I’m giving this a 5 star solely because of the main characters, Zsadist in particular. That man er..vampire stayed with me through out the book I could NOT put the book down because of him. Oh Zsadist how I love you. <3 What a scene stealer. But the overall story, plot and pacing gets a lower rating. It was still a really enjoyable read. Very good don't get me wrong. I loved it but there were parts I thought could have been handled/written better. This is much darker then the previous books and deals with some dark heavy subjects so this is definitely not for the lighthearted.<br/>
From the very beginning of this series Zsadist stood out to me and intrigued me. Of course he's a very troubled hero with a tragic dark past so naturally I was drawn to him *slaps hand*. But this guy seriously makes all the other tormented tortured brooding heroes look like fuzzy cute bunnies. I mean good lord. Zsadist gives all the other tormented bad boys a run for their money. And I'm not exaggerating in the least. Zsadist from the very start was and is described as terrifying. And he is with how he presents himself and doesn't care for anyone or anything and his only mission is to help the brotherhood take down the lessers. And he does it full throttle and then some. He’s near suicidal. As an infant he was stolen from his family, turned into a servant and sold as a blood slave to a wealthy mistress who has a penchant for all things sexual and S&M. Naturally, I wanted to strangle the bitch for what she put him and probably other young males through. *shudders* The things he endures for over a hundred years as a blood slave is pretty intense and just so vile, it was painful reading through the flashbacks I wanted to rip my hair out and cry buckets with the things he endured. It's a wonder how he survived. He was physically and sexually abused and raped repeatedly and kept in chains for years to the point that he becomes numb to everything. He pretty much loses his soul because of it. He's very aggressive, is physically scarred with a big scar that runs down the middle of his face, has soulless black eyes, shaved head, slave band tattoos around his neck and wrists, has nipple piercings and an ear plug. And did I mention he can sing? He has the voice of an angel and can croon like no other. (be still my heart that talent of his intrigued me like nothing else) Yeah. Quite a visual. Which only made him more intriguing to me. :P He's a very unique hero that's for sure. That all being said, he's a pretty misunderstood character, I felt at times (several times) his own brothers had little faith in him and wouldn't give him the benefit of the doubt. They kept thinking the worst of him. It drove me up the wall considering these guys 'know' him the best you would think they could give him a chance. Bella was the first person to honestly see something in him, she saw past the 'terrifying soulless monster' persona the brothers and Zsadist himself played up. I really loved how she stood by him and was the only one to get through to him and vice versa. Zsadist is a real sweetheart. He would probably growl and raise a brow and say 'fuck off' at being called that. lol But he truly is, it was amazing seeing that buried, 'lost' part of him come out. *melts*
Zsadist's twin brother Phury, is the complete opposite of him. They are like day and night. Both in appearance and disposition but Phury carries the guilt of not being able to find his brother sooner and free him from the mistress. We see that guilt, worry and fear play a big role in this. I really loved seeing how their strained relationship managed to grow into something more. That scene in the hospital made me want to bawl it was so damn sweet and heartbreaking and beautiful. <3 Just..gah. Ward really knows how to capture the resilient connection and bond between twins. It was very beautiful to see. I was really happy and relieved to see Phury come through for his brother and Zsadist give it in return.<br/>
Now onto Bella, I loved her from her intro in the previous book. Girl surprised me with how bold and steadfast she was with her interest in Zsadist. Get it girl! :P I love how upfront and genuine she was about it, it clearly befuddled and terrified Zsadist. Naturally he wasn't used to being the pursued one, or pursued at all for that matter, and so aggressively I might add. Nice turning of tables. He had no clue what to do with the attention. :P I loved it and was really charmed with how they interacted. The only issue I had in regards to these two was I wish the story wasn’t dragged out the way it was with these two stopping and stalling and distancing themselves a length of time with no interaction or even reaction from Zsadist. That bugged me. I understood the intention behind all the angst and misery especially where Zsadist was concerned but it just came off disjointed. Plus I’m selfish and I wanted more time with just them together. This book was definitely about self-discovery and Zsadist finding his way ‘back’ and to be truly happy for once. It was really sweet to see that. Cause out of all the brothers, he truly deserved to experience and find happiness. Zsadist and Bella are just adorable and stinking cute. I’m so happy with the HEA Ward gave these two. :D Eeeee! *fangirling*
There were a lot of poignant powerful heartbreaking scenes between these two or where Zsadist learns/discovers something new to him that just sucked me in completely. This book touches on a lot of sensitive dark subjects and Ward handled it beautifully. I really loved how realistic it came off, especially in regards to Zsadist and how he reacts and handles certain things. Was so heartbreaking and gut wrenching to read about but really raw and believable. It's one of the reasons why I'm giving this a 5 star. Just...wow.
