I used to be a huge fan of Feehan’s Carpathians, and I still have a soft spot for the uber-alpha heroes. I rather enjoy their dominating behavior – after all, it’s fantasy, right? I haven’t picked one up for a while, after she started with the mage/jaguar/parasite trope. Her world seemed to be disintegrating, and her strong heroines really didn’t work for me. But I did enjoy her books in the past and a couple of them are comfort reads, my paper copies falling apart. So I dived into this one.
It starts promisingly. The heroine, a jaguar woman called Solange, is on a mission to kill her cruel father, who has slaughtered most of her family. She encounters Dominic, a Carpathian from the Dragonseeker family. Dominic doesn’t believe she’s his lifemate, but she does affect him in a limited way. As the story progresses, he soon comes to see that, in fact, she is.
The whole of the book takes place in the rainforest, but it’s an odd version of the rainforest. Although Solange lives in a cavern, one Dominic adopts as his own, and they sleep in the earth, they do, in fact, play house. Dominic makes furniture for her, gives her a comforter to sleep under, and they have regular baths, just like your average American couple. It’s all so cozy.
In the cave, Dominic sets out to show his love for her and to encourage her to open for him. Solange thinks she’s unlovely, when she’s really curvy and muscular. I bet she’s a perfect size six, too, though that’s never mentioned. When Dominic says he can get rid of her battle scars for her, she refuses, believing that her scars are part of her. Hang on, I have scars that are part of me. If someone could pass his hand over them and replace them with unmarked skin, you think I’d say no? Ah, think again.
And he makes her wear hooker clothes. No other word for them. Clingy, stretchy clothes that are see-through and peekaboo and hide nothing. Clothes guaranteed to make a woman feel tacky. But somehow they make Solange feel beautiful. I’ve noticed the icky clothes in Feehan’s books before. Really, stretchy green spandex isn’t sexy, not even when Halle Berry wears it. Anyway, what do you think?
Made of black stretch lace, it was formfitting at the top, with spaghetti straps. The front dropped scandalously short, just barely covering the vee between her legs, and the back was a long train that reached her ankles. The lace was utterly sheer. Transparent. Only a few darker webs of fabric tried to hide anything, and it was more teasing than hiding. If she put the thing on, her curvy body would be on display. There were no panties or bra.
She swallowed hard and forced herself to look at the emerald green dress. Again, it was very short. Made to hug her curvy figure and show it off, the material stretched over and clung to skin. This one also had spaghetti straps, scooped low in the front. A vee of straps laddered down the dress both in the front and back, revealing bare skin. Most of her chest would be bare, and what was covered could be clearly seen through the thin fabric. Due to the straps the dress was as open in the front as it was in the back.
Is it me or are they incredibly tarty? Could you see them modeled on the catwalk or on the Strip?
You know what would have livened this part? A bit of role play. Where she plays the hooker, and he loves it. Couples have fantasies and fetishes they enjoy, so why not? It would have added a touch of fun to what was a relentlessly somber book. Even when they were laughing together, they were doing it responsibly. But it went on and on, and okay I get it, Dominic is in love with Solange and he wants her to enjoy their lovemaking, so he woos her. unlike previous Carpathians, who turn Neanderthal, something I secretly enjoyed in previous books, but Dominic is the perfect gentleman. In fact, he’s the perfect everything, which made him a tad boring.
We’re told things about Solange that don’t really pan out. She’s a strong woman, used to living on her own, used to fighting for what she wants. But with Dominic, she turns into a needy wimp, a housewife anxious to do what she can for her man. She still fights, and the fight scenes are definitely highlights of the book, and while I understand that the feminine side of her is undeveloped, her meek acceptance of whatever he wants to do makes the love scenes a little samey. She could have fought back a bit (especially against that horrendous lingerie) but she just goes along with it all.
Feehan’s style has definitely improved some. She’s never been the most technically proficient writer, but the powerful image she invokes in early Dark books overcame the limitations of her style. Now, with more ambitious storylines, it’s beginning to show. We’re told important things, and turning points in the story are somehow glossed over. There’s the build-up and then-oh, that was it, then? She is trying to add more romance to the books, but as with some of her other stuff, sometimes it’s too much. Dominic is positively mushy where Solange is concerned, and he doesn’t show any variation. They don’t make love for a long time because Dominic has purposely infected himself with vampire parasites, and he doesn’t want to risk passing them on to her. There are echoes of AIDS in that, which is a very interesting touch.
So although Feehan has developed, I’m not entirely convinced it’s in a way that I like. There’s something missing from this book – the sheer outré concentration of the early books, the absolute wildness. Feehan was the first person I read who used the lifemate theme, so I can’t accuse her of being unoriginal, and she’s tried really hard to add variations to the theme. I haven’t yet read where the lifemates don’t like each other, but they’re bound anyway. That would be an interesting twist.
I might go back and read another, for old time’s sake, but the aimless plot, the long, long courtship scenes in the middle, and a plot that ultimately disappoints makes me wonder. Is it time to say goodbye to those sexy Carpathians?
Dominic of the Dragonseeker Carpathians is on a desperate mission, in the very heart of enemy territory. Solange Sangria is one of the last of the jaguar people. She has long been fighting to save women who are able to shift from the hands of the man who slaughtered her family and everyone she loved-her own father. They are two warriors who have lived their lives alone. Now, a the end of their time, they find each other, a complication neither saw coming.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: