Welcome to the blog tour for The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter! I am still somewhat of a newbie to the Lords of the Underworld series, but I really enjoyed this book, and The Darkest Touch. Check out my review below, and an excerpt from the book!
The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter
Book Twelve of the Lords of the Underworld series
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
Driven to his death by the demon of Distrust, Baden spent centuries in purgatory. Now he's back, but at what cost? Bound to the king of the underworld, an even darker force, he's unable to withstand the touch of another…and he's quickly devolving into a heartless assassin with an uncontrollable temper. Things only get worse when a mission goes awry and he finds himself saddled with a bride—just not his own.
Famed dog trainer Katarina Joelle is forced to marry a monster to protect her loved ones. When she's taken hostage by the ruthless, beautiful Baden immediately after the ceremony, she's plunged into a war between two evils—with a protector more dangerous than the monsters he hunts. They are meant to be enemies, but neither can resist the passion burning between them…and all too soon the biggest threat is to her heart.
But as Baden slips deeper into the abyss, she'll have to teach him to love…or lose him forever.
What I Liked:
I haven't read most of this series - in fact, I've only read this book and The Darkest Touch - but I've enjoyed what I read so far. Even only having read two of the twelve books, I can say that this series is incredibly easy to love. After reading The Darkest Touch, I found myself deeply invested in the stories of the myriad characters - and there are so many. While I was a little disappointed that book twelve was not going to be Lazarus and Cameo's story, I was pleased to find out that it would be Baden's story, and we would meet his perfect mate.
Baden was beheaded long ago, but brought back by Hades, and he is now bound to Hades. Hades has tasks that Baden must complete, and one task involves retrieving a coin from a half-immortal, half-mortal man masquerading as a mortal. But obtaining the coin from the man is not easy, and Baden finds himself with the man's freshly-married wife, Katarina. Katarina never wanted to marry Aleksander Ciernik, but he forced her, by holding her dogs hostage (she's a dog trainer, and a very devoted one). She just finishes saying her vows when men show up - and they claim to be immortal. Katarina didn't want to be with Aleksander, but she certainly didn't want to be held captive by the infuriatingly sexy immortal, Baden. But she quickly finds out that he is more a protector than captor, and he will never hurt her. Passion simmers between them, but so does a tug-of-war for control. When it comes down to choosing, will Katarina stay with Baden, an ice-cold warrior who has gotten past all of her defenses?
I don't remember too much about Baden from The Darkest Touch, but that didn't matter because I adored him from the start of this book. He is riddled with crippling guilt; he's back among his friends, but Destruction lies within him, and he is constantly at war with himself. He has to fight Destruction within himself so as not to attack any of his friends. And years ago, when he was beheaded, he did it to protect his friends (but they don't know this). Baden was one the Gentleman of the Lords, before he was beheaded. He is empty and scowling and almost cold now, but as the story begins to pick up, we see that he is just as noble and protective as he ever was. Baden has a good heart, and he is a loyal almost to a fault. While he is definitely a broken and tortured hero, he is such a likable one.
Katarina was a little more difficult to like. I liked her, I didn't like her, I liked her... in the end, I think I liked her overall. But there were times when I was so frustrated with her, because she was such a fool. She is portrayed as a tough, alpha female, and I think this works with Baden, but I didn't always like her (foolish and irrational) decisions. She threw a tantrum every now and then, but I tried to remind myself to put myself in her shoes. Yes, I am more inclined to adore Baden from the start, because I'd been exposed to his character before. But still, Katarina was on and off for me. I did like her spunk and her drive, her devotion to her dogs, and eventually, her devotion to Baden. Katarina falls for Baden pretty quickly, and while they do fight (mostly because of her), Katarina always has his best interests at heart.
At first I was weirded out by the fact that Katarina was married (even if she had just gotten married, minutes before she meets Baden and he whisks her away). But technically, she wasn't, since she signed no papers (an argument that Showalter never brought up). She is referred to as that man's wife throughout the story, but clearly, there is no love there. I wanted to kill Aleksander on many occasions - and trust me, he got what he deserved. The whole already-married thing didn't really bother me, surprisingly, especially with how that gets resolved. I only wish it had gotten resolved quicker.