That all being said, I did have a few hang ups while reading this that I noticed is becoming a deja vu pattern in this series. I noticed in the last two but once again it popped up in here. First, I don’t know if it’s part of Ward’s writing style or because of editing or what but I’ve noticed how some things tend to be glossed over or not explained (that are significant in some way to the story) until later on in the story or if you’re lucky in the next book of the installment. What gives? I noticed it w/ Dark Lover the whole jar thing with the lessers. It was mentioned but NEVER explained what the jars were for or used for until the second book. That’s a pretty big piece of important info to leave out. There were many instances that I felt weren’t explained clearly or Ward would give an ambiguous clue that something has happened or something is important but nothing else. I don’t mind that, I think it works brilliantly in some cases to amp up the drama and keep up the suspense but other times it’s a total headscrather and leaves me confused going ‘what just HAPPENED?!’ ‘what does that mean?’. It's even more confusing when it's used in dialogue. Characters talking about something or panicking over something that seems monumental only for it to be left at that and not explained at all. It's a total WTF? moment. I also feel that way with some of the abbreviated words and lingo used. And no I’m not talking about the ‘yo brother’ dialogue. It’s the phrasings and some of the lingo the characters use make no sense to me unless it’s broken down. Yeah cause not everyone understands what the hell ERTY (I made that up) means and this is coming from someone from the 90’s generation. pfft. I just feel that some authors have to keep in mind who they are writing for no matter what genre, you need to break it down or else you’re gonna have folks like me scratching their heads like a moron going ‘what the hell does this mean?’.
Another example that comes to mind from this book would be when Zsadist and the boys rescue Bella. Well now if it wasn’t for Zsadist screaming at Havers to take the stitches out two scenes later I would have never guessed that her eyes were freaking SEWN. SHUT. Stitches? What stitches?? It was such a ‘woah! wait.....HUH?’ moment for me. I thought I misread or skipped a part and went back a few pages and reread passages. I’m a big stickler for descriptive detail, I’m pretty much a whore for it, I love authors who set up a scene and paint the picture for me down to a T, Ward does that but she also manages to pull some of that suspenseful ambiguous ‘what just happened??!’ shit in there as well. She definitely likes to hold things back. Again, works brilliantly in some cases, others...not so much. I admire her for doing that and can understand why she does all I’m saying is I wish she would pull back on some parts or at least give readers more hints or clues to what is happening or has happened and not have us find out 20 pages later. It kinda takes the edge off of it and makes things confusing and sometimes inconsistent. For me at least.
While I’m at it I will say the insert scenes of the lessers are just getting plain tiring and redundant. Please enough with the inserts on them! I could have done without Mr. X and Mr. O and their manic-depressive homicidal tendencies. I kept fighting the urge to skip the scenes whenever these two popped up. They are like cockroaches. Mr. X I got tired of since the first book, I was already over him but Mr. O.....good g-d. For an obsessive psychopath and badass ‘rebellious’ lesser I found him to be really obnoxious and just pathetic. Sure he was sick for a bad buy but all the whining and obsessing over Bella just got on my damn nerves. For villains these guys are really redundant and damn predictable. I get it, they are the bad guys, they are soulless and evil but does the book really need all that unnecessary hodge podge fillers of these lifeless idiots? I seriously could do without them. And it isn’t just because they are the bad guys, they just aren’t scary. They are pretty damn predictable and at this point come off like cartoons then actual terrifying characters. And that should say something considering the considerable damage Mr. O does in this one. He’s a twisted little shit and I wanted him to poof and go away half way through the book.
Aside from that, Zsadist and Bella made up for parts that I felt were lacking. Zsadist is a real stand-out character and same with Bella. They are my fav paring besides Wrath and Beth.
I swear I'll never look at a Granny Smith green apple the same way again. ;)