Book Critique - Dark Promises (The Carpathian Novels # 29)

For reviews of other books in this series: Go here

Stars: 2.5 / 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. This plot creates a new thread in the many threads this series has keeping it interesting and intriguing.

Dark Promises is the twenty ninth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was originally published in March of 2016. The plot is again set in Carpathian Mountains and has two pairs this time - Gabrielle Sanders & Aleksei; Trixie Joanes & Fane.

Carpathians are a powerful and ancient race who are near-immortals living for thousands of years with powers and gifts. Despite their gifts and extended lifespans, they are at the edge 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 Lycans (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.

I had already read and written a review of this book when it came out here. However, now that I am re-reading the series, I am compelled to write my review again. Perhaps I might have a different perspective, since I did rate this book quite low. And after reading it although there are other concepts in the plot that I really liked, I still will keep the same rating due to two main aspects. 

The plot continues from the previous one - Dark Ghost - in Carpathian Mountains, specifically around the monastery, Retreat in the Veil of Mists. Multiple threads traverse through the story that Christine spins for us.

First up the Monastery, Retreat in the Veil of Mists, that Christine introduced in Dark Ghost, at the top of the Carpathian Mountains housing ancients who do not want to be closer to anyone or hunt anymore but do not want to go to sun as well. Teagan Boroi already promised to see if her psychic abilities can be put to use to ease their pain and give them a little more time to find their lifemates. That continues in this plot.

Second is the story between Trixie Joanes - Teagan's grandmother - and Fane - the ancient guarding the monastery. With her strong psychic abilities, she becomes a lifemate to Fane. However, she has a compulsion to hunt and kill Gary.

Third thread is the most awaited story by the readers - story of Gary and Gabrielle. We know from the time they had met together in Dark Descent, and have been in love with each other. She is sister to Joie Trigovise and Jubal Sanders and a very brilliant scientist. However, Gabrielle "Gabby" Sanders was converted to a Carpathian in Dark Demon tied to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder and Gary Jansen became Gary Daratrazanoff in Dark Blood. And the story becomes Gabby and Aleksei's instead. 

Per the rules that Christine had drilled into the plots and reader's mind, when Gabby was reborn as a Carpathian, she had the other half of a male Carpathian's soul already connected to her soul. However that Carpathian could or could not be Gary, and thus Gabby could be a true lifemate to any Carpathian including Gary.

Granted that Christine wanted to make the readers understand what it means to be reborn as a Carpathian and how it effects the mind, heart and soul that grew as human to begin with. However, I felt that this particular plot did not resonate well with the readers. I don’t even know where to begin with for me to list what were the different elements that readers didn’t like about this plot or appreciate it. 

Gabrielle Sanders herself wanted to be converted to Carpathian when she was near death-bed, then she herself persuaded Gary to be converted too when he was near death-bed. Guessing she did that so she can have Gary for herself. But in the plot, Christine mentions that neither she wanted for herself nor she wanted it for Gary. Where did that come from?

Gabby never sounded whiny before, in fact she sounded more spirited and strong woman even though she was a shy wall flower and always hedged away from adventures like her brother and sister. However, she sounded a lot whinier and bitter, especially towards everything Carpathian. She never gave that impression until now that she hated the Carpathian world. Why did Christine change the nature of her character?

Now she is tied to a lifemate, Aleksei, who is more dangerous than any Carpathian male she had met so far, who believed she betrayed him, and bent on punishing her cruelly, before she had to chance to explain. Why make her lifemate so domineering and harsh when she was all soft and shy? Was Christine punishing her character for not picking up her courage to understand the way of Carpathian life instead of hiding behind a microscope?

And finally having a older female becoming a lifemate to an ancient Carpathian. Of course Trixie Joanes would be considered a baby at her 60 years of age for Carpathians, but she was practically an old woman per human terms. I am not sure how I would like it if my mother end up becoming someone's lifemate, however Trixie becomes Fane's lifemate. But, I do remember that in Dark Destiny, she did mention that one of the old ladies who were friend's with Destiny Von Shrieder, was the lifemate to the antagonist vampire hunting Destiny, and that she had waited for him to come and claim, instead he had turned.

In any case, Christine does have Gabrielle come to terms with her lifemate Aleksei, and Aleksei also makes his effort to know and understand her despite his dominating nature. She also gives a path for Gary. Even then it was disappointing not to see a story for Gary yet. She also cleared the dilemma as to why Fane felt connected to Teagan Joanes even though she wasn’t his lifemate.

Between all the dangerous and intense scenes between Gabrielle and Aleksei, and with Vampires and Vampire Hunters at their heals, making the plot more sinister, the interaction between Fane and Trixie created a breath of fresh air, making the intense scenes airy and light. It was funny to see the guardian of the monastery had his hands full with Trixie, he never knew what she would next. For a serious guys such as him, she certainly made a very contrasting humorous complement.

