Book Critique - Dark Guardian (The Carpathian Novels #9)

For reviews of other books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3.5 / 5

Recommendation: If you like paranormal plots with hint of romance, eroticism and the other world abilities involving immortals and vampires along-side humans with super-abilities, then this is a series to go for.

Dark Guardian is the ninth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in May of 2002. As expected the plot revolves around Lucian Daratrazanoff - the second of the legendary twins, an ancient, who had been thought to gone to the dark side by the Carpathians - and Jaxon "Jaxx" Montgomery - a human psychic and a cop with SEAL Training.

The events of the plot happen a little over a year after the events in the eighth book Dark Legend. Like other books of hers, this book also won some good awards for Christine - Winner for the 2002 PEARL Awards for Best Overall Paranormal and Winner for 2002 Golden Rose Readers Choice Award from Love Romances for Best Paranormal among the rest.

Carpathians are a powerful and ancient race who are near-immortals living for thousands of years with powers and gifts that no man can fathom. Despite their gifts and extended lifespans, they are at the age of extinction as fewer and fewer children are being borne and far lesser of females. Without their female counterpart aka "lifemates" the male Carpathians lose the ability to feel emotions leaving the males with hard choice: either become vampire or "greet the dawn" (i.e. commit suicide). Now that Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female who has immense psychic abilities and is capable of converting, there is hope for all the other Carpathian males who have been holding off from turning into vampires – the very creature that they hunt and kill to save the humans and Carpathians alike.

In the previous book Dark Legend, we see that Lucian Daratrazanoff is not a Vampire as all Carpathians have thought but was merely aping one to protect his brother, Gabriel. And we also see that Francesca, Gabriel's lifemate, does mention of a woman existing in this time for Lucian. That is where the plot begins. The light to his dark comes in the form of one Jaxon Montgomery, a cop with SEAL Training with her share of threats to her life, a small package of dynamite with courage of long-forgotten warriors. Being a Guardian all his life, he had no other choice but to guard Jaxon. And she is his light, his other half of his soul who would keep him at bay from turning to the terrible darkness.

However, would Jaxon want another dark soul tied to her when she was already battling one from since she was a child? But Lucian's persistence, charm, sexual attraction and power is irresistible. In drawing her in, will he be drawing the threat that is to her life to him or away from them? And of course don’t forget the master vampire who is pursuing Jaxon. And ever pursuing Society of Human Vampire Hunters. How all the plot unfolds is a treat for the reader in this book.

Christine opens the plot with giving a lot of detailed history of how Gabriel and Lucian come to be fighting each other, why Lucian was thought as a vampire and the final battle during which Gabriel ties Lucian to him and goes below earth for centuries before they rise again. She even re-prints the final scene between Gabriel, Lucian and Francesca from Dark Legend to get the plot to current day. Christine also gives history of Jaxon Montgomery and her childhood that shaped her to what she was now. All her losses and hardships are shown to the reader even before the actual plot begins thus giving us an insight into Jaxx's character.

Lucian appears very arrogant in this book as opposed to his intelligent and charming self so far Christine had projected. However, it does make sense in a way since he had been a hunter and a guardian for 2000 years and that does many one arrogant. Christine had commented in one of her notes that Lucian was rather hard character for her to write. I understand what she means after I read it, he doesn’t listen to anyone, he is a law unto himself. I guess he doesn’t listen to his creator too. :)

In this particular plot, Christine doesn’t bring a whole lot of characters from other books other than brief mentioning of in passing conversations, however she does further enhance the bond between Lucian and Gabriel. 

As we note in the opening credits of the book, Christine dedicated this book and specifically written it for her son-in-law, Jonathon Carl Woods, Jr. And we also see that Christine's grand-daughter by Jonathon is named Skyler. When I had met with Christine in 2016 she had mentioned that she had portrayed the character of Skyler based on her grand-daughter. And she waited for her grand-daughter to grow up before she could write a story for Skyler. That is why the large number of years between when first her character appeared (in Dark Legend in 2002) and when her story was written (which as you all know is already published in 2014 as Dark Wolf).

