Dark Legacy by Christine Feehan

dark legacy

In a thrilling Carpathian novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan, a woman fights to free herself from the grip of the vampire trying to possess her…
In a beautiful compound hidden away from the world, Emeline Sanchez tries to blunt the pain that has wracked her body ever since her terrifying ordeal in the labyrinth beneath the city—when she was forced to exchange blood with an evil master vampire.

Now, it’s his voice that haunts her…that calls to her in the dark…that never lets her rest. And while the children that she helped to free from his clutches struggle to heal, watched over by their Carpathian protectors, Emeline knows one thing: She must sacrifice herself to keep them all from harm…

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Dark Legacy is the 27th book in the Dark series by New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan. This series has been hit and miss for me for the last few years – to the point that I no longer buy them but wait until I can borrow the newest from the library – however this book is definitely my favourite from the “modern era” of Carpathian romance.

In many ways, Dark Legacy felt like a fresh breath of air and turned some of the more repetitive plot points around. The author has always blended fantasy and science fiction with romance, but romance was the key driving factor of every story and the genre in which books were categorize. I feel like this story almost turned the corner to have fantasy driving the story rather than the romance. I don’t mean this to be a slight against the author, because there was tons of heat between Dragomir and Emeline, but their relationship was not the driving factor in DL in my opinion.

Some criticism that I have read in the recent past of Feehan is that her books have too much sex in them and not enough plot. This book is certainly more plot heavy than previous works and the couple doesn’t jump into bed until the eleventh chapter. I like how they grew into a couple from first meeting and how the author developed their relationship amid a host of secondary characters. This book didn’t contain the usual isolate couple for half the book format that too many previous books employed and I actually wish that certain secondary characters had a little more interaction with the couple rather than only serving their purpose during battle scenes.

I loved that Dark Legacy gave us regular readers new insight into the Carpathian community as a whole, including differences between how they raise children and how humans raise children. Some readers might take issue with some of these finer points or accuse the author of heavy-handed heroes, but the reality is that they are a different species, and for long-time readers, the idea of these ancients blending into a modern world they have little experience with is ludicrous. It is much easier for the woman to adapt to a new lifestyle when she has only lived twenty or thirty years than a male who has lived 2000. The interaction between the community is important when they are spread out across the world and every Dark book is filled with so many battle scenes.

Another change that I loved is the author spent noticeably less time reminding the reader of previous plot points, characters and rules in this fantasy universe. Feehan usually writes her series so that a reader can pick up any book without necessarily starting with the first in the series. While I can understand the business acumen behind that decision, it is so repetitive for fans to have to recap in every book, especially at this point when most of her series have been on-going for so long. There was very little regurgitation of Carpathian/Vampire rules in Legacy and I hope that this continues.

I fervently hope that they next character to receive a book is Elisabeta, who was introduced in Legacy, I think she offers the best opportunity to read an old-school Carpathian romance with the D/s undertones I usually crave in my romance.

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Fire Bound by Christine Feehan

Housekeeping Note

Fire Bound is the fifth book in the Sisters of the Heart series that I have been reviewing on Mackenzie’s Mountain these last two months, in anticipation of the release of the last novel in the series, in March. If you are an avid reader, you might realize I skipped reviewing book 4, Earth Bound. I actually reviewed it when EB was initially released.

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Flame-haired Lissa Piner is a skilled glass blower whose delicate gift conceals a burning inner strength that can destroy as exquisitely as it can create. Commissioned to design chandeliers for a string of luxury hotels, her remarkable skills have taken her to Italy. But Lissa’s real mission there is a secret. For her entire life has been a lie, leading to a chance to avenge a terrible wrong.

Enlisted as her bodyguard is Casimir Prakenskii, a trained assassin living off the grid. In Lissa, he sees a kindred spirit—something unexpected and wicked, mysterious and sensual. But more than desire is about to bring them together: because both of their pasts cry out for revenge. And for two people with this many secrets, this much passion, and this many enemies, someone is bound to get burned.

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Fire Bound is the first book where all seven Prakenskii brothers make an appearance! Yes, we finally meet the last aloof two, Casimir, and Viktor.

