Zarek's Point of View:
Dark-Hunter: A soulless guardian who stands between mankind and those who would see mankind destroyed. Yeah, right. The only part of that Code of Honor I got was eternity and solitude.
Insanity: A condition many say I suffer from after being alone for so long. But I don't suffer from my insanity-I enjoy every minute of it.
Trust: I can't trust anyone...not even myself. The only thing I trust in is my ability to do the wrong thing in any situation and to hurt anyone who gets in my way.
Truth: I endured a lifetime as a Roman slave, and 900 years as an exiled Dark-Hunter. Now I'm tired of enduring. I want the truth about what happened the night I was exiled-I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Astrid (Greek, meaning star): An exceptional woman who can see straight to the truth. Brave and strong, she is a point of light in the darkness. She touches me and I tremble. She smiles and my cold heart shatters.
Zarek: They say even the most damned man can be forgiven. I never believed that until the night Astrid opened her door to me and made this feral beast want to be human again. Made me want to love and be loved. But how can an ex-slave whose soul is owned by a Greek goddess ever dream of touching, let alone holding, a fiery star?
About the Author
In the past two years, New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon has claimed the #1 spot twelve times, and since 2004, she has placed more than 50 novels on the New York Times list. This extraordinary bestseller continues to top every genre she writes. With more than 23 million copies of her books in print in over 30 countries, her current series include: The Dark-Hunters, The League, Lords of Avalon, BAD Agency, Chronicles of Nick and Nevermore. A preeminent voice in paranormal fiction, Kenyon helped pioneer and define the current paranormal trend that has captivated the world. She lives with her husband, three sons, a menagerie of animals and a collection of swords.
New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon is a regular in the #1 spot. This extraordinary bestseller continues to top every genre in which she writes, including manga and graphic novels. More than 70 million copies of her books are in print in more than one hundred countries. Her current series include The Dark-Hunters, The League, Deadman's Cross, Chronicles of Nick, Hellchasers, Mikrochasers, and The Lords of Avalon. Her Chronicles of Nick and Dark-Hunter series are soon to be major motion pictures.
Read an Excerpt
Dance with the Devil
By Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2012 Sherrilyn Kenyon
All rights reserved.
Acheron Parthenopaeus was a man of many secrets and powers. As the firstborn Dark-Hunter and leader of their kind, he had set himself up over nine thousand years ago to be the buffer between them and Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, who had created them.
It was a job he seldom relished and a position he'd always hated. Like an errant child, Artemis loved nothing more than to push him just to see how far she could go before he called her down.
Theirs was a complicated relationship that hinged on a balance of power. He alone possessed the ability to keep her calm and rational.
At least most of the time.
Meanwhile she held the one source of food that he needed to stay human. Compassionate.
Without her, he would become a soulless killer even worse than the Daimons who preyed on humankind.
Without him, she would have no heart or conscience.
On Mardi Gras night, he'd bargained with her to exchange two weeks of his servitude so that she would release Talon's soul and allow the Dark-Hunter to leave their service and spend his immortality with the woman he loved.
Talon was liberated from hunting vampires and other demonic creatures who stalked the earth looking for hapless victims.
Now Ash was restricted from using most of his powers while he was locked inside Artemis's temple where he had to rely on her whims to keep him informed about the progress of Zarek's hunt.
He knew the betrayal Zarek felt and it gnawed at him. Better than anyone, he understood what it meant to be left completely alone, to survive on instinct and to have only enemies around him.
Ash couldn't stand the thought of one of his men feeling like that.
"I want you to call off Thanatos," Ash said as he sat on the marble floor at Artemis's feet. She lay across her ivory-colored throne that had always reminded him of an overstuffed chaise lounge. It was decadent and soft, a pure study in hedonistic delight.
Artemis was nothing if not a creature of comfort.
She smiled languidly as she rolled over onto her back. Her white, gauzy peplos displayed more of her body than it covered, and as she moved, her entire lower half was bared to him.
Uninterested, he lifted his gaze to hers.
She trailed a hot, lustful glance over his body, which was bare except for a pair of tight black leather pants. Satisfaction gleamed in her bright green eyes as she toyed with a strand of his long blond hair, which covered the bite wound on his neck.
She was well fed and content to be with him.
He was neither.
"You're still weak, Acheron," she said quietly, "and in no position to make demands on me. Besides, your two weeks with me have only begun. Where is the subjugation you promised?"
Ash rose up slowly to tower over her. He braced his arms on each side of her and lowered himself until their noses were almost touching. Her eyes widened a degree, just enough to let him know that in spite of her words, she knew which of them was the more powerful, even while weakened. "Call off your pet, Artie. I mean it. I told you long ago that there was no need for a Thanatos to stalk my Hunters and I'm tired of this game you play. I want him caged."
