Book Critique - Dark Predator (The Carpathian Novels # 22)

For reviews of other books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 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. But for one thing, the plot all in all is a good read.

Dark Predator is the twenty second book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was originally published in September of 2011. The primary plot centers on Zacarias De La Cruz - the eldest and fifth brother of the De La Cruzes - and Marguarita Fernandez - the woman who took care of Zacarias' home in Peru. The plot is set right after the events from Dark Peril. This book also is listed on some of the bestseller lists.

This also forms the fifth and the last book in the five-book series within the Dark Series about the South American brothers, the De La Cruzes - 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. This book has made it into several best seller lists.

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 Symphon, 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.

Zacarias De La Cruz is pulled to one of his ranches in Peru, and assuming it a kind of spell, he bends to the pull and reaches there. But only to end his life. Instead Marguarita Fernadez, the woman who took care of his home, saves him. Being the most dangerous of the Carpathians, whose orders were always obeyed, her failure to follow his orders irks him. In the only way he can express, he tries to force her obedience. Instead he finds his lifemate in her.

However, the dangerous to Carpathians and Zacarias in particular from the Malinov brothers has not been completely eliminated. His work is cut out for him what with trying to keep Marguarite safe and fighting the perils at his doorstep.

Since the plot starts right after where Dark Peril ended, there is a continuation seen from the beginning of this plot. If you remember, in Dark Peril, Zacarius gives blood to the young woman, Marguarita, after being attacked by a vampire. 

Zacarias is a dominant predator, a killing machine. There is nothing soft or gentle about him. Marguarita is complete opposite of him, soft gentle with a tough spine and strong will. Naturally some of the scenes that Chrsitine has spun for Zacarias are very dominant, apt to his nature. However, the constant reminder to the reader that he craved Marguarita's obedience would have rubbed off wrongly.

It did for me the first time around when I read the book. The second read now made me understand the character portrayal much better. Of course, a reader cannot expect Zacarias to turn into a giant teddy bear the minute he finds his lifemate. That would be totally mis-leading. Portraying Zacarias exactly as what he was - dangerous predator - is what Christine had done perfectly.

It still bothers me that the Carpathians don’t talk to each other. The unmated ones don’t want share lest the others have to hunt them in case they turn. The mated ones don’t want to share with unmated ones to keep their lifemates safe. However, the brothers could at least have talked to each other, could have shared pertinent information. 

Marguarita also comes with her share of powers, psychically, that makes her a target of the vampires looking for Zacarias as well as the Morrison Center for Psychic Research. Despite that she wasn’t a match in any way to Zacarias powers. Yet, she displays the strongest nature, standing up to him and standing by him, in whatever manner he needed. Quite a journey both Zacarias and Marguarita have learning each other until they find middle ground for their lives.

But his outright cruel manner in dealing with Marguarita after all they went through threw me off. His character was becoming bit softer on the side even though he was a predator through and through. Yet, it threw me off. Well, it shouldn't have. He is a Carpathian male close to turning and living in a world that is so forward to his archaic nature, a kill or be killed world. That particular scene although cruel does match the nature of Zacarias.

From the  beginning of the series, Christine had mentioned a lot of times about how the Carpathian males have two choices - either they seek dawn or turn into a vampire. We have seen quite a lot of Carpathians converted to vampires. But not once there was a scene where a Carpathian male would seek dawn. I wondered if there would be such a scene at all. And finally there is such a scene in this book when Christine shows the huge decision Zacarias makes before he meets Marguarita.

I also expected the De La Cruz brothers all to have a reunion kind of thing towards the end, now that the most dangerous of them and the oldest found lifemate too. As we have seen so much how Carpathian blood can heal or reverse a damage, I was hoping Marguarita could get back her speech once she was converted. Seems to be that even Carpathian blood cannot undo a damage if it was too much harm done.

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. Only a few books she had exclusively explained who the models were. 

The family chart continues to appear in the beginning of the book. There are two appendix sections - Appendix I for Carpathian Healing Charts and Appendix II for the Carpathian Language.

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.

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. The Santos, Chevez, Fernandez and Diaz families and their extended families serve the De La Cruzes in South America, taking care of their ranches and cattle and homes during the day time. We have met a few of those family members in the previous plots. Colby Jansen, lifemate to Rafael De La Cruz, is related to the Chevez family by way of her step-father. We had read their story in Dark Secret, the 14th book in the series, and 2nd in the De La Cruzes stories.

b. Marguarita has close ties to capataz of the Peruvian ranch that Zacarias makes his home for now - Cesaro Santos, his son Julio Santos. Other people that are close to Marguarita are - Ricco Cayo (a cattle hand and whose life Zacarias saves by giving blood), Lea Eldridge (who is in love with Julio), 

c. Marguarita having tea from an intricately made clay teapot reminded me of a plot where a museum curator who was taking care of the centuries old tea pots gets involved in a murder mystery. It's from the Season 1 Episode 2, The Blind Baker, from the BBC TV series Sherlock.

d. Dominic Dragonseeker and Solange Sangria head back to Carpathian mountains to deliver important news to their Prince.

e. Even though Zacharias finds his lifemate, since Marguarita cannot speak, he can only see in color or feel emotions if Margaurita's spirit is connected to him and filling him. Perhaps Christine left their bond thus so the darkness in him can be used as an asset as opposed to shunning it away.

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. 

g. 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.

h. In Dark Peril, it is shown that Solange Sangria's royal jaguar blood can kill the extremophiles that Xavier has created to harm the Carpathians; and a blood exchange could give ability to walk in sun at least in the early mornings and evenings, which the Carpathians could never do. Christine showed the continuity of this in this plot by having Zacharias accept Solange's blood again. 

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 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 and killed by Zacharias De La Cruz in this plot; Sergey Malinov introduced in Dark Slayer plot; fifth brother yet to be introduced.

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

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

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

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

f. 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.

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 and also 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. 124, Line 18, it should be "…the agony of such things."

b. On Pg. 304, Line 4, it should be "…he was afraid to face…"

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