Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dark Curse, Christine Feehan

Nicolas De la Cruz it is!

So, we meet Lara here. Well, we met/learned about her in Dark Demon when Natalya saw the history of the knife. She was the little girl in the vision where Razvan, her father, was using her for blood. We also saw her escape with the help of two dragons who, we learn here, are her great aunts in dragon form.

Lara is now back in the Carpathian Mountains, an adult trying to find out if her beloved aunts are real, and to save them if they are (They are, she does). She remembers what happened to her, all the horrors and trauma, but it's also fantastical and she's become unsure if she just made parts up to make sense of her horrific life. Specifically, made up the aunts.

So, she's back and searching the mountains for the ice cave where she was held prisoner. Her first attempt is pretty fail. She and her friends get attacked and wounded. They rush back to the Inn for help. After arriving at the Inn, Mikhal (Dark Prince) takes over to help heal her friends. Before she can go into the Inn, she runs across Nicolas, looking for a meal.

Nicholas is in the Mountains to tell Mikhal about the plan the Malinov and De la Cruz brothers concocted centuries ago. He's on his way to the Inn to do just that when he sees Lara. His plan is to tell the Prince the plan, then die before he becomes a vampire. Seeing Lara, he figures it's his last meal. He figures out pretty quick that she's his lifemate.

Now, if you were used from birth as food for your father and psycho great-great grandfather, having someone take your blood is not going to be something you appreciate.

She stabs him.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dark Possession, Christine Feehan

So, at the end of Dark Celebration, Manolito is mortally wounded saving Shea and her baby. We know he survived but that's about it.

We also know that he found his lifemate, MaryAnn, took her blood, but didn't tell anyone.

We start this one with him waking up before he's supposed to. See, we know Carpathians use the earth to heal and rejuvenate them. When one is so badly injured, the healer will command you to sleep, which the patient shouldn't be able to disobey.

So, he wakes up in the rainforest with no idea how he got there or what's going on. Even worse, because his wound was mortal, they had to pull his soul back from the afterlife (stick with me, it's fantasy). So, that means when he wakes up early, part of him is still in the afterlife. Because of that, he's existing both worlds. Think: really freaky hallucinations that can make you feel pain.

So, the question is, what made him wake up early? An evil vampire plot?

Nope. Distressed lifemate.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dark Celebration, Christine Feehan

This book was intended as an enjoyable book for fans to revisit the characters they love.

According to Feehan, it got away from her a bit.

All the Carpathians are invited to a Christmas celebration. Most, but not all attend.

Mostly, it's an update book. Mikhal goes around visiting all the people who've come for the celebration.

There are some attacks against the women and children, particularly against Shea and her baby, as well as Skyler, but that's a fairly minor part of the story.

So, let me give you the highlights.

Raven wants Mikhal (Dark Prince) to play Santa for the kids. He's not a fan of the idea so decides to make Gregori, his son-in-law and 2nd in command, do it instead. Gregori. The Dark One. The boogie man of all Carpathian children.

Seems legit.

And hilarious.

So, as he goes around to visit, he tells them all his plan. All the men want to see it happen. All the women think it's mean. And funny.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dark Demon, Christine Feehan

Well, as predicted, Vikirnoff catches up to Natalya.

And. She. Is. Fan-tastic!

She mentions in Dark Secret that she doesn't know how to keep a vampire dead for good.

Let me put it another way: she's been hunting for centuries and has had to learn everything herself. A more experienced hunter has never been around to teach her. Yet she's managed to survive for centuries.

She's seen a lot of movies.

But as she tells Colby in Dark Secret, there's only so much you can learn from Dracula movies.

She also calls Vikirnoff "Vik," which is hilarious.

Like I said, fantastic.

She's made her way into Romania, being drawn the the Carpathian Mountains. One mountain in particular. She's on her way there when she comes across some vampires. A fight ensues.

Meanwhile, Vikirnoff is lamenting his situation. Planning on killing himself as soon as he can. Wondering if it's already too late for him.

