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Book Critique - Dark Storm (The Carpathian Novels # 23)

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 Storm is the twenty third book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was originally published in September of 2012. The primary plot centers on Danutdaxton "Dax" - an ancient Carpathian buried alive in a volcano - and Riley Parker - a linguist and a psychic. The book was listed on a few 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 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.

Riley Parker and her mother Annabel Parker take their five yearly trip to the Amazon Rainforests to complete centuries-old family tradition. But nothing goes right from the time they arrive in the village at the base of the Andes in Peru. Despite their efforts they arrive too late and a monster gets unleashed from the heart of the volcano.

Dax, an ancient Carpathian hunter, with the ability to ferret out those Carpathians who would turn even before they turned, had fought centuries along-side his trusted friend, Arabejila, to keep this monster contained. And now it is upto him again to leash him back or mete justice now. Finding Riley now at the end of this fight adds complication that he welcomes as well as worries for. How Riley and Dax take on the monster and at the same time find a way to each other travelling through dark storms is what the rest of the plot is about.

Normally when Christine Feehan gives us a book, more than often we would have read about some of the elements, most importantly about the lead characters, in the plot in previous books. However, neither Riley Parker nor Dax had been introduced to the readers prior to this plot. So far only her anthologies had such a precedence but not a primary book.

Christine brought back two of the readers' favorite characters - Jubal Sanders and Gary Jansen - in this book. They travel to the same location where Riley and her mom were headed in the Andes in Peru; in search of a particular plant native to Carpathian but now pretty much extinct. In this plot though, they are not just mere people working for the Carpathians and taking care of their properties and children during the day. But much more - they are shown as warriors and researchers, both blended in; making them very close to becoming Carpathians themselves. 

Christine introduces quite a few Carpathian rituals in this plot including the fertility ritual involving the covered flower that Gary and Jubal were searching for. I remember in Dark Slayer Christine had shown a lot of Carpathian rituals that helped the Carpathians fight the evils of Xavier and cure their curse, at least partially, in the ability to give birth.

Other folks from the Carpathian world that Christine continues to bring forth are - Lea Elbridge, whom we had seen in Dark Predator, Riordan and Juliette De La Cruz (first met in Dark Hunger, the 14th book), Jasmine Sangria (Juliette's very pregnant sister). 

The time that flies between the 14th book and this book is not even a year, since Jasmine is yet to give birth. It seems like Christine's plots happen days apart which they do, by the way the plots proceed. But, the fact of Jasmine being still pregnant brought to light gives the reader that perspective.

It was also nice to see Riordan in action. His story when told had less action compared to other plots. So I was craving to see his share of doing the duty of Carpathian warrior.

Riley and Dax actually make a very cute couple. He isn't as overbearing and over protective like other Carpathian males with Riley, trusting her to reach out to him, as opposed to other Carpathian males we have seen who jump into action first. Both sides are right, however, I liked the way Dax reaches out to Riley. Riley with her powers and strong character forms a formidable partner to Dax.

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. 

This is the third book that Christine Feehan thanks her friend Cheryl Wilson. Yes, the very same C. L. Wilson of the Weathermages of Mystral series. The other two books that she had done so far were the 18th book Dark Possession and 20th book Dark Slayer.

The family chart continues to appear in the beginning of the book. However, it doesn’t show the Dark Predator link for Zacharias even though that was the previous book.

There are two appendix sections - Appendix I for Carpathian Healing Charts and Appendix II for the Carpathian Language.

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. Annabel Parker is tuned to Mother Earth just like Syndil. Is she related to Syndil somehow and thus perhaps Riley Parker too? Their ancestor, Arabejila, is also tuned to Mother Earth and plants grow at her feet just like Syndil. Perhaps Arabejila is from that powerful Carpathian lineage that Mikhail had eluded to in Dark Celebration.

b. Riley Parker has not only affinity towards Mother Earth, to have nature respond to her grown and rejuvenate all around her, but also to heal someone by creating bone and tissue much faster than a Carpathian who heals by sleeping in the Earth. 

c. The primary antagonist in this plot, Mitro Daratrazanoff, is related to the rest of the Carpathians from that family - Gabriel, Lucian, Gregori, Darius and Desari.

d. Dax is not "just" Carpathian anymore, he is more than that, courtesy of his being stuck in the volcano for 500 years - more tolerance to heat and fire, denser bones causing less injury, ability to see using other things even in the darkest caves and tunnels. And now he has the spirit of an ancient powerful dragon inside him that changed him elementally.

e. Dax has the ability to see the dark shadow in an unmated Carpathian male that tells him if that male would eventually turn. A curse and a boon for him.

f. Christine mentions about Elizabeth Bathory who had bathed in blood of young virgins. I remember a similar mention in one of the books, Lost Souls, by Lisa Jackson. Her plot centralled on Elizabeth Bathory and her fetish. My review of that book is here.

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 Dark Predator and Dark Storm plots. 

i. In Dark Predator we saw budding romance between Julio Santos and Lea Eldridge. Will these and other human families supporting the De La Cruzes resurface somewhere in a future plot? We are saw that Dominic Dragonseeker and Solange Sangria head back to Carpathian mountains to deliver important news to their Prince.

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. Gabrielle Sanders and Jubal Sanders, siblings to Joie Sanders are 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 come from pure Jaguar blood-line. And that all of them have dormant Jaguar blood in them. In Dark Storm plot it is shown that Jubal has feelings for Jasmine Sangria, jaguar female.

d. 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. 

e. 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. Vampires are congregating; injecting a fast acting poison impacting the nervous system; 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.

b. 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. 

c. 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 Dark Predator; Sergey Malinov introduced in Dark Slayer; 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.

k. Arabejila - ancient Carpathian female and lifemate to Mitro Daratrazanoff, who worked side-by-side Dax for centuries to hunt Mitro after he turned vampire and wreaked havoc. Riley Parker is a direct descendent of Arabejila, but not a full Carpathian by birth. 

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. 83, Line 11, it should be "…He nodded to her…"

b. On Pg. 137, Christine mentions that Gary offered his unbroken wrist to Dax. However, it wasn’t Gary whose wrist was broken but instead Jubal's.

c. On Pg. 137, Line 13, it should be "….into her - not Gary…"

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