Customer Reviews: The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld, Book 1)
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on May 21, 2008
The Lords of the Underworld are a band of immortal warriors who have, for thousands of years, fought for the king of gods (Greeks). Insulted that they have not been chosen for the monumental task of guarding a sacred box (Pandora's box), the warriors decide to teach the gods a lesson. They steal the box and set the hordes of demons free. In the fray the box is lost. Thus, the evil can not be returned inside. As punishment for the deed, the individual warriors themselves become the *homes* for the each of the demons. So the demons of Violence, Disease, Death, Pain, Wrath, Promiscuity, Doubt, Lies, Disaster etc. are now inside the warriors forever. Like having a split personality, the demon urges the warrior to do its bidding. They all struggle against the demon inside.

Fast forward to present-
The warriors now live with their curses in Castle high upon a hill in Budapest. They keep to themselves for fear of reeking havoc upon the humans. Their enemies are the *Hunters*, a band of human warriors out to kill all the perceived evil in the world -the lords being their main target.

This book is about the warrior Maddox, who has Violence demon inside. His heroine is Ashyln a human who posses the uncanny ability to hear all the conversations ever made in a particular place. Voices constantly battle inside her head. She seeks the warriors in an effort to silence the voices inside her head. But she gets more than she bargained for......

I admit when I started reading this book I got flashes of Ward's series. But really who wouldn't? - the six warriors living all together, the gods controlling them (scribe virgin), the hunters (lessers), the description of the warriors (ones tattooed, beautiful, scarred etc). Then I realized that I'm doing a complete injustice to this book by thinking this way.

To me this book is more Greek mythological than paranormal. And I'm hoping Showalter will expand on the myths with the sequels. Unlike most paranormals the war these warriors are fighting is mostly within themselves. An internal rather than external conflict. They are not out to protect anyone else, merely to survive their own curses and possibly get free of their demons. And frankly I think thats a fascinating and fresh idea. I mean who wouldn't like to read more about a warrior with a compulsion to Lie, one who causes Disasters wherever he goes, one who has to inflict Pain on himself, or one who cannot be touched (anywhere) for fear of causing Disease? And lets not forget Promiscuity. ;)

I found the characters intriguing, the action well paced and the plot believable (well, as any paranormal could be). And I wasn't bothered by how quickly the H/H fell in love (its not like they had sex on page 10). True , there are many unanswered questions but I guess thats what sequels are for.

So, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be looking out for the sequels. And for those die-hard Black Dagger fans? I say go and read the three chapter excerpt (above is link) on Showalter's website and decide for yourself.
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on June 2, 2008
High in the mountains of Budapest there is a hidden fortress that houses immortal men who also happen to be demons - demons who strive to make a life for themselves while remaining inconspicuous and unknown to mortals and enemies alike. Maddox is such a man but so much more - he is a Lord of the Underworld and his curse is Violence. Thousands of years ago, Maddox was a prized warrior for the gods and because of this, he became angry at the female warrior Pandora because she was given the task of guarding the dimOuniak instead of him. Jealousy ate at Maddox until he was unable to stop himself from destroying Pandora and opening her box of mayhem. In this one act of violence, Maddox was doomed to eternally suffer the same fate that he awarded Pandora - death.

Institutionalized since she was five, Ashlyn Darrow has spent her entire life hearing voices in her head. If someone talked in the same spot as which Ashlyn stood, she is able to hear their conversations in her head and it is making her crazy. She is never allowed a minutes peace and has been treated as if she is a freak of nature her entire life. Hearing about a hidden fortress in the mountains of Budapest is like a dream come true because if what the locals are saying is true, then Ashlyn might be able to get help with her curse. With this in mind, she sets out in the dead of winter to climb the mountain where the sanctuary is said to be hidden.

The Darkest Knight is paranormal romance at its best. It is dark, gritty, and it is emotional. Maddox is the epitome of a tortured soul - and he was remorseful for his past deeds. Unable to fathom why he wanted Ashlyn, this immortal was very much aware of how precious she was and I found his treatment and protection of her extremely romantic. The character of Ashlyn surprised me. With my first impression I found a very strong heroine. Just how strong I would find out as I further read The Darkest Night. Ashlyn was willing to stay by Maddox's side every night just for the chance to love him. And love him she did.

