Posts tagged “Gena Showalter

Graphic Novels, Manga, Comics…A Rose by Any Other Name

Kaleigha over at Wicked Scribes recently posted about novel to comic book adaptions and whether or not they should be included as part of a series if they are only rewrites (or reinventions) of the original works. Personally, the geek in me is for anything graphic novel related, but I understand the limitations of such works…as well as their strengths.

Art sample from SWORD OF DARKNESS by Kinley MacGregor

Case in point, let’s take a look at some recent (and not so recent) adaptations of some of my favourite books and series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter, and Nalini Singh.

Marvel has created comic books adaptations of Ms. Kenyon’s novels Lords of Avalon novels, written under her penname Kinley MacGregor. While I personally adored the adaptations, I know not everyone was a fan of the artwork, as well as the fact that some of the minor interactions between characters had to be cut out. On the other hand, the artists for this series did an amazing job using colour and keeping the basic story line and event descriptions the same. Compared to the novels, the sex scenes in the comics were not as explicit, and included more for furthering the plot.

On the other hand, if we look at the manga adaptations of Ms. Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series, the major as well as minor interactions between the character remain intact. Partly, this is due to the publisher’s decision to split each novel into two separate mangas – like the last Harry Potter film was split into two movies. Not to mention the improved level of artwork.

Artwork which is further improved in the Chronicles of Nick series – the third of Ms. Kenyon’s series to be adapted into manga format.

Romance publisher, Harlequin, has also been on the comic/manga bandwagon for a while. They’ve adapted most of the Harlequin Presents line into mangas, as well as recently transforming Ms. Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series into graphic novel format.

I also came across a manga adaptation previously done for Ms. Singh’s novel, Desert Warrior, from Harlequin’s Silhouette Desire line.

Opening from DESERT WARRIOR by Nalini Singh

More artwork from DESERT WARRIOR

Can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the artwork in Desert Warrior – though this is a much older adaptation and the dated artwork is to be expected – but it’s certainly a creative way to introduce new readers to novels. Not to mention if they make a graphic novel adaptation of Ms. Singh’s Guild Hunter series, I’d be the first in line to buy.

Though the artwork varies from novel to novel, all the graphic novel adaptation outlined in this post have strengths. Each of these graphic novels is a unique platform on which to engage new readers, plus the visualized scenes reaffirm the importance of key events in the novels. Graphic novels introduce readers to characters, setting, and story in a new light – strengthening the writer’s vision and founding an incarnation of this world in the readers’ minds.

Could…would you get on the graphic novel bandwagon or has that train firmly departed?

Rika Ashton

(aka Graphic Novel Advocate)

P.S: A special thanks to Kaleigha for inspiring this post!

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Cover Reveal: THE DARKEST TOUCH by Gena Showalter

Torinnnnn!

The cover for – what I like to call – the novel for one of the founding characters of the Lords of the Underworld (LOTU) series is finally here – or rather it was revealed yesterday on Gena Showalter‘s Facebook page and I promptly shared on mine, but to keep the Torin love flowing I’m also posting it here.

Check out some Torin hotness on the cover of The Darkest Touch:

Fierce immortal warrior. Host to the demon of Disease. Torin’s every touch causes sickness and death—and a worldwide plague. Carnal pleasure is utterly forbidden, and though he has always overcome temptation with an iron will, his control is about to shatter.

She is Keeley Cael. The Red Queen. When the powerful beauty with shocking vulnerabilities escapes from a centuries-long imprisonment, the desire that simmers between her and Torin is scorching. His touch could mean her end, but resisting her is the hardest battle he’s ever fought—and the only battle he fears he can’t win.

Rika Ashton

(aka Cover Revealer)


It’s 2013 in a Pretty Blue Bow!

Hi all,

It’s the last day of 2013! And this has probably been the busiest year of my life! (Not that I have lived long enough to have very many busy years, yet.)

I have some pretty great (and not so great) memories from 2013, but because I know there is a limit to how far people like to scroll on webpages, I’m going to share only my top ten. (Trust me, picking only a few was hard to do.)

1. I graduated with my Bachelor of Education and got my teaching certificate – I am now certified to mold young minds. (Epic army of Kindergarteners, here I come!)