"No," she said in a tone that was almost petulant. "Zarek is to die. End of symphony. The moment his picture became the nightly news event while he was killing Daimons, he exposed all the Dark-Hunters to danger. We can't afford to let the human authorities ever learn about them. If they ever find Zarek —"
"Who's going to find him? He's locked in the middle of nowhere per your cruelty."
"I didn't put him there, you did. I wanted him killed and you refused. It's all your fault he's banished in Alaska so don't blame me."
Ash curled his lip. "I'm not about to put a man to death because you and your siblings were playing with his life."
He wanted another fate for Zarek. But so far, none of the gods nor Zarek had cooperated.
Damn free will, anyway. It got all of them into more trouble than any of them needed.
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Why do you care so much, Acheron? I'm beginning to feel jealous of this Dark-Hunter and the love you have for him."
Ash pushed himself away from her. She made his concern for one of his men sound obscene.
Of course, she was good at that.
What he felt for Zarek was kindred brotherhood. Better than anyone, he understood the man's motivation. Knew why Zarek struck out in anger and frustration.
There were only so many kicks a dog could take before it turned vicious.
He, himself, was so close to turning that he couldn't fault Zarek for the fact he had gone rabid centuries before.
Even so, he couldn't let Zarek die. Not like this. Not over something that hadn't been Zarek's fault. The incident in the New Orleans alley where Zarek had attacked the human cops had been set up by Dionysus for no other reason than to expose Zarek to the humans and to cause Artemis to call out a blood hunt for the man's life.
If Thanatos or the Squires killed Zarek, then Zarek would become a bodiless Shade who was doomed to walk the earth for eternity. Forever hungry and suffering.
Forever in pain.
Ash winced at the memory.
Unable to stand the thought of it, he headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" Artemis asked.
"To find Themis and undo what you've started."
Artemis suddenly appeared in front of him, blocking his way to the door. "You're not going anywhere."
"Then call off your dog."
"Fine." Ash looked down his right arm at the she-dragon tattoo that ran from his shoulder to his wrist. "Simi," he commanded. "Take human form."
The dragon lifted itself from his skin, shifted its shape into that of a young demonic woman, no taller than three feet. She hovered effortlessly to his right.
In this incarnation, her wings were dark blue and black, even though she usually preferred burgundy for them. The darker color of the wings combined with the color of her eyes told him just how unhappy Simi was to find herself here on Olympus.
Her eyes were white, rimmed in red, and her long yellow-blond hair floated around her. She had black horns that were more beautiful than sinister and long pointed ears. Her flowing red dress wrapped around her lithe, muscular body, which she could mold into any size from one inch to eight feet tall in human form or as large as eighty feet as a dragon.
"No!" Artemis said, trying to use her powers to contain the Charonte demon. It didn't faze Simi, who could only be summoned or controlled by Ash or his mother.
"Whatcha want, akri?" Simi asked Ash.
Simi flashed her fangs as she rubbed her hands together gleefully and cast an evil smirk at Artemis. "Oh, goodie! I get to make the redheaded goddess mad!"
Artemis looked desperately at Ash. "Put it back on your arm."
"Forget it, Artemis. You're not the only one who can command a killer. Personally, I think it would be interesting to see just how long your Thanatos would last against my Simi."
Artemis's face paled.
"He won't last long, akri," Simi said to Ash, using the Atlantean term for "lord and master." Her voice was quiet but powerful and had a singsongy quality that was quite musical in tone. "Thanatos is barbecue." She smiled at Artemis. "And I like my barbecue. Just tell me how you want him, akri, normal recipe or extra crispy. I'm partial to extra crispy myself. They crunch louder when deep-fried. Reminds me, I need some bread crumbs."
Artemis swallowed audibly. "You can't send it after him. It's uncontrollable without you."
"She does only what I tell her to do."
"That thing is a menace, with or without you. Zeus forbid it should ever go out into the human world alone."
Ash scoffed at that. "She's less a menace than you are and she goes out all the time on her own."
"I can't believe you'd unleash it so carelessly. What are you thinking?"
While they argued, Simi floated around the room, making a list in a small leather-bound book. "Ooo, let's see, I need to get my spicy barbecue sauce. Definitely some oven mitts, 'cause he's gonna be hot from being flame-broiled. I need to get a couple of them apple trees to make wood chips so the meat be nice and appley tasting. Give it that extra yumminess, 'cause I don't like that Daimon flavor. Ack!"
"What's it doing?" Artemis asked as she realized Simi was talking to herself.
"She's making a list of what she needs to kill Thanatos."
"It sounds like it's going to eat him."
Artemis's eyes narrowed. "It can't eat him. I forbid it."
Ash gave a sinister half-laugh. "She can do as she pleases. I taught her to waste not, want not."
Simi paused and lifted her head up from her list to snort at Artemis. "The Simi is very environmentally sound. Eat everything except for hooves. I don't like those, they hurt my teeth." She looked at Ash. "Thanatos don't have hooves, do he?"
"No, Simi, he doesn't."
Simi gave a happy cry. "Ooo, good eating tonight. I get a Daimon for barbecue. Can I go now, akri? Can I? Can I? Can I, please?" Simi danced around like a small, happy child at a birthday party.
Ash stared at Artemis. "It's entirely up to you, Artie. He lives or dies by your word."
"No, akri!" Simi whined after a brief, stunned pause. She sounded as if she were in pain. "Don't ask her that. She never let me have no fun. She a mean goddess!"
Ash knew how much Artemis hated it when he won an argument with her. Her eyes smoldered with barely leashed fury. "What do you want me to do?"
"You say Zarek is unfit to live, that he poses a threat to others. All I ask is that you have Themis judge him. If her judge finds that Zarek is a danger to those around him, then I will send Simi after him myself to end his life."
Simi bared her fangs at Artemis as they exchanged venomous sneers.
Finally, Artemis looked back at him. "Very well, but I don't trust your demon. I will have Thanatos stand down, but after Zarek is judged guilty, I will send Thanatos in to finish him."
"Simi," Ash said to his Charonte companion. "Return to me."
She looked disgusted by the mere thought. "'Return to me, Simi,'" Simi mocked as she shifted forms. "Don't go frying the goddess. Don't go frying Thanatos." She made a strange horselike snort. "I am not a yoyo, akri. I am a Simi. I hate it when you get me all excited about going to kill something and then tell me no. I don't like that. It boring. You don't ever let me have any fun anymore."
"Simi," he said, stressing her name.
The demon pouted and then flew to the left side of his body and returned to his arm in the shape of a stylized bird on his biceps.
Ash rubbed his hand over the small burn there that he always felt whenever Simi left or returned to his skin.
Artemis stared with malice at Simi's new form. Then, she stepped around him and leaned against his back as she brushed one hand over Simi's image. "One day I'm going to find a way to rid you of that beast resting on your arm."
"Sure you will," he said, forcing himself to endure Artemis's touch as she breathed across his skin while she leaned against his back. It was something Ash had never been able to tolerate with ease, and it was something she knew he hated.
He looked at her over his shoulder. "And one day I'm going to find a way to rid myself of the beast resting on my back."
* * *
Astrid sat alone in her atrium reading her favorite book, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. No matter how many times she read it, she always found something new in it.
And today she needed to find something good. Something to remind her that there was beauty in the world. Innocence. Joy. Happiness.
Most of all, she wanted to find hope.
A soft gentle breeze floated off the lilac-scented river, through the marble Doric columns and across the white wicker chaise where she sat. Her three sisters had been here for a little while, but she had sent them away.
Not even they could comfort her.
Tired and disillusioned, she had sought solace in her book. In it, she saw goodness, a goodness that was missing in the people she'd known in her life.
Was there no decency? No kindness?
Had humanity finally managed to destroy both?
Her sisters, as much as she loved them, were as ruthless as anyone else. They were completely indifferent to the pleadings and suffering of anyone not related to them.
Nothing touched any of them anymore.
Astrid couldn't remember the last time she had cried. The last time she had laughed.
She was numb now.
Numbness was the curse of her kind. Her sister Atty had warned her long ago that if she chose to be a judge this day would come.
Young, vain, and stupid, Astrid had foolishly ignored the warning, thinking it could never happen to her.
She would never be indifferent to people or their pain.
Yet now it was only her books that brought her the emotions of others. Even though she couldn't really "feel" them, the unreal and muted emotions of the characters comforted her on some level.
And if she were capable of it, that would make her weep.
Astrid heard someone approaching her from behind. Not wanting anyone to see what she was reading lest they ask her why, and she be forced to admit she'd lost her compassion, Astrid tucked it beneath the chair's cushion. She turned to see her mother crossing the well-manicured lawn where a small group of three dappled fawns grazed.
Her mother wasn't alone.
Artemis and Acheron were with her.
Her mother's long red hair was left to curl becomingly around a face that looked no older than thirty. Themis wore a tailored short-sleeved blue shirt and khaki slacks.
No one would ever take her for the Greek goddess of justice.
Artemis was dressed in a classical Greek peplos while Acheron wore his typical black leather pants and a black T-shirt. His long blond hair was loose around his shoulders.
A chill went down her spine, but then, it always did whenever Acheron came near. There was something about him that was compelling and irresistible.
It was also terrifying.
She'd never known anyone like him. He was alluring in a way that defied her best abilities to explain. It was as if his very presence filled everyone with a desire so potent that it was hard to look at him without wanting to rip his clothes off, throw him to the ground, and make love to him for untold centuries.
But there was more to him than his sexual appeal. There was also something ancient and primal. Something so powerful that even the gods feared him.
