Monday, December 6, 2010

Gena Showalter - Lords of the Underworld

Gena Showalter – Lords of the Underworld Series

The basic premise is thousands of years ago the High Demons (Violence, Death, Lies, Doubt, Misery, etc…) in Hell were trying to escape to get onto earth.  A box made of the goddess of Oppression bones was made to house the High Demons.  The Lords of the Underworld were Zeus’s elite warrior guards, when Pandora was selected above all other Lords to guard the box they became jealous as certainly they were better than Pandora as one of the only female Lords.  They decided to break open the box to release the demons so they would be able to recapture them thus proving they were the better choice to guard the box. Once the demons were released and Pandora killed they were not able to recapture them, Zeus was furious with the Lords and as a punishment he put a demon in each of the Lords, the demons and the Lords became one, one could not live without the other. For hundreds of years the Lords were out of control being unable to control the demons within.  In response to the uncontrollable Lords a group of humans sprouted up called Hunters. Their mission at first was to kill the Lords and their Demon to rid the earth of all evil (they blamed the Lords for every wrong that has ever happened on earth), later once they realized that the demon within the Lord would just be released onto the world if the Lord was killed they changed tactics to trying to capture; thus beginning a deadly war between the two groups for thousands of years.  Even once the Lords have controlled their demons and their cravings the Hunters still continued blaming the Lords for every tragedy that has befallen them.

Thousands of years later the Lords are living in Budapest and just trying to live as peaceful of an existence that they can, until the war with the Hunters is brought to their front door, thus the series begins!  Once you are sucked into the series you will not be able to get enough! I whipped through the entire series so far in less than a week.  When starting the series I highly recommend writing down each Lords name with their corresponding Demon and keeping it handy, I did not do this and found myself confused for a while and going back and forth to see who was paired with what demon so if it’s right next to you it’s easy access and you do not have to waste any time.  I will list them here for reference as well.

Lord and their Demon:

Maddox – Violence
Lucien – Death
Reyes – Pain
Sabin – Doubt
Aeron - Wrath
Gideon – Lies
Amun – Secrets
Strider – Defeat
Torin – Disease
Paris – Promiscuity
Kane – Disaster
Cameo – Misery  
Baden – Distrust (Deceased)
Galen – Hope

People of Interest:
Anya – Minor goddess of Anarchy
William – Possible God of ?.... (Immortal and Anya’s partner in crime)
Scarlett – Keeper of the Demon Nightmares
Zeus – King of the Greek Gods
Cronus – King of the Titan Gods

The Darkest Fire – Geryon and Kadence, goddess of Oppression
No Review – Very short novella with the origins

The Darkest Night – Maddox/Violence and Ashlyn Darrow

Maddox has died every night at exactly midnight and his soul escorted by Death to the depths of hell only to be resurrected each morning for thousands of years. He is cursed, not only with the demon Violence which is bad enough but Zeus also cursed him to die each night the same way that he killed Pandora all those years ago, stabbed 6 times in the torso.  Ashlyn hears things she shouldn’t. She hears every conversation that has ever happened in that spot no matter how long ago or what language. Tormented by her “gift” she is sent to World Institute of Parapsychology by her parents.  As a child in the institute she leads an isolated existence until they figure out how they can use her. Ashlyn is sent around the world to “listen” for clues for paranormal activities, which is how she ends up in Budapest and the Lords fortress, she is convinced one of them can help her learn to control her abilities.  

Maddox is sent outside the fortress just before midnight, there are people trespassing on their land, Hunters and a women probably Bait (A female Hunters used to lure the Lords to be captured). Maddox kills the male hunters and as midnight gets closer he doesn’t know what to do with a frightened Ashlyn who claims not to be Bait and doesn’t even know what it is, so he just grabs her and takes her with him to the fortress.  Ashlyn is sobbing with relief for the first time the voices are gone, she doesn’t know how the enraged man was able to do it but she doesn’t care and she isn’t leaving him! Hauled over the man’s shoulder he takes her into the fortress and when they get there he is promptly stabbed to death by his “friends”, she is then thrown in the dungeon and to top it off the voices are back!  When Maddox comes to fetch her in the morning e is furious the woman is in the dungeon even though she is probably Bait. The more time Maddox spends with Ashlyn the more he is unwilling to let her go even if she does turn out to be Bait, she calms not only him but his inner demon, when she is around Violence isn’t spewing to get out.  Ashlyn does not want to leave this man, for the first time in her life the voices stop whenever he is around and it doesn’t hurt that he is gorgeous.  While Ashlyn stays at the fortress the war between the Lords and Hunters escalates to a new high, is it merely a coincidence that with Ashlyn’s arrival the Hunters arrive in mass as well?

