I had been seeing Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series for a while, before I finally caved and bought the first book, The Darkest Night.
The premise of this series is pretty cool, Showalter takes a nifty spin on the Pandora's Box story. The concept behind this series centers around a group of immortal warriors who killed Pandora and let lose the evils in the world. As punishment, these warriors were made to house a demon inside of themselves.
The Darkest Night introduces the reader to Ashlyn Darrow, who is in Budapest searching for men rumored to have supernatural abilities. She's hoping they can help her with her problem --- all her life, Ashlyn has been tormented by voices of the past. She can stand in a spot and replay conversations that have already taken place in that spot.
Wandering the woods looking for men people believe are angels (and yet they still fear them) struck me as a really dumb thing for a girl to do. But, you know, I looked past it, because sexy man candy came in, saved her and dragged her back to his castle (which may seem a bit archaic, but hey, he's hot and this is a romance book). But I liked Ashlyn, overall. She's sweet, and I feel like too many heroines are badass -- the world needs a little more femininity. She's also a bit pudgy, which I thought was nice. There are more body types than just thin, athletic and slender, and it was cool to see Showalter include a girl with curves as the main female lead.
Maddox, who houses the demon of violence, feels an instant attraction to Ashlyn. In the castle, you're introduced to the other Lords of the Underworld, and here is where Showalter really flourishes.
I loved the interaction between the guys. They're warriors who have been cursed, but in living with the curse and their prospective demons (Wrath, Death, Pain, Promiscuity, etc.), they've become as close as brothers. They bicker, which makes for some light-hearted moments. However, even here there are some clear "uhh, really?" moments.
For example, Paris, the demon of promiscuity, has the curse of having to sleep with at least two women every day -- not bad for a guy. The catch is, it has to be a different woman each time. He can only sleep with a woman once. Being that they live in Budapest, I wonder at how Paris is managing to find a different woman each night. It would have made a lot more sense if he lived in New York. You know, some where a lot more populated.
The plot was decent. There was a lot of action, and though at times it was a bit predictable, it was still an enjoyable read. At the same time, however, it feels like Showalter was pushed to crank out this series as fast as possible --- some scenes just read sloppily, and the character development isn't as good as it could be.
There are a couple of pages where Showalter is writing some very steamy interaction between Maddox and Ashlyn, but for some reason, only uses the word "honey" to describe Ashlyn. In two pages, I read that Ashlyn has honey-colored eyes, honey-colored hair, honey-kissed skin, smelled like honey and tasted like honey.
...and all I can picture in my head is Maddox diddling a honey bear bottle.
It's an OK read, but I've read much better. The only reason I went out and bought the second book in the series, The Darkest Kiss, is because the overall arc is intriguing -- plus, I'm curious to get to the book about Paris. It'll be interesting to see how Showalter writes her way out of his particular curse.
Three stars for a creative concept, but if you want romance with a Greek mythology twist, I recommend Elisabeth Naughton's Eternal Guardians as the better read. Visit Book-Addicts.com
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