You could even see that fear in Artemis's eyes as she walked beside him.
No one knew what the relationship was between the two of them. They never touched each other, seldom did they look at each other. And yet Acheron came often to see Artemis in her temple.
When Astrid had been a child, he used to come and visit with her, too. Play games with her and teach her how to manage her very limited powers. He'd brought her countless books both from the past and from the future.
In fact, it was Acheron who had given her The Little Prince.
Those visits had all but ended the day she hit puberty and had realized just how desirable a man Acheron was. He had pulled away from her then, leaving a tangible wall between them.
"To what do I owe the honor?" Astrid asked as the three of them surrounded her.
"I have a job for you, dearest," her mother said.
Astrid made a pain-filled face. "I thought we agreed that I could take some time off."
"Oh, come on, Astrid," Artemis said. "I need you, little cousin." She cast an evil glare in Acheron's direction. "There's a Dark-Hunter who needs to be put down."
Acheron's face was impassive as he watched Astrid without comment.
Astrid sighed. She didn't want to do this. Too many centuries of judging others had left her emotionally bankrupt. She'd begun to suspect that she was no longer capable of feeling anyone's pain.
Not even her own.
Lack of compassion had ruined her sisters. Now she was afraid it was going to ruin her, as well.
"There are other judges."
Artemis let out a disgusted breath. "I don't trust them. They're bleeding hearts who are just as likely to find him innocent as guilty. I need a hard-nosed, impartial judge who can't be swayed from doing what's right and necessary. I need you."
The hairs on the back of her neck rose. Astrid slid her gaze from Artemis to Acheron, who stood with his arms folded over his chest. His gaze unwavering, he watched Astrid with those eerie swirling silver eyes of his.
Excerpted from Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Copyright © 2012 Sherrilyn Kenyon. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Recipe"Dance With The Devil cinches Sherrilyn Kenyon's place as a master of the genre! Zarek is a hero to die for, and his story will pull you in and keep you flipping pages into the wee hours; I couldn't put it down."--Julie Kenner, author of Aphrodite's Secret
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
While I realize that I am a bit late in reading these books, I found this one to be the best so far! I was completely emotionally attached to Zarek and found myself wanting to "kill" his father and brothers and the whole damn town where he grew up. Yes, I shed a few tears. How much can one person take? So, when Zarek met Astrid, the blind nymph, and began to actually care about her, I was all caught up in the story and found myself really pulling for these two. For me, this was an excellent story and was even better because it reveals a little more about Ash (my favorite character). This is a MUST READ for me! I'm sure I will read it again.
...amazing. This is my favorite book out of the 7 books I've read by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Zarek is an amazing character that I fell head over heels in love with when he was introduced in Night Embrace. Astrid was also a well-written character and I enjoyed the fact that she was left handicapped when she first met Zarek, forcing her to trust him enough to get close (if you don't know what I'm talking about, read the book!). All in all, an amazing read that I've recommended dozens of times.
Well, hello Zarek of the Dark Hunter series. I loved this book. Kenyon out did herself with the character development on this one. From the very beginning of this book I was rooting for the tormented, misunderstood, gentle, darkly sexy dark hunter Zarek. There is no doubt that I became emotionally involved reading this story. I wanted revenge on all those that hurt Zarek, needed him to have love, wanted understanding for him, and enjoyed his dark humor. No other dark hunter has yet to deserve the fair maiden at the end of the story more than Zarek, and love interest Astrid is perfect. This book introduced us to some new dark hunters who I'm sure will have future roles. Also, two new characters: the Katagari sasha and the lovable companion of Acheron - Simi. I am really hoping there is a lot more Simi in the future, she adds a great sense of humor to the story. One thing, love or hate this story, you will despise the goddess Artemis by the end of it. This is a must read if you are into the series. It would still be a good read on its own, but it is worth reading the previous 3 (or at the very least Night Embrace) to fully appreciate Zarek and understand the inner weaving of the story lines in the series.
One of the best books ive read
This book had me laughing and crying I recommend you read it . Book three and four really go together . Thank you Sherrilyn Kenyon a must read.
Awesome book really loved it!!
I really enjoyed this book. The characters have depth to them. The plot flowed well. The story was funny and poignant. I liked Zarek 'what a sexy guy' and Astrid. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to read the Dark Hunter series. I did not read the previous Dark Hunter story, but had no trouble picking up the characters and plot.
Love all the Dark Hunter books. It's really hard to pick one over another. Especially love the caracter Simi, some of the stuff she does or says gets me laughing out loud. These books pull you in and don't let go until the end. What a great escape!
