Dark Promises written by Christine Feehan, is the 29th installment of the Dark series. As I sit here, attempting to gather my many thoughts, and placeDark Promises written by Christine Feehan, is the 29th installment of the Dark series. As I sit here, attempting to gather my many thoughts, and place them into some semblance of order, I wonder where to even begin. It is difficult to recall a single book, out of the countless I have read, that has dragged such a spectrum of emotions from me. It is difficult to call to mind, a single author that can manage to surprise me so totally, 29 books into a series. Why has Ms. Feehan been able to keep readers returning time, and time again you ask? Drawing some readers like myself, for 13+ years, and continuing to garner the interest of new readers as well? Because of a novel like Dark Promises.
I will begin by stating that once I realized this was not the journey of the two people the blurb had led me to believe; I wanted to HATE this book. I will be honest and admit that while reading the first few heartbreaking, sickening, B.R.U.T.A.L chapters...I fully expected that I would come away DETESTING this novel completely. Not only would I be unable to finish, but that I would never again be able to read an installment from this series, that I have loved for so long. Halfway through those first chapters, I closed the book. So angry, so shocked, and so upset, that I never expected to open it again. Yet there I was the next night, compelled to sit down, and try once more.
My experience through those first chapters was like passing a horrific accident on the highway. I didn't want to look, and I knew if I did look, I would see something terrible that could never be unseen. Yet I could not make myself look away. I couldn't make myself stop reading. I had to know what would happen...and much like ripping off a band aid, I gritted my teeth, and just did it. Kept pushing through, hoping to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I wouldn't really say that there was light...but I forced myself to compartmentalize my anger over what happened to Gary's character. I forced myself to compartmentalize how horrendously Gabrielle's life mate treated her upon their meeting. I forced myself to push through how deceived I felt that this wasn't going to be a soft, gentle, romantic jaunt--and to simply embrace the harrowing journey Ms. Feehan was taking us on, no matter the destination.
Getting to the actual story, Dark Promises is a book told in multiple perspectives. Mainly Gabrielle, and an Ancient Carpathian male named Aleksei. First things first...like many other readers, Aleksei was NOT the male I believed would even be the hero of this story. Once getting through that initial shock, this hero did not fit into the neat little box that I previously placed my beloved Carpathian males in, what-so-ever. Christine did not make it easy to even like this Hunter at first. He was not the elegant, courtly, old world "can do no harm to my life mate" Carpathian. There was nothing polished, or civilized about him. Nothing soft, or gentle. Actually, I think he makes even Zacarias look like a kitten in comparison. I would describe him as angry, demanding, pushy, and down right savage--even on Carpathian terms.
As one of the intriguing males, whom have locked themselves away from the outside world in the Monastery. Aleksei has done so with great reason. He has been too long without color, and emotion, and has been too long from civilization. Demons ride him hard, and he has only his honor to keep him from turning Vampire. I have read many reviews of Dark Promises that mentions violence, and brutality towards women. Although I was left feeling sick in my stomach...I never lost sight of the fact that this is not a series based upon human men. Ms. Feehan has gone to great lengths to explain the elements of this species. Predators by nature. No color, or emotion; oft times for centuries. She has gone to great lengths to explain how volatile, and unstable the sudden return of their emotions can be. So it never ceases to amaze me that so many readers "humanize" these males, and label them abusive.
I feel it is important to add that Aleksei and Gabrielle's first meeting is utter chaos. Aleksei awakens to the cries of help from a life mate he did not know existed. His emotions are restored, and instantly a battle ensues where he believes he is protecting the salvation to his soul, only to be attacked by that same woman. Aleksei is disoriented, and confused as his life mate screams out hatred towards him, and love for another, all in the same breath. Fresh emotion, turns quickly into dark feelings of betrayal...betrayal that he has held out centuries against the darkness...for this. It is a complete train wreck for all involved, which in no way excuses the travesty which occurs after. But if readers make an effort to remember the foundation of the Carpathian species, I believe they can come to at least understand, if not forgive Aleksei by the end, as I did. He stops himself before crossing that crucial, critical line in the sand. Not only does he reign himself in...but he decides he will let his life mate go...that is not the trait of an abusive monster.
Gabrielle's behavior, and ignorance to what it means to be a life mate, her ignorance about being a Carpathian female in general, certainly plays a role in the chaos. May I just say, that prior to this novel, I held no interest in Gabrielle as a heroine. The first few chapters of this book, did nothing to change this. In fact, her inability to let go of her "humanity"or to release the heart of the brilliant, gentle, wonderful man she has dragged along with her as a crutch--combined with her complete, and utter disregard to the fate of the Carpathian hunter with which she shared a soul--only increased my feelings of dislike towards her.
