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The Darkest Surrender (Lords of the Underworld) Mass Market Paperback – September 27, 2011
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About the Author
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over fifty books, including the acclaimed Lords of the Underworld and Angels of the Dark series, and the White Rabbit Chronicles. She writes sizzling paranormal romance, heartwarming contemporary romance, and unputdownable young adult novels, and lives in Oklahoma City with her family and menagerie of dogs. Visit her at GenaShowalter.com.
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The Darkest Surrender is the story of Strider, Keeper of Defeat. As Keeper of Defeat, Strider experiences debilitating pain whenever he is defeated. His demon seeks a challenge in even the most mundane of tasks. Incredibly handsome and overwhelmingly obnoxious, Strider will go to any length to keep from losing, especially when it comes to love.
Kaia Skyhawk is a beautiful harpy hopelessly in love with Strider. A mistake during the Harpy Games at the age of 14, has left Kaia ostracized by the harpy community and haunted by the ensuing tragedy. Countless decades have passed since that day and Kaia has sought to redeem herself in the eyes of her family but most especially her mother. When the Harpy Games are announced and Kaia receives a special invitation she is certain she can win and regain her status. But as the details of the event unfold, Kaia and Strider find themselves pitted against each other in the battle for the prize. Will Strider risk losing his heart to Kaia even if it means losing the only chance the Lords have to win their freedom?
The Lords of the Underworld series is a PNR set in modern day Budapest. The characters although hundreds or thousands of years old live in castles filled with video games, hip-hop music and state of the art surveillance equipment. Like a Black Ops outfit on steroids, the story is told in contemporary slang full of swagger and posturing - a never ending frat party. Showalter's dialogue is fun! But behind all the bravado is a story of two people who are afraid of getting hurt and disappointed by love. It is painful to read the missteps and misunderstandings as Kaia and Strider awkwardly navigate the game of love. Showalter makes you believe that even immortals with centuries under their belts can still be made to feel insecure and sensitive when it comes to barring their hearts.
The Harpy Games add an exciting background to the love story. The challenges are bloody and gruesome and the villains are dastardly.
Showalter is the best friend who knows where all your skeletons are hidden and wants to help you find some more to put into the closet with them. This series is a fun over the top read that is full of action and and super smexy scenes. Give yourself a present - bring The Darkest Surrender home tonight along with a bottle of margaritas and get ready for some fun!
If that isn't sad enough, Kaia, the stunningly beautiful and twice as aggravating harpy he doesn't want...okay, doesn't want to want, which is the same thing, really (or so he keeps telling himself)...keeps popping into his life, challenging him at every turn. Definitely not a good thing for the Lord who suffers unimaginable agony any time his demon fails to win a challenge. Problem is, he owes Kaia a debt, and when she collects, Strider will be forced to face his most terrifying challenge yet, winning the heart of a harpy.
It's been over two years since I last visited with Showalter's Lords, a break I needed after growing increasingly concerned with what felt like a lack of series arc progression in the preceding couple of books. In truth, I wasn't sure I was ever going to return to the series, a series for which I had once been a tremendous fan. Then, the other day, I got this huge yen on for some of Showalter's specific brand of writing and I dove back in where I left off. As it turns out, the break did me good and this book served as an excellent place to return to my beloved Lords.
Maybe because it's been so long I didn't find myself getting as frustrated with what I felt was another book that tread more water than it did progress the series arc. Or maybe I just loved Strider and Kaia so much, both individually and as the romance H/h, that the still-impending all-out war with Rhea and her Hunters didn't bug me as much for still being impending. Then again, maybe it's just that Showalter's writing is so obviously the pinnacle of the paranormal romance genre that I couldn't help but marvel anew at her sheer talent.
Whatever the reason, I liked this book a lot. I adored both Strider and Kaia and was extremely happy to have their relationship arc be given its due. Kaia is one of my favorite female leads in the series - actually, she may just be my all-time favorite, now that I think about it. Not just because she was a whole lot of awesome (and she is...just ask her), but because she was one of the more three dimensional and fleshed out of all the females in the series, with a wealth of issues and insecurities as well as a wildly colorful and intense personality. I really felt like her personal history and the bad rep she has with the harpies offered up a lot of very meaty story that Showalter wove with delightful ferocity.
The plot surrounding the Harpy Games was a lot of fun, and tying in one of the relics that the Lords have been hunting lent the story the necessary impetus for Strider and the Lords to take an active interest in those games. That pulled everything and everyone together into a nicely cohesive, well-populated bundle of great reading that I heartily enjoyed.
This is also one of the funnier of the installments, which is never a bad thing for me. Showalter has always provided her readers with a healthy dose of ribald humor in each book, but between Kaia and her twin, who are just hilarious, and Strider with his ego checks, this one really tickled my funny bone over and over. It was also wicked sexy (as per the norm), fun (ditto), and yet still managed to kick me in the gut a few times, too. Classic Showalter fabulousness.
My only real issues with the book were with the cut-away storylines for Kane and Paris. I have to admit, they bored me a little. Okay, a lot. Obviously, both of their books are imminent, so I can understand the groundwork that's being laid, but I have to confess...I'm totally over the angsty, damaged, and no longer sympathetic Paris. I know, I know - sacrilege. I'm sorry to say it, believe me, but between his ambrosia addiction and his wretched Promiscuity, he's fallen off the pedestal and I found myself not liking him enough in this book to care that the next book (finally) is his. And that's saying something, because there was a time when I ached for the man's plight every single time his name was so much as mentioned.
There just comes a point for me when a character's personality, attitude, and actions devolve to such a degree that I question whether or not he can ever be redeemed. I hit that point with Paris in this book. Showalter is tremendously talented, though, so I have to believe his book will have all the necessary elements to pull me back from the anti-Paris ledge. Well, I hope, anyway, or my return to the LotU series may be very short-lived.
I still really hope we're soon going to be getting to the Cronus vs. Rhea smack-down that so desperately needs to happen. I'm even more over those two than I am Paris. Personally, I kinda miss the early days, when Galen and the Hunters were the Big Bads. Throwing in the pantheon of gods and screwed up Titans has (admittedly) added complexity and depth to the world, the mythos, and the conflict in the series, but it's also been a big headache for what feels like a really long time. I'm ready for a heavy dose of ibuprofen now. Maybe then I'll be good to go with Paris.
Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.