Vika – Jecis’ daughter. She is abused by Jecis, terribly. When she was younger, when the circus was a regular circus, Jecis killed her pets – the wonderful animals and made Vika fire the kill shot putting One Day, her precious lion, down (but only after he had shot One Day first). He also beat her so bad after another attempt to set people free that she lost her hearing. Hoping to escape, she is now working for the other wold circus taking care of the otherworld aliens who are the “animals” now.
Solo – one of the otherworlders. His race, Allorian, is unknown to humans. He, like his two brothers were trained to be assassins/government agents who do rough things. He is taken after an explosion and sold to the circus.
X and Dr. E – X is a little guardian that Solo was given, from his real parents. Dr. E is the evil version. They act like little guardian angel and devil to Solo. He is the only one who can see and hear them. X is Solo’s Altilium, his protector. E is an Epoto, a drain.
Jecis – Vika’s father. He is abusive and disgusting.
Mata – Vika’s bodyguard. He wants to marry Vika. He also wants to be in charge of the circus. He, like Jecis, has some sort of shadow power from another dimension going on (it’s basically just evil incarnate). He has some “magical” powers – he turned Rasa’s (one of the virus performers) beard into little snakes.
Locations: Seems to be Earth, but where exactly is not clear. The awful circus is the setting for most of the story. We see Siberia at one point too. There are lots of references to “New [insert US city name]” throughout.
Main Premise: Solo, and his (sort of) brothers are assassins for some government black-ops team. The world now includes humans and aliens of all sorts. Solo is one of those aliens. He and Blue and John are meeting with their boss Michael when at the end of the meeting, there is an explosion. Solo is taken. He is sold to a circus. And it’s a circus of monsters. Vika is the “animals” caretaker. She feeds and cleans the otherworlders. She is also plotting her escape from the circus and her father, who runs the circus. She feels an instant attraction to Solo and he to her. Solo is determined to escape but he is shackled and drugged which make it nearly impossible.
The details of the horrors aren’t really all that important. It’s enough to know that Jecis and Mata are totally into black magic. Jecis’ wife is too, although not as badly. There are otherworlders who are also rapped and they all want to get away. Vika and Solo fall in love. At the end, an attempted escape goes bad and while Vika and Solo get away, Dr. E sells them out to Jecis because Dr. E is pissed off that Vika and Solo have chosen good over evil. They all end up back at the circus and attempt to escape again, with the help of one of the other prisoners who was there purposefully because the circus killed his mate and he wants to experience all the horrors she did before he kills everyone involved in her death. X takes Solo to his home planet to save his life. Vika doesn’t believe he is dead and she goes to his farm. He manages to return to her using a solar flare and he tells her that he has just one more mission – to make sure Michael and his brothers/friends are ok after the bomb.
Other important things to remember for later:
Some peripheral characters to remember: Corbin Blue (famous Football player and like a brother to Solo); John No Last Name (the other like a brother); Dallas, an RIP agent looking for one of the others who was taken by Mr. Star; Mr. Star, the big bad guy that Michael is setting the three boys up to investigate at the beginning of the book.
Michael Black made sure all three of Solo, Blue and John were adopted and he met with them every weekend of his life to train them to be assassins. Michael is their boss and like a father. While all three boys are no related and different races, they are as good as brothers. Michael has a daughter Evie and all three boys are told to keep their hands off. The group is super into security so it looks like someone inside was involved in planting the bomb. Michael does survive and made Vika promise to contact him should she hear from Solo. We overheard a conversation about someone being ashed (presume burnt and dead), someone being taken and will fetch a decent price (presumably Solo). Blue is engaged but he is a serial cheater and his fiancee doesn’t seem to care.
I miss the old Gena Showalter!!! Some say she has found religion and that is why her books have lost that steamy goodness, and you can certainly see more theology in the books, but I am not sure I buy it. Why would someone drift from the steam into violence because of religion? Ok. I just wrote than and then realized that maybe that’s a stupid question given how often the “love thy neighbor” religion really is a facade for violence, discrimination, and all sorts of other bad things that have lead to more wars on earth than anything… but, leaving politics aside – I miss the steam!!!
Everything I have read, and the cover of LKG itself, proclaim this to be the first in a sizzling new series. But, like with many of the other folks who have read and reviewed this book, I think sizzling is a little misleading. The author has every right to write what she wants and not write what she doesn’t. But I think the publishers shouldn’t try to sell me something – when this book is clearly not what they claim it to be. As a result, I really struggled with where to even categorize this series’ pages here on this site. It’s certainly romance, because we are faced with the love stories. And it’s alien, and I don’t usually separate out alien into another category, instead they usually sit in the PNR category too. But, the steam, spice, sizzle, what ever you want to call all that juicy blush inducing stuff that is typically in the PNR books, and was in the start of Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series (and not so much now – see my latest reviews) is not here. Neither is her wit and dark sense of humor.
This book is missing so much of what made me read the first few Lords of the Underworld book without putting them down. Sure, there’s some kissing and we know that eventually the characters have sex but it’s just not what it used to be. And I don’t mean we need to have them together in the first 5 chapters. But when I wait until the last ten percent of the book to finally see the couple in fact couple, I want more than one line and the inference of what happens. And that’s really all we get here.
I will also note that there is significant violence. We see Solo ripping a man’s throat out, we see Vika get repeatedly beaten, we see animals being senselessly tortured and we see emotional abuse galore (forcing a child to kill her prized lion). And yet, the good, the love, is limited. It’s a shame.
I read a few other reviews that talked about being hit over the head with the theology. I admit, five chapters in I started skipping the bible verses at the beginning of each chapter. So maybe that’s what helped limit the feeling of being preached to (and I have read a fair share of those – and hate them – so I would be honest if I felt that way here). Don’t get me wrong, its obvious that X and Dr E are the little angel and little devil, feeing Solo with choices always trying to show Solo to be good to convince him to embrace evil. And good does prevail – as it usually does in these books. But I didn’t feel like I was having religion shoved down my throat. Although I can see where that perspective comes from. I guess I just tried to continue to remember that Dr E and X were aliens, from Solo’s home planet too, and purposefully tried not to think of them as an exercise in religious theory. The once or twice I felt like I was sitting in the pew at Sunday mass, I skipped tot he end of the paragraph and intentionally moved on. It worked for me. Although, if this keeps up, it doesn’t bode well for my desire to purchase more of Showalter’s books.
What bothered me most about this book was the female lead. I saw a review that pointed out Vika’s courage and strength – but I am not sure I see it that way. Sure, she seems to be planning an escape. And she seems to be willing to eventually follow through with doing it, but she is a doormat the rest of the book. She gets abused over and over. The dialogue is crappy – the pleading Vika does with her father… the conversations between Mata and Vika… the way her being deaf is convenient but so unrealistic – I know deaf people can “hear” music and sounds because of vibrations, but to actually be able to understand a conversation that you cant see because you are underneath a trailer through the vibrations… please that’s just too much – none of this lives up to the standards I have set for Showalter based on previous books.
We had some good plot holes too – why Vika doesn’t feel the effect of a vow with Solo the way others do; why X knows from the start they are meant to be together; Vika’s ability to hide that she is deaf is way too perfect; how and why did the whole switching eye color thing work, and Solo becoming deaf and them then “sharing the ability to hear” at the end; what the heck to solar flares have to do with traveling and how the heck is that tied to black magic and the no lands; were those supposed to be zombies in the no lands… the list could go on.
I miss the author who wrote all the great dialogue, characters, plot, sex scenes and stories that were the start of the Lords of the Underworld series. Can someone figure out how to travel by solar flare and get her back, please?