Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Seduce the Darkness" by Gena Showalter

Title: "Seduce the Darkness"
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Alien Huntress, Book 6
Pages: 416
Publisher: Pocket Star

The war between otherworlders and humans changed Earth beyond recognition. It also saved Bride McKells's life. Before, the gorgeous vampire was a target for every fanatic with a stake and a crucifix. Now, she's free to roam the streets -- and desperate to find others of her kind. One man claims to have the answers she seeks. Devyn, King of the Targons, is a warrior and a womanizer, and he makes no secret of how much he wants Bride -- and how dangerous he could be to her in every way.

An avid collector of women, Devyn easily seduces human and otherworlder alike. Until now. Not only does Bride resist him, but she leaves Devyn feeling something entirely new...a bone-deep need bordering on obsession. Her blood is the key to curing a vicious alien disease, but helping Bride uncover her origins will compel her to choose between electrifying passion and a destiny that could tear her from Devyn's side forever.

The Verdict: “Seduce the Darkness” is the sixth installment in Gena Showalter’s Alien Huntress series and follows the actions of our beloved A.I.R [Alien Investigation and Removal] agents. Although Gena herself claims that this book is completely loose and standalone it would be grand to have met all the key players in the earlier books. Small details about the cases and the agents themselves make a bigger impression, when the reader has a background reference and feels initiated in the world.

However this is an alien story with an interesting twist. One of the main protagonists, Bride McKells, happens to be a vampire in a world completely devout from her kind. At first this sounds like the ultimate cross genre, since aliens are the official emblem of sci-fi as a genre and as of late vampires are the social highlight in one of fantasy’s youngest subgenres. I had my doubts whether the book wouldn’t be something unidentifiable for either fan camps even though I have complete faith in Gena’s professionalism. Thankfully I was enjoyably surprised after I read the final page. Presenting vampires as the earliest alien race to ever come aboard Earth and establish their colony, Gena gives the vampire myth an interesting sci-fi twist that sew them perfectly in her world. Perhaps what is most notable of her vampires is the fact that each individual develops their own specific power.

I guess that such helpful mutations run through the vampire’s gene pool, however the small cobble in the shoe for me was the unexplained nature behind the super powers. Not just in the vampires per se, but most species as well. Given the fact that the genre is paranormal romance rather than pure sci-fi, where some alien anatomy 101 classes would have been mandatory I can let this pass as the focus lies in the romantic entanglement. Over this area Gena has complete sovereignty as she spins the weirdest and unlikely love stories I have yet to read about. Her formula so far is to take two completely unfitted for a long term relationship, each with unique background story marked with issues, and then remodel the world so that it forces the couple to bond.

With Gena this alchemy with a different and yet satisfying end product at the end. Attraction is usually physical mixed with an exotic quality that pumps wanton through the characters. Devyn is alien royalty, who has gotten used to sweep woman after woman with relative ease, which helps him cope with mental traumas from his childhood, but Bride’s unyielding nature sparks the hunter’s challenge in him. The need to conquer turns to the need to posses body and soul. For Bride Devyn is a means to an end, finding everything possible about her race, which she doesn’t remember, and also locating her long lost friend. Willing to pay Devyn’s naughty prices for every bit of information gets her stuck in an emotional barrage, from which there is no easy way out. Amazing is how every action packed scene carries a single detail that reveals more about the characters and acts as one more ingredient into the love recipe Gena has been stirring.

And “Seduce the Darkness” has enough action with enough flashy effects to get me raving. As a very loyal follower of the Japanese maxim ‘everything is better when it gets destroyed in a fantastic manner’ I wasn’t disappointed in the use of special alien superpowers such as full body camo, hyper speed, dematerialization, molecular control and telekinesis. Considering that the writing is top notch with prose sending live feed into your brain and dialogue, witty, original and believable enough, it’s pretty hard to find any flaws. For me it’s very difficult to explain why a novel worked so well for me. There is this synergy of all the elements working together that is indescribably. It’s an experience and if you are in the mood for naughty, raunchy and tension filled, adrenaline bubbling story, then “Seduce the Darkness” is the by far the best you can do with.

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