Saturday, June 27, 2015

Book Review: Lover Awakened - J. R. Ward

WARNING: This is the third book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and it's the only one I've read. There may or may not be some minor spoilers in this review, as I don't know what is and isn't common knowledge for starting the series. 


From Goodreads:

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, or Z, is one of the six bothers in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. He was captured at a young age and used as a blood slave and sex slave for decades, and the scars left on him by the experience run deep, both physically and mentally. A cruel and ruthless vampire, he lives a life of constant anger, pain, humiliation, and a cold detachment from his fellow vampires, even his own Brothers. Getting off on the terror of others and constantly punishing himself because of how he is, he is trapped inside a life of hopeless darkness - until he meets and rescues Bella. Bella is a stunning aristocrat who was held captive by the vampires' sworn enemy, The Lessers. 
Once freed, they struggle to come to terms with their connection; Z, terrified of being near Bella, fights it every step of the way, while Bella is determined to crack down his walls and be let in. With a very rough road ahead of them, and danger and drama at every turn, the two must decide just how much damage can be repaired, and what is worth fighting for.

That is really all I can say about it without spoiling the story, but it has an interesting and engaging plot. Now, on to the review!

This book was...a bit ridiculous, but I truly enjoyed it. Definitely going on my "guiltiest of guilty pleasures" shelf, right next to my Crossfire and Night Huntress series. I devoured it, and will covertly be reading the others. 

I had several issues with this book, some of which were mild, others had me grinding my teeth in annoyance. 
First and foremost being holy fucking multiple points of views! There's at least 6 regular, alternating voices, and it got both confusing and frustrating trying to keep everyone straight. There's Zsadist, Bella, Phury (Z's twin), John, the main Lesser, and occasionally a bit from Butch and Bella's brother. The book is in third person, which made it even more tough to follow. I felt like I kept getting spoiled by bits, or wasting my time with unnecessary information. Don't get me wrong, I can see why Ward put more people in than just Z and Bella. Phury was an excellent addition, and I grew to really like John's view of the world. Everyone else, though? I could've happily done without them. Truth be told, I wound up skimming some of this novel.

All the strange names for people and things! I had to constantly refer to the glossary in the beginning of the book. 

The names of the Brothers. Maybe it's explained in the first two books, but why such odd spellings? Zsadist, Phury, Rhage, Vishous, Thorment.... I don't get it. 

The way the book panned out was a bit weird for me. The ending felt very, very rushed, and we didn't get to see much of Z and Bella actually being together. It was a fairly long book at around 440 pages, but it felt like there should've been more to it. We had all this angst and longing between the couple, and there wasn't much closure for me. 
On that note....while the ending was sweet, I didn't really see it as fitting for the couple. Maybe if we'd gotten to see them being together I would've been more satisfied, but given the way it was, it felt more just like Ward was trying to wrap everything up with a cute moment. 

There's a pretty big thing that happens towards the climax of the book, and while I understand that this story wasn't for that character, it felt totally unresolved. Even in the epilogue we don't get a mention, and I read the scene as being monumental to the Brotherhood. 

This line: "An 18-wheeler orgasm overtook him. As the top of his cock blew off..." I'm sorry, but all I pictured is someone getting smushed by a Mac truck, while dealing with a very bloody and very painful dick. 

Apart from that though, I really enjoyed this book. It says something that I could have so many issues with a novel and still devour it. And third person, no less! 

"You are clean."
"Oh, no, I'm not. I'm really not. I'm filthy.  I am so very dirty. I am dirty, dirty.... Can you see the dirt? I see it everywhere. It coats me. It seals me in. I can feel it on my skin -"

Zsadist. I love him. My heart broke for him at every page. Despite having so, so many issues, he didn't read like the typical self-loathing male. He truly believes that he is beyond repair, and he doesn't enjoy the feeling the way so many book men do. I teared up on more than one occasion reading what he felt, what he experienced, or how he thought about himself. He starves himself, washes himself raw, deprives himself of the most basic forms of comfort, and it broke me to read him. The scars left on him by his physical and sexual abuse run so deep, and he can't hide them. Can't fix them. 

"What are you saying, Zsadist?"
He glanced back down at the pencil in his hand and then turned to the table. Flipping the spiral notebook to a new page, he bent way over and labored on the top of the page for quite a while. Then he ripped the sheet free.
His hand was shaking as he held it out. "It's messy."
Bella took the paper. In a child's even block letters there were three words: 
I love you
"Maybe you can't read it," He said in a small voice. "I can do it over."

(this expert is what made me want to read the book)

Zsadist is illiterate. Of all the things, this one struck especially hard. Just imagine for a minute what it's like to not be able to read. Looking at this post and not comprehending a single thing I've written. It probably is a greater horror for us as passionate readers to imagine, but even if you weren't someone who took such joys in reading and writing, the effects of illiteracy are staggering. Not being able to read street signs, warnings, directions. Not being able to write your own name. It's a horrifying thought that there are people, adults, who can't read. It's not as uncommon as you may think. There's more than likely at least one person in your town who doesn't know the gift of words. It's simply appalling to even think of that.

I couldn't get a good read on Bella. I never really connected with her, so I had a difficult time seeing things through her eyes. 

The sex scenes were interesting between Z and Bella. We delve so deep into Z's issues that their trysts become more about how he is coping and thinking, rather than getting turned on by vampy sexy times, and I loved that. Z's sexual abuse has shaped him so much into what he is and how he processes, and the sex between them really did a good job of illustrating how far he could go and how much he was willing to try and repair himself, even when he wasn't actively acknowledging it. It was a clever way to show that Z was willing to try and heal for Bella, even as he so desperately fought it.

"You've got to understand that I die for you every day. Your pain is mine."

Something I found fascinating was the relationship between Zsadist and his twin brother, Phury. That bond they have...holy hell. It was so intense! Sometimes you read a book and two characters' chemistry just jumps off the page. Whether between lovers, friends, or siblings, it's an amazing thing to see. That's how it was with Z and Phury. The care Phury has for his brother, the torture he goes through at seeing him hurt, the way he will do anything in his power to help Z was so beautiful. And Z, for all his problems, cares just as deeply. The reconciliation scene...I cried. I enjoyed seeing the two of them interact more than anything else in the entire story.

It took me 100 pages or so to really get into the book, but after that I breezed through it. It was fast paced, engaging, and kept me wanting. When I wasn't reading it, I was itching to get back to it. That's the sign of a good book to me, despite the problems I had with it. I would recommend it, with a tissue warning.


Rating: 3.75 stars
Genre: Adult, paranormal romance
Length: 334 pages (paperback)
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 3
POV: 3rd person, multiple
Steam/sexual content: Steamy, explicit sex
Warnings: violence, graphic mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, graphic sex, drug use
Cliffhanger: For this couple, no
HEA: Yes
From my library 

- The Bibliophile Babe 

1 comment:

  1. Everybody raved about this series so I undertook to read it and didn't quite enjoy it as much as other bloggers expected me to, lol ! (I haven't finished it yet) I found it a bit too much, but Zsadist... I was quite wary of him at the beginning, but I truly loved him when I closed that book. Great review ;)