You really feel for these two, both Her childhood is heartbreaking in its loneliness, her parents gave her away, the institute basically left her alone until they found a use for her, she can’t have friends, she can’t date, until she meet Maddox who for some reason when he is around she doesn’t hear any voices! When she is sobbing on the hill you really feel for her and realize some of the things you take for granted.  Maddox has rarely left the fortress in hundreds of years he has isolated himself because he fears what his demon will do, he has control but barely. The slightest thing can set him off and then people die, and then there is his curse every night he dies and that doesn’t do much for a social life.  Ashlyn seems to calm his inner demon but he is still frightened of what Violence is capable of and there is always the possibility that she is bait. With the escalating war, Maddox’s curses, the Lords and Ashlyn’s mortality can these two possibly make things work or will one of them end up dead?

Book 3:
The Darkest Kiss - Lucien/Death and Anya, minor goddess of Anarchy

Lucien is Death or as some might call him the Grim Reaper, he is charged with keeping the demon Death. He is to escort souls to their resting place whether it Heaven or Hell. Lucien is considered to be the leader of the Budapest Lords; he is usually unshakable in temperament rarely losing his cool and ability to think logically.  He is also horrifically scared with one green and one blue to enable him to see into the spirit world.  He is sure that no women will ever look at him with desire again. Anya is the Greek goddess of Anarchy, who has a bad rap; so she has set a few towns on fire, caused a few wars, stolen a few artifacts, but that was years ago! She hardly ever sets things on fire anymore and come on what does stealing some stuff really hurt anyway? The minute she sees Lucien she is fascinated! Those scars are sooo delicious, as are the eyes and he’s so hard and unflappable; she can’t wait to get her hands on him literally and figuratively.

Cronus tasks Lucien with killing Anya after all he is Death and Anya has shown an unusual amount of interest in him, she has something he wants and he will not rest until he has it.  As Lucien is tracking Anya all over the world, he can’t figure out what her interest is in him she can’t possibly want him, even he knows how ugly he is, he made sure of that. When he finally tracks her down he can’t bring himself to kill her… this time so he offers her some time to “put her affairs in order”. In the mean time the Lords must find 4 of Cronus’s artifacts to locate “Pandora’s Box” before the Hunters do. So now he is a race to find 4 artifacts that no one knows where they are, escort souls and kill a goddess who doesn’t want to die, who has the time for all of that? During her reprieve from Death, Anya finds herself stalking Lucien randomly despite the fact he is trying to kill her, but she misses him damn it! Having a goddess stalking you has its advantages especially when she knows so much about the gods and where they hide things now if only she would stop tempting him, damnit!

This is one of my favorite books of the series; Lucien and Anya take you on a fun wild ride all around the world! When they aren’t fighting or trying to kill each other their passion is running deep.  Anya as a character is genuinely funny and entertaining who enjoys pushing Lucien out of his comfort zone. It’s a tale of beauty and the beast.  Can Lucien find a way to get Cronus what he wants without having to kill Anya who has come to mean more to him this his own life?

Book 4:
The Darkest Pleasure – Reyes/Pain and Danika Ford

Reyes thinks jumping off the roof and breaking every bone in his body feels pleasurable; he is the keeper of Pain. He only feels pleasure when he is inflicting pain on himself or on others. The few times he has tried being in a “relationship” the woman always ended up turning into something evil because of his demon, they too started to crave inflicting pain on others so he gave up centuries ago. When the other Lords kidnap Danika and her family he immediately feels a pull to Danika even though she hates him and his fellow Lord Aeron/Wrath has been tasked with killing her as well as her family by Cronus.  Aeron cannot hold out completing his task much longer he is growing more feral each day that passes.  Danika is terrified, she was kidnapped and now is being hunted so naturally she has gone into hiding and refuses to ever be a victim ever again, and she will protect herself.  Even though his friends kidnapped her, Danika cannot forget Reyes even while she is hating him she is desiring him and she doesn’t understand why keeps showing up to rescue her, isn’t he supposed to be killing her?

The Lords are continuing to look for the second artifact the All Seeing Eye; and it seems to circle back to Danika, for Reyes it always seems to come back to her. When she is captured by Hunters the Lords decide to rescue her even though the Hunters may have turned her to their side, after all she isn’t too happy with the Lords as a collective whole.  Danika doesn’t know what to do, she agreed to do a little spying for the Hunters but now that she is back in Reyes arms she doesn’t know if she can betray him like that. Her feeling for him grow each day that she is with him. Reyes is ecstatic that he has Danika back and terrified at the same time as desires mount he is afraid he will corrupt Danika like he did the others and he just can’t risk that, not with her.  He also has to worry about the possible Hunter threat, have they made her Bait (not that it matters to him if she were) and there is still the threat of Aeron.  In no way are these two having an easy time of it.

