Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 3
Rating: 5 Stars
Length: 434 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
And Then There Was Zsadist
His past will make you weep. His face will make you cringe. His presence will make you tremble as his glare strokes icy tendrils of fear down your spine and shoves terror into your gut to clamp down and twist. He is one monstrous mountain of sadistic attitude and murderous instinct honed blade-sharp.
He is Zsadist. And it's his turn.
At this point I think it only fair to warn you that if you're looking for an objective review of Lover Awakened that is full of the typical (for me) sort of plot synopsis and qualitative insight into character, plot, and story...well...not this time, I'm afraid. When it comes to Z and Bella's story, "objective" flies out the window and all that's left is a sore but full heart, a sick but hopeful clench in the gut, and a lot of soggy tissues. Oh, yeah, and some awe. A lot of awe, actually.
I'm a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and I loved the book that kicked it all off, Dark Lover, but when we're talking about the book that includes the story of Zsadist and his relationship with Bella, we're talking a whole other level of fandom. One that is rabid, devout, and unwavering. It is my favorite book in the series, it is centered around my favorite Brother, and it features my favorite female of worth in that world. And that's understating my feelings.
The combination of Z's brutal past, his vicious present, and his complete and utter helplessness against Bella's tender pursuits just flat-out touched me in a way that has stuck with me in the five years since I first read it. The reminder on this reread was a little breathtaking. The path these two must walk, the trials and tribulations they go through, are poignant and crushing and god...so devastating. And the attention to detail given to Z in particular, as well as the reactions of everyone around him towards him, were a little astounding in their realism and believability. I was and am forever in awe of Ward for that reason alone.
And just between you and me, the first time I read Z referring to his genitalia as "it"...and the moment he looked up at Bella from his cowering spot in a frigid shower after rubbing his skin raw and bloody because he thought he was unclean...broke my heart all those years ago, and it did it again just as intensely this time around. He was so raw, so primal, so unflinchingly deadly...and yet so lost and helpless - I'm still astounded at how completely believable he was despite...or maybe because of...that dichotomy.
I loved him. I loved him like any avid reader loves a deeply complex, utterly ruined character who finds his own twisted path to redemption, slogging through a quagmire of misery, loss, and torment to grasp for a triumph as he defines it. And frankly, I thought it was brilliant that while Bella was definitely the motivation and the core of Z's changes, she didn't have a direct hand in many of those changes. Z did that himself. And that I respected and admired. Loved Bella, too, by the way, as she was definitely the absolutely perfect match for Z and also an interesting character with tons of internal strength in her own right.
Yeah, yeah, there were other characters (lots of them) and other plot lines (tons, really) and a bunch of really gut-wrenching developments (Ward is not easy on her characters, but damn, that female can write). Don't care. In this case, and only in this case, it is all about Z for me...okay, and a little about Z and Bella together.
When making plans to reread what I'd read so far in the series before continuing the saga with Lover Mine, I knew that I was going to have to pause for a break after reading Z's story again. I remember feeling shaken after the first time I read it, and being glad that I had a few months before Butch's book came out. I hadn't really expected to feel just as, if not a bit more shaken by it this time around. I'm not going to wait months to continue with the next book, but I am going to take a short break, just to let things settle a bit in my mind and prepare myself for the rest.
I'd say it's sort of like...a respectful pause to honor the accomplishments of Z and Bella...but that would sound a bit too far down the tracks to Crazy Town so I won't. Even if I think it once or twice.