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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dark Predator by Christine Feehan

Dark Predator by Christine Feehan
Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (305 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

As brutal as the undead he hunted, Zacarias De La Cruz was a master executioner. Now his stark and savage journey has ended. For his brothers, Zacarias had walked to the edge of madness, but with centuries as a killing machine now left to the past and without a hunt to define him, Zacarias wonders, for the first time in his life, who he really is.

The answer awaits him back home, in Peru, in the betrayal of a woman who is readying her trap, in the vengeance of an old enemy, in the inevitable consequences of a bloody family legacy-and in the deliverance of a lifemate he never could have imagined...

The dark makes me shiver but the latest story about the Carpathian people makes goose bumps arise for totally different reasons.

First off, this book might be part of a series but it’s a complete standalone. A first time reader won’t be lost because the entire focus is on the relationship between Zacarias and Marguarita. It’s volatile, arousing, annoying and fierce. Actually, that pretty much sums up the hero too.

Zacarias has been through a lot in the centuries he’s been around. He’s different than the other guys in the series and I liked how Ms. Feehan explored that so I’d understand. For fans of the series, they’ll see him act in his own story exactly like he was when he starred as a secondary character in other books. He’s a robot, a warrior, a man without emotion that Mr. Spock could only envy. His dedication to honor and duty has finally been satisfied and he makes the ultimate choice to never ever turn into the things he hunts. He didn’t count on a stubborn woman like the heroine to mess up all his good intentions.

In some books, what the heroine did could have humorous connotations because she derailed his carefully planned agenda. But that is not the way Ms. Feehan writes her heroes and heroines. Zacarias is a throwback to a bygone era where a man’s word was law and unquestioned. He isolated himself so much that when he finally finds a lifemate, he has no idea how to act, how to handle her or how to relate. He knows what he knows and that’s that. Which of course kept me highly entertained and interested.

Marguarita lost her voice in the previous book. The back story is revealed in the normal course of events so there’s no info dump and no confusion for first time readers. In Dark Predator, I got to see the ramifications of that fateful day. Yet, the heroine is one tough cookie. She doesn’t back down, give up or take any guff. Believe it or not, her strength against Zacarias at his most obnoxious is her willingness to give of herself. Utterly and completely does she relent to his needs. By doing so she shows him by example how things should be, how they can be, and it’s beautiful, romantic and poignant. Even when she’s terrified and horrified, Marguarita stood up for herself and for her man, much to his consternation and bad temper. However, I respected her strength, and her personality was a perfect balance.

There is the classic battle of the male mind versus the female mind, and with Carpathians, that can be taken literally. For fans of the series, they know there is going to be an epic battle between the hero and the vampires, and Ms. Feehan delivers a gruesome but gripping account of the confrontation between the two. Sometimes the author has quite a few Carpathian brethren show up in her books to spice up a tale and provide that sense of community that I enjoy so well. Except for two brief interludes, this story is solely focuses on Marguarita and Zacarias and the hurdles they have to jump over to have their happily ever after. Part of the conflict is their differences and part is the external conflict. Actually, there are two separate altercations that showcase the brutality and harshness that try to poison and destroy them. No matter which one it is, both are written so well that they can leave a reader shocked, grossed out and one hundred percent riveted.

The only thing that drives me nuts, and it seems to be a consistent thing with Ms. Feehan’s writing, is the repetition. I know that Zacarias thinks himself a monster, that he can do atrocious things, that he has darkness inside him, that he’s an animal, a predator. I get it, I get it. I just wish those filler sentences could be replaced with a more positive agenda or at least a hint of it instead of the hero constantly beating himself up. It does get a bit old but that is what skipping paragraphs is for. The mind has its own fast forward. I just wish I didn’t have to do that because there is so much about the story and the writing that appeals on many levels.

Secondary characters are from the ranch and its environs. They propel the hero into action, some good some bad, but they are all important to the plot. The author used them to good effect.

Dark Predator is another well written, deeply emotional story that pulls a reader in. There is action, suspense, gentle and subtle humor and a hero and heroine worth rooting for. It’s a long book but I was so engrossed in the emotional tug of war between a man who needs to learn what love is, and the woman who is determined to teach him, that the hours flew. It’s another keeper of a romance where love finally does the impossible and saves a man who thought he was unsalvageable. How can readers resist a hook like that? I couldn’t. Read it and find out why.