The Darkest Surrender (Lords of the Underworld Series #8)

The Darkest Surrender (Lords of the Underworld Series #8)

4.6 447
by Gena Showalter
     
 

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Possessed by the demon of Defeat, Strider cannot lose a challenge without suffering unimaginable pain. For him, nothing stands in the way of victory. Until Kaia, an enchanting Harpy, tempts him to the razor's edge of surrender.

Known among her people as The Disappointment, Kaia must bring home the gold in the Harpy Games or die. Strider is a distraction she can&

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Overview

Possessed by the demon of Defeat, Strider cannot lose a challenge without suffering unimaginable pain. For him, nothing stands in the way of victory. Until Kaia, an enchanting Harpy, tempts him to the razor's edge of surrender.

Known among her people as The Disappointment, Kaia must bring home the gold in the Harpy Games or die. Strider is a distraction she can't afford because he has an agenda of his own—steal first prize, an ancient godly artifact, before the winner can be named. But as the competition heats up, only one prize will matter—the love neither had thought possible.…

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"One of the premier authors of paranormal romance."
-New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole

"Showalter gives her fans another treat, sure to satisfy!"

-RT Book Reviews on The Darkest Passion

"The Showalter name on a book means guaranteed entertainment."

-RT Book Reviews on Twice as Hot

"If you like your paranormal dark and passionately
flavored, this is the series for you."

-RT Book Reviews on The Darkest Whisper

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780373775811
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
09/27/2011
Series:
Lords of the Underworld Series, #8
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
199,056
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

"I WANT HIM."

"Where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah. The day of the Unfortunate Incident, something you made me swear never to discuss, even upon threat of death. And I won't discuss it now, so don't get your panties in a twist. I just thought you were more careful with your affections nowadays."

Kaia Skyhawk peered over at her twin—Bianka the Heavenly Hills Ho, as Kaia had recently dubbed her. A name her precious sis deserved. Girl had nailed an angel. A freaking angel. 'Course, in return Bianka had dubbed her Kaia: Bed-warmer of the Underworld for getting down and dirty with Paris, the biggest man-whore in existence.

The title didn't sting nearly as much as her last one. Fine, her current one. Harpies had long memories, and shouts of "Look, everyone, it's the Disappointment" still happened anytime she ran into another of her race.

Anyway. Bianka was as ravishingly gorgeous as ever, a dark fall of hair cascading down her back, her amber eyes bright. And just then she was flipping through a rack of designer dresses, a mix of determination and concern radiating from her.

"That happened, like, a million years ago," Kaia said, "and Strider is the first man Fve…damn it, he's just the first man I've wanted, truly wanted," she added before her sister could comment on her "boyfriends" throughout the centuries, "since. Or ever."

"Actually, that, as you called it, happened a mere fifteen hundred years ago, but we aren't discussing it. So what about Kane, keeper of Disaster, huh? I thought you once had a moment with him? A shock to your senses or something like that."

"Nothing but static."

A snort full of amusement. "Try again."

"I don't know. Maybe his demon sensed a kindred spirit in me and reached out, hoping to fan the flames of a romance. That doesn't mean Kane and I are destined to be together. I'm not attracted to him."

"Better, and okay, Kane's out. Maybe you need to look elsewhere for a boyfriend. Like, say, the heavens. I can set you up with an angel." Bianka held up a flowing swath of blue material with sequined flower appliques sewn into the top and layer after layer of lacy ruffles at the bottom. "What do you think of this one?"

Ignoring the dress as she'd been ignored, Kaia pressed on. "No set ups. I want Strider."

"He's no good for you."

He's perfect for me. "One, he doesn't belong to another Harpy. Two, he isn't psychotic. Well," she added with a few seconds of afterthought, "he isn't psychotic all of the time. And three, he's…he's my consort, I know it." There. She'd said the words out loud to someone other than herself and the brain-damaged man in question.

My consort.

Consorts, as Kaia now knew, were extremely hard to find and utterly cherished because of that. Actually, they were necessary. Harpies were volatile by nature, dangerous and, when annoyed, lethal to the entire world. Consorts calmed them. Consorts appeased them.

If only you could select your consort from a catalogue and be done with it. Instead, instinct picked for you, and your body followed suit. Wouldn't have been so bad, except each Harpy was granted one consort during her seemingly endless life. Only one. You lost him, and you suffered eternally. If you didn't kill yourself outright.

