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Dark Prince by Christine Feehan

November 6, 2010

Publisher: Dorchester Publishing, Co., Inc (Lovespell Imprint). Mine was a pretty old school copy. The one sold on Amazon is a 2005 reprint from Leisure Books.

Publication Date: August, 1999

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Status: First in the Dark Series, about the Carpathians, “a powerful and ancient race.” (Wikipedia). There are are 21 books in the series. Book 22, Dark Predator, will be released in 2011.

Source: Borrowed from the library (Thank God)

Genre: Paranormal (Vampire) Romance

Other Info: Feehan has written 26 books, many of them series. She takes up three entire shelves at my local Borders.

Description: (From Goodreads):

Prince of the Night
He came to her in the night, a predator ─ strength and power chiseled his features. The seduction was deep and elemental; he affected her soul. His need. His darkness. His terrible haunting lonliness. Her senses aroused, she craved the dangerous force of his body. Burned for him. And he had only touched her with his mind.

Lady of the Light
She came to him at dawn, his bleakest hour. As the beast raged inside him, threatening to consume him, he vented his centuries-old despair in an anguished cry that filled the waning night. And she answered, a ray of light, piercing his darkness. A beautiful angel. Her compassion, courage, and innocence awakened in him an exquisite longing and tenderness. He knew he must possess her, for only she could tame his savage side and lift the dark shadow from his soul. Apart they were desolate, bereft. Intertwined physically and spiritually, they could heal one another and experience an eternity of nights filled with love.

Dude, this book was stupid. I try not to start reviews off with blanket statements, but it just wasn’t gonna happen. I picked up Dark Prince because it came up on a list of slow-burning Paranormal Romance suggestions. There’s nary a slow-burn in sight, as far as I can tell. It’s an inferno from page one. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Dark Prince is the first book in Feehan’s Carpathian Series. It was published in 1999, which, surprisingly, was over a decade ago. It was a year after the publication of Devil’s Bride–the book that spawned the Cynster Saga, a long line of Historical Romances featuring frightening similar Alpha heroes. Don’t get me wrong. My copy of Devil’s Bride has seen a few rereads over the years. I just wanted to place Dark Prince in the history of the Romance novel. I’m by no means an expert. In the end, I realized that Devil’s Bride persistently came to mind while I was reading Dark Prince. Not, mind you, that the books are similar, stylistically. Though I think there were certain shared plot point. More important was the difference in each author’s take on the Alpha Hero/Independent Heroine relationship. Having read both novels, I feel that Stephanie Laurens was a lot more successful in her endeavor. Let me see if I can explain why. You’ll have to allow me a little leeway, though. It’s been a while since I last reread Devil’s Bride.

On the surface, the heroes of both books are remarkably similar. They are physically large, powerful, wealthy, and sought after by women. Devil is a duke, and the therefore the head of his (large) family. He is used to being in charge. Mikhail, the hero of Dark Prince, is the leader of the Carpathians. They are his people. He leads them, protects them, and keeps their race going. He is also used to having complete control. Similar, yes. And very, very different.

When Devil meets his heroine (Honoria), their circumstances pretty much decide their future relationship for them. However, what Cynsters have, they hold. It’s their family motto. So, knowing that there is no choice but for them to be married, Devil commits himself to Honoria completely and absolutely. He would have married her in any case–it’s just blind luck that they fall in love eventually. But in the meantime, before the marriage takes place, Devil and Honoria are constantly fighting a battle of wills. Honoria is an independent woman and definitely does not want to be forced into a marriage–especially not to a man. Of course, Honoria is incredibly modern-minded in her thinking. Devil’s Bride is a historical set in the Regency period, during a time when women’s lives were largely prescribed by men–husbands, fathers, brothers. This makes Honoria’s struggle to make choices for herself all the more significant. We all know that Honoria will marry Devil in the end, but as we follow their relationship, we see that they are equals. Devil is alpha, but so is Honoria. They frequently go toe-to-toe as Honoria refuses to let Devil steamroll her. In the end you know that they couldn’t be with anyone but each other.

For Mikhail and Raven, it’s different. Raven is Mikhail’s lifemate, which is kind of like when one of Kresley Cole’s vampires meets his Bride. When Mikhail meets Raven, he can see color and feel emotion. He knows that they are fated to be together and he’s one of those “what I have, I hold” types, too. Lucky for him, he has a much more complacent partner in Raven. Sure, she talks big about being independent and making her own choices, but when push comes to shove, Mikhail always gets his way. Raven argues with Mikhail when he does high-handed things she doesn’t like, but it’s the equivalent of putting the back of her hand to her forehead and saying, “La, I feel faint.” It doesn’t stick because it isn’t real. Here’s a short list of things that Raven lets Mikhail get away with:

  • Using compulsion to force to eat and sleep when he wants her to.
  • Moving her into his house.
  • Forming a mate bond with her without informing her of all the ins and outs of what she’s getting herself into.
  • Making her wear skirts instead of pants.
  • Physically threatening any male who comes within a foot of her (because they all want her and Mikhail’s special powers allow him to sense this.)

I said it was going to be a short list, so I better stop. The long and the short of it is that Mikhail and Raven’s “romance” is basically dressed-up abuse. He isolates Raven and decimates her free will under the guise of knowing what’s best for her. Um, okay. Thanks but no thanks.

But enough about Mikhail and Raven. Let’s talk about language. In fact, let’s talk about repetitive language. I should have counted how many times certain words showed up in this novel. Here are some much-loved words and phrases:

  • “innocent”
  • “silky”
  • “satin”
  • “intensely masculine” (or some variation thereof)
  • “slender”
  • “small”
  • “hooded eyes”
  • “brooding”
  • “curiously innocent gesture”
  • “little one”

I felt like I was reading the same passages over and and over. Raven was constantly making men lust after her by the “curiously innocent gesture” of pushing her hair off her face. Also, Mikhail and Raven go through the “You will do what I say.”/”I have to make my own decisions”./”I only want what’s best for you.”/”I have to be independent and fly kites if I want to.”/”It’s only that I care for you so much and I don’t want to lose you” blah blah emotional-blackmail-cakes. Yech.

There were also several times when the novel should have ended, only to have a new villain show up. I mean, what? It was like an Agatha Christie novel, where you find out who the killer is a third of the way through the book, only HAH! it wasn’t really Mr. Shortstuff, it was MR. ROUND the WHOLE TIME! Only, you know that Christie was treating you to a boatload of delicious red herrings and you realize how awesome she was. In Dark Prince, you just go WTF?! Can this story end already, pretty please?

In case you have any doubts, I won’t be reading the rest of this series. I have better things to do with my time.

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