Book Critique - Dark Secret (The Carpathian Novels #15)

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 Secret is the fifteenth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in February of 2005. This also forms the second book in the five-book series within the Dark Series about the South American brothers - who had been sent away by Prince Vladimer Dubrinsky (Prince Mikhail's father) centuries ago to fight Vampires. They settled in South America with trusted humans who take care of their cattle ranch during the day time.

The primary plot revolves around Rafael De La Cruz - the second of the De La Cruz brothers, an ancient Carpathian - and Colby Jansen -  a rancher and sole protector of younger half-siblings. This book has been listed among several best sellers. This was also re-released along with Dark Hunger in a separate anthology Darkest at Dawn in November of 2011.

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". Now that Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female with 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. The series now ventures into another species - Jaguar Species - with the 10th book Dark Symphony.

In her 31st book, Dark Legacy released in September of 2017, Christine had introduced a new Carpathian female, Elisabeta Trigovise - an ancient and sister to Traian Trigovise and thought lost to them. Christine tends to bring back her characters and tie all the inconsequential details that she leaves around in her plots. The mention of Traian Trigovise made me want to re-read the series again since quite a few facts she had brought back in Dark Legacy were lost on me.

We read that in the previous book, Dark Hunger, Nicolas and Rafael were sent to United States to help smooth the path to bring back young orphaned relatives of their family of humans who run their ranch. And so the plot is set in the Cascade Mountains in United States and in the ranch that Colby Jansen and her family owns and runs it. 

The Chevez family have been trusted employees of the De La Cruz brothers for centuries. And now they needed help to get the young orphaned relatives of their family back to South America. The obstacle came in the form of their step-sister Colby, and thus Nicolas and Rafael come to her ranch. But what they find is much more, a lifemate for Rafael in Colby and that she is a very strong psychic. However, before Rafael could convince Colby and bring her to his side, a threat from a vampire surrounds them. And Rafael has a tall order of things to complete before he heads back to South America, while Colby has a deep secret that if revealed might change everything for her, perhaps in a bad way.

Rafael is ruthless, untamed who wears a thin veneer of civilization around him, coming ever closer to be the beast that resides within him that he holds off with sheer determination. Colby is very different to what he thought of a lifemate should be - stubborn, determined, loyal to her step-siblings, hardworking and above all the strange differences she has compared to her siblings. Yet they complement each other very well, two stubborn mules fighting for everything including the love they have for each other. 

Christine has the protagonist Colby's last name same as Gary Jansen, yet we don’t see any connection between them in this book. I don’t remember if she connects the dots in a later plot, one just have to wait and see.

Christine also shows the real reason behind why Carpathians lose emotions early on - a handy tool when killing your childhood friends who have become the undead. However, in this plot she brings back a few things from the previous plots - Colby's mother has a quilt commissioned for her from an artist in Paris. From our past reads, as a reader we can guess who that artist would be - none other than Francesca Del Ponce, lifemate to Gabriel Daratrazanoff; there is mention of Traian Trigovise along with other hunters who have risen and found lifemates. 

In Dark Symphony, Christine introduces the Dragonseeker clan of Carpathians, a brief intro only. However, she explores it full-on in this plot with both Colby and the mysterious Natalya Shonski.

Colby Jansen was the answer to my question that I always had while reading the Carpathian series - although they were lifemates, the Carpathians inherently take away the choice from the woman, no matter how much they loved them or cared for. I always wanted Christine to touch on that as well. Am glad she did it in this book. 

With this plot, Christine is expanding her novels to incorporate not just romance, eroticism and finding lifemates, but much more - making the story-line much more serious and refraining from keeping it just an erotic book. I believe her adding the extra element of suspense and intrigue made her a success in the paranormal romance category.  

A few tidbits: This book misses the hard card inserts that gives reader an opportunity to either join a book club and win books, or buy a book and get a few free. There is an advertisement for dorchester publishing at the end of the book enticing readers to join their club and buy books. Although we know now that in 2012 this publishing was acquired by Amazon Publishing and it shut down as dorcehsterpub.

