The Darkest King (Lords of the Underworld)

The Darkest King
by Gena Showalter
Release Date:  February 25, 2020
Publisher: HQN
Book #15 in the Lords of the Underworld series
Number of Pages: 416
Hardcover
Source:  Warren Public Library
Paranormal Romance M/F
Rating:  NC-17
Read 5/1/21 to 5/6/21

To become a king of the underworld at long last, William must resist an irresistible beauty–or a curse will ensure his end…

A merciless prince feared by all…
Cursed by a vengeful witch, William of the Dark will die if he ever falls in love–murdered by the woman who steals his heart. His lone shot at redemption is a book filled with indecipherable code. Break the code, break the curse. Now, centuries later, he’s condemned to a string of one-night stands…until he finds the only woman in the worlds able to set him free.

A rare creature of myth and power…
One of the last living unicorn shifters, Sunday “Sunny” Lane works from the shadows as a cryptanalyst, on the run from assassins and poachers. Then the darkly seductive William abducts her, holding her captive in Hell. The closer they get, the more she hungers for his touch…and the stronger a mystical desire to kill him becomes…

But which desire will prove stronger–lust or death? And who will give in first? 

And this is why I don’t like going into a book with high hopes. This is a great story, but I’ve been waiting for William’s tale since we first met him many, many books ago (The Darkest Kiss) so my expectations were sky high. Like, unrealistically high.

I love a fake relationship story, and in its own convoluted way that is what this story happens to be. The funny thing is, I think William and Sunny thought it was fake more than anyone else. It seemed obvious to those close to William that he had finally met his match.

Getting to the heart of how the curse on William came about and how he dealt with things once he realized he was cursed was interesting. Again, it’s been many books that we’ve just been getting bits and pieces. As much as we know that Lucifer is bad, seeing the progression of him being William’s beloved foster brother to William seeing the truth of Lucifer’s evil was very well written and had me reacting on a gut level. If you’ve read the Lords of the Underworld series up to this point, you know there are many things that happen throughout that could really cause terrible feelings to resurface for many people. When it comes to Lucifer and his attitudes about violence and sex, that goes tenfold. I’m giving you a HUGE content warning on this book. Seriously, Lucifer is not a good guy. Absolutely NOT redeeming qualities.

Sunny is a lot of fun. She has seen so much tragedy and, essentially, been on the run for a huge part of her life. Yet, she finds a way to keep it together. She has an instant reaction to William, but doesn’t trust anything he has to say. Of course, she doesn’t realize that William is also reacting to her in a way he hasn’t with any other person. Where she is constantly reminding herself of William’s womanizing reputation, William is trying to rein his feelings in when in comes to Sunny. He is falling for Sunny so hard that he doesn’t want her to be his fated mate, that would mean he has to kill her or be killed.

I’ve never been a huge fan of William’s foster father, Hades. Just because he is now allied with the Lords doesn’t mean his intentions are good. I believe he loves William and cares for William above all others. I do not think Hades knows what unconditional love is, though. With everything William has been through in his life, Hades just piles on more guilt that is unnecessary. It’s painful to watch their interactions once Hades realizes the he cannot stop William from interacting with Sunny or his long-lost brother Axel. My heart breaks for William.

I could go through this story chapter by chapter and tell you all the good, there’s a lot of good. The problem I found was it wasn’t keeping me fully engaged. I think that had to do with pacing, not the story itself. There was a lot that was going on and it didn’t always unfold in a way that made sense or really flowed the way I’m used to things flowing with Gena Showalter’s stories. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the story or that I don’t think Sunny and William are a perfect match. I did and they are.

As is usually the case with this series, I got one HEA but now cannot get Axel out of my mind. I’d very much like to see him find his mate, too. There is plenty of story left to be told with other peripheral characters we’ve met throughout the series. This story was a bit anti-climactic in many ways, not just William’s story but also the overall arch of the Lucifer vs Everyone story. That coupled with the fact that I know there are more book after this one leads me to believe we will get to see Axel get his HEA someday.

Did this book live up to my expectations? No. Could it have? Probably not. But it was a good read and really was a lot of fun when we got into Sunny’s nature and how unicorns work.

3.5 stars

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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