Dark Illusion (Dark #29)

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At any other time, Julija Brennan would find solace in the quiet of the Sierra Mountains, but now the mage is in the race of her life. Having broken free from her controlling family, Julija’s attempts to warn the Carpathians of the coming threat has failed and put a target on her back—and those who hunt her are close behind…

After centuries locked away in a monastery in the Carpathian Mountains, Isai Florea can’t believe he’s finally found his lifemate—the missing half of his soul. The second he sees Julija his world blazes with color. But despite their explosive connection Julija rebels against what she sees as Isai’s intent to control her and rejects the bond that would prevent him from becoming a monster.

As their unfulfilled bond continues to call to them both, Julija and Isai aim to complete the task that brought them together. They are used to facing danger alone, but now the mage and the ancient warrior must learn how to rely on each other in order to stop a plot that threatens all Carpathians…

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Dark Illusion is a traditional romance novel that has the slightest elements of BDSM in it. The book is very mainstream, but there are two short spanking scenes in the beginning of the book, while the ancient Carpathian hero and the modern mage heroine are feeling each other out.

One aspect of this romance that I loved is that even though the characters are in insta-lust with each other (destiny and all that), they don’t bond immediately, leading both to feel that the souls were mismatched or damaged. Their hesitancies drew me into the story, made the romance easier to relate to and definitely led to certain humourous moments.

There is quite a bit of conversation regarding lifemates, and whether or not it is fair to expect the women to give up her life when she is claimed, or fair to the Carpathian to allow him to turn vampire or suicide, so that the woman does not need to sacrifice herself. I think this conversation was long overdue and I am glad that Julija had it with several characters, working through her problems with Isai’s expectations. I enjoy a little supernatural romance but for me, it always needs to be grounded with some level of magical realism, and normal human emotions and behaviour.

The remaining sections of the book are devoted to the epic struggle between Carpathian and vampires and evil mages. Battles are fought, betrayals uncovered and through it all Isai and Julija enjoy some sheet-ripping good sex.

I enjoyed the book, although the Carpathian series is the one I like least from this author. Dark Illusion hinted at Elisabeta and Ferro’s upcoming story, and I am very excited to read that one.

Overall, fans of the Carpathian series should enjoy reading Dark Illusion. It should be read in order, as much of the plot will not make sense otherwise.

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Dark Wolf (Dark #22)

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In Dark Lycan, Christine Feehan journeyed into the heart of the Carpathians, and into the souls of two lifemates stirred by the flush of passion and the threat of annihilation. In Dark Wolf, the breathtaking story continues as the bonds of family are imperiled, and the fate of two lovers lies hidden in the seductive shadows between life and death.

Skyler Daratrazanoff always recognized the miracle that was Dimitri Tirunul, a man beyond any dream that had ever engaged her nights. But she was human. Vulnerable. He was Carpathian. Nearly immortal. She was nineteen. He was an ancient. Yet she held half his soul, the light to his darkness. Without her, he would not survive. Caught between the two warring species, Dimitri has spent centuries hunting the undead to keep his people free, and humans safe. He had survived honorably when others had chosen to give up their souls. But now, marked for extermination by the Lycans, Dimitri found himself alone, and fearing for his life. But salvation was coming…

No Lycan would ever suspect someone like Skyler to dare mount a secret rescue operation. A teenage girl. A human of untested abilities. But she had something no one else had. She was predestined for Dimitri—as he was for her. And there was nothing stronger for Skyler than her desire to see her life-dream come true. Whatever the risk.

—                         —                         —

I have been reading the Dark / Carpathian series since I was in the seventh grade. Well over a decade at this point. And I still read it, although its place as number one in my heart has been usurped. Normally I try not to review series out of order on this website. It doesn’t really matter but my OCD disagrees.

Nonetheless, I am way too far into this series to start at the beginning right now, so we are going with #22 instead.