I appreciated having a scene with the brothers we have already met introducing Casimir. Most of the book takes place in Europe, away from the family that readers have grown to love, so it was important to have those brief moments of interaction between secondary characters. The lack of this was one of my problems with Air Bound.

Lissa is one fiery red head. She was always a bit of a mystery in the other books, a holdout. She has a ferocious temper that is only matched by her protective instincts. Her desire to take revenge for her murdered parents AND kill the two powerful Sorbacovs who have targeted her brothers-in-law is the drive behind this story. She decides to sacrifice her life to allow her family members to live happily. Luckily, Casimir is secretly watching her back.

Each of the Prakensii brothers have been used for slightly different tasks. Ilya’s tasks were mostly legitimate as he was loaned out to Interpol. Others worked as assassins, influenced events in foreign nations, or went “deep” undercover (working for years at a time to reach a specific target). Casimir is the master of disguises. He went undercover, mostly for short period of time, in order to complete a kill. Throughout Fire Bound, he assumes many different identities, and Lissa also goes undercover for brief periods.

At first this creeped me out, because they both talk about “becoming” that character and refer to each other by those names, often even in private. But on a re-read, I could see their true selves bleeding through in their interactions with each other and it no longer seemed like a weird sex game.

To be able to survive the turmoil and evil surrounding them, Casimir and Lissa use their telepathic link to open themselves up to each other far earlier than any of the other couples, who were more reluctant to do so. They are also kinkier. Finally a couple who isn’t too prudish to introduce a sex toy or two!

Fire Bound provides a great introduction to the final chapter of the Sister of the Heart series, Bound Together. As many readers already suspected, Viktor met his wife Blythe while undercover five years ago and there is a lot of history between them, which will be explained in the final book, due out in March 2017. It was great to meet him before he becomes the hero though, because we got to experience Viktor through the eyes of his sister-in-law Lissa.

Viktor seems intense and scary and a man apart, even from his own brothers. I cannot wait to read Bound Together in June. Hopefully the first chapter is revealed online soon!

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Air Bound by Christine Feehan

Air Bound is the third book in the Sisters of the Heart series by Feehan. Although this is written as a series, it can definitely be read as a standalone. Unfortunately. I understand it is better for an author’s sales to write every book as a standalone because it is easier for new readers to try them out, but it is extremely annoying for a regular reader to keep having recaps in each book of a series.

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For as far back as she can remember, Airiana Ridell has always been aware of her extraordinary gift. She can intuit revealing and illuminating ‘patterns’ in the air around her-whether in a spray of mist, in billowing clouds, or in the dense swirls of an impenetrable fog. Her abilities led to her placement in a secret government training facility when she was a child, but everything changed after her mother was murdered.

Airiana fled the program, but she couldn’t outrun the desperate members of a shadowy cabal who want her, who need her, who will kill to get her. Kidnapped and held aboard a ship bound for dangerous seas, her only chance for rescue is Maxim Prakenskii. He has his reasons for helping her, but he isn’t about to reveal them to Airiana. Not yet. Not as the two are drawn together as moth to flame. Not when there are so many secrets yet untold that could shatter the quaint community of Sea Haven and all who reside there…

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Air Bound has a lot more action than the previous two books in this series. It starts with the heroine, Airiana, getting kidnapped from her home by Maxim, one of the feared and mysterious Prakenskii brothers, and her true love, although neither of them knows this yet. He is working undercover and was a little bit of an enigma, compared to the three brothers who have already had their stories.

Maxim is less than impressed that he has found his soul-mate. In fact, he actually is angry with her for disrupting his life and is pretty damn selfish. I mean, Airiana was just minding her own business on her farm and he swooped in with a helicopter and a team of thugs and kidnapped her! But he doesn’t understand love and relationships and is frightened that she is tempting him to things he never expected to find in his life, and turning his well-ordered world upside down!

Love does that to you.

Within 12 hours, Maxim has Airiana (and four children they rescued) trailing after him and begins to feel a little bit like the Pied Piper. He is unused to others looking at him with trust or hope and shudders under the pressure of the others’ expectations of him as a man. He knows that he can return them home safely, but the emotional commitments that each expect is daunting to a man who has suppressed emotions for his entire life.

