Book Critique - Dark Peril (The Carpathian Novels # 21)

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 Peril is the twenty first book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in September of 2010. The primary plot centers between Dominic Dragonseeker - an ancient Carpathian who has gone into the heart of the vampire society to demolish them - and Solange Sangria- the royal blooded jaguar female that everyone are after. 

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". After Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female with psychic abilities, 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 all beings. The series now ventures into other  species - Jaguar Species (with the 10th book Dark Symphony, Dragonseekers (with the 16th book Dark Demon and Werewolves (with the 18th book Dark Possession).

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.

As of Dark Curse plot, Dominic Dragonseeker, ancient Carpathian from a powerful lineage, had ingested the parasitic vampire blood and left the Carpathian mountains into the heart of the Morrison Center for Psychic Research to kill the vampires and get hold of the database they had created of psychic female humans and jaguars. He had been living for one purpose and one purpose only - to find out what happened to his sister Rhiannon Dragonseeker. 

With Razvan finally out of the clutches of Xavier, he comes to know the fate of his sister - that she and her lifemate had indeed been murdered by Xavier after Xavier had got two girls and a boy from her. Now there was nothing else holding him on except to do one last honorable thing for his race and succumb to the light. This plan to infiltrate the enemy camp leads him to South America where he finds Solange Sangria - Jaguar female with royal blood.

Solange, whom we first met in Dark Hunger plot, also finds him at a time when she is tired of being just one step behind rescuing the captured jaguar females, although she does rescue quite a few of them. And when she was down and dejected, Dominic had come to her in her dream, or rather she called to him. Unknowingly she reveals her strong as well as weaker side to him. And Dominic woos her slowly one song at a time.

But will she accept him as easily once she knows that Dominic indeed exists. His work to impress his lifemate is cut out for him. While they are working a way towards each other, Solange's past also catches on. How her past, their present and his latest mission intermix and come to a central point is what the rest of the plot is about.

Dominic was first introduced in Dark Symphony plot, approx 11 books ago in 2002. But his character had not completely been built until this book, some 8 years later. Well, for such a fierce warrior, Christine must have had to wait for the right partner to come along before she could pair them. And what a pick she did in Solange Sangria. A fierce warrior just as him, loyal to the core and an ultimate jaguar. 

It was pretty sweet to see that although she is a warrior to everyone, she shows her vulnerable side only to Dominic, although she was letting her guard down a little around MaryAnn Delaney. How fortunate that she has at least one person in front of whom she can completely let her guard down and still feel protected and strong. The feeling comes off as mutual for Dominic as well. 

I specially loved the little love poems that go back and forth between Dominic and Solange, those that Christine opens each chapter with. Although some of the verses were repeated over and over again. She fights side-by-side the Carpathian hunters proving every bit a warrior. The fight scenes orchestrated by all three of them were of supreme quality. Dominic's calm with infinite patience is exactly what Solange needed for her anger and raging emotions swirling inside her.

Yet, I felt a slight thread of threesome shown by Christine when blood was needed for both Dominic and Zacarius. It was not entirely a threesome, but had a hidden flair. That kind of revolted me. One black mark to the beautiful plot. But I also understand from the writer's point of view - Christine was showing the readers why the Carpathian males are so possessive of their females - one of the many reasons.

The remaining Malinov brothers continue to wreak havoc in the De La Cruzes territory, since they believed that the De La Cruzes betrayed by not staying to their principle. Two strong warrior families, what better people to be pitted against each other. Another score for Christine to conceive such a thought.

In so many books since the De La Cruz brothers have been introduced, we see Zacarias De La Cruz in the background as a distant voice, but never in person as a character. Finally we get to see him not only in flesh, but in a whirling action fighting vampires along-side Dominic. Oh he is certainly a powerful one to be feared and definitely larger than life with a law unto himself. 

Although the plot is really well put and strong I don’t see this book in any of the bestseller lists. Or perhaps I am not looking in the right location. I am guessing more so because of the one black mar I mentioned above. Also may be because Christine's erotic language included words like "pleasing him", "look of approval from her lifemate", etc. that makes one feel like a subservient person rather than an equal. The erotic world that she spins around bordered a bit around Slave-Master that I personally don’t like. 