The Darkest Night had me instantly hooked on this brand new series. I found myself on the edge of my seat and could not put The Darkest Night down. I had to know what was going to happen and more than once I had to gasp for breath when nuances of the plot started to unfold. If The Darkest Night is any indication of Gena Showalter's writing ability then I need to go back and buy everything she has ever written. I am just that impressed and can't recommend The Darkest Night enough. In fact, raise your right hand and repeat after me, "Joyfully Recommended!"

reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
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on August 25, 2008
I read quite a few paranormal romance series and needed a new author. This series kept popping up as a recommended series based on my previous purchases at Amazon. The covers were cool and so I went to the author's home page to check her out - and liked what she had to say about writing the books. So I ordered all three books.

If you like to read paranormal romance that borders on a little "unrealistic" or say a little less urban fantasy and more pure paranormal fantasy -- then this series may be for you. I myself waited several months before finally buying this series because I knew that I probably wasn't going to go for the whole premise of a group of warriors having to live with demons inside of themselves because they opened pandora's box. And I didn't.

I never really felt invested in the romance between the two characters in The Darkest Night because I just had a hard time swallowing how the whole plot played out. Or maybe there just wasn't enough development of the characters and their romance -- because of the tons of other characters in the book. I'm not sure.

Now while I did finish this book and found some parts enjoyable - the reason why I wouldn't recommend the overall purchase of it as part of a series is because I simply could not get past chapter one in the second book in the series - The Darkest Kiss.

Bottom line is that if you are a JR Ward fan or of other author's with a similar urban fantasy/romance style. Then you may not go for this series.
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on March 8, 2010
. . . and its an awesome cover. This book left me feeling flat and a bit like I was robbed of what could have been a great series.

First off, the set up was interesting and I was really looking forward to learning all about the Lords and their demons. What ended up on the page was a bunch of sissy men who make me ache for J.R. Ward's Brothers.

Second, the heroine was a two-dimensional cut out. She's sweet and nice and alone blah blah blah. Give me a girl who can kick ass or at least maintain her dignity. Her introduction to Maddox - she literally throws herself at him and begs. ugh.

Third, I'm a smart girl but this book left me scratching my head. Take five bland characters and it's difficult enough to remember who's who. When 5 more are added half way through I just wanted to bang my head on the desk.

And Last, the sex scenes and the whole love story was laughable at best. The alpha male, erm beta male in this case, spends his entire time talking about how hard he's going to bang her OR how much he just wants to talk. There is no depth to these two conflicting feels. See Zsadist from Lover Awakened for a well-executed male overcoming violence and learning how to balance his lust with his new-found realization that he has the capability to love another. Oh, and I literally rolled my eyes when the sex scenes occurred - so 70s porno and lame.
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on August 6, 2014
Actual line.

Have you ever read a book that made you go >:[

I was pretty excited to find this series-- interesting premise, interesting world, highly rated... what I got were two individuals who could barely speak in full sentences while in each others' presences. The female lead, Ashlyn, is a wounded virgin dove whose lines consisted primarily of "M-Maddox?" and 'Ashlyn whimpered'. Maddox's most outstanding quality is the super hot giant butterfly tattoo across his back (really...?) and he generally came out in my head sounding like a cross between Captain Kirk (oh no, not the Chris Pine interpretation. We're talking Bill Shatner) and our stereotypical cartoon idea of a caveman (or Tarzan. Whatever.).

It's hard to get into the action or the "action" (if you know what I mean) when you can barely stand the characters. Ashlyn is a woman with a curse of a gift who hears conversations going back as far as man could speak that took place in whatever location she's standing. This seems to make her an incoherent mess. Which would make sense, since I can see it being distressing to never be able to hear yourself think, but as the story progresses, you find she's certainly been coherent enough to read lots of romance novels and buy fetish costumes and fantasize about being cuddled in them. Once she finds Maddox, the voices shut up, and so she belligerently latches onto him like a barnacle and he ends up dragging her home. His friends are pissed, he's pissed, the voice in his head, who you'd think would be featured more prominently, rants and makes lewd suggestions that sometimes include stabbing. So he talks with the voice in his head about how hard he's going to bang her, and then other times, about how much he loves just talking with her. "Talking". More like grunting single syllabic words while she whines. And then he decides she's the love of his life. She sort of does the same thing, but waffles between wanting to snuggle/jump him, and suddenly being overcome with extreme distrust for the man she insisted on following home and staying with, while offering zero explanation for her behavior. And everybody's got some kind of a middle school idea of "flirting" and they all have inferiority complexes. "Why are you following me?" "I like you." "No, you don't." "But I like you?" "You could never like me. Nobody could ever like me." [lots of thinking about how other character said they like them, but must be lying and it can't be true].

