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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dark Nights by Christine Feehan

Dark Nights by Christine Feehan
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (312 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

She's known him since she was fifteen. Every night, he is with her: his face, his voice. Tonight, Sara Marten will meet the man who is both angel and demon, salvation and temptation: Falcon—the Carpathian, the banished hero. Tonight, Sara will meet the dark-eyed destroyer destined to be her mate.

Hard to go wrong with a book of back-to-back stories of hunky, hot Carpathian men as they battle to win the hearts of their women and fight for their lives against those evil, gross looking vampires with bad breath. Not to mention all the other creepy crawlies that sent shivers up my spine but, unlike the heroines, I didn’t have my own Falcon or Traian to save me. Although Joie and Sara had all the fun, there was a high price to pay, which in turn, meant a book full of drama, suspense and action for me.

The first book is Dark Decent and it’s about a female body guard with an unusual talent. As is typical for Ms. Feehan, the heroine is capable, has a strong personality and although successful in her career, experiences feelings of not quite belonging, even, as in Joie’s case, when she’s surrounded by a loving and extremely supportive and exceptional family. She has a healthy sense of humor and a yen for adventure and it’s explored a tiny bit as to why that is. There is a lot of mentioning of her parents and by the time the story came to its conclusion and happy ever after, I was so intrigued by the possibility of Traian actually meeting her parents that I was a little let down that there was no mention of that even happening in a future book. Truth to tell, I would greatly enjoy that. I realize that Ms. Feehan’s stories commonly have dark themes because it’s about the war between good and evil. Just once, I’d love to see a tale with a more lighthearted and comedic bent, and having Traian meeting Mr. & Mrs. Sanders would do it. I mean, Joie mentions it quite a few times throughout the story and I think it’s a great idea. I hope other readers will feel the same way after reading Dark Descent and perhaps mention it. I guarantee it would be an auto-buy for me, because it’s a great hook.

Traian is your typical Carpathian male that fans of the series adore and clamor for. He’s arrogant, logical, commanding and aggressive. That’s easy to be all those things when you have no emotions and don’t have to deal with the fallout of messy hurt feelings. He’s not had them in so long, he can’t relate. That is until Joie sort of pops into his cave and blasts his eyes with color. Along with the good comes lots and lots of bad and the hero is up to the task of defending his woman, after a quick nibble or two. I liked Traian because he had a sense of humor too. It was a bit rusty, sure, but it worked. I enjoyed how the author described him and was greatly entertained as the hero navigated dealing with a woman who was at heart as fierce a warrior as he was.

Secondary characters were Joie’s brother, Jubal, and her sister, Gabrielle. They were an interesting addition to the story because they both presented teases as to what makes Joie and her whole kin more than the average American family. I also liked how they all worked together to get out of a nasty situation and how tight they were as a familial unit. They weren’t military, but they could have been.

The villains, as always, are the vampires who want power and will corrupt and kill anything and anyone to get it. Things were exceptionally gruesome in the cave and it seems the author must have a particular dislike of icky bugs and maggots because they were used to good effect. Squeamish readers might want to skim the scenes with the little beasties but rest assured Traian saves the day. Or, in his case, saves the night.

Dark Descent was an intense read with tons of suspense, drama and action to keep a reader wide-eyed. The romance was as powerful as the conflict; both giving fans what they expect when they pick up a book about those mysterious Carpathain men and the women who make them whole.

Dark Dream is a more intense romance with a lot of feeling and as close to mushy as a book about an alpha Carpathian male can get. Falcon is an ancient and he’s nearing his end game. That is until he meets a woman who has a connection to him forged in his personal long ago history. It’s a blessing and a curse and with all good stories, the curse is going to be broken, eventually. In this case, the evil that follows isn’t a spell or concept but an equally ancient evil that I suspect was drawn to the book the same as the heroine was, but for different reasons.

Sara is a tortured heroine. So much of her life has been lived in despair, with fear, and is beaten down with feelings of failure. Her inner strength is what carries her through as well as her ability to connect with Falcon’s past. He was her inspiration but nothing could have prepared the heroine for when the man of her dreams appeared on her porch. Her waffling emotions matched the situation. At times, I think she waffled too much but ultimately, the strength of the overall writing allowed me to overlook it. Her initial wonder and bemusement quickly dissipated as reality reared its fanged head and she came face to face with her pursuer. This time, however, Sara isn’t alone. It takes her some getting used to having someone that isn’t afraid of the bad guy and in fact looks forward to the battle. She’s so accustomed to being on her own; it was interesting watching her having to come to grips with Falcon. He wasn’t going to abandon her, nor was he going to allow her to be in harm’s way, nor would he let her hide behind misconceptions. In his revealing all, it reached Sara on her most sensitive levels. She loved the man her imagination and talent introduced her to, but loving the man before her, with all his fangs, baggage and save-the-world agenda was a whole other kettle of fish. I enjoyed her journey of discovery, even at its bumpiest.

And it is rocky. The heroine wants to help kids but evil doesn’t care for the welfare of the innocent. The runaway camper was the most intense scene but it also heralded a lot of great cameos. For fans of the series, Dark Dream gives readers a look at how things are going with old friends. It was great to see them in action again and kicking vampire butt.

Falcon is delish, but I’ve yet to ‘meet’ a Carpathian hunter that wasn’t. I liked how tender he was towards Sara and how he pampered her. His open communication was very seductive and his entreaty to her about his needs was powerful. He came across as a most sensual and sentimental man who put his woman first before all things. All of the heroes in the series have, but Falcon’s declarations were much more potent and Sara’s response was very uplifting. There are obstacles to fulfilling the hero’s needs but eventually, Sara, with the help of some friends, pulls through and everyone gets their happily ever after.

As with the first story, there are bugs and rats and other things that made me go “EW!” Good thing there are guys who save the day. It was deadly, hectic and full of drama and suspense, but that is what Ms. Feehan excels at and this story was equally entertaining as the first.

Dark Dream is another bite-your-nails-to-the-quick tale that sucks you in with the romance and keeps you reading while the suspense and action plays out.

Both stories in Dark Nights showcase why Ms. Feehan’s work is a keeper.