Although I am hugely disappointed in the violent turn of events Ms. Feehan has taken of late, her earlier CarpDark Symphony by Christine Feehan (2007)
Although I am hugely disappointed in the violent turn of events Ms. Feehan has taken of late, her earlier Carpathian vampire novels are still among my favorites. This week, I decided to re-read Dark Symphony, one of my favorite books in the Dark Series. For those of you not familiar with Feehan's Carpathians, I'll give you a brief overview. These books are high on the melodrama, contain extremely long-winded, graphic sex scenes, and the heroes are super-alpha "vampire"-like Carpathians, who pledge undying loyalty to their "lifemates." Yeah, they are pretty much over the top, but if you buy into this whole thing (which I do), then they are extremely romantic. Dark Symphony is one of my favorites for several reasons.
First of all, this is one of the Dark Series with no vampire fight scenes. Most of the Dark books have a bundle of foul vampires, with their talon-like nails, rotting flesh, hideous teeth, etc etc. Basically, they're not pretty. It adds a whole different paranormal dimension to these books which is okay if I'm in the mood for a vampire fight scene...
Vampire: I'm going to kick your Carpathian butt. Carpathian: You are an abomination, you must die to protect mortals and immortals alike. Vampire: Come and get me, Skippy.
(Can you tell I'm sort of in a weird mood?) Anyhoo, the bad guys in Dark Symphony are humans and shapeshifters, not vampires. And it just goes to show that Feehan doesn't really need all that crazy paranormal business to write a great book. The Scarletti family is a hoot, and Christine Feehan's humorous side (which does not reveal itself very often in her ultra-serious, melodramatic books) is a breath of fresh air. There are several places where I actually laughed out loud while reading this book. Antonietta is a very original Feehan heroine...a blind and very talented pianist, she is confident and self-assured. (Most of the human heroines freak out when they learn their lifemates plan to "convert" them into Carpathians, but Antonietta was not hesitant. Her attitude...."Bring it on!") Love her! Also, I like Byron. Unlike some of the really intense heroes (Darius, Gregori, etc.--who I also love!), Byron is more understated and rational thinking. (Some of the Carpathian males are sort of like cavemen dragging their unwilling women folk home to their lair--not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, mind you!).
And finally, there's a totally cool dog! Yep, that's right....I LOVE romance novels with cool dogs, and Celt, a borzoi, is loyal, fierce and protective of his charges. You can tell Feehan is into animals, and her description of Celt and all of the shapeshifting beings (owls, dragons, Jaguars, wolves, etc) are fascinating.
I have re-read Dark Symphony many times and it never fails to get me in a good mood. I highly recommend this classic Feehan, and pray that she returns to some good old-fashioned romance in the future. Grade: A
Nothing says Christmas quite like gingerbread cookies, twinkling lights, and an alpha male Carpathian rocking his lifemate's world. Seriously. I haveNothing says Christmas quite like gingerbread cookies, twinkling lights, and an alpha male Carpathian rocking his lifemate's world. Seriously. I have a lot of Christmas romance novels I like to re-read for the holidays, but for some reason my favorite is Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan. This book is really only for long-term Feehan fans who have been following the Dark series since the beginning. It is really cool to see old favorite characters come together in the Carpathian mountains for a celebration. I love that Feehan revisits Syndil and Barack, who were only secondary characters in the other stories. There is a lot of humor in this novel, and even a section with Dark Desserts at the end! My favorite part of this book is the beginning of the love story between Skyler and Dimitri. I love the scene where Dimitri puts his wolf pendant around Skyler's neck, and for the first time, we get a sense of the sensual and loving woman she will become, in spite of the horrible childhood abuse. Shea and Jacques are also old favorites, and the ending of this story (when Shea finally delivers her baby) is a joyous occasion for their people. If you are a Feehan fan and have not yet read Dark Celebration, put it on your Christmas list, pronto!
