2002, Vampire Romance
Leisure, $7.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0843949945 Part of a series
There are two reviews of this book. (We don't usually do dual reviews when the grades are the same, but both reviews approach this book differently.)
Dark Guardian is the eighth book in Christine Feehan's series
about a long-lived, psychically gifted race called Carpathians. The
book's hero, Lucian, is a two-thousand-year-old guardian of the
Carpathian people. Lucian is supernaturally gifted, sexy, intelligent -
and predatory. He is the perfect example of a male Carpathian. He is
also an example of one of the series' greatest strengths and weaknesses.
Carpathian males are predators whose instincts are tempered by their
strong sense of protectiveness and affection for their people. After a
few hundred years they begin to lose the ability to feel emotions. The
only thing capable of restoring this ability is joining with their
lifemates. If a Carpathian male does not locate a lifemate, he
eventually becomes so distanced from any type of emotion that he turns
vampire and starts killing just to be able to feel something again.
Vampires are hunted and killed by guardians such as Lucian. When a
Carpathian male finds his lifemate he is compelled to claim her and
protect her. If she is human, he must then transform her to become a Carpathian
with his blood.
While the "lifemate principle" is an easy way to explain the characters'
instant attraction and attachment to each other, it has also been a
limiting factor in the series. All of Feehan's heroes are your basic
uber-alpha in leather pants. Very sexy, very good looking, they have
lots of charisma, lots of paranormal abilities, and are very, very
predictable. If you know what one Carpathian male is like you can rest
assured that there are several back home in the mountains just like
him. To match her heroes, Feehan usually created heroines who I think
of as "pseudo-feisty." They put up a token resistance to having their
lives taken over but then cave in after a show of resistance and some
Happily, the character of Jaxon Montgomery moves the series away from
the compliant heroine and introduces a stronger female lead. Jaxon is a
law enforcement officer, the head of a team that specializes in
investigating and arresting drug traffickers. She is also the obsession
of a psychotic stalker, and this constant threat has prevented her from
forming lasting attachments outside of her police unit.
Lucian and Jaxon's paths cross during a drug bust. While tracking a vampire in the area, he rescues Jaxon and her partner when the mission goes awry. Realizing that he has found his lifemate, Lucian immediately goes into overbearing protective mode. He then learns that the woman who is his lifemate is not content to be his follower but insists on being his partner.
Refreshingly, Jaxon is not stupid about her strengths. Most of what
Lucian introduces into her life is completely unfamiliar, and her
transformation into a Carpathian is both upsetting and fascinating.
While many of the changes are not what Jaxon would have chosen, she is
intelligent enough to realize that she is gaining new abilities and
survival skills. She is also smart enough to realize that while she
needs time to learn to use her new talents, she is still a highly
trained police officer who knows her enemy and has the ability to handle
herself in dangerous situations. She expects to be part of the
decision-making process and her arguments with Lucian over the role she
will play in facing their enemy add depth and realism to their
The psychic abilities of the Carpathians are intriguing and fun in a
Saturday-matinee fashion. The Carpathians can change to animals or
mist, call storms, move earth, use telepathy, heal, materialize and
dematerialize physical objects (including those sexy leather pants) and
a host of other special effects. Watching Jaxon first get over her
disbelief and then learn to use her new skill adds a humorous touch to
As someone who has read this series from the beginning, I was getting
tired of the compliant heroines and the overbearing heroes being
repeated book after book. The characters Christine Feehan has created
in Dark Guardian have revived my interest in reading future books
in this series.
-- Shelley Dodge
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