Dark Wolf was a looooong awaited book. It tells the story of Skyler Daratrazanoff, who was introduced as a young teenager much earlier in the series.

I was rooting for Skyler from day one. She is tenacious, brave, resilient and someone you can’t help but cheer on as a fan. Her lifemate, Dimitri is absolutely worthy of her and they are fierce in their defence of each other.

This book takes place in the Carpathian Mountains, at a time when their people – normally isolated and far-spread – have come together. As someone who has read every book in this series, it was a welcome chance to revisit some previous couples that haven’t been seen in awhile.

I love how imaginative this author is. She can create a detailed and multifaceted world in a few short paragraphs. Lycans had already been introduced in the series, but in a very limited capacity. Ms. Feehan made the world so much more vibrant, exploring the world of Lycan politics, military tactics and history, without ever taking away from Skyler and Dimitri’s story.

I definitely recommend Dark Wolf, which is one of those books that stands out for me in a fantastic series. If you are willing to start this series from the beginning with Dark Prince, you will get more out of it, but it isn’t completely necessary.

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Shadow Warrior (Shadow #4)

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Vittorio Ferraro is a man whose family loyalty knows no bounds. He would die for his siblings and the people they love, but what he really wants is to start a family of his own. Deep down, Vittorio has always known finding a woman who could ride shadows would be nearly impossible—let alone one who could accept his particular needs—and he never expected to find her in the middle of a kidnapping.
Grace Murphy has always been drawn to Vittorio Ferraro—or at least to the billionaire’s public bad-boy persona. Now that she’s under his protection and the sole focus of his intense caring, she can’t help wanting to get as close to him as possible. But Grace knows her presence is putting the entire Ferraro family in danger. Her monster of a brother will never let her go, but Vittorio has no intention of losing the woman whose shadow matches his own.

—                         —                         —

Shadow Warrior is the fourth book in the Shadow Rider series from Christine Feehan. I am a fan of Ms. Feehan so most of her books are auto-buys for me.

Grace and Vittorio have a longer amount of time to build a relationship with each other than any other couple in this world. Grace’s severe injuries and the threatened violence from their enemies lead to most of the romance taking place in an insulated world, behind gated walls. This also means that the physical aspect of their relationship is a bit delayed, and there is no sex until about halfway through the book.

I liked Shadow Warrior but it is my least favourite in the series so far. One of the aspects I like about these books is the sense of community and family that are instilled in them. I found these aspects lacking in Warrior and got pretty bored. IMHO, the pace of the story was much slower. There is also a lot of dialogue between Grace and Vittorio.

Throughout the last book and this one, it is made clear that Vittorio and Grace would be engaged in a Dominant/submissive lifestyle. I was concerned that the author would gloss over this. She doesn’t in their discussions, but their bedroom time is pretty vanilla. I figure Ms. Feehan did this because she writes for a traditional publisher and has many longtime fans who would be disappointed if her books transitioned from romance to erotica. But that in turn disappoints fans like me who want to see characters live up to their reputations.

I would recommend Shadow Warrior for anyone who is interested in supernatural romance or romantic suspense, but I was a little disappointed in this instalment. Hopefully the last two books will be more my style.

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Dark Sentinel (Dark #28)

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In an explosive novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan, a human woman ignites the desire of her Carpathian lifemate–and of an ancient vampire with a score to settle.

After the devastating loss of her entire family, Lorraine Peters heads to the woods searching for peace of mind and anything to quell the anger in her soul. Instead, she stumbles upon a scene of horrific violence, as one man lies helpless in the face of three attackers.

Andor Katona’s existence has been a harsh one, living for centuries as a monk in the Carpathian Mountains. Unable to find his lifemate, he almost welcomes his release from a colorless and unfeeling world at the hands of the vampire hunters who have mistaken him for their prey. That is, until a whirling ball of fury bursts onto the scene, determined to save him.