Lord of Scoundrels is damned near perfection for a romance novel. I could re-read this baby a million timesLord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1995)
Lord of Scoundrels is damned near perfection for a romance novel. I could re-read this baby a million times over (and I've come close) and each and every time I finish with a sigh of envy. The characters are outstanding, complex, compelling. Jessica and Dain are without a doubt my favorite romance pairing of all time. He is the arrogant Lord Beelzebub, she is his elegant and brilliant nemesis. Their chemistry is incendiary. The plot is utterly engaging (from the first meeting in the antique shop, to the confrontation in the Parisian townhouse, the dramatic shooting by an enraged lover, the rescue of the forgotten bastard son, and the list goes on....). The writing is exquisite. All of my favorite authors have a "special" voice, and Chase is no exception. Her writing is one of a kind. Lord of Scoundrels is funny, touching, sexy, and most of all...oh, so satisfying as Jessica tames the "Beast" and heals his tortured soul. The scene where Jessica presents Dain with the Russian icon on his birthday, the first birthday gift of his life, is powerful indeed. In conclusion, I would like to say....thank you Loretta Chase for this little piece of heaven. Truly, there is no grade good enough for this book. Grade: A+ (A for A Little Piece of Heaven)
The Vampire Queen's Servant by Joey Hill (Read April 2009)
I would like to think that I am not the squeamish type when it comes to romance novels. HoweThe Vampire Queen's Servant by Joey Hill (Read April 2009)
I would like to think that I am not the squeamish type when it comes to romance novels. However, a book classified as a BDSM erotic vampire novel sounds a bit daunting, does it not? Since reading A Mermaid's Kiss and A Witch's Beauty, I have become a serious Joey Hill fan. My good friend and fellow writer Michelle heartily encouraged me to start her vampire series, and so I acquiesced, all the while harboring some reservations about the BDSM stuff. Who would have expected it to be one of the most touching, revealing and vulnerable relationships in a romance novel? Hell, not me. (Okay, I was expecting whips and chains. So sue me.) Obviously I was missing the big picture about this lifestyle, which is ultimately about trust. But having the dominant be the female partner, in this case Lyssa the vampire queen, is a fascinating take on this sort of relationship. Jacob is a fabulous character, struggling with his instinctive need to dominate and the need to serve his "lady" who has stolen his heart over several lifetimes, as a knight, a Japanese warrior, and now as an applicant to be her human servant. God, is that romantic or what? This is one of the most "romantic" books I have ever read, and the fact that it is a BDSM erotic paranormal is just some tasty icing on the cake. Hill has written a beautiful book, although not as intense and fast-paced a read as A Mermaid's Kiss or A Witch's Beauty. Jacob and Lyssa's story unfolds in a slow, sensual, and satisfying way. Another interesting part of this book is that one of the key characters (Thomas, Lyssa's former servant and instructor for Jacob) has already died when this book takes place. That does not stop Hill from painting a stunning portrait of this man who selflessly loved his vampire queen, and dared to kill for her. Joey Hill is a writer beyond reproach and The Vampire Queen's Servant is a joy to read. I can't wait to devour the rest of the series! Grade: A+
My good friend Michelle once gently suggested that I check out an author named JR Ward, not knowing thA Mermaid's Kiss by Joey W. Hill (Read Jan 2009)
My good friend Michelle once gently suggested that I check out an author named JR Ward, not knowing that I would turn into one of those (slightly) deranged fans who actually joined The Black Dagger Brotherhood message boards on this author's website. Point being, Michelle is chock full of excellent recommendations. This past weekend she told me to check out Joey W. Hill and offered me her copy of A Mermaid's Kiss (which, let's face it, she's never getting back!). I am in love! What an amazing author, what an amazing book...it has the perfect combination of lusty sex and that emotional love connection I crave in romances. It also has an awesome paranormal world with angels, demons, witches, mermaids, fairies, dragons....you name it, she's got it. Jonah (an angel who is the Prime Legion Commander for the Goddess) is the kind of tortured hero I cannot resist. As he struggles with his inner demons, Anna (an innocent and loving mermaid) reawakens his will to live. Hill is one incredible writer...I was sucked into the story from page one and totally forgot I was reading a book until my kids got back from school and ran screaming into the house. (Then I set them up with a snack and locked myself in my bedroom until I finished). I am now going to Amazon to order the next installment, A Witch's Beauty. Thank you, Michelle...I owe you one! Grade: A+
Holy Macarena! I just finished reading A Witch's Beauty, and I am having heart palpitations. I honestlA Witch's Beauty by Joey W. Hill (Read Feb 2009)
Holy Macarena! I just finished reading A Witch's Beauty, and I am having heart palpitations. I honestly didn't think that this book could best A Mermaid's Kiss, but it did! Hill is a powerful, sensual, intense writer. Mina and David are an amazing combination..beauty and monstrousness, strength and weakness, good and evil...it's all here. Mina is one of the most fascinating characters I have ever met. Her physical manifestation of the struggle between good and evil (half of her body is physical perfection, the other half grotesque) is a poignant symbol of her inner struggle to control her Dark One blood. I usually have trouble with irritating heroines. It's a fine line for an author to create a character who is willful and prickly, while still maintaining some likability. Mina is an incredibly well developed character and her emotional journey in this story is utterly satisfying. Although David is a wonderful character in his own right, this is Mina's story all the way. Hill's expertise as a story-teller is never more apparent than in the chapters leading up to the climatic battle scene with the Dark Ones. Boy, does she know how to build up the sickening anticipation of what was going to befall poor David (and Mina) in the Dark One's World. I am ashamed to admit that I snuck at look at the final pages of the book to reassure myself before tackling those chapters...the awful apprehension was almost to much to bear! (I can't remember feeling that much anxiety since reading Stephen King's The Shining). Anyway, of course Hill takes her characters to Hell and back. If I had to pick one word to describe this book and Hill's writing it would be...powerful. Wow. I am officially a Joey Hill addict (that's the sound of Amazon's CEO cackling with glee). Grade: A+