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Friday, October 14, 2011

Christine Feehan: CARPATHIAN/DARK SERIES


Author:  Christine Feehan
Series:  CARPATHIAN/DARK SERIES 
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings:  Violence4-5; Sensuality4; Humor2
Titles:
    Dark Prince (Raven Whitney & Mikhail Dubrinsky)
    Dark Desire (Shea O'Halloran & Jacques Dubrinsky) 
    Dark Gold (Alexandria Houston & Aidan Savage) 
    Dark Magic (Savannah Dubrinsky & Gregori Daratrazanoff)
    Dark Challenge (Desari Daratrazanoff & Julian Savage)
    Dark Fire (Tempest & Darius Daratrazanoff) 
    “Dark Dream” in Dark Dreamers anthology and After Twilight anthology (Sara Marten & Falcon) (also available as a separate e-book)
    Dark Legend (Francesca Del Ponce & Gabriel Daratrazanoff) 
    Dark Guardian (Jaxon Montgomery & Lucian Daratrazanoff) 
    Dark Symphony (Antoinetta Scarletti & Byron Justicano)
    “Dark Descent in The Only One anthology (Joie Sanders & Traian Trigovise) (also available as a separate e-book)
    Dark Melody (Corrinne Wentworth & Dayan) 
    Dark Destiny (Destiny & Nicolae Von Shrieder) 
    Dark Hunger (Juliette Sangria & Riordan De La Cruz)
    Dark Secret (Colby Jansen & Rafael De La Cruz) 
    Dark Demon (Natalya & Vikirnoff Von Shrieder) 
    Dark Celebration: A Carpathian Reunion (Christmas with a host of Carpathian couples) 
    Dark Possession (MaryAnn Delaney & Manolito De La Cruz) 
    Dark Curse (Lara Calladine & Nicolas De La Cruz) 
    Dark Slayer (Ivory Malinov & Razvan) 
    Dark Peril (Solange Sangria & Dominic Dragonseeker)
    Dark Predator (Marguarita Fernandez & Zacarias De La Cruz)
    Darkest at Dawn (contains reissues of Dark Hunger & Dark Secret)
    Dark Storm (Danutdaxton ["Dax"] & Riley Parker)
    Dark Lycan (Fenris Dalka & Tatijana Dragonseeker)
    Dark Wolf (1/2014)(Dmitri Tirunul & Skylar Rose Daratrazanoff)
    Dark Blood (9/2014)(Zev Hunter & Branislava [Bronnie] Dragonseeker)     

     This post was revised and updated on 9/26/14 to include a review of  Dark Blood, the 26th novel in the series. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and reviews of novels 22 through 25.         

          NOVEL 26:  Dark Blood               

     This is the third book in a trilogy within the CARPATHIAN series that tells the story of three cross-breed Hunters (Fenris, Dmitri, and Zev) and their dragonseeker lifemates (Skyler, Tatijanaand Branislava—nicknamed "Bronnie"). Fenris and Dmitri are brothers, and Tatijana and Bronnie are sisters as well as being the daughters of the villainous mage, Xavier, who impregnated their Carpathian mother as part of his quest for immortality. The men are all experienced, skilled Hunters, while the women are relatively new to battle. Just weeks ago, Tatijana and Bronnie were freed from life-long imprisonment in Xavier's ice cave, and young Skyler has just joined the group. The three men have both Lycan and Carpathian blood, the result of sharing blood with one another over centuries to heal battle injuries. The Lycans view them as abominations and want them dead, but the Carpathians call them Guardians, and revere their strength and morality.

     The story opens in the aftermath of the attack on the Council that marked the climax of the previous book (Dark Wolf). Zev was mortally wounded in the fighting, but Bronnie managed to save him by binding her soul and spirit to his and remaining by his side. As Zev awakens, he finds himself in the sacred cave of warriors, where he and two others are received as brothers by the council of warriors. The first part of the book follows Zev through some intensive healing rituals to get him back on his feet. After that, the book falls into a pattern of repetitiously detailed battle scenes and erotic love scenes, with each and every stroke, thrust, and bite described at length (in both the combat and the coitus scenes).

