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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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January Janes

January likes a little bit of everything. She's partial to unique paranormals, erotic romances, contemporary, and YA. She has a fondness for novellas and trying self-published works, though more of those are misses than hits. She still refuses to read anything that smells like literary fiction. January also changes this bio on a regular basis depending on her reading mood.

8 Comments

  1. Lorenda Christensen
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 04:22:44

    This:

    “Like the ideas are bigger than life, but they don’t come across that way on paper”

    is exactly how I described this author to my husband. I envy Ms. Showalter her imagination – I’m amazed at the fantastic ideas/worlds she seems to create with ease. But I’ve just never been able to fully enjoy her books, because the writing seems to be missing something. Good review.

  2. HeatherU
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 08:33:28

    Great review! I felt the same way about the last few books in the series. Something has been lost, and I can’t always quite describe why it doesn’t float my boat, and yet I come back for more. I have, however, stopped buying and started borrowing. I think I’ll keep that up with this one.

  3. Sophia
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 09:26:25

    I kind of expected this…

    This was the book that was going to answer all those questions about how they met and why they connected. But if it doesnt do that…I think Ill skip this one.

  4. Mo
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 14:05:29

    I admit, I was hooked with Maddox and unhooked with Reyes. Paris was half of the other guys I even cared about and no idea if/when the other one will get a book. I haven’t tried to follow since Reyes’ book for exactly the reason January highlights: “Like the ideas are bigger than life, but they don’t come across that way on paper”.

    It feels like great set up, teases to be a “big thing” and then oof! falls flat. If this happens to Paris, I will skip his book and hope that Torin’s is better.

    The idea behind these books is really cool; I just wish I felt like the execution was equal to it.

  5. Lucy Francis
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 14:45:51

    I hate leaving ditto-type comments, but Mo, I had exactly the same response to this series. Fell in love with the guys in Maddox’s story, and lost it with Reyes. I’ve always been curious to see how Paris’s problem with needing another woman each day would be resolved, but the series, like so many big sagas, seems to gotten a bit lost and unhinged.

    I will probably pick this up, or at least borrow it from the library, and skim it to see Paris’s final resolution.

  6. Anna Cowan
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 17:38:58

    for me, a romance always has to say, “Only you, in all the world.” Considering this guy’s slept with all the world, he would have to really bring that point home. The fact that he doesn’t…meh.

  7. cbackson
    Mar 13, 2012 @ 11:32:25

    Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series is fascinating to me. Not because it’s particularly good – I don’t think it is – but because I feel like it represents the truest expression of a type of PNR that I think of as the “supernatural frat house chronicles”. Yes, I know there are more popular versions of this kind of story, and better ones (BDB, which for all its crappiness, has a certain weird vitality to it, is the most popular that I can think of). But LotU seems to exemplify every aspect of this trope. It’s almost…paint by numbers.

    A bunch of supernatural bros live in a house together. They’re cursed, or called, or blessed: whatever it is, they have some kind of joint evil-fighting destiny and mission. They are immortal or extremely long-lived. They are seven feet tall. For some reason, at the opening of the series, none of them have yet gotten hitched (or maybe one token guy has). The female love interests are fairly similar and generally fade into the background in subsequent books. There’s a long overarching storyline that requires lots of infodumping and exposition at the beginning of each book, and that is, generally speaking convoluted and far more interesting to the author than to the readers.

    Also, there are swords. Supernatural bros always seem strangely incapable of discovering the evil-dispatching utility of the AK-47.

    Anyway, although I kind of idly wondered how Showalter was going to resolve the whole promiscuity thing, I don’t care enough to read this book. If I thought she was going to veer off into bizarro world, as BDB occasionally does (or as Showalter actually has in some of her other books), I might give it a shot, but at this point, given how many of these kinds of books are out there and how similar they are (indeed, how similar even the books in this series are), I feel like I could probably outline the plot right here, right now, without even reading it.

  8. cat james
    Mar 13, 2012 @ 13:16:55

    I gave up after starting Aeron’s book and was eagerly anticipating Paris’s, but after reading your review…eh, doesn’t sound like it’s even worth the $1 to hold at the library.

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