Series: CARPATHIAN/DARK SERIES
Plot Type: Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings: Violence-4-5; Sensuality-4; Humor-2
Dark Storm (Danutdaxton ["Dax"] & Riley Parker)
Dark Lycan (Fenris Dalka & Tatijana Dragonseeker)
Dark Wolf (1/2014)(Dmitri Tirunul & Skylar Daratrazanoff)
BOOK 23: Dark Storm
As the story begins, Fenris Dalka has returned to the Carpathians to check in with his brother, Dmitri. Centuries ago, Fenris partnered with a Lycan hunter to track down vampires and rogue werewolves, and both became Lycan/Carpathian hybrids after routinely exchanging blood as they healed their many battle injuries. Unfortunately, the Lycans believe that a hybrid of this type—which they call a Sang rau—is a monster, and they capture and kill them without question, no matter what the circumstances of the change were. This prejudice is deeply woven into the Lycan cultural tradition. When Fenris' partner is captured and killed by the Lycans, Fenris continues to hunt rogues as a lone Lycan, living as a Lycan and hiding his Carpathian characteristics from everyone but his brother.
Part of the reason that Fenris has returned to the Carpathians is that he has been tracking a huge pack of rogue werewolves who are being led by a Sang rau. The elite hunters of the Lycans are also tracking the pack, and they are led by Zev, a hunter who is nearly as skilled and experienced as Fenris. Fenris and Zev unite with Mikhail's Carpathians to battle the pack, but their efforts are stymied when they are met by not just one, but two, Sang rau.
In the meantime, Tatijana and her sister, Bronnie, are awakening from their underground healing sleep after being rescued from centuries of torture at the hands of their father, the psychotic mage Xavier. Tatijana emerges first, going off to a local tavern and meeting up with Fenris, who immediately recognizes her as his lifemate. Even though Tatijana is determined to make her own decisions and live independently after her centuries-long imprisonment, she falls for Fenris instantly, and their relationship has no courting process, just a smooth move into a fully developed companionship—no misunderstandings, no arguments, no temper tantrums, no clashes of will...and no spark to catch the reader's interest. In between battles, they engage in one saccharine, sappy, lovey-dovey scene after another. We are told that both Fenris and Tatijana are fiercely independent, but those traits show up only on the battlefield, never in their relationship scenes. That relationship lacks any type of development; it is portrayed as being in full bloom as soon as they meet. Tatijana's desire for independence is never a part of the romance process. She makes one or two comments about not wanting to be claimed just yet, but it's immediately obvious to Fenris (and to the reader) that she won't hold back her consent very long…and she doesn't.
The story is an endlessly repetitive cycle of long, drawn-out battles followed by shorter, romance scenes between Fenris and Tatkjana. The battle scenes are long and drawn out—filled with needless slash-by-slash detail and with the same repetitive phrases. The author explains to the reader time and time again that the wolves always eviscerate their victims first, gouging out huge bites from the gut and then moving on to the head and extremities. We get hundreds of sentences almost exactly like this one: "The wolves leapt on Zev, tearing at him, biting great chunks of flesh from him." We get hundreds more sentences describing each and every time a good guy plunges a silver stake into a wolf's chest, back, shoulder, eye, etc. In every single battle scene we are treated to detailed descriptions as one good guy after another gets gutted, gouged, and gashed. In each battle, Tatijana flies too low and is slashed or grabbed by a wolf—and those descriptions are nearly identical. I found myself just paging past the battle scenes after I read the first one. I would guess that about half the book consists of these tedious, blow-by-blow descriptions.
I had a problem with Fenris from the book's beginning. Fenris was born a pure-blood Carpathian, so why was he named Fenris, which is derived from the name of a mythological wolf monster? The Fenris Wolf is also one of the bad guys in several story lines in Marvel Comics. The Marvel version of the character is based on Norse legends in which Fenris (aka Fenrir) is the catalyst for Ragnarok—the end of the world. I can't imagine why any Carpathian mother would name her child after this wolfy fiend. It is obviously his original name because all of his Carpathian boyhood friends use it. I realize that Feehan has concocted a story in which (ironically?) Fenris has now become part-wolf, but why choose that name for him when no one (except Feehan) could have possibly known that this would happen to him?