Story wise, there's no real reason why (a common theme), in the middle of Budapest, the one batshit crazy American chick stumbling around in the backyard is suddenly "the one" after x thousand years. Maybe it's because she's attached herself to him like a growth. The voice in Maddox's head eventually flips a switch and starts liking her. The story kind of gets fuzzy after that. Reading was starting to feel like a punishment so I started skimming.

The "talking" scenes have a lot of Caveman Kirk grunting out semi sentences and demands. Eventually you forget what the hell they were talking about, since following any question, there are about 3 pages of purple prose introspection. Then Ashlyn contemplates the shamefulness of sex, but gosh darnit, really wanting that cuddle, so propriety be darned, she's going to go for it. Whenever it is she stops talking to herself about her virginity.

So I tried reading The Darkest Fire to check my sarcasm. Unfortunately, it sounded like mostly the same story, even up to [SPOILER] the ending where the chick repeats about 5 times, while staring soulfully into her mate's eyes, "I love you". While being disemboweled/cut in half.

Overall, I wanted to light myself on fire by the end of the book (or like, 25% of the way in.). The characters were 2 dimensional, the story and dialogue (dialogue? What dialogue?) were lazy, there was zero chemistry between any of the characters (even though all these guys have been living in the same house for the last x thousand years. And yes, like siblings, sometimes you want to kill each other, but you still have deep human relationships with them.). The hot scenes were mediocre at best (tepid like day old coffee). And the heroine made me roll my eyes with how ridiculous she was. I'm absolutely in the minority, so take my word for what you will! But if you need some basic plot integrity (or logic) to suspend disbelief (or a heroine with a freaking spine), maybe keep looking.
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on June 29, 2013
I received this book in exchange for a honest unbiased review~~~
The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter

This author knows how to deliver a book let alone the start of a series that I plan on devouring in the course of the next few months. I LOVED IT!!! This is a hot sexy intriguing read. I wanted to steal Maddox for myself after reading this. The characters are to die for and the scenrey the author delivers makes you feel as though you were there. I even cried toward the end since I was so emotionally wrapped up in this book. I was hook, line, and sunk after the first chapter that I couldn't and wouldn't put the book down for the life of me. This is a great dark dirty thriving emotional book full of mystery excitement and intrigue. I love the story and I love the Greek references in the book with Pandora's box, Gods, and Titans. Can't wait to find out what happens next!!!! GO GENA GO ENTHRALL ME IN THE NEXT BOOK!!!
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on April 25, 2008
"Get ready for the next really great paranormal romance series, Lords Of The Underworld by mega talented, Gena Showalter which debuts May 2008 with THE DARKEST NIGHT.
By day, immortal warrior Maddox lives among his fellow Lords Of The Underworld in their Budapest castle as they try to stay away from the human world, for their demon companions urge them to do all manner of evil. However by night, Maddox is doomed to die a painful, terrible death and spend his time in hell's inferno. Centuries ago Maddox and his immortal brothers released the horde of demons from Pandora's box and as punishment, the gods cursed the warriors to each host a demon inside themselves. Maddox is the Keeper of Violence! When strangers are detected trying to invade their compound, the Lords believe they are Hunters, who want to destroy them, so Maddox is sent to kill them, for there is no greater warrior. Ashlyn Darrow is with a team from the World Institute of Parapsychology, who is in Budapest to investigate paranormal beings. Ashlyn was born with an ability to stand in one location and hear every conversation that has ever taken place there, which has been a nightmare for her. She'd do anything to stop the voices! When Maddox finds Ashlyn in the woods, even though he thinks she's Bait sent by the Hunters to entrap him, he is instantly drawn to her. For Ashlyn, being around Maddox is a miracle since the voices she constantly hears have suddenly ceased, as if they are as afraid of him as she should be! Maddox cannot help himself and takes her home with him, where the two will find themselves edging closer to a soul-searing test of love. Will this cursed couple be able to overcome great odds to be together? And what about the other cursed Lords: Lucien, Keeper of Death; Reyes, Keeper of Pain and all the others? Readers can look forward to their immediate sequels, THE DARKEST KISS (6/08) and THE DARKEST PLEASURE (7/08). The truly remarkable Gena Showalter has given paranormal romance fans everything they could want in her amazing new Lords Of The Underworld series: an angsty, complex, highly imaginative plot; dark, immortal warriors they will instantly fall in love with along with their destined mates; and all-consuming passion that will have readers begging for more!" - Patricia Rouse, Rouse's Readers' Groups
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on April 6, 2010
I was reading the reviews for this book and totally understand where the ones who hated it are coming from. I'm a bit addicted to series and once I read the first book I can't stop until I'm finished with all of them, which was a good thing in this case specifically.