That Kaia had once tried to steal Juliette's, that Juliette had been without her male all this time, not knowing whether he lived or had died, hating him for what he'd done but needing him anyway, that Juliette still loathed Kaia and had promised retribution—retribution the bitch still clearly planned to achieve—shamed her. But then, what could she say to defend herself? Nothing!

She had disobeyed. She set the man free. She had unleashed his fury upon an unsuspecting community.

Every year Kaia mailed Juliette a fruit basket with a "sorry about you consort" card, and every year the basket was returned with rotten apple cores, black banana peels, and a picture of Juliette flipping her off with "Die, Whore, Die" written in blood somewhere.

Only reason Juliette hadn't yet attacked was out of respect for Tabitha, who was still a force to be reckoned with among allies and enemies alike.

Don't think about the past. You'll start spiraling.

She'd think about her consort. Strider. Barbaric, slutty, idiotic Strider. He was an immortal warrior who'd long ago stolen and opened Pandora's box to "teach those asshole gods a lesson" for daring to pick a "mere woman" to guard such a "dumb relic," and because of his rampant senselessness, he and the friends who'd helped him—the infamous and deliciously frightening for everyone but a Harpy Lords of the Underworld—had been cursed, forever forced to carry the demons they'd set free inside themselves.

Strider, the beautiful moron, was possessed by the demon of Defeat. He couldn't lose a single challenge without suffering debilitating pain. Of course, that made him determined to win everything, even something as silly as Rock Band. Which she refused to ever again play with him because she'd totally nailed the bass, then the drums, then the mic, and he'd spazzed out and yelled at her before passing out and twitching with pain. So melodramatic.

Anyway, his determination made him stupid, egotistical, stupid, an all around asshat and stupid! But…there was no man more handsome, no man more fierce.

No man who wanted less to do with her.

Had she mentioned he was stupid?

"Well?" Bianka shook the dress in Kaia's face, forcefully claiming her attention. "Opinion, please. And sometime today."

Focus. "Don't kill the messenger, but that thing will make you look like a cracked out prom queen who has no plans to sleep with her boyfriend when the big dance ends—because she doesn't have a boyfriend. She's too weird. Sorry."

Bianka merely shrugged, unperturbed. "Hey, cracked out prom queens might be weird, but they're hot."

"If hot is a synonym for destined to die alone, you're right. So go ahead. Buy the dress, and I'll buy you a hundred cats to keep you company while you spend the rest of eternity trying to figure where your relationship with the angel went wrong, never really understanding that the problems started this very night"

"Do you know anything about me? Hello, I like dogs. But fine, whatever." Red lips pursing, her twin snapped the hanger back onto the rack and continued her search for "the perfect gown" to wear when she broke a bit of bad news to her consort, Lysander.

Poor Bianka. She hadn't just nailed an angel, she'd bound herself to one. Forever. Lysander lived and worked in the heavens and was so boring Kaia would rather shove bamboo splints under other people's fingernails than spend time with him. Okay, bad example. She actually enjoyed shoving bamboo splints under other people's nails.

There was something so best-musical-ever when people screamed and begged for mercy, and she could listen to a good musical all day.

"Kaia?" Bianka said. "What the hell are you sighing about?"

"Musicals."

"Musicals? Seriously? When I'm dying for help? Will you just listen to me for once?"

"In a minute. Geez. I really like this thought train." Or rather, she'd liked the station stop before the musicals. A male this boring needed an equally tedious nickname…like…Pope Lysander the First. That's right. He was an elite warrior with wings of gold and yeah, he was a demon slayer extraordinaire, and okay, that was sexy as hell, but he was also morally upstanding. Like over the edge OCD about it. Kaia shuddered with distaste. He was slowly but surely sucking the fun right out of her once delightful sister.

In fact, Lysander's aversion to blatant shoplifting was the reason they had abandoned Budapest—too many prying eyes—returned to Alaska and broken into Anchorage's Fifth Avenue Mall at night rather than taking what they desired in broad daylight. As usual. Again, too many prying eyes.

To be honest, Kaia was kind of embarrassed about the concession. She would have told her man to take his request to "please don't steal in front of humans, it gives them ideas" and stuff it up his ass. Also, she despised the lack of thrill, needed it to soothe her darker side, but whatever. She loved her sister. More than that, she owed Bianka a debt she could never hope to repay.

They might not ever discuss the Unfortunate Incident, but Kaia had never forgotten it. (See? A Harpy with a long memory.) Every day she remembered how Bianka had writhed in a pool of her own blood, her eyes glassy with pain. How moans of pain had parted mutilated lips.

