Dark Symphony by Christine Feehan (2007)
Although I am hugely disappointed in the violent turn of events Ms. Feehan has taken of late (see my post Excessive Violence in Romance Novels: Who Needs It?), her earlier Carpathian vampire novels are still among my favorites. This week, after commenting on an Amazon reader board about "dogs in romance," I decided to re-read Dark Symphony, one of my favorite books in the Dark Series. For those of you not familiar with Feehan's Carpathians, I'll give you a brief overview. These books are high on the melodrama, contain extremely long-winded, graphic sex scenes, and the heroes are super-alpha "vampire"-like Carpathians, who pledge undying loyalty to their "lifemates." Yeah, they are pretty much over the top, but if you buy into this whole thing (which I do), then they are extremely romantic. Dark Symphony is one of my favorites for several reasons.
First of all, this is one of the Dark Series with no vampire fight scenes. Most of the Dark books have a bundle of foul vampires, with their talon-like nails, rotting flesh, hideous teeth, etc etc. Basically, they're not pretty. It adds a whole different paranormal dimension to these books which is okay if I'm in the mood for a vampire fight scene...
Vampire: I'm going to kick your Carpathian butt.
Carpathian: You are an abomination, you must die to protect mortals and immortals alike.
Vampire: Come and get me, Skippy.
(Can you tell I'm sort of in a weird mood?) Anyhoo, the bad guys in Dark Symphony are humans and shapeshifters, not vampires. And it just goes to show that Feehan doesn't really need all that crazy paranormal business to write a great book. The Scarletti family is a hoot, and Christine Feehan's humorous side (which does not reveal itself very often in her ultra-serious, melodramatic books) is a breath of fresh air. There are several places where I actually laughed out loud while reading this book. Antonietta is a very original Feehan heroine...a blind and very talented pianist, she is confident and self-assured. (Most of the human heroines freak out when they learn their lifemates plan to "convert" them into Carpathians, but Antonietta was not hesitant. Her attitude...."Bring it on!") Love her! Also, I like Byron. Unlike some of the really intense heroes (Darius, Gregori, etc.--who I also love!), Byron is more understated and rational thinking. (Some of the Carpathian males are sort of like cavemen dragging their unwilling women folk home to their lair--not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, mind you!).
And finally, the reason I wrote about this book on the Amazon boards is because of the cool dog. Yep, that's right....I LOVE romance novels with cool dogs, and Celt, a borzoi, is loyal, fierce and protective of his charges. You can tell Feehan is into animals, and her description of Celt and all of the shapeshifting beings (owls, dragons, Jaguars, wolves, etc) are fascinating.
I have re-read Dark Symphony many times and it never fails to get me in a good mood. I highly recommend this classic Feehan, and pray that she returns to some good old-fashioned romance in the future. Grade: A