Strider just has to win. Whatever the competition-whether it be a friendly bet or a battle that sheds lives-Defeat, the demon he is plagued with, forces him to win, no matter the cost. Everything is a dangerous, vengeful, radiant, and sometimes even erotic game to Strider, which is why, naturally, he is enticed by the idea of the Harpy Games. As he gets to know Kaia and involved in the challenge she sets forth, his screwed-up personal demons will make winning harder than ever before, and they just may lead him to falling for an equally screwed-up girl. After all, she is a Harpy aka a descendant of Lucifer aka the master of all things demonic-no biggie. Yeah. He's got it bad.
The Darkest Surrender is testament to the fact that Gena Showalter is one of the leading ladies of paranormal fiction. EVERYTHING about this book is so well done-the plot, characters, romance, tone, transitional flow-all of it.
The gradual love is at once tender and entertaining; to me, it was the perfect romance because it's realistic, well interlaced with the actual story, and of course, sizzling hot. The way Strider and Kaia clash is so funny because it couldn't be more obvious how similar they are, and thus in his opinion, all the more wrong for each other. As for the relationship, it is deliciously, wonderfully bad. The thick sexual tension, amusing banter, and explosive chemistry and feuding portray their attraction flawlessly, which impressed me greatly. The fact that this book isn't just a romance definitely earns it brownie points.
Kaia's unabashed (and publicly declared) crush on Strider demonstrates the kind of girl she is: an unstoppable force, a fiery temper, passion incarnate. Strider, who's way more reserved and tormented-swoon!-wants to deny his lethal attraction for Kaia but can't seem to control himself around her-and that isn't his demon talking. His desire to dominate the one girl no one else can control, the one girl who scratches everyone else, but treats him to the tenderest of caresses, is both his sickness and cure. The way he slowly discovers how much he really needs her, and not just sexually, is heart-melting and exactly the kind of love us romance readers live to read about.
I love how Lords of the Underworld takes place in a world of various species; typically, paranormal romance series involve one type of being (vampires, zombies, etc.), but nope, here, we have Harpies, demons, Fae, Phoenixes, gods, and other creatures of Greek mythology, so in and of itself, this series is the motherlode of the supernatural. So fascinating and creative-props to Gena Showalter for developing such an elaborate, magical, livable world. How I'd love to just climb into one of her books and be one of the characters.
Not having read previous installments in the series, I was a bit confused by the Realm of Blood and Shadows and the worlds in which the book takes place, but the plot and characters are so original and intricate, that I feel The Darkest Surrender works fine as a standalone novel. That being said, the perfectly entwined storylines of the various other Lords-Promiscuity, Doubt, and Disaster, to name a few-leave room and anticipation for the next books; I'm definitely eager to keep with with and try the series from the beginning now.
I'll end on a note praising the snarky and hilarious tone, which is applicable for pretty much of Gena Showalter's novels. Her style is genius, in both the way she personalizes her characters, and the witty one-liners that deserve gold medals. Even if you don't like the story, you will fall in love with the way Showalter writes, which is why you should at least give this series a chance.
Pros: Amazing characters // Humorous, with plenty of wit and sass to go around // Complex, prolonged plot that completely absorbed me // Secondary characters' stories are just as intriguing, making me want to read the previous and next books in the series // Can be read as a standalone, although having a grasp of what the series is about may be helpful in understanding setting
Cons: Some scenes are unnecessarily drawn out // The constantly shifting stories get a little confusing at times
Verdict: This is the kind of book that will make you become obsessed with paranormal romance. From the entirely consuming fictional world constructed, to the lovable, flawed, and vibrant characters, to the unconventional romance with a sigh-worthy "ever after," The Darkest Surrender is a book will preoccupy you in the most frustrating and fulfilling way. Definitely give these sexy and tragically dark Lords of the Underworld a try; Gena Showalter does not disappoint!
Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read; highly recommended.
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Romance Novel News in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Carolyn!).show more