     Eventually, Zev and his team discover that a mage is involved with the rogue Lycans who are trying to kill the Council membersa mage with connections to the evil Xavier. Although most of the conflict is resolved in the big showdown battle at the end, problems remain unresolved with some of the Lycan leaders (who continue to hate all mixed-bloods), and there is still one more villain to catch.

     This book was a disappointment for me, mostly because there are too many nearly identical hand-to-hand/claw/teeth battle scenes. The good guys and gals were always being ambushed and never went on the offensive. In between the fights, Zev and Bronnie (or "Branka" as he calls her), found time to run off into the woods to release their sexual tension in some of Feehan's familiarly sensual love scenes, with Zev forcing submission on Branka and Branka begging for more. "It was a claiming….She understood his need to have her submit to him….She could see the marks on her body from his hands, his mouth and teeth and she delighted in every one….His face...was stamped with lust, a pure dominant bent on teaching his woman a lesson. She reveled in the way he chose to teach her." (p. 154) Once again, a CARPATHIAN hero hovers very close to the line between rough sex and abusive sex.

     Feehan also throws in a few dancing scenes just to break the tension, but those just didn't work for me. Although I have enjoyed this series over the years, I have to admit that I liked the earlier novels betterbefore all of the chanting and woo-woo elements were addedand especially before Feehan got so carried away with the Carpathian language. If you are still a fan of the series, you'll want to read this book because it resolves some major issues and answers a lot of questions (e.g., the identity of Zev's mother and the importance of Zev's genetic heritage).

    Click HERE to read chapter 1 of Dark Blood. The hardback, e-book, and audiobook editions of this book were published in September 2014; the mass market paperback publishing date is unavailable at this time. 

          WORLD-BUILDING          
     The Carpathians are an ancient race with many vampiric abilities and limitations. For example, they can shape shift, heal themselves, control the weather, turn into mist, and pull objects out of thin air. On the bad side, though, they must spend most of the daylight hours buried in earth transported from their homeland, and during that time they are vulnerable to staking, fire, or decapitation, all of which would result in true death. Although the Carpathians feed on human blood, they don’t kill their human prey, and they generally live undetected among humans, except for the dedicated families that have, for generations, served as their guardians. Despite their gifts, the Carpathians are on the verge of extinction because, as the series begins, no female Carpathians have been born in more than five hundred years. 

     The dream of every Carpathian male is to find his lifemate: the woman he will ritually bind to him for the rest of their immortal lives. In the absence of their lifemates, male Carpathians cannot feel emotions, see colors, or dream. The only emotion left to them is the thrill of making a kill, and this is always a huge temptation for an unmated Carpathian male. Unfortunately, once a Carpathian male kills a human, he immediately and irrevocably loses his soul and “turns,” becoming a monstrous vampire whose life is forevermore focused only on killing. Since the temptation to kill becomes stronger with age, older Carpathian males are eventually forced to make a stark choice: become a killer vampire or “greet the dawn” (i.e., commit suicide). If and when a Carpathian finds his lifemate, his emotions and his ability to see colors are restored to him, and his soul is saved

     Each book tells the story of a Carpathian male and his lifemate, always endangered by various bad guys—both human and supernatural, but always hindered even more by their own self-esteem issues and tragic personal histories

     Feehan's website includes free downloads of the first chapter of each of the books in the series. Just click on a book cover to go to a page containing a summary and a link to an excerpt. Many of the early books have been reissued. Click HERE to go to a description of Feehan's research on Carpathia. Feehan's web site has a number of additional "Extras," but for many of them you need to become a member of her community

     On her web site, Feehan says, "Although each of my "DARK BOOKS" can stand alone reading the books in order gives a much richer vision of the Carpathian world." According to Feehan, The Scarletti Curse is not part of the CARPATHIAN/DARK series, but one of the lead characters is a descendant of the lifemate in Dark Symphony.   

