Dark Promises is the 29th book in The Carpathian Novels by paranormal author Christine Feehan published in March of 2016. The plot revolves around two pairs of lifemates - Gabrielle Sanders "Gabby" & Aleksei and Trixie Joanes & Fane. This is a sort of sequel to her 28th book Dark Ghost - although all are sequels to each other, this is more so as the story started in Dark Ghost proceeds into Dark Promises.
Christine Feehan's The Carpathian Novels introduces to the readers to a powerful and ancient race called the Carpathians - who are near-immortals living for thousands of years with powers and gifts including ability to shape-shift, etc. that no man can fathom - who live among humans without detection. Despite their gifts and extended lifespans, they are at the age of extinction. Their children are fewer and farther apart and those that are born and survive are all males - its been more than 500 years a female has been born until Savannah Dubrinsky (the daughter of the Carpathian Prince, Mikhail Dubrinsky). Without their female counterpart aka "lifemates" they male Carpathians lose the ability to feel emotions and to see in color, the only feeling remaining is the thrill they get after a kill. They feed on human blood, but they don’t kill their prey. With so few females left, males are forced to make a stark choice: either become vampire or "greet the dawn" (i.e. commit suicide). When Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female with extensive psychic powers, the hope increases for all the Carpathian males so they don’t have to kill themselves or turn vampires. Because when they do find a lifemate, before they get "turned", the ability to see in color and their emotions are restored to them, and their souls are saved. The series ventures into other species or race, Jaguar and Lycan - extra-ordinary humans with abilities of jaguars and wolves - as the stories proceed.
Dark Promises opens up with Gabrielle Sanders "Gabby" getting ready to be married to Gary Jansen. For as long as she knew Gary, she has been in love with him and so has been Gary. She is part human and part Jaguar and was converted to a full Carpathain - Prince Mikhail and Vikirnoff Von Shrieder converted her - in order to save her from dying after getting gravely injured during one of the incidents involving Xavier's plot to eliminate Jaguar race. (Post the name of the book here). Much to her disinterest to live a life of Carpathian, she continues to be so, if it means she would be closer to Gary. All her life she had been a shy flower spending her time entirely inside a lab doing scientific study than exploring the lab. Gary caught her eye as he was also similar to her and someone she could share her scientific knowledge and conversation with. She fell hard and fast for him until one Gary also gets injured gravely in a fight involving Xavier, the Vampires, Human Hunters and the Carpathians.
Gary Jansen had always been loyal to Carpathians, working for them, helping them in the war they have going on and putting his life on the line when needed. So, when he gets gravely injured it was natural for all of the older Carpathians to make a decision and convert him to a Carpathian (post the name of the book here). He converts from Gary Jansen to Gary Daratrazanoff - converted by Gregori Daratrazanoff and The Prince - giving him the same power that runs through the Daratrazanoff's line. Gabby doesn’t take this well and although never voiced it out, hates the Carpathian world, not learning how to live in that world or explore the extent of her abilities - the only way she could defy them. Every Carpathian was sensitive to her nature and never questioned her further not knowing she was rebelling. Now after the serious injury Gary had gone through again recently , she decides to get married to Gary. Even though Gary has his doubts - not that he is in love with her, but the fact that once she had become a Carpathian, she could be a potential lifemate to another Carpathian who is waiting for her and he may not be the true mate for her. However, he complies and they set upon to the field of fertility to exchange their vows - and for Gary to quote the ritual words drilled down to him by the long dead warriors of Carpathians during his transition.
But when Gary takes Gabby into his arms in the field of fertility, everything goes wrong - first the bracelet that Jubal had given to Gabby for wedding glows red and hot trying to slice him to pieces, losing the ability of colors, his soul not binding to her and finally aging as a Carpathian ages who have had that many centuries of experience as the knowledge that was poured into him. Unable to take the rejection Gabby runs away from him while Gary is trying to comprehend what happened. Why has Gary lost his ability of colors? Is Gabby not his true lifemate? Him becoming a true Carpathian changed his soul too? Will he lose his emotions also that fast and be close to being turned?
