Title: The Darkest Lie
Author: Gena Showalter
Series: Lords of the Underworld, book 6
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: HQN, Harlequin Publishing
Year of release: 2010, July 1
Format: eBook – ADEpdf, 448 pages
Source: Received digital copy from publisher via NetGalley
First line: Gideon stared down at the woman sleeping in the massive bed of cerulean cotton.
– Scarlet and Gideon’s marriage vows > so endearing and beautiful
– Amun, William and Aeron in Hell > action-packed, heart-in-throat exciting
– The scene where Scarlet discovers what really happened in the past > heartbreaking
I want to start this review by saying it was the hardest review I’ve ever written because I did not love this book by one of my all-time favorite authors and I so wanted to. I really wanted to LOVE this book as much as I did all the other installments in this series but I just couldn’t, there were too many things that just didn’t work for me and writing this review broke my fan-girl heart a little bit.
Gideon is the keeper of the Demon of Lies. I always thought Gideon kind of sweet and inconspicuous until THE DARKEST WHISPER, where he certainly made an appearance that stayed with me and in THE DARKEST PASSION he definitely made an impression on me with his great sense of humor and had me thinking I was going to have to change my mind about him. Unfortunately in his own book it was hard to get a firm grip on his character because of some very contradictory traits. He’s sweet and tough, brave and meek, ruthless and compassionate and tender.
Scarlet is the keeper of the Demon of Nightmares. She’s ruthless, saucy, sharp, fearless and intelligent. Scarlet is the first heroine in the Lords of the Underworld series I did not like very much. And despite me not liking her she still outshone Gideon for me. She did things I didn’t like but she was fierce and passionate and underneath that fierceness was a sort of vulnerability in her yearning for someone to love and accept her. Both Gideon and Scarlet are stubborn but Scarlet won hands down in that department too. She just refused to compromise or to see things in another light, holding on to what she thought of Gideon and to her version of what had happened in the past.
The contradictions in Gideon and some other things I’ll talk about later on in this review made it hard for me to fall for him as the hero of this book. Add to that that Scarlet either worked on my nerves or did things that made me want to smack her around for most of the book and you may deduct that the main characters didn’t quite work for me in THE DARKEST LIE.
The first things that bothered me were the prologue and chapter 1. To me it would have worked so much better if chapter 1 had been the prologue and the prologue chapter 1. I didn’t understand why and see the logic of the way it was done now. Also, I was sad to see some mid-scene breaks to completely different storylines at some very inconvenient points in the scenes. Remember my rant about that in my LOVER MINE review? Needless to say I was very disillusioned to see this in a book by one of my favorite authors.
While I liked the premise of Scarlet in THE DARKEST PASSION, where the foundation for Gideon and Scarlet’s story is laid, for the greater part of this book I didn’t like Scarlet. I really didn’t like how she physically hurt Gideon and I liked the emotional hurt she caused him even less. I really resented her hitting, kicking and punching Gideon repeatedly and Gideon just “lying there and taking it,” passively, without protest or retaliation. I truly disliked how Gideon let Scarlet physically abuse him. I am not an advocate for men hitting women, definitely not, but come on! She punched, hit, kicked, stabbed him and he did…nothing!!
There was a point in the story where I seriously wondered if Gena was going to be able to redeem Scarlet and make me like her more, further along in the book. To me Scarlet was a tad whimsical. Sometimes she would show a glimpse of compassion, of caring, of feeling Gideon’s torment and pain and wanting to assuage that pain. However, these moments were far too rare in my opinion and that contributed to me not caring much about her as the heroine for most part of the book. There was a storyline in the book that broke my heart and made me sympathize with Scarlet a bit more and in the end Gena Showalter did redeem her characters enough for my resentment of Scarlet to diminish but it did reek of too little too late.
And then there was the “Gideon-speak”. I admire Gena Showalter for taking up the complicated task of writing this book because the Gideon-speak was utterly confusing throughout the whole book. It slowed the pace down for me as figuring out what he meant sometimes, or the translations offered by the other characters or by Gideon’s inner voice, would take me out of the story and the reading rhythm. In the other books of the Lords of the Underworld series I found the Gideon-speak funny and quirky but it came in small doses then. Reading and mentally translating it in the first half of this book made me feel like my head was going to explode and this was another reason, next to the slow pace, the low amount of action and the disconnection with the main couple, why it took me so long (it took me a month(!) to read this book) to finish this book.