Air Bound is a good book, but it is my least favourite in the series so far. I liked the characters but did not find this to be the best example of Feehan’s writing skills.

The action is so non-stop that is feels like it drags on for 15 chapters. From the time Maxim kidnaps her, to the drama on the helicopter, to the ship and the sub and the yacht and back to the farm, there just wasn’t enough down-time for me to feel like I got a break while reading. These emotionally intimate moments are what grounds a story with lots of action, and after years leading up to these moments, the author has to know that fans are yearning for brotherly unification to play out on page.

As a reader, I felt cheated that we didn’t get to experience Maxim’s introduction to Stefan or Lev, or see the brothers greet Airiana after they rescue the couple. Especially since they are essentially greeting the brother who kidnapped their sister-in-law from under their noses, when they were supposed to be protecting her. And he wasn’t particularly gentle about it!

So why didn’t the author include these moments on the page, even at the risk of sacrificing a bit of action? Does she doubt she can do justice to the moment?

I have a theory that this book came in way over the word count and parts had to be cut. Airiana and Maxim seem to jump from being on the sub to being on the yacht without it happening on page. At first read, I actually missed this transition and had to go back and re-read a bit to make sense of what had happened. The only point of importance that happens on the sub is the introduction of a new supporting character, Valentin. I hope he turns up again in the series, but surely he could have been introduced elsewhere.

Overall, the book is another worthy edition to the Sea Haven saga, but it isn’t going to be on my favourite list any time soon. Air Bound could have used another round of beta readers or edits.

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Spirit Bound by Christine Feehan

Spirit Bound is the second book in the Sisters of the Heart series by Christine Feehan.

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Lethal undercover agent Stefan Prakenskii knew a thousand ways to kills a man—and twice as many ways to pleasure a woman. That’s what made him look forward to his new mission: arrive in the coastal town of Sea Haven and insinuate himself in the life of an elusive beauty who had mysterious ties to his past, and a link to a dangerously seductive, and equally elusive master criminal who wanted only one thing: to possess her.

Judith Henderson was an artist on the rise—an ethereal, and haunted woman whose own picture-perfect beauty stirred the souls of two men who have made her their obsession. For years she has been waiting for someone to come and unlock the passion and fire within her—waiting for the right man to surrender it to. But only one man can survive her secrets, and the shadow she has cast over both their lives.

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Man, I love those Prakenskii brothers! They are sexy, dangerous, and possessive. Just what a lady loves in a hero. This lady at least.

Stefan is in the unique position of having to court his woman while undercover. This presents quite the challenge! He knows that she is the one for him and that he intends to make a life with her on her farm with her sisters and his brother, so he can’t lie to her. Neither can he tell her the truth about why he is in Sea Haven, or who he is.

I think he does a great job of giving what is true about himself to her while still keeping the secrets necessary for the security of his homeland and to protect Judith as well.

I love Judith. I would hazard to say she is the most powerful sister on the farm with her gift of spirit, but she is so unsure of herself. It is strange that she was unaware of her gifts until in her early twenties though. I can appreciate that she didn’t know until recently that she can boost other elements but she should have always been capable of telepathy with spirit ….

It was exciting to see Stefan and Lev interacting and meeting for the first time since childhood! I have been waiting for this moment longer than this series has been in existence, as most fans have been and I loved the moment. I wish that Ilya had been present more, and that Aleksandr’s supporting role had been expanded, but I will take what I can get for now!

There isn’t as much humour in this book as there was in the second and the ending is sadder, although the couple still gets their HEA.  Unfortunately, a long-time resident of Sea Haven, whom you know if you’ve the Drake Sisters series by Feehan, does not survive the final battle with the big bad 😦

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Water Bound by Christine Feehan

Water Bound is the first book in a new Sea Haven series by Christine Feehan, called Sisters of the Heart. It follows the last book of the Drake Sisters series but can be read as a stand-a-lone. The plot picks up on the same day as Hidden Currents ended.

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The last thing Lev Prakenskii remembered was being lost in the swirling currents of the ocean and getting sucked deeper into the nothingness of a freezing black eddy off the coastal town of Sea Haven. Just as quickly, just a miraculously, he was saved—pulled ashore by a beautiful stranger. But Lev has no memory of who he is—or why he seems to possess the violent instincts of a trained killer. All he knows is that he fears for his life, and for the life of his unexpected savior.

