A couple of months ago my brother-in-law, Harry, and I sat down to watch the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Though we had both seen it before, we had an absolute ball with it. All of its flaws – its campy eroticism, melodramatic dialogue, extravagant costuming, strange cinematography, even Keanu Reeves’s hideous English accent – only made it more fun to watch. We laughed, quoted dialogue to each other, and when the movie ended, we both had big smiles on our faces. It was not art, but it was thoroughly, absolutely enjoyable entertainment. Reading Christine Feehan’s newest Carpathian book, Dark Fire, reminded me of watching Dracula with Harry.
Tempest “Rusti” Trine is a product of the foster care system with one saleable skill – she can fix cars. She answers a newspaper ad for a mechanic, thinking that the job will be a godsend for her. She can do her job repairing the vehicles of a professional singing group, travel about the country, and have all of the privacy and independence she needs. She doesn’t realize she will be working for “vampires.”
Darius isn’t a vampire – yet. A vampire is a Carpathian who has lost his soul and become maddened. But he is close to becoming a vampire, until he sees Tempest, his salvation. You see, every Carpathian male has just one life mate, and he knows her upon sight. When Darius sees Tempest, he sees color again; he can feel emotions and desire again. He is centuries old, and he lost those senses long, long ago. When Tempest shows up, he knows she is his salvation, the only one who can stop him from becoming a vampire and turning on mortals and immortals alike. So he knows he cannot let her go. She is his forever, whether she likes it or not.
If this sounds kind of hokey and over-the-top, it is. This book had a number of clear flaws, including some really cheesy dialogue, repetitious phrasing, and way, way too much interior monologue, most of it repetitive. Nothing much really happens in terms of plot for the first half of the book. Darius and Tempest meet and fight, then they fight and kiss, then they fight some more. Their dialogue goes something like this:
Tempest: “You can’t tell me what to do!”
Darius: “I can tell you what to do! You are mine.”
Tempest: “You don’t own me!.
Darius: “I do own you. You are mine.”
Tempest: “You can’t tell me what to do…”
Then they realize they are falling in love (or, in Tempest’s case, lust), and make up. Then there’s a 50 page sex scene.
Add to these problems a hero who is extremely, excessively dominating, jealous, possessive, and controlling, the kind of “man” who calls his woman “baby” and feeds her from his own hand, and there you have it: Dark Fire.
But you know, for all of its problems and all of its cheesiness, I could not put it down. I read it almost in one sitting. It may have been lots of things, but it was never boring. All kinds of stuff happened to Tempest, who was always running away from Darius, and Darius would be forced to use his powers to rescue her. Then there would be some entertaining little bit about Darius turning into the wind, or Darius turning into a dragon, or Darius calling upon all the elements of the earth to save Tempest and therefore save mortals and immortals alike from what he would have to become should anything happen to Tempest. It was every bit as good as watching Dracula morph into a human-shaped tower of rats or seeing Von Helsing slap the Eucharist onto Mina’s forehead when she comes after him in crazed vampiric lust. Pure entertainment.
No messages, no syllogisms, just good, clean fun.
This is my first Carpathian book, but I have a feeling it will not be my last. If you liked the rest of the series, I think you will like Dark Fire. And if you are looking for something that is fun and different, then I recommend you pick up a copy of this book. I have my copy, and it’s mine…mine forever.