His psychic whining draws Natalya's attention and she tells him to shut up so she can concentrate on her battle. No, really, that's exactly what she tells him. He of course immediately realizes she's his lifemate and rushes to help in the fight. She's not entirely enthusiastic about his "interference," but they end up working together pretty well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dark Secret, Christine Feehan

This is the 2nd story in Darkest at Dawn, which has Dark Hunger (14) and Dark Secret (15).

We meet another of the De la Cruz brothers, actually we meet 2, but Nicolas is only around for a few pages. The main brother is Rafael, and he is the first Carpathian I really don't like. All Carpathian men are arrogant and domineering to an extent, but Rafael? He's just an ass. Riordan mentions in Dark Hunger that the brothers have always been more Carpathian than other Carpathians. Stronger, smarter, more arrogant and domineering.

He is really all about having everything his own way.

His lifemate is Colby. She's a cowgirl. No shit. A cowgirl. She also has the same last name as Gary from Dark Magic. We don't learn anything about that really, but I feel like it can't be a mistake/coincidence.

They meet because Rafael and Nicolas go to Colby's ranch to convince her to come to Brazil with her brother and sister, Paul and Ginny. See, the De la Cruz family has a human family they're close with. The Chavez family knows they're Carpathian and have been working with the brothers for centuries.

The stories a little complicated...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dark Hunger, Christine Feehan

This is another novella, so I read it as a part of Darkest at Dawn, which has Dark Hunger (14) and Dark Secret (15).

We meet the first of the De la Cruz brothers in this one. The 5 brothers are ancients that were sent out to fight the vampires by Mikhal's father. Most of the hunters were sent out as individuals, but the brothers stayed together and resettled in Brazil. They've made a home there.

We've heard about the jaguar people before, and we meet some here.

Juliette and her sister, jaguars, attack a research facility in the middle of the rainforest they think is experimenting on animals. While in there rescuing the animals, Juliette runs across Riordan, a Carpathian who is being kept prisoner. See it's not really a animal research facility, that's just the front, really it's a way to trap and experiment on vampires, which for them means anyone they feel like. Drained of blood, in constant pain from shackles and chains coated in vampire blood, he doesn't immediately see Juliette as his savior, but as another captor. Before her, the human society of vampire hunters only came in during the day when he couldn't do anything, so he sees her presence as their first mistake.

Of course when she speaks, he realizes who she is to him, plus she's clearly rescuing him. Once she takes off the chains, he feeds. He doesn't really warn her, so she's obviously not pleased. He does it because it's the only way they both get out, but still, a bit of warning would be nice. He figures he can't take the chance she'll refuse.

Juliette is what I was really thinking when I asked for a vivacious woman (Dark Prince). Now I said something like this in reference to Jaxon in Dark Guardian, but this is much more on point. Jaxon was a cop, so she had that angle, but Juliette is a match for vivacious.

She's very sexual, and very comfortable with that. She really embraces it. Being jaguar, she goes into heat on occasion, so being sexual has never been an issue. She's also highly independent and comfortable with her own abilities. She's lived with her sister, Jasmine, and her cousin, Solange, for most of her life, battling and hiding from the jaguar men. She knows who and what she is, and she's happy with it.

The jaguar men have been kidnapping jaguar women to get them pregnant. Which means gang rape until their victims are pregnant. We discover the reason for that is, at least in part, because of a vampire's influence. Jasmine is kidnapped by one group so Juliette and Solange go after them while Riordan has to sleep. They find her, but unfortunately it's too late to save her completely. She's still alive though. They wait as long as they can so Riordan can join them as soon as possible, but they have to engage before he can.

They rescue Jasmine, but Solange and Jasmine want nothing to do with Riordan or his brothers, despite being offered safety at the family's ranch. Riordan has to take Juliette to convert her because her wounds are so bad.