According to Christine's notes, Stefan Schwarz, now a retired Swedish footballer, had modeled for the book cover. (More about him here). Interesting to note that. I always thought that these were models that the publishers hired for the covers, didn’t know someone famous also would pose for it.

Although I have seen the promo videos of Christine's books in Torpedo Ink Series and I believe she had a WWF wrestler for the first book Judgement Road. Her promo video of that book had retired WWE/WWF wrestler Al Snow (Check out about him here), who has been in the ring with such greats as The Rock and The Undertaker, as Reaper. Here is the trailer of that book.

Ok back to this book in question. Christine while elaborating the past for Lucian and Gabriel's lives, she also gives the reader the entire scene where Julian Savage and Dimitri eavesdrop on a conversation between the Legendary Twins, Mikhail Dubrinsky and Gregori Daratrazanoff, thus finally closing the connection. Although we have read about the scene briefly twice (In Dark Challenge when Julian muses about it and in Dark Legend when Gabriel talks about it), this time around she enacts the scene out completely. This little connections that Christine provides to the readers in her plots always astounds me.

I have to concur with what Jaxon felt about the end, it felt too quick and too fast. I was hoping the antagonist would suffer more, but Christine ended it rather quickly. As always, there is repeat paraphrasing that I see in Christine's books; now a constant in her way of writing.  

On a side note, I see card inserts for free books in this book as well. I don’t think anyone uses this format anymore. Oh I wish one would, it is so nostalgic. 

Another powerful erotic plot woven by Christine Feehan keeping us thoroughly entertained and immersed into the world of Carpathians. As always the fight scenes are excellent and love scenes are very romantic, not yet erotic. Christine has certainly left the readers with so many minute details that they would be craving to read those details becoming important in future plots. Watch this space for more reviews of the next books in the series.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot reveals:

a.  It is revealed that Gabriel and Francesca have a daughter of their own who is not quite a year old in this plot.

b.  Lucian has a chauffeur, Antonio, who is son of Stefan and Marie - human family who lived with Aidan Savage and his lifemate Alexandria Houton and her brother, Joshua. Lucian get Antonio on loan for a while to protect his during the day. In Dark Legend we saw that Santino and his wife Drusilla come to live with Gabriel and Francesca to protect Skyler and keep their home safe. Santino is also mentioned as son of Stefan and Marie. Either Stefan has two boys and one each serving each of the Dark Twins. Or Christine mis-represented Santino as Antonio. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. I still would love to ask Christine Feehan when I meet as to why she didn’t have Barack claim Syndil early on, why make him wait till after Darius makes his clam on Tempest in the sixth book Dark Fire? Also why not a separate book or a novella for Barack and Syndil instead of spreading their story within two books - fifth book Dark Challenge and sixth book Dark Fire?

b. The fifth and sixth books in the series, Dark Challenge and Dark Fire respectively, are part of a trilogy within the series. However, the books that follow Dark Fire are not yet part of the trilogy. Will have to see which book closes this trilogy.

c. Unique / Repeat Characters who are not Carpathians but with the possibility of them being expanded by Christine Feehan in future books:

i. Gary Jansen is for the first time introduced in the fourth book, Dark Magic. Having already read the remaining books I totally forgot when Gary's character was introduced. It has been 18 years that his character has surfaced and I still didn’t see a story for him. Not sure what is Christine waiting for but would love to see his story soon.

ii. Christine reveals the possibility of more Carpathians being settled in South America as part of a discussion between Julian and Darius in the fifth book Dark Challenge. Another segue into future plots that could be set in South America.

iii. Cullen Tucker, a human, joins the singing troupe Dark Troubadours, in the sixth book Dark Fire, when he braves the Society, goes against them and comes to the troupe to warn them of the evil plans. I don’t remember him much in the first time I read these books, only that Gary Jansen had been a constant through the series. May be this time around I will find more about him.

