Reviewed: September 25, 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Lords of the Underworld, Book 8
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 426 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Strider, keeper of the demon Defeat, isn't having the best few months. Though the Hunters who have made the Lords' lives hell have been quiet lately, it hasn't exactly been vacation time around the Buda mansion. Then there's the fact that he lost the woman he wanted to his brother in demonic possession, Amun, keeper of Secrets. That sucked big time.
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 asshats 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.
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