"Dark Challenge" is the 5th book in Christine Feehan's Carpathian series. This story focuses on Julian Savage, an ancient Carpathian, and twin to Aida...more"Dark Challenge" is the 5th book in Christine Feehan's Carpathian series. This story focuses on Julian Savage, an ancient Carpathian, and twin to Aidan, who was featured in Dark Gold. Like all Carpathians, Julian drinks blood; he can shapeshift; he is telepathic; and he can not go out in the sun. The males of the species lose their ability to see in color and can no longer feel emotion after their 200th year. Julian is around 800 and is ready to end his existence. If a Carpathian man goes too long without emotion, he can turn vampire, an evil beast who kills without discretion. The only way to avoid that (or suicide) is to find his lifemate, the other half to his soul.
At the end of Dark Magic, we discover that a group of fanatical human vampire hunters have targeted some Carpathians and other humans for destruction. A beautiful, mysterious singer named Desari is on their hit list. Ancient Carpathian Gregori has asked Julian to seek her out, warn her of the danger, and protect her. Once he finds her, Julian realizes she is his lifemate.
Moments later, Desari is shot during her performance. Julian saves her life, but is attacked by a strange leopard who is also trying to protect her. We later find out that the leopard is Darius, Desari's brother. The two of them, and the other three members of their band are all Carpathians. But they grew up separated from the rest of their people. Hundreds of years ago, when humans were attacking their kind, they escaped. They were all children, but Darius took care of them... and has done so all these years.
The relationship between Desari and Julian develops quickly. It's nice to see the heroine as a grown, secure woman. Someone who is already Carpathian. So many of the female leads in the series are mere babies compared to the age of their lifemates. Desari is an ancient in her own right. And Julian isn't nearly as obnoxious as some of the Carpathian men we have encountered before. They have great chemistry and sexy love scenes.
Of course, where Carpathian women go, so goes the vampires. So Julian must band together with Darius to help protect Desari and the other female in the group. The task is even more monumental since Julian, himself, suffers from the taint of a vampire who forced a blood exchange when he was just a young boy.
This is one of my favorite books in the series. We get to meet a wealth of new characters and we get backstories on so many characters that will be featured in the future: not just the band members (some of whom we find out are long lost relatives to Gregori), but also the ancients Gabriel and Lucian. My only disappointment here is the missed opportunity for the reunions between Julian and Adian --and the members of the Daratrazanoff family (yes, that's last name of Gregori's people... although we don't learn it in print until several books later.) (less)
At last, we get Gregori's book. Most readers who started the Carpathian series at the beginning with Dark Prince, have been waiting for our ancient w...moreAt last, we get Gregori's book. Most readers who started the Carpathian series at the beginning with Dark Prince, have been waiting for our ancient warrior to get his happily ever after --and with Dark Magic, the wait is over. We only had to wait four books. And for me, the wait was worth it.
Gregori is one of the oldest and the deadliest of Carpathian men. As with all the men of his kind, he lost the ability to feel emotions and see in color when he turned 200. He's nearly a thousand now. And he is dangerously close to losing his honor and becoming the evil vampire he hunts. All vampires were Carpathians to begin with: they all drink blood; can use telepathy; shapeshift; and must avoid the sun. But Carpathian men who give up hope of salvation, of finding their lifemate, embrace evil and become the beast that is the vampire.
Gregori has found his lifemate. She is Savannah, daughter to his best friend, Mikhail. She is a magician who has left the Carpathian Mountains of Romania to seek her independence. Gregori had come to her when she was 18, but she was not ready to be with him. She begged him for time and he gave her 5 years. These years have been very difficult for him. So difficult, that when they are finally reunited, he is almost more beast than man. He spirits her away to his lair and "claims" her. Savannah is very attracted to Gregori, but the act between them is far from gentle. She thinks him a monster, until she allows herself to use the telepathy of her people and see inside his mind.
