Sunday, October 22, 2006
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
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…
I finished Lover Awakened in two sittings. It felt easy, flawless. Far beyond the learning curve of Dark Lover. Without the disjointedness of Lover Eternal. In Lover Awakened, Ward balances characters and storylines with ease, drawing readers deeper into the fold. Vesting us with emotional attachments and grudges of our own.
Well accustomed to the groove that is the Black Dagger Brotherhood, I enjoyed the banter and male bonding. Ward takes it to new heights in this one--letting readers experience more of the emotion that lies beneath the adolescent banter. Despite their cartoonish nature, it is not corny. It is not embarrassing. They were hilarious and poignant--at well-timed intervals.
Ward infuses the H/H with a deeper emotional bonding as well. As they were both victims of brutality, Ward's emotional telling of their story is right on. Zsadist and Bella do not battle overwhelming 'want' for each other. They battle 'need'. Ward depicts the difference beautifully, delivering astonishing intimacy the first time Bella feeds from Zsadist. Building the perfect construct--Bella's needing--to shatter the remains of Zsadist's sexual resistance. Affecting a physical change--not at all what you might expect--in Zsadist following Bella's needing. It goes on.
I also enjoyed the deepening of Phury's character. And of John. Also, the unexpected miracle of John's identity. Ward paced each development, introduced each twist without breaking the story's rhythm.
Which is not to say there were no jolts. Ward leaves us with loss and uncertainty. A reminder that she will take this series--already unique--exactly where she wishes. Somewhere outside the series lovers' comfort zone. I look forward to it.