Possessed by the demon of Defeat, Strider cannot lose a challenge without suffering unimaginable pain. For him, nothing stands in the way of victory. Until Kaia, an enchanting Harpy, tempts him to the razor’s edge of surrender.Known among her people as The Disappointment, Kaia must bring home the gold in the Harpy Games or die. Strider is a distraction she can’t afford because he has an agenda of his own-steal first prize, an ancient godly artifact, before the winner can be named. But as the competition heats up, only one prize will matter-the love neither had thought possible…
So finally, Strider gets his book. I was pleased with this installment, it had all of the humour that I expected and it was probably the most fun to read out the series, with Gideon’s book being a close second. I enjoyed the levity Strider and Kaia brought in comparison to some of the dark and brooding (though no less hot) Lords.
Strider houses the demon Defeat. Defeat is nothing more than a spoilt child who must have his way at all costs…in other words, he must always win. If Strider cannot win whatever his demon deems a challenge, he suffers agonizing pain. Strider is very much a Type ‘A’ personality…he is also arrogant but has a great sense of humour. Kaia is a harpy, she is the sister of Gwen and Bianka whom we have met in previous stories. In the typical harpy fashion, Kaia is trouble and has very little self-control. She comes across initially as extremely juvenile but we learn throughout the book that this is very much a facade covering a very caring and vulnerable individual.
At the end of The Darkest Secret, Kaia learns that Strider is her consort. Fate chooses a mate for harpies in the form of consorts, their version of a soul mate. Unfortunately, Strider steers clear of Kaia and her competitive nature to avoid having to hurt her to keep his demon happy.
What throws them together in this story is the Harpy Games. Years ago, a young Kaia made an arrogant mistake which earned her the moniker, Kaia the Disappointment. The other harpies are gunning for vengeance against Kaia in the upcoming Harpy Games – a brutal free for all where they will likely be successful. Kaia will have a distinct advantage if she has a consort, for harpies need blood to heal and Kaia will need Strider to survive the games. However, she does not want to force Strider into being her consort, she wants him to come to her of his own volition. This was the first hint to me that Kaia was not as self-absorbed as I thought her to be.
When Bianka and Gwen learn that Strider is Kaia’s consort, Gwen convinces Strider into attending the games with Sabin and Lysander. During the games, we learn a whole lot about Kaia and her family…there is also an interesting twist involving her father that gives Kaia an extremely helpful advantage. As always, in Showalter’s stories, we meet even more characters that we will no doubt see in future installments. We are also let in on what is going on with Paris, William and Kane, setting us up for the next book which will be Paris’.
I felt that Strider and Kaia were a well matched couple. They are both witty and funny, and they have some seriously sizzling chemistry. With the self-important personality types these two have, you would almost expect that they would just go for each other right away for instant gratification. That is not the case though, it’s a slow burn and things really don’t get going until true feelings have been established, which is a nice change. Once they do get going though…it’s definitely worth the wait. Very hot. Here is one of many humourous passages, that sum up these two quite nicely.
As she studied him, she lost her breath. His pale hair shagged around his fallen angel face. His lips were red, as if he’d chewed them. A lot. he wore a black T-shirt that read ‘I Heart William’.
“William gave it to me,” he said with a shrug, noticing where her gaze had lingered.
Just hearing William’s name made her snicker inside. The dark-haired charmer had a crush on her and she couldn’t wait until he realized why she’d always turned him down. She’d probably laugh so hard she’d pee herself!
Anyway, she didn’t care about Strider’s T-shirt, but about the pecs underneath it. They were hard and well-defined, his nipples slightly puckered–definitely lickable. At the shirt’s hem, she could see the bulge of his weapons, tucked into dark denim. That denim also covered the bulge of something else she’d really like to see, but whatever.
With only the slightest twinge in her side, she pushed to her feet. “I need you to be brutally honest right now,” she said.
Wariness cloaked his features. “Okay.”
“How pretty do I look?”
His gaze dropped, following the line of her body. She wore a red lace halter dress that veed in the middle, all the way to her navel. The hem stopped just below the curve of her ass.
Strider’s pupils did that expanding thing, almost always a prelude to touching. “You need to put on a pair of pants.” His voice was a croak. And he did not move toward her.
This was one of those times when “almost” sucked the big one. “Duh. As if I’d go out like this. I’ve got a pair…right…” She looked around. “There.” She stalked to the nightstand and lifted the “pants” in question. A scrap of red lace spandex that wouldn’t fall below her dress.
With a quick step, step, tug, she shimmied into the material and once again faced off with her consort.
His mouth hung open. “We were just sitting on the bed, together, and you were just drinking from me, your mouth on my skin, and you didn’t have any panties on?”
“You mean you didn’t look?” she said with a pout. No wonder he’d left her so easily.
“No. I wouldn’t let myself.”
“Damn it, Kaia,” he said, ignoring her. “You can’t just go around pantiless.”
“Which is why I just pulled on a pair. Were you not watching?”
His eyes narrowed to tiny slits. “You said pants. That you were putting on a pair of pants.”