iv. Christine introduces the Jaguar Species with the plot in the seventh book, Dark Dream, albeit only as a conversation by Vladimir Dubrinsky. However, we as readers all know that this is an obvious segue with regards to her upcoming books and what we could see. In this case, we will see plots around Jaguar pretty soon.

v. In Dark Dream, Sara Marten adopts seven sewer children - three girls and four boys - all with psychic abilities. Will Christine bring these seven back as adults and have plots for them too?

vi. Skyler Rose Thompson is first introduced in this eighth book, Dark Legend, as a 14 year old girl who is battered and injured in every way. Above all she is a psychic. I am sure we will see more of her as the series proceeds. She is shown to be in contact with someone from distant, and Gabriel thinks it’s Lucian who was, but it wasn’t in the end. We will have to wait and see who that would be, although I know it since I am re-reading all the books again. She also has a huge affinity towards wolves, that is a clear segue into who that hidden person in her mind would be. She can also talk to animals.

vii. In Dark Legend, Francesca muses if her child would be one of those rare females since she had perfected the art of living like a human and walking in the sun. I don’t remember Christine elaborating on Francesca's child further beyond this book, but since I am re-reading them I might find that connection again.

viii. Barry Woods, a reporter in the Dark Legend plot is not meted with justice or purged of the vampire's influence or any more exploration of his mind to understand about the Society of Vampire Hunters by Christine. Will he be a returning character in future plots is something we have to wait and see.

d. Perils that the Carpathians face:

i. In the second book, Dark Desire, Rand mixes some kind of poison in his blood and infects Jacques and Byron which causes them to severe the mental path the Carpathians share. I have to see if in future books Christine elaborates on this and finds a remedy for the Carpathians.

ii. Few children who have born are Males, most not surviving the first year of their life. No one knows why females are rarely born, although now they discover that paring a Carpathian male to a Human psychic female will give them female kids. However, no one knows why most kids don’t survive the first year.

iii. Vampires are congregating suddenly and attacking in coordinated methods as opposed to their solitary existence posing a tough battle for Carpathian hunters while hunting them. They are using minions to wreak havoc on both Carpathians and humans alike.

iv. Vampires also learned a hypnotic dance that they try in hoping to transfix the Carpathian hunters during the battle. They have learnt to create a holding spell. They are able to inject a fast acting poison into the Carpathians and Humans that is complex and would impact the nervous system immediately.

v. Society of Human Vampire Hunters who constantly hunt the Carpathians mistaking them to be Vampires.

vi. The undead's minion - human converted to ghouls by the Vampire - have learned the ability to attach themselves to a hunter like a shadow using a difficult spell obviously imprinted by the Vampire on to the hunter. They could also use animals such as rats, birds and insects to pry into other's lives through their eyes.

vii. The antagonist Vampire who was after Sara Marten in Dark Dream, as he needed her help to track the tomb of the master wizard and book of knowledge that will give anyone who holds that book untold power. Another insight into what Christine would bring to the reader in her Carpathian books.

3. Lifemate pairs introduced as the series progresses: Will Christine have a plot for these pairs sometime in future? Since I have read all the books already, I know for sure there isn’t one yet. But hoping she will have some kind of plot around them in future.

a. Eric and Celeste – Celeste is pregnant with child in Dark Prince, but no mention of who they would be in the later books so far.

b. Vlad and Eleanor - Eleanor is pregnant with child in Dark Prince, but no mention of who they would be in the later books so far.

c. Tienn and Diedre

d. Vladimir Dubrinsky and Sarantha - Mikhail and Jacques Dubrinsky's parents - They are show as dead in Dark Guardian plot.

