I admit it. Dark Legend is my first Carpathian – and Christine Feehan – novel. I’ve been hearing about them for quite some time and even have her non-Carpathian The Scarletti Curse in my TBR pile. Ms. Feehan’s latest offering centers around an ancient Carpathian male named Gabriel, and Francesca Del Ponce. Gabriel and his twin Lucian are legends to the Carpathians. Both were vampire hunters until Lucian became a vampire himself and Gabriel realized he was going to have to hunt his twin. Carpathian males do need to drink blood to survive but aren’t true vampires. Carpathians become vampires when they go mad and begin to kill their victims. In order to protect and stave off having to destroy his brother, Gabriel sent both he and Lucian to ground. Something disturbs his sleep and he realizes that Lucian has awakened before him and is gone. Gabriel decides the first thing he must do is allay his hunger.
What happens instead is that he is “rescued” by Francesca, who offers her blood freely to Gabriel. He finds this confusing as he doesn’t think she’s Carpathian, but takes what she offers. Once he does, he realizes he’s seeing color again, a sure sign that Fransesca is his lifemate, which means he must save her, must get her blood. Far from being grateful, though, Francesca is angry. She is indeed Carpathian but has spent years working up her resistance to sunlight and hiding from other Carpathians. Instead, she had planned on shuffling loose the mortal coil. . .until Gabriel shares blood with her. She can no longer hide, all her hard work has gone for naught, and she’s angry. I couldn’t blame her; I would have been annoyed too. Yet she doesn’t stay annoyed for very long.
Francesca is a good soul. She’s a healer and is basically kind. She’s very much the mama bear when it comes to those she cares about but she realizes that as Gabriel’s lifemate, she has a responsibility to the Carpathians. Gabriel also takes drastic measures to ensure she does not do anything rash. While this may seem heavy handed to some, it’s in keeping with Gabriel being a Carpathian male. Francesca accepts this easily which was a little bit of a problem for me but it didn’t distract from the story and I chalked it up to being new to the series.
Gabriel’s worries don’t end with keeping Francesca and Skyler, his newly adopted daughter, safe from the undead of Paris. He also has to contend with Lucian. The two brothers are still very much connected and Gabriel feels guilt over what he has to do. There’s a wrinkle though – not only is he sad over the prospect of destroying someone he loves, what can he do about Lucian’s mental connection with Skyler, who is a psychic (and previously abused) teen? Although Lucian is a vampire, he seems to be protecting her and helping her. Gabriel thinks it’s because he’s trying to get to him and Francesca through the girl, but the reader isn’t so sure. What is the story with Lucian?
Gabriel and Francesca make a compelling couple; my main quibble with their relationship is their perhaps too frequent couplings, which got boring after awhile. I came to expect that at the end of each rising, the reader was going to get a steamy sex scene – and they are steamy. Also, Francesca’s equanimity in the face of having her life changed was a bit disconcerting at times. She did get annoyed but she never seemed to register more than minor annoyance. For Gabriel’s part, he did seem sincere in feeling badly over what he had done. Still, Francesca was his lifemate so what could he do?
I enjoyed the tension between Gabriel and Lucian and how Gabriel agonized over the relationship, but as a whole the secondary characters were a mixed bag. I took to Lucian and Skyler immediately, but didn’t care at all for Brice, Francesca’s pseudo human boyfriend and doctor. Even before he started acting strangely, I kept hoping he’d go away. It was too easy to make him the fall guy and turn into a pseudo villain.
Fans of the series shouldn’t be disappointed by the latest Carpathian offering. As a Feehan newbie, I was drawn right into the series, and I’ll be checking some of her other books now.