Sherrilyn Kenyon's imagination blows my mind. I found myself sobbing less than half-way through this book (and I'm not a crier) when, as a reader, I was taken into Zarek's unbelievably horrid childhood. I felt so much pain reading those passages, that I ached to make this hero feel better, to make him warm, and bake him bread (if you read it, you'll understand). On top of that strong emotion, I laughed out loud at the sarcastic witty dialogue and fell in love with newly introduced characters like Simi, the demon and Sasha, the timber wolf. I absolutely loved this book!!!!!!!!!! From the hero who wants only to remember how to laugh, and the heroine who longs to feel emotions long left dead inside her, this book grabs you and sucks you in.
I wasn¿t expecting to like this installment in the series, mostly because Zarek is not the most charming of Dark-Hunters. I was pleasantly surprised! I ended up like this quite a bit, despite Zarek¿s surliness. It helps if it hasn¿t been *too* long since you read Night Embrace (Talon¿s story), because there¿s a lot of reference to Zarek¿s part in that book. There were a few things that didn¿t make sense to me in this, not the least of which was the story behind Astrid¿s blindness. She¿s supposed to lose her sight while she¿s judging someone, yet she can use her ¿companion¿, Sasha, to see. Isn¿t that cheating? Regardless, this troublesome little detail isn¿t enough to get in the way of the true purpose of the story, which is to tell a love story about the gods.
When it comes to paranormal books, I normally don't go in too much for the ones that are too heavy on the romance. Normally you'd expect this series to fall in that category, but the whole backstory with the Gods and Goddesses has gotten me totally hooked in!Kenyon's 4th Dark-Hunter book (counting Fantasy Lover as book one) tells the full story of Dark-Hunter Zarek, who's been banished to the far reaches of Alaska. Zarek first appeared in the previous book, Night Embrace, when he was called to New Orleans to help out with the overabundance of Daimons that always infiltrate the city during the annual Mardi Gras celebration.Unfortunately, Zarek's life hangs by a thread. The Goddess Artemis, creator of all the Dark-Hunters, wants him dead and has sent her executioner Thanatos to hunt him down and kill him. Zarek's sour disposition towards everyone around him¿and towards life in general¿hasn't helped his situation any. It seems that only Acheron, the firstborn Dark-Hunter and leader of their kind, truly understands his plight and is able to see the good that lies dormant within Zarek. In a final attempt to spare Zarek's life, Acheron requests that he be judged by Themis, and agrees to be bound by whatever decision the judge comes to. If deemed that Zarek poses a danger to society, then he will agree to the Dark-Hunter's death. Now it is Astrid¿daugher of Themis and sister to the Three Fates¿who must determine Zarek's fate. Astrid, who herself has begun to feel despondent and emotionally bankrupt, and has never before proclaimed anyone innocent in the history of the world. Is he beyond redemption? Or can he be saved by the hand of Fate... or the heart of an impartial judge?
This is one of my favorite Dark-Hunter books -- not because it's written any better than the others, but because Zarek is one of the more developed and interesting characters in this series. However, after rereading it for the nth time, I do have to admit that the plot is fairly weak. It focuses first on Zarek overcoming his past, then on his relationship with Astrid, and finally on Zarek's conflict with Artemis and the other Dark-Hunters. The book hardly touches at all on the ongoing battle against the Daimons. So, while Zarek himself is interesting, his story isn't as much.
An ex-slave banished to the wilds of Alaska centuries previous because his tongue and behavior is dangerously offensive, the Dark Hunter Zarek was offered a temporary reprieve when New Orleans needed reinforcements. Unfortunately, he managed to screw up. Now he's back in Alaska with not only the Blood Squires but a Thanatos and a judgment nymph on his trail.Astrid (the nymph) doesn't know what to make of Zarek, but she's pretty sure he isn't guilty. And he still isn't going to know what hit him.One of my favorite of the Dark Hunter series, I reread this one every now and then.
This is the first Dark Hunter book. I Loved it. My heart wept for the life Zarek had to endure before finding love. Kenyon is turning out to be one of my favorite authors. I fully intend to back up in this series and start at the beginning.
Dark Hunter: " A souless guardian who stands between mankind and those who would see mankind destroyed" SK "Dance With The Devil"Zarek, a rogue dark hunter, is a cold and calculating killer. At least that is how the rest of the dark hunter world sees him. They have exiled him. Not only does he has the dark hunters to worry about but he has betrayed a god which can cause more suffering than anything he has suffered in the past.Astrid is chosen by the fates to judge Zarek. She holds his fate in her hands, guilty or innocent, life or death. A mission that Astrid does not want to undertake. Tricking Zarek into her care she learns more about his past and of who he is and is determined to save his life and show him love.
