seductive—and unimaginably powerful… Don't miss a single book in this stunning paranormal
series from New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter!
All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest
seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she'll be swept
into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member—a man trapped in a hell of his own.
Neither can resist the instant hunger that calms their torments…and ignites an
irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to
destruction—and a soul-shattering test of love…
Book 1 of Lords of the Underworld.
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Every night death came, slowly, painfully, and every morning Maddox awoke in bed, knowing he'd have to die again later. That was his greatest curse and his eternal punishment.
He ran his tongue over his teeth, wishing it were a blade over his enemy's throat instead. Most of the day had already passed. He'd heard the time seep away, a poisonous tick-tock in his mind, every beat of the clock a mocking reminder of mortality and pain.
In little more than an hour, the first sting would pierce his stomach and nothing he did, nothing he said, would change that. Death would come for him.
"Damned gods," he muttered, increasing the speed of his bench presses.
"Bastards, every one of them," a familiar male voice said from behind him.
Maddox's motions didn't slow at Torin's unwelcome intrusion. Up. Down. Up. Down. For two hours he had worked out his frustration and anger on the punching bag, the treadmill and now the weights. Sweat ran from his bare chest and arms, riding the ropes of his muscles in clear rivulets. He should be as exhausted mentally as he was physically, but his emotions were only growing darker, more powerful.
"You should not be here," he said.
Torin sighed. "Look. I didn't mean to interrupt, but something's happened."
"So take care of it."
"Whatever it is, try. I'm in no shape to help." These last few weeks very little was needed to send him into a killing haze where no one around him was safe. Even his friends. Especially his friends. He didn't want to, never meant to, but was sometimes helpless against urges to strike and to maim.
"I'm at the edge, Torin," he croaked. "I would do more harm than good."
Maddox knew his limitations, had known them for thousands of years. Ever since that doomed day the gods had chosen a woman to perform a task that should have been his.
Pandora had been strong, yes, the strongest female soldier of their time. But he had been stronger. More capable. Yet he had been deemed too weak to guard dimOuniak, a sacred box housing demons so vile, so destructive, they could not even be trusted in Hell.
As if Maddox would have allowed it to be destroyed. Frustration had bloomed inside him at the affront. Inside all of them, every warrior now living here. They had fought diligently for the king of the gods, killed expertly and protected thoroughly; they should have been chosen as guards. That they hadn't was an embarrassment not to be tolerated.
They'd only thought to teach the gods a lesson the night they'd stolen dimOuniak from Pandora and released that horde of demons upon the unsuspecting world. How foolish they had been. Their plan to prove their power had failed, for the box had gone missing in the fray, leaving the warriors unable to recapture a single evil spirit.
Destruction and havoc had soon reigned, plunging the world into darkness until the king of the gods finally intervened, cursing each warrior to house a demon inside himself.
A fitting punishment. The warriors had unleashed the evil to avenge their stinging pride; now they would contain it.
And so the Lords of the Underworld were born.
Maddox had been given Violence, the demon who was now as much a part of him as his lungs or his heart. Now, man could no longer live without demon and demon could no longer function without man. They were woven together, two halves of a whole.
From the very first, the creature inside him had beckoned him to do malicious things, hated things, and he'd been compelled to obey. Even when led to slay a womanto slay Pandora. His fingers clenched the bar so tightly his knuckles nearly snapped out of place. Over the years he had learned to control some of the demon's more vile compulsions, but it was a constant struggle and he knew he could shatter at any moment.
What he would have given for a single day of calm. No overpowering desire to hurt others. No battles within himself. No worries. No death. Just peace.
"It's not safe for you here," he told his friend, who still stood in the doorway. "You need to leave." He set the silver bar atop its perch and sat up. "Only Lucien and Reyes are allowed to be close to me during my demise." And only because they played a part in it, unwilling though they were. They were as helpless against their demons as Maddox was his.
"About an hour until that happens, so.. " Torin threw a rag at him. "I'll take my chances."
Maddox reached behind his back, caught the white cloth and turned. He wiped his face. "Water."