I didn't have much faith that this heroine could turn my opinion of her around. Yet Gabrielle truly surprised me. I have read some reviews describing Gabrielle as "whiny" and "weak". However, I believe strength comes in many forms. It doesn't take her long to realize the weight of the responsibility she alone has. To literally have the power to choose either life or death for another being. Once Gabrielle recognizes how close to the edge she pushed Aleksei with her actions, however unintentional, she did not whine, or shrivel in weakness. She did not make excuses to absolve herself of guilt. She makes a conscious choice to be a better woman, and try make right, the wrongs she inadvertently caused. She pulls up her big girl panties, and does what she had to do to try and save a man, only she has the power to save. Gabrielle was terrified, and treated atrociously by this Carpathian at first, and yet she attempts to save him anyway. If that is not strength, I do not know what is.
This couple does not have an easy go. Nor is their coming together, easy to read. Yet I appreciated the uniqueness of their relationship. The fact that they had to communicate their thoughts verbally, rather than the usual merging of minds, where it is all right there for them both to see. There were many, many times I was angry with Aleksei, and angry with Gabrielle throughout my navigation of this novel, yet in the end, I came to understand them both.
In contrast, the union between the other two main characters of Dark Promises is a polar opposite experience. "Gramma" Trixie is much needed comedic relief, and a light among the darkness of this journey. It confuses me to have read her character described as "dumb-ed down" when I found her lively, intelligent, and wholly entertaining. Being a single mom myself, I could relate to Trixie on a personal level. I really liked Fane from Dark Ghost, and immensely enjoyed the side story of these two personalities. They added great balance to the overall story arc.
In closing, this book that I wanted to hate at first, stubbornly grabbed my interest, and held me in place. Riveted until the very end. This book made me FEEL. Dragging from me, a vast, sweeping, plethora of different emotions. It is the character driven stories, filled with emotion, good or bad, that stay with me long after the words "The End." I wanted very much to rate Dark Promises five stars, which surprises no one more, than me. I could not award the fifth star however, because there was honestly too much sex. One common element in reviews, is the claim that this book was 70% sex, and 30% story. Seems rather accurate. This was a disappointment for a reader like me who loves backstory, lore, and action. I desperately wanted to learn more about Aleksei's past, as well as Fane's.
Looking forward, I believe that Dark Promises has breathed new life into this very long running series. I anxiously await learning the fate of the others in the monastery. Mostly, I await learning the fate of a character whom I have loved since Dark Magic. A book I have reread so many times, I could recite it word for word. Take care of my beloved Gary Ms. Feehan, and dont leave us waiting in agony too long. For anyone on the fence as to whether they should or should not read this novel...I urge you to give it a try, and judge for yourself. The negative reviews can be daunting...but we all experience books differently. You may just come away from this book, as surprised as I did :) ...more
Allegiance of Honor is the 15th installment to the incredible Psy-Changelings series, written by Nalini Singh. There is no other author, currently inAllegiance of Honor is the 15th installment to the incredible Psy-Changelings series, written by Nalini Singh. There is no other author, currently in the literary world, that I anticipate a new release from; as highly as this one. The approximate year long wait between novels becomes agonizing, almost to the point of physical pain for me. I came into this novel with the knowledge that it was an ensemble cast book. As such, I expected it to be unique from other work in this series, and my assumptions were correct.
If you are a reader who thrives on the details. Who absorbs every little nuance an author builds within a series. Who feels a great sense of contentment, in the tying up of loose ends upon completion. You will greatly enjoy, and appreciate this book. If you are a reader who craves the near constant, pulse pounding action that this author typically provides. The intense, out of this World endings. A main couple whom anchors, and drives a story forward with their journey to love. You should be warned that this book is very different from its predecessors.
Let me be clear...Allegiance of Honor is phenomenal. With a few scenes that will have you on the edge of your seat. Vibrant personalities, and the shifting from perspective, after perspective flawlessly. Strengthening of, and building anew--familial bonds of friendship that cross races, alliances, packs, and previous divisions. Interactions that will have you teary eyed, at times heartbroken, and then laughing out loud in the next instant. The story arc is furthered masterfully. The writing is beautiful, and brilliant. Beloved characters are wonderfully familiar, and yet some reveal sides to themselves that are shocking in contrast. This installment paves a spectacular bridge unto the upcoming arc.
Personal highs for me? Finally more focus on Lucas. While the Psy men remain my most treasured, I adore this Changeling whom is one half of the pair that started it all. While I also fall within the masses that love Hawke...I have always found Lucas to be grossly underrated in comparison to the SnowDancer Alpha; and have ever craved more. Sascha. With her incredible compassion, and piercing need to comfort, soothe, and heal. I relate to this heroine more than any other in this series. More so since she has become a Mother. I was blown away to behold the flip side, to the immense power of a Cardinal E. Kaleb Krycheck. There can never be too much Kaleb. I have waited, and wondered if we readers would ever bear witness to a specific reunion. One that I have craved, since reading the description of a "souvenir" located within the office of his home. Judd Lauren laughing. Judd Lauren LAUGHING...*sigh*
Allegiance of Honor has something to be enjoyed by every fan. The parallelism between the reality of this World, and our own is profound. Resonating hope, that perhaps one day our reality can reflect the cohesion, acceptance, and unity among all beings--that Nalini is beginning to build within this one of a kind work of Fiction. I cannot wait to experience where this Author takes us next.
