Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Review - Lover Awakened by JR Ward

Blurb from JR Ward's Web site:

"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…"

~~*~~ Spoilers Ahoy! ~~*~~

I don't even know where to begin. Helena has her Rhage, but, for me, Zsadist encapsulates everything I want a hero to be. He is dark, dangerous, menacing, and for all intents and purposes, more threatening than the villains he fights. As his brother Phury says (and I'm going to paraphrase because I can't find the exact passage), "Zsadist isn't broken, he's ruined. Do you understand the difference? When something's broken, there's a chance it can be fixed. Ruined? You just wait to buy a pine box." Chilling, huh?

But Phury is wrong. Even someone as damaged and, ok, as ruined as Zsadist is not beyond saving. He can be healed, but it takes a very special woman, a woman who's faced a hell reminiscent of the one Zsadist himself was caught within. In saving Bella, Zsadist is able to save himself. But I'm getting all kinds of ahead of myself. Maybe I should start at the beginning.

Zsadist is the most terrifying member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Not because he is larger or stronger than all the rest. Not because he's cursed with an inner beast waiting to lash out (coughcoughRhagecough). Not even because he is skilled with weaponry or a great intellect. Zsadist is none of these things. He's terrifying because he has no limits. He's not afraid of pain. He's not afraid of death. Apart from the Lessers, Zsadist is about as soulless as they come. His anger is hard-earned, learned over a century of torture as a blood and sex slave. Zsadist has been used and violated in every way possible until he has nothing left to give, or so he thought.

When Bella enters his life, he's no kinder to her than to anyone else. But when she's kidnapped by the Lessers, Zsadist is consumed by his desire to see her safely returned. Her imprisonment symbolizes his own. He feels her abuse, her fear, her hatred for her captors, and he makes that his driving force. But getting Bella back is only half the battle. As Zsadist knows too well, simply freeing a person from imprisonment is not a cure-all. Emotional wounds take far longer to heal than physical wounds, and Zsadist has never been too big on emotions.

Zsadist has to fight his own demons in order to help Bella overcome hers. But don't think Bella's some kind of shrinking violet! Bella knows what, and who, she wants. She's a survivor, a fighter, and ballsy enough to take on Zsadist at his worst.

And that's why I love this story so much.

Lover Awakened is not a flowery tale of a strapping, square-jawed hero and his wilting damsel in distress. It's the tale of a physically and mentally scarred man vampire who's all but given up when a gutsy, equally scarred beauty shows up and proves herself his equal. And that, my friends, is what love is all about.

Only JR Ward can turn a character like Zsadist into a hero. When it comes to paranormal romance, this book is my hands down favorite.

Rating: 5/5



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