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Gena Showalter

REVIEW: The Darkest Seduction by Gena Showalter

REVIEW: The Darkest Seduction by Gena Showalter

Dear Ms. Showalter,

I like some of your books more than others. I freely admit this. While The Darkest Surrender worked very well for me, and I really enjoyed the novella in The Heart of Darkness as well. The harpies as heroines just seem to work. I was going to pass on The Darkest Seduction as I really didn’t care much about Paris, but I was searching for something to read and this one had scores of gushing reviews. I’m sad to say that this book probably works best for fans that have followed the entire series, as I had no emotional investment in most of the plot and found the hero and heroine bland.

The Darkest Seduction by Gena ShowalterThe Darkest Seduction is the story of Paris and Sienna, a pairing that has been teased for quite a few books. Paris is the keeper of promiscuity, aka sex. He must have sex with a different woman every night to appease his demon. He cannot sleep with the same woman twice. Sienna is a human woman who was previously a hunter. Now she is dead and has been bound with the demon of Wrath, and exists on the Realm of Blood and Shadows as a sort of ghost who can destroy when Wrath is upon her. Sienna has been held prisoner by Cronus, who is some bad guy that hates the Lords of the Underworld. For some reason, Paris is obsessed with finding Sienna and he must travel to the underworld to find her, because his demon wants her again.

My biggest problem with this book is that I had no idea what was going on for very large chunks of it. The books I’ve read in the series didn’t deal too much with this plot, or if they did, I’d forgotten a lot of it. I knew Paris was searching for Sienna but that was about it. Sadly, this book is for the fans that have followed the entire series. There wasn’t a lot of explaining. Why was Paris so in love with Sienna? Why was his demon interested in her after he’d already had sex with her before? Why was Cronus holding Sienna hostage? Who were the horsemen? What is the Realm of Blood and Shadows? Why can Sienna kill people when Wrath takes over but no one can see her? These things are not explained in the story. It’s assumed the reader has been following along and knows what is going on. That made getting through the first half of this book a huge chore. It picks up in the second half, but by that point, I had to just go with the flow and knew that things were not going to be spelled out.

Sienna and Paris have some good chemistry together, but I kept wishing more was explained. Why are they so in love? There’s no soulmate bond, but from the moment they reunite in this book, they’re crazy in love for each other.

He cupped her jaw, forcing her to peer up at him rather than scanning her surroundings for a hiding place. As if he would ever hide from an enemy and leave a female to fight for him. “What’s coming? Talk to me, baby.” He knew she wasn’t too ken on endearments from him – at least she hadn’t been before- but then, he’d never called another woman his baby. Only sweetheart and honey, meaningless words like that, and never with such a note of affection.

I don’t understand why ‘baby’ is more meaningful than sweetheart or honey. Any woman could be called baby. Any number of spouses call their husbands/wives ‘baby’. This moment fell flat for me, and it was one of several.

I kept waiting for the book to explain what made Sienna different from the thousands and thousands of women that Paris had bedded before, but it wasn’t truly explained to my satisfaction. Sienna’s personality is fairly weak compared to the harpies from the other books. She doesn’t know why Paris loves her, doesn’t have any special skills, and is described as plain. She’s not confident. She’s not strong or powerful. She’s not funny. She’s just sort of there.  I kept hoping for some deeper emotional connection but it never truly struck me. I don’t know if it’s the fault of the book as much as me not being familiar with the entire series.

I did think the sex between them was sexy enough, and they had some sweet moments together. The methods that Paris takes to be able to see Sienna (who is a ghost) was very interesting to me, so I have to give kudos for a different spin on that.

While Paris was a moody hero and Sienna kind of bland, the supporting cast added a lot of amusing moments that made up for things. I found Viola, the keeper of Narcissism, rather entertaining. The storyline with Galen and Legion was interesting and I do wonder if they will have their own book. I found William irritating, but he did have some funny moments.

“Nice to know you’ve considered my sex life,” [Paris] grumbled.

“Hasn’t everyone?”

“Screw you.”

“Again, hasn’t everyone?”

The end of the book starts to pull all the plot pieces together and it felt decently big. Again, I feel like it would have been more epic if I had followed the other books, so I can’t fault the author for this. For fans of the other books, there’s a lot of visits from other Lords who have settled down with their women, and those characters play a part as well. The ending took me by surprise and I felt it was a big ending, and a big turn for the series, and I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

You have some great ideas in your books, but I always feel as if the execution is not enough. Like the ideas are bigger than life, but they don’t come across that way on paper, and I end up disappointed. I do think you do a great, funny ensemble and when your writing is lighthearted, it’s great. I’m not sure ‘dark’ is one of the strengths of your repetoire, however. Overall, I think this is a book that fans of the series will really enjoy, but casual readers will probably want to read the other books in the series first. If I’d read more books in the series, I’d give this a B. As it is, I’m going to have to be cruel and give it a C.  Readable, but not a favorite.

