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Book CoverGwen’s review of Dark Curse (The Carpathians, Book 16) by Christine Feehan
Paranormal romance hardcover released by Berkley 2 Sep 08

Last month, the latest Feehan Carpathians/Dark novel came out in hardcover. With it, we see a return by the author to her roots: good romance, strong characters, and excellent villains and action.  I was pretty disappointed with the last two books – aside from the  hardcover release (kaching!) – since they seemed to be fanfic more than entries in Feehan’s complex world.  Luckily, this was another legitimately “Dark” book (pun intended). 

Dark Curse has a couple of tried-and-true paranormal romance devices: at the start the heroine has amnesia and doesn’t know her full power, hero is über-alpha hunk-o-vampire who will protect heroine with his last breath (even from herself), some soul/life-mating, and a few others.  There are also a couple of interesting twists: the heroine has a blood drinking aversion/phobia and she isn’t miraculously cured by the mighty peen by the end of the book (nicely realistic), and a real mystery they’re all working to solve about why their race keeps losing children, plus some seriously nefarious stuff that keeps everything nicely interesting.

I like the Dark/Carpathian novels when they’re this well written.  There’s steam in the sensual scenes — though I found myself skimming thru those rather quickly (I know!) — and a good, somewhat bloodless (heh), romance.  The book is full of interesting characterizations as we revisit several figures from past novels and they’re more than just blasts from the past.  However, I would have liked to see the heroine keep more of herself and her life together by the end of the book (one of my complaints of some of the Dark books — heroines seem to sacrifice all, heroes none), but she seems to decompensate as the book goes on and she isn’t made better by the end.

There is an interesting “Indiana Jones” thing going on while a group searches the caverns for the heroine’s aunts and the cause of the sicknesses afflicting the Carpathian mothers and children.  I thought it would be a boring sequence, but Feehan kept my interest and made it fraught with peril and suspense.  Unusual for me — cave scenes normally skeeve me out too much to enjoy (don’t ask).

I could do without the whole Carpathian language business. I get a “who cares” attitude about that kind of thing when it’s hammered in over and over.  I mean, the hero has been in South America for hundreds and hundreds of years, right?  Why isn’t he using Spanish endearments instead of Carpathian ones, if he’s been away from the Carpathians for all that time?  Seemed a little odd, but, meh, small quibble on the whole.  Nevertheless, I did hate how I couldn’t picture how the words sound in my head. I have no experience with the pronunciation rules in eastern European languages other than a “c” sounds like a “ch” — that’s the extent of my knowledge on the topich (heh).

There’s considerable time spent on the “healing” of some of the other Carpathians, due to what the hero and heroine discover in the caverns.  It was all rather woo-woo, but was fun to read if I just rolled with it.  All of this culminates in a rather abrupt ending to the novel, but was still a good part of the story in light of the heroine’s background.  (However, I did want to slap Savannah once or twice for being a selfish wench.)

This was a fun-to-read entry in Feehan’s Carpathian world — interesting characters, good plot twists, and excellent suspense and romance.  I recommend it to fans of the series and Feehan’s writing.  People new to the series might be a bit at sea if you haven’t read at least one of the original Dark novels (recommend Dark Prince, Book 1, if you want to get the low-down on the world and a good story).  If you’re a fan, it’s worth the hardcover price.  Or just wait and buy it secondhand on the Amazon.com Marketplace once the used hardcovers get less expensive.  It will probably be a year before it comes out in paperback.

faye.jpgGrade: B


Born into a world of ice, slave to her evil father, Lara Calladine knew only paralyzing fear as a child. Only by escaping with her mysterious gifts unbroken would she survive to claim her great Carpathian heritage as a Dragonseeker…

Now, Lara is in search of the source of her nightmares-the cold, dark corners of her childhood just on the edges of her memory. Only one man has the power and the will to help her: dangerous, arrogant Nicolas De La Cruz.

Together, Lara and Nicolas search the treacherous Carpathian landscape for the truth about their pasts-and discover a passion that neither has ever known before.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in the series:

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