Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Lover Awakened by JR Ward

Dear Ms. Ward:

Lover AwakenedYou hardly need another letter from one more fan about how much she loved your book, but what the hell.

This story is about Zsadist and Bella. Zsadist was stolen from his family as a babe and was sold as a slave. He came to be the sexual slave of a terrible woman who used him for a century in unnatural and abusive acts to the point that Zsadist was famously referred to as “ruined, not broken.” Bella is an aristocrat vampire who has been taken by a lesser who falls in love with her. Bella learns, over the course of her captivity where she is kept in a hole (it reminded me of how the guy kept the women in pits in Silence of the Lambs) that she can exert some type of control upon the
lesser by being emotionally cruel. Bella feels herself dying as she becomes a person she despises.

Zsadist was touched by Bella and seeks to find her even though most of the vampire world believe her to be dead. Even Zsadist acknowledges that she must be dead but somehow he is driven to find her. A series of events leads to Bella’s release and sets into motion Zsadist’s thirst for revhenge (as you spell it).

As Bella is recovering, she feels safe only around Zsadist but Zsadist believes himself to be ruined, emotionally and physically. He drank the blood of his tormentor and believes himself to be corrupted and dirty both inside and out. There are some tragic scenes portraying Zsadist emotional state. I would think that the power of these scenes would be difficult for someone to read if they had suffered similar torments as a child.

Complicating the situation is that Phury also feels drawn to Bella, the first woman in centuries to stir him from his vow of celibacy. Phury’s desire for Bella wars with his desire to see his brother Zsadist happy. While I wanted Bella and Zsadist to achieve their HEA, I ached for Phury. It is amazing how you have made me feel for each character in turn.

Bella was stronger than Mary and more interesting. She suffered a great deal at the hands of the lesser; yet she was able to recover and not only recover but be brave to try to love Zsadist, to try to bring healing to him. She was obviously the stronger of the two. She tooks chances to achieve happiness even knowing that to love Zsadist may be a lost cause.

Perhaps some of the most touching scenes were between Phury and Zsadist and the reclamation of their relationship. Those were the scenes that brought tears to my eyes. (I am beginning to see the appeal of the man/man love because I thought the Hoyt/Cian relationship in Nora Robert’s Morrigan’s Cross was compelling too). Lover Awakened is quite long but as I was reading it, I kept thinking “oh, how wonderful that there is more to this story” rather than “will I ever get to the end.”

There is much that goes on in this story and new characters are introduced but I was never once overwhelmed. The names are still ridiculous. There was a character construct that I thought wasn’t well explained. The story still has very homoerotic overtones. 3 naked men in a bed? Men won’t even sit next to each other in a movie theater let alone lay next to each other. IN BED. NAKED. But anyway, I am really becoming emotionally invested in this series and with all the characters. I can hardly wait for the next one to come out. In the meantime, I’ll console myself with re-reading the first three. This one is a keeper. A-.

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. jmc
    Sep 07, 2006 @ 18:45:43

    You know, I really liked Lover Awakened a lot, it was a B+ book for me, and it hovered on the verge of A-. It’s a keeper, regardless of the grade. The two things that bothered me were: how ruined Z was, and the 3 guys waking up in bed together.

    The Z problem was the same problem I had with the tattoo’d hero of Bonnie Dee’s ebook (the title escapes me right now, but he was the escapee from the circus/freak show). If someone is that damaged, can love alone save her/him? Or will s/he need heavy duty therapy with a professional? I could suspend my disbelief, but in the back of my mind a little voice is whispering that Bella & Z may both need a little bit of counseling.

    And the three guys waking up in bed together? Um, I need some explanation. Even the least homophobic of my guy friends would NEVER sleep nekkid with other guys, even their best friends. Especially their best friends. And that hint about Vishous being up for all kinds of kink? Cruel, because I’m now dying of curiosity and want more information.

    ReplyReply

  2. Devon
    Sep 07, 2006 @ 19:27:04

    So everybody loved this one, huh? I’m really starting to think that Ward is throwing in all this homoerotic stuff for a reason. Some kind of inside joke. Maybe she just really likes the HoYay (tm Television Without Pity)! I know I do. It makes me grin and giggle at the thought of all these tough guys in bed together. But it can no longer be passed off as unintentional.

    I, too, loved it. The only thing that bugs is some of the slang–”beat feet”, “messie me” etc. And certain annoying phrases pop up to often.