Bianka sighed. "Okay, let's get your problems out of the way so we can concentrate on me. Tell me why you picked Strider as your heartmate. I know you're dying to extol his virtues."

For a moment, Kaia could only blink at her sister, certain she'd misheard. "Are you freaking kidding me? Heart-mate? Did you just say heartmate?"

Bianka snickered. "I did, and I almost gagged. Ly-sander's influence, you know. Anyway, Strider's such a tool. And a challenge." Another snicker echoed. "Get it? A challenge…he can't lose one…but he sure as hell acts like one."

Kaia rolled her eyes. "I think you've been hanging with the angels too much. Your IQ has dropped."

"What? That was funny." Square-tipped nails painted bright blue drummed against the metal rack between them. "And by the way, the angels aren't that bad."

"Whatever you need to tell yourself, my love."

Bianka blew her a kiss full of fang. "All's I'm saying is that Strider's gonna be a handful—and not the good kind. He's—actually, wait. I recant. He's too big to be anything but a good handful. Or more. But he's also gonna be a bad one. Wait. That doesn't ring true, either. How should I put this? He's going to—"

"I get it already! He's got a huge package, and he's irritating as hell. What's your point?"

"Glad you're finally up to speed. It's sad, really, that you need so much explanation." The sparkle in her sister's eyes dimmed. "Anyway, you told him how you felt about him and he rejected you. He'll be annoyed by any further contact you initiate, and an annoyed demon-possessed warrior is a global disaster waiting to happen."

"I know." If she had realized his importance to her sooner, she wouldn't have slept with his friend Paris, the keeper of Promiscuity. Otherwise known as Paris the Sex-orcist, a male so sensual he could make your head spin. And if she hadn't slept with the Sexorcist, Strider the Stupid wouldn't have rejected her.

Maybe.

Or maybe he would have. Because to her consternation—yes, consternation, and not an all-consuming, organ-flaming rage—he kinda sorta desired another woman. Haidee, a pretty female who belonged to his friend, Amun, keeper of Secrets.

At least Haidee was off limits, and Kaia didn't have to worry about Strider getting handsie. Honor among evil demons, and all that.

But damn it, just the thought of his gaze on another woman caused Kaia's nails to elongate and sharpen, her fangs to sprout and her blood to boil. Mine, every cell in her body cried. She would kill anyone who made a play for him, as well as anyone he made a play for; she wouldn't be able to help herself. Her dark side would take over, driving her to protect what was hers.

"Seriously, he's lucky to be alive, and not just because I want to chop off his man parts and feed them to zoo animals while he watches," Bianka continued. "Any man who can't recognize your worth deserves a good torturing."

"I know." Not because Kaia was anything special—though she was, kind of, maybe…damn it, she used to be—but because no one could reject a Harpy without suffering severe consequences.

Actually, most Harpies would have taken Strider despite his wishes. So maybe she was the stupid one for allowing him to push her away. She just…wanted him willing. She needed him willing. To abscond with him was to defeat him, and to defeat him was to hurt him.

She couldn't bring herself to hurt him. Even at the expense of her sanity.

"You're too good for him, anyway," Bianka said, loyal as always.

"I know," she repeated once more, lying this time. She would only ever be a disgrace to her clan. He deserved better.

Her sister sighed. "But you still want him." A statement of fact, not a question. "Yeah."

"So what are you going to do to win him?"

"Nothing," she said, fighting a wave of depression. "I chased after him once." And he'd found her lacking. "I'm not going to do it again."

"Maybe—"

"No. A few weeks ago, I challenged him to kick more Hunter ass than me." Hunters, the enemy out to destroy all things demon. The fanatics loved to go after innocents who dared get in their way. The pre-dead guys who would meet the tips of her claws if they approached Strider again.

Well, if they dared approach him with a weapon in hand. She might let them crawl toward him to apologize for the trouble they'd caused throughout the centuries. Torturing the Lords—only she was allowed to do so. Blowing up buildings—yawn. Could they be any more B-movie? Sooo irritating. Decapitating the keeper of Distrust—okay, that one was a little more than irritating, considering Strider was still messed up about it and everything.

Speaking of Distrust's murder, Haidee had helped carry it out. Yep, that Haidee. The one Strider desired.

Kaia didn't understand it. If he could want Haidee despite her crimes, why couldn't he want Kaia?

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Meet the Author

Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than fifty novels and multiple series, including the spellbinding Otherworld Assassins, Alien Huntress, and Lords of the Underworld series, her wildly popular adult novels—Firstlife and Alice in Zombieland—and the highly addictive Original Heartbreakers series. Visit her at GenaShowalter.com and Facebook.com/GensaShowalterFans.