Ok, in all fairness we can't at all call this 'vamp fiction' (there's no biting) but it is a wonderful piece of paranormal romance. Zarek, a Dark-Hunter, suffers from isolation and madness following countless injustices against him during his 900+ year life time. At last he is being put on trial, so to speak, with the likely outcome that he will be executed. Astrid is the nymph charged with judging him. Despite the fact that she is supposed to remain impartial, she finds herself feeling deep sympathy and caring for the man with the deeply tortured soul. It is always challenging for an author to make their romantic lead so flawed and dangerous. Kenyon pulls it off with style and humor. Despite his moody, often cruel attitude you find yourself wanting the best for him. It's deeply romantic. At times in a light, soft way. At times in a dramatic cerebral way. Bottom line, by the end of the book you have no doubt that the two characters are in love and that you want them to be together. Side characters and world building add enhancement without overshadowing the lead couple. We see characters like the all-powerful Acheron, his demon companion Simi (comic relief in a big way), and Sasha the Were-Hunter. They're all intensely interesting and well developed. I would recommend the Dark-Hunter series to any fan of paranormal romance. This book will be a particular treat for Dark-Hunter fans.
Dance With The Devil is the fourth book in Sherrilyn Kenyon¿s Dark Hunter series and focuses on Zarek, and picks us up right where we left off in the last book. Zarek in the helicopter leaving New Orleans for Alaska, where he was banished centuries before for a crimes even he is still fuzzy on. And added to this, the events of New Orleans, Artemis has decided enough is enough and Zarek should be punished once and for all.Permanently.Astrid, a nymph and judge, is called upon to cast sentence on Zarek. It¿s up to her to decide whether he is capable of good or if he is truly a lost cause. Blinded in order to deliver a true verdict, Zarek stumbles upon her and she takes him in. What she doesn¿t expect is to fall for him in the process.First of all, I have to say - what is it with tortured souls whose names begin with Z?Okay, moving on¿Zarek is the son of a senator and a slave. He was given up at birth by his mother and tormented and tortured until his death where upon Artemis made him a Dark Hunter. A cold and tortured soul Zarek has lead a lonely life and through the glimpses of his past throughout the book it¿s hard not to feel for the man, though he¿d never want your compassion, and wouldn¿t be afraid to tell you so.Astrid and Zarek¿s relationship was a slow burn through the book and didn¿t feel rushed. There¿s nothing worse than a book that throws two conflicting characters together in the first couple of chapters ¿ where do you go for the rest of the book?Added to this was the threat of Thantos, a Daimon who cannot be killed and created for the soul purpose of destroying rouge Dark Hunters and is after Zarek for maybe more than what they¿ve been led to believe.I also have to get in a brief mention of Simi. I don¿t want to give too much away, but I heart Simi.Final Thoughts¿I had a little trouble getting back into the swing of this series after leaving a gap between this and the last. And since I had such a huge interest in Zarek¿s character from Night Embrace I was afraid I had raised my expectations a little too high.Again, like with Night Embrace, I found myself more intrigued at times with stories going on elsewhere. Ash and Artemis¿s storyline had me hooked just as equally as Astrid and Zarek¿s. So far Sherrilyn has only given us small glimpses of Ash¿s background and I for one can¿t wait until I get to his book. But seeing how his book is number sixteen in the series my patience is going to be seriously tested. My rule for reading a series in order may be seriously broken by this character!Kenyon¿s Dark Hunter series is a great addition to any paranormal romance/urban fantasy lover. I¿ll say it again, if you¿ve not picked these books up then I suggest you do! You¿ll wonder why you haven¿t sooner!
Here is the thing with this book---I actually really enjoyed all the Zarek, Astrid, "Dog", and Simi sections (which should have been the main part of the book). However, too much time spent with Artemis---I really like her in small doses. I hope that we get more Jess in the future (though looking through her book list not yet) and Spawn is great! I like the pairing of Z and A---I think it was a great way to make him more likable! (though honestly I kind of like the humor his charact...more Here is the thing with this book---I actually really enjoyed all the Zarek, Astrid, "Dog", and Simi sections (which should have been the main part of the book). However, too much time spent with Artemis---I really like her in small doses. I hope that we get more Jess in the future (though looking through her book list not yet) and Spawn is great! I like the pairing of Z and A---I think it was a great way to make him more likable! (though honestly I kind of like the humor his character has and how everyone is sure that he is bad LOL)
4.5 stars This is the 4th book in the Dark-Hunter series.Zarek is a Dark Hunter who's been mostly banished to Alaska because he destroyed a village he was supposed to protect--900 years ago--and rather than killing him outright, this is his "second chance." Between his human life as a hideously abused slave, and his centuries of isolation, he has a not-undeserved reputation for insanity. In Night Embrace, he showed up in New Orleans to help out, and got himself noticed, so he's expecting the assassins any day now.When Thanatos, the killer of Dark Hunters shows up, Zarek can't help fighting, but he knows it's all over. Except that he ends up waking up in a warm, soft bed, and finds himself in the company of the beautiful, compassionate, and blind Astrid.Astrid is the strictest of the Olympian judges, known for never having found a subject not guilty, and she's been tasked with judging Zarek. She's also scrupulously fair, and burned out on her job. Every time she's ready to pronounce Zarek guilty, he does something that makes her wait, and reevaluate.Of course, they fall in love (look at the spine--it's a romance), and it's sweet and poignant--Zarek having never in all those centuries known affection, and Astrid being torn between her duty and emotions.And in the process, a lot of things are cleared up, things which got to be pretty darn infuriating.Zarek has got to be one of the most extremely tortured heroes I've read. His absolute devotion to duty in spite of all he's been put through is both admirable, and just a wee bit too much for me. His temper does... heh... temper it somewhat, but I still found it a little too good to be true that he never, in all those centuries, was even tempted to turn on those colleagues who'd long ago turned their backs on him. Still, it was only a half-star's worth of irritation.I see why this series has such devoted followers. What I'm still struggling with understanding is that as much as I've loved all the books in this series that I've read, I don't feel invested in it.