    ReplyReply

  3. Robin
    Sep 07, 2006 @ 19:43:17

    The Z problem was the same problem I had with the tattoo’d hero of Bonnie Dee’s ebook (the title escapes me right now, but he was the escapee from the circus/freak show). If someone is that damaged, can love alone save her/him? Or will s/he need heavy duty therapy with a professional? I could suspend my disbelief, but in the back of my mind a little voice is whispering that Bella & Z may both need a little bit of counseling.

    I just got this one in the mail yesterday, so I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I think what tends to make this scenario problematic for me is often the time factor. IF i accept that love alone can change/save someone, I generally don’t believe it can happen in like a weekend. But in Romancelandia, that’s often all it seems to take.

    I was very disappointed in the last book in this series and am wary of this one (and yet still anxious to read it). I am hopeful because Bella seems like a much stronger female character who will demand more than to sit quiety, entertaining herself alone for many hours in the bedroom of her mate. But I am also concerned that Z is either going to a) turn out to be a fake rake, so to speak, or b) so damaged I cannot buy his romantic redemption as it’s portrayed. It probably doesen’t matter, since I will likely continue through the whole series either way, but I really want to like this one.

    ReplyReply

  4. Jane
    Sep 07, 2006 @ 19:52:20

    I think the reason I bought Z’s redemption was two fold: a) it wasn’t immediate and b) it was mostly sexual. I thought, while convenient plot device, the needing period served to resolve many of those feelings of worthlessness within the sexual arena.

    However, I know exactly what you mean, JMC, because I stopped reading Mary Jo Putney’s books after The Spiral Path because I felt that the healing of the damaged hero through writing in a stupid journal was a fake a healing as there could be.

    Maybe what helps elevate Ward’s book is that with the names, the homoerotic overtones, the leathers, the whatever – it is so over the top that all these other things (ie the quick emotional healing) is okay. Another commenter stated on Tara Marie’s site that it is amazing what we readers let Ward get away with, but its true. We do. She’s got some dangerous mojo in that pen of hers.

    ReplyReply

  5. Rosie
    Sep 07, 2006 @ 20:06:00

    I appreciate the reviews, the comments, after all I spend a significant amount of time reading book reviews. But sometimes I don’t want to pick apart why I liked something or feel around for what didn’t make sense or didn’t really work in the story. Sometimes all I want to do is say, “Hey, I really liked this book!”

    ReplyReply

  6. joan
    Sep 07, 2006 @ 23:07:39

    I love Jr Ward!!! I disagree with Robin. Sorry, Love can save anybody. I should know I seen it happen in really life. It is different for every one. Z is real character to me. He reach to my heart and I understand him. There is a lot different ways to heal. Her books makes me laugh, cry, and down to earth. She is not a FAKE!!! She write like people talk in certain areas. I just love her !!!! Her book is +A

    ReplyReply

  7. Kat
    Sep 08, 2006 @ 02:15:03

    I actually found the three guys in bed hilarious. The kissing – no, biting – thing in the other scene threw me a little, though. As for the names, just the first page of the Glossary made me groan. “Cohntehst”?! Honestly. But you know, JRW is fun and she clearly loves her characters so I just kind of shut my eyes and pretended the extra letters weren’t there. Finally, I wish the book had been longer because I didn’t think the ending did Z or Bella justice even though I know many, many readers just loved it. To me, it was a little too much too fast. I agree with jmc that although I don’t find this book perfect, it’s staying on my keeper shelf. (Especially after all the trouble I went to, to get it on release day!)

    ReplyReply

  8. Tara Marie
    Sep 08, 2006 @ 08:17:38

    Perhaps some of the most touching scenes were between Phury and Zsadist and the reclamation of their relationship. Those were the scenes that brought tears to my eyes. (I am beginning to see the appeal of the man/man love because I thought the Hoyt/Cian relationship in Nora Robert’s Morrigan’s Cross was compelling too).

    This is one of the most compelling parts of the story. And, it’s probably one of the reasons I bought into the healing part of love, because it wasn’t just Bella’s love that heals him but Phury’s too. I didn’t really see it as man/man love thing, more a brother and family bond that can’t be broken, which I just love, it’s the same thing Nora Roberts pulled off in her Quinn series.

    Another commenter stated on Tara Marie’s site that it is amazing what we readers let Ward get away with, but its true.

    Pleeeezzee, the cliches and hokeyness (is that a word?) wouldn’t be tolerated from any other author, but for some reason the story itself is so compelling you can’t put the books down. Add to that all the unresolved storylines and we really should be too annoyed for words, yet we wait, none too patiently for the next installment.