2. I WON the Liebster Award for blogging! (Clear proof that I am actually as awesome as I think.)

3. I got to join Sabrina Jeffries’ Street Team. 

4. I was NOT chased by any perverted squirrels this year! (HUGE accomplishment in my book.)

5. I FINISHED and started my first round of edits on Dagger of the Sun. (I am now one step closer to fame and fortune.)

6. The year introduced me to some great music! JT made a comeback and Lorde is now one of my favourite singers.

7. I got three jobs, worked all of them at the same time, and lived to tell the tale.

8. I am halfway closer to buying myself a Porshe, which is awesome because I was dead broke at the end of August.

9. I took my class of Kindergarteners to a museum and we all walked away unscathed (aka, there was NO heist). 

10. I got a letter telling me that my FIRST EVER short story/essay would be published in February 2015.

And those are my highlights from 2013. Yes, most of them are more sentimental than tangible, but I really did have a great year – and somewhat insane – year.

Best of all, I SURVIVED!

And so what was the last book I read this year…

Drum roll please…

BLACK AND BLUE by Gena Showalter.

I really did love this one!

Rika Ashton 

(aka “I MADE IT TO 2014!)

P.S: Here’s the latest from Lorde…


Covers Done Right: Showalter’s “Otherworld Assassins” Series

When I first saw Gena Showalter’s Last Kiss Goodnight resting on the bookshelf at Chapters, it was coverlust at first sight! In a flash, I grabbed the book and ran with it to the clerks desk – this is hard to do when you take a shortcut through the children’s section, where toddlers cling to you like leeches. (Really, whatever happened to “stranger danger”? These kids have no trouble grabbing an arm or leg and plastering themselves like barnacles on a rock.)

Anyways, back to the point at hand. Saving myself from clinging kids made me forget that how much I wanted – nay, needed – to rave about the cover for Last Kiss Goodnight! The model’s flowing red dress that turns into tendrils of smoke is genius! And the man in the cage, plus the trees and moon in the background is gorgeous. It’s an interesting cover for a romance because it breaks tradition. We get a hint of male abs, but the cover artist isn’t relying on echanting male flesh to get the reader’s attention. Plus, the cover clearly puts the female in the position of power – she’s not the one in a cage.

Last Kiss Goodnight (Otherworld Assassin, #1)

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Gena Showalter ignites a thrilling new paranormal series with this breathtaking tale of a warrior enslaved by desire, and the woman who frees his soul.

The sweetest temptation…

Black ops agent Solomon Judah awakens caged and bound in a twisted zoo where otherworlders are the main attraction. Vika Lukas, the owner’s daughter, is tasked with Solo’s care and feeding. The monster inside him yearns to kill her on sight, even though she holds the key to his escape. But the human side of him realizes the beautiful deaf girl is more than she seems—she’s his.

The ultimate price…

Vika endures the captives’ taunts and loathing, hoping to keep them alive even if she can’t free them. Only, Solo is different— he protects her. But as hostility turns to forbidden romance, his feelings for her will be used against him…and he’ll be put to a killer test.

The story inside the cover was also a great read. Fast-paced, with action and characters that hold your interest. The heroine, Vika, who loses her hearing after recieving a brutal beating from her father, takes care of the hero – who’s imprisoned in her father’s circus of otherworldly creature, or “freakshow.” Vika’s also the primary caretaker of the other creatures, but knowing what it’s like to be imprisoned she secretly empathizes with them. Vika can’t leave the circus, she tried once – was found and returned to her father, hence the beating.

Solo, the hero, is bitter about being locked up and doesn’t trust Vika – so expect a few misunderstandings between the two. But Solo’s a classic alpha male who can’t resist “his woman” for long and so also expect explosive sex. 😉

The villain is Vika’s father, though he wasn’t always an evil man – was actually a good father once – so there’s more to his story as well. (Is it what you’ll expect? Maybe. Does he get what he deserved? Depends on who you ask.)

The fact that I immensely enjoyed the first novel had me anticipated the next, so when I saw the cover for Black and Blue it was a case of intense coverlust combined with wanted to know everything that was going to happen in the book – in other words, BOOKLOVE!

The sizzling second book in New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter’s Otherworld Assassin paranormal romance series.

He is every woman’s fantasy…

Corbin Blue is a man of many talents. One of the most powerful otherworlders ever born, he is wealthy, a professional football star, and a legend in the bedroom. But only a select few know he is also a black ops agent…and there is no better killer. When he and his crew are attacked and separated, he’s forced to turn to his boss’s daughter for help?a woman with even more secrets than Blue.

She becomes his only obsession…

Evangaline Black has always been wary, guarded. No man has ever breeched her walls. Until Blue. He has never been denied something he wants, and now, he’s decided he wants her. As he sweeps her into his double life of seduction, intrigue, and danger, he helps her see beyond the darkness of her own past. But as an enemy closes in, Blue will have to let Evie go to keep her safe – even though he’d rather die than live without her.

