This was my first foray into Christine Feehan’s Carpathian series, and I found the underlying concept entertaining and full of promise. I’ll probably pick up some other books in the series. Although I enjoyed this book’s premise and the chemistry between its lead characters, I thought its early promise waned, and by the end, Dark Guardian got a little dull.
Jaxon Montgomery is a woman with serious relationship issues. She doesn’t fear commitment for the usual reasons: she fears it because Tyler Drake, a former Navy SEAL and her stepfather, has murdered everyone she has ever gotten close to, including her parents, her brother, and her foster parents. Drake is still at large and Jaxon, now a police officer, has no friends and lives in terror that he will kill her neighbors or her partner.
Enter Lucian Daratrazanoff, a Carpathian who won’t take no for an answer. (Carpathians, as those familiar with the Feehan mythos already know, are extremely long-lived paranormal beings who must drink the blood of humans to survive, but who are not vampires. A vampire is a Carpathian who has gone mad and begun to kill his prey.) The past several centuries of Lucian’s life have been bleak, violent, and lonely, but Jaxon is his lifemate and the salvation of his soul. He makes her his, via a ceremony that both transforms her and permanently binds her, before she even understands who he is or what’s going on. Lucian, a legendary two-thousand-year-old vampire hunter, is a bit high-handed.
From the very beginning of this book, Lucian loves Jaxon with possessive, overwhelming intensity. The story is basically one of how Jaxon, a very independent and competent police officer, adjusts to that. Lucian is alpha, tormented, passionate. Jaxon, on the other hand, is smart-mouthed and funny, and her horrified reaction to his lifestyle is very refreshing in contrast. Their conversations are very entertaining. He says things like, “You bring light to the terrible darkness in my soul.” She says things like, “You don’t sleep in a coffin, do you? I don’t think I could ever get used to the coffin thing.”
While the progress of this relationship is engrossing, towards the end the book falls into a repetitive cycle: love scenes, followed by paranormal battles between Lucian and numerous vampires. The love scenes are very hot, but also very purple, and so frequent that they become uninteresting. The battle scenes are simply too long. During the last hundred pages of the book there’s plenty of action, but there doesn’t seem to be enough going on between Jaxon and Lucian to keep the tension up. Long before we get to the part where Lucian defeats Tyler Drake, I’d gotten bored.
In spite of that, Dark Guardian was pretty fun, and a good introduction to the Carpathian universe. If, like me, you’ve never tried a Dark book, this is a good place to start. If you already know and love the series, you should be pleased with this entry.