Published 2003 320 pages
Reviewed by Lotte
Summary (from the book jacket)
Dayan has been searching for centuries to find the one woman who can complete him; a true lifemate who can save him from the darkness in his soul. Despairing of ever finding her, and on the run from his enemies, something drives Dayan to stop at a bar and perform some of his music. Then Corrine Wentworth walks in, and Dayan knows instantly that she is the one.
Corrine wants nothing more than to surrender her life and soul to Dayan, but she is suffering from a degenerative heart disease, and pregnant with her late husband’s child. She is also running from the men who killed her husband, the same group of fanatics who are hunting Dayan and his kind.
Dayan must call on his family, and the greatest healers of the Carpathians, to aid him in a race against time to save Corrine, whose fate is now inextricably linked to his own…
In Dark Melody, the tenth instalment of the Dark Series, our Carpathian hero Dayan is ‘an ancient, one in a long line of dominating males’, who has just discovered that the lifemate he’s sought for centuries is Corrine, a beautiful, dying, six months pregnant widow. It’s an interesting coupling and it certainly took me about half the book to accept Corrine as the unlikely heroine in a romance story. Every time Dayan let his considerable passion for Corrine get out of hand, I was flinching protectively for her, thinking ‘Dayan, her heart! She could die if you get her too excited’. Eventually he’d have similar thoughts too, but not before she’d virtually thrilled herself to death. And having been through a pregnancy myself, don’t even get me started on the fact that she’s six months pregnant with another man’s child…
The novel gets off to a slow start as Feehan seems to describe every second of experience following Dayan and Corrine’s first meeting. She writes in a lavish style, using at least two adverbs when often none would suffice, so at times it’s like wading through verbal treacle. Nothing much happens for about a third of the novel. There are a few lethal fights, but the enemies are so hopelessly mismatched with Dayan, that there’s little tension. Who can possibly defeat somebody who has phenomenal strength, the power to change the weather, instantly shapeshift, fly and read your mind? Certainly not the puny evil humans or even the vampires he effortlessly dispatches from time to time. Then there are pages and pages of heartfelt declarations of love repeatedly endlessly in case we didn’t get it the first time. I was coming close to giving up on this book, but then suddenly the pace picks up and finally something happens. Hurrah! A story!
Once the other Carpathians, including their greatest healers, make an appearance, I found I was enjoying it much more. The characters were interesting and the events more dramatic. Even the writing seemed to improve, or maybe I was becoming accustomed to Feehan’s flowery style by then. Whatever the reason, reading the last half of the book was not the ordeal I’d gone through at the start. I actually started to believe in and care about the characters and want to know what happens to them.
This was the first Carpathian novel I’ve read and to be honest, you’d be mad to start reading the series here. Dark Melody is apparently designed to be a stand-alone read, and you can read it as such, but it’s not a great idea. I realised later that much of the initial writing, that seemed so melodramatic in the earlier chapters, would have been more understandable if I’d read nine previous novels featuring Carpathian men discovering their lifemates – I’d have realised that this really was a big deal. The other consideration is the amount of back story to this world, created in nine previous books, must be considerable. There was a section in the middle of the novel where several clumsy conversations were taking place between characters, which were clearly aimed at giving the new reader some Carpathian history. There were also occasional comments that were frankly baffling as I had no idea to what they referred. Despite this, it definitely is possible to read book ten on its own, but you do so with an awareness that you’re missing out on a lot that has gone before.
As a newcomer to this series, I’m only guessing that this novel isn’t a great departure from the previous nine. Carpathian men are ultra masculine, whilst the women, frequently referred to as ‘Honey’ and descried as ‘sweet’, are there to be protected and adored for saving their man from the beast within himself. Furthermore, it transpires that vampires can ‘detect only the powerful males’, because the women are so deeply merged with their mates. I doubt Christine Feehan is going to be winning any feminist literature awards for this series, but it makes a nice change to read about men longing for commitment.
Dark Melody is essentially an enjoyable, but unchallenging read. The sex is plentiful and graphic and the characters feelings are endlessly explained, so no imagination is required; and the bad guys are pure evil and none of them even have names or characters, so you don’t need to worry about them dying swiftly and brutally. I can see the appeal of the Carpathian world, but if you prefer something a little ambiguous or open to your own interpretations, then this probably isn’t for you. Ultimately, it somehow ends up feeling like the X-rated version of the blood-drinking Waltons. Everybody loves and supports each other and the marriages are fabulously faithful, successful and endlessly erotic. This is one for true romantics only.
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