And this was the original art:

The cover artist for this series deserves a reward! I love the water motif in this one and, once again, the dress is beautiful! Can’t wait to get my hands on this book. 🙂

Black and Blue hits bookstores in October 2013.

What do you think of these cover? Am I the only one suffering from coverlust or have you fallen as well?

Rika Ashton

(aka Book Lover)

P.S: To see more work by the cover artist, Nathalia Suellen, visit her on Deviantart.


Book Love: Summer 2013 Releases and a Sneak Peek of MACRIEVE

It’s Summer! And for me, that means reading (and school, but mostly reading). Fortunately, there is a long list of anticipated books releasing this summer. (Not to mention movies, but that’s a post for another time.)

So for your reading pleasure, here’s a list of the books I have been most anxiously waiting for:

1. One Heart to Win by Johanna Lindsey. Ms. Lindsey only releases one book a year, so I always mark my calender for when the next one is due – this one hits the bookstores on June 11th.

Some young ladies marry for money and social standing, a few lucky ones marry for love – but Tiffany Warren is marrying to end a feud. Honoring her mother’s promise, Tiffany reluctantly travels west to meet her estranged father and his enemy’s eldest son, rancher Hunter Callahan. Once the Warrens and the Callahans are united by marriage, both clans will stop squabbling over a disputed strip of land.

In the chaos of a train robbery Tiffany seizes a golden opportunity: By assuming the identity of her father’s new housekeeper she can live with the father she never knew and assess his true character, as well as that of the neighboring cowboy to whom she is betrothed. But, too late, Tiffany discovers that the rivalry between the Warrens and the Callahans has escalated when the Callahans steal the Warrens’ housekeeper as soon as she steps off the train!

Now, Tiffany, who is pretending to be Jennifer Fleming, finds herself living in the enemy camp, under the same roof as her fiancÉ. All too soon she learns her intended is a handsome, sweet talking charmer whom she has to fight off because he can’t keep his eyes – or his hands – off Jennifer. After Tiffany’s charade is exposed she refuses to marry Hunter to end the feud. As Hunter goes about claiming his rightful bride-to-be, he knows that although he loves two women – proper, elegant Tiffany as well as spunky, passionate Jennifer – he has only one heart to win.

2. Deception Cove by Jayne Castle. The first novel of the Rainshadow series introduced us to the potential characters of the second novel and, now, here they are!

As a light-talent, Alice North has the rare ability to make things disappear, including herself—a gift that comes in handy during her magic act with her dust bunny Houdini.

Business mogul Drake Sebastian is day-blind, since his sight was nearly destroyed in a lab accident. But he’s the one man who can see Alice when she disappears—and he needs her.

On Rainshadow Island, two dangerous Old World crystals are missing, igniting a paranormal storm. Drake thinks Alice is the key to finding them, and proposes they head there, but only after a Marriage of Convenience.

Alice’s honeymoon on Rainshadow is guaranteed to be memorable, as the island—and the passion between her and Drake—is about to explode…

3. An English Bride in Scotland by Lynsay Sands. If you have read any of Ms. Sands novels before, then you know that this one will make you laugh out loud!

Annabel had planned to become a nun. But when her mother arrives at the Abbey to bring her home to marry a Scottish laird – her runaway sister’s intended husband – her life takes a decidedly different turn.

And though Annabel isn’t the wife he’d planned for, strong, sexy Ross McKay is taken with his shy, sweet bride.

Annabel knows nothing about being a wife, running a castle – or the marriage bed. But her handsome new husband makes her want to learn. When Annabel’s life is threatened, Ross vows to move the highlands itself to save her and preserve the passion that’s only beginning to bloom.

4. Macrieve by Kresley Cole. Alpha heroes and kick-ass heroines! I pretty much devour whatever Ms. Cole writes.

A Beast In Torment

Uilleam MacRieve believed he’d laid to rest the ghosts of his boyhood. But when a brutal torture revives those ancient agonies and destroys his Lykae instinct, the proud Scot craves the oblivion of death. Until he finds her—a young human so full of spirit and courage that she pulls him back from the brink.

A Beauty In Chains

Seized for the auction block, Chloe Todd is forced to enter a terrifying new world of monsters and lore as a bound slave. When offered up to creatures of the dark, she fears she won’t last the night. Until she’s claimed by him—a tormented immortal with heartbreaking eyes, whose touch sets her blood on fire.

A Full Moon On The Rise

With enemies circling, MacRieve spirits Chloe away to the isolated Highland keep of his youth. But once he takes her to his bed, his sensual mate becomes something more than human, evoking his savage past and testing his sanity. On the cusp of the full moon, can he conquer his worst nightmare to save Chloe . . . from himself?

