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Into the Dark: The Darkest Fire\The Amazon's Curse\The Darkest Prison (Hqn) Mass Market Paperback – April 27, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 25 books, ranging from white-hot paranormal romances set all over the world (and even in some places that do not technically exit), sexy contemporary novels and other-worldly young adult novels.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Every day for hundreds of years the goddess had visited Hell and every day Geryon had watched her from his station, desire heating his blood more than the flames of damnation beyond his post ever had. He should not have studied her that first time and should have kept his gaze downcast all the times since. He was a slave to the prince of darkness, spawned by evil; she was a goddess, created in light.

He could not have her, he thought, hands fisting. No matter how much he might wish otherwise. She would not want him anyway. This…obsession was pointless and brought him nothing but despair. He did not need more despair.

And yet, still he watched her this day as she floated through the barren cavern, coral-tipped fingers tracing the jagged stones that separated underground from underworld. Golden ringlets flowed down her elegant back and framed a face so perfect, so lovely, Aphrodite herself could not compare. Eyes of starlight narrowed, a rosy color blooming in those cheeks of smooth alabaster.

"The wall is cracked," she said, her voice like a song amid the hiss of nearby flames—and the unnatural screams that always accompanied them.

He shook his head, positive he had merely imagined the words. In all their centuries together, they had never spoken, never deviated from their routine. As the Guardian of Hell, he ensured the gate remained closed until a spirit needed to be cast inside. That way, no one and nothing escaped—and if they tried, he rendered punishment. As the goddess of Oppression, she fortified the physical barrier with only a touch. Silence was never breeched.

Uncertainty darkened her features. "Have you nothing to say?"

She stood in front of him a moment later, though he never saw her move. The scent of honeysuckle suddenly overshadowed the stink of sulfur and melting flesh, and he inhaled deeply, closing his eyes in ecstasy. Oh, that she would remain just as she was.…

"Guardian," she prompted.

"Goddess." He forced his lids to open gradually, slowly revealing the glow of her beauty. Up close, she was not as perfect as he had thought. She was better. A smattering of freckles dotted her sweetly sloped nose, and dimples appeared with the curve of her half-smile. Exquisite.

What did she think of him? he wondered.

She probably thought him a monster, hideous and misshapen. Which he was. But if she thought so, she did not show it. Only curiosity rested in those starlight eyes. For the wall, he suspected, not for him. Even when he'd been human, women had wanted nothing to do with him. They'd run from him the moment he'd turned his attention to them. He'd been too tall, too brawny, too bumbling. And that was before he'd resembled an ogre.

Sometimes he wondered if he'd been tainted at birth.

"Those cracks were not there yesterday," she said. "What has caused such damage? And so swiftly?"

"A horde of Demon Lords rise from the pit daily and fight to break out. They have grown tired of their confinement here and seek living humans to torment."

She accepted the news without reaction. "Have you their names?"

He nodded. He did not need to see beyond the gate to know who visited on the other side; he sensed it. Always. "Violence, Death, Lies, Doubt, Misery. Shall I go on?"

"No," she said softly. "I understand. The worst of the worst."

"Yes. They bang and they claw from the other side, desperate to reach the mortal realm."

"Well, stop them." A command, laced with husky entreaty.

If only. He would have given up the last vestiges of his humanity to do as she wished. Anything to repay the daily gift of her presence. Anything to keep her just where she was, prolonging the sweetness of her scent. "I am forbidden to leave my post, just as I am forbidden to open the gates for any reason but allowing one of the damned inside. I'm afraid I cannot grant your request."

Besides, the only way to stop a determined demon was to kill it, and killing a High Lord was another forbidden act.

A sigh slipped from her. "Do you always do as you're told?"

"Always." Once he had fought the invisible ties that bound him. Once, but no longer. To fight was to invite pain and suffering—not for him, but for others. Innocent humans who resembled his mother, his father and his brothers— because his true mother, father and brothers had already been slain—were brought here and tortured in front of him. The screams… oh, the screams. Far worse than the ones that seeped from Hell. And the sights… He shuddered.

Had the pain and suffering been heaped upon him, he would not have cared. Would have laughed and fought all the harder. What was a little more pain? But Lucifer, brother to Hades and prince of the demons, needed him healthy, whole, so had found other ways to gain his cooperation.

The memories would forever haunt him, but might have faded during the night, if he'd required sleep. He remained awake, however, every hour of every day, never able to forget.

"Obedience. I expected differently from you," she said. "You are a warrior, so strong and assured."

Yes, he was a warrior. But he was also a slave. One did not cancel out the other. "I am sorry, goddess. My strength and assurance change nothing."

"I will pay you to help me," she insisted. "Name your price. Whatever you desire shall be yours."

If only, Geryon thought again. He would ask for a single taste of her lips.

