Someone introduced me to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward and I will be eternally greatful. The first two installments, Dark Lover and Lover Eternal, were fantastic books, and Lover Awakened, the third in the series, is just as good if not better than its predecessors Ward has created a universe of compelling characters that exist in a unique and vivid mythology, and her storylines just plain knock your socks off. They are are utterly absorbing with plenty of romance and super-hot sex, as well as danger and adventure. Those familiar with the series know that each of the first books centered on a member of the Brotherhood finding their mate and Lover Awakened is no different. This time, however, she fleshes out the Brotherhood’s most torutured (literally and figuratively) member, Zsadist. He is pretty much “damaged goods” after years of abuse and slavery, but one woman, the vampire noblewoman Bella, sees something in him that no one else does, not even himself, and she rises to the occasion, her actions galvanized after her own injury at the hands of a madman. Ward captures a spectacular depth of emotion with these characters and the result is stunning. Be warned, though, there are a few suprises along the way.