Another powerful paranormal 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, bordering on being 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. Christine brings back the family tree of the Carpathians again in the beginning of the book. And we see the names of the books next in line in the series listed as well.

b. Colby has two step-siblings - Paul and Ginny Chevez. Their extended Chevez family are Juan and Julio Chevez - brothers to their father Armando Chevez. And Paul is tied to Nicholas De La Cruz by blood bond. 

c. Colby has a dragon-shaped birthmark making her belonging to the Dragonseeker race, an ancient Carpathian race thought to have been extinct.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Would love to ask Christine Feehan 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. In Dark Symphony, Christine introduces some more facts of Carpathians - Wizards and Mages who were one time close with Carpathians but now arch enemies.

c. In Dark Descent, we see quite a few sub-plots: Small details floating around, but I am sure Christine will be collecting them in a bigger plot later. 

i. Gabrielle Sanders and Jubal Sanders are introduced - siblings to Joie Sanders.  

ii. The Sanders siblings and Traian find a huge dragon encased in ice. We met Dominic Dragonseeker early on; saw Byron and Josef shape-shifting to dragons and mention of mages in Dark Symphony. 

iii. We meet Shadow Warriors - Ghosts of the wizards, lost long ago.

iv. While being tortured, one of the master vampire takes Traian's blood giving the vampire ability to control Traian - although Traian beats him at that control. However, not knowing who that vampire was and where he was, Traian decides to be away from his people. However, I don’t remember this tidbit being explored by Christine in any of the future books. Perhaps that is why she brought Elisabeta Trigovise in the 31st book, Dark Legacy's plot. Or I might have to read the additional 100 pages that Christine included in a later version to know the truth.

d. In Dark Melody, Julian and Savannah both muse that Gregori and Savannah should be blessed with twin girls who would run amok much to Gregori's suffering.

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

a. Gary Jansen first time introduced in Dark Magic, doesn’t have a story of him yet - 18 years since his character had first been mentioned. Recently Christine announced in her blog on Goodreads that Gary's story has to wait as his lifemate is a child now. I wonder who that child was and if she had already introduced that child in any of the recent books. And if she is basing her on one of her granddaughters' - just like Skyler - and she would wait till the grand daughter would grow in real life before penning a story between her and Gary.

b. In Dark Dream, Sara Marten adopts seven sewer children - three girls and four boys - all with psychic abilities. 

c. Skyler Rose Thompson is first introduced in Dark Legend, as a 14 year old girl who is battered and injured in every way. Above all she is a psychic. We are going to see more of her, but Christine has left enough clues to readers to guess who her lifemate would be.  

d. 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. Wonder what would the fate of this child would be in Christine's hands.

e. 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. Perhaps a future character?

f. Corrine Wentworth (lifemate to Dayan) gives birth to a female psychic child - Jennifer - in Dark Melody.

g. MaryAnn Delany is introduced in Dark Destiny, a female with strong psychic powers and also one who works with the battered women and children. She perhaps will be a lifemate to another Carpathian soon.

h. Jasmine Sangria - sister to Juliette - and Solange Sangria - their cousin - are introduced in Dark Hunger plot. Strong psychics from the Jaguar species who could potentially be lifemates to Carpathians just like how Juliette is for Riordan.

4. Perils that the Carpathians face:

a. Few children who have born are Males, most not surviving the first year of their life, females are rarely born. Shea Dubrinsky along with Gregori Daratrazanoff are trying hard to find a way so children survive. 

b. With Dark Symphony, Christine introduces a new concept while converting a psychic female with Jaguar blood - Antoninetta Scarletti's blind eyes seem to be giving sight back to her. 

c. Vampires are congregating; attacking in coordinated methods; doing a hypnotic dance to transfix the Carpathian hunters; ability to create a holding spell; able to inject a fast acting poison impacting the nervous system; can cause Carpathians to sever the mental path the Carpathians share; casting a silvery net to capture the hunter in their molecular form; two master vampires running the show together; use animals such as rats, birds and insects to pry on others; a multigenerational poison that could attack the healers.

