Book Review: Lover Awakened by J. R. Ward

The third book in the “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series follows the story of Bella and Zsadist.
We’ve seen Zsadist in the two previous books, and Bella in “Lover Eternal”, but they had minor roles in the story. In this story, we get to see more of Zsadist’s trauma and the kind of life he’s gone through that resulted in how he is at the beginning of the story.
This book is easy one of my favourite in the series. The pair has to learn and grow and change through progress of the story, both of them have to overcome abuse in many levels, and face the prejudice that society throws their way. For Bella, that is her status as a female from a good family that has slept around, and for Zsadist is his scarred visage that marks him as a monster in the eyes of many people.
It is a story that contains strong language, sexual abuse and its aftermath. That makes it for a very emotional ride for the reader.

Zsadist is one of those ‘tortured hero’ kind of characters. His own twin calls him ruined and warns Bella to stay away from him.
And rightfully so.
Zsadist has been through so much since the day he was born, is so broken that it takes the whole length of the story for him to get himself back together piece by piece. Trauma doesn’t just go away overnight, and that’s highlighted in the book. The whole topic of Zsadist’s backstory, his growth, and his eventual redemption and salvation are earned and fought for, even when Zsadist himself is resisting it every step of the way.
A shell of the male he could be, Zsadist has every right to be afraid of contact, both physical and emotional, but by the end of the story, he has grown into a protective and caring male, especially when it comes to his shellan.
Also, Zsadist has a loyalty in him that most people don’t expect, or even believe. He’s loyal to Wrath as his king, to his Brothers, his twin, his shellan.

Bella is a perfect counterpart for Zsadist. A strong, intelligent woman, who isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind and shake him up whenever he needs to be so.
She is also a survivor herself, and she has to overcome her own trauma.
She possesses great courage and she’s a very good example of a female character who isn’t a warrior and yet she can be strong and protective of her male.
And yet, she’s a rounded character. Through the story, she gets frustrated and angry, and she knows to walk away when she needs to walk away for her own sake.

It’s hard to talk about Zsadist without bring up his twin, Phury. Zsadist’s twin has spent the majority of his life either looking for, protecting, or taking care of Zsadist. He carries a lot of guilt over what happened to Zsadist, what he had to go through, always thinking that things would have been better if he had been the one to endure these things.
His guilt shows in the story, as he goes out of his way to do everything his twin needs him to do, even if those are things that break him inside. He’s even willing to sacrifice himself, if that will give Zsadist a well-deserved shot at happiness.

We see more of the reappearing characters, in bigger or smaller roles, and I’m a fan of that, as I get the feeling that I learn more and more about the world and its people.
This is, for me, one of the best – if not the best – books in the series, and Zsadist remains one of my favourite characters even in later books, with other things that happen to his character (no spoilers).

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it inΒ Book Depository.

Dark Lover | Lover Eternal | Lover Awakened |