Why limit himself, though? he wondered next. Whatever he desired. He could ask for a night in her arms. Naked. Touching. Tasting. Yes. Yes. Every muscle in his body clenched. In arousal. In desperation.

In despair.

No. He could not risk the suffering of the innocent—why do you bother with them?—simply to sate his craving for the lovely goddess. So have a kiss? A night with her? No again.

Finally I know true torture. He ground his teeth. Why did he bother? Because without good, there would be only evil. And he had seen too much evil over the centuries. He would not be responsible for more.

"Guardian?" the goddess prompted. "Anything."

Do not speak. Do not do this. Geryon gulped. "I am sorry, goddess." No. Say no more. Ask for that kiss, at the very least. "As I told you, I cannot help you." No, no, no.

How he hated himself just then.

Her delicate shoulders sagged in disappointment, and his self-hatred grew. "But… why? You want to keep the demons in Hell just as much as I do. Right?"

"Right." Geryon didn't want to tell her his reasons for refusing her, was still ashamed after all this time. Tell her, however, he would. Perhaps then she would return to the old ways and pretend he did not exist. As it was, his craving for her was deepening, intensifying, his body hardening. Readying.

She's not for you.

How many times would he need the reminder before this conversation ended?

"I sold my soul," he admitted. He had been one of the first humans to walk the earth. Despite his massive build and bumbling ways, he'd been content with his lot and enraptured by his mate, even though she'd been chosen by his family and, like all the other females of his acquaintance, had not desired him in return.

A year into their marriage, she had grown sick, and he had despaired. Though she had found no joy with him, she had belonged to him, and ensuring her safety and well-being had been his duty. So he had cried out to the gods for assistance.

They had ignored him, and his despair became unbearable.

That was when Lucifer appeared before him. So cunning, that one was.

To save his mate—and perhaps finally win her heart— Geryon had willingly given himself to the dark prince. And found himself transformed from man to beast. Horns had sprouted atop his head, and his hands had become clubs, his nails claws. Dark, carmine fur had covered the skin on his legs, while hooves replaced his feet.

In seconds, he'd been more animal than human.

His wife had healed, as his contract with Lucifer stated, but she had not softened toward Geryon. No, his selfless act had meant nothing to her and she had left him for another man. A man she had apparently been seeing all along.

What a fool he'd been. A cuckold. All for nothing.

"What thoughts fill your head, Guardian? Never have you appeared so…broken."

The goddess. His hands fisted, claws digging deep into his palms, as he refocused on her. There had been compassion in her tone. Compassion he must ignore. Unemotional, that's how he had to be. Always. Otherwise, he would not survive his time here.

"My actions are no longer mine to command. No matter how I wish otherwise, I cannot help you. Now please. Don't you have duties to attend to?"

"I am doing my duty now. Are you?"

He flushed.

She sighed. "Forgive my waspishness. I am frazzled." The goddess studied him, her head tilting to the side. He shifted uncomfortably, such scrutiny unnerving given his sickening appearance. To his surprise, revulsion did not darken her lovely gaze as she said, "Your soul belongs to the dark prince?"

"Yes."

"And if your soul was returned to you, you would aid me?"

"Yes," he repeated, the word a croak. Would she still offer him a boon for that aid?

"Very well. I will see what I can do."

His eyes widened in horror. Approach Lucifer? "No, you must—"

She disappeared before he could stop her.

Inner Corridors of Hell

"Lucifer, hear me well. I demand to speak with you. You will appear before me. This day, in this room. Alone. I will re...
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

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Product Details

  • Series: Hqn
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373774516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373774517
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of the White Rabbit Chronicles, Otherworld Assassins, Angels of the Dark, Lords of the Underworld, and several of other young adult and adult romance series. She has written over thirty novels and novellas. Her books have appeared in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazine, and have been translated in multiple languages.


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Customer Reviews

I didn't want the book to end and hope the story line will continue.
David Laden
This book also included a bonus guide with a very funny interview between Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter and also an interview with the Lords of the Underworld.
Jennifer Sicurella
I was never able to get into the Atlantis series, so I took the short story here as a standalone and it too just seemed like filler more than anything else.
Countess Chocula

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Misuzmama on May 3, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Contents:

1 )Three novellas-
The Darkest Fire (~80 pages) from the Lords of the Underworld series
The Amazons Curse (~50 pages) from the tales of Atlantis series
The Darkest Prison (~50 pages) from the Lords of the Underworld series
2) Q&A with Gena Showalter about the Lord series (~15 pages)
3) Stats on the current 12 Lords (hair, height, eyes, preferred weapon, achilles heel etc)
4) Behind the scenes (how Showalter came up with the series) ~5 pages
5) Short story -Awakening Pandora (how the Lords all began) ~35 pages
6) At home with the Lords of the Underworld (William interviews each Lord individually and finds interesting info like underwear preference) ~45 pages
7) The women of the underworld speak (Gilly interviews all the attached females at once about living with Lords) ~10 pages
8) Frequently asked questions (~4 pages)
9) Sneak peek -excerpt from A Darkest Passion (Aeron and Angel Olivia)

