Brotherhood, has comedic timing due to his awkward position and newness in the vampire world and how he has yet to find his place in the big picture.

There is a reading order and I've skipped book two but I didn't find that to be a nuisance. There are references to what might have happened in Lover Eternal, but not too much that you'll feel completely lost. Reiterating what I mentioned in Dark Lover, the series does appeal to your grey matter. It's a good break from all those steamy novels I've been reading lately but not to the point that my craving for a good romance story will be compromised.


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