Gregori is a tortured soul. He believes himself to be the monster she has branded him. But he loves her; he needs her. He doesn't think he deserves her; especially because he thinks he tampered with nature and somehow forced her to become his lifemate while her mother carried her in the womb. Savannah begins to soften toward Gregori as she sees the ways he is fragile. And she realizes that despite his strengths and dominating ways, she has much power, simply because of his feelings for her.
The pair leave San Fransisco and head to New Orleans, where they take up residence. They quickly run into trouble with a ring of vampire hunters who are, ironically, led by a vampire. While raiding a safe house for the hunters, they find Gary Jansen, a scientist and true-believer, who they quickly befriend. He becomes Gregori's first human friend, and goes on to become a reoccurring character in the series.
Gregori is very old and has some old ideas. He is stubborn and overbearing. But he is also very sympathetic. He loves Savannah so completely. And their love scenes are very, very hot.
Like all of these books, there is a little repetition with the language. We get several reminders that Gregori is "the Dark One." And our standard reminder that he is "sensual with a hint of cruelty." But it's just a tiny annoyance in what is a really good book. It's one of my favorite in the series and one that Carpathian fans cannot miss. 4 1/2 stars. (less)
**spoiler alert** "Dark Gold" is the 3rd book in Christine Feehan's Carpathian series. This book centers on Aidan Savage. He is born of the Carpathian...more**spoiler alert** "Dark Gold" is the 3rd book in Christine Feehan's Carpathian series. This book centers on Aidan Savage. He is born of the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. He is 800 years old. Like others of his race, he drinks blood; he can shapeshift; he has telepathic abilities; and he can not go in the sun. Like all Carpathian men, he lost his emotions and his ability to see in color after he turned 200. Those gifts will not return unless he finds his lifemate, the other half of his soul. If he does not find her, he will lead a barren existence, until he chooses to end his life or become vampire, an evil being who kills and inflicts misery on others.
Aidan finds his lifemate, Alexandria, in the clutches of a true vampire. The beast is trying to take her for his own mate. And he has tortured Alex to a point where, when Aidan first sees her, he thinks she is a deranged vampiress and attacks her. Once he realizes his mistake, he gives her his blood to save her life. After his brutal attack, Alex does not see the difference between Aidan and a vampire.
Aidan brings Alex and her young brother (who she is raising) back to his home. He realizes that the vampire had two blood exchanges with her --and his own blood exchange was the third necessary to convert a human woman to Carpathian. The conversion is hard on Alex and she doesn't want it. She fights her attraction to Aidan. She fights becoming Carpathian. It's hard to see her stripped of her choices; her independence ripped away.
Even though Aidan killed the vampire who first kidnapped Alex, another is searching for her, which puts her life in danger. And there is drama in that, but the real issue at the center of the book is her fight against what she has become and her fight against her feelings for Aidan. It takes a long time for her to get past the idea that he is using his telepathic abilities to make her want him, as he pushes his will on her in so many ways. I found I got angry for her many times in the book. As with all the other Carpathian men, Aidan believes his way is always the right way... and with the strength of his abilities, that's a tough pill for Alex (and me) to swallow.
Of course, the sex scenes are pretty hot. That's one thing you can always count on in a Carpathian book. But I think we can start a fairly good drinking game, where you take a shot every time Feehan uses the word "velvet." Everyone will be tanked before we get halfway through the book. Between the velvet sheath, the velvet fist, the velvet tip, the velvet over marble, and velvet voices, we could open a fabric store courtesy of "Dark Gold." If you can overlook that, the love scenes alone make the book a great read.
Despite my issues with bossy Aidan (and of course my rant on "velvet"), I enjoyed this book. It was fun to see the heroine running away from our hero, despite the fact that he is gorgeous, rich and head over heels for her. 4 stars. (less)
"Dark Desire" is the 2nd book in Christine Feehan's Carpathian series. It picks up roughly 20-25 years after the events of Dark Prince. And this insta...more"Dark Desire" is the 2nd book in Christine Feehan's Carpathian series. It picks up roughly 20-25 years after the events of Dark Prince. And this installment centers on Mikhail's brother Jacques.
