I received this book for free from Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Phantom by Gena ShowalterThe Phantom by Gena Showalter
Series: Rise of the Warlords #3
Published by HQN on February 7, 2023
Genres: PNR
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Advance Reader Copy
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"One of the premier authors of paranormal romance. Gena Showalter delivers an utterly spellbinding story!"—Kresley Cole, #1 New York Times bestselling author

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with The Phantom, the third book in her pulse-pounding Rise of the Warlords series, featuring a vengeful harpy and a callous torture master locked in a battle to the death.

As the son of a war god, Roux Pyroesis has suffered unending pain—he’s caused it, too, dispatching his foes with alarming ease. Now he’s tasked with cutting out the heart of a powerful queen who rules an ancient prison realm inhabited by the most vicious immortal females in existence.

Blythe the Undoing is a decorated harpy warrior determined to annihilate Roux, the invader who killed her beloved consort. Nothing will stop her. Even if she must trap herself for eternity by sneaking into the brutal realm and taking the crown, pitting herself against the merciless male she’s sworn to despise.

Having never known desire, Roux is ill prepared for the stunning beauty who challenges him at every turn. For the survival of his army, duty comes first. Always. But what happens when the flames of Blythe’s hatred burn out and she craves him, too…but only one of them can live?

This is the third book in Gena Showalter’s Rise of the Warlords series. This is a great series, especially if you miss really good Paranormal Romance. And I really do miss good PNR. We saw some hints to the main couple in the previous book, so the pairing wasn’t a surprise, but the intriguing thing is that our heroine is a widow. She already had her fated mate, and our hero was the one to kill him (not a spoiler! This was in the other books and it’s in the first couple of pages). The plot in this story, man Showalter is a genius.

So a quick backstory in case you haven’t read this series: The Astra Planeta are a race of warriors who are given tasks by the gods (think Zeus/Chaos/Ares). These tasks usually involve conquering worlds (in this case, the Harpy homeland), sacrificing mates, ridiculous and horrible stuff just like in the Greek myths. But these are all tortured warriors, so it’s never black and white, and I am here for that. I mean how do you come back from killing your mate’s husband? Oof.

This story is about Roux and Blythe, and even though the first two of the Astra males had found their mates, Roux has no reason to believe his story will have a happy ending. He’s been tortured since birth and doesn’t see that changing any time soon. Blythe wants to destroy him for making her daughter fatherless, for making her a widow, but she’s bound to him, and his enemy is her father, so she’s not exactly thrilled to be feeling anything less than hate for him….yet she feels so many things. And when her father traps her in another world, with him, and sets some rules, she’s not worried. Not at first. But when something changes that, and when Roux is trapped on a female-only world, well, one of those “not hate” feelings Blythe begins to feel is jealousy.

But there’s so much more going on, and the way Showalter not only wrote the characters, but wrote the twists and turns of this story just amaze me. She’s a creative genius and her sassy and snarky heroines always bring the most stoic of heroes to their knees. And I am here for it. So here for it.

There are battles to the death, there are gods, there is betrayal, there is salvation, and there are tea parties where the big strong hero sits with the little girl and it’s the best. I love the sense of humor of the harpies, and I love the bafflement of the Astra at how the harpies all behave. I simply love it. I need more, and I will be ready for the next book in this series by taking a day off work to sit alone and read all day. Ms. Showalter? Please write faster 😉

*This series is set in the same world as the Lords of the Underworld series

***ARC courtesy of the author