          NOVEL 22:  Dark Predator          
     It's been awhile since I last read one of Feehan's CARPATHIAN books, and I'd forgotten just how angst-filled and purple-prosed the writing can be. Most of all, though, I am amazed at the level of misogynistic violence in this new book. Dark Predator continues the story of the Malinov brothers and the five De La Cruz brothers, who grew up together as friends and rivals in Carpathia as members of two of the most powerful of the Carpathian families. The Malinov brothers took the dark path and became vampires, while most of the De La Cruz brothers have found their lifemates by now and have become wealthy land owners in the rain forests of South America. Now the two sets of brothers are bitter enemies because the Malinovs want to take down the Dubrinsky family (the rulers of the Carpathian people), while the De La Cruz family supports the Dubrinskys.   

     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.

     This is an extremely disturbing story. The hero is a violent, abusive monster, who continually calls his heroine "little lunatic" as he repeatedly throws her against walls, rips her throat open, and jerks her around by her hair. Imagine, if you will, that the wife-beating Ike Turner was the hero of the movie What's Love Got to Do with It. I know, that would be impossible, but...it happens in this book—the abuser is actually the hero. I can't remember seeing anything like this in the other CARPATHIAN novels that I've read. Yes, the heroes are always über-alphas who don't know their own strength, but they are always extremely sorry about any pain that they cause their lifemates. Zacarias, though, has almost no moments of apologetic thought. Instead, every time Marguarita does something that Zacarias sees as wrong, he thinks to himself, "She must be taught a lesson," and then he does something violent to hurt her. He comes across as a brutal, uncaring thug, while she appears to be a weak, enabling doormat who accepts his abuse because she sees darkness inside him. This is the classic situation of an abused wife who forgives her husband's violent behavior towards her because she is trying to "save" him from himself. Marguarita does stand up for herself in one dramatic scene, but that doesn't end at all well for her. As one amazon.com reviewer writes, this story comes across as an anti-romance, and that's an apt statement. The inevitable scene in which Marguarita is changed over into a Carpathian is the worst scene of all. I was cringing throughout the book, but the physical and emotional violence of that scene actually made me sick to my stomach.

     The other thing that was bothersome (and this is a much more minor point) was Feehan's constant inclusion of Carpathian words and phrases, to the point of annoyance. If you are at all interested in the Carpathian language, the book has an extensive appendix that includes Carpathian healing chants, grammar rules, and examples of the language. Click HERE to go to Feehan's web site for links to audio downloads of ritual words and chants in the Carpathian language.

     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)

     The next three quotations all come from a single scene. After Zacarias punishes Marguarita for saving his life, he orders her to remain in his house but, not surprisingly, she runs away. This is what happens when he catches her:

    "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)

     "Hear me, little girl. You will not ever disobey a direct order from me again." She pressed her trembling lips together, covering them with her fingers. He took a threatening step toward her. "Are  you clear who is in charge? Who is your master?" She swallowed hard and nodded her head vigorously." (p. 42)

     "He'd been careful to go slow as he might approach a wild creature, but she ducked slightly as though she expected him to strike her. The idea was ludicrous. He would never hit her." (p. 43) (What? He has just attacked her in a blood-lust frenzy and then pursued her in a mad rage. Now he can't understand why she is afraid he will hit her?  This guy is definitely a sociopath.)