In one glimpse, in one breath, Andor recognizes Lorraine as his lifemate, but it will take more than their telepathic connection to convince her of their immortal bond. Lorraine is a lethal combination of cunning and courage. So much so that she captures the attention of a master vampire, one who has already lost what was once irreplaceable to him. One who will strike with deadly precision at Andor and his ancient Carpathian comrades in a war to end all wars. . .

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Dark Sentinel is the 28th book in the Dark / Carpathian series written by Christine Feehan. It continues the current arc that is set in the United States.

Lorraine is a kick-butt female lead who doesn’t mess around. She is extraordinarily brave, steady and willing to risk herself to protect others. She is a martial arts expert and readily accepts vampires and Carpathians when Andor tells her this crazy new reality she finds herself in will be permanent.

Andor’s story helps bring many Carpathians around and creates a community feeling to this story. Sometimes these books take place in isolation with the hero and heroine interacting with few secondary characters. In this story, the reader has the opportunity to re-visit many of the recent primary and background characters from recent books, as well as meet more of the monks from the monastery.

Dark Sentinel is a solid book, with well-thought out plots and a nice romance, but it just didn’t do much for me. I will preface the remainder of my blog by pointing out that the Dark series has become hit or miss for me in a big way. I feel that it has been dragging on for too long and that the author should focus on some of her fresher series, but obviously there are plenty of other readers who vehemently disagree with that opinion!

This book served more to whet my appetite for the next one, which seems to be clearly set up between two characters that show up in the background of this story, although that hasn’t yet been confirmed by the author. I hope that those two do show up soon though, and maybe the author will even add a bit of kink into the plot… anything to change it up!

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Alpha’s Mission (Bad Boy Alphas #8)

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THE MONSTER WANTS HER. HE WON’T BE DENIED.

I’ve become a monster.
I hear blood moving in people’s veins. Scent their emotions.
I want to feed. To hunt. To mate…

I’m no longer a human–my life is over. I’ve left everyone I love. I’ve
gone rogue from the CIA.
My only hope is my handler. Annabel Grey is tough enough
to face my monster. If I lose control, she won’t hesitate to take me out.
But I’m not the only predator out there. Someone’s hunting Annabel. She
needs my protection.
But if I don’t get my animal under control,
I may be her biggest threat yet.

—                         —                         —

Yes! Another book in the series … I knew the wait wouldn’t be long!

This story is a little bit different from the previous ones in the series. Dune has only recently turned for the first time. He didn’t grow up in werewolf society and has no idea of how to control the beast within, or the sudden urges driving his behaviour. He is also terrified that he will lose control and hurt the woman closest to him, his handler and love interest, Annabel.

I enjoyed the different perspective this book brought and hope that the authors incorporate these characters into future books as background characters, which it looks like they are setting up.

I did not give Alpha’s War five stars because the plot line was much too predictable. I would also prefer to see these books grow into full length stories, rather than short novels (less than 80 000k), even if that means a longer wait between books.

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Deathless (Anne Malcom)

Deathless is the second book in the Vein Series Chronicles. It is a new vampire romance series with witches, hunters, demons and gods. You can read my review of book one, here.

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My life was never black and white.
Heck, it wasn’t even black, white and gray.
Lines were not drawn between good and evil, and if they were, I would have jumped those suckers for fun.
But now it was simpler. It wasn’t black and white. Or gray. It was only one thing.
Blood.
A crimson-tinted world. That was all I needed.
All I wanted.
Him.
Despite the war raging around us, or the secrets between us, there was nothing simpler than blood.
It didn’t matter that it would be fatal.
After all, it’s the things we’re not undead without that will kill us in the end.

—                         —                         —

This is my second attempt at reading this book. It is a fantastic idea but the prose just kills me. The author tends to be wordy at the best of times, IMHO, and her new heroine Isla is rather prone to going off on tangents. She talks and talks and talks.

At times, I actually lost focus on Isla’s original point and felt that it was taking away from the otherwise excellent story. The blurb I posted above is an excellent example of text from the book. I’m sure that there are tons of people who love this style, but it is not for me.