On her web site, Feehan explains that this is the first book in a DARK SERIES trilogy, each with a Lycan or Carpathian/Lycan hero: Dark Lycan, Dark Wolf, and Dark Blood. In the next book, the lifemates are Dmitri and Skylar. In Dark Wolf, the lifemates are Zev and Bronnie. So…it's a family affair trilogy. You can be sure that there will be lots of angst because each of the men will be inflicted with the Sang rau condition, and they, like Fenris, will be extremely worried about passing it on to their lifemates. You'll need to refer to the Carpathian family trees that Feehan includes at the beginning of each book so that you can see exactly where each lifemate fits into the scheme of things.
Click HERE to read an excerpt from Dark Lycan. The hardback and trade paperback editions of this book were published in September 2013; the mass market paperback publishing date is May 2014.
BOOK 22: Dark Predator
As the story opens, the De La Cruz brothers have just won a battle against a Malinov army, but the eldest De La Cruz brother, Zacarias, has been badly wounded. Zacarias is one of the oldest living Carpathians, and he is very close to making his choice between becoming a vampire or meeting the dawn. After the battle, the wounded Zacarias decides to end his life, so he heads off to one of family farms in Peru to do the scorching deed. To Zacarias' amazement and horror, one of his employees at the farm refuses to allow him to die. Marguarita, Zacarias' hapless savior, is a beautiful virginal young woman whose life Zacarias once saved during a vampire attack (in a previous book). Marguarita is mute, her vocal cords having been irreparably damaged during that vampire attack. Instead of being grateful to Marguarita for saving him, Zacarias is enraged, and he attacks her in a horribly painful blood-lust scene (see quotation below), one of many in the book. Marguarita's psychic gift is the ability to communicate with animals, calming them with mental "pushes." She attempts to pacify Zacarias' violent streak by sending him peaceful thoughts, but, unfortunately for her, her gift doesn't seem to work with him. As is true in many of the CARPARTHIAN books, the romance consumes about 90% of the plot, with endless angst-filled interior monologues (and hardly any dialogue). Two brief secondary plot threads involve a drugged-out human vampire hunter and the obligatory attack by the Malinovs. Mostly, though, Zacarias spends his time taking out his fears and aggressions on poor Marguarita, and she forgives him—again and again and again.
Here are a few quotations from the book to give you a sense of the horrific "romance" between Zacarias and Marguarita:
This is how Zacarias repays Marguarita for saving him from the sun: "He jerked her to her feet...She struggled wildly and he pinned her with one arm and caught her thick rope of hair with the other, crushing the silken strands in his fist as he jerked her head back....He didn't try to calm her mind or in any way control her knowledge of what was happening. He wanted her to know. He wanted her fear. He intended to hurt her so she would never forget why she should obey....Zacarias sank his teeth deep into that soft, defenseless flesh. He bit hard, without a numbing agent, puncturing her neck deliberately close to her throat. She should have remembered the vampire attacking her. She shouldn't have been so careless as to disobey. She needed another lesson in just what a dangerous, uncaring vile creature could do....There was no way for her to get free and no one could enter the house—his house—without his consent or knowledge. She was completely at his mercy—and he had none." (pp. 36-37)
"He wanted obedience from her, not stark, raw fear. Well...he'd wanted her to be afraid—to learn her lesson. Fear was simply a tool to him, one he wielded easily." (p. 41)
BOOK 23: Dark Storm
This is another angst-filled, melodramatic tale with a hero and heroine who spend much of their time either having sex on comfortable beds conjured up in the middle of the jungle and thinking and talking about each other's perfection. Those tender tableaux are occasionally interrupted by graphically violent scenes in which they must extricate themselves from dangerous traps set by the villain. This, by the way, is a very bloody and violent book, with lots of gory massacre scenes.
In this book the showdown scene with the villain is anticlimactic and way too effortless. The mystical magic that Riley practices is filled with nonsensical spells and lots of Carpathian language—in fact, there are two lengthy appendices with more information than you really want to know about Carpathian healing chants and Carpathian language. And let's not even get into the whole rain forest venue, which adds even more to the repetitive nature of this book (and the previous few) with its endless descriptions of the plant life and the humidity. The tie-in with the De La Cruz family has a tacked-on feel to it, as if it were pulled out of thin air just to manipulate the plot. All in all, this is an unsatisfying book. It seems to me that Feehan's books are getting weaker and weaker. They overflow with repetitive angst-filled monologues, thinly drawn characters, totally predictable plots.