I liked this one for it's simplicity. That doesn't mean it had no interest, none of that depth I've been going on about. Just that it was...light, maybe? No, that's not right, because there was the whole gang rape thing. That's close though, it was mostly a pleasant and light read. I guess it's that there wasn't a lot of mistrust and back-and-forth between Juliette and Riordan like in the other books.

Dark Hunger, Christine Feehan

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dark Destiny, Christine Feehan

Another really good one!

We have Nicolae and Destiny. What makes this one good is Destiny's story.

She was kidnapped, converted, and abused by a vampire. When she's a child she connects with Nicolae, but he can't find her to save her. So, eventually he trains her as a hunter so she can kill the vampire that took her and escape.

But still he can't find her.

This kills my theory that the reason the women before Raven (Dark Prince) were deranged when they turned was at least in part because of the vampire blood. Destiny is in physical agony due to the blood, but she's not deranged. And of course there's the psychological trauma - no conversion is going to change that.

So, there's of course a lot of trust issues. Destiny can't see the difference between vampires and Carpathians. Plus, Nicolae has always been her salvation, so she's afraid that by letting him close she'll lose him. As with many victims, there's a lot of guilt and self loathing.

Nicolae tries to heal her, but it's beyond his abilities. He calls in Gregori, who's still in the area after helping with Corinne in Dark Melody.

Destiny struggles here too. The vampire they're fighting even preys on her self loathing by telling her the Carpathians will never accept her, will insist she's killed. She already half believes that, so the vamp scores a hit with that one.

Nicolae calls in Gregori, despite Destiny's concerns, and takes her blood - the tainted blood - so that her fate is his fate - to show solidarity with her. Gregori is of course completely accepting and heals them both completely.

Meanwhile, there's a guy using hypnosis to ruin peoples lives. Not a vampire though. Destiny and Nicolae take care of him.

There was one really important scene that didn't really have much to do with the plot, but adds more understanding of the world Feehan is creating. There are two old ladies in the neighborhood Destiny has claimed as her own. They're pretty outrageous in all ways - syntax, They're pretty hilarious. Not to mention psyhcic. So, the vampire tries to draw Destiny and Nicolae out by attacking the neighborhood. The vamp is about to kill Destiny, when one of the old ladies puts herself in front of him with a stake. She tells him that she waited for him, asks why he never came. The vamp kinda stares at her, a look of sorrow briefly on his face, before he attacks again. The old lady kills him, with Destiny's help, and immediately falls apart. She was obviously his intended lifemate. Only he chose evil first.

This scene answers a couple questions for me and raises others. The idea of redeeming a vampire has been repeatedly shot down. The vamps choose evil, it's not an accident or something they were coerced into, it was a choice. They knew it was wrong and they did it anyway. However, I wondered about what happened when/if a vampire met his lifemate after the fact. Now we know. Now, I've thought that perhaps reincarnation might be something the Carpathians would believe in. Perhaps the vampires and lifemates return to the world to try to find each other again, to try to make better choices.

For a while I even wondered if maybe there weren't always lifemates for vampires. I mean, so, look. Most of the characters we've seen have been very close to turning. I've been wondering if the vamps are a Darwin thing. The Carpathians have a lot of power and only those with a strong will to use it responsibly can reproduce. If you don't have the will to resist evil, then you're not strong enough for the species. It seems, especially with this scene, everyone has a lifemate, it's just a matter of finding him/her. And can you hold out till you do? And do you get only one shot at your lifemate? If your lifemate is human, which most seem to be for the moment, then he/she may die before you find her. Does the human's soul get reincarnated as long as the Carpathian holds out, giving him/her more than one chance at finding their lifemate? Fate seems to put them together, but this scene with the old lady shows that they don't always find each other in time.

Maybe we'll find out more in other books...

Anyway, it's not an overly complicated, but I really did enjoy this. We learn a bit more about how the race works and Destiny is a really good character.

