by J.R. Ward
Release Date: October 7, 2008
Book #6.5 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series
Number of Pages: 126
Ages 16 and up
CW: post-partum depression, violence,
sexual abuse (past), misogyny
Ever since the birth of his daughter, Nalla, Zsadist has been regressing further and further into the life he led before he met Bella, his beautiful shellan. He has been waking up in cold sweats due to nightmares from his past, hasn’t made love to his wife, and won’t hold his baby girl, for fear that he might hurt her. While Nalla’s presence had consisted of only joy and excitement in first couple months of her life, now it seems to be driving the couple apart. Bella is afraid that she and Nalla just may need to leave her hellren.
But then Zsadist gets injured on a mission to fight the lessers and because he hasn’t been feeding from Bella, almost loses his life. Could this near-death experience create the motivation to pull this couple back together? Or has the gap between them spanned too far for redemption?
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novella. I really enjoy this series, but the books are generally on the longer side and novellas can be hit or miss, even with authors I usually like. This story was amazing. Sweet, sad, touching, heartbreaking, and joyful.
Although the idea of mental health and talk therapy has come up quite a bit in this series, it hasn’t been as prominent as it probably should be with the lives these characters have led. Especially Zsadist. With the issues he has dealt with throughout his life, it’s no wonder his brother and Brothers don’t always push him when he shuts down. Even his hellren Bella holds back for the most part. It’s time for Zsadist to get a wake-up call and for those around him to speak plainly to him.
While this story touches on Bella’s postpartum depression, it’s not dealt with directly. It’s assumed her woes tie in more to Zsadist’s emotional withdrawal since their daughter Nalla was born. It could be said that Zsadist is dealing with his own sort of postpartum depression though.
The yearning Bella and Zsadist have for each other while also not knowing how to bridge the gap killed me. The author wrote this marriage in trouble so beautifully and with such care. I didn’t want to put it down because, although I knew there would be a HEA, I needed to see it for myself.
Until I read the next book in the series I won’t know if this book is necessary to read for the overall storyline. Most likely not. But if you have the opportunity to read this one I highly recommend you do. It is phenomenal.
This is an author a friend of mine reads but I have never picked up. This novella might be the one to finally try because you make it sound fantastic.
Honesty, I don’t know if you’d get as much enjoyment out of this novella as someone who has read the other books. This is a very sprawling paranormal/urban fantasy series. I think it could still be a good read, but not great.
Good to know!