There’s something to be said for an author who paints such an erotic image of a woman getting her blood sucked that you find yourself appraising the incisors of every man you meet. But although I enjoyed reading about the Carpathians in Christine Feehan’s Dark Melody, the writing style was problematic enough that any recommendation I can offer for this one is very half-hearted.
Dayan is the lead guitarist for the Dark Troubadours. As a Carpathian, he seeks a lifemate who will keep him from giving in totally to the darkness and becoming a vampire. As with all Carpathians, he recognizes his lifemate immediately, in the person of Corinne Wentworth, who walks into the bar where he’s jamming with a local band. He’s somewhat surprised, however, to discern with his acute psychic abilities that Corinne not only has a defective heart but is six months pregnant.
Corinne came to the bar with her sister-in-law, Lisa. Lisa and her brother, John, became Corinne’s step-siblings when their father married her mother. Then they became orphans when dad murdered mom; Lisa not only witnessed the act, but almost died at her father’s hands as well. The siblings stayed together, Corinne eventually married John, and he was mysteriously murdered in the months preceding the story’s opening. Corinne knows she will most likely not survive labor and, fearing Lisa’s reaction to her pregnancy, hasn’t yet told her about it.
The magnetic pull between Dayan and Corinne is instantaneous and electric. He suggests that Corinne, Lisa, and his friend Cullen (who is immediately smitten with Lisa) go somewhere private to talk. But when they all arrive at Corinne’s home, Dayan immediately senses danger, and has Cullen take the two women to safety while he takes care of the problem. He then (sort of) convinces Lisa and Corinne that they are being hunted and need to stay with Cullen and him for protection. Corinne already suspects that the institute where John had gone to display his psychic abilities was somehow behind his murder, and Dayan convinces her that she, too, is in danger because of her telekinetic abilities.
But Dayan faces a dilemma. He cannot initiate the ritual or the merge that will make Corinne his true lifemate (not that she’s actually agreed to it yet anyway) because of her weak heart and pregnancy. He consults telepathically with the rest of his family, and it is decided he should bring Corinne to one of the Carpathians’ mountain retreats, where the family will meet him with their best healers in tow. Even then, the clock is ticking on the lives of Corinne and her baby. Though intermittent Carpathian blood transfers and healing procedures will buy them time, it’s a toss-up whether Corinne can survive till the baby is sufficiently developed for early delivery, or long enough to undergo the subsequent life-saving merge with Dayan.
Part of the challenge facing the author is that Corinne had to be bedridden much of the time – she obviously couldn’t be running around when she was hanging on by a thread as it was (though she did hie off to try and save the TSTL Lisa from a bit of idiocy, precipitating a medical crisis). But a bigger problem is simply the writing style, primarily because of the redundant and excessive explanations, and dialogue that often seem to be reconstituted replays. At times the writing sounded stilted or trite (“She hated guns, those cold metallic instruments of death.”). It was so much better when it was kept brief and spare; for example, “Lisa knew about murder and trauma” to explain her easy acceptance of Cullen’s story, rather than the typical wordy rehash of what the reader already knows about Lisa’s history.
Although this is the first book I’ve read in the Carpathian series, I suspect that it suffers from the same problem as many connected books, in that the key characters blend together from one book to the next. Here we meet a number of Carpathian men and women, and other than some physical descriptors, they seemed somewhat interchangeable to me. Since the villains were never really identified, except as likely being a part of the vampire-hunters who target anyone with psychic abilities, the same can probably be said for them. Finally, I found Corinne’s continued skepticism about the ability of Dayan’s family to save her and her baby both annoying and hard to swallow, given all that she had seen so far of Dayan’s supernatural abilities.
I truly liked the concept of the Carpathians, and was pulled in by the charismatic character of Dayan presented in the early pages of the book. But the redundancies, clunky prose and story development proved too detrimental to the momentum, especially since it was so late in the book before Dayan and Corinne could really come together. For fans of the Carpathians, Dark Melody will most likely still hold some appeal, though I hazard to guess it’s probably not the best of the series. There’s just enough here of interest that I may try an earlier Carpathian book, which is about the best that can be said about the book.