Wednesday, January 19, 2022

TBR Challenge: Gena Showalter - The Darkest Destiny

Forsaken. Deathless. A monster in every way. Mostly, Brochan is determined. He craves what fate promised him—the woman who will help him conquer a heavenly kingdom. He will stop at nothing to win her.
Viola, Keeper of the demon of Narcissism, lives for a single purpose—treating herself and her pet to the best life possible. But a crazed warrior is now appearing everywhere she ventures, ruining her fun…. tempting her beyond reason and keeping her at a razor-edge of desire.
Though legions of males have attempted to win her, all have failed. Somehow, this rampaging beast is tearing down her walls, one by one, claiming he owns her heart and her very destiny. To be with him, however, she must defeat the only force strong enough to destroy her—love.

Comment: 2022 is in full swing and before we know it, it's already time for the first TBR challenge post of the year. Usually, in January the theme is to read something short and while the switch to the "quickie" prompt could signify anything else, it's still the way I chose to see it. Therefore, I picked a book which wasn't too long, namely the latest installment in the Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter.

In this latest story, we finally have the HEA of Viola, a secondary character carrying the demon of Narcisism, whose presence in several previous books makes her a good candidate to close another loose thread. Viola has had a rough time in her life and having a demon isn't helping, especially because of what it demands of her and what makes her do to others. One day, one of her actions causes Brochan, a fallen angel, to want revenge on his brother and he starts pursuing Viola, although he sometimes can't say it's to put pressure on her or to simply admire her, for he feels she could be someone special for him. But both have secrets they don't want the other one to find out... if only they could stay away from each other...

If there is one obvious positive aspect of this story for me is precisely the fact it was a quick read. I've been reading this series for years and of course long series tend to leave a mark, there are always characters we like more, one gets used to the world building and the character's relationships...all this to say perhaps it's me but I just don't feel the same eagerness to read these books as I once did. I can't tell if it's the fact the story has taking so long or that the writing no longer seduces me, but this one was a little bit of a chore to read.

Although this is a short read, we know the main characters from previous stories. This should have helped to give the reader a better understanding of their personalities, mostly Viola's, and their connection should have been easier and quicker to develop. Sadly, I must say I didn't have this vibe and it felt they were a couple because one had to exist and if not these characters, others might have done the job, I kind of missed some reasoning for this couple to reach their HEA now.

It's been long since the overall plot captivated me and looking at the books in order, some were better than others for me, but I started having this feeling things weren't as urgent anymore, and the stories were just being told because. The focus of this novella in Viola and Brochan works well enough but I still don't have any opinion on them, as I often did about other characters, even before their book was up, and Viola showed up enough for this to be an expectation.

I think that, for me, one reason why is the fact I wasn't convinced enough of Viola's need for redemption or happiness or whatever one might think of it. We are told about her past, why she has certain attitudes, how the demon influences her but deep down I struggled to like her and I still doubt I'll remember much about her in the future. Brochan is a classical hero in the series, brooding, carrying the weight or his own world but unable to resist Viola. I kind of wish their roles had been a bit more complex, like it felt in some of the early books.

As time and books go by, I think some the allure of those expectations and emotions has been disappearing for me. It comes to mind my experience with G.A.Aiken's dragon series, when the first books were practically perfect and the last ones no longer worked out. As with what I feel regarding this series, so do mrs Showalter's books now feel as if she is trying too hard to portray sassy and independent and «bad ass» heroines with all the violence and cunning but without the vulnerability and the empathy to make them humble when necessary. Of course, it's just a personal impression....

I can't say if this means giving up on the series but it's true perhaps it would be time for it to be concluded...  To summarize, reading this novella was a duty, yes, but I have to confess part of me is glad I did it, for it's better to get something done than to postpone until it no longer appeals. I wish Viola and Brochan's story had had more development, that might make them more likable as a couple, but I suppose after a while it will stop mattering anyway.
Grade: 5/10


  1. It can be hard to give up on a series that once gave us so much; I've never been a fan of Mrs Showalter, but I've felt this with other writers of long series. When it starts feeling like an actual chore, or worse, it devolves into hate-reading, it's time to part ways.

    Life is short, after all, and there are many other stories (and writers) out there who may light that spark again, better to spend what limited energy we have discovering them, than struggling with something that we no longer enjoy.

    1. Hello! Thank you for commenting!

      It's true, I do struggle to give up on series... I have done so before but it's hard to let go of "friends"...

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  3. The development is always a complaint for me in novellas and I tend to pu them off, too.
    That's what great about this challenge, getting us to finally pick up that usually passed by :)

    1. Hi! It's true... most novellas rely on too many clichés to work out or are actually just collection of scenes isn't it?
      But yes, one less book/story on the pile!

  4. I understand what you're saying. I've had that happen for me in several series. I've realized two things about myself. One, that I became bored with certain sub-genres. And two, I can no longer invest my time in a series longer than three novels. I can't tell you how many series are languishing in my TBR, but there are a lot. LOL

    1. Hello!
      I also have so many books which are the first in a series... back when it was so easy and fun to shop because prices were cheap but now time has passed and I need to add them to my reading lists, otherwise, what a waste....