     This is Zacarias' reaction when Marguarita helps him recover some painful memories: "He took a step toward her, his teeth snapping together in a vicious warning. 'I should break your neck for such an indiscretion. You dare too much.' He actually twisted his hands together as if he had her neck between his palm....He was on her so fast she had no time to do anything but blink up at him. His fingers wrapped around her throat, dragging her to her feet. Her pulse beat into the palm of his hand....'Sun scorch you, woman,' he whispered...'No one controls me. No one.'" (p. 125)

     This little episode erupts right in the middle of one of the rare scenes in which Zacarias is being somewhat affectionate with Marguarita"Without warning he suddenly jerked her away from him by her hair. It hurt, her scalp tender, but it was more upsetting that he rejected her ministrations. His face was an expressionless mask, his eyes glittering almost red. Ice poured in, glaciers of it, impenetrable barriers locking her out. She was rejected both physically and mentally. He had virtually thrown her away from him without telling her what she'd done wrong. Shocked and humiliated, she sank back on her heels, struggling not to cry." (p. 203)  

          NOVEL 23:  Dark Storm          

     In this book, we're still in the Brazilian rain forest, where we watch another virginal heroine meet her lifemate. This time, it's Riley Parker, a young and beautiful descendant of the Cloud People of Peru, who is traveling down the Amazon with her mother, Annabel, and a small group of disparate travelers. Annabel is trying to reach a magical mountaintop in time to stop a mythical evil power from escaping into the mortal world. The women of her ancestry have had this responsibility for centuries, but their powers seem to be growing weaker. As the group travels deeper into the jungle, insects and animals begin striking out at Annabel, and a deep sense of evil pervades the atmosphere. When Annabel is murdered by a possessed native porter, Riley mystically receives Annabel's powers of connection to the earth and her knowledge of the encroaching evil that must be stopped. (The primary manifestation of Riley's powers requires her to crouch down and dig her hands into the soil and spout mystical rhymeswhich she does over and over again.) The plot follows Riley as she climbs up the volcanic mountain (which is on the verge of erupting) and meets her Carpathian lifemate, Danutdaxton ("Dax"), who was imprisoned deep within the volcano centuries ago to guard (and hopefully to destroy) the villainous Mitro Daratrazanoff, a Carpathian who chose to become a vampire. 

    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 languagein 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. 


          NOVEL 24:  Dark Lycan          
     This book is set in the Carpathians, where Prince Mikhail and his people are beginning to believe that their lives are on the upswing. They have solved their infertility problem, and several families now have young children. The vampire situation has quieted down, and life is good. Naturally, the good times can't possibly last.

     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 Tatijana. 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.  


          NOVEL 25:  Dark Wolf           

     This is the second book in a trilogy within the CARPATHIAN series that involves two concurrent wars: a civil war within the Lycans and a developing war between the Lycans and the Carpathians. In the previous novel, we met the three heroes of the trilogy: Carpathian brothers Fenris and Dmitri and their Lycan friend, Zev. All three men have been Hunters for centuries, exchanging blood as necessary when they are injured, and in the process, they have gradually developed into cross-breeds with mixed blood: Carpathian and Lycan. 

     The Carpathian culture makes a distinction between two types of cross breeds: "There was a difference between a wolf/vampire cross and a Lycan/Carpathian cross. The wolf/vampire [Sange rau] murdered everything and everyone without discrimination, sometimes simply for the joy of killingjust as a vampire would do. The Lycan/Carpathian was called Han käu pesäk kaiakGuardian of all. Carpathians had given that name to the mixed blood because it was true: they fought for all species against the Sange rau." (p. 138)    

     Unfortunately, the Lycans have different beliefs than the Carpathians on the subject of mixed blood. "The Lycans referred to any mix between Lycan and Carpathian as Sange raubad blood. They believed anyone who had such a mixture must be hunted down and killed." (p. 137) This difference of opinions has kept the Lycans and Carpathians apart for centuries. At the end of the previous novel, a group of Lycans carried Dmitri off to be tortured and killed because of his mixed blood, while his brother, Fen, was left behind, on the brink of death from serious battle injuries. As the story opens, members of the Lycan Council have arrived at the Carpathian compound to meet with the Carpathian leaders in an attempt to work out an agreement concerning cross-breeds.  