You have to admire Danika’s grit and fight, even with her life in jeopardy she still has spirit and refuses to be a victim she refuses to go down lightly. Once she gets free the first time she starts taking defense lessons so that if that she is prepared to fight for her very life and take out anyone that threatens her. Reyes dedication to Danika is inspiring, who wouldn’t want a man that cares so deeply for you, someone who puts you above himself.  With the odds stacked so high against Danika will they be able to keep her alive to allow for their romance to fully bloom?  With all the action in this novel you will not be bored that is for sure.

Book 5:
The Darkest Whisper – Sabin/Doubt and Gwendolyn the Timid (Harpy)

Sabin can make you doubt the color of your own hair, for he is the keeper of the demon Doubt.  Sabin has a hit out on his head by the second in command of the Hunters. Years ago Sabin had an affair with the man’s wife, she ended up killing herself for which he firmly places all blame at Sabin’s feet and he’s been after him ever since with a vengeance.  All Gwen ever does is doubt herself, she is half Harpy and half Angel and she grew up always thinking that the two sides of her were in conflict.  She tries so hard to repress her Harpy side that when it does come out anyone around her is collateral damage and she wakes up having no idea what just happened.  

The Hunters took Gwen captive over a year ago and have kept her in a cage making her watch as they torture the other creatures that were also captives. They don’t dare let her out of her cage because they are deathly afraid of her as they should be!  Sabin has heard of a possible location for the third artifact in the deserts of Egypt, when they enter a crypt full of Hunters the last thing they expect to see is a room full of caged pregnant women.  They let all the women out and transport them all home but Sabin decides to keep Gwen, he saw what she is capable of and decided she would make an excellent addition to the team. It didn’t hurt that he found her exciting, deadly and beautiful.  For lack of any way else out the god forsaken desert Gwen agrees to go along with Sabin’s plan, it didn’t hurt that she is also wildly attracted to him.  While with the Lords Sabin decides that Gwen really needs to train to learn to fight and control her Harpy, the only problem with that is it can take a 100 years for a Harpy to learn to control themselves and they have about a 100 minutes to learn control not a 100 years!  

You watch as Sabine flips his views from being the war as his number one priority to Gwen’s safety being his priority even if it means putting the Lords at a disadvantage in the war.  He has always been an equal opportunist; he never treated the women on his team different then the men, now he has a woman twisting him up in knots with his need to protect. It is also very endearing to watch him in his reassurances to Gwen; he never wants his demon Doubt to make her doubt herself or him, it shows how much he cares.  Gwen is one of my favorite women characters; she goes from Timid to Fierce! You watch in Gwen’s journey from wanting to be left alone and to retreat from her inner Harpy to a warrior woman who embraces her full nature! After all her training she is ready to take on any Hunters who dare to harm her man!

Book 6:
The Darkest Angel – Lysander (Warrior Class Angel) and Bianka (Harpy)

When Lysander one of the Elite Seven Angels sees Bianka for the first time he realizes he has found his one true “Temptation” that could bring him to ruin. Not knowing what to do about his temptation because he can’t kill her because she hasn’t broken an unpardonable rule he swoops down from the heaven and captures her and takes her back to his cloud palace.  Bianka has no idea who this gorgeous man is, but so far she’s not minding her abduction at least until she finds out he’s an angel bent on “redeeming” her.  As if she needs redeeming, how can you improve upon perfection anyway?! Lysander informs Bianka that he is not letting her go and he will be changing her to his way of life, Bianka is having none of that and decides it would be wicked fun to shake up and seduce the ridiculously controlled Lysander since she has nothing better to do in her captivity and it would be fun to leave him once she has corrupted him.  The best laid plans….. never seem to work out how you had planned.

This novella is hilarious! I laughed through the whole thing, Bianka was cracking me up! It is a very quick read maybe only 100 pages or so and well worth the time. It may be easy to miss this novella since it is in an anthology but DON’T miss it.

Book 7:
The Darkest Passion – Aeron/Wrath and Olivia (Fallen Angel)

Aeron knows every sin you have EVER committed, he can tell with one glance if you have ever robbed, cheated, killed, lied, etc… He despises anything that he feels is weak especially humans, they just die so easily and often.  Aeron is dangerously close to the edge of losing control of his demon side the only thing that seems to calm him these days is his demon companion Legion.  Lately he hasn’t even had that, lately someone or something has been watching him, a presence that greatly disturbs Legion and now Aeron resents the presence for keeping his “daughter” away from him. That presence is Olivia an Angel that has become fascinated with Aeron because of his contrasts.  His demon is Wrath and he has killed many people but his obvious love and loyalty towards his friends and even the demon Legion moves Olivia so much that she when she is made a Warrior Angel and tasked with killing Aeron she refuses and becomes a fallen Angel.

When Aeron sees a woman running across their land screaming his name his first instinct is to kill or leave her to rot on the land, when he sees how bloody her robe is he changes his mind and swoops her up, literally, he does have wings after all.  After he realizes that this beautiful woman is the presence that he has been feeling he is almost ready to throw her back out the window, a fallen angel even a gorgeous one is not what he needs right now.  When Olivia falls from heaven she has no clear plan about what she is going to do now except get to her Aeron and have FUN! As an angel she did not get to have fun and after watching fun all these centuries she decided she wants to have some too and to have as much of that fun as she can with Aeron. When Olivia falls sick due to all her injuries Lysander (Olivia’s mentor and best friend) comes to heal her and gives her 14 days of freedom where she can live as a human with angel abilities and in that time she has to decide to either remain on earth as a full human or come back to heaven as an angel and complete her mission to kill Aeron.  Aeron has no idea to do with Olivia, she refuses to leave the fortress and she is bent on seducing him and worse he is finding it harder and harder to resist her.  Even Wrath is betraying him by screaming “MINE!” and “MORE” in his head ALL the time. When the Lords find out that Olivia is a wealth of information for furthering their cause in the war they decide that despite Aeron’s wishes they need to keep her close.  Now add in Legion, Legion loves Aeron not as he loves her (fatherly love) but as a woman who loves a man and she will not let that angel have her man! So Legion makes a deal with the devil…

This is my favorite novel in the series so far! I adore Aeron and Olivia, talk about opposites attracting, Olivia is calm to Aeron’s storm and joy to his darkness. Watching Olivia experience things for the first time in her sheltered life reminds you how sometime we take the simplest things like enjoying a meal for granted. The way Olivia breaks Aeron down little by little is humorous, oh how the mighty fall.  The love triangle between, Aeron, Legion and Olivia is entertaining! There is plenty of passion, entertainment and laughs in this novel.

Book 8:
The Darkest Lie – Gideon/Lies and Scarlett/Nightmares

Gideon is a human lie detector, he is the keeper of the demon Lies and anytime someone lies, his demon shouts with glee. Unlike some of the other warriors Gideon likes his demon, he is stronger, faster and can do things he couldn’t before… only problem is, he can only talk in lies or he experiences horrific pain. After thousands of years his friends and warriors have learned to understand “Gideon Speak” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t annoying to them and to Gideon. Sometimes Gideon just wants to say what he means without passing out from pain.  Scarlett was born in Tartarus the prison of the Gods; she is daughter to Rhea the Queen of the Gods but not to Cronus, Rhea’s husband and King of the Gods. All three of them are all stuck in a jail cell together for thousands of years, talk about AKWARD!  The only thing that Scarlett looks forward to while she is imprisoned is when Gideon makes his appearances.  So she is overjoyed when they become involved and get married… or did they?

Scarlett is driving Gideon crazy!  She will not give him a straight answer on anything. Lies his demon is not picking up on anything so he can’t even tell if she is lying to him or telling him the truth, he can’t believe that he would ever forget having a wife.  So Gideon does the only thing a man can do he abducts her from his own prison and sets out to seduce her for answers, only she ends up seducing him just as much.  When the Hunters immediately find Gideon he is suspicious about how they found him so quickly. Demanding an audience with Cronus, Gideon finds out that the hunters have been getting help from Rhea all this time.  Scarlett hates her mother! She is an evil witch; ever since she was young her own mother has been trying to kill her and now is not any different.  Though out the novel Gideon and Scarlett are being puppets of the Gods and they are a mission to finally find out the truth, but will the truth hurt and would they have been better off without knowing?

To be honest this is not one of my favorites of the series, to no fault of the plot.  I think it was more of “Gideon Speak” drove me nuts, I couldn’t wait for the translations that followed the passage and I was trying to translate on my own as I was reading.  So as a recommendation wait for the translations and don’t drive yourself crazy translating for yourself.  On the other hand Scarlett does have one of the coolest demons as Nightmares. When she gets into some of the dreams and wreaks havoc its pretty cool!

Book 9:
The Darkest Secret – Amun/Secrets and ?
Release Date: April 1, 2011

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