Dark Promises by Christine Feehan

Dark Promises by Christine Feehan
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (316 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Gabrielle has had enough of battles, of wars, of seeing the man she’s engaged to nearly lose his life when it isn’t even his fight. Once Gary was a gentle and very human researcher. Now he’s a fearless and lethal Carpathian warrior with the blood of an ancient lineage coursing through his veins—a man Gabrielle still needs and dreams of with every breath she takes. All she wants is a life far away from the Carpathian mountains, far from vampires and the shadows cast by the crumbling monastery that hides so many terrible secrets. But Gabrielle soon learns that promises made in the dark can pierce the heart like a dagger.

And she isn’t the only one in search of answers in the corners of the unknown….

Trixie Joanes has come to the Carpathian mountains in search of her wayward granddaughter, fearing that she has been lured there by something unspeakable. Instead, Trixie has stumbled onto the path of a desperate woman on the run. And they’re all fated for the lair of a mysterious ancient with revenge in his soul and the undying power to make bad dreams come true.

If readers are looking for a sexy paranormal romance story with lots of adventures in passion then Dark Promises delivers.

Aleksei is an ancient Carpathian and Ms. Feehan created her hero to be as deadly, dark and commanding as any she’s introduced readers to yet. The one element that is insidiously sensual is his dominance. All Carpathian men are control freaks due to their living in the time when men were warriors, but the author takes the hero to a new level. At first it is an extremely uncomfortable level especially when Gabrielle and Aleksei first meet. He’s wild, untamed, violent and uncontrollable. Fans of the series will understand what drives him and will more than probably accept his behavior with the understanding that he’s overwhelmed emotionally by all the feelings that bombard him all at once. Much of it comes from his misinterpretation of the situation. New readers might be turned off because his initial brutality is shocking; it was even for me, a longtime fan. Once the hero calms down and is able to listen, he slowly starts to figure out he was partly wrong. Never totally wrong, mind you, but certainly some.

Gabrielle is a hard heroine to completely like. She has her moments and I believe and agree with Aleksei’s understanding of her; she’s a submissive. How that revelation comes about needs to be read to understand why I agree. Submissive doesn’t mean ‘doormat’, it means she needs someone to lean on when she needs it and needs–here’s the big thing–to trust that the person will deliver, will be there for her and will understand her needs. When the heroine’s strength has to be counted upon, she comes through. Her character flowers under Aleksei’s care because he truly does ‘get’ her. One scene even dabbles with a little bit of light BDSM hence the mention of Gabrielle’s being submissive. I just didn’t like all the crying she did.

The flowering, so-to-speak comes from sex; lots of sex. I think Ms. Feehan basically shows how Gabrielle and Aleksei fall in love, come to terms with and learn about each other, through all the sex scenes that populate the book. In fact there is so much of it, page after page, that I was hard pressed to find an external conflict. There are a few token suspenseful moments but it goes right back to sex. Dark Promise is basically a hot, sexy romance with light paranormal drama to enhance the love story.

For me, what stole the limelight and the show away from the emotional drama that is the Gabrielle and Aleksei show was Trixie. When Trixie meets Fane, it was pure magic. I’m not sure how to describe their meeting but it was more romantic, fun and enjoyable than the main hero and heroine. I adored Trixie. I liked her sass, her moral compass and her dedication to family. I was thrilled with how Fane treated her, thought of her and talked with her. I felt happy, completely happy when they were on stage. As secondary characters finding their HEA, Ms. Feehan presented a winning combo. Fane and Trixie rock!

The book winds down with hooks for new books, new characters and Carpathian men to save. Certainly I want to read them because I never know just how the author is going to save the hero and what kind of woman is up to the job of taming her caveman Carpathian. That’s half the fun of this series – old fashioned warrior men versus strong-willed modern women.

Dark Promises does have a satisfying happy ever after and tells a good romance story. Many fans will enjoy it and for those that just love the sexy side of a Carpathian romance, those readers are probably going to be extremely happy.

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