An ice-cold bottle was soaring through the air before the second syllable left his mouth. He caught it deftly, moisture splashing his chest. He drained the icy contents and studied his friend.
As usual, Torin wore all black and gloves covered his hands. Pale hair fell in waves to his shoulders, framing a face mortal females considered a sensual feast. They didn't know the man was actually a devil in angel's skin. They should have, though. He practically glowed with irreverence, and there was an unholy gleam in his green eyes that proclaimed he would laugh in your face while cutting out your heart. Or laugh in your face while you cut out his heart.
To survive, he had to find humor where he could. They all did.
Like every resident of this Budapest fortress, Torin was damned. He might not die every night like Maddox, but he could never touch a living thing, skin to skin, without infecting it with sickness.
Torin was possessed by the spirit of Disease.
He hadn't known a woman's touch in over four hundred years. He'd learned his lesson well when he'd given in to lust and caressed a would-be lover's face, bringing about a plague that decimated village after village. Human after human.
"Five minutes of your time," Torin said, his determination clear. "That's all I'm asking."
"Think we'll be punished for insulting the gods today?" Maddox replied, ignoring the request. If he didn't allow himself to be asked for a favor, he didn't have to feel guilty for turning it down.
His friend uttered another of those sighs. "Our every breath is supposed to be a punishment."
True. Maddox's lips curled into a slow, razored smile as he peered ceilingward. Bastards. Punish me further, I dare you. Maybe then, finally, he would fade to nothingness.
He doubted the gods would concern themselves, though. After bestowing the death-curse upon him, they had ignored him, pretending not to hear his pleas for forgiveness and absolution. Pretending not to hear his promises and desperate bargaining.
What more could they do to him, anyway?
Nothing could be worse than dying over and over again. Or being stripped of anything good and right or hosting the spirit of Violence inside his mind and body.
Jackknifing to his feet, Maddox tossed the now-wet rag and empty water bottle into the nearest hamper. He strode to the far end of the room and braced his hands above his head, leaning into the semicircular alcove of stained-glass windows and staring into the night through the only clear partition.
He saw Paradise.
He saw hell.
He saw freedom, prison, everything and nothing. He saw home.
Situated atop a towering hill as the fortress was, he had a direct view of the city. Lights glowed brightly, pinks, blues and purples illuminating the murky velvet sky, glinting off the Danube River and framing the snowcapped trees that dominated the area. Wind blustered, snowflakes dancing and twirling through the air.
Here, he and the others had a modicum of privacy from the rest of the world. Here, they were allowed to come and go without having to face a barrage of questions. Why don't you age? Why do screams echo through the forest every night? Why do you sometimes look like a monster?
Here, the locals maintained their distance, awed, respectful. "Angels," he'd even heard whispered during a rare encounter with a mortal.
If they only knew.
Maddox's nails elongated slightly, digging into the stone. Budapest was a place of majestic beauty, old-world charm and modern pleasures, but he'd always felt removed from it. From the castle district that lined one street to the nightclubs that lined the next. From the fruits and vegetables hawked in one alley to the living flesh hawked in the other.
Maybe that sense of disconnection would vanish if he ever explored the city, but unlike the others who roamed at will, he was trapped inside the fortress and surrounding land as surely as Violence had been trapped inside Pandora's box thousands of years ago.
His nails lengthened farther, almost claws now. Thinking of the box always blackened his mood. Punch a wall, Violence beckoned. Destroy something. Hurt, kill. He would have liked to obliterate the gods. One by one. Decapitate them, perhaps. Rip out their blackened, decayed hearts, definitely.
The demon purred in approval.
Of course it's purring now, Maddox thought with disgust. Anything bloodthirsty, no matter the victims, met with the creature's support. Scowling, he leveled another heated glance at the heavens. He and the demon had been paired long ago, but he remembered the day clearly. The screams of the innocent in his ears, humans bleeding all around him, hurting, dying, the spirits having devoured their flesh in a rapturous frenzy.
