Dark Prince is the first book in Christine Feehan’s 21-book Dark Series. Originally published in 1999, this new edition, released last month, is a Special Edition Author’s Cut containing 100 more pages than the original version.
In it, we meet Raven Whitney, an especially gifted human psychic who telepathically hunts down serial killers and helps bring them to justice. Because her gifts make her extremely sensitive to the most private and sometimes downright disturbing thoughts of everyone around her, Raven lives a solitary existence. Each time she helps nab a serial killer it leaves her sick and exhausted provoking her to seek solitude in the mountains. One night she psychically picks up the low, mournful cry of a painfully lonely man. Intrigued and concerned that he might be contemplating suicide, Raven telepathically tries to soothe the man, who shows up on her hotel balcony in the form of a bird soon after their mental conversation. So begins the all-consuming, undeniably frightening, exhilarating, and supremely important love affair between American-born Raven and ancient, powerful Carpathian prince Mikhail Dubrinsky, the success of which may mean the difference between extinction and salvation for the Carpathian race.
What makes the union of this eternal man and human woman so special is not so much that they are different races but that such unions don’t have such a great track record in the somewhat grim Carpathian world — grim because Carpathian women are nearly extinct. The few live births they manage have produced only more males and the Carpathian men are sad — woefully, dismally, hopelessly sad because their chances of finding a lifemate are slim to nil. They’re so sad that they’ve all gone colorblind and are utterly bereft of feeling. Any attempts they’ve made to mate with human females have all resulted in the women going irrevocably batshit crazy because they must first be converted to their species. Most humans lack the mighty mental and physical strength to withstand the painful and terrifying conversion process. To the Carpathians, women are life-affirming light to their natural inclination towards brooding darkness and their only reason for not walking into the sun and frying themselves to death or turning into indiscriminate blood thirsty killers.
Chock full of suspense, this is one hot, throbbing bodice ripper, minus the bodice. You can laugh all you want at the concept, but the truth is there’s a very good reason why paranormal romance (indeed all romance) books continue to sell well even during the crappiest economy: they turn our knees to jelly. Yup, it’s true. Even an old love-cynic like yours truly can easily get lost in the adventure and intrigue of a dangerously handsome (and presumably well-hung) specimen of non-human man who aches from the inside out for his lady love. Really, who wouldn’t want to be that gal? Yes, my darling brute who could snap my neck easier than flicking ash off a cigarette, you may be all powerful but I’ve got you by the balls, honey! Booya!
Full disclosure: I did not want to like this book. I’m the kind of person who pokes fun at this stuff. But the truth is, Feehan invites us all — even the most cynical among us — into her marvelous world where shape-shifting Carpathians and fanatically spooked out humans alternatively do battle, make nice, hunt down, and slaughter each other. Very rarely do they get to fall in love, as our main characters, Raven and Mikhail, do.
The book’s many lengthy, passionate sex scenes, both well written and tastefully erotic, left nothing to the imagination. However, by page 300, I’d pretty much had enough and felt like they were halting the story’s progress, perhaps stalling until the next major leap in action occurred. Like, hey, there’s nothing else to do right now, let’s just have more sex! Since I have not read the original version, I’m curious as to whether some of these extraneous sex scenes were cut out the first time.
Things that irked me a bit: Mikhail keeps calling Raven “little one” which makes me think of a child, not the woman described in aforementioned steamy sex scenes. I found the term of endearment just a little creepy — and not in a good way. I would think an author as accomplished and talented as Feehan could have come up with something more appropriate. Maybe it’s just me. Also, I soon grew weary of too-often repeated phrases, such as “his fathomless, dark eyes” and how she kept “sweeping her hair back in a curiously sexy gesture.”
It’s funny what a little commitment does to a couple. Even a couple capable of literally entering each other’s minds can have a total communication breakdown, as when Mikhail finds Raven in the woods comforting another man. Whoops! Shouldn’t he have seen that coming? Shouldn’t he have known her intentions and shouldn’t she have known what was on the twisted human man’s mind? I guess that’s selective mind reading for ya.
Despite my initial resistance to her other worldly charms, Feehan pulled me right into her world and still has not let me go. I find myself craving to know more about Mikhail, Raven, and the powerful Carpathian race. Check out the cool trailer for Dark Prince at author’s site, as well as all the Dark Series books, Feehan’s other series, and single titles.
Overall, I enjoyed this story and that, my friends, is all that really matters when reading a book. Feehan tells a good story. Period. What more can anyone really ask of an author? And if you do ask for more than that, write your own damn book. I’d probably read it.