At last.....another Dark-Hunter book that I could really sink my teeth into (pun intended;-)). I had greatly enjoyed the first book of the series, Fantasy Lover, but the stories in between that book and Dance with the Devil had left me feeling underwhelmed and less than satisfied. As I suspected it might, Dance with the Devil gave me a meatier tale with two well-developed characters that I could totally root for and who were very relatable, as well as getting back to some stronger relationship building. Even though the story took place within a matter of days, much like the previous books, the connection between Zarek and Astrid was more palpable and consequently more believable to me, because they actually spent large swaths of time virtually alone together, during which they were able to communicate on a fairly deep level. Their communication wasn't always of a direct nature, since Zarek was bound by the Dark-Hunter code which forbade him from telling anyone about who or what he was. Still, I thought that the author used a very creative solution for getting around that by having Astrid join Zarek in his dreams, where she was able to see the things he dreamed about (nightmares really), and they could talk about some things that he wouldn't be able to discuss when he was awake. It also provided the opportunity for Astrid to give Zarek some much-needed love and kindness in a ¿safe¿ environment, as well as a couple more steamy love scenes than would have been possible otherwise. I also liked how, in the dreams, Astrid gifted Zarek with a few small childhood pleasures that he had been harshly denied in his human life. I just think that the hero and heroine being together and interacting in more than just a sexual way for a large part of the book really helped to solidify their burgeoning love for one another.Zarek definitely earned a place at the top of my most tortured heroes list. I've seen other readers liken him to Zsadist from J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and after reading this book, I would have to agree that it is an apt comparison. Zarek's torment was somewhat different from Zsadist's, but no less inhumane and cruel. What was truly heartbreaking to me about it was when I discovered through a bit of research that some Roman slaves really were treated that badly. Sherrilyn Kenyon certainly did her homework on that one. Even in the last book, Night Embrace, I could tell that there was a lot of depth lurking beneath the surface of Zarek's gruff exterior and harsh words, and he certainly didn't disappoint me in this story. Inside, he has a sensitive, compassionate heart and especially around Astrid, he is extremely tender and gentle. He was strong enough to live through 2000 years of loneliness, torture and betrayal, but no matter how brutally he was treated, his tormentors were never quite able to kill that part of him that longed to love and be loved. He just buried it very deeply inside, where I'm not sure even he realized it still existed, making it a challenge for Astrid to find and unlock it. The only thing about Zarek which I would have liked to know that wasn't told, is exactly how he became a Dark-Hunter and what his act of vengeance was. Typically, it seems that the Dark-Hunters were warriors in their human life, but Zarek was a lowly slave. This left me wondering why Artemis decided to grant him immortality, but this part of his backstory was never explored. Otherwise, Zarek was a wonderful character who has become one of my favorite heroes.I knew after reading about Zarek in Night Embrace that he would need a strong, patient heroine to help him overcome his past, and in my opinion, Ms. Kenyon wrote the perfect mate for him. Astrid is very intuitive and understanding of Zarek, instinctively knowing that he isn't the bad person everyone thinks him to be. I loved that she never took his barbs and sarcasm personally, but realized it was just part of the armor h
These books really are a guilty pleasure, and this one (the 4th I've read) is my favourite so far. Definitely need to download the next!
Yeah! I finally found time to read a book! I'm so behind...but I digress.I hadn't read the previous book (Night Embrace, I think) for a while, so it took me a bit to get up to speed on the lexicon of the Dark Hunters again. But, it didn't take too long, and soon I was distracted by Zarek, anyway.This book did slow down in the middle...well, the action part of the plot did. With so much sex, I was beginning to wonder where the bad guys went! But they returned with a vengeance, bringing with them more clues about the most powerful and mysterious Ash.A nice, fast read in the on-going series.One other note: I'm not reading every book in the series, but the ones I have read are all chronologically connected. I think I've read 1, 2, 4, and 6, and have have 10 waiting (Valerius' book). I might look at the intervening ones, too, but V's book was recommended.