Not a must for this fan. I've read the novellas before as ebooks and on the whole was entertained by them. I'm a huge fan of the LOTU series and so wanted a hard copy. Unfortunately for those hoping for some new bits of information about their favorite Lords well ...there isn't any. No juicy details. I enjoyed the three stories (even the Atlantis one) and was hoping that the rest of the book would be about behind the scenes stuff. Wrong again. I'm disappointed over the bonus content of this book. There is nothing illuminating to be found here about the Lords. Definitely some funnies when Kresley Cole interviews Showalter but too short.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rhianna Walker VINE VOICE on September 7, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Okie, so my review title might be viewed as an odd statement. Let me clarify please! Because this story collection is more of a taste of the Lords of the Underworld series I just do not feel like a non-fan should read it without having read at least the first three books. Why? Well... you just don't get enough back story because these tales are so short and the bonus guide section could be considered a bit spoilery if you have no prior knowledge of the series. All that said this is a terrific pick-up for fans.

The one item that really feels out of place here is The Amazon's Curse. It's a tie-in to Showalter's Atlantis series. Still, it's a nice taste of another series and as a LOTU fan who hasn't tried the Atlantis series yet I still enjoyed it and it did provoked more interest.

If you're one of those readers who enjoys series guides and "insider info" but hates paying for a trade paperback or hardcover guide that's mostly filled with stuff you know already this is worth the mass market price. I didn't personally care for a lot of the character interviewy stuff but the background on how the series came to be and the interview with Kresley Cole was both funny and interesting.

Overall, I liked this one but I don't think I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't LOVE the Lords of the Underworld. There's just not much here for you. If you're thinking "well what if I just want to try a taste of the series to see if I'd like it" this really doesn't do the series justice as a starting point. Buy the first book instead!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lady in Red (Read) on February 5, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THE DARKEST FIRE. 79 pages. Explains the beginning of the LORDS OF THE UNDERWORLD SERIES so read this before you read the series and it will all make sense. I found the end to be sad but contains a teaser for reading the rest of the series.

THE AMAZON'S CURSE. 47 pages. Amazon Women and Vampire. Did not like the passionate language which was written like a script from a cheap low budget movie.

THE DARKEST PRISON. 58 pages. Very well written, exciting, sexy and adventurous. When you read the LORDS OF THE UNDERWORLD series, make sure you read this AFTER "The Darkest Angel (ss)" which in found in the book Heart of Darkness by and BEFORE "The Darkest Prison".

The final 183 pages of the book is a Bonus Guide to the LORDS OF THE UNDERWORLD series. Great reference material should you ever need it however, I will read it only if I "have to".

***THE FOLLOWING IS THE TRUE ORDER THAT YOU SHOULD READ THE "LORDS OF THE UNDERWORLD" series*** It will make more sense if you read the books in this order. (see this video on Youtube) [...]

(ss) The Darkest Fire (a short story found in INTO THE DARK)

1 The Darkest Night

2 The Darkest Kiss

3 The Darkest Pleasure

4 The Darkest Whisper

(ss) 5 The Darkest Angel (a short story found in the book HEART OF DARKNESS)

(ss) 6 The Darkest Prison (a short story found in INTO THE DARK)

7 The Darkest Passion

8 The Darkest Lie

9 The Darkest Secre
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tracy VINE VOICE on August 18, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Containing three novellas and some behind the scenes companion information on Showalter's beloved Lords of the Underworld series, Into the Dark is full of good stuff, but unfortunately, much of it I'd read before. The novellas The Darkest Fire, The Amazon's Curse, and The Darkest Prison are all offered to Kindle owners individually, and I'd read two of the three of them that way, so I can't say that this book was all I was hoping it would be. I'd be more likely to recommend it for hard core LotU fans without a Kindle or those Kindle owners really committed to the few companion pieces of LotU that are offered here.

The companion information, a cute Q & A between Kresley Cole and Showalter - two obviously great friends, and the interviews of the Lords by William and the ladies by Gilly were amusing, but lacked any true hilarity. The camaraderie between Cole and Showalter was the brightest spot of the companion information for me. There was little other information of note - a FAQ and a narrative by Showalter about coming up with the series, a rundown on the Lords. Nothing much is provided that couldn't be had by reading the series or visiting Showalter's website, and that is where the true shame lies. This book falls in the LotU timeline between The Darkest Whisper (Sabin) and The Darkest Passion (Aeron), so reading this anthology will provide no new insight if you're current in the series, and reading it before the series will provide too many spoilers.
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