Only when Violence had been shoved inside his body did he lose touch with reality. There had been no sounds, no sights. Just an all-consuming darkness. He hadn't regained his senses until Pandora's blood splattered his chest, her last breath echoing in his ears.
She had not been his first killor his lastbut she had been the first and only woman to meet his sword. The horror of seeing that once-vibrant female form broken and knowing he was responsible for it To this day, he had not assuaged the guilt, the regret. The shame and the sorrow.
He'd sworn to do whatever was necessary to control the spirit from then on, but it had been too late. Enraged all the more, Zeus had bestowed a second curse upon him: every night at midnight he would die exactly as Pandora had dieda blade through the stomach, six hellish times. The only difference was, her torment had ended within minutes.
His torment would last for eternity.
He popped his jaw, trying to relax against a new onslaught of aggression. It wasn't as if he were the only one to suffer, he reminded himself. The other warriors had their own demonsliterally and figuratively. Torin, of course, was keeper of Disease. Lucien was keeper of Death. Reyes, of Pain. Aeron, of Wrath. Paris, of Promiscuity.
Why couldn't he have been given that last one? He would have been able to journey to town anytime he wished, take any woman he desired, savoring every sound, every touch.
As it was, he could never venture far. Nor could he trust himself around females for long periods of time. If the demon overtook him or if he could not return home before midnight and someone found his dead, bloody body and buried himor worse, burned him.
How he wished such a thing would end his miserable existence. He would have left long ago and allowed himself to be roasted in a pit. Or perhaps he would have jumped from the fortress's highest window and smashed his brains from his skull. But no. No matter what he did, he'd merely awaken once again, charred as well as sore. Broken as well as sliced.
"You've been staring at that window for a while," Torin said. "Aren't you even curious as to what's happened?"
Maddox blinked as he was dragged from his thoughts.
"You're still here?"
His friend arched a black brow, the color a startling contrast to his silver-white hair. "I believe the answer to my question is no. Are you calm now, at least?"
Was he ever truly calm? "As calm as a creature like me can be."
"Stop whining. There's something I need to show you, and don't try to deny me this time. We can talk about my reason for disturbing you along the way." Without another word, Torin spun on his booted heel and strode from the room.
Maddox remained in place for several seconds, watching his friend disappear around the corner. Stop whining, Torin had said. Yes, that's exactly what he had been doing. Curiosity and wry amusement pushed past his lethal mood, and Maddox stepped from the gym into the hallway. A cold draft of air swirled around him, thick with moisture and the crisp scents of winter. He spied Torin a few feet away and stalked forward, quickly closing in.
"What's this about?"
"Finally. Interest," was the only response.
"If this is one of your tricks " Like the time Torin had ordered hundreds of blow-up dolls and placed them throughout the fortress, all because Paris had foolishly complained about the lack of female companionship in town. The plastic "ladies" had stared out from every corner, their wide eyes and let-me-suck-you mouths taunting everyone who passed them.
Things like that happened when Torin was bored.
"I wouldn't waste my time trying to trick you," Torin said without turning to face him. "You, my friend, have no sense of humor."
As Maddox kept pace, stone walls stretched at his sides; sconces glowed, pulsing with light and fire, twining shadow with gold. The House of the Damned, as Torin had dubbed the place, had been built hundreds of years ago. Though they had modernized it as best they could, the age showed in the crumbling rock and the scuffed floors.
"Where is everyone?" Maddox asked, only then realizing he hadn't spotted any of the others.
"You'd think Paris would be shopping for food since our cabinets are nearly bare and that's his only duty, but no. He's out searching for a new woman."
Lucky bastard. Possessed as he was by Promiscuity, Paris could not bed the same woman twice, and so he seduced a new oneor two or threeevery day. The only downside? If he couldn't find a woman, he was reduced to doing things Maddox didn't even want to contemplate. Things that left the normally good-tempered man hunched over a toilet, heaving the contents of his stomach. Though Maddox's envy abated at such moments, it always returned when Paris spoke of one of his lovers. The soft brush of a thigh the meeting of hot skin the groans of ecstasy.