The romance between Baden and Katarina is a push-and-pull one, a constant tug-of-war. Baden is a domineering alpha who throws around commands like nobody's business. Katarina has been an independent woman for a long time, and she doesn't appreciate the commands. But the passion (and lust) between the pair is so strong, and eventually, so are their feelings. I like how both the chemistry and the feelings grow as the story goes on. Things get pretty heated between the two, but it is also very clear that both of them care so much about each other.
You could read this book as a standalone (like I did with The Darkest Touch, and this one), but I love how each book builds on the series. Showalter does a greet job of cluing in a new reader, but she also does a really good job of moving the series plot forward with each book. There is a battle between Hades and Lucifer, and all of the Lords of the Underworld are involved.
I also like how there are multiple stories happening in this book. No, it's not confusing at all. This book is written in third-person POV, featuring Baden's POV, Katarina's, Gillian's, even Cameo's. This is why I was rooting for Lazarus/Cameo's story to be next - because of the side-plot in The Darkest Touch involving Lazarus and Cameo. Thankfully, their book is next.
Overall, I have to hand it to Showalter. She really knows how to diversify the personalities and characteristics of each of her Lords and their mates, and cook up some intense and fiery passion in a story. I definitely want to binge-read books one through ten!
What I Did Not Like:
I already mentioned my on-and-off like/irritation for Katarina. She's not the b***hiest heroine I've encountered (in fact, not at all), but I think she could have cut Baden a break a little more often. And I think she was a little too fixated on the dogs (don't hate me, animal lovers!). I personally think she should have fought for Baden twice as hard as she fought for the dogs. Katarina got on my nerves on more than one occasion, but she wasn't enough for me to discourage someone from reading this book.
Would I Recommend It:
If you have enjoyed Showalter's adult romance books in the past, definitely keep going. I can't speak for books one through ten, but the newest two in this series are so good. The Darkest Touch is probably my favorite of the two, but this book did not disappoint. And if you're new to the series, I highly recommend this book! Or The Darkest Touch. This is good paranormal romance!
4 stars. I have a feeling that Showalter won't disappoint me, moving backwards in the series or moving forward! I am hopelessly excited for The Darkest Promise. Please please please be amazing!
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!
Check out the series:
(Click on the image to go to Goodreads.)
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.
“There, there, poppet.” William gently wiped Gillian’s brow with a damp rag. “You’ll heal. That’s an order.”
She opened boulder-heavy eyelids. He sat beside her, his image blurry, as if a gossamer mist surrounded him. Her mind supplied the details she needed: he was the most beautiful man ever born, with hair blacker than any night and eyes bluer than any ocean.
“What’s wrong with me?” Her voice was weak and raspy, the words nearly impossible to understand.
Thankfully, he wasn’t human, his hearing better than most. “Something supernatural. But I’ve got the best immortal doctors in the world running tests.”
Yes. She remembered poking and prodding, William snapping, “Be gentler or lose your hand.”
“I want to go home,” she said. She wasn’t just weak and pained; she was weirded out. Her every cell felt as if it had sprouted legs and now crawled through her veins. A familiar setting would help.
She didn’t have the strength to get up and walk to the bathroom. She had to have help—William’s help—or she had to use a bedpan.
A freaking bedpan. Oh, the humiliation!
She wanted the girls.
Cool fingers sifted through her hair. “Baden returned to the fortress, and his temper is…unstable. I know better than most what he’s capable of doing. I experienced the same—” He quieted, then smiled a smile devoid of humor. “You’re safer here. This realm is hidden. No one comes or goes without my knowledge. Sleep now, poppet.”
No, no. Not ready to drift away just yet. She wanted more time with him before they were separated forever…
“You’re not sleeping,” William said.
Sweet William. From the first moment she’d met him, she’d been drawn to him in a way that both scared and excited her. He was just so wonderfully mesmerizing. And powerful. And wicked and smart and sexy and kind—to her. Always to her. His friends, too, but only sometimes.
His enemies, well, they died badly.
Men feared him, and women craved him like a drug. When he smiled, panties dropped. Or melted off. She wasn’t sure which, only knew he worked the situation to his advantage. The guy slept around, though he never stuck around. Because he always came back to Gillian.
As much as she hated the thought of him getting naked with another woman, she never ever never ever wanted to have sex again. She despised everything about the act. The smells, the sounds, the sensations. The pain…the humiliation…the helplessness…
The thought of joining her body with another person’s made her break out in hives, not shiver with desire.
(This excerpt features a different couple in the story!)