A great story, one of many is the Dark Hunter Series.Zarek, is a Dark Hunter (a vampire like immortal), though they don't seem to drink blood or need to feed for that matter, Zarek did not feed during the whole story. He has been bannished for over 900 years to Alaska where he has lived a quiet life. The duty of a Dark Hunter is to kill Daimons - beings who feed on humans, but of course Zarek has not had to deal with any of them in the last 900 years.His life as a human before he bacame immortal was that of a slave and a rotten life it was too - he was treated abominably by everyone he met - I think I missed him becoming a Dark Hunter and why he chosen on death to this duty.He has just been summoned to New Orleans by the leader of the Dark Hunters, Acheron (nicknamed Ash) and something happens there and he attacks some policeman and is once again banished back to Alaska - this time with a possey not far behind him. The Goddess Artemis wants him dead but before than can happen Astrid, a judgement nymph is sent to earth to decided whether Zarek is insane or not - will he be innocent or guilty. She gets into his dreams and sees what his life was like, it takes he quite awhile to get Zarek to trust her because he is so uncaring and whole lot of other horrible things, on the outside anyway.It was an intersting story, I think you need to read a few in this series to get an idea of what they are about.
This is the 3rd book in the Dark Hunters series. It's been so long since I've read the second one that I can't remember if I even DID read the second one. Is that sad or what? Anyway, moving along...in this book, Zarek is being held accountable for all of the wrongs he has committed. Artemis wants nothing more than to see him dead, so she orders his death. Acheron doesn't want to see one of his men killed unfairly, so he makes a compromise with Artemis: let Zarek be judged, and if he's found guilty then the death order will stand. He personally chooses Astrid for this task. She's never found anyone innocent and in the process of being a judge she feels like she is losing all compassion for anyone or anything. But Acheron knows she will be fair and she agrees to judge Zarek. When she first meets Zarek, he is everything they promised he would be: angry, cruel, and uncaring. Or so it seems. Part of her wants to just find him guilty and be able to go home, but there's something about Zarek that makes Asterid want to find out more about him. As she learns more about his past, she sees things that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Only Asterid seems to see the good in him, but how can you save someone that doesn't want to be saved?My Review: I'll admit, this book started off kind of slow for me. Not sure why, the story line actually jumped right into things, but for some reason I just couldn't get connected. It didn't take long before I just couldn't put it down! I loved Zarek, he was such a tortured soul and even though he comes off as uncaring and basically just an asshole, you know that deep down there's more to him. The scenes that chronicled his abuse were heartbreaking, even more so when you assume that some kids were are and are actually treated that way. This book actually reminded me a lot of the Black Dagger Brotherhood's Zsadist; he was also abused growing up and it very obviously shaped who he became. He's even called "Z" a lot too by those around him, so sometimes I was like "which book am I reading?" Not in a bad way though, I loved Zsadist so much and I love Zarek as well. Asterid is great too, she's a tough chick and doesn't take any of Zarek's crap. I like how even though everyone insists he's beyond help and he's such an evil person that she refuses to give up on him. Little pieces of the man underneath his hard exterior show through every once in awhile and she starts to see that the way he acts is a defense mechanism. If people don't get close to you they can't hurt you. And of course he has no reason to trust anyone, after his horrible childhood and 900 year banishment in Alaska. The romance is very hot in the book, even though it's not the main focus. It takes a long time for Zarek to even open up much to Asterid and the way she finally connects with him is unexpected. As much as I loved the main characters, I really loved the two minor characters of Sasha and Simi as well. Sasha is the werewolf that stays with Asterid while she's judging Zarek, and he absolutely HATES him. The feeling's mutual too. Sasha stays in wolf form so that Zarek doesn't realize what he is, because he can't know he's being judged, but he makes comments about Zarek constantly to Asterid (they can communicate to each other with their minds) that is most often hilarious. My favorite though is Simi, a demon who can take human form, but mostly she appears as a tattoo on Acheron's body. She's sassy, witty, and spoiled. And she absolutely hates Artemis. She always talks about barbecuing people she doesn't like and my favorite quote from her came at the end:"I understand all right. I understand the bitch-goddess needs the Simi to barbecue her until she learns to be nice to people. I think she'd be rather attractive on fire. I could make her look like that old sea hag or something."I definitely think the Dark Hunter series is unique and I love learning about all of them and the Greek mythology that is a central part of all of the books. T
I absolutely adored this story. I loved Zarek's perspective. It was really nice to understand him better and understand why he is the way he is. I wish that we knew more about him before this book, though. I find myself wanting to know more.I am absolutely loving this series and can not wait to keep reading. I finish one book, then move right on. I'm loving the cross over between the different types of immortals.