(And for your early reading pleasure a 34-page free sneak peek of the novel. It’s a PDF file.)

5. The Darkest Craving by Gena Showalter. A friend got me hooked on this series, and I’m too addicted to ever kick the habit.

Having endured weeks of torture in the bowels of hell, Kane wants nothing to do with his beautiful rescuer, Josephina Aisling. The half-Fae female threatens to awaken the demon of Disaster inside him-a beast he’s determined to kill, no matter the price.

Josephina is hunted by a brutal enemy-her royal family-and Kane is her only source of protection. He’s also the only male to ever set her aflame, and even he succumbs to the heat.

But as they navigate the treacherous world of the Fae, they are forced to make a choice: live apart…or die together.

6. The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh by Stephanie Laurens. I love her Cynster family series and I’ve been waiting for this story for a while.

The Honorable Miss Mary Cynster always gets what she wants. As the last unwed Cynster of her generation, she is determined to remain in charge of her life and of the man she will marry. At the very bottom of her list of potential husbands is Ryder Cavanaugh, the daring and devastating Marquess of Raventhorne, an overwhelming and utterly unmanageable lion of the ton. But destiny has a different plan.

Ryder needs Mary as his wife, not just because she is delightful, fiery, and tempting, but because he values all she could be. When fate and circumstance hand him the chance, he claims Mary as his marchioness . . . only to discover what he truly desires is not just to take her hand in marriage, but to capture her heart.

7. The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrelyn Sparks. The series has been a bit of a hit and miss for me so far, but I’m open to giving this book a chance.

He’s out of control

Dougal Kincaid has something to prove. After being injured in a battle with the Malcontents, he’s ready for active duty protecting unsuspecting mortals from these villainous vampires who want to rule the world. But first he has to get control of himself . . . because just the sight of a certain lovely doctor has his injured hand doing some peculiar things, not to mention the sizzling sensation that burns along his dragon tattoo . . .

Vampires? Vampires?! As a scientist, Leah is having trouble believing that these immortal creatures exist. But there they are, standing in front of her, asking for help in solving a genetic puzzle that can save mankind. There’s even one in a sexy kilt! Just one look into Dougal’s gorgeous green eyes sets her pulse racing. But can she trust him – and the overwhelming desire that refuses to be ignored . . . ?

8. What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries. I’ve read everything that Ms. Jeffries has written under this pseudonym and I have yet to be disappointed.

Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, accepted long ago that his kidnapped brother was dead. When a cryptic note from investigator Tristan Bonnaud claims otherwise, Max seeks out Tristan’s sister, Lisette—and is infuriated to learn that Tristan has also mysteriously vanished. Have the siblings perpetrated an elaborate hoax? Or is the fiercely protective beauty as innocent as she claims them to be?

Fearful that the powerful duke will destroy Tristan’s career in his zeal for the truth, the clever Lisette convinces Max to accompany her to Paris in a joint search for their loved ones. But their journey takes a seductive twist when they pose as an ordinary husband and wife—not an English duke with a tarnished family name and the illegitimate daughter of a viscount—and discover an exhilarating passion free from the damning secrets of the past. With the line between danger and desire enticingly blurred, they discover that some mysteries, like those of the heart, are answered tenfold in the bliss of a true and trusting love.

9. How to Entice an Enchantress by Karen Hawkins. Okay, so strickly speaking this one comes out in September, but I figured why put a limit on Summer. 🙂

Reclusive Viscount Kirk, horribly scarred by a tragic accident that stole the life of his beloved first wife, is a man defined by fury. For years he’s eschewed society, growing abrupt and curmudgeonly. But now, when he’d given up on life, he’s fallen madly in love with the refreshingly naive daughter of his neighbor, dainty and charming Dahlia Balfour. Desperate to win her attention, Kirk calls in a favor from the Duchess of Roxburghe and asks that she transform him into a fashionable suitor for Dahlia’s hand. But what’s easy to change on the outside, isn’t as easy to change on the inside…

Dahlia’s always dreamed of a fairytale romance. Although Viscount Kirk is only seven years her senior, because of his cantankerous ways and lack of social graces she thinks of him as her “older neighbor,” and is blissfully unaware that he sees her as anything other than an acquaintance. She is shocked to see him at the duchess’s grand house party, trying to fit with the very societal rules he so frequently mocks. Surprised by his attention, irritated at his bald honesty, and intrigued that he finds her worth the effort, Dahlia regards Kirk as the opposite of Prince Charming. Without the pretty words and grand gestures she yearns for, can true love find its way into her unwilling heart?

