Saturday, November 30, 2013
Dark Curse, Christine Feehan
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.
He was prepared to die anyway, so he tells her if she wants him to die he will, but if not, that means she wants him to live - she accepts him. Her choice.
Being his lifemate, she can't let him die. She tells him to heal himself. He does and then helps try to heal her friends.
However, it all goes to hell when he really tries to claim her.
In addition to her feelings on giving her blood, she obviously has concerns about being held captive. She's fine during the night, knows she can leave whenever, but when day hits and Nicolas "ensures her safety" from the sun by chaining them together, she kinda freaks out. Understandably so.
See, once again we have a male who doesn't really think. He gets there, but he doesn't really understand, even though she's told him, what her childhood was like - what chaining her again will do.
When he wakes to find her nearly dead, bleeding to death from self inflicted wounds - preferring death to captivity - he finally starts to get it. He gets an even better understanding when he goes to pull her back from the afterlife (kind of like in Dark Possession with Manolito). On the way back with her soul, he has to witness her childhood. No. More than that, he experiences it. The physical and the emotional.
So, he finally understands the crime he's committed.
He saves her life and promises to spend the rest of his life making up for his mistake.
And he does.
In fact, he agrees to ignore/fight his instincts to fully claim her and make her Carpathian. See, Lara figures out/tells them the reason for so many miscarriages and infant deaths. Xavier created microbes to infect the soil. The soil then passes it on the the women. It hides from men and Carpathians, meaning Lara, who's not fully Carpathian yet, is the only one who can find it and draw it out of the pregnant women. Unfortunately, it's a draining and traumatic journey every time.
So, she can't be converted, and she has to keep reliving her childhood, and the women keep getting reinfected. All that pain and exhaustion isn't easy for a Carpathian male to handle, but he lets her make her own choices. And she's able to save the children with her sacrifice.
Generally, I like this one. It was more serious than the previous ones. I know that sounds kind of contradictory after having said I like the light heartedness of Dark Celebration. But I appreciated the consequences to Nicholas' actions. That's not to say I appreciate suicide, only that I appreciate that Nicholas fucked up and had to face the consequences. Severe ones, too.
I also liked the change up with the conversion. It's interesting to know what circumstances would make them postpone a conversion. Basically life and death...or the greater good. However you want to look at it.
However, my favorite thing in this one is "discussion" to allow women a) to fight and b) to attend the warriors meetings. Destiny, Natalya, Jaxon and a few others are warriors in their own right. The males, especially the unattached ones have a problem with this. The women are needed in hopes they'll produce lifemates. If they're in battle, they might die. What seems to escape them is that the men fighting provide the same problem. If the male dies, so does the female. No one points that out though. They do point out that the men are distracted when the women are in battle with them. Of course, no one thinks the women might be distracted when the men are in battle with them. *eye roll*
It does come up that maybe the women who can fight should be made responsible for teaching the other women to protect themselves and helping protect them while the men are fighting vampires. It's a bit insulting, but at least it's a compromise and not an outright forbidding. Not that I think any of the women forbidden would pay much attention, or that their lifemates would. Destiny even makes the comment that she doesn't think she could stop hunting vampires if they did tell her to.
It doesn't seem there's ever really a conclusion. Mikhal just says he's going to consider the issue. However, the edition I have has deleted scenes (some of which you can find on Feehan's website), and one of those scenes has the fantastic Natalya making an excellent point. Nicolae is fighting a shadow warrior - struggling to fight a shadow warrior. Meanwhile, his loving lifemate just hangs back and lets him fight commenting that she couldn't possibly help, being a little lady only good for breeding.
Dark Curse, Christine Feehan