Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Review – “Mona Lisa Darkening” by Sunny

From the time she was an orphan child, Mona Lisa knew she was different—but she never knew how different. As a Mixed-Blood daughter of the Monère, she rules her own domain in the Louisiana Bayou. But her life of power is about to be lost, and Mona Lisa must survive a realm in which she is divided from within…

On the vernal equinox, when night equals day and the barriers between worlds become gossamer thin, Mona Lisa gathers her people beneath the full moon. Instead of drawing down the replenishing white light of the moon, a terrifying darkness descends upon her and takes her into NetherHell—the cursed realm of the damned. In this place, the evil queen whose essence shares Mona Lisa’s body is strong enough to fight her host for control—and she does.

But in NetherHell, Mona Lisa’s internal struggle is only the beginning. Captured by a Gargoyle warlord who wants her for his own, Mona Lisa is torn from both within and without by desire, love, and ecstasy. And when her first love crosses the boundaries of the world to rescue her, she must choose her own destiny—before others choose it for her…
Mona Lisa Darkening is the fourth book in the Monère paranormal romance series. Mona Lisa’s life has settled down after the death of Gryphon and no new crises are brewing. Then in the middle of the full moon Basking ritual Mona Lisa is transported to the NetherHell, a realm even more dangerous then Hell. There she must save herself and come to terms with the possibility that her old life and loves are gone. She discovers that while technically she is still alive, the Queen Louisa demon part of herself is considered dead resulting in her banishment to NetherHell. To make matters worse, Queen Louisa’s personality is resurrected and able to take control of her body, transforming it from Mona Lisa’s form to the Queens.

Mona Lisa Darkening is a departure from earlier books, less about action, adventure and Monere politics and more of a portrait of her relationships, desires and fears. In many ways Darkening is a fairy tale, a turned about variation on Beauty and the Beast and other hero rescuing the princess stories. By her very presence, selflessness and force of personality Mona Lisa causes changes in all those around her. Instead of being the victim in need of rescuing, Mona Lisa becomes the rescuer.

In NetherHell she unknowingly saves the young son of the King of all the Gargoyles and is rescued by him only to have to sacrifice herself to pursuing marauders to ensure their escape. Captured, Mona Lisa ends up in the harem of the local warlord ruler Gordane who is also a rogue Gargoyle. The guards she killed defeating Queen Louisa are her wardens. Halcyon her demon mate and Gryphon depart Hell at great risk to rescue Mona Lisa. But Mona Lisa doesn’t need any help.

In her brief sojourn in NetherHell she is able to give new hope to the hardened Gordane, is rescued in turn by the King of Gargoyles and able to reconcile the rift between King and Gordane. Even Queen Louisa is redeemed by Mona Lisa’s influence and her former guards reunited. Mona Lisa and her new found allies even end up rescuing Mona Lisa’s rescuers Halcyon and Gryphon. You see what I mean about a fairy tale? There is a multitude of HEA’s here for everyone each with emotional punch. But is there a HEA for Mona Lisa?

Mona Lisa’s escape from NetherHell is accomplished by Halcyon stripping the Queen Louisa demon taint from within Mona Lisa. It causes her unbelievable pain but she survives it and is able to return to Hell. In Hell she is assaulted by Gryphon who as a recently born demon becomes unable to control his bloodlust. In short order, she has become distrustful and leery of two of the most important men in her life. And as if that isn’t enough, on returning from Hell to her territory, Mona Lisa discovers that her inherent Monere abilities have possibly been lost causing her to face the greatest challenge and loss in her life.

Mona Lisa Darkening is perhaps the best book of the series so far. The roller coaster ride that is Mona Lisa’s life, whether it is the fairy tale portion or the harsh new reality is passionate, tender and always captivating. Mona Lisa Darkening is best enjoyed if you have previous familiarity with the series although essential background is included in the narrative for those that would like to dive right in.


Read an excerpt of Chapter 1.

Penguin Group (USA)
Published: January 2009
ISBN #: 9780425226476
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272

Monère, Children of the Moon Series:

  1. Mona Lisa Awakening (2006)
  2. Mona Lisa Blossoming (2007)
  3. Mona Lisa Craving (2008)
  4. Mona Lisa Darkening (2009)

Demon Princess Chronicles:

  1. Lucinda, Darkly (2007)
  2. Lucinda Dangerously (Oct 2009)


  1. I love this series, but all the previous blurbs I've heard about Mona Lisa Darkening hasn't come across nearly as well as yours did. Now I know I need to re-read Mona Lisa Craving sooner rather than later so I can get my hands on this one.

  2. never come across this series. Of course the problem with reading all these review blogs is i'd have to win the lottery to get all the books i want.

  3. I've read several short stories from this series but I'm not quite sure if I want to read the books...

  4. Wow, this is one of the best reviews--not just of my book--that I've ever read. Thoughtful, insightful, clear and concise. Written with flair and style. Am posting it to website. Thanks!!!


  5. Jackie thanks so much. ALways appreciate your feedback.

    Hagelrat I know how you feel...

    Welcome PakKaramu!

    Ladytink - thats what I like about reviews too. It helps you choose what to read.

    Hi Sunny I'm thrilled that you stopped by and liked my review. Tickled pink over here.


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