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The Darkest Surrender 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 447 reviews.
Dannie33 More than 1 year ago
Zgarza01, here is the ordering that I had along with release dates. I loved Strider's story, not my favorite. But another book I couldn't put down! 1.The Darkest Fire, April 2008 novella ebook-Geyron (Guardian of Hell) 2.The Darkest Night, May 2008-Maddox (Keeper of Violence) 3.The Darkest Kiss, June 2008-Lucien (Keeper of Death) 4.The Darkest Pleasure, July 2008-Reyes (Keeper of Pain) 5.The Darkest Prison, July 2009 novella ebook-Atlas (Titan God of Strength) 6.The Darkest Whisper, September 2009-Sabin (Keeper of Doubt) 7.The Darkest Angel novella in Heart of the Darkness and in the anthology Dark Beginnings, January 2010-angel Lysander 8.The Darkest Passion, June 2010-Aeron (Keeper of Wrath) 9.The Darkest Lie, July 2010-Gideon (Keeper of Lies) 10.The Darkest Secret, April 2011-Amun (Keeper of Secrets) 11.The Darkest Surrender, September 2011-Strider (Keeper of Defeat) 12.The Darkest Seduction, February 2012-Paris (Keeper of Promiscuity)
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. It has a story that will keep you entertained for hours.
SKY_MORROW More than 1 year ago
As much as I hate having to admit this, I'm starting to be disappointed with Gena Showalter's books. She is the author that got me into reading Paranormal Romance, because once I read Maddox's story, I was in love with the Lords of the Underworld. The fact is, that Amun's story, Strider's story and her new Vampire book, have me wondering why I continue to buy and read her books. I could not wait for Strider's story, but quite frankly Kaia is too aggressive and it's not appealing to me. I remember when these Lords were dark, sinister and strong. I'm channeling Lucien, Maddox, Reyes and even Sabin. The worst part about all of this is that I don't like the way these Lords talk or even act and the girls too. Why do they all have to talk like they are texting their high school friends? I teach high school, so when I go to read an "adult novel" I don't want text message type of writing to read. TMI, LOL or "Stridey-man" when Strider is referencing his manhood. I want them to be dark, sinister and strong, not one step above the Jersey Shore guys. Sorry, I'm just starting to get frustrated. I still buy the books and probably will buy Paris' story, but after that I am not sure I will continue. I do think Showalter is a talented writer, clever at times, witty and funny, but I just need more depth to these characters. I don't expect her to write like JR Ward, but to be honest, those characters (The Black Dagger Brotherhood) are dangerous and all so unique. There is a lot of depth there and they don't talk like high school kids, which I am getting more and more annoyed by with Showalter's stories. Sorry I had to say this. As an aspiring author myself, I just hate critiquing those who have "made it" but, I guess I have to be honest in the end.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Fifteen centuries ago, fourteen years old Kaia Skyhawk wants to be known as the strongest harpy. Her only rival at the Harpy Games is Juliette the Eradicator. Juliet captured a male but her new consort remains defiant. Thinking she can make this warrior obey, Kaia, ignoring her mother's admonition about men, frees him. He goes on a rampage killing many harpies. It is fifteen hundred years later and everyone especially her mother blames Kaia the Disappointment for the massacre; she and her sister Bianka have been banned from participating in the games ever since. For the first time since the disaster, the Skyhawks sisters are invited to the games. Bianka and Kaia know someone is setting them up for something though it could be Juliette or even their mom, but each agrees they must attend. She also tells Bianka that she believes Strider is her soulmate, but he and his demon Defeat refuse to accept their attraction to the notorious harpy. However, he reconsiders his position of keeping his distance when he learns first prize at the games is the dangerous ancient Paring Rod that could kill him and his Dark Lord peers. The latest Lords of the Underworld romantic fantasy (see The Darkest Secret) is a terrific refreshing entry due to the macabrely humorous yet lunatic Harpy culture. The story line is fast-paced from the opening fiasco and never slows down as Kaia who tasted defeat refuses to accept it again except as the demon accompanying her Strider. Madcap, the zany Harpy Games is fun to attend. Harriet Klausner
WendyH33 More than 1 year ago
Ok let me start off by saying I have loved loved loved every other book in this series. I have told strangers on the street that they need to read this series. I was so looking forward to this book not only to see the continuation of the story, but because Strider has been one of my very favorite characters throughout the whole book. Not to mention, how do you not love Kaia??? Not possible. Having said that, the book was entertaining, but I found the whole "harpie games" backdrop to the story stupid and done before. I was a little disappointed. I think I would have given this book fewer stars if I wasn't already so in love with all of these characters. I eagerly anticipate the release of Paris' book in January.
