I struggled at the beginning of this story. I was listening to the audio book, and later determined that was part of the problem I was having. I didn’t care for the reader’s voice, and particularly the way she made Raven sound. Feehan introduced a young woman with psychic abilities whose job requires her to get inside the twisted minds of serial killers and hunt them down. She must be a strong-willed, mentally balanced person who has earned the respect of law enforcement officials, right? The reader makes her sound like a toddler with a high pitched, whispery almost-lisp. It took me a while to realize the disconnect here, and once I did I started to enjoy the story more.
In this particular series, the Carpathians are the good guys. Vampires are Carpathians who have turned to the dark side and are hunted down and destroyed by the others. Raven is a human woman, vacationing in the Carpathian Mountains, who telepathically overhears the struggle Mikhail, the Carpathian prince, is having. Mikhail is beginning to despair of ever finding his life mate and is considering self destruction before he can succumb to the lure of the dark places in his soul. Mikhail immediately seizes upon the distraction Raven provides and then takes it up several notches of the creepy variety.
Within the first pages of the story, Mikhail has begun stalking Raven and later psychically molests her. For reasons that completely escape me, this does not cause Raven to run screaming for the first plane back to America. It has been a few years since I last read a romance novel that starts with the “hero” raping the heroine. (Years ago it was quite common in the genre.) And, if I hadn’t been three quarters of a mile into my two mile walk, I would have stopped the story right there. But I soldiered on for lack of anything else to listen to on my MP3 player.
Needless to say, the story improved. Raven, despite sounding like a toddler and feeling an inexplicable need to save Mikhail’s soul, stands her ground on her requirement for some autonomy. Mikhail eventually comes around to her way of thinking, and she stops doing incredibly stupid and dangerous things to make her point.
The plot line of the book has vicious human vampire hunters on the trail of the Carpathians. They have already found and killed one of the rare female Carpathians and are on the hunt for more. Raven and Mikhail, with the help of a few other Carpathians and the use of their special gifts, manage to track down and destroy this group. And ultimately, Raven and Mikhail live happily ever after.
I really liked some of the aspects of the Carpathian society Feehan created. For the most part the men seem a bit courtly and old fashioned right down to being domineering and expecting immediate and silent obedience from their women. It makes for some entertaining reading as they encounter twentieth century women. I also like their attitude of women and children first. Their safety and happiness are the first duty and desire of the Carpathian male. I also like the concept that the men are dark and the women are light and both are necessary for the eternal relationships they have.
I’m glad I stuck with this book, despite the reader and the yuck factor at the beginning. I’ve got the next book, Dark Desire, uploaded on the MP3 and will listen to it next. There’s a different reader this time, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy listening to it.