10. My Notorious Gentleman by Gaelen Foley. For those of  us who love the occasional darker toned read, there is Ms. Foley. (And this cover is stunning!)

Shy, warm-hearted Miss Grace Kenwood knows she has no chance of tempting her new neighbour, Lord Trevor Montgomery. Every eligible beauty is swooning over the brooding former spy. Even though he once kissed her senseless, he can have no interest in someone like her. Yet somehow, the seductive rogue unleashes her own inner devil . . .

Every lady loves a hero but Trevor has no interest in any of them – except for the refreshingly candid Grace. If he had a heart left, Grace might steal it. She insists he’s better than he thinks. He’s sure she’s absolutely wrong. Until danger threatens, and Trevor rediscovers how easy it is to be a hero . . . for the right lady.

11. Warrior’s Moon by Lucy Monroe. She is one of my newest, most favourite authors and I highly recommend the Children of the Moon series to fans of paranormal-historicals.

After being rejected by Caelis, Shona was forced to marry an English baron. Now she’s on the run from the deceased baron’s heir. Determined to protect her children, she heads north to Balmoral Island, to the only family she has left. And runs into the one man she never wants to see againand the only one who might be able to save her.

As powerful and charismatic as ever, Caelis has been charged with saving his pack from the corrupt laird ruling them. This time, however, he refuses to abandon his sacred mate. He lost Shona once and swears he will never be separated from her again. Passion and love urge Shona to join him. But she has to wonder if she truly comes before the pack, or if nothing has changed at all.

And that concludes my list of Summer reading recommendations. I’ll be posting a Fall/Winter reading list soon, with releases from Nalini Singh, Lynsay Sands, Jeaniene Frost, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jennifer Ashley, Julia Quinn and more!

What are some of your highly anticipated books for Summer 2013?

-Rika Ashton

(aka, “Kids are the future! Read books!”)


Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld

I’d like to start this post off by thanking Priscilla Shay for introducing me to the love of my life. Your wedding invitation is in the mail. 😀

ME + GALEN = MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN!

Bet you didn’t think I’d fall for the bad guy, did you? It was love at first sight and I honestly, didn’t stand a chance. I’m a sucker for the villain-but-possible-hero-in-the-future types.

Ah, Galen. We’ll be honeymooning in Hawaii, or possibly in Florida since I still have to visit Disneyworld.

But that’s enough about my fiance, I should really get to talking about the other characters in the “Lords of the Underworld” (LOTU) series, the wonderfully HOT immortal creations of Gena Showalter. What I wouldn’t give to spend a day in her brain!

I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to come across a Gena Showalter novel, considering that she and Kresley Cole – one of my favourite authors – are BFFs. All I can say is that until Priscilla showed me the light, I was lost…

I LOVED Showalter’s writing style, sense of humour and endearing characters. Since some moments in the series revolve around darker subjects, it was nice to have the tension broken with Showalter’s sense of humour. Moreover, as any reader knows, characters can make or break a story. Would you want to read a story where the hero/heroine had no redeeming qualities? I certainly would not.

Before I go any further, let me take a moment to shamelessly brag…I would like to say that this might be my most epic series review yet, reviewing 9 novels and short stories in one blog post will gain you that status. o.O I hope to avoid posting spoilers in this blog and hope, even more, that I succeed in that endeavor. (Part of the charm of this series is discovering the twists and turns on one’s own and I wouldn’t want to spoil that for you.)

The LOTU series tells the story of immortal demon-possessed warriors, formerly the bodyguards of Zeus, the Lords and those who would rather they died, their mortal enemies the Hunters. Here’s the overview from the authors website:

Long ago, twelve immortals warriors – each more dangerously seductive than the last — stole and opened Pandora’s box, unleashing the evil from within. Now they carry that evil within themselves. Violence, Pain, Death, Disease, Disaster, Misery, Doubt, Promiscuity, Defeat, Lies, Secrets, and Wrath. When a powerful enemy returns, they will travel the world in search of a sacred relic of the gods – one that threatens to destroy them all.

Reading the overview, the LOTU series has a lot in common with other popular paranormal/fantasy romance series like Sherrilyn Kenyon’s “Dark-Hunter” series or J. R. Ward’s “Black Dagger Brotherhood” (BDB) series. I couldn’t help but notice the idea of a band of warriors joined together to fight a common enemy, plus all the Greek mythology. But the LOTU novels have a lot more differences than similarities with these two series. First of all, unlike Ward’s BDB the Lords don’t speak with gangster slang (thank god!) and unlike Kenyon’s “Dark-Hunter” books the Greek/Titan gods are a lot more involved in the series. Yes, the gods are still selfish, vain and cruel at times, but they can also act with some compassion.

