Dark Desires

Dark Prince

Dark Magic by Christine Feehan
(Love Spell, $5.50, R) ISBN 0-505-52389-2
For fans of Christine Feehan, the long wait is finally over...Gregori's story is on bookstore shelves at last! For those of you unfamiliar with her Carpathian series, here's an update: A race of immortals exists that lies somewhere between human and vampire. This race feeds on human blood to stay alive, but they do not harm their prey. For males of the species, being Carpathian can be a curse, because after their first few centuries of life, they dwell in a world of blackness devoid of all emotion; they feel no joy, no sorrow, no anything. For males who cannot bear the never-ending burden, they eventually turn vampire, torturing and killing humans after feeding on their blood. For these creatures, the kill becomes addicting, like a drug, and is the only emotion their damned souls will ever again experience. Once they turn, there is no going back, no salvation.

The only thing that can give a Carpathian male his emotions back, thereby keeping him from turning vampire in the first place, is a lifemate. Women, however, are very scarce amongst their race. In Dark Prince, we learn that there are a select group of human women (females who are true psychics) that can be successfully converted and claimed by a Carpathian male as a lifemate. Better yet, they can breed females, something Carpathian women seem unable to do. This new knowledge brings hope to the males of their species, many of whom are close to turning, having lived century after century with no hope of finding their other half. The most powerful and feared among Carpathian males is Gregori, the ancient known as The Dark One.

Gregori has spent the last thousand years as a mystical healer to his people and a hunter of vampires. Playing executioner to men that used to be his friends has taken a deadly toll on him. He knows he is close to turning vampire. He fears this eventuality not so much for himself, but for humans and Carpathians alike, for he realizes that he is too strong, too skilled to be hunted and killed by another if he turns. There would be no stopping Gregori or the bloody rampage that would soon follow should he turn vampire.

When the former human Raven (Dark Prince) becomes pregnant with her lifemate Mikail's baby (Dark Desire), Gregori knows that the unborn child is female and belongs to him. Desperate for it to be true, and deciding to leave nothing to fate, he tampers with the fetus' chemistry to ensure a perfect match while she's still in the womb. When Savannah is born, the torture of waiting for her to grow up is almost unbearable to Gregori, but finally her eighteenth birthday arrives and he goes to claim his lifemate. Savannah, unfortunately, is as terrified of The Dark One as everyone else is. She flees from him (Dark Gold) and runs to America to build a new life.

Five years later, Dark Magic begins. Gregori has given Savannah five years to live on her own, independent of him, but tonight her time has run out. Gregori is so close to turning that he fears anything will send him over the edge into madness. So now, before it is too late, Gregori will claim Savannah as his own...

Savannah Dubrinski is terrified of the powerful Carpathian she has been fated to spend eternity with. He is the strongest amongst their people, the bogey man Carpathian women warn their children about. But Savannah also sees a side of Gregori that no other has been shown...she sees his vulnerability toward her, his desperate longing to not only claim Savannah, but to have her feel love for him, an emotion no other person of any species has ever felt for him.

Savannah also realizes that Gregori believes he took her unfairly, that it was his tampering with chemistry that made them lifemates instead of destiny. Because of that tampering (and because of all the killing he has been obliged to do throughout the centuries), Gregori thinks he will never be loved by her. Savannah decides to prove him wrong, for she knows deep inside that they were meant to be together. She also comes to realize that it was her intense feelings for him, more so than her actual fear of Gregori, that made her run from him to begin with.

Meanwhile, a secret society of vampire hunters has targeted Savannah for their next kill. They do not understand the difference or differentiate between a Carpathian and a vampire, but even if they did it is unlikely it would matter to them; these sadistic men enjoy inflicting misery on anyone unfortunate enough to cross paths with them. As has happened so often throughout the centuries, it falls to Gregori to stamp the group out. Will Savannah's love waver when she sees him for the monster he believes he is?

This is a very intense book. Although Dark Magic can be read without having read the other novels in the series first, it is not recommended to do this. A minor but nevertheless significant portion of Gregori's power as a character is purely psychological, stemming from the teasers we are given of him in books one through three. By the time Love Spell got around to releasing this novel, Feehan fans were as desperate to read Gregori's story as he was to claim Savannah. This is one time where the wait was honestly worth it.

Thankfully, the author has written a heroine that is a real match for Gregori. Savannah is not someone this powerful male will be able to walk all over. Their chemistry is crafted as intricately as their characters are. She brings humor and wit to Dark Magic and teaches the hero how to do the same. Surprisingly, some of the novel's funniest lines come from Gregori, a character no Carpathian enthusiast would have associated with humor up until this point.

Christine Feehan's Carpathian series is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for readers who find vampire-esque novels disturbing. If you purchase this book or its predecessors expecting the characters to be mainstream, you will be disappointed. If blood makes you squeamish keep browsing. The heroes Feehan pens are dominant alpha males, more animal than man. The sex between lifemates is primal and all-consuming, and includes the exchange of blood. (Carpathian males, once mated, will not allow their women to touch other men, so the females feed from their lifemates during sex...an act that gives Carpathian men extreme pleasure.)

If you're a fan of the gothic or vampire genres, this book, indeed this entire series, is not to be missed. Four more books are already in the works. Look for Julian's story (Dark Challenge) next, scheduled for release in November 2000.

--Tina Engler

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