And when Gabby realizes that Gary was sent away by The Prince - ofcourse to look into the situation further - she sets after him to find him and make him hers. Her journey lands her at the doorstep of monastery very high up in the mountains - where all the ancients have gone to live once they knew they were at the edge of turning and didn’t want to hurt anyone or greet the dawn - guarded by another ancient, Fane. She finds him with another Carpathian Andre Boroi and his lifemate Tegan Joanes, in deep discussion on how to move forward. But when she reaches upto him, she is wrenched back to the gates of the monastery and gets tied down by the plants around the gate while an ancient rises from the ground, breaking open the ground and faced Gary, claiming Gabby to him - as she belonged to this ancient, Aleksei. What no one imagined was the impact of true love in a human soul on a carpathian soul once converted - as soon as the ritual words completed and Gabby's soul bound to Aleksei's, transformation in Gary was instant - he became the very male in Carpathian species who would have become after losing their lifemate even though Gabby was his true love when he was human, holding the darkness of all the ancients that had poured through him. Will Gary fight Aleksei for Gabby? Or let her go since they are true lifemates? Will Aleksei forgive Gabby for the betrayal he thought she was doing? Will Gabby accept Aleksei? What is the fate of Gary now? Will the older Carpathians find a solution for this situation?
As this drama is unfolding, another female is heading towards the very same mountains in order to save her grand-daughter. Trixie Joanes had bonded herself to a group of Vampire hunters and traveled to this part of the mountains in search of her grand-daughter Teagan Joanes. She believed that Teagan was enthralled by a monster and was going to marry him for all wrong reasons. However after traveling with the troop, she understood that they were more cruel and filled with evil than she can imagine. Now she set off to seek out her granddaughter and save her not only from the one she was getting married but also from these killers. Little does she know that she is landing straight into the arms of Fane - the gate keeper of the monastery - only to be claimed as his lifemate. At sixty she is baffled to feel all that she feels for Fane but she is but a babe in Carpathian age. Will she comes to terms with what she is becoming? Will she accept Fane and Andre and the rest of the Carpathian world?
As these two stories unfold, Gabrielle, Teagan and Trixie use their abilities to heal the remaining seven ancients in the monastery to a certain extent so they can hold on for a little longer - long enough to find their mates. Will this really help the ancients? Will they find their mates? What are those powers that these three amazing women hold that would change the path of the ancients? I cant wait to read about these ancients and their fates in future books by Christine Feehan. Where will this lead them to? How will their lives fare? Am curious to read about them in the future books.
And finally the story of Gary that follows in parallel to all the three stories. I felt a lot of empathy for Gary - someone who had given all his life to save the Carpathian world is now pushed to the edge of darkness. What will his fate be? Will he be strong enough to fight the darkness? Will he be strong enough to let go of Gabrielle? His piece really tugged at my heart of all the four in the plot.
The plot has been complicated as always with all of the other books in the series . Christine Feehan has blended four stories into it keeping all the players key and not undermining any one story over the other. Yet there are pockets of places where the story didn’t jibe well with me. Firstly, what ticked me off the most was Gabrielle's character portrayal. She sounded more like an ex-psycho girlfriend rather than a matured scientist. It could be because of her sheltered life that she had led despite the horrors going around her, but she chose to ignore them all. Her repetitive claim to see Carpathians as different and ignore that she is one too now was grating on my nerves. It took a lot of chapters before I started to like this character again. Secondly, the over possessiveness of Aleksei over Gabrielle - granted that he changed after he knew the truth behind Gabrielle's story, it annoyed me at the way he treated her in the beginning of their relationship. Thirdly, the sexual content bordered on BDSM category which I enjoy lesser than other kind. So I had to skip a few chapters that described the content.
I came across this series accidentally, while trying to use a gift card from Borders before the stores closed for good. And then once I got hooked on to it, I have gone back to the beginning of the series and read all the books that have since been written. A few of them I have posted reviews as well before (post links here). The stories have been very interesting so far - to see how the males find their mates, how the mates adjust and survive the change, fighting the human hunters who don’t know the difference between actual Vampires and the Carpathians, fighting the Vampires who want to take over the Carpathian world, fighting the mages that have been threatening the life of Prince since the beginning of their race and eventually survive. The plots are primarily set in The Carpathian Mountains in Romania with some plots in South America and recent ones moving on to United States. However in recent books the eroticism has taken more meat than the actual story, also the plot-lines are not yet connecting to Xavier and his triplet brothers, the older Carpathians and Prince are barely seen and yet to see where the stories set in United States will go. So the interest in the upcoming books are dimming for me, yet I am continuing to read them as I am curious to see the end of Xavier and his brothers and also where the newer set of characters move to.
Despite my low scoring for this book, I still recommend you to read it as it is setting up a nice segue to future episodes and characters.