All best,

January

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REVIEW: Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter

REVIEW: Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter

Dear Ms. Showalter,

You’re one of those authors I feel I should love. Your story ideas are creative and inventive. You’re prolific – one of my favorite traits in an author. Your online personality is sweet and easygoing.  And yet for some reason, your books and I never seem to quite connect. Every time you start a new series, I buy the first book, hoping that this will be the one that converts me into a raving fan. It’s why I picked up Lord of the Vampires. Sadly, this book was not quite the one.

Lord of the Vampires	Gena ShowalterThe set-up is intriguing. Jane Parker is a scientist who is recovering from a terrible car accident several months ago. The car accident killed her mother and nearly crippled Jane, and she has had a long, lonely road to recovery. As she recovers, she dreams of a mysterious, sexy vampire who is being held captive. One day, Jane receives a strange book in the mail. The book talks about a mysterious, sexy vampire who is being held captive by an evil princess.  Jane is shocked by the parallel to her dreams, but even more shocking – her own name is in the book and the vampire is demanding that she go to him. She dreams about making love to the vampire that night, and the next morning she awakens to find herself in the kingdom mentioned by the book, wearing the face of the evil princess. Under the guise of the evil princess, she meets the vampire, Nicolai. He has been kept as a sex slave by the evil (and ugly) Odette, and he can see Jane’s true face under the glamor she wears.  Nicolai is a captive and his memories have been stripped from him. He knows that Jane is not Odette and that she has come to save him. They escape from the castle together and run off into the forest, where a series of mishaps befall them as they immediately fall into love with each other.

I found the world in this tale fairly murky. It feels like the storyline is a mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and fairy tales. The two evil, ugly princesses are the daughters of the Queen of Hearts in the kingdom of Delfina. Jane’s appearance in the new world could easily harken back to Alice, though I didn’t see anyone or anything I could point to as the White Rabbit. From there, however, the story seems to be a mishmash of fantasy tropes (evil ogres, witches) with the occasional paranormal element. Nicolai is a vampire. I have no idea why he is a vampire or if anyone else is a vampire. Was he turned? I could have missed it, but I am confused why he is a vampire and none of his other siblings is. Moreover, the story is entitled ‘Lord of the Vampires’, but Nicolai was the only vampire in the story. He is a prince of the fantasy kingdom of Elden, but as far as I could tell, it was not inhabited by vampires. I found the world very confusing and had to constantly re-read certain sections to make sure I was following along. Even now, I still feel like I’m missing big chunks of the story.

Jane was a problematic character for me. She’s sympathetic and strong-willed, but I had trouble with the concept that she’s supposed to be a brilliant scientist who graduated early from high school, finished college in a blink, then worked for years at a top secret branch of the government doing experiments on quantum theories and on mysterious, otherworldly creatures, which has a bigger role later in the story. My problem was that Jane did not act like a scientist or think like one.  She is also a very, very rich, very young scientist.

She didn’t need to work because one, she’d made so much money through her research, she could never spend it all; and two, she’d made so much money in the car accident settlement she could never spend it all.

That struck me as…odd. Does science pay that much? If she loves her job so much, why isn’t she attempting to go back to her job? How would she have such high government clearance at such a young age? These are questions I kept asking myself and did not come to a satisfactory answer. For the record, at the start of the story, Jane is 27 and had been in recovery from her car accident for almost a year, so she would have ‘retired’ from her beloved career somewhere around the age of 26.

Nicolai as the hero was very sexy and charming, however. I do find that you do the obsessive, devoted hero very well. He was adoring of Jane and extremely protective, and I find that is always a joy to read about. Their banter was sometimes very charming, and while Nicolai was the big, possessive alpha male, I still had the impression that Jane was running the show. I like that in a story. The sex between them was not as explicit as your other series, perhaps, but that might have to do with the Nocturne line more than anything else. I still felt the chemistry between them was sufficiently spark-worthy. There was instant lust and love between the two characters, but given the rest of the setting, I let this slide. Insta-lust does not really bother me in a paranormal, since I feel there are a lot of elements in these stories that require the suspension of disbelief.

I have to say that I hated the ending. It was too perfect. As Jane has said in the past, this was definitely a Care Bear ending. Not for me.

Overall, this was a mixed read for me. I liked the concept but found the execution flawed. The hero was sexy but the heroine was hard to believe. You don’t need to read this story to grasp what is going on with the others. There is an overarching story plot about the four siblings, however, I didn’t feel that it was more than window dressing.  And while this did not work for me as well as I’d hoped, I’ll still be there to buy the first book of your next series.

All best,

January

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