On the other hand Gary Daratrazanoff is getting shaped into every bit like Gregori Daratrazanoff taking on the ancient lineage's power, history and knowledge. And he is becoming more and more prominent. I can’t wait to read his story, and I know Christine is building it up for us. This plot also explains that fact - a newly reborn Carpathian with his soul torn only in this plot, even though he was converted four books ago, meaning his lifemate would have to be born now. And we have to wait for her to grow for Christine to pen a story, just like she mentioned in her blog. 

I was curious to see if becoming a Carpathian, if it would anyway age Trixie backward or make her younger. But that had not been eluded in the plot. 

More ancients introduced in this plot and are sent across the world again. However, I wonder what she will do about the ones that she had already introduced and waiting for their stories to be written. Wouldn’t she want to complete them first before bringing more people in? Or is she having a different agenda on her plate where she is having Carpathians converge in the United States? We will just have to wait and see.

Again the words like "obey", "allow", "gifting as in orgasms", "rewarded" sneak in Christine's plots which were lesser in the previous three or four books. I wish she just could use other words as these make me feel more of BDSM type-ish. But then there is no give to the Carpathian men, so perhaps these words do suit them. Even though the women object thoroughly and find a way to balance that between them.

The Carpathian Family Chart appears in this book again, but is missing the connections for pairs since Dark Blood. The two appendices come back - Appendix I for Carpathian Healing Chants and Appending II for The Carpathian Language.

A lot of repeat paraphrasing continues in this book. 

Another powerful paranormal romantic plot woven by Christine Feehan keeping us thoroughly entertained and immersed into the world of Carpathians, Lycans, Mages and Jaguars along-side humans. As always the fight scenes are excellent and love scenes are very erotic and rough, bordering on brutal.

Despite the basic plot, Christine did give  me a lot of tears, all for Gary Daratrazanoff alone. I do hope she does very goof justice by him when she eventually writes his plot. Christine 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. Gabrielle Sanders gets a gift on her supposed wedding night with Gary from her brother Jubal and her father - an ancient bracelet from an ancestor that the Sanders family never heard of, and curl around her wrist, filled with power. 

b. All the ancients in the monastery have tattoo covering their backs, shoulders and arms with their creed in ancient letters. What it is, is a mystery yet. 

c. Aleksei and Gabrielle also join Teagan, Andre, Trixie and Fane to go to US, continue with Gabrielle's research and aid the hunters there. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Wonder why Christine didn’t have their own book or a novella for Barack and Syndil instead of splitting between Dark Challenge and Dark Fire? Why make him wait till after Darius makes his clam on Tempest, before Barack claims Syndil?

b. Dark Celebration plot reveals 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. Ivory Malinov has a pack of wolves that she had converted them to Carpathian - Raja & Ayame, Blaez & Gynger, Farkas & Rikki. Now Dimitri and Skyler also have a pack of their own Carpathian wolves - Frost & Misty, Moonglow, Shadow and Sonnet.

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

e. I wonder if Christine would have a cross-over between her Leopard People Series and the Jaguar species in this Carpathian Series.

f. In Dark Peril, it is shown that Solange Sangria's royal jaguar blood gives Carpathians ability to walk in sun, albeit with some difficulties. Christine showed the continuity of this in Dark Predator and Dark Storm plots. 

g. In Dark Blood, a few things come to light: Zev Tirunul gets 12 Lycan/Carpathians - Guardians of All - thought to be Sange rau, for his pack which includes Dimitri and Skyler, Fen and Tatijana and Bransilava, his mate; along with his trusted elite Lycans. I am seeing another thread here that Christine perhaps will explore further. That Zev is from a powerful Carpathian lineage, Dark Blood.

h. In Dark Ghost, Andre and Teagan Boroi plan to eventually move to states and be closer to the Triplets, ancients Andre grew up with. And now Fane and Trixie will join them too. I am guessing the near immediate plots would have all of them in US.

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

a. In Dark Dream, Falcon and Sara Amiras adopts seven sewer children - three girls (Chrissy, Blythe, Emma) and four boys (Travis, Peter, Lucas, Jase) - all with psychic abilities. 

b. Jubal Sanders - sibling to Joie Trigovise, first introduced in Dark Descent, resides in the Carpathian mountains with his sisters and aiding the Carpathians, comes from pure Jaguar blood-line, has feelings for Jasmine Sangria, jaguar female per Dark Storm.

c. Jasmine Sangria - sister to Juliette De La Cruz, first introduced in Dark Hunger, jaguar female, pregnant as of Dark Possession. 

d. Emeline "Emmy" Sanchez - first introduced in Dark Crime, friend and family to Blaze Volkov, who had mostly lived on streets all her life, but sneaked into Blaze's bedroom at nights for support and shelter; ability to see future in her dreams; brutally raped by Vadim Malinov when trying to rescue children.

e. Four strong psychic kids, siblings, are saved from the clutches of Vladim Malinov in Dark Crime - Danny (15 year old boy), Amelia (older than Danny), Liv (10 year old), Bella (a toddler).