A few tidbits: 

I wish Christine would include who models for her book covers. Each and every model is so unique and perfect for the character she highlights in that plot. 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. 

The family chart continues to appear in the beginning of the book. The appendix section only has the Carpathian Language in the paperback version I have. This version has three deleted scenes as well. 

Christine provides a jigsaw puzzle of the book cover for this book as well on her website. It is quite interesting. You too can solve it here. She also has the Dark Peril love song, that is in the appendix of the novel, in MP3 format here.

Another powerful paranormal romantic 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. Now that she has full-blown exposure on the Jaguar species I wonder, if Christine would have a cross-over between her Leopard People Series and the Jaguar species in this Carpathian Series. Would love to see one such book.

b. Demyan Tiranul - Dimitri's brother - is one of the master vampires that Dominic and Zacarius fight in this plot. Christine clearly shows that not all seeds born are good, some are sour, some are bad and some are plain evil; by showing bad apples in powerful Carpathian lineages too. I don’t remember any more mention of him in a future book too when I read the first time around. 

c. Solange's royal jaguar blood can kill the extremophiles that Xavier has created to harm the Carpathians; and also could quieten the dark whispers in the head of the ancient Carpathians who are close to turning. Upon conversion both Jaguar blood and Carpathian blood reside side by side in her body as well as Dominic's, retaining her jaguar intact. That blood exchange also gives Dominic ability to walk in sun which the Carpathians could never do.

d. Zacarius gives blood to the young woman, Marguarita, who was daughter of one of his foreman, worked for him and who had protected his identity and faced the vampires. I have a distinct feeling that she would be Zacarius's lifemate in the story that Christine would write for him. 

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? 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 Celebration, we see quite a few sub-plot. 

i. Tempest (lifemate to Darius Daratrazanoff), Sara Marten (lifemate to Falcon) are pregnant.

ii. The plot also reveals a possibility of another powerful Carpathian lineage who had ability to heal earth, water, plants, ability to regrow plants with rich nutritious soil all around, aiding in the birth of Carpathians. Syndil is last surviving descendant.

iii. More about Jansen and Chevez offsprings - Perhaps a budding romance between Josef - Byron's nephew - and Ginny - Colby's step-sister; that Paul and Ginny have Jaguar blood in them by way of their mother. Although Paul is tied to Nicholas De La Cruz by blood bond since Dark Secret.

c. In Dark Possession, it is revealed that MaryAnn Delany, lifemate to Manolito De La Cruz, is a werewolf and now a carpathian with werewolf capabilities hidden beneath.

d. Raven is pregnant with a boy as of Dark Curse plot.

e. Ivory Malinov has a pack of wolves that she had converted them to Carpathian - Raja & Ayame, Blaez & Gynger, Farkas & Rikki.

f. The book of spells by Xavier was found in Dark Demon by Natalya Shonski and her lifemate Vikirnoff Von Shreider. However, Christine hasn’t yet put together a plot to destroy it. 

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. In Dark Celebration, it is revealed that he is Colby and her step siblings uncle - their mother's brother- and that he has dormant Jaguar blood in him.

b. In Dark Dream, Sara Marten adopts seven sewer children - three girls (Emma, Chrissy, Blythe) and four boys (Travis, Jase,) - all with psychic abilities. The other two boys names yet to be known.

c. 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.

d. Barry Woods, a reporter in the Dark Legend plot doesn’t have a closure like other reporters in other plots. Perhaps a future character?

e. Gabrielle Sanders and Jubal Sanders are siblings to Joie Sanders and first introduced in Dark Descent plot.  As of Dark Demon plot they reside in Carpathian Mountains taking care of the kids during the day. Gabrielle is turned to Carpathian in Dark Demon plot and tied to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder. In Dark Celebration it is revealed that the Sanders family from pure Jaguar blood-line. And that all of them have dormant Jaguar blood in them.

f. Jasmine Sangria - sister to Juliette - is first introduced in Dark Hunger plot. A jaguar female and could be a lifemate to a Carpathian male. As of Dark Possession, Jasmine is pregnant. 

g. In Dark Slayer, it is confirmed that Razvan is father to Colby Jansen - lifemate to Rafael De La Cruz, Lara Calladine - lifemate to Nicolas De La Cruz and Skyler Rose - lifemate to Dimitri Tirunul.

