Series: Lords of the Underworld #14
Genres: Fantasy Romance
Source: ARC, NetGalley
Also in this series: The Darkest Promise
Also by this author: The Darkest Promise
A searing Lords of the Underworld tale by New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter, featuring a beastly prince and the wife he will wage war to keep.
He is ice...
Puck the Undefeated, host of the demon of Indifference, cannot experience emotion without punishment, so he allows himself to feel nothing. Until her. According to ancient prophecy, she is the key to avenging his past, saving his realm, and ruling as king. All he must do? Steal her from the man she loves—and marry her.
She is fire...
Gillian Shaw has suffered many tragedies in her too-short life, but nothing could have prepared the fragile human for her transition into immortality. To survive, she must wed a horned monster who both intrigues and frightens her...and become the warrior queen she was born to be.
Together they burn.
As a rising sense of possession and obsession overtake Puck, so does insatiable lust. The more he learns about his clever, resourceful wife, the more he craves her. And the more time Gillian spends with her protective husband, the more she aches for him. But the prophecy also predicts an unhappily ever after. Can Puck defeat fate itself to keep the woman who brought his deadened heart back to life? Or will they succumb to destiny, losing each other…and everything they’ve been fighting for?
The Darkest Warrior is the story of Puck, who harbors the demon of indifference, and Gillian, a former human girl who was in love with William. Now, I have not read every book in this series, so I have not been as privy to the build up of the Gillian/William love story. This is important because this book ends that idea! For me, it didn’t matter because I wasn’t that invested in them as a couple (and what little I have gotten on William in previous stories, I was not really a fan of!).
Puck’s brother has turned into a monster and is destroying their homeland. Puck knows he must fulfill the prophecy and kill Sin (his brother). In order to do that, he needs a wife (enter Gillian) and help from William. I loved Puck. He was so devoted to his brother (before indifference) and that bond was amazing. He put everything before Sin and then Sin betrayed him. Prior to indifference, Puck had imagined having one woman to love forever. It was kind of sweet! Once plagued by indifference, he not only had to suppress ANY emotions, he grew horns and hooves. He became unable to rid himself of the horns and hooves. He still had access to magic though.
Gillian had a miserable life. She was sexually abused by her stepfather (and others) until she ran away. She is about to turn 18 and wants to be with William. She loves him and is pretty sure he loves her. But, William has put Gillian firmly in the ‘friend zone’ and continued to sleep with other girls. Then, days before her 18th birthday, she gets sick and is on her death bed. Enter Puck, to save the day (and her life). This leads to serious changes in her life in many ways. I liked getting to see her come into her own. She needed to feel empowered and free. I actually wanted to see her away from William. I think she was much stronger and braver than she thought she was and used William as kind of a shield. I also think it was critical that she had all that time away from both Puck and William. She learned who she was and really grew up. She was only 18 at the start of the book-while she had had lots of horrible life events, she was still a young girl and not ready for the real world yet. I thought the way Showalter handled the plot to give Gillian some time to grow up was interesting and worked perfectly for the story.
As I said, having not invested in the entire series, I didn’t have super strong feelings about Gillian and William being together. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of William anyway, so I actually enjoyed that this book took them on different paths. I loved Puck and thought he was a very well written character. Showalter has a way of taking demons and making them relatable.
- POV: 3rd
- Tears: no
- Trope: magic, demons, arranged marriage
- Triggers: View Spoiler »As mentioned, Gillian was raped and suffers PTSD regarding intimacy. The rapes are not detailed, but she does have flashbacks of things said to her during the rapes « Hide Spoiler
- Series/Standalone: series (you could read this as a stand alone, but it might be a little overwhelming because by this point, there are a LOT of supporting characters from previous books that play semi-important roles)
- Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »spoiler « Hide Spoiler
- HEA: View Spoiler »spoiler « Hide Spoiler
Puck eased into the room, silent, and padded forward. Wait. Had he remembered to dress today? A quick glance down revealed his sheepskin pants had been torn so much they resembled a loincloth.
No matter. Barbarian chic really made his horns pop and fit the whole romance-novel-hero mystique he’d hoped to convey. He might even pass for Prince Charming—well, a prince in need of true love’s kiss.
Puck’s pulse points spun into a wild rhythm when he reached the side of the bed and spied his future bride. He wasn’t the only fairy-tale character in the room. Sleeping beauty lies before me.
Dark ribbons of hair spilled over the pale pink of the pillow. Her eyes were closed, long black lashes throwing shadows over her cheeks. A rosy flush spread over her delicate features as she parted her lips.
Practically begging for my kiss.
Focus! Keep this short and sweet. No telling when William would return.
“Gillian,” he rasped, surprised by the husky tone of his voice.
A sweet fragrance wafted from her. Breathing in, he detected a note of poppiberries, and his head fogged. His blood heated. The butterfly tattoo sizzled on his torso, surely melting his skin.
Indifference snarled with more force and slashed at his mind. Trouble brewed.
Fortify ice. Regain control.
Gillian turned her head toward him and blinked rapidly before focusing on him. Panic filled her whiskey-colored eyes before she looked away—anywhere but Puck. Her mouth opened wide, as if she was trying to scream. Only a squeak escaped.
“There’ll be none of that now.” To prove himself harmless, he tucked the covers around her, as he’d seen William do. “I’m not here to hurt you.” Truth.
The movement caused the razors woven into his hair to clink together, drawing her attention. Her gaze darted to him and darkened with shock and dismay. He swallowed a curse. Romance novel heroes didn’t usually smuggle weapons in their hair.
Must proceed anyway. Puck wouldn’t part with his razors; they were his saving grace. Anytime he was challenged, and had no sword or dagger, he plucked a razor free and started slashing.
Tears rained down Gillian’s cheeks, and her chin trembled. So vulnerable. So broken. A pang of…something lanced his chest.
As gently as possible, he wiped her tears away. Skin as soft as silk and hotter than the sun.
The action helped relax her, even as it hardened muscle after muscle inside him. Her panic began to fade—until her gaze snagged on the loincloth. Or rather, the erection underneath the loincloth. With a whimper, she began to thrash atop the bed in a desperate bid to escape.
Thought he would take what she had not offered? Never. “Eyes up here, lass.”
Her gaze lifted up, up…she gasped, as if she’d noticed his face for the very first time. Confusion contorted her features before a deeper shade of rose spilled over her cheeks.
Did she like what she saw?