Book Review – Dark Challenge by Christine Feehan

by Maryse on July 5, 2010 · 8 comments

in Christine Feehan, My Book Reviews

Dark Challenge
I just finished book #1 in my “old school” marathon (but it’s actually book #5 in Christine Feehan’s “Dark” series). It was just “okay”.

It started off well enough, but quickly bored me with the repetitive, over-the-top love declarations. I actually found myself skimming through the love scenes (which I usually never do). In fact, even with all the action and drama that I expect and love to read in paranormal romance novels, I “live” for the love scenes and the intense moments (okay, well, I don’t really “live” for them, but you get the picture ;) ). While I remember really being taken with the love intensity in book one and two (Dark Prince and Dark Desire), this book just didn’t have “it”. My heart never melted, I didn’t find myself re-reading the most intense love scenes (which I usually do), despite the depth at which the author tried to convey the emotions. Every few pages the two main characters practically went into sappy poetic discourses of their undying devotion. Sweet, yes, but come on. It all felt so…old-fashioned.

Julian Savage (hunky identical twin brother of Aidan – a character that I loved in book #3) feels he is at the end of his journey, and after he finishes protecting (warning) his current charge (beautiful famous singer “Desari”), he intends on walking into the sun and ending it all before the darkness takes him. He is an ancient Carpathian (immortal that has not yet changed into an evil vampire), and has yet to meet his lifemate. His life is meaningless, and he fears not being able to combat the darkness threatening to take over and change him into what his kind has been fighting against.

However once he meets Desari, all emotion, and feeling flood back to him, as he realizes they are lifemates. Another surprise is that she, and the troop (band) she travels with are all Carpathians (including two extremely rare females that the main Carpathians didn’t even know existed). This Carpathian “family” has survived together against all odds for centuries (from children to adults) and know nothing of their heritage, and others of their kind. Once Julian meets up with them, both he, and they, realize they have MUCH to learn from each other.

There is “some” drama when Desari, who was raised differently than what is customary with Carpathian women, resists Julian (and believe me…”resists” is used loosely here - haha).

One of the finer romantic moments that, to me,  had merit in terms of “realistic” reactions to the intensity of their connection (Julian had purposely separated from Desari to prove a point – causing her to miss him terribly):

Tears shimmered in her eyes and on her long lashes. She sank onto the wooden bench beside the table, hanging her head in defeat.

“There is no need to call me.” Julian’s muscular form solidified beside her, close enough that she could feel his body heat. His arm curved around her shoulders. “I cannot take the separation from you, Desari.” he made the admission without hesitation, uncaring that Darius was within hearing, wanting only to spare her further pain.

“What have you done to me?” There were tears in Desari’s voice as well as her eyes. Her fingers curled into two tight fists so that her nails bit deeply into her palms. Her voice became a tragic whisper. “What have you done that I cannot be without you?”

Another interesting part of the book that explains the connection of lifemates:

Julian had no intention of giving up Desari. It would be impossible even if he were inclined to do so. They were tied together for all eternity. The ritual words had been spoken. Although they had no completed the cycle of the ritual, the ancient words themselves were binding, and Julian knew the consequences. They would be unable to be apart without intense grief, without dire physical discomfort. And the waves of Carpathian heat would eventually overcome them, demanding they unite. It was a protection for the male’s sanity, for his soul, that he could bind his mate to him for all time regardless of her fears. Fears could be dealt with; the destructions of one’s sould was for all eternity. Desari believed she could control her destiny, that she had a choice, but Julian knew better. She belonged to him, was a part of him.

Sidenote / rant: Now which is it? As per other explanations in the book, they are lifemates, destined from birth and “supposed” to be together – meant for one another because that is just the way it is. Pre-ordained. Perfect for each other. They are supposed to mutually want one another for all eternity the moment they meet, (and usually do). Without fail. Why then, if this is the case as Julian keeps insisting, do the Carpathian males (including Julian) have to force the bond on the “lifemate”?

I just re-read the quote and caught this:

It was a protection for the male’s sanity, for his soul, that he could bind his mate to him for all time regardless of her fears. Fears could be dealt with; the destructions of one’s sould was for all eternity.