I do think I know what's next though. Nicholae has a brother, Vikirnoff. A vampire is looking for a woman who can touch objects and see their history. Now, that sounds a lot like Sara, from Dark Dream, but the way Vikirnoff reacts, I don't think it's supposed to be her. So, that's my prediction...

Dark Destiny, Christine Feehan

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dark Melody, Christine Feehan

So we're back with the band and I really liked this one.

For many reasons.

So, if you remember, everyone in the band (Dark Challenge, Dark Fire) has a lifemate except for Dayan. At the end of Dark Fire, he went on the run with the human, Cullen Tucker, evading the human society of vampire hunters.

He meets Corinne, a songwriter. The complication? Corinne has a heart condition, she doesn't have much time to live. On top of that, she's pregnant with her husband's child. You read that right, husband.

But don't worry, no adultery here, she's a widow. Her husband was murdered by the society.

So, all that creates a few of the dynamics I've been hoping for.

In Dark Symphony, I talked about the idea that the conversion process would eliminate any illnesses or handicaps. Here, however, we have to consider the idea that while conversion does do that, the body has to be strong enough to survive the process. In addition, can a baby be converted? Can it be converted in the womb? If conversion shifts and reshapes the organs, could a baby survive?

The answer is no. A baby could not, and the body can be too weak to survive.

Then there's the husband thing.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dark Descent, Christine Feehan

So, this is Dark 11, the other story in the Dark Nights book, along with Dark Dream (#7).

This was probably one of my least favorite. While I really liked the story, it just felt really incomplete. Like there should have been 5 more chapters or something. The only thing I can think is that Feehan is going to come back to these characters in another way that gives more closure to this story.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a cliffhanger, it just feels like there should be...more.

In this story, we meet Joie, a body guard. She's mentioned in Dark Symphony as a way to protect the Scarletti family during the day hours when Byron was asleep. But we never meet her, and really know nothing about her.

She's shot and astral-projects while being worked on in the hospital. During her little jaunt, she finds Traian in a cave in the Carpathian Mountains. They talk before she's pulled back to her body. Once she's recovered she takes a vacation with her siblings, Jubal and Gabrielle, to the mountains looking for the cave. And Traian.

They find him alright - pinned to a wall by some vampires. Joie manages to put one down for a while, enough time to get Traian free. Then the 4 of them are on the run, trying to find a way out. Traian is too weak to fight, so they can only escape.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dark Symphony, Christine Feehan

Ok, so The Scarletti Curse was absolutely unnecessary. Let's just get that out of the way.

So, back in Dark Desire, Jacques' best friend, Byron, acted a little nuts-o. He tried to convince Mikhal that Shea couldn't be Jacques' lifemate and that Jacques had turned. Jacques, being mostly nuts and not even remembering Byron, does not take it well.

Byron feels terrible for his actions and punishes himself with a self imposed exile as a hunter. He's an artisan, not a hunter, so that's quite the punishment.

His wanderings eventually take him to Italy, where he hears a woman play the piano. Antonietta Scarletti is that woman.

This one was a little different for a couple reasons. One, we enter the story after Byron and Antonietta have met. They're actually friends. The other thing I liked was that Antonietta is blind. That added some of that depth I like to see. I've kind of thought generally that the conversion would remove any illness or handicaps someone had, but this proved it.

This was probably the story most like a mystery so far. I guess that could be said for the Scarlatti Curse too, but lets just forget that book happened.

Someone is trying to kill Antonietta and her grandfather, the Don. The book is mostly about figuring out who's involved. Antonietta doesn't want to think it could be someone in her family, but Byron can't see how it couldn't.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Scarletti Curse, Christine Feehan

"What?! What's this?!" you ask?

Keep your pants on.

So, this is technically out of the Dark series  And has nothing to do with Carpathians of Vampires. There are psychics though.

I read this one because it is kind of the...prequel to Dark Symphony.

I'm not going to spend much time on this one, it's not really my thing.

It's what I guess is referred to as historical romance. Seems like old world Italy. Back when a woman's only real options were to marry well and 16 was eligible age for marriage.

