Dark Fire
by Christine Feehan, fantasy (2001)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52447-3


I don't which is scarier, the author's ability to put out so many books in just two years or her more rabid fans writing to me screaming that I don't know a good sophisticated vampire story when it bites me in the butt. But really - sophisticated vampire story? Please - the Carpathians are no better than any B-grade straight-to-video T&A vampire flick out there.

The latest, Dark Fire follows the formula of this author. Fan of Ms Feehan knows the drill - powerful vampire wants woman, woman shrieks no and runs away, vampire bludgeons woman to submissiveness, the end. If you want some good old rape-and-forced-seduction fantasies, hail thee to Port Feehan. If you want also unfortunately inept, purple, and silly prose with silly characters, hail thee too to Port Feehan.

Our hero, the Vampire Neanderthal named Darius, learns the hard way in the last book Dark Challenge that he will never be able to marry and shag his sister Desari. In this book, he decides to settle for Desari's "mechanic friend" he encounters in a funfair affair, named Tempest (or Rusti). Tempest says no, no, no, Darius stalks her, coerces her, orders her around, and Tempest says no, no, no even as her nipples stick out like Buckingham Palace guards at attention. But while it is so easy to see this as a T&A vampire story, you know, where the buxom heroine and all those female victims will put their kitties on display eventually (heroine) or right away (victims), it is also easy for me to notice the lack of levity, the ridiculous plot (hero can do anything - so what's the point of plot?), the even more ridiculous attempts by the author to sugarcoat her heroine's doormat nature and her hero's sociopathic stalker behavior. It is quite schizophrenic - on one hand the author doesn't hesitate from depicting violence, on the other hand, she still tries valiantly to make me think of her characters not as antiheroes but heroes.

At the end, of course our Tempest agrees to Darius that he is all she needs in her life. He has mind-raped her enough to know all her thoughts and desires she doesn't know, yes sir. No privacy, no individuality, just a complete submission of will, thought, and self to a vampire sociopath. This could work wonders, of course, but the author doesn't dare bring out the whips, chains, dildos, and bloodletting. If you want to enjoy some low-down dirty fun but doesn't want to buy an S&M mind-body subjugation erotica to soil your conscience, the Carpathians are here to perform a watered down showcase for you. It is watered down, but hey, if you like watered down, you'll love this one.

But me, I'm not the kind who likes my stories going only half-way.

Rating: 71


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