"Aeron is Prepare yourself," Torin began, "because this is the main reason I hunted you down."
"Did something happen to him?" Maddox demanded as darkness shuttered over his thoughts and anger overtook him. Destroy, obliterate, Violence beseeched, clawing at the corners of his mind. "Is he hurt?"
Immortal Aeron might be, but he could still be harmed. Even killeda feat they had all discovered in the worst possible way.
"Nothing like that," Torin assured him.
Slowly, he relaxed and gradually Violence receded. "What, then? Cleaning a mess and throwing a fit?" Every warrior here had specific responsibilities. It was their way of maintaining some semblance of order amid the chaos of their own souls. Aeron's task was maid service, something he complained about on a daily basis. Maddox took care of home repairs. Torin played with stocks and bonds, whatever those were, keeping them well-moneyed. Lucien did all the paperwork and Reyes supplied them with weapons.
"The gods summoned him."
Maddox stumbled, shock momentarily blinding him. "What?" Surely he had misheard.
"The gods summoned him," Torin repeated patiently.
But the Greeks hadn't spoken to any of them since the day of Pandora's death. "What did they want? And why am I just now hearing about this?"
"One, no one knows. We were watching a movie when suddenly he straightened in his seat, expression dead, as if there were no one home. Then a few seconds later he tells us he's been summoned. None of us even had time to reactone minute Aeron was with us, the next he was gone.
"And two," Torin added with barely a pause, "I tried to tell you. You said you didn't care, remember?"
What People are Saying About This
"Showalter at her finest."--(New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning)
"One of the premier authors of paranormal romance."--(New York Times Bestselling author Kresley Cole)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is my first book by this author, and I am completely hooked....It amazed me that someone can think of such an intricate story to tell and make it so simple to understand...the story was great I picked up this book and didn't put it down until I was finished reading it. I can't wait to read the others to come in then series...
Gena knows how to write MEN!!! HOT, tormented MEN!!! And the beautiful, feisty ladies they fall head-over-heals for. This series contains everything that consumes the immortal warriors: Violence, Death, Wrath, Passion, Pain, Disease and 6 more hotties. Not to mention it's also filled with: Passion, Heat, Humor, Bantering, Love and Great Sex. This is the order I believe the 8 books are in so far...with more to come... The Darkest Fire (Prequel - part of Into The Dark) The Darkest Night The Darkest Kiss The Darkest Pleasure The Darkest Whisper The Darkest Lie The Darkest Prison (Bonus story - part of Into The Dark) The Darkest Passion
I am an avid JR Ward fan and was long before I read this book. Therefore, when I began reading about a group of cursed men living together in a large castle like a, well, brotherhood, I was a little put off. It's a good read and I liked the idea of all the men being cursed with demons, but it felt too much like a Black Dagger Brotherhood wannabe. This is my personal opinion of course! BUT! If you're as obsessed with the Black Dagger Brotherhood novels as I am...you'll probably feel the same way about The Darkest Night as me...
I have to say I was a bit skeptical when I started reading this book (I had just finished the J.R. Ward BDB series recently). I did not think that I could find another series that was as good as that one. I was so wrong!!! I fell in love with this book and the main characters from the beginning... the interactions, dialog and circumstances surrounding their love adventure are just gripping and pure excitement. You will not to put this book down and will find yourself addicted and ferociously hungry for more!
Started the book on a Friday; finished it that Saturday (meaning, the VERY NEXT day). Ridiculous!!! Maddox is an excellent protagonist; Ashlyn, the consummate antagonist. Not to create a huge spoiler alert, but it's amazing reading exactly how she tames Maddox's "beast." And what she does near the end of the book to prove her love and loyalty to Maddox is absolutely astounding. Excellent start to a great series!
I tried to read this book and was intrigued until the female character Ashlyn was introduced. And then i immediately became disgusted. A damsel in distress is one thing (and bad enough in my opinion), but the woman in this story line comes off not only as completely helpless but also brainless and spineless. I was really hoping for a stronger female character that could hold her own next to the "Lords of the Underworld". I suppose I never got into the book enough to find out if she got any better, but I honestly had no interest to. It's a shame because the story line of the book seemed excellent, was just the character that turned me off.
In a time when so many different authors choose to play on the possibilities of a vampire werewolf romance, the plot to this story was incredibly refreshing, revitalizing even. I was completely enthralled by the version of Pandora's Box presented in the first chapter of this book. The weakness of the heroine in this story was, perhaps, a bit distressing, but the strength of the hero certainly overcomes it. Another difference from other books is that the hero, in this book, instead of having his demons removed by mystical forces, learns to overcome his demon on his own. All in all, I believe a story such as this sends a more powerful message about the power of the spirit to overcome.
The Lords of the Underworld series has a gripping premise, fast-paced plot, and great characters. I love the relationships between the driven angsty heroes. Good sexual tension between Ashlyn and Maddox, too. Highly recommended sexy paranormal. #1 is my favorite so far.
This book grabs you from the first page and does not let go of the reader until they have closed the book. I read this book in a day and found it very well done. The story line was fantastic and the book a fairy tale of itself. If you like to read than this is a must for anyone!
I love Gena Showalter's works...whether it is in the teen section 'oh my goth' or the romance section 'tends to be better^^'. Her works are always centered around good over-coming bad. She always tends to leave that satisfied aura around you after you read her books. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND ALL OF HER BOOKS!!!^^
I absolutely loved this book, I actually cried during the ending chapters. It was so intense like it was going on in my head and I was actually there feeling everything these characters were experiencing. Great author, great read, and great visual!!!! Can't wait to read the next book!!!!
I'm hooked on a new author and a new series. I can't wait to buy the next book. The only drawback for me is the poor editing of the ebook but if you can get past the spelling and grammatical errors you will truely enjoy the story.
I could not get enough of this book! It had everything...action, romance and enough steam to make you sweat. I'm starting on book #2 right away!!
As the cover depicts this book is tempting from the beginning. A web of darkness envelopes all of the Dark Lords of the Underworld. Their Budapest stronghold high on the mountain is shrouded in mystery, the surrounding townspeople have a tendency to believe the men are fallen angels or demons depending on who you may ask. Ashlyn decides to gain help from these mysterious men on the mountain to quite the voices within her mind no matter what it takes or how much it will cost her. She is found by one of the fiercest warriors Maddox who has been cursed by the Gods for a mistake centuries old going back to the time of Pandora's Box. Maddox holds a secret within him that he longs to destroy but only by redeeming his past transgressions against the Gods to their satisfaction may he and the other Lords have the possibility of freeing themselves from their individual curses. The instant attraction sizzles between Ashlyn and Maddox to create heartbreaking conflicts and daunting decisions that will captivate and grab your interest and sustain it until the end then leave you wanting more. A perfect book for those of you who are into an edgy modern paranormal mixed with the historical undercurrents of Greek mythology with a twist only Gena Showalter can manage. The story keeps progressing and only gets better as time goes on, so keep reading her wonderfully hot contemporary writings, and be sure to enjoy the whole series and more!
Loved this book....Read this one 1st it's the first in this series. I read these kinds of books all the time, but i was so clued to this one i stayed up all night to read it...
Okay, I was very wary about reading this. I bought it though, and I have to say this.... I LOVE IT!!! I couldn't believe what happened! Most times, I already know what will happen. This book though, kept me entertained from the beggining. Never before had I read book with a man so tormented, a demon no less, find someone and fall in love in less then two days! Just wonderful and beautiful yet woven with mystery and sorrowful pain. I will read more from this author without a doubt! Give it a try. You won't be dissapointed!
I found this book very good and I didn't want to put it down. Good read along with the rest of the series. Do recommend these books to read.
There are over 130 reviews for this book already, so my review will be brief. One word for this dark paranormal romance fantasy, Brillient! I picked up this novel because it was recommend to be similar to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. To be honest, I think both series are completely different and I don't see the similarities at all (besides tortured men all living in one mansion). I don't think both series should be compared to one another but both series are masters of their genres in their own right. I had my doubts that I would enjoy this because it truly is a romance, no doubt about it. Things were a bit rocky in the beginning for me but this book didn't take long to suck me in. I simply could not put it down and devoured it all in one day. I'm on the fence about recommending this to fellow dark urban fantasy readers, simply because it will take tremendous amounts of patience to sift through all the "feelings" and rehashing of feelings, and the many self-evaluation parts. However, if you give a wide girth of allowance for such things, you will not be disappointed. The plot is wonderfully-creative and dark; and surprisingly enough, this novel didn't have extensive amount of sex scenes. There was some predictability but that was to be expected. All in all, I can't wait to read the next book in this series The Darkest Kiss.
While this book was interesting I felt like it was lacking something. The story packed a lot of information but I felt like I didn't really know or understand the main characters (other than the obvious). Of course anyone who hears voices or gets killed every night is going to be a little traumatized but it would have been nice to see a little deeper into their feelings and reasons. I think I'm going to give the next book a try and we'll see what happens!
I've never read anything by Ms. Showalter before, but I must say that I was intrigued just by reading the excerpt. I read the excerpt twice before I actually bought the book. When the hero and heroine meet they instantly feel something for each other, which was my only downfall for their story. Everything with them happened so fast there wasn't much buildup for them as a couple. I overlooked it though, because not only do you get the point of view from both Maddox and Ashlyn, you get the other lords as well. This definitely helps set up for other books. After reading this one.. I'm dying to read the other two. Another reason why I enjoyed this book is because it's definitely not like the typical vampire/werewolf story. The demon concept makes it unique(well at least to me) so it's not like you're reading the same thing that others have been doing. Definitely worth buying!
Every woman should have a Maddox!!! I loved the idea that even though Maddox is possessed by a demon he loves and treats Ashlyn like the only woman on the planet.
Ashlyn Darrow can here voices, voices of conversations that have passed in any given location. When she hears of angels on a hill in Budapest, Ashlyn sets out to find these men to see if they can help her get rid of the voices that have been plaguing her since she was a little girl. What she wasn't expecting, was to find herself in the mist of warriors with demon's trapped inside of them, or that she could feel something for this warrior/demon with amethyst eyes. There are times when you wish you could read slower... this was that time for me. I forced myself to read this book as slow as possible, but instead, I zoomed through it like a match was lit under my ass. I absolutely loved all the characters in this book, as many as there are, Ms. Showalter definitely made each one unique in his/her own way. In the beginning of The Darkest Night, you're introduced to Maddox, keeper of Violence. Maddox is one of those dark & brooding alpha males, who doesn't love that? The constant battle between warrior & demon, where Maddox is trying to tamp down the demons urge to kill anything and anyone that got in his way and then the sudden change, when his demon started to agree with him, was definitely interesting and kept me wanting more... and surprisingly more of Violence. Kid me not, I like Violence... well, when he started to somewhat get along with Maddox that is. Ashlyn is strong but delicate, which I think made for a great heroine and a very good match for Maddox. She was scared (being a puny lil human, of course she would be) but determined and strong-willed, which I think really added to her character. What I liked about this book is that it's different. Completely different from other PNR books I've read. Demons trapped in a warriors body... who woulda thought, right? Seeing the Lords take on these demons within themselves is something else entirely and pretty much makes this series freaking awesome, IMO. Honestly, I wouldn't want to know the Lords or read about them without the demons taking up residence in their bodies, the demons play a very major role here & add that much more flare to the books. What I didn't like... Gosh, nothing? Zip, nada, zilch! I absolutely loved this book.I would definitely recommend this book! Read it NOW! You're missing out. I know I was ^_^ If you love you some PNR or some sezzy warriors with demons that tend to lash out every now and again, then I suggest you jump on this bandwagon & get to reading! Pronto!
I feel like I have read this story before. Not sure if I will continue the series.