Ohhhhh…riiiiight – anywaaaayyy… :roll:

There is “some” drama when Desari’s older, dominant and overly protective brother Darius opposes his sister’s uncontrollable attraction to Julian. There is also ”some” drama when Julian and Darius must fight their enemies (attracted to this group because of the two rare Carpathian women). The enemies keep coming around like “mobs” until you finally get to the real bad guy (which unfortunately, I read through like it was nothing, and found myself frowning instead of feeling elated).

However, there are a few interesting story points that I wish Ms. Feehan had expanded upon that had REAL potential. I would have loved to read about the introduction of this new troop to the main Carpathians. I would have loved some actual ”Gregori” reaction about their connection to him. I would have loved to read about the reunion between Julian and Aidan. I would have loved more turmoil or situations between the two males (her brother and Julian) that claim Desari as theirs to protect. And the final enemy is an interesting story in itself. There should have been MUCH more about that, and the grand finale really shouldn’t have left me wondering where the rest of the book was.

There was one side story that I did enjoy in this book, and I have a feeling the story will be expanded upon (it’s probably the next book). This one DID have intensity and drama, and emotion, and left me hanging, so I will continue reading to find out how it goes. Hopefully it won’t be as monotonous as this one.

Perhaps Julian and Desari have a part two to their story? While this one mostly bored me, there were so many potential opportunities to make it more interesting and more relatable. I wish the author dropped some of the never ending love speeches, and added some actual character interaction and a multitude of feelings and reactions. This might have enticed the reader to become more emotionally invested, and I might have really enjoyed this book.

3.5 stars

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lily July 5, 2010 at 5:37 PM

Wow. I am about to start this series. Should I skip this one?

Maryse July 6, 2010 at 8:42 AM

Hrmm….well there are a *few* things that help the series along, divulged in this book, but honestly, it wasn’t thrilling. The tidbits that were good, were few.

Jennifer bakley July 6, 2010 at 4:03 PM

I would like to encourage you to keep reading,,,The next 4 books,,play out alittle different,,than the rest,,like you dont have this “drama” “I cant be like you” or “I have a life” as you I was hoping to read of a reunion between Julian and Aiden and with gregori as well,,,
I just finished Dark Guardian, and Dark Legend and Guardian,,are very intense,,,anyway,,I wish you well on your journey, thru The Dark Series,,

Maryse July 6, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Hi Jennifer!

Oh for some reason, even though the last two books have “irked” me, I still feel connected to the series, so I will most certainly continue (thank you for letting me know it gets better) ;)

I actually heard that the heroines in later books are stronger of character and give the guys a bit of a run for their money, so I’m anxious to get to those.

Right now I’m reading Sherrilyn Kenyon’s latest “Infinity”, but the next one should be more Feehan.

Conchita July 12, 2010 at 5:29 PM

As is all series, some books are better than others. Dark Challenge was one of the ‘okay’, but not ‘great’ ones. A few good ones are still to come in series.

Maryse July 12, 2010 at 9:22 PM

Yup, I think I’m gonna start Dark Fire tonight. I did like Darius well enough, so I’m curious to see where it goes.

Tracy0330 July 16, 2010 at 2:18 PM

I have to agree with you that the book is not that thrilling if you would compare it with Gregori’s tale. It’s really tough to top Dark Magic’s suspense-filled scenes. But in fairness to Feehan I like Desari’s character. It is refreshing to read about a strong female main character to be more mature (actually I think ancient will be a more appropriate term) and greatly powerful to the extent that Julian was caught off guard on how to handle her. One benefit that I can think of in reading this book is getting know Darius. I haven’t read Dark Fire yet but it is sure in my list. I’m looking forward for your review on Dark Fire.

JimiAnn July 17, 2010 at 11:23 AM

I have read all of this series and really loved it. The later books are much more involved especially as you “know” all the characters. This book was okay but they do get much better and much more involved. I can’t wait til Dark Peril comes out. It is one of my most anticipated upcoming releases, besides No Mercy (Sherrilyn Kenyon). :)

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