At times I had to force myself to finish reading the book, or at least skim the current section, because I did want to find out what happened. But I will admit that if the author wasn’t someone I usually like, I would have given up before the 50% mark.

In addition to the run-on sentences and overly wordy style, sometimes sentences just didn’t make sense. Ms. Malcom’s editor/betas did not do her any favours in this instance.

For example:

“Well, I need to think of something that your mind wouldn’t conjure me up doing that will make you sure of that fact” – Pg. 18

“No, it was the benevolent power of nature herself that gifted the first of our kind with gifts. Not the powers of gods but the powers of mortals unrealized. Or maybe forgotten powers the gods had left strewn about the leaves which had settled into the soil when they wandered the earth.” – Pg. 139

“He’ll not want to be hoping to run into me” – Pg. 277

The next book in this series is going to be one I wait and borrow from my local library, rather than purchasing. I still want to know where the series goes but if it is written the same way, I won’t be continuing.

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Dark Legacy by Christine Feehan

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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…

—                        —                  —

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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Favourite Author Series – Christine Feehan

This is the third in a series of three blogs discussing my favourite authors. They are written to help readers who may be looking for new books, and to thank my favourite authors for their efforts by publicizing their works.

(By the way, the spacing is messed up in this post and the previous couple and I have no idea why. I tried to fix it like twenty times, but the updates aren’t taking. Please forgive).

Christine Feehan was my favourite author for ten years or so. I absolutely loved her and couldn’t pass a book up. I salivated over a new release for weeks, if not months, obsessively stalking her website for when the first chapter and promotional book trailer were posted, and then participated in the comments section.

The last couple of years I have moved on to other who have surpassed her as my favourite authors (see my two previous blog posts) but she is still in my top three and will likely be so for a long time. Christine currently writes four series. Below is a bit about each one, with some hunky cover art.

The Leopard Series:

This series is about the a race that evolved alongside the rest of humanity and they can change into leopards. Feehan describes them as being companions to one another with both species residing in the same body. The are romance novels but slide up against the barrier of erotica. They are her most erotic series.

I have loved the last three books to come out, but the author seemed to have trouble finding her stride with this particular series. The first four or five books weren’t as popular as the ones in her other series, but they have greatly improved since. If you are on the fence about reading them, you could skip the first few and start with Burning Wild or even Savage Nature without losing very much background information. While reading all of the books in her series in order will give you a better sense of each community, they are written in a way that allows them to be read as stand-a-lones.

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Series order:

#1 The Awakening

#2 Wild Rain

#3 Burning Wild

#4 Wild Fire

#5 Savage Nature

#6 Leopard’s Prey

#7 Cat’s Lair

#8 Wild Cat (pub November 2015)

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The Dark Series :

This is the oldest and longest-running series by Christine Feehan. There are twenty-odd books published with many more announced. They are about an ancient Carpathian species existing in the modern day world. Similar to vampires, only honourable and possessing many more gifts, they are a separate species from humans and on the verge of extinction when leaders realize that women who have special powers (clairvoyant, etc) can survive the conversion and find their lifemates.

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The Dark series is amazing and has a ton of books in it. Most are full novels but there are also a few novellas.

Along the way, the author has introduced other human-like races such as mages and lycans into the mix, but my favourite aspect of the series is its focus: a lifemated couple. I love the fact that they can talk to each other telepathically – this is a Carpathian gift so even if the woman wasn’t able to before, she can so after her conversion. I envy them this intimacy. How amazing must it be to be able to share all your thoughts and emotions with the person you spend all eternity with.