    ReplyReply

  9. Karen Scott
    Sep 08, 2006 @ 08:24:03

    Ahhh, you gave in to the pressure! Dammit, this means I’ll definitely have to get it too, but like you, I’ll be starting with this one. I don’t mind reading out of order at all!

    ReplyReply

  10. Kat
    Sep 08, 2006 @ 08:40:34

    Karen (and for those who are starting the series with this book), if you end up liking it…I actually loved the dynamic between Z and Bella in Lover Eternal more. However, I won’t recommend you start with that book because I think Lover Awakened is really the most emotionally compelling.

    ReplyReply

  11. Valeen
    Sep 08, 2006 @ 13:35:42

    Not going to repeat everything everyone else has already said, LOL, but I really enjoyed this book. Definitely a Keeper. And the best of the series so far. Its going to take one hell of a book to beat Z.

    Men won’t even sit next to each other in a movie theater let alone lay next to each other.

    Exactly!!

    From the beginning, since Butch became one of them, I always found the connection and the comments between him and Vishous to be off. Ward makes them just a bit too close.

    ReplyReply

  12. Avaron Dale
    Sep 09, 2006 @ 15:41:59

    I have decided that I’m the only person in the blogsphere who didn’t like this book. It was like reading a vampire Mary Sue, without any real redeeming pull anywhere. I gave it up about a third of the way through… no I just need to find someone who wants it.

    ReplyReply

  13. Jade
    Sep 11, 2006 @ 12:54:16

    Loved the book. As to the homoerotic atmosphere, wasn’t that the scene that they were all drugged up anyway? LOL Okay hope I didn’t give away much. If memory serves me correctly (and I say this with a big IF), didn’t Butch or one of the others wake up, shocked at having fallen asleep together? LOL. Eitherway I have no problem with it. Just wanted to see if anyone could refresh my memory.

    Regardless, very well written, detailed and emotional book.

    PS: I want to be JR Ward when I grow up. And Yes i have HUGE shoes to fill. :-)

    Jade

    ReplyReply

  14. Jane
    Sep 11, 2006 @ 20:47:47

    Jade, you are correct in your recollection. I don’t have a problem with the scene as written, but it seems clear (whether its intentional may be another question) that these “brothers” are quiteclose.

    ReplyReply

  15. Holly
    Sep 11, 2006 @ 21:18:54

    Am I the only person in the known universe who didn’t like this book? Cripes.

    ReplyReply

  16. kasey
    Jan 01, 2007 @ 21:04:07

    This is the first book I’ve read from Ward, and it reminds me A LOT of Laurell K Hamilton. You have to be ready to “buy in” to this world immediately because the storyline is a stretch in so many ways. However, I still find myself addicted to the characters and the poignancy of the love story between the brothers as well as Z and Bella. I find myself wanting more and looking forward to the other two books.

    About the homorerotica (because it seems to be on everyone’s mind), I find it intriguing. I don’t think that I’m the only female that finds the ‘idea’ of the men being naked around each other titillating. I think it’s very deliberate, and it’s a common occurrence in vampire novels. Again, check Laurell K. and Anne Rice. For some reason, the vampire realm seems to have been stamped with the “okay” sign for homosexuality. I’m curious to see if it bothered the other readers, or intrigued them as it did me. I think in a realm of a vampire brotherhood that listens to rap, drives Escalades and has drug dealers, males hanging out in the nude just doesn’t seem strange. And yes, I must find out more about Vishous and his kinkiness. Don’t you want to know?!

    So, anyway, whatever Ward does right or wrong, I’m in love with Zsadist and Bella. Must read, even if the slang used throughout is cheesy.

    ReplyReply

  17. odette
    Apr 19, 2007 @ 16:24:18

    I love each and everone of these guys,the closeness show between some of the brothers is just family love in a different seting.It like looking out someone else window and see the world in a new,bright,fresh eyes.
    There is just something about having a hard week and come home to reading about z and bella,V and butch and all the other guys.I cry and smile,
    and some times get horny from reading about these charaters.They bring out so much emotion in me and hope and dreams,make me feel like a child again,in a place where anything is possible.
    This is my pleasure and i can’t wait for the next book,i sit up the all night and read them off because i just can’t put them down untill i know what happen to everyone.

    ReplyReply

  18. The Good, The Bad and The Unread » Lover Awakened… reviews
    Apr 21, 2007 @ 10:33:04

    [...] Jane takes on Lover Awakened [...]