The Darkest Fire by Gena ShowalterThe series, much like my review, has an epic start with the prequel, The Darkest Fire:

Geryon is the guardian of hell, more monster than man. Kadence is the goddess of Oppression, more angel than woman. Together they will enter the flames to battle a dangerous horde of demon lords — and discover a passion unlike any other.

And fire really is dark in this novel, with Hell as the setting and appearances by the Prince of Darkness, Lucifer, himself. The romance between Kadence and Geryon was short, sweet and to the point considering that the novella was less than 90 pages long. Nonetheless it was a quick, fun read and answered some questions about the Goddess of Oppression, whose bones were used to make the Pandora’s box  to imprison. This novella, with a not-so-conventional-happy-ending-for-a-romance-novel is available in the Into the Dark anthology/guide.

The anthology/guide also includes goodies such as two other novellas, alternative opening to LOTU book one, interviews with the Lords, the heroines and the case files of the Hunters… If your curious, here’s the cover for Into the Dark:

The first book in the series, after the prequel, is The Darkest Night and it tells us what happened after the Pandora’s box was opened:

His powers — Inhuman…
His passion — Beyond immortal . . .

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 rumored 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 . . .

There were so many ways that this story could have gone wrong, Maddox could have been a complete alphole (a term I learned from Noelle Pierce, which refers to an alpha who is too controlling/violent/etc) and Ashlyn could have been a complete wimp who took that abuse, but luckily they were neither. Despite being possessed by the demon of Violence, Maddox is a sweetheart and even though he’s suspicious of Ashlyn himself, he does everything in his power to protect him from his friends – who are likewise possessed by demons – and himself.

On the other hand, Ashlyn is not a pushover by any means. She’s smart, brave and powerful in her own right. Ashlyn has the ability to hear past conversations is her mind, a power that can prove useful to both the Lords and their enemies, the Hunters. Cool power? Yeah, it could be but it can also be extremely annoying and limiting, which is how Ashlyn feels about it. Ashlyn looking for a fortress in Budapest where angels are thought to reside, unbeknowst to her these angels are actually demons.

I wasn’t so sure how Ms. Showalter was going to get these two characters together, after all Maddox is cursed to die each night (and driven to violence by his demon in the late hours leading up to midnight) and Ashlyn is mortal. Thankfully, we some help from the powers that be and the great cast of secondary characters that helped bring these two together.

Some of those powers that be made an appearance in the second novel, The Darkest Kiss:

She has tempted many men… but never found her equal.

Until now.

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.

Anya is BAD, no other word for it. As the Goddess of Anarchy she lives to cause chaos wherever she goes. She lies and steals seemingly without regret. I would have found Anya extremely annoying, if Showalter hadn’t provided a reason for her to act this way. For Anya, causing trouble is akin to survival, and like water for humans, its necessary. But even this alone wouldn’t have made me like her if I didn’t know that deep down she was a good person. She could have caused trouble with the intention of harming everyone and anyone, but instead she oddly protective of Lucien and only seeks to make him smile.

And Lucien does deserve to smile. Cursed with the demon Death, Lucien is horribly scarred and can’t believe that someone as beautiful as Anya would even look at him. Moreover, as the leader of the Lords he is extremely somber and desperately needs some chaos in his life or he’d completely forget his humanity. Death thinks he’s invincible, and it takes Anya to show him that he has weaknesses like everyone else – and yes, even he can fall in love. (Too bad though, that Lucien’s been ordered to kill Anya, huh?)

But that’s enough about Lucien and Anya…let’s talk about Reyes and Danika. Both Reyes and Danika had undeniable chemistry in book one, and I honestly thought theirs would be the second book in the series but who knew Anya was so impatient to bag Lucien, so we had to wait until book three The Darkest Pleasure to read about Reyes and Danika:

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 fami ly 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.

Reyes is possessed by Pain and can only find pleasure either by cutting himself – as he often does – or by unleashing his demon.Moreover, Reyes is afraid to have sex because he thinks his demon can affect the women he’s been with – making them crave pain both for themselves and those around them, which is why despite being attracted to Danika, he’s afraid to be with her.

Danika, on the other hand, is afraid of Reyes and his friends at first – can’t blame the girl considering they kidnapped her and her family in book one and threatened to kill them. Later, she’s more than ready to help the Hunters destroy the Lords if it means she can keep her family safe. This is where things get a little complicated, I wasn’t sure how much I believed Danika’s conviction to help the Hunters considering that she lets her attraction to Reyes lead her astray pretty early in the novel. There was no real conflict on that level within the novel, and it’s partly because of this that I felt the book was a little rushed.

After the promise in the first novel and the chemistry between Reyes and Danika, I was really looking forward to reading their story. Unfortunately, the promise fell half-way through. The book was an enjoyable read, but had more to do with Hunter/Lord animosity than romance. There was more action in this novel than the previous two, with the Hunters trying to invade the fortress and Aeron trying to kill Danika, but because of that the romance was lacking at times.

Next we get another breather moment in the series with another novella The Darkest Prison, which shows us what’s going on between the Greeks and the Titans:

Once, Atlas, the Titan god of Strength, was the Greek goddess Nike’s slave. Now, he is her master. And soon these sworn enemies destined to destroy one another will be forced to risk everything for a chance at love…

Okay, I have to admit I had a rapid mood swing about Atlas in this one. Hated him and then liked him, in less than 3 pages. Again the novella was fairly short, only 61 pages this time, took me less than 30 minutes to read and the romance was short and sweet.

The story is not a must read – since neither Atlas nor Nike have made appearances elsewhere in the series as of yet – but is entertaining nonetheless, and a nice way to catch a glimpse of the Titan/Greek conflict. This novella is also included in the Into the Dark anthology/guide.

Next we have book four, The Darkest Whisper:

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.

This is the first novel in LOTU that we actually get to see the true evil that is the Hunters. Yes, we know that the Hunters are evil, and commit crimes in the name of good, but this is the first time that we are shown this rather than told and it makes a bigger impact because of this. Gwen has been a prisoner of the Hunters for a year, and has borne witness to their crimes, imprisonment, torture and rape of other immortal women to create an immortal army of Hunters. Though Gwen hasn’t been physically harmed other than starved, she is nonetheless mentally traumatized by what she’s seen. The reason that Gwen hasn’t been harmed is because she’s a harpy, the immortal spawn of Lucifer, and the Hunters are too afraid to get close to her, preferring to keep her locked in her glass cage.

When Sabin arrives to free the women, Gwen immediately proceeds to kill Chris, the Hunter whose been torturing the women. I could only applaud her for that! Sabin is likewise impressed and hopes to use her as a weapon against the Hunters. Didn’t like Sabin so much for that! He tries to use her trauma against her and practically guilt trips her into helping by saying that any other women would want vengeance for the wrongs committed. So, yes, I was not a fan of Sabin’s. Nonetheless, Sabin does redeem himself when he genuinely begins to care for Gwen as a person, going to far as to lock her up with her sisters to prevent her from taking part in the battle against the Hunters, despite that she’s stronger than he is and he’s trained her for it.

Overall though, I still liked Gwen better than Sabin…

Time for another breather in the series, with Gwen’s sister Bianka story and her romance with the angel, Lysander in The Darkest Angel:

An iron-willed demon assassin, the angel Lysander has never known lust—until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of Lucifer, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the pure-hearted Lysander into temptation…

(This novella is found in the Heart of Darkness anthology.) Lysander is noble, honorable and good, Bianka is anything but. Being a harpy means she has to steal in order to eat, and cannot eat anything freely given or risk throwing up and getting sick. Lysander is both attracted to and repelled by Bianka. he knows she is his temptation and could lead to his downfall. First Lysander decides to kill her to prevent this from happening, but then changes his mind and decides to reform her instead. And so we get an interesting clash of will, with both characters desperate to be the winner.

The Darkest Angel is also a nice transition into the fifth LOTU book, The Darkest Passion:

For weeks, the immortal warrior Aeron has sensed an invisible female presence.  An angel–a demon-assassin–has been sent to kill him.  Or has she?  Olivia claims she fell from the heavens, giving up immortality because she couldn’t bear to harm him. But trusting – and falling for – Olivia will endanger them all. So how has this ‘mortal’ with the huge blue eyes already unleashed Aeron’s darkest passion?

Now, with an enemy hot on his trail and his faithful demon companion determined to remove Olivia from his life, Aeron is trapped between duty and consuming desire. Worse still, a new executioner has been sent to do the job Olivia wouldn’t…

Both Olivia and Aeron, keeper of Wrath, make brief appearances in The Darkest Angel, in anticipation of their own novel. You may remember Aeron from when he was trying to kill Danika – I’ll leave it to you to find out whether or not he succeeds – and in his own novel Aeron has been sentenced to death by the angels for the crime of freeing a demon, Legion, from Hell. Aeron is not ready to give up Legion or to die, and thinks he can take on any assassin Heaven sends. (Idiot!)