The Scarlatti's are the ruling family in the area. The Dons. They've been under a "curse" for many generations: all the women who work for them seem to die. They also have some special abilities, which, in an era of witch hunts, they keep under wraps.

Nicoletta is a healer in a nearby village. She also has special talents. She meets Don Giovanni when she's called to the Palazzo because a child is sick. The Don is also sick, unfortunately. And it looks like poison.

In the end, Nicoletta and Giovanna fall in love and discover it's his brother raping and killing the women, as well as trying to kill Giovanni.

It's not a bad book, but it's just not the kind of thing I'm interested in. We'll see if it's relevant to the Dark series.

Scarletti Curse, Christine Feehan

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dark Guardian, Christine Feehan

I get my cop!!!

Remember way back in Dark Prince I gave some things I wanted to see? I think I listed 4 separate things, but they were kind of a conglomerate. I wanted a Carpathian woman, and I've gotten that in Francesca - though I had more intended a woman converting a male.

Another thing I wanted was a cop. I had imagined it as part of this really vivacious woman, and Jaxon is definitely all that. She's spunky and driven, and mother fucking cop!!

Not at all the wait at home kinda gal that puts Carpathian men at ease.

Which is why she's pretty awesome for Lucian.

So, we know a bit about Lucian from Dark Legend when we meet his twin, Gabriel. We learn a bit more about him here, but the main character is really Jaxon.

In Legend, when they're trying to save Lucian, Francesca tells him he has to live for his lifemate, that she's out there and that she needs him. That he might be the only one who can help her.

That's true and it's not.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dark Legend, Christine Feehan

Just when I'm feeling like we need some more complex plots, we get one.

We finally find out what happened with Gabriel and Lucian here.

Previously, we found out the twins had made a pact to take the other out if one turns vampire. The story goes, Lucian turned, the brother's fought, and then disappeared.

Well, as we know, legends usually have a kernel of truth. They fought, usually to a stalemate, until Gabriel locks them both in a Paris cemetery. Hundreds of years later, the cemetery is being excavated, and awakens the brothers.

Francesca is a healer (not a doctor) in Paris and comes across Gabriel thinking he's a homeless man.

My favorite thing about this one? I finally get my fully knowledgeable Carpathian woman! I know I had Deseri (Dark Challenge) and Savannah (Dark Magic), but Deseri wasn't raised that way, she didn't really know about lifemates, and Savannah was just so young by Carpathian standards.

But Francesca! Francesca is an ancient female Carpathian with her own powers and training, raised in the Carpathian way. And she knows exactly what being lifemates means.

See, she knew the brothers before everything went to shit. When Mikhal's father was still alive, she saw Gabriel and knew he was her lifemate. So she's tried to understand when he chose to keep fighting instead of claiming her.She left her family and friends because having an unclaimed woman around was too difficult on the males. She felt like Gabriel had sacrificed their life together for the sake of their people, so she sacrificed her community for the sake of their people.

That doesn't mean she doesn't resent him a bit. And trust might be a small issue.

Of course, Gabriel never knew. It was a misunderstanding, she saw him, he never saw her.

But what about Lucian?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dark Dream, Christine Feehan

Well, I was kinda right, we are meeting a legend, just not Gabriel and Lucian.

OK, some housekeeping first. This is a novella. You can get it in ebook, but if you're like me, you prefer a actual book you can hold. Which leads to a slight problem. You can't just by Dark 7 by itself. There are a couple of ways you can buy it, but my suggestion is as part of Dark Nights. It has 7 and 11, so you get 2 for 1!

I really like this one, possibly because it's short and therefore, flys by. Not that I was a rush for it to finish, but it didn't have the back and forth the others in the series have had.

So, we discover that back in the day, Mikhal's (from Dark Prince) father sent several ancient hunters out into the world to help protect it from the vampires. At the time, they didn't know some humans could be lifemates, so he was basically sentencing them to death. Provided they killed themselves before turning vamp.