Her name is Rikki, a sea~urchin diver in Sea Haven. She has always felt an affinity for the ocean, and for the seductive pull of the tides. And now she feels drawn in the same way to the enigmatic man she rescued. But soon they will be bound by something even stronger, and their tantalizing secrets will engulf them both in a whirlpool of dizzying passion and inescapable danger.

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Water Bound was the first book I ever read with an autistic heroine and I love how the author portrayed her. She has lots of quirks and concerns but never comes across as stupid, ignorant or selfish. She knows that she needs things a certain way in her life and is mostly comfortable with that fact. She has sisters she chooses to make a life with and tries to overcome her taciturn, solitary lifestyle in order to give back emotionally to those she loves.

Rikki is incredibly independent and fears being a burden on her family, probably due to her background in foster care and state run facilities. I like how she and Lev work together and Lev’s journey into understanding how she thinks. Lev shows a remarkable understanding of what changes Rikki can accept and how to slowly introduce new things that challenge her perceptions of her limitations in life. Of course he makes mistakes sometimes but hey – to err is to be human.

I’ve included one of my favourite humorous scenes in the book. Rikki is caring for Lev after his head injury and he is getting pretty tired of eating the PB she thinks constitutes the perfect food.

<Rikki speaking>  “I’ll fix you a sandwich.”

He looked pained. “I don’t eat peanut butter.”

That genuinely shocked her. “Who doesn’t eat peanut butter? It’s the perfect food.”

He shuddered. “Even to make up for all the things I’ve done wrong, I don’t think I can do it.”

“For a man who carries around as many weapons as you do, you’re a bit of a baby.”

“It isn’t being a baby not to eat peanut butter. I don’t think babies eat the stuff.”

“That’s un-American.”

“I’m not certain I am American,” he pointed out.

She had to agree with him there. “Fine. You can put peanut butter on waffles. Blythe bought some of those frozen thingies that you put in the toaster. I’m not sure how old they are. Do frozen foods last like four years or more?”

He groaned and dropped into the nearest kitchen chair, pushing his head into his hands. “Death by peanut butter. I never thought I’d go that way.”

Feehan, Christine. Water Bound (Sea Haven-Sisters of the Heart Book 1) (Kindle Locations 2038-2048). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Water Bound introduces the idea of a new type of magic where certain people are born with a special affinity to control an element, but it’s more than just the ability to use fire or water. There is an emotional connection to it as well, and unlike the previous magical gifts we have experienced in Sea Haven, using element “magic” does not drain you of strength. But your gifts are also limited to that one element.

Clearly each of the remaining Prakenskii brothers are going to be paired up with one of the Sisters of the Heart <so called because they are not biologically related > in the series. I hope we learn more about them and get to see them reunite with each other.

The next book in the series is Spirit Bound so I will try to review it in the next few weeks, as I count down the days until the last book in the series is released in March!

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HP & the cursed child

Have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Chances are – if you frequent book blogs – you have. I read it in two sittings and surprisingly, liked it very much! Surprising because it is a play and because most of my co-workers weren’t in love with it. I did not expect to rate it so highly.

Blurb: The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

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As I said, I liked this one (far better than The Deathly Hallows to be honest). Albus grew on me as the story progressed. I saw him as the sullen, “unloved” teenager that we all have inside of us at some point. A phrase kept popping into my head as I read, that children who need our love the most show it in the most unloving ways. This was definitely true of Harry and Albus, who had great difficulty communicating and relating to each other.

One of the other things that I really liked is that The Cursed Child mirrored HP so perfectly without retelling the same story (ahem Star Wars). Revisiting the Tri-Wizard Tournament was fun without becoming repetitive and the most basic motivation of main character Albus was his love for best friend Scorpius (son of Draco Malfoy!) which has echoes of the relationships between Harry, Ron and Hermione.

The similarities between Albus and a young Harry are all the more striking because they are so different from one another. Albus is a Slytherin, has only one close friend and isn’t popular at all. Even his cousins and siblings aren’t close to him. But Harry, for all his popularity, was only close to Hermione and the Weasleys and both boys felt the pressure of being a spectacle to the masses. Each is uncomfortable in his own skin and wonders at the purity in his own heart.