Frigid, is a stand alone novel written by J. Lynn. A pen name of well known author Jennifer Armentrout. I have never read work from this author underFrigid, is a stand alone novel written by J. Lynn. A pen name of well known author Jennifer Armentrout. I have never read work from this author under any of her published names….a mistake I plan to rectify immediately. Every now and then, I find myself in the mood to read a simple love story, lacking any “out of the realm of normal” elements. Lucky for me, as I would not have discovered this novel otherwise.
It is Winter here in the good ol’ North Country. And so, being the season that I find myself curled up next to my wood stove with snow falling outside–I figured this was the perfect time of year to read a novel based upon two people finding themselves stranded at Snow Shoe around the holidays. Having became friends with my now husband of 11 years, at age 16, my interest was piqued by the story arc of two best friends since childhood, discovering their unrequited love for one another. Let me just say, although I need to read like I need to breathe…I am perhaps the pickiest reader in the world. If a novel doesn’t grab my attention immediately, and keep hold, I lose interest; and have no choice but to move on to the next book. It takes something really special to captivate me, especially in a “normal” romance story. So imagine my surprise to have read Frigid, cover to cover, all in one sitting. I could not put this book down; proof that if it is a good story, its a good story. Period. When an author gets it right, it matters little what genre the book comes from.
J. Lynn shows us the journey of Kyler and Sydney seamlessly. We begin this journey with our hero and heroine secretly pining after one another during a gathering between friends. It becomes clear rather quickly that these two friends view the other as “out of reach”, even as they continue to share the deep friendship that is second nature to them. It isn’t long before readers discover that Sydney views herself as the polar opposite of Kyler’s type. Which is of course the truth. It is fact, as he has never shown even the slightest interest in Sydney as a woman, or as more than a friend.
Let me pause here for a minute and express that I typically do not enjoy first person point of view. There is just something about being allowed to only see through one character’s eye, that feels incredibly stifling for me. However, I really enjoyed Frigid, because of the alternating perspectives between the hero and heroine. Upon our first visit into Kyler’s psyche we learn about his troubled, and difficult upbringing. We learn about the losses, and suffering in his life that has shaped him into the man he is today, and we learn how these altering circumstances spawn his behavior. Syd, as Kyler calls her, is far too bright a light for him to ever approach. It isn’t long before we discover that Kyler has never shown interest, because from where he is standing, a woman like Sydney is far beyond the reach of a man like him. Interesting how these two people that know each other better than anyone else in their world….somehow…are complete strangers when it comes to what exists within the heart.
The story progresses with a planned skiing trip between their group of friends. Kyler and Sydney decide to travel towards Snow Shoe in a separate vehicle than the rest, and arrive just ahead of a massive Winter storm. They find themselves snowed in at the cabin. Alone. And with no power save a generator. Their friends are unable to make their way in, and Kyler and Sydney are left with no way out. Cut off from the group, and holding no links to the outside world, these two best friends are left with no place to hide, including from each other. The literary thermostat kicks up a notch, when an effort to stay warm goes horribly wrong…or wonderfully right…whichever way you choose to see it. Many of you have probably heard me state that sex in a story is not what I necessarily define as “romance”. Well…let me just say (and coming from me this is pretty significant) the chemistry of this couple is off the charts. It is sizzling, and just plain hot, in a way that you need to read in order to understand. As a reader that thrives on the emotion of a story, this book gets stars all across the board…but few authors have ever made me literally fan myself…and then go searching out my hubby. (Josh thanks you Ms. Armentrout. *snort*)
However, what really grabbed me with this story, is that is isn’t all pretty and wrapped in a bow when these two face what they have been keeping inside. It isn’t fluffy and white like the snow which has entrapped them. It is raw, unhindered, and unrepentant. It is staggering when all the pent up emotion, long denied attraction, and uncontrollable love entwines, and is unleashed. Communication is jumbled, horrible misunderstandings occur…and feelings are deeply hurt on both sides. Can the soul deep friendship, and new bloom of love between our hero’s withstand such a cataclysm? More important by far….when strange happenings lead to the realization that someone is stalking their every move–will they even make it off the mountain alive?
This book was very fast paced, and current. Filled with humorous banter, and crazy, off the wall scenes that literally had me laughing out loud at times. The characters were very well developed, flawed as we all are, and simply wonderful. Such an endearing, and relate-able storyline, with a sprinkle of darkness and mystery mixed in. A Perfect read for the holidays, and one that has been added to my annual list of classic’s that I re-read every single year at Christmas time…if I can wait that long. I highly recommend this book!