I'm writing this here, on the first book, because if you don't read it before the other books you may lose some details, maybe not important to understand the story, but significant to enjoy what you're reading.

I have to agree this book is not very good (it's not like a sacrifice to read it either). The series, though, is actually interesting. It seems like Showalter wasn't really sure about where she would lead it, but as she started publishing them she got into it. There are seven stories available so far, three of them shorts, and with each of them you start getting yourself involved with the world Showalter created.

You get to know the characters more deeply, learning more about their pasts, and the conditions that got them the way they are right now. It's not the best series ever, but it's sure entertaining.

Let's see if I can explain it right:

- if you love the sex scenes of paranormal romances, maybe you will not be so satisfied with this one. They're there, but they're not that well developed.
- if you like fight scenes with a lot of blood, magic and some major skills, maybe you won't like it so much. They're there, but again not that well developed.
- if you love complex stories with plots about villains, good guys fighting evil, secret organizations and mysterious we-don't-know-if-he's-good-or-evil guys, maybe you won't be all happy with this one. They're also there, but they're not that well developed.


- if you like paranormal stories with a little bit of the above,
- if all the series you like reading still don't have any new books,
- if you have already caught up with all the ones from your to-read-list and
- if you are looking for something funny, fast and that won't get you over-thinking anything,

go ahead and start reading this one.
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on April 29, 2008
As a normal reader of all that is Gena Showalter, I was anticipating a good read - Boy I was wrong! This one absolutely blew me away. The story of Maddox and Ashlyn just struck a chord with me, it had me laughing, crying and pleading silently for a happy ever after.

The typical hero/heroine sacrifice has to be in my top five of all time. Okay enough with that my review follows:

1.) Believable falling in love time? (1= Unbelievable, 5= Believable)

3.5, only because it was very short time period (less than a week). I am a firm believer when you read paranormal fiction that the standard weeks and months need not apply for the falling part but the period should coincide with the emotional healthiness of the characters.

2) Believable World/Universe? (1= Unbelievable, 5= Believable)

5, Gena did an excellent job of creating her world and not overwhelming you with the unnecessary descriptive paragraphs that some authors love. The history was peppered throughout with the remembering of the characters.

3) Was the HERO unbelievably SCORCHING? (1= Yuck, 5= Get the Fire Department)

5, Duh! I had my Ashlyn move over you are not worthy moment.

4) Happy Ever After (1= There was a romance? 5= A box of Kleenex ending (with an epilogue)

4.5, not a 5 because this is the first in the series and there was no epilogue. I love and need one of those.

5) Reading time (1=Train reading, 5=Stayed up all night)

5, boy was the next day at work hard!

I would recommed picking this one up.
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VINE VOICEon June 26, 2009
I admit that I was shallow enough to buy this book because of the wonderful cover art. Some of the cover art of a lot of romance novels is just boring and boring bodice ripping stuff. If romance novels are aimed for straight women who are reading it for temperature raising romance, alpha males and sexy men, why are so many of the covers with just half naked or totally naked women?? So I thought this cover meant a story that was going to be paranormal, romantic, alpha male loving adventure.
The story was an intriguing setup, but it was poorly executed. Since when do Greek immortal warriors talk like contemporary trash talking doofuses? The conversations among the immortals sounded like dimwitted high school jocks. The introduction of the heroine was ridiculous. She is supposed to be an educated woman, but her "special" gift and her choice to seek relief from these Lords of the Underworld was incredibly inane. The use of the human female hostages took the story to even lower levels of stupidity.
When we paranormal romance fans have writers of the caliber of Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs and JR Ward, no one should waste their time with this series.
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