Readers met and fell in love with Zsadist and Bella in J. R. Ward-s third New York Times bestselling novel in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Awakened. As a former blood slave, Zsadist bore the scars from a past filled with suffering and degradation until Bella came along and helped heal his emotional wounds. Now, though, with the birth of their child, the demons of his past have been resurrected, called forth by the innocent eyes of his beloved daughter, Nalla. Unless Bella and Nalla can bring him back with their love, he may be lost to them forever-.My Thoughts: Zsadist has always been my favorite Brother, so it's no surprise that this short story hit me hard. The thing is, there's a lot of happenings packed into this small package. While Bella has helped Z come to grips and begin to heal from his ordeal as a blood slave, the poor guy is still a mess. Nalla's birth brought all those feelings of unworthiness and fear roaring back. Seeing as his fear is that he won't be able to protect his baby girl and that she'll feel shame for having a scarred bastard like him for a father makes him so unbelievably heartbreaking.
I admire Bella. She took steps to protect her daughter even though it gutted her. She was willing to talk to Z and give him time but she needed to see progress to know that Nalla wasn't going to grow up feeling unloved.
One thing I think rang true to life is that Zsadist is still a big hunk of mess. He's mellowed, true, but what was done to him affected him on every level. For Bella he's willing to try things that he wouldn't have tried on his own - talking to Mary, talking to a doctor about his tattoos - but he's still wrecked. I like that things didn't magically fix themselves once he and Bella got together. As deep as his hurt is it wouldn't have been believable if he was suddenly trotting around all sunshine and puppies.
Z definitely has my heart as my favorite Brother and I was thrilled to get another glimpse into his life. Maybe I need to go back and read his book again now.
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: Dark Lover
Book 2: Lover Eternal
Book 3: Lover Awakened
Book 4: Lover Revealed
Book 5: Lover Unbound
Book 6: Lover Enshrined
More books by J.R. Ward
Reading challenges: The Paranormal Romance Challenge, The Vampire Challenge, The Morbid Romantica Challenge