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Friday, November 7, 2008

Dark Curse

Dark Curse by Christine Feehan
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Xeranthemum

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.

Dark Curse is the latest Carphathian novel in which I discovered many of the secrets hinted at in previous books finally come into the light bringing hope and a more optimistic future for all the men and women we fans have come to know and love over the years.

Lara is of the Dragonseeker line and has an important role in the survival of the Carpathian people. Ms. Feehan created a character that is truly tortured, both mentally and physically. She escapes with the help of two others who, because of their love, go to great lengths to see that she survives. Lara not only survives but goes back to the place of her nightmares to face and defeat her fears.

It’s said that a person’s strength of character is derived from the trials and tribulations of their formulative years. Lara’s strength is forged in magic and blood. Despite her beginnings, she has a pure heart and is caring and nurturing. The odd thing is her detachment from the opposite sex. I found that fascinating. Is she the female equivalent of the Carpathian men who go through life in a colorless, emotionless existence until they find their lifemate? There have not been many pure-blooded Carpathian women in the previous books so I am uncertain. But when I think about it, it makes sense.

You see, when Nicolas comes on the scene, I knew what was going to happen because, as a fan, I’ve seen that miracle occur before. When Lara speaks to him for the first time, it was magic. I enjoyed the fact that such was not the case in Lara’s view. That was a scene I enjoyed even though Nicolas both got the point and missed it at the same time. By the same token, Nicolas had an effect on Lara which caused her no end of annoyance and made me question a female Carpathian’s response to her lifemate –whether she wants one or not.

I appreciated how Lara taught Nicolas a lesson in how to treat her as a person, with respect and consideration for her intelligence and will, but I think she went a bit too far. Well, so did Nicolas, but it was a bit much for me. On the other hand, it served a purpose. It had the effect of hitting the stubborn male with a two by four plank. Sometimes guys need that.

As with most books in the series, there is darkness, a gritty edge bent towards violence because the vampires are really awful. Xavier, the psycho mage, is back by inference and he’s just as nasty as I remember. However, this book brings with it many surprises. One of them is a villain that we’ve all come to accept as pure evil and a betrayer who may now not be what we thought him to be. If what is hinted at in this story comes to pass, then I have to rethink my definition of the ultimate tortured hero. There have been quite a few eagerly awaited books this year that showcase the ‘tortured hero’ but none will have embraced the depths of depravity this character has endured. Again I’m left pondering life or death; what will happen? You see, Ms. Feehan ties up some dangling plot threads in this story, much anticipated threads, but this is a new one and it breathes new life into the series.

Speaking of new life, there is joy to be found. Here, too, Lara plays a vital role. She has to be courageous and must persevere against terrifying odds. I don’t think I could have done what she did, magic notwithstanding. But the goal is worth it. The goal involves Raven and Savannah. If you’ve been following the series, you know what is at stake. The joy is not without cost though. The scenes with Lara and Nicolas, Raven, Mikhail’s lifemate, and Savannah, Gregori’s lifemate is intense and poignant, filled with despair and drama, heroism and love. If you are a nail-biter, be prepared to nip a few tops off.

The feeling of community is alive and well in this book. Many old friends and familiar faces play a role in Dark Curse. Even Lara finds that she’s not as alone as she always believed and the Carpathian people gain far more than just a new sister. The dialogues between characters are as vibrant and rich as I’ve come to expect from Ms. Feehan. The settings match the mood and the personality plays are realistic and sharp. There is nothing soft or stagnant in Dark Curse. I think it is one of the better written books of this series and since I like them all, that’s saying something.

When Lara and Nicolas finally iron out all their issues, their coming together is passionate, sexy and full of that special Carpathain loving they do so well. It’s romance with edge.

If you are a Carpathian fan then Dark Curse is going to knock your socks off!

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