A quick review of the mythology of the series: There's an ancient race of people who hail from the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. They drink blood; they can shapeshift and speak telepathically; they can't go in the sun. And after about 200 years, the men lose their emotions and their ability to see in color. That is, until they find the other half of their souls... their lifemates. Over time, living without a lifemate leaves a Carpathian man with two choices: ending his life or turning into a vampire, an evil being who lives to torment and kills his victims.
So, at the beginning of our story, poor Jacques has been kidnapped and tortured by some vampire hunters. Ironically, their strings are being pulled by a real vampire, and they are targeting the good Carpathians. Anyway, Jacques is tortured within an inch of his life, and is then buried alive in a coffin, where he suffers for seven years. During that time, his mind reaches out to Shea, the lifemate he has never met.
By the time seven years are done, Jacques is just about crazy. He doesn't remember who he is. And Shea is the only thing he knows, beyond his hate and quest for vengeance. He lures Shea from the US to Romania to free him. In all the years he had been making contact with her, Shea didn't even believe he was real... until she found him.
Once she comes to his gravesite, Shea frees Jacques and tries to heal him. (She is a doctor.) But he ravages her and takes her blood. In fact, he goes on to perform the requisite 3 blood transfers required to turn a human into a Carpathian. Despite his brutality and his serious mental and physical problems, Shea feels connected with Jacques. She reveals that even before the conversion, she was different from most humans. It turns out her father, Rand, was Carpathian. She never knew him. In fact, he left her mother before she was ever born and the loss of him drove her mom crazy. Shea grew up basically alone and had to deal with her physical differences on her own.
Jacques' madness is very sad, since we knew him as a sweet and easygoing guy in "Dark Prince." And it's wonderful to see Mikhail, Gregori, and others as they find the man they thought long dead. I could do without some of that Carpathian he-man pushiness, but I've learned that is par for the course with heroes in this series.
There's plenty of action as the vampire hunters search for Shea and the other Carpathians. The love scenes are hot, and fortunately, not quite so flowery as in the previous book. And it's high drama when the identity of the vampire is finally revealed.
A great chapter in the Carpathian series. 4 1/2 stars. (less)
Christine Feehan's Dark Prince is the first book in her long running Carpathian series. Let me start with the mythology of the books:
There is an anci...moreChristine Feehan's Dark Prince is the first book in her long running Carpathian series. Let me start with the mythology of the books:
There is an ancient race of men and women who hail from the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. They drink blood; they can not go in the sun; they can shape-shift; and they can manipulate the earth. They can live for centuries without aging, but they can be killed. Once a man reaches 200 years of age or so, he begins to lose his ability to see in colors and feel emotion. Those things can not be restored until he finds his fated love, his "life-mate," the other half of his soul. If he doesn't find her, darkness grows in him, until one day he either chooses to end his life or becomes an evil vampire. Vampires kill those they feed from; they are evil, rotten and beyond redemption. The Carpathian men fight the vampires to help keep the world safe from them. The future looks bleak for the Carpathians, though, because their numbers are dwindling. They are almost out of women and hardly any babies are being born.
OK. So this book opens with our hero, Mikhail (leader of the Carpathians), making the decision to end his life. But he hears a woman's voice in his mind, telling him not to give up. He is moved by her voice and follows it to a nearby hotel, where he spies her through the window. He realizes he is seeing her in color, and therefore she is his lifemate. The two speak telepathically and Mikhail learns about the woman. She is Raven, a human and an American traveling in his country. She is a psychic who helps police catch serial killers, but her work took a toll on her and she went on vacation to get away from it all.
Mikhail insists on meeting Raven and quickly brings her back to his home. They are very drawn to each other. And Mikhail can't stop himself from taking her blood. There are old stories among his people that a human woman might be converted to a Carpathian with three blood exchanges, but it poses the risk of turning the woman insane.