  19. Jackie
    May 16, 2007 @ 20:05:47

    I loved all the books, I can’t wait for the book about Vishous. He is so sad and emotionally cut off, I think he had to practice with his connetions and emotions to another person on Butch. I don’t see them in a homosexual light I see them as very close like siblings and even as mother and child. Their relationship is physical, raw, and based on love and respect. Butch can relate to Vishous in a way only family understands. I think it is beautiful. I think all the brothers live and die for each other. I read and re-read all the parts that make me feel good, happy, sad, lonley, excited, ever a little horny. I will read as many as are written.

    ReplyReply

  20. Jackie
    May 16, 2007 @ 20:07:39

    I loved all the books, I can’t wait for the book about Vishous. He is so sad and emotionally cut off, I think he had to practice with his connetions and emotions to another person on Butch. I don’t see them in a homosexual light I see them as very close like siblings and even as mother and child. Their relationship is physical, raw, and based on love and respect. Butch can relate to Vishous in a way only family understands. I think it is beautiful. I think all the brothers live and die for each other. I read and re-read all the parts that make me feel good, happy, sad, lonley, excited, even a little horny. I will read as many as are written.

    ReplyReply

  21. Anji
    Oct 17, 2007 @ 13:59:12

    FYI, Fictionwise is offering a 50% Micropay rebate on Lover Awakened this week.

    ReplyReply

  22. kasey
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 20:49:07

    Okay, so am I the only one that’s read the new Vishous book “Lover Unbound”? Maybe you all dropped the series because you read it and realized the homoeroticism WAS exactly that-homo tendencies in two of our favorite characters. No denying it after this book.
    I still loved it. Ward isn’t Shakespeare, but her stories are compelling, emotional, and HOT. Just what I need when the real world is just a little too serious.

    ReplyReply

  23. Kathy
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 14:14:06

    This was my favorite of the five books in the series. It was certainly the most emotionally engaging, followed by Lover Eternal. I found the healing of Zsadist credible. It didn’t happen overnight, and the catalist was more than “the love of a good woman”; namely his improving relationship with his brother and the need to help Bella through the “needing”. I would expect him to have lingering emotional issues – which isn’t carried through in the next book Lover Unbound but that’s another issue. I found Bella to be my favorite heroine of the series. She is strong and works through her issues to find her way a meaningful place in her world.

    On the topic of the closeness of the brothers, I’d like to throw something out there to think about. In the world built in these books, these guys are warriors dealing with life and death and constant violence on a regular basis, which creates a dynamic that cannot be compared to the civilian world in which most of us live. A better comparision may be Special Forces military – and their relationships are forged in battle, quite unlike those in the civilized world. I think that their relationships with each other should be more edgy given what they share in their “professions”. They contend with constant violence – and while it doesn’t fit in the context of civilized behavior, sex is an outlet for those emotions. That environment may create some interesting relationships – and while it’s only hinted at sometimes it would be an interesting string to have in these stories since it could be explored further as each story developes, each main character finds his “mate”, etc. Taking the male-male relationships out of the context of sexual attraction to that of emotional (good and bad) release is interesting – and while it could be a bit uncomfortable, it is credible. Anyway, that’s my two cents on the topic. I’d rather be a bit uncomfortable than placated.

    ReplyReply

  24. Alexis
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 11:38:35

    I’m sorry, but this book just wasn’t enough for me. I loved reading it with a passion, I neglected house duties and homework alike I was so enthralled in Zsadist in Bella, but the romance and everything everything else involving the two just seemed too…short. There just wasn’t enough substance in the story for me to have any closure at finishing the book. I would like a sequel (yes a WHOLE sequel), but eh.

    ReplyReply

  25. Alexis
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 11:43:10

    *Ahem*
    I meant to Zsadist AND Bella. ‘Scuse the raunchy typo :)

    ReplyReply

  26. athena
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 10:20:03

    It’s very rare for me to cry over a book/love story but this one got me tearing up over and over again. The line that i cried the most and still made me teary whenever i read it is this:

    “You are the male I might have been. You are the potential I had and lost. You are the honor and the
    strength and the kindness she needs. You’ll take care of her. I want you to take care of her.” Zsadist
    dropped his hand. “It will be a good mating for her. With you as her hellren , she can hold her head up
    high. She can be proud to be seen with you at her side. She’ll be socially invincible. The glymera won’t be
    able to touch her.”

    brings tears to my eyes, everytime. I’ve finished all the books, my favourite brother, is Z. I love him more than i do Rhage.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply


8 + = 14

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: