Christine Feehan / Paranormal Romance
Dominic, of the Dragonseeker lineage—one of the most powerful of the Carpathian lines—is desperate to go to the very heart of the enemy camp and learn their plans. There’s only one way to do so: ingest the parasitic blood of a vampire. He knows that it is a mission from which there is no return. With little time before the blood takes effect, he’ll get the information he needs, relay it to the leader of the Carpathians, and go out fighting. There is no more honorable way to end his life. Solange Sangria is one of the last of the jaguar people, a royal pureblood, a dying species that cannot recover from bad decisions made over hundreds of years. She has long been alone, fighting to save the remaining shapeshifters from the hands of Brodrick the Terrible: her own father, who slaughtered her family and everyone she loved. Wounded and weary, she plans one last battle, hoping to stop the man who has made an alliance with the vampires, accepting that she will not come out alive.They are two warriors who have lived their lives alone. Now, at the end of their time, they find each other—an obstacle neither can hope to ignore.
(click to read how I felt)
"I claim you as my life mate. I belong to you. I offer my life for you. I give to you my protection, my allegiance, my heart, my soul, and my body. I take into my keeping the same that is yours. Your life, happiness, and welfare will be cherished and placed above my own for all time. You are my life mate, bound to me for all eternity and always in my care."
Without fail, I melt when I hear those words. Shivers race over my skin and my breath hitches as I imagine such an intimate connection where two people reach out to one another and bond their souls as one. It is always such a pivotal (and not to mention incredibly romantic) moment for me so when my husband came into my work with Dark Peril as a surprise, I found my hands shaking in anticipation. Now a few days later and with the book devoured, all I can say is as the 21st book in the series it continues to pull on my heart strings and pack a powerful emotional reaction.
It has always broken my heart each time I'm reminded that the powerful hunters I fall in love with each book, fight a constant battle to maintain their honor when living through countless centuries without the ability to see in color and feel any kind of emotion. It's hard to understand what one hour would feel like enduring such a bleak existence but add to that the constant battle to hold off the darkness that would turn them into vampires (and ultimately become the very thing they've spent centureies hunting) and it's pretty easy to say that it has to suck being a Carpathian male. The only way to save these larger than life men is for them to find their lifemates, those women who have the ability to not only restore what they've lost but also complete them. This is the hope of every male but for some that hope runs out and they're faced with either succumbing to evil or ending their lives with honor.
Enter Dominic Dragonseeker. The most feared and revered of all Carpathian hunters, you just KNOW that he is going to sizzle. My gosh what this man did to my heart. The thing that touched me most about Dominic was the sheer patience this man had. He had every reason to be an arrogant, domineering jerk. He came from a line that had NEVER turned vampire and had survived 1000 years of bleakness. When he finally meets with Solange and realizes who she is, he could steam roll right over her, especially when he realizes there is a side of her with extreme insecurities. But no, this mighty warrior, a powerhouse amongst his people, provides Solange with the space to make choices for herself. I loved the image of him asking her questions, asking her to trust him, asking her to come to him and standing there waiting with his hand out. He doesn't take her, he doesn't try to force or control her. He stands there patiently and I have no doubt that he would stand there as long as it took. Another thing I LOVED Dominic for was the way he treated Solange. He was just so gentle with her, always putting HER needs first before his own. Everything he did was to help her realize how loved and truly beautiful she was and it made my heart MELT. He was a perfect mixture of fierce and protective warrior and the gentleness and sensuality of a lover. Perfect !!!
To me, Solange was a prime example of how looks can be very deceiving. So often we judge people by their appearances, by the front they present and we never realize that behind the mask is a person who also has insecurities and fears of being vulnerable. I would imagine that it would make it even more difficult for someone, who has always appeared strong, to let down that guard and appear what they feel is weak. It takes a special person to be patient, to gently reassure Solange that it's ok to be both the warrior and the woman and I was so happy for her that it was Dominic. Solange's world was turned upside down with the realization that the man she has dreamed of, the man that she had shared her most deepest secrets with was real and for the first time is unsure how to act because it isn’t the warrior in her that is responding to Dominic but the feminine part of her she has spent years surpressing. She really struggles with her relationship with him because she fears she is lacking and that if she steps one foot out of line and isn't perfect, he will leave her shattered. Solange holds to the belief that to please him, she must hold back the part of her that has kept her protected from hurt. It was beautful to watch her relax and open up to Dominic as she finds her courage to accept that he loves her and to him, she will always be the one he wants. She was the shock of the story because I NEVER would have thought she struggled with self image.
As much as it pains me however, there was something that I guess made me a little sad and it had nothing to do with the story or the AMAZING characters and more with the author and her need to be a little too descriptive for my liking. Let me explain. I’m by no means a prude. I can appreciate a tasteful love scene filled with intimacy and the magic of the moment. I love the melding of two people in total connection with other. But where it turns a little ick for me is when certain things become descriptive. Did I need to know that part of him was shaped like a fungus? Isn’t it enough that I know she uses her mouth for a variety of things without having an anatomy lesson? It takes the magic created in that perfect moment and turns it into a biology lesson. When you think of the birth of a baby, for me its that moment when a new baby enters the world as a tiny bundle of perfection. There is that feeling, that connection, that “sigh” moment that you have witnessed something beautiful and seeing I just helped my friend with the birth of her son, it’s INCREDIBLY awe inspiring. Now imagine expecting a birth how I just described but in the middle of that I talk about all the gunk and blood that’s involved in descriptive detail. How about I take a moment to describe what the mother looks like there, all tired, sweaty and bleeding. Did you need to know? Maybe you do, after all it is reality. But for me, I rely on whatever moments I can get that reminds me that not everything in the world is harsh and ugly. I don’t even think it would have bothered me so much but on example was part of the bonding ritual scene. I can skim a sex scene if it becomes uncomfortable but what if that scene is an important and intimate moment, one I expressly read the book for? Like I said, just made me a little sad.
But despite my own little quirks about being descriptive, I really LOVED this book. It was such an emotional experience and I was still sighing days later over Dominic. I loved how the characters made me feel and how involved I became in the story. Now all I need to do is patiently wait for the next Carpathian male to come along and steal my heart. GREAT series for all lovers of romance.
"You have to know it's different. Doesn't it feel different to you?" She couldn't get the pleading tone out of her voice. She wanted him to understand.
"Completely different," he agreed. "Better. I feel emotions I have not felt in hundreds of years. I know what love is. I know what it is to be jealous and to be happy. I can look at my woman and feel the demands of my body. I welcome even the possibility of heartache. I know what it is to not feel, Solange, and I will take emotion and the risks that with that ability"
"I could..." She stopped when he put his hand on her head and held her to his chest.
"You cannot tempt me , Solange. I battle with my honor. Honor is important to me. And you - you are my most precious gift. I could never live with myself if my selfishness placed you in danger. Go to sleep and it will be enough to hold you in my arms"
Rating - 5 stars and SCORCHING