Anyway, while Raven is at Mikhail's home, a group of Carpathians come with news that someone has killed Mikhail's sister Noelle. As the story develops, we learn that there is a band of vampire hunters, who are targeting the Carpathians. The hunters are fanatics and don't realize they're killing good people. So basically, the book centers on finding the crazed hunters, while Raven and Mikhail explore their relationship.
I have mixed feelings about the development of the love story. Mikhail is pushy and overbearing and Raven is constantly trying to exert her independence. The sex scenes are vivid. Pretty hot, in fact. But the wording can be a little flowery for my taste. Some of the dialogue is a little flowery too. For instance, at one point Raven asks Mikhail what she tastes like (a pretty sexy question) and he answers, "You taste like sweet, hot spice, addictive and so sensual." When I read that, I tried to imagine a man actually saying it. I couldn't do it. Another example: when Mikhail noted his friend Gregori's "sensual mouth, marked by a hint of cruelty." Come on.
So how much does that bother me? Obviously, not enough to keep me away from the other 20 or so installments in the series. I like that the book drew me in from the beginning. I like the hot factor. I could do with a little less of the pushy-man factor present in every one of these books. But again, I keep coming back for more. Give it a try. You'll either love it or you'll hate it.
I am a longtime fan of Christine Feehan. I've read almost everything she has ever written and I've always loved the Carpathian series. But I found mys...moreI am a longtime fan of Christine Feehan. I've read almost everything she has ever written and I've always loved the Carpathian series. But I found myself frequently annoyed throughout the course of this book. I don't remember if I felt this way the first time I read it. In fact, I recall it as one of the better ones in the series. But this time around, the book made me very frustrated.
Darius is a Carpathian male who grew up apart from his homeland. When he was only six years old, he lead a group of children away from a massacre in their village and he raised them on his own. Now, hundreds of years later, they are traveling the United States as part of a band. He lives without color or emotion, and he feels himself nearing the point where he must either face the sun or turn into a vampire. (If you're not up on the Carpathian mythology, check out my review on Dark Prince.) But everything changes when his sister hires Tempest as the band's mechanic.
Tempest has led a hard life. She grew up in foster care and on the streets. She has been abused and now lives as a loner. She can communicate psychically with animals. And she has no idea that Carpathians or vampires exist until she meets Darius. Of course, he knows she is his lifemate right away, which makes it kind of creepy when he keeps talking about how young she looks and how child-like she appears. But what is so irritating about the book is the way he completely takes over her life.
Yeah, yeah, that's the Carpathian way. The men always think they know best and have to protect the women. But Darius is like a turbo-Alpha. Over and over and over, he dismisses her feelings; he overrides her decisions; he forces her to his will. And then she is mad for a nano-second and forgives him. He thinks it's all ok because he knows best. And frankly, it pisses me off. It's not sexy. It's not romantic. One time in particular, he brings her into a volcano (don't ask) to stay the night. She is scared and uncomfortable and tells him clearly and unequivocably that she wants to leave. So he renders her unconscious and takes away her choices. Then wakes her up in the morning, or I guess I should say evening, with a stiffy. And then after their tumble, she realizes what he did, gets mad and then instantly gets over it.
I know it's not all that different from some of the other installments. It actally reminds me a bit of Mikhail and Raven. Add to that, the flowery language that's the hallmark of the series. Feehan uses the word "velvet" 49 times in this book and not once is she referring to fabric. (I actually counted.) In fact, from now on, I think I'll end every Carpathian review with a "velvet" word count... and if I'm feeling extra creative, I'll break it down to include the subcategories of "velvet sheath," "velvet tip," and "velvet over iron."
All this complaining may sound like I hated the book, but perversely, I didn't. I actually like the series. I enjoy the world-building, the destined soul-mates and most of the characters. Clearly it holds some attraction because I keep coming back for more. Maybe it's book-crack. 4 stars.
