Monday, April 23, 2012

Challenge Review: The Darkest Kiss by Gena Showalter

Title: The Darkest Kiss
Series: Lords of the Underworld #2
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Supernatural Fiction
Elements: Immortals, Demons, Deities
Publisher: HQN Books, Harlequin Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 375 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-77232-2
Release Date: June 1, 2008
Source: Borrowed from Wentworth Library
Rating: 4/5

Tagline(s): He is ultimate darkness--and all-consuming desire... / She has tempted many men...but never found her equal. Until now.

Summary: 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....


The Darkest Kiss is a real beauty and the beast tale. There's Lucien, the keeper of Death--scarred and tormented--and Anya, the goddess of anarchy--gorgeous and strong--who loves him. She sees past his scars and is able to love Lucien, as well as his demon. And Lucien is able to find comfort and happiness with Anya.

Lucien's demon is Death. He's tasked with escorting the souls of the dead to their final resting place, whether that's Heaven or Hell. This is an emotionally stressful job because he sees what Heaven and Hell are like, and he's left yearning for the peace Heaven offers but knows he'll never have. And because Lucien can see a soul's last few moments of life, the knowledge he's left with becomes a burden he doesn't want. Lucien has a very intimate view of life and death; he's even had to escort the soul of the woman he had loved, and that has left its mark on him. To make sure that no other woman could ever love him again, he scarred his own face and burned part of his body to keep them away. But when he finally meets Anya, the goddess of anarchy, in person, he meets the one woman who sees his scars as beautiful and can see past them to the man he is underneath.

When I read the first book in the Lords of the Underworld series, The Darkest Night, Lucien was one of two warriors that really intrigued me. He's the scarred leader of the warriors and the incarnation of Death, so he was shrouded in mystery and I was dying to know more about him. We also meet Anya toward the end of The Darkest Night, but she was just the disembodied voice of a goddess and we only got a glimpse of her when she appeared to Ashlyn. So she was just as much of a mystery as Lucien. But we get the full scoop on them in The Darkest Kiss. And apparently the kiss of death is irresistible.

In The Darkest Kiss, we learn that Lucien is just a man scarred, literally and figuratively, by his past. By lost love, his job of escorting souls, and just wants peace and happiness for himself and his friends. Anya want to be able to find a man that she can finally trust to love and give all of herself to. She wants people to see that she is important and not minor in any way. Both want acceptance, peace, happiness, and love--and they find all of that in each other.

The search for Pandora's Box is in full swing, and they find out that they need four artifacts, guarded by Hydra, to locate the box--the All-Seeing Eye, the Cloak of Invisibility, the Cage of Compulsion, and the Paring Rod. The four artifacts are spread out all over the world and can be found somewhere in these four locations: South Africa, the Arctic, the States, and Egypt. While all of this is going on, Lucien is ordered by Cronus to kill Anya, Paris finds and loses a woman who stirs him like no other, and Aeron escapes the dungeon leaving death in his wake.

With Aeron's escape in The Darkest Kiss, Reyes and Danika's story is set up further for The Darkest Pleasure. And Paris and Sienna's story is also set up and introduced when he was captured by Hunters in this book. The Lords of the Underworld series just keep getting more exciting with each new addition.

About this Author:

Gena Showalter sold her first book at the age of 27 and now, four years later, is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen books, with eleven more on the way in a thrilling blend of genres: breathtaking paranormal and contemporary romances, cutting edge young adult novels, and stunning urban fantasy.

Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, MTV, Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated in French, Italian and Korean. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”. 

The Darkest Kiss is the second book I've read for the Mythology Romance Reading Challenge hosted by Reading Between the Wines Book Club.

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