d. Society of Human Vampire Hunters who constantly hunt the Carpathians mistaking them to be Vampires. The Morrison Center for Psychic Research is targeting psychic humans documenting about them to kill them in the end. 

e. The antagonist Vampire 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 access to untold power. 

f. Malinov Brothers are introduced in this Dark Secret plot; they were sent to Asia by Vladimir Dubrinsky to fight vampires, instead they become the very thing that they were sent to kill - Kirja Manilov being killed by Rafael De La Cruz with aid from Vikirnoff Von Shrieder; Ruslan Manilov is the eldest of them.

5. Lifemate pairs introduced as the series progresses: Will Christine have a plot for these pairs sometime in future? 

a. Eric and Celeste – Celeste is pregnant with child in Dark Prince, but no mention of them in the books after.

b. Vlad and Eleanor Belandrake - In Dark Symphony we see that she has given birth to Benjamin "Benj" and also adopts Josef - son of another Carpathian pair who are lying in ground now, Lucia and Rodaniver.

c. Tienn and Diedre - Diedre is sister of Vlad.

d. Vladimer Dubrinsky and Sarantha - Mikhail and Jacques Dubrinsky's parents - They are shown as dead as of Dark Guardian plot.

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

a. Dimitri Tirunul – another ancient Carpathian mentioned briefly for the first time in Dark Desire plot. First introduced almost 15 years ago, we as readers already know that his story would not be until the 25th book in the series. He is a renowned scientist; works for preservation of wolves and guards them in the reservations of Russia; and has a wolf foundation.

b. Dominic Dragonseeker - Introduced in Dark Symphony, with added little details about wizards / mages and a war between them and the Carpathians. He is looking for his sister - Rhiannon Dragonseeker - a powerful mage although just an apprentice, thought to be lost.

c. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" - Carpathian male kids, first introduced in Dark Symphony.

d. Vikirnoff Von Shrieder - brother to Nicolae Von Shrieder is introduced in Dark Destiny. He is tasked to find a woman who is being targeted by The Morrison Center for Psychic Research -  a woman has a talent to find the past of any object she touches. 

e. De La Cruz Brothers - Zacarias, Monolito, Nicolas , Rafael and Riordan - living in South America are introduced in Dark Hunger plot. Monolito is headed to Carpathian mountains with fresh news to the Prince about the recent events.

7. 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 is in Dark Desire and is pregnant as of Dark Melody plot.

b. Savannah Dubrinsky - daughter of Prince Mikhail and Raven Dubrinsky; lifemate to Gregori Daratrazanoff. Her story is in Dark Magic

c. Desari Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Julian Savage, sister to Gregori and Darius; has the power to sing that could bring peace to all beings. Her story is told in Dark Challenge

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

e. Francesca Del Ponce - lifemate to Gabriel Daratrazanoff. Her story is told in Dark Legend. She is a powerful healer; has ability to bring peace to anyone who is in her vicinity or by touch; makes stained glass patterns and quilts that are specific to one's need and bring healing to them.

f. Tamara - daughter of Gabriel Daratrazanoff and Francesca Del Pounce, born a few months before the Dark Guardian plot.

g. Natalya Shonski - A Dragonseeker woman after whom the vampires are; has ability to see the past when she touches an object; the woman who is tasked to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder to be found and rescued. She talks about her brother whom she fears is dead, and Colby could be his daughter. 

h. Rhiannon - a Dragonseeker who was kidnapped by the powerful mage, Xavier, eventually giving birth to triplets - two daughters and a son - with Xavier who had killed her lifemate. Natalya is the descendent of that son. And that Rhiannon caused the war between Carpathians and the Dragonseekers. 

8. Geographical / Character / Grammatical / Historical Errors:

a. On Pg. 71, second line from bottom, it should be "….shouldn't be out by…"


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