Signet, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-451-22173-5
Fantasy Romance, 2007
Touch of Darkness is more like a cartoon than a romance story. I don’t know what happened. The previous book in Christina Dodd’s Darkness Chosen series comes off like a sly tribute-cum-satire of the whole mate-mate-mate phenomenon but this one is like an unintentional parody of such stories.
Feel free to read the previous review to get the back story of the whole story arc if you are unfamiliar with the Darkness Chosen series. In this particular story, I know I will have problems with it when early on the hero, Rurik Wilder, can turn into a hawk at will, claims that he doesn’t believe in things like prophecy and other “woo woo” stuff. Well, no crap, Sherlock. Next he will be telling me that shapeshifters don’t exist!
The heroine’s name is Tasya Hunnicutt. You can call her Hunni. I’m not joking, it’s all there in the book. I suppose it could be worse. Her name could have been Baby Hunnipot, for example. She is a photojournalist who is working on a secret project that has something to do with the Varinskis, although she doesn’t know – yet – that Rurik is one of the Americanized Varinskis. They had a one-night stand that takes place before this book and since that time Rurik pretty much have her name tattooed on his best friend because he’s all about her being his “destiny”. They meet again at the Isle of Roi in Scotland, where our archeologist hero’s team has unearthed some stuff that may be worth a fortune in the tomb of a Celtic warrior. Rurik is also hoping that the tomb contains one of the three still missing fragments of the icon needed to break the Varinski curse.
Before our two brain trusts can do anything, they find themselves on the run from the bunch of Russian Varinski assassins who, in the tradition of moronic villains, are better off playing plot contrivances to blab to the hero and heroine (and the reader) everything about their plot rather than carrying out these plots. The rest of the story is filled with cartoon chases interspersed with moments of heavy breathing.
There are very little depths in both Tasya and Rurik. He’s a stock Carpathian hero wannabe with the bonus of a bizarre tendency to let his penis take over his brain whenever they pause to take a rest. It doesn’t take long for me to start envisioning him in my head as that dancing baby from Ally McBeal doing a horny jig to ABBA’s Honey Honey. Never mind that they have just witnessed the death of a colleague, the first moment they are alone Rurik wants some Hunni. Never mind that they have just been chased crazy by the bad guys – whenever they stop to catch their breath, Rurik wants some Hunni. Never mind that they need to find way to escape from Certain Death, Rurik gets distracted by something Hunni says and demands to know more now. Hunni, Hunni, Hunni! It gets to a point where I think the Russian Varinskis miss a grand opportunity to kill Rurik by throwing a photo of Tasya over a cliff and saying, “Here, boy, go fetch!” Tasya is more hot air than anything else, which is probably for the best since any sane woman will run for the door rather than to endure five minutes of Rurik’s suffocating version of “love”.
Fans of Christine Feehan and the usual suspects will probably adore Touch of Darkness. In fact, there are times when I have to pause in my reading to check the cover to determine that Christina Dodd is indeed the author of this book instead of Christine Feehan. Then again, I suspect that Christine Feehan will not have the guts to portray Konstantine Wilder as a rapist psycho in the prologue who wanted to rape the underage gypsy girl Zorana (to impregnate her with the Special Baby Boy, you see) only to be “redeemed” after he had had her, when he somehow fell in love with that dingbat who had clearly read too many Kathleen E Woodiwiss novels. Only Ms Dodd will dare ask me to be in suspense as to whether Konstantine Wilder will die in the end, heh. It’s too bad that she may challenge her readers in some way but this particular story on the other hand doesn’t try to challenge the status quo of the formula.