C2’s review of The Darkest Secret (Lords of the Underworld, Book 7) by Gena Showalter
Paranormal Romance published by HQN 29 March 11
Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series has a very interesting basis, I’ve always thought. In her world, Pandora’s Box held demons and when the demons were released, rather than all flying free to fill the world with misery, etc., some were caught and housed inside the warriors that were supposed to keep the box safe and intact. After thousands of years, the warriors and demons have learned to deal with each other relatively well…most of the time. A very good thing, since it turns out the warriors cannot survive if their demon is removed.
Amun is the Keeper of Secrets. His demon absorbs the darkest, deepest thoughts of those around him. And once those secrets are in his head, he has no way to be rid of them. Amun chooses not to speak aloud because, once the secrets start pouring out, he is afraid he will not be able to stop. Instead, he uses sign language to communicate with the other Lords.
Haidee is a Hunter – a group dedicated to eliminating the Lords of the Underworld. She is brought to the Lords’ fortress after being captured by Strider, Keeper of Defeat. Strider thinks they will be able to get all sorts of useful information about the Hunters from her…one way or another. What Strider doesn’t realize is that Haidee has a secret.
Amun and some others have just returned from a mission to Hell – literally (in The Darkest Lie). This time he absorbs not only secrets but actual demon minions and they are slowly driving him insane. Amun absorbs so much evil it seeps from him and affects those around him – they crave things they would never want and are tempted to do things they would never normally do. He is under guard until it is clear he will not harm himself or others. During his suffering, Amun internally calls out for help. Haidee has been locked in the room next to his and hears his mental call…first in a nightmare and then awake.
When Haidee hears a familiar voice where she expects only enemies – the horribly injured person next door looks and sounds like her boyfriend, Micah (a man she has dreamt of all her life, even though they only met a few months before) – she is determined to get them both out of the Lords’ fortress safely. When Amun realizes she is a Hunter and she thinks he is someone else, he plays along so he can keep her safe. Of course, she quickly finds out the truth – that he is one of the creatures she is determined to kill…even if that option isn’t as attractive as it should be.
Only with Haidee is Amun lucid and able to keep the demons inside him subdued. Since she is a sworn enemy, the Lords are determined to find another way to save him. The only option they can find is that Amun must return the demons to Hell. And the only way he can manage is if Haidee goes with him. While they are on their quest, Amun is determined to find out exactly who and what Haidee is…why she affects him the way she does…and he may have to do it the hard way – by talking – because his demon isn’t particularly cooperative when it comes to Haidee’s secrets.
During their travels through the realms of hell (creepy, creepy realms!), they do get to know each other. And their attraction increases – even though Haidee is fighting it. She tells Amun she doesn’t want to start a relationship with him until she breaks up with her boyfriend…and cell reception in hell is not so good, faithful reader. I have to say, Haidee’s insistence on the whole break-up-first issue is annoying. She already knows she’s only attracted to Micah because she thought he’s the man she’s been dreaming of for so long. And they had barely even dated! The only thing they had in common is that both were Hunters.
Eventually (almost too late) all Haidee’s secrets are revealed to Amun – why her skin is so cool to touch, why she has lived many lifetimes, why demon minions flee from her. Don’t you want to know what she is? How she can do all sorts of things a normal human Hunter shouldn’t be able to do? Of course you do!
The structure of this book is different from earlier books in the series. The Darkest Secret spends a lot of time with Strider and some of the other Lords in a not-very-connected subplot. I enjoyed the subplot sections but, because the tone is so different from the main plot, the transitions are jarring. I’m sure it is to expand the world of the series and to set up Strider’s book (coming up next), but the two plots didn’t blend as seamlessly as they could have.
Is this book for you? If you have enjoyed the series so far, yes. This isn’t my favorite of the series, but it held my interest. Does it stand alone? No. I always recommend starting a series at the beginning, but you really need to here – if nothing else, read the previous book, since Amun’s story really starts there.
Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when the immortal warrior is chained and isolated to protect those he loves, death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty….
Haidee is a demon-assassin, raised to despise Amun’s kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul…and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.
Read an excerpt.