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 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.
“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.