Review: After Dark

Reviewed by Jen

This anthology features two novellas: one which was previously published by Gena Showalter as part of her Lords of the Underworld series; the other a prequel to Kait Ballenger’s new Execution Underground series.  I’d read the Showalter short before.  If you didn’t catch my review on it the first time around:

“The Darkest Angel” – Gena Showalter seamlessly connects the dots between The Darkest Whisperand The Darkest Passion with this super sexy short story.  Our heroine is Bianka, sister to Gwen, and a fellow Harpy.  As our story begins, she is kidnapped by the angel Lysander. It turns out, she is his one true temptation and he thinks to neutralize the threat she poses. Ultimately, they each prove to be more temptation than the other can resist. But can they overcome their huge differences?

The great thing about this short story is that it hyper-focuses on the romance. And by “romance,”  I mean spectacular sexual tension and payoff. –Yeah, you could skip this short story and still understand what is happening in the next book. But honestly, why would you want to? It was a great story. (I’m still fanning myself.) And unlike some of the other short stories set in the LotU world, this one actually features the Lords, albeit in supporting roles.

Rating: B

“Shadow Hunter” –  This was a story with an interesting premise.  Damon is a vampire hunter, part of an elite fighting team called the Execution Underground.  He is trying to kill Caius, the vampire responsible for the death of his best buddy Mark.  Damon feels responsible for Mark’s death and has lost more than his friend. He also lost Tiffany, Mark’s sister and the woman he has been exchanging letters with for years. Damon has no idea that Tiffany, too, has been hunting Caius, until the two come face to face on the job.  The spark between them is instant and they explore their relationship as they work together to find justice for Mark.

There were problems for me from the start.  One: Tiffany is 22 years-old, gorgeous, and has never even been kissed. COME ON.  So unnecessary to the story and immediately had my eyes rolling.  Two: the instant overwhelming attraction between Damon and Tiffany (who each had no idea who the other was) was something you would expect, maybe, from shifters. But to go from never been kissed to sex with a stranger in the same night? Again, I say COME ON.  Three: Damon’s constant bemoaning about lusting after his friend’s baby sister.  And this was all in the first 25%.

But as trying as all that was for me, the absolute worst part of the story is the ending.  The completely NOT HAPPY ENDING.  I have an expectation of a HEA –or at the very least, HFN, in PNR.  But no. The ending is bad.  Unforgivable.

Rating: D

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon 
After Dark
by Gena Showalter & Kait Ballenger
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: HQN