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One of the most thrilling books I've ever read
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Out of her Lords series I like Strider's and Kane's books the best! They were both funny and heartwarning. Hopefully she will finish the rest of the Lords stories.
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TheStephanieLoves More than 1 year ago
Strider just has to win. Whatever the competition—whether it be a friendly bet or a battle that sheds lives—Defeat, the demon he is plagued with, forces him to win, no matter the cost. Everything is a dangerous, vengeful, radiant, and sometimes even erotic game to Strider, which is why, naturally, he is enticed by the idea of the Harpy Games. As he gets to know Kaia and involved in the challenge she sets forth, his screwed-up personal demons will make winning harder than ever before, and they just may lead him to falling for an equally screwed-up girl. After all, she is a Harpy aka a descendant of Lucifer aka the master of all things demonic—no biggie. Yeah. He's got it bad. The Darkest Surrender is testament to the fact that Gena Showalter is one of the leading ladies of paranormal fiction. EVERYTHING about this book is so well done—the plot, characters, romance, tone, transitional flow—all of it.  The gradual love is at once tender and entertaining; to me, it was the perfect romance because it's realistic, well interlaced with the actual story, and of course, sizzling hot. The way Strider and Kaia clash is so funny because it couldn't be more obvious how similar they are, and thus in his opinion, all the more wrong for each other. As for the relationship, it is deliciously, wonderfully bad. The thick sexual tension, amusing banter, and explosive chemistry and feuding portray their attraction flawlessly, which impressed me greatly. The fact that this book isn't just a romance definitely earns it brownie points.  Kaia's unabashed (and publicly declared) crush on Strider demonstrates the kind of girl she is: an unstoppable force, a fiery temper, passion incarnate. Strider, who's way more reserved and tormented—swoon!—wants to deny his lethal attraction for Kaia but can't seem to control himself around her—and that isn't his demon talking. His desire to dominate the one girl no one else can control, the one girl who scratches everyone else, but treats him to the tenderest of caresses, is both his sickness and cure. The way he slowly discovers how much he really needs her, and not just sexually, is heart-melting and exactly the kind of love us romance readers live to read about. I love how Lords of the Underworld takes place in a world of various species; typically, paranormal romance series involve one type of being (vampires, zombies, etc.), but nope, here, we have Harpies, demons, Fae, Phoenixes, gods, and other creatures of Greek mythology, so in and of itself, this series is the motherlode of the supernatural. So fascinating and creative—props to Gena Showalter for developing such an elaborate, magical, livable world. How I'd love to just climb into one of her books and be one of the characters. Not having read previous installments in the series, I was a bit confused by the Realm of Blood and Shadows and the worlds in which the book takes place, but the plot and characters are so original and intricate, that I feel The Darkest Surrender works fine as a standalone novel. That being said, the perfectly entwined storylines of the various other Lords—Promiscuity, Doubt, and Disaster, to name a few—leave room and anticipation for the next books; I'm definitely eager to keep with with and try the series from the beginning now. I'll end on a note praising the snarky and hilarious tone, which is applicable for pretty much of Gena Showalter's novels. Her style is genius, in both the way she personalizes her characters, and the witty one-liners that deserve gold medals. Even if you don't like the story, you will fall in love with the way Showalter writes, which is why you should at least give this series a chance. Pros: Amazing characters // Humorous, with plenty of wit and sass to go around // Complex, prolonged plot that completely absorbed me // Secondary characters' stories are just as intriguing, making me want to read the previous and next books in the series // Can be read as a standalone, although having a grasp of what the series is about may be helpful in understanding setting Cons: Some scenes are unnecessarily drawn out // The constantly shifting stories get a little confusing at times Verdict: This is the kind of book that will make you become obsessed with paranormal romance. From the entirely consuming fictional world constructed, to the lovable, flawed, and vibrant characters, to the unconventional romance with a sigh-worthy "ever after," The Darkest Surrender is a book that will preoccupy you in the most frustrating but fulfilling way. Definitely give these sexy and tragically dark Lords of the Underworld a try; Gena Showalter does not disappoint! Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read; highly recommended. Source: Complimentary copy provided by Romance Novel News in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Carolyn!).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago