LoveSpell, $4.99, ISBN 0-505-52330-2
Fantasy Romance, 1999
This book has an intriguing premise – the author has built a complex mythology behind her characters: a race of quasi-vampire creatures called the Carpathians who, while feed on human blood, don’t do so to the extent of killing their prey. For the most part, Carpathians are benign creatures trying to blend in among humans. A vampire is a Carpathian gone rogue and insane, a creature that doesn’t hesitate to kill the human he preys on. And the fun thing is, a Carpathian turns vampire if he goes on too long without a mate. You see, no mate = no sex. No wonder they turn berserk.
Raven Whitney, a woman with extraordinary psychic powers, is weary and exhausted – not to mention stretched taut mentally – after a particularly grueling help-police-find-serial-killer tour of duty. She goes to nice, remote Carpathian Mountains, hoping for some R&R to recharge herself. Only that the Carpathian lord Mikhail Dubrinsky is waiting with open arms. Sort of.
Mikhail is contemplating ending his life by the usual clichéd “Let me see the dawn!” method when he manages to forge a mental telepathy link with a sleeping Raven. And she turns out to be the mate he is waiting for for six hundred years (read: six hundred years of celibacy). Raven’s human. He’s not. Ah, the pain of star-crossed love.
Frankly, it feels as if the author has run out of plots halfway into the story. There are many minor irritant in form of pesky know-too-much mortals that get kicked out of the story after a brief, inconsequential appearance. Then there’s the tug-of-war between Mikhail and Raven – they push, they pull, and when one gives way, the other refuses and we are back at square one. Then there’s the increasing pitch and feel of accelerated melodrama that rises with each page until by the last few chapters I am actually chuckling away. It’s like reading a bad B-Grade script complete with “Love will triumph over everything!” preaching and heavy-handed doses of contrivances.
And then there are the two main characters. For the first few chapters, I feel sorry for Mikhail, what with his loneliness and feeling of eternal damnation. By midway of the book I wish someone is giving me a dollar for each time Mikhail starts his self-pity party session. Raven starts out wonderful but eventually turns into a stock, flat, martyr-like heroine. And the secondary characters can be can-can dancing macarena hippopotamuses for all the impact they make in the story.
There are glimmers of good storytelling, imaginative creation of intriguing mythology. But this book also has a very weak plot and poor execution.