Series order:   *novellas marked (n)

#1 Dark Prince   #2 Dark Desire   #3 Dark Gold   #4 Dark Magic   #5 Dark Challenge

#6 Dark Fire  #7 Dark Dream(n) #8 Dark Legend  #9 Dark Guardian  #10 Dark Symphony

#11 Dark Descent(n) #12 Dark Melody  #13 Dark Destiny  #14 Dark Hunger (n)

#15 Dark Secret   #16 Dark Demon   #17 Dark Celebration   #18 Dark Possession

#19 Dark Curse   #20 Dark Slayer   #21 Dark Peril   #22 Dark Predator   #23 Dark Storm

#24 Dark Lycan   #25 Dark Wolf   #26 Dark Blood   #27 Dark Crime (n) (pub Aug 2015)

#28 Dark Ghost (pub September 2016)     #29 Dark Promises (pub March 2016)

The Ghostwalker series:

The Ghostwalkers are book versions of action movies. While still romance, they are the most popular series among men. They feature heroes who are military specialists (Seals, Rangers, etc) and have been genetically enhanced to have physical and mental super-abilities, including psychic gifts. Many of the women in this series have also received military training. They are enhanced, and many were raised in laboratory settings, unlike their male counterparts.

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I love the ghostwalkers books for their action and sense of team camaraderie. I like how you get more than just the main couple, you see interactions between teammates and their women. When done well, this is my favourite aspect of a story in books and media.

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Series order:

#1 Shadow Game  #2 Mind Game  #3 Night Game  #4 Conspiracy Game

#5 Deadly Game  #6 Predatory Game   #7 Murder Game   #8 Street Game

#9 Ruthless Game   #10 Samurai Game  #11 Viper Game  #12 Spider Game (pub Jan 2016)

Sea Haven:

Feehan’s Sea Haven books are my favourite series that she writes. It started out with an original seven books about the Drake Sisters, seven sisters who inherited magical gifts from their mother. There is an ancient prophecy in their family that each seventh daughter will produce seven more daughters who will inherit the gifts and pass them on to her children. Each generation, when all seven are grown, the prophecy unfolds and each will find the one they are meant to be with in life, over the course of a year.

Although there is a supernatural element to the stories, The Twilight Before Christmas is the only story that features it heavily. The remainder of the books are contemporary romance, with sexy heroes, most of whom have a military past. There are over-arching themes and storylines so I would strongly suggest you read them in order. This would be the most important series to read in order, IMHO.

Series order:

#1 Magic in the Wind (novella)

#2 Twilight Before Christmas

#3 Oceans of Fire

#4 Dangerous Tides

#5 Safe Harbor

#6 Turbulent Seas

#7 Hidden Currents

drake sisters

After the last Drake Sisters book was released, Hidden Currents, a sister series was released about other inhabitants of Sea Haven. There is some crossover of characters and the books are similar. They are about 6 sisters of the heart, women who found each other in group counselling and decided to buy a farm together in Sea Haven. They also possess special talents, and are bound to elements that they can control. This series is two thirds finished unfolding.

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Fire Bound and the as-yet-untitled sixth book should be out in the next two years. After they are released, the Sea Haven saga will continue with a new series about its residents. The author has released very little information thus far, but the bits and pieces of information floating around make me suspect that this series will be about other Russian specialists, like Aleksandr (Oceans of Fire) will be coming to settle down. Hopefully Feehan accelerates the rate at which this series is released!

Other:

There are a few other books that are stand-a-lones. The Scarletti Curse and The Lair of the Lion were both very early pre-cursors to Dark Symphony but they are in no way considered to be Carpathian novels.

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Christine also wrote the novella Rocky Mountain Christmas which was a novella in The Shadows of Christmas Past and After the Music, another Christmas novella from A Very Gothic Christmas.

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I highly recommend each of the three authors I have written about and hope you give them a chance. My thanks and appreciation to Ann Mayburn, Cherise Sinclair and Christine Feehan for all the hard work and hours of love poured into each tale.

Now that I have finished this mini-series of blogs, I’m going to go back to my regular reviews and ramblings. I have a ton of books to review, and a few movies, that I’ve been holding onto. My OCD tendencies wouldn’t let add something in part way through.

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