I have been a fan of Christine Feehan for fourteen some years now, which most certainly makes her the author I have been reading for the longest period of time. But the past few years, I have gone off her megahit “Dark” series which I began with. They seemed (to me) to have become repetitive and somehow less tangible when compared to most of her other series. The Sea Haven and Ghostwalker series are much more human in my experience and I find it easier to relate to those female protagonists.
Enter Gabrielle in Dark Promises.
Blurb, courtesy of the author’s website.
Gabrielle has had enough of battles, of wars, of seeing the man she’s engaged to nearly lose his life when it isn’t even his fight. Once Gary was a gentle and very human researcher. Now he’s a fearless and lethal Carpathian warrior with the blood of an ancient lineage coursing through his veins—a man Gabrielle still needs and dreams of with every breath she takes. All she wants is a life far away from the Carpathian mountains, far from vampires and the shadows cast by the crumbling monastery that hides so many terrible secrets. But Gabrielle soon learns that promises made in the dark can pierce the heart like a dagger.
And she isn’t the only one in search of answers in the corners of the unknown…
Trixie Joanes has come to the Carpathian mountains in search of her wayward granddaughter, fearing that she has been lured there by something unspeakable. Instead, Trixie has stumbled onto the path of a desperate woman on the run. And they’re all fated for the lair of a mysterious ancient with revenge in his soul and the undying power to make bad dreams come true.
** Note, the author posts the first chapter of every book on her website, if you want to check it out before deciding whether to purchase.
What absolutely made this story for me was Gabrielle and her refusal to accept the new Carpathian life that fate has set before her. She isn’t in love with her stranger of a lifemate (Aleksei), clings desperately to beau Gary and quite seriously considered suicide before dedicating herself to reinventing her life.
In all the previous Dark books the heroine has rather easily accepted the new life thrust upon her. The overbearing lifemate, the eternal life not also granted to loved ones, the strange new rules and customs of an ancient and foreign species, career loss, the necessities of drinking blood and sleeping underground (aka getting buried alive every night) to survive …. these all seem reasonable given the emotional and physical intimacy between lifemates, at least to the majority of heroines.
Well I call bullshit.
As fun as it can be to read about, much like the Hunger Games, this is one world that I would prefer NOT to jump into. I think it would actually be rather traumatizing to become a Carpathian and I highly doubt I would adjust as quickly as most of the leading ladies. And I like to picture myself as said lead, I do it unconsciously as I read, so it is important that I am able to relate to her.
Savannah was already Carpathian, although she had trouble accepting her lifemate at first. Lara and Alexandra notable resisted. But nearly 30 books on, true denial of the lifemate bond has been few and far between. If you follow the series, you know that Gabrielle was actually “turned” several books ago to save her life, well before meeting Alexei, but she hasn’t made any attempts to join Carpathian society. She can’t even feed herself or tuck herself in underground in the morning. She clings to her human life and human mind with every bit of strength and tenacity she possesses.
I think her reaction would be most closely aligned with my own of all the heroines introduced so far. It was refreshing to see a “normal” woman with regular old problems trying to fit into this world and failing so desperately at first. It was also awesome (in a bittersweet way) to watch Alexei fail so miserably in stimulating affection in Gabrielle for the first while. The series is set upon the basis that they are two halves of the same whole, but in the mean-time, they are still complete strangers who have many misunderstandings and hurts standing between them and happiness.
I would love to see Christine one day write a book where the heroine comes with a few kids who aren’t so happy with the Carpathian lifestyle (and danger) their Mom is dragging them into. Maybe with a biological Dad in the background that shares custody.
A lot of fans might not share my dream – they’re more escapist readers who want the fantastical adventure and fairy-tale romance – but I love to read tales that are bound to the human world, and what could be more human than our complicated familial ties and emotions that bind our lives to one another.
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