4. Perils that the Carpathians face:

a. 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. 

b. Vampires are congregating; using hypnotic dances and holding spells; injecting 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 hunters in their molecular form; master vampires running together; use animals to pry on others; a multigenerational poison that could attack the healers, fighting the master mage Xavier (introduced in Dark Demon plot), ingest parasites so their blood can differentiate between vampires and carpathian males.

c. 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 and jaguar females, documenting about them to kill them in the end. 

d. 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 killed by Rafael De La Cruz with aid from Vikirnoff Von Shrieder in Dark Secret; Maxim Malinov killed by Mikhail Dubrinsky in Dark Celebration; Ruslan Manilov is the eldest of them; Sergey Malinov introduced in Dark Slayer plot.

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 it is shown 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.

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 lifemate to Skyler Rose.

b. Remaining De La Cruz Brothers - Zacarias - living in South America are introduced in Dark Hunger plot along with Riordan. Riordan, Rafael, Manolito and Nicolas find lifemates in Dark Hunger, Dark Secret, Dark Possession and Dark Curse respectively.

c. Tiberiu Bercovitz - an ancient mentioned in Dark Celebration plot. He was known to be amazing with weapons. 

d. Luiz, a Jaguar converted to Carpathian by Manolito De La Cruz in Dark Possession. 

e. Andre - an ancient Carpathian who keeps mostly to himself, introduced first in Dark Curse. 

f. Tariq Asenguard - an ancient Carpathian, who was sent to North America by Vlad, introduced first in Dark Curse.

g. Matias, Lojos and Tomas - ancient Carpathians and siblings, first introduced in Dark Slayer. 

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, a natural healer. Her story is in Dark Desire.

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 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. 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. Her story is in Dark Legend.

f. Natalya Shonski - lifemate to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder. She is part human, part mage and part Dragonseeker. She also has the tigress inside he and has ability to see the past of anything that she touches. Her story is in Dark Demon.

g. Ivory Malinov - Lifemate to Razvan Dragonseeker, sister to the Malinov and De La Cruz brothers, ability to weave counteracting spells to Xavier's. Her story is in Dark Slayer (https://inspirethoughts.livejournal.com/653627.html).

h. Lara Calladine - lifemate to Nicolas De La Cruz. She is part human, part Carpathian and part Dragonseeker; and a daughter of Razvan Dragonseeker. Her story is in Dark Curse.

i. Branislava "Bronnie" Dragonseeker and Tatijana Dragonseeker - First introduced in Dark Descent, Twin Dragons (Green and Red respectively), great aunts to Lara Calladine, aunts to Natalya and Razvan, rescued from Xavier's clutches finally in Dark Curse.

j. Skyler Rose Thompson is first introduced in Dark Legend, as a 14 year old girl psychic human female who is battered and injured in every way. In Dark Celebration it is revealed that she is lifemate to Dimitri Tirunul. In this plot it is confirmed that she is Razvan's daughter and that she is part human, part Dragonseeker. 

8. Next Generation Carpathian male and female kids:

a. Tamara - daughter of Gabriel Daratrazanoff and Francesca Del Pounce, born after the Dark Legend plot.

b. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" Belandrake - Carpathian male kids, first introduced in Dark Symphony. Nephews to Byron Justicano.

c. Jennifer - daughter of Dayan and Corrine Wentworth, born in Dark Melody plot.

d. Stefan Kane Dubrinsky - Jacques and Shea Dubrinsky's son born in Dark Celebration plot.

e. Anastasia Daratrazanoff and Anya Daratrazanoff - twin girls of Gregori and Savannah Daratrazanoff, born in Dark Slayer plot.

9. Geographical / Character / Grammatical / Historical Errors:

a. On Pg. 27, Christine shows Solange Sangria walking most of the night in the forest to get to her childhood home. But on Pg. 69, she mention that Solange had spent all day to cover many miles to get to her childhood home. When the incidents between the pages happened just on one night. Perhaps a mis-entry on part of Christine.

b. Christine spells Tirunul as "Tirunal" in this book. But everywhere else wherever Dimitri is mentioned it is spelled as "Tirunul".

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