The fact that The Cursed Child was written as a play didn’t take away from my experience. I was fine with that medium and my imagination completely filled in the gaps. Plays generally  have less writing per page than a regular book, so I breezed through the pages very quickly. This helped to create the illusion that the plot was super fast paced and made me feel accomplished. Everyone likes that feeling.

Not to delve too deeply into spoilers, but we do experience an alternate universe in which Voldemort is the ruler of the magical world and Harry Potter is dead. This period was described as hell on earth, but it was great fun to read about and I wish that it had lasted longer, or that we had even gotten to see Voldemort on-page, in this space. For all the talk of Voldemort returning, and the implied threat of evil creeping back into the world, we never really get to see it.

There is also an alternate reality where Ron and Hermione do not end up together. Instead, Ron is married to Padma (unhappily!) and Hermione is a bitter, mean Professor at Hogwarts instead of Minister for Magic. I did not like this reality at all. Ron and Hermione were both caricatures of themselves and this cheapened them a little. I also detest the implication that Hermione essentially turns into a harpy because she didn’t have Ron to love her.

There was one scene which I loved and have been waiting to read for more than a decade. It is between Harry and Dumbledore (through a portrait of the deceased Headmaster). And it reads a little something like this:

Dumbledore: I am no fit person to love … I have never loved without causing harm.

A Beat

Harry: You would have hurt me less if you had told me this then.

Dumbledore (openly weeping now): I was blind. That is what love does. I couldn’t see that you needed to hear that this closed-up, tricky, dangerous old man … loved you.

A pause. The two men are overcome with emotion.

Harry: It isn’t true that I never complained.

Dumbledore:  Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.

Those that we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch. Paint … and memory … and love.

Overall, I enjoyed the Cursed Child and would love to see it made into a movie at some point. I would certainly read another book. The final drawback is my impression that the book overall was a little too young and the events too easy for someone my age. The play feels like it was written for youth today, instead of adults like me who grew up with Harry Potter. And while this would be fine, the main audience reading a play are adults, not young children or even teenagers. The events are tied up a little too neatly at the end. Although one character dies, his death brings little gravity to the story and is almost meaningless, because it fails even to bring Albus to an understanding of what his father grew up with, as The Boy Who Lived.

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The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

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I read this book as part of the Read Harder Challenge 2016 for the category “read a book originally published in the decade you were born”. To save you keeners looking it up, that was the 80’s.

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I wasn’t sure of this category. I’m not normally drawn to older books, I prefer to read contemporary novels. But when I brought out trusty old google to search for books published in the 80’s this came up. I also chose this one because I vaguely remember watching the movie with my parents as a child and wanted to check out the story again.

Remember this?

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So The Indian in the Cupboard is based on the idea that a young boy named Omri receives a very old (and unbeknownst to him, magical) cupboard for his birthday. It has a lock and a key which his Mother gives to him and explains is very precious (sentimentally). At first Omri is disappointed with his gifts … until he discovers that any plastic toy locked in the cupboard would come to life!

Enter the Indian. And a horse and cowboy, and Indian Princess and WWI army doctor…

Clearly this story was not written with political correctness in mind!

It takes a while for Omri and the Indian (Little Horse) to understand each other, and for Omri to realize that his toy is no longer just a toy, but a living and breathing being with feelings, needs and fears. He quickly learns to respect Little Bear as another human rather than treat him like his possession or pet. Eventually, Omri seeps to adopt the understanding that Little Bear has travelled from his own place in history because he comes with back-story and the relationships any adult would have (parental, marital, friendships).

I was under the impression that the story took place long ago, in the early 1900’s of England but either the movie was different or my memory faulty, because the plot is set in the second half of twentieth century America.

indian in the cupboard series

I also never realized that this was the first book in a series of five children’s novels. I have a passing desire to read the following novels, mostly because I hate leaving something half finished which it feels like I have, but I doubt I will unless I read them with my own kids one day. Although I enjoyed the story of the Indian in the Cupboard, I had a hard time getting through a very short children’s novels. My best guess is that it is because the writing is too young for me to really become engrossed, even though the events were interesting.

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