The Carpathian men just keep getting older and more powerful. Yes, I know I said that in my review of Dark Legend, but it's still true. To be fair, Lu...moreThe Carpathian men just keep getting older and more powerful. Yes, I know I said that in my review of Dark Legend, but it's still true. To be fair, Lucian is actually Gabriel's twin, so they're actually the same age, but it's pretty clear that if push comes to shove, Lucian could kick his brother's ass into next week.
Lucian was finally ready to meet the dawn when Gabriel's lifemate told him that his fated female was out in the world, in need of him. Sure enough, he finds Jaxon has led a horrific life. As a child, her father's friend developed an unhealthy obsession with her. He killed her dad, then became her stepfather. A few years later, he murdered her mother and brother, no longer hiding his true nature. Ever since then, he has been killing off everyone Jax has ever loved... he never found anyone worthy of her. And as a result, she has never allowed herself to get close to anyone again.
As Lucian enters her life, Jax is a cop, wounded on the job. He saves her life and slowly brings her into his world. Despite the hallmark repetative vocabulary of the series, this book had a distinctly different flavor. This is due in large part to Jaxon's fortitude and growing need to protect Lucian. In almost all of these books, it's only about the male protecting his woman. And while that is still happening her, Jax needs to take care of Lucian every bit as much as he needs to take care of her. What's more, Lucian recognizes this in her and doesn't try to sublimate it.
Lucian is so powerful, there is never a sense that a vampire could ever best him. Yes, there are vamps, but the real villian of the story is a human one; and he is no bumbling, ineffective zealot. He is skilled; he is calculating; and he is every bit of a monster as the undead. One of the best in the series. 4 1/2 stars.
Just when you think you've met the oldest and most powerful of Christine Feehan's Carpathian males, she produces one who's even older and more powerfu...moreJust when you think you've met the oldest and most powerful of Christine Feehan's Carpathian males, she produces one who's even older and more powerful. We've heard the stories about the legendary Daratrazanoff twins, Gabriel and Lucian. Gregori's older brothers were great fighters and protectors of the Carpathian people. Everyone has believed them dead for centuries, but they've really been locked beneath the earth all this time.
The brothers made a pact early on that should either one become a vampire, the remaining sibling would take his life. When Lucian began to show all the tell-tale signs that he had succumbed, Gabriel tried to keep his promise. The two clashed over and over again, with neither emerging the victor... until Gabriel tricked his brother and bound them together underground.
A disturbance awakens the twins in modern-day Paris. Shortly after rising to the surface, Gabriel meets Francesca, his lifemate. It turns out that she's lived hundreds of years without him... convinced he sacrificed their chance at happiness to be a guardian for his people. Now he must break through the walls she has built around herself and convince her that they are meant to live together as one.
Francesca isn't your average Carpathian heroine. For one, she's already Carpathian. Two, she herself is an ancient. She is powerful in her own ways, as well as resourceful and determined. She has suffered in Gabriel's absence all these years... but at the same time, so has Gabriel. He is, of course, a bossy, alpha, Carpathian male. But at least he values her mind and her gifts; he cares about her feelings; and feels real guilt for the way his actions have impacted her life.
I also really enjoyed the twin dynamic between Gabriel and Lucien. Unlike Aidan and Julian, these two have a tangible connection. And the addition of young Skylar to the family, touches a real chord. Already, Feehan is laying the foundation for that one day love story between her and Dimitri... you know, the one I'll get to read before I collect Social Security... or maybe not.
As with all the books in this series, there's a bit of repetition. We get reminded of the same facts over and over. And Ms Feehan reminds us again that her favorite words are velvet, lightning and sheath. Still, one of better books in the series. A little over 4 stars.
Word count: Velvet - 18; Sheath - 9; Lightning - 24 (though to be fair, a few of those actually did refer to the weather phenomenon.) (less)