4. Other Carpathians who are waiting for their lifemates as of this book and we meet as the series progresses are:

a. Byron Justicano - Jacques’ best friend and would become his right hand if ever Mikhail succumbs. He was tortured and hurt by Rand in the second book, Dark Desire. Still waiting to see his story.

b. Dimitri Tirunul – another ancient Carpathian mentioned briefly for the first time in a conversation between Jacques and Shea in Dark Desire plot. First introduced almost 15 years ago, we as readers already know that his story would not be fully evolved until the 25th book in the series. In Dark Legend, Francesca alludes to the fact that Dimitri is a renowned scientist; works for preservation of wolves and guards them in the reservations of Russia; and has a wolf foundation. Gabriel remembers Dimtri as being a unique, loner even as a fledgling with a dark core of violence.

c. Dayan - part of Darius and Desari's family, also members of the singing troupe Dark Troubadours. Towards the end of Dark Fire, Dayan leaves to Canada with Cullen Tucker to ensure Cullen's safety and also travel a bit to get adjusted with all the males around him who have lifemates. This gives me a pause to think that Dayan's story will be set in Canada.

5. Being so many few Carpathian females born, a few females that Christine still manages sneak in her plots are:

a. Shea O’Halloran – lifemate to Jacques Dubrinsky, first female born after more than 500 years and a natural healer. Her story can be read in Dark Desire (Review here)

b. Savannah Dubrinsky - daughter of Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky and his lifemate Raven Dubrinsky; lifemate to Gregori; who is learning to find the depth of her powers. Her story can be read in the fourth book, Dark Magic (Review here)

c. Desari Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Julian Savage, sister to Gregori and Darius; has the power to sing that could bring peace between humans, animals, birds and Carpathians alike, a voice that could avoid battles if needed. Her story is told in Dark Challenge (Review here)

d. Syndil - lifemate to Barack, both part of the troupe Dark Troubadours, with tremendous healing powers and has an affinity to earth and talent to play any instrument. Her story is spread in two books - Dark Challenge and Dark Fire (Review here).

e. Francesca Del Ponce - lifemate to Gabriel Daratrazanoff. Her story is told in Dark Legend (Review here). She is a powerful healer and had perfected the way to live like humans, thinking Gabriel was lost to her forever, although it came at the cost of her limiting her powers as a Carpathian. She can also bring peace to anyone who is in her vicinity just by being there or by touch. An ability that is unique with the Carpathians. She can make stained glass patterns that are specific to a patient or person's need and bring healing to them. She has a female child with Gabriel and as of Dark Guardian plot the child, Tamara, is not yet a year old.

6. Grammatical / Geographical / Location / Character / Historical Errors:

a. On Pg. 20, 4th Para, last line, it should be "…once he was physically…"

b. On Pg. 136, sixth line from bottom, that whole line is so confusing. Was Christine trying to say if everyone Jaxon knows cannot turn into a wolf? Or was she being sarcastic with the statement?

c. On Pg. 154, third line from top, it should be "…but I'd hate to be trapped…"

d. On Pg. 163, line 7, it should be "As fast as the vampire…"

e. On Pg. 185, in the scene Christine depicts for Jaxon to be in a shower that has a glass door. But on the very next page, she shoes Lucian sliding into the tub. How come a shower door is put for a shower with a tub? I never saw those kind. Or was it an error in making the scene.

f. The plot with Jaxon starts in Florida, USA. However, it doesn’t make sense to me as to where it finally gets set when Jaxon becomes a cop and meets Lucian. I tried to figure it out but a definite confusion remained about the location of the plot in my mind. Although on Pg. 204, Lucian mentions that Florida is clear across the country. So my mind thinks the plot might be set in West Coast, but not sure what state or city.

g. On Pg. 199, Christine has Jaxon sitting on a chair in Lucian's den. However, on Pg. 205, she has Jaxon sitting on a couch and Lucian leans into her. There was nowhere mentioned between these six pages that Jaxon moved from the chair to settle on the couch. Clearly a scene error here.

h. On Pg. 206, line 10, it should be "He knew…"

i. On Pg. 250, third line from bottom, it should be "…He could see that she relaxed…"

j. On Pg. 252, line 19, it should be "…wish to repeat, but it…"

k. On Pg. 282, line 26, it should be "secluded" in that line but it is misprinted as "seclused".

l. On Pg. 357, line 25, it should be "…do not worry…"

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