Olivia doesn’t want to kill Aeron and her defiance gets her thrown into Hell, her wings stripped and fully mortal. Olivia fights her way out of Hell and into Aeron’s arms, only to have him not trust her. (Double idiot!) Olivia warns him that more angels will be sent after him, and despite not being able to see, hear, smell, touch an angel, Aeron still thinks he can take them. (Triple idiot! Well, you can see where this is going. Aeron spends most of the novel being an idiot!) Though at first Olivia may seem weak and in need of protection, she is obviously not. Hello, she crawled out of Hell…literally! And she has every right to seek Aeron’s aid, not only did she risk her life for him, she;s still trying to protect him cause she knows he did nothing wrong. When Aeron finally does see the light, its too late in a lot of ways – dun, dun, duh! – so he has a lot to make up for before he can get his happily ever after…and boy, did I enjoy seeing him crawl out of the deep, deep whole he dug! Mwahahaha!

Finally, we have the latest novel in the series, The Darkest Lie:

Forced to his knees in agony whenever he speaks the truth, Gideon can recognize any lie—until he captures Scarlet, a demon-possessed immortal who claims to be his long-lost wife.  He doesn’t remember the beautiful female, much less wedding — or bedding — her.  But he wants to . . . almost as much as he wants her.

But Scarlet is keeper of Nightmares, too dangerous to roam free, and a future with her means risking everything.  Especially as Gideon’s enemies draw closer . . . and the truth threatens to destroy all he’s come to love . . .

You might remember Gideon and Scarlet from the previously novel (if you’ve read it) when Scarlet dropped her little – or not so little – bombshell about the both of them being married to each other. I spent a lot of this novel in admiration of how Showalter used Gideon Speak – in that every sentence he spoke was the opposite of what he said – I kept thinking she would slip up but she didn’t. On the other hand, Gideon Speak got annoying at times because I was constantly changing lies into truth in my head so I could understand what he was saying. (I liked it when Scarlet did the translations for me later in the novel.)

But that said, I like both characters in the novel. I admired Scarlet for being as strong as she was despite all the tragedies of her past – namely her b**** mom and aunt. I also liked Gideon for his believable suspicions but still being able to admit when he was wrong. Still, I have to admit, my favourite part of this novel was the Nightmares/Lies romance – this was oddly cute. 🙂

Some of my least favourite parts were all the new plot twists thrown into the novel. One or two would have been okay, but to have one every couple of chapters got jarring at times. I admit I would have liked to see more Galen (him being my favourite and all) but he barely made an appearance. It was mostly Cronus, Rhea, Mnemosyne, other Titans and less important Hunters that kept showing up. Argh!

And finally we have the demons, not just Nightmares and Lies, but all the demons that possess the Lords in all the novels till now. I might have been the only one (then again maybe not), but I love the demons. To me their voices, when we read them, are reminiscent of a demanding child. One who knows what it wants and will not let anyone tell them “no.” Plus, they are the ultimate matchmakers, never wrong and always know fairly quickly when their soulmate has arrived. Eat your heart out, Cupid!

Overall, I have to say I like the plot, characters and suspense of the LOTU novels. Yes, the twists and turns can get confusing at times, but I wouldn’t miss out on reading the series because of them. Showalter has a great writing style, and a good balance of dark and light within her novels, with characters that I like more often than not. But if I had to pick a character I hated other than the bad guys, I would say was Legion. I have a feeling that Showalter might be setting us up for a potential Galen/Legion romance, but I have to say I am not a fan. Aeron’s surrogate daughter annoyed me too much in his novel – she nearly got Olivia killed – for me to be sympathetic. Sorry. Yes, I do feel sorry for her and what she’s going through, but I’d rather she stay a secondary character than become a heroine, she’s too flat a character. On the other hand, I do like the complexities of Galen’s character, there are moments in the series when we see that he’s not all bad, and I would like to see him as a hero or even an anti-hero of a future novel.

Of course, since I tried to avoid spoilers as much as I could, I couldn’t talk about some of the other intriguing characters such as Torin, the keeper of Disease, whose touch can spread the plague or William, Anya’s humorously narcissistic best friend. But I assure you, both characters are a riot that you’ll have to discover for yourself by reading the LOTU series! 😀

-Rika Ashton (aka Galen’s Future Wife)

P.S: Gena Showalter had definitely made it onto my favourite authors list and I’m looking forward to reading about more demons in LOTU, in additional to completing her “Atlantis” series.

P.P.S: The upcoming LOTU novels include The Darkest Secret (Amun’s novel on April 1st, 2011), The Darkest Surrender (Strider’s novel in October 2011) and The Darkest Seduction (Paris’ novel in 2012).