    In the previous novel, we learned the lifemate situation for each of the three warriors who star in this trilogy. In Dark Lycan, Fen found his lifemate, Tatijana, daughter of the infamous mage, Xavier, while Zev began to fall for Tatijana's sister, Branislava ("Bronnie"). Dmitri, who has known the identity of his lifemate, Skyler, for many years, continued to wait for her to grow from a girl to a woman. Dark Wolf tells the love story of Dmitri and Skyler against a violent backdrop of deceit, betrayal, and warfare. In Dark Blood, we'll get the full love story for Zev and Bronnie.  



     Skyler is the nineteen-year-old adopted daughter of Gabriel and Francesca. Her biological father is Razvan, son of the hated mage Xavier, who possessed Razvan against his will and impregnated a series of human women. (Xavier was an evil villain in several earlier books.) Skyler's mother was a psychic, her father is a mage, and her adopted parents have shared their Carpathian blood with her. At one point, she muses, "What kind of a concoction am I? Psychic. Mage. Partly Carpathian. Daughter of the earth. Dragon seeker. I see things I'm not meant to see. I feel things I shouldn't." (p. 12) She is also a healer with a powerful connection to Mother Earth. Skyler had a horrific childhood, first kept in a cell with her mother until Xavier came to believe that she had no magical abilities. At that point, Xavier sold her and her mother as sex slaves. Eventually, she was rescued by Gabriel and Francesca and raised as their daughter. She still has nightmares about her childhood experiences, and she dreads the time when she and Dmitri will begin the physical part of their relationship because she fears that nightmares from her past will keep her from fulfilling his needs.     

     As Dark Wolf opens, Skyler has teamed up with her two best friends to rescue Dmitri from the Lycans. Because Dmitri has been wrapped tightly in silver chains, none of the Carpathians has been able to contact him telepathicallynot even his brother, so the Carpathians have no way to find him. Skyler, though, is Dmitri's life mate, and their bond is still open, so she knows that she can find him. Her two accomplices are Paul (brother of Colby, who is lifemate to Rafael De La Cruz from the South American Carpathian clan) and Josef (son of Vlad and nephew of Byron). Most of the first half of the book follows them as they work out a strategy for the rescue mission. Check the Carpathian family tree that Feehan includes at the beginning of the book to see each person's family connections.    

     Although Skyler and Dmitri exchange a few telepathic love messages, they spend most of the book planning and carrying out a safe get-away. Even after they and their friends return to the Carpathian compound, no one is really safe, because a rebellious Lycan group is plotting the deaths of Dmitri and Skyler as well as some of their own Lycan council members. Although everyone knows that there are traitors among the Lycans, neither the Carpathians nor the Lycans knows which Lycans are loyal and which are rebels.  

     This book has a much better story line and more complex plot development than the previous few novels. Skyler and her two friends are great characters as they make their plans and carry them out in an intelligent, but humorous, manner. Dmitri—who has lived for centuries—is a patient and loving mate for Skyler, but he comes across as being so much more mature and knowledgeable than Skyler that it's hard to believe that he could ever build an eternal relationship with this teenage girl. Throughout the series, Feehan's characterizations of her heroes have varied widely (and wildly)—from the aloof but gentlemanly alphas of the earliest books to the cold, brutal Zacarias De La Cruz of Dark Predator. Dmitri is more like the early heroes, with his restrained passion and patient treatment for his centuries-younger lifemate.


     I'm guessing that the Lycan warfare plot will be resolved in the next novel as Zev and Bronnie become lifemates and achieve their HEA.  All thee of these couples are extremely worried about their futures because as the women take blood from their lifemates, they, too, will become Han käu pesäk kaiak. Will they be able to have children? If so, what species will their children be? Can the Lycans and Carpathians resolve their differences, or will mixed-bloods continue to live in constant danger from the Lycans? All (or most) of these questions will no doubt be answered in the next novel.


    Click HERE to read chapter 1 of Dark Wolf. The hardback, trade book, e-book, and audiobook editions of this book were published in January 2014; the mass market paperback publishing date is August 2014.  

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