Opening Line: "Goddamn it, Zsadist! Don't jump--"
This is an amazing book and my favourite in the series. LOVER AWAKENED tells the agonizingly painful story of Zsadist, a former blood slave and most feared member of the Blackdagger Brotherhood. After Zsadist rescues the beautiful, aristocrat Bella from the Lessoning Society's torture facility she refuses to leave This side (or bed.) Craving the strength and security she now finds only with him. And it's with her growing love and patience that this reluctant hero ultimately `awakens'. It's a bumpy ride for our pair and this relationship will leave you in tears, both of joy and sadness as we witness Z's transformation from the 'cold one' into a male of worth. A multilayered novel L.A of course has several stories and POV's running simultaneously and the action never stops. Full of suspense, erotic and ultimately heartbreaking.
Introduced briefly in the past two books, we now get to find out what made Zsadist the way he is. A confirmed sociopath who avoids all relationships, Z is scarred, pierced, tattooed, violent and illiterate. He's the most feared Brother and distrusted by all because of his intimidating and just downright mean nature. He enjoys pain yet can't bare any kind of physical contact due to the years of physical and sexual abuse he suffered during his time as a blood slave. Zsadist makes for an unlikely romantic hero but JR brilliantly gains your sympathy and you will grow to love this misunderstood and abused character.
Phury as Zsadist's twin plays a major role here, and through a series of flashbacks we learn the details of Z's enslavement and Phury's daring rescue of him. It's a striking scene resulting in the loss of his leg and Z's brutal scarring. Phury has spent his life consumed with fixing his twin and is riddled with guilt, sacrificing time and again and it's starting to take a toll. Now exhausted, he's playing a deadly game with the `red smoke' and despite his vow of celibacy can't help being attracted to Bella.
We also get to know Rehvenge the Sympath club owner of Zerosum and John Mathew's story starts to unfold as he begins his training and accepts the love of a family. Of course all the Brothers get some attention so we get shots of Wrath, Rhage, Vishous, Butch and their respective `Shellans.' Some of my favourite scenes involve the Brothers just going about their daily business, little interludes in the kitchen, or hanging out playing pool and teasing each other. Unfortunately the Lessers continue their torment making things personal now as their leader Mr. O attempts to reclaim Bella and a shocking loss occurs within the Brotherhood family that will be felt throughout the rest of this series.
Z and Bella's love story takes center stage throughout though and is utterly fascinating. From the moment of rescue Zsadist won't let anyone else near Bella. And despite being frightened of him she wants him. To Bella he is perfect and she slowly begins to seduce him. Z is subsequently terrified, feeling dirty and hating his body's response to her. When the two finally kiss however...sigh. Ultimately Z's feelings of unworthiness force him to push her away. Into the arms of a male of worth, those of his twin brother. When Bella goes into her 'needing' though which twin will ease her suffering? The celibate one or the one who can't bear to be touched?
The climax of this book is simply unput-downable. With a suicide mission forcing one twin to sacrifice everything for the life of the other and a HEA that brings tears to your eyes as we get a rare glimpse of the future. Each book in this series just gets better and better but JR has outdone herself here. I would give this more *s if I could and can't recommend it enough.
Here's how I see Z: