cover image The Darkest Torment

The Darkest Torment

Gena Showalter. HQN, $22.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-373-77974-1

Showalter’s 12th Lords of the Underworld paranormal novel pays perhaps unwitting homage to If a Man Answers, a 1960s rom-com about a young wife’s attempts to use dog-training techniques to bring her husband to heel. In a vaguely described setting that might be the present-day U.S., Baden, a once-immortal warrior who was cast down by Zeus and later resurrected by Hades, plays a deadly game against Pandora to win his freedom from the god of the underworld. As part of the game, he kidnaps Katarina Joelle, a dog trainer and a brutal criminal’s bride. He dislikes and mistreats her, and she is horrified to be under the thumb of another violent man, but a spark of attraction begins growing between them. Lust eventually turns into love, but Baden is possessed by a beast called Destruction, who cannot bear the touch of another; Katarina chafes under Baden’s chauvinism; and war looms between Hades and Lucifer. Showalter’s writing has retained its erotic intensity throughout the series and has a darkly humorous edge here, but the story is excessively violent and overpopulated to an unwieldy extent. [em](June) [/em]