4. Perils that the Carpathians face:

a. Master Vampires and their lesser vampires; the ghouls; various poisons and traps; fighting the master mage Xavier's remaining two splinters of which one is shared by Sergey and Vadim Malinov per Dark Crime; Xavyion, the surviving High Mage Triplets (Xavier killed in Dark Slayer by Razvan and Ivory Dragonseeker, Xaviero killed in Dark Blood by Zev Tirunul, aided by all the Carpathians and Lycans); rescue psychic females from the clutches of the remaining Malinov brothers so they don’t use them for breeding.

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. 

c. Malinov Brothers - introduced in Dark Secret; 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; Vadim Malinov introduced in Dark Crime. 

d. The Lycan/Vampires - Carpathians who deliberately mixed blood with Lycans and voluntarily converted to Vampires - also known as the Sange rau.

5. Lifemate pairs that frequently show their presence, even though they had no main story for them, as of yet:

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, Lycans and Jaguars who are waiting for their lifemates or partners as of this book and we meet as the series progresses:

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

b. Luiz De La Cruz - introduced as Luiz Silva, a Jaguar converted to Carpathian by Manolito De La Cruz in Dark Possession, inducted into the Carpathian world of Warriors in Dark Blood.

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

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

e. The other elite Lycans introduced in Dark Lycan and subsequent books - Daciana Declaw (female elite Lycan), Lykaon, Makoce, Damon Declaw.

f. Gary Daratrazanoff - Introduced as Gary Jansen in the 4th book Dark Magic; revealed to have Jaguar blood and related to Colby and her step siblings in Dark Celebration; converted to Carpathian in Dark Blood after suffering a mortal wound aiding the Carpathians; loses all his color and emotions in one night, aging a thousand years with the power of all the ancients who had poured inside him, when Gabrielle is claimed by Alexei and his soul gets split at that moment, in Dark Promises; Trixie, Teagan and Gabrielle help him in pointing him to France for hope of his lifemate potentially being there. 18 years since his character had first been mentioned, yet Christine still hasn’t spun a story for him. In one of her blog post on Goodreads in 2018, she however mentions that Gary's story has to wait as his lifemate is a child now. Has she already introduced the child? Or is she 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. 

g. Val Zhestokly - ancient Carpathian legend rescued by Maksim and Blaze from clutches of Vladim Manilov in Dark Crime.

h. Seven ancients introduced in this plot who resided in the Retreat in the Veil of Mists, all sent to different directions by Trixie, Teagan and Gabrielle's powers in hopes of finding their lifemates - Dragomir (sent to CA in USA), Sandu, Isai, Petru, Benedek, Andor, Ferro

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; power to sing that could bring peace to all beings. Her story is in Dark Challenge

d. Syndil - lifemate to Barack, 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; makes stained glass patterns and quilts that are specific to one's need and bring healing to them. Her story is in Dark Legend. As of Dark Wolf, she is pregnant again. 

f. Natalya Shonski - lifemate to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder. She is part human, part mage and part Dragonseeker. 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 (Lifemate to Zev Tirunul, her story is in Dark Blood), and Tatijana Dragonseeker (Lifemate to Fenris Dalka, her story is in Dark Lycan).

j. Skyler Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Dimitri Tirunul; adopted by Gabriel and Francesca Daratrazanoff, is Razvan's biological daughter; part Mage, part Human, part Dragonseeker, part Jaguar, part Lycan (as revealed in Dark Blood); Daughter of the Earth. Her story is in Dark Wolf.

8. Next Generation Carpathian male and female kids:

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

b. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" Belandrake - Carpathian male kids, first introduced in Dark Symphony. Nephews to Byron Justicano. In Dark Celebration a budding romance was shown between Josef and Ginny - Colby's step-sister; while in Dark Lycan Skyler mentions that perhaps one or both of Gregori's daughters' may be his lifemate.

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

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

e. Alexandru "Sandu" - Mikhail and Raven Dubrinsky's son, born sometime after Dark Curse.

f. Anastasia Daratrazanoff and Anya Daratrazanoff - twin girls of Gregori and Savannah Daratrazanoff, born in Dark Slayer. As of Dark Lycan, Anya and Anastasia are becoming strong protectors of Alexandru just like Gregori was to Mikhail; Anya more being Alexandru's second-in-command.

g. Andor and <> - Twins (a boy and girl) of Darius and Tempest Daratrazanoff.

h. Isabella Sara Amiras - Falcon and Sara Amiras' daughter, born in Dark Blood. (Sara miscarried the first child she had sometime after Dark Celebration)

9. Geographical / Character / Grammatical / Historical Errors:

a. On Pg. 311, Line 3 from bottom, it should be "…another thing coming. .."


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