Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Lightning, Valen was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai.
Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence. Cursed by Zeus to never know love again, Valen has brought up barriers around his heart to protect it, but with each new barrier he creates, the dark hold his power has over him grows, becoming all he needs.
Until the night he finally crosses paths with the assassin who has been watching him from the shadows, a bewitching mortal possessing the name of an angel and the skills of a devil—a woman who awakens his passionate heart and stirs dangerous desires.
Eva has built a fearsome reputation for herself in Italy’s underworld, but her latest job in her beloved city of Rome has left her feeling that she has stepped into a dangerous world and this mission might end in her death—either at the hands of her mysteriously seductive client or by the blade of the wickedly alluring warrior who is her target.
As the threat from the daemons escalates and more than just the Rome gate becomes their target, will Valen be strong enough to face the fears in his heart and the ghosts of his past to claim everything he desires or will they lure him deeper under their spell and into the darkness?
I received an advanced reader copy of Valen and was super excited to delve back into a world where myth and reality collide with often terrifying consequences. Valen is the second book in Felicity Heaton’s brand new series, Guardians of Hades, and having thoroughly enjoyed the first book, Ares, I was expecting great things.
I was not disappointed.
The plot itself is fast paced but it doesn’t feel rushed. Valen establishes an equilibrium between dramatic, action-packed moments and the tender, heart-felt moments between Valen and Eva. As much as I enjoyed Ares, I felt a lot of scenes revolved around Ares and his brothers having meetings and discussing their next course of action and while this helped me to gain a better understanding of the characters, their motives and the events that occurred before those in the book, it sometimes made the plot feel a little slow and drawn out.
Since finishing this book, Valen has been added to my ever-growing harem of book boyfriends. I absolutely adore this man. We catch brief glimpses of him in Ares, but it’s only in his own book that we truly see the complexity of the character underlying his bravado. Valen is so unlike the majority of paranormal romance males. He’s insecure and thinks himself unworthy of love and I found my heart shattering into a million pieces whenever he misinterpreted Eva’s words or his brother’s actions, thinking they meant he was hated and unloved. He doesn’t exude arrogance and doesn’t suffer with a deep-rooted superiority complex like so many other paranormal romance males seem to. His relationship with Eva builds him up, instilling him with new-found confidence.
I don’t have a harem of book girlfriends but I do have a list entitled ‘Badass fictional women I aspire to become’ and Eva has most definitely been added to it. She’s strong-willed and this will burns bright, never diminishing even when faced with creeps like Benares and his sister, Jin. Sure, Eva is an assassin with a fearsome reputation, but her clients and those she has killed have all been human. Working for daemons and being pitched against gods would be more than enough to make anyone throw in the towel. Eva doesn’t, though. She fights and continues to do so even when it appears all hope is lost. She’s faced adversity and has been strengthened rather than destroyed.
Valen isn’t just a novel. It also acts as a prelude for the third book in the series, Esher. There are two or three chapters from this deeply yet mysteriously troubled god’s perspective and I love how it builds a reader’s sense of anticipation. He looks upon humans with disdain and finds himself enslaved by the full moon…and we don’t know why! I think I’m gonna be spending a lot of time theorizing the mysteries of Esher. Also, Esher guards the Tokyo gate and I got crazily excited reading a scene where he’s in Shibuya and he sees his favorite Starbucks. I was sat in my chair mentally screaming “I’VE BEEN THERE! I’VE BEEN THERE!” (I used to live in Yokohama, the city next door to Tokyo). Also, is it really bad that while Esher is glaring down at the ‘hideous creations of the gods’, he only annoyed me when he appears to scorn Japanese, convenience-store umbrellas. It’s like, Esher, seriously? Have you ever used one of those things? They’re incredible. Firstly, they’re sold everywhere so you’ll never be caught out. Secondly, they’re super cheap (around 100 yen if my memory serves me correctly). Thirdly, they’re mahoosive so they cover you and your friend/backpack. And finally, the best point, they’re see through. They don’t hinder your viability at all. I sincerely hope Esher’s book isn’t going to be filled with Japanese umbrella-bashing.
My only real issue with Valen is the jealousy. There’s a scene where Megan is healing a gravely injured Esher and Ares growls when she touches him. There’s another scene where Marek shows some admiration for Eva and Valen completely flips out. Boys, reign in that testosterone!
Really enjoyed this book and cannot wait for Esher!
Song: Foreigner’s I want to know what love is
This book is available on Amazon in both e-reader and paperback format.