Review: Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter

Who would have thought that angels would make such terrific tortured heroes? Now the concept that fallen angels would become demons, and evil ones at that, well, that concept has been around forever.

Everyone knows the quote from Milton. That one about it being, “better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” But Gena Showalter has already shown that demons can be redeemed, or can fight their nature, with the help of the right woman. She proved that in her Lords of the Underworld series.

Wicked Nights is the first story in a spinoff series in the same universe, Angels of the Dark. And Zacharel certainly is a dark and brooding angel. Also a disobedient one. His Deity has made him general of an army of misbehaving angels who are all one step, or maybe that’s one wingspan, away from falling into the dark.

Zacharel is the one who is whipped every time one of them disobeys. Or accidentally kills a possessed human when they battle the demons. Every one of his soldiers is damaged goods. They’ve all been tortured by the dark.

Zacharel lost his brother to the demons. Hadrenial was the best part of him. But after his repeated, soul-destroying torment by the demons, Hadrenial begged Zacharel to kill him. To kill his spirit, destroy his soul and burn his body. To remove him utterly from existence. In the angel’s realm nothingness was better than being consigned to hell by self-murder. And Hadrenial’s self-destructive actions became more and more depraved by the day. Zachariel finally gave in, and killed him. Destroying his soul. He also carved out a piece of his own soul, all the love he felt in the universe.

Or so he thought.

Annabelle Miller watched a demon rip her parents to pieces right before her very eyes. Eyes that the demon had just ripped from their sockets. Then he marked her as his own and left Annabelle to attempt to explain what she saw to the police. Who of course believed that she was an insane psychopathic murderer and locked her up in a mental institution.

Where she was under continual attack by, not just demons that no one else could see, but by the staff who treated her as fair game for sexual assault. After all, no one would believe the crazy girl.

Until the angels came to investigate the place. Zacharel’s army was tasked to discover why this one building kept being attacked by demon armies. It was assumed that someone inside was possessed.

What Zacharel found, was Annabelle. A woman who could see the demons. A woman who had been claimed by a demon. Yet a woman who had absolutely not invited that demon to claim her. As an angel, Zacharel could “taste” when someone was telling the truth, and Annabelle was telling that truth.

He was intrigued in spite of himself. And that was a feeling. Zacharel had no feelings. He’d cut them all out of himself when he’d killed his brother. But Annabelle’s defiance of her circumstances made him feel. She was not broken, not yet.

But he could see that she would be. Not yet, but one year, or two. And his task was to protect the humans from the demons. He decided to protect Annabelle by rescuing her.

The demons chased them. Everywhere. Zacharel discovered that he wanted to do much more than just protect Annabelle. Even if he didn’t know what it was that he was feeling. Or why the demons were so intent on this one woman.

She was his woman now. And hell could be damned if he would let them have her.

Escape Rating A-: This is one of those stories where you just kind of buckle up, because you know it’s going to be a really bumpy ride. And I mean that in the best way possible.

The Lords of the Underworld series was not sweetness and light. Those dudes all had somebody pretty nasty sharing headspace with them. This is a spinoff series, so don’t expect fluff here either. Both Annabelle and Zacharel have incredible amounts of baggage. Whole steamer-trunks full.

These two tortured souls take a long time to trust each other, and they should. There’s a very rocky road to even see happy someone over the next horizon, and that’s the way it should be. These are two souls who don’t think happy could have ever applied to them. Getting there is what makes the story.

One small spoiler. Dr. Fitzpervert doesn’t get anywhere near what’s coming to him. But it was a good start.


Lord of the Vampires

Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter is the first book in the Royal House of Shadows from Harlequin Nocturne. The series is about the children of a royal family in a world that exists parallel to our own. This is a world where magic exists, the king is a vampire, and the queen is a witch. Unfortunately for this particular ruling pair, their throne was coveted by an evil sorcerer, and they were murdered. But not before they each cast one final spell. The king’s spell imbued his four children with an unstoppable need for revenge. The queen used her last ounce of power to send each of her children far away from the sorcerer, from the kingdom, and unfortunately, from each other.

Lord of the Vampires is the story of the crown prince, the oldest son Nicolai. The spell flings him naked out of his own kingdom, Elden, and into the slave markets of Delfina, where he is quickly sold as a sex slave.  His memories are wiped away by magic, and he knows nothing except rage and his dreams of vengeance against a sorcerer whose name he cannot remember.

In our world, a woman named Jane Parker receives a leather-bound book, along with a note bearing four simple words, “I need you, Jane”. Jane is disbelieving. No one needs her. Her family was killed in a car crash, and she was the only survivor. She has just regained the use of her legs. She is totally alone. But touching the book brings back memories that she doesn’t think are hers, as well as dreams that she barely remembers. In dreams she has experienced what the book details, and she knows it. What she doesn’t know is how it is even possible. She worked in quantum physics before her accident, she has met creatures from the parallel world, but she is sure what she feels just isn’t logical.

But just the same, she can’t stop thinking about the book, her dreams, and her memories of those dreams. So when logic fails completely, she settles down to actually read the book itself. And when she falls asleep over the book, she crosses the barrier between the worlds, and meets her destiny. And Nicolai, who needs her.

Lord of the Vampires fell into the “just plain fun” category for me in spite of the dark themes throughout the book. The evil characters were all caricatures of evil, particularly the ones who have been “keeping” Nicolai for the last several years. The link between our world and Nicolai’s was just a bit too convenient. And although Nicolai summoned Jane to help him escape from his captivity, when she turns out to be his chosen mate, they are both surprisingly agreeable to being bound together for life. On the whole, Lord of the Vampires was mind candy, but it was pretty good mind candy. The next book in the series will be Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe, followed by Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen and last by definitely not least Lord of the Abyss by Nalini Singh. It will be interesting to see how different authors manage to handle the different siblings while still retaining the continuity.

Escape Rating: C+: Definitely worth following the series, but the cliché count rose to high to keep me up all night reaching for the ending.