Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Series: Lords of the Underworld #12
Published by Harlequin Books on November 22nd 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org
Can Beauty tame her Beast?
Driven to his death by the demon of Distrust, Baden spent centuries in purgatory. Now he's back, but at what cost? Bound to the king of the underworld, an even darker force, he's unable to withstand the touch of another and he's quickly devolving into a heartless assassin with an uncontrollable temper. Things only get worse when a mission goes awry and he finds himself saddled with a bride just not his own.
Famed dog trainer Katarina Joelle is forced to marry a monster to protect her loved ones. When she's taken hostage by the ruthless, beautiful Baden immediately after the ceremony, she's plunged into a war between two evils with a protector more dangerous than the monsters he hunts. They are meant to be enemies, but neither can resist the passion burning between them and all too soon the biggest threat is to her heart.
But as Baden slips deeper into the abyss, she'll have to teach him to love or lose him forever.
The concept that training a demon, or training a man, is just like training a dog, is too funny not to share. This may be the first time I’ve read about a heroine who directly compares her hero to a canine – and a not very well behaved one at that.
Baden and Katarina don’t exactly seem made for each other when they meet, and it is far, far from a meet-cute.
Katarina is in the midst of her forced wedding to a man who has threatened to kill her dogs if she doesn’t obey. Katarina may hate him (she does) and he’s thoroughly evil (which he is) but she loves the dogs she’s trained. She also loves her brother, who is currently a minion of said evil bastard – because said evil bastard is supplying him with heroin.
Katarina’s life would seem to have reached the depths of extreme suckitude, until her wedding is invaded by Baden and the Lords of the Underworld. Baden is running errands for Hades, fighting on the front lines of a war in the underworld. Said evil bastard, named Alek, has something that Hades wants. When he refuses to give it up – I said he was evil, right? – Baden takes Katarina, still in her hated wedding gown, instead.
Too bad this happens after the “I do’s”.
Katarina finds herself in the middle of that underworld war. Hades may be bad (he is!) but his enemy Lucifer is much, much worse. And Baden is caught in the thick of the action. Since Baden can’t let go of Katarina until he gets back whatever Alek has, Katarina is in the thick of it right along with him.
Her beloved dogs have been killed. Alek murdered them to get vicarious revenge on Katarina. When she emerges from her grief, she is presented with two gamboling puppies who need her protection. But Gravy and Pudding don’t need Katarina nearly as much as Baden does. The more Hades tries to turn Baden to the dark side, the more light that Katarina shines into his life.
But human and weak Katarina can’t survive among the immortal badasses in the middle of this battle. At least not until she develops some badass powers of her own. Human Katarina could never be the mate the Baden needed, but badass Katarina gives even Hades a run for his money.
And who knew that it would be so much fun to give a hellhound a bath?
Escape Rating B: This entry in the Lords of the Underworld series definitely has a “Beauty and the Beast” vibe. Katarina has to tame both Baden and the beast of Destruction who shares his soul. That she manages to do it is a testament to her skill as a dog trainer, because at the beginning, both Baden and Destruction are dogs with plenty of bark and a potentially deadly bite.
The Lords of the Underworld series is now 12 books in, and that’s a lot of backstory. I read a few of the early books, way back when, and picked up the next-most-recent, The Darkest Touch, earlier this year. It refreshed my memory on the general arc of the series, but my memory of all the individuals who have marauded through the pages is just a bit hazy. I still had fun.
The premise of the series is that the warriors who opened Pandora’s Box, millennia ago, were each infested with a demon bearing one of the plagues that was let out of the box. Now they are desperately trying to find a way to end their curse, as each of the warriors finds true love and some redemption. While it isn’t necessary to read the entire series to get in on the current action, the author’s guide to the current members of the troupe that features at the end of The Darkest Torment is a big help. This game has oodles of players, and it’s very nice to have a scorecard.
There is a bit of Stockholm Syndrome in the romance between Katarina and Baden, although there are points where the reader isn’t sure who captured whom. She does get dragged off at the beginning, but Baden is a way better bet than Alek, even with the demon of Destruction inside him. Alek is just that bad.
Katarina shows a lot of spine in dealing with Baden’s high-handedness, but it’s difficult to lose consciousness of the fact that he can overwhelm her at any time. It’s his desire for her willing cooperation that keeps him in check, and sometimes not much else. I’m glad that the initial extreme power imbalance is addressed before the HFN ending.
I’m only saying this is Happy For Now rather than Happy Ever After because the war in the underworld is still looming over everything. If our heroes don’t win the day, no one is getting much of an ever after at all.