The pace was another thing that bothered me. For at least the first half of the story the pace is slow, there’s not much happening action wise, making it the “meh” book in the Lords of the Underworld series. I have a “meh” book in every ongoing series and unfortunately THE DARKEST LIE turned out to be it in this series. I was and still am disappointed in the lack of action and new information in the first part of the book. After I’d read about 100 pages I was still at the point in the story arc where I’d left it at the end of THE DARKEST PASSION. So that was about 100 pages of no new information, no new developments, only back-story and revelations that were already known to loyal followers of this series. As I said in my review of THE DARKEST PASSION: I understand the need to write these books as stand-alones but in my opinion as someone who reads series like these in order, it is a disservice to readers who have been with the series since book 1 when you have to read about 100 pages first before you get something new in the continuing story arc.
Next to all of the above things that didn’t work for me there were also things that did work for me, fortunately! The trademark Gena Showalter humor is definitely present again in THE DARKEST LIE. I loved that she never fails me in that department and it definitely gave me the reading pleasure I missed with other aspects of the book.
The story of Gideon and Scarlet and the romance between them is heartbreaking. Even without knowing Gideon’s side of the story in the beginning, the tale Scarlet’s character reveals bit by bit through her thoughts and memories shows a Scarlet who was rejected by everyone who meant something to her, everyone who was supposed to love and cherish her. I was intrigued by how Gideon doesn’t remember Scarlet or being married to her. The why and how kept me speculating during a big portion of the book and when the answers came I was surprised by what had been going on and what had been done to Scarlet and Gideon.
Still, it is not a good sign when the side stories capture my attention more than the main couple does. In this case it there was nothing wrong with the romance or their back-story but the characters themselves just rubbed me the wrong way. The side stories however were extremely interesting and made me want more, more, and more. I want to know about Aeron and Legion (can I say cliff hanger?), William (sexy immortal extraordinaire), Amun (fairly early in the story there’s a hinting towards Amun’s HEA and if that one is carried through it’s one I really didn’t see coming but I’m very curious to see how this is going to be played out), someone I can’t name for fear of spoilers of almost all the previous books in the series, especially THE DARKEST PASSION (but wow, I can’t wait for when stuff surrounding her starts coming out of the woodworks), Strider (disaster and mayhem about to happen there).
As usual Gena Showalter had the ability to surprise me with plot twists like no other and she kept doing it in THE DARKEST LIE too. I think I’ve mentioned the 100-page mark a few times and apologize for doing it again but it wasn’t until after about those first 100 pages that at last I was pulled into the story. The new developments and plot twists I had been craving were finally delivered and the pace picked up along with a lot more action and in the end I got what I am used to in the LOTU series. In terms of overall arc and side plots the series keeps getting better and better with every new installment and THE DARKEST LIE is no exception, because despite my misgivings with Gideon and Scarlet the plot, once it got going, was intriguing and original as always.
I so wanted to be awed by another installment of the LOTU, a series I love so much, but I honestly can’t say that I was. Disappointed and heartbroken is a more accurate description of how I felt until about 2/3 into the book and when I turned the last page of it I was very sad to say that this was the first ever Gena Showalter book I had problems with. Admittedly, the last third of the book did make up for some of the disappointment I felt, but sadly it wasn’t enough to boost my rating up to more than I’ve given it now. But I have faith in Gena! As someone on Twitter said: “everyone has the right to an off day, or in this case an off book…I am convinced and confident Gena Showalter and the LOTU series will deliver for me in the next installment.
He was a beautiful man, his face was like an angel’s –only sprinkled with all kinds of wicked.
She’d always been interested in him? Suddenly he wanted to puff out his chest and bang on it like a damned monkey.
“Don’t reach into my pocket,” he said.
There was a suspended silence. Then a dry, “I don’t think so.”
“I don’t have a present for you.”
Interest lit her dark eyes, but she remained still. Even suspicious. “The present wouldn’t happen to be a hard c#ck, would it? Because if it is, I would have to return it. Minus a few inches.”
The moment his tongue made contact, his entire body felt like it went up in flames from the inside out. His blood turned his organs to ash. His ashed organs liquefied his bones and those liquid bones scorched his skin, leaving blisters.