Falcon is one of those hunters.

When he was sent out into the world, he was compelled to write a journal, dedicated the lifemate the thought he'd never meet. He decides its time he ends his life, but wants to see his home, the Carpathian Mountains, one last time.

Sara, a woman with the ability to see the history of objects, finds Falcon's journal when she's 15 at an archaeological dig her parents are involved with. Unfortunately, she also comes across a vampire at the dig. The vamp kills her family and 15 years later she's still running from him. She finds herself in Romania, near the Carpathian Mountains, fighting to establish a home for children with special gifts, like her.

After seeing Falcon feeding - almost turning, if we're honest - she thinks he's a vamp, but she doesn't get a good look at his face. Of course, he sees her for what she is, his lifemate and takes off after her.

Only, she knows him. She has the journal, remember? And she dreams about him. She even had a bust of him made!

Which is why it moves fast, she doesn't fight it much. She thinks he's a vamp briefly, but she understands fairly quickly the differences.

My favorite thing about this one, besides the fact that Sara recognizes her feelings for him and embraces them instead of fighting tooth and nail, but Falcon calls in help when needed. Before he can convert Sara, Falcon has to go to ground for the day. She drives up to where Mikhal lives with the plan of meeting him that night. Only, she seems a vampire's puppet with all her kids. She takes off after them and ends up in a major wreck. So, Falcon calls on other Carpathians for help - Jacques and Shea respond.

I love the character interaction! That's been one of the things missing for me so far: once they find their lifemates, they kinda just...go. I like that we're getting some more interplay. It's not that we haven't had any just not as much as I would have liked.

Definitely a good little read.

Dark Dream, Christine Feehan

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dark Fire, Christine Feehan

Right again! :)

Darius and Tempest, the mechanic.

She's human, but can talk to animals. So, we're more back to human/Carpathian storyline. However, I do finally get something I want: a woman who chooses to convert! She's not even dying! Well, the situation is still life and death, but....Beggars and Choosers, people!

I'm getting ahead of myself again.

Ok, so Tempest is hired on as the mechanic and of course as soon as Darius sees her, he knows. He comes on strong, too. :) It seems Carpathian males don't know any other way.

He drinks her blood and erases her memory, only because her brain is a bit different, it doesn't work. So, of course she freaks, thinking him a vampire and runs. Unfortunately, she gets in a car with a bad man who tries to rape her. Darius saves her before he gets to far, but we find out this wasn't her first incident. It happened once before when she was barely an adult.

This allows her and Syndil to talk about their experiences, which is a really nice moment. Darius learns a bit, too. Syndil seems to be healing, though she and Barack are still not together in the beginning. It seems having someone who understands is helpful.

Something I really found entertaining about this story was Tempest's ability to get into trouble. Every time she's alone, something happens. And it doesn't seem like a new development in her life. It made me smile.

And my favorite part is her conversion.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dark Challenge, Christine Feehan

Yup! I was right, Julian and the singer, Desari.

And this definitely switched things up for me. It was even a bit feminist!

Let's get down to it!

So, as we know from Dark Magic, Julian, Aidan's twin, is pretty close to changing. In an effort to keep him going a bit longer, Gregori gives him the task of protecting a human woman the society thinks is a vampire.

Of course she's his lifemate.

But here's the good part: She's Carpathian!

OK, so back in the day, the Carpathian Mountains were invaded by the Ottoman Turks way back in the day. It was pretty brutal, as many wars/invasion were then. When I've said many Carpathian women and children were killed, this is what I've been referring to (though, that hasn't been clear until now). They slaughtered the people, herding women and children into a straw shack to burn them.

A small group of Carpathian children escaped. They managed to flee to the coast of Africa and survive. They've been traveling as troubadours for centuries, moving from country to country when they're presence and lack of aging becomes suspicious. They've always thought they were the last of their kind.

Until Julian walked into their concert.