Well, I did promise that the next post would be about Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series, didn’t I? And since I’ve been slacking off on posts — the understatement of the year, if ever there was an award for it – it’s more than time I make up for it, so here goes …
For a reader who’s been weaned on fairy tales, Arthurian legends and Greek myths in her childhood, and got hooked on paranormal/ urban fantasy stuff late in her adulthood, this series is a dream come true. I can’t think of another series that combines, urban fantasy, Greek mythology in the form of the Olympians, the Titans and the mystery of Pandora’s box, and melds it into the framework of a paranormal romance novel so successfully.
As series debut go, The Darkest Night was okay in execution. I do understand that the author is trying to build up enough of background and lay the foundation for the world of the Lords, but some parts were a little messy. I was drawn to the series by the concept sketched out in the synopsis on the back cover:
All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumoured to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she’ll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member — a man trapped in a hell of his own.
Neither can resist the instant hunger than calms their torments . . . and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction — and a soul-shattering test of love . . .
Characters wise, the edgy, tortured hero, Maddox, and his fellow possessed warrior friends, and Danika Ford, one of the secondary characters who will later play a major role, saved the series for me. Ashlyn was not a memorable heroine, and didn’t stand out until the second half of the book. Plot wise, the pace and development, and the introduction of the diabolical Titans made the book riveting. And I’m glad I bought into the series, because it got better.
The Darkest Kiss throws Anya, an immortal known to delight in causing chaos, in the path of Lucien, who’s possessed by Death and ordered by the Titan King to kill her. For the low-down on the plot, here’s a description on the back cover …
Though she has lived for centuries, Anya, goddess of anarchy, has never known pleasure. Until Lucien, the incarnation of death—a warrior eternally doomed to take souls to the hereafter. He draws her like no other. And Anya will risk anything to have him.
But when the merciless Lord of the Underworld is ordered by the gods to claim Anya herself, their uncontrollable attraction becomes an anguished pursuit. Now they must defeat the unconquerable forces that control them, before their thirst for one another demands a sacrifice of love beyond imagining.…
Characters wise, I heartily approve of this pairing of opposites. Anya’s irreverent insouciance and mischievous streaks, and sometimes spoiled-princess bitchiness, make her an engaging counterfoil to Lucien’s sombre, contemplative and strong-silent-male and sometimes joyless spoilsport attitude. It was such fun watching their back-and-forth tussle for domination and control in this relationship. The verbal battles were entertaining, and most of the times, downright funny. It also helped that Ms Showalter was more focused in the delivery of the story arc in this book. The plotting is tighter and the story development flows more fluidly, and naturally. Anya is possibly one of the few bitchy characters I like in romance land. After reading The Darkest Kiss, there was no question about me abandoning the series.
Oh, and wait, it got even better…
Next in the series is The Darkest Pleasure, and whoa, what a follow-up it is. Both central characters, Reyes, who is Pain incarnated, and Danika, who has the talent of clairvoyance, which she’s never known nor understood, didn’t exactly start off on the right foot in the series debut. Readers finally learn, in this book, why Cronus, the Titan King, ordered Aeron, keeper of Wrath, to kill Danika. We also learn more about the Lords’ mortal enemy, the Hunters who’s sworn to annihilate the warriors.
The back cover says …
Reyes is a man possessed. Bound by the demon of pain, he is forbidden to know pleasure. Yet he craves a mortal woman, Danika Ford, more than breath and will do anything to claim her—even defy the gods.
Danika is on the run. For months she’s eluded the Lords of the Underworld, immortal warriors who won’t rest until she and her family have been destroyed. But her dreams are haunted by Reyes, the warrior whose searing touch she can’t forget. Yet a future together could mean death to all they both hold dear.…
Characters wise, Reyes and Danika are both such conflicted people that their inner struggles to overcome their doubts and fears were what kept me glued to this book, apart from the evolution of the central plot, that of recovering the artefacts that would help them unearth the cursed Pandora’s Box. The race against time and their enemies, the Hunters, lend a certain thrill and suspense while more glimpses into the warriors, particularly Sabin and Paris, helped lend a certain mystery and excitement to what’s installed for the series.
Up until now, this was my favourite book in the series. But Ms Showalter upped the ante with the next instalment …
Without a doubt, The Darkest Whisper is the best in the series, and marks a crucial turning point in the Lords’ battle against the Hunters. Ms Showalter surpassed all my expectations of the story’s development. Matching the already anxious Gwendolyn with the control-freak Sabin could only result in some highly entertaining interactions.
Here is the back cover description:
He is the keeper of Doubt and his entire world’s about to be rocked.
Bound by the demon of doubt, Sabin unintentionally destroys even the most confident of lovers. So the immortal warrior spends his time on the battlefield instead of the bedroom, victory his only concern…until he meets Gwendolyn the Timid. One taste of the beautiful redhead, and he craves more.
Gwen, an immortal herself, always thought she’d fall for a kind human who wouldn’t rouse her darker side. But when Sabin frees her from prison, battling their enemies for the claim to Pandora’s box turns out to be nothing compared to the battle Sabin and Gwen will wage against love…
What I particularly like about this book is the self-discovery and transformation both hero/heroine underwent as the story unfolds. Towards the last part, after the startling discovery of Gwen’s birth, Sabin had to learn to come to terms with his inner turmoil and struggles, and respect Gwen’s wish to attempt a reconciliation with her father. Even if they eventually lost the ensuing battle with the Hunters, the gains – in love, trust, confidence, acceptance and understanding are immeasurably more cherished.
The war between good and evil is far from over, and the coming battles promise to be just as engrossing. I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series.
Here are the IMB ratings for these four gems:
The Darkest Night – 3.0
The Darkest Kiss – 4.0
The Darkest Pleasure – 4.0
The Darkest Whisper – 4.5