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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

**** Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan. Paranormal romance.


I'm not really happy with calling this a romance, because it doesn't have a romance plot. But it's not not romance, either. So I'm going by Barnes & Noble, which says it's paranormal romance. Bah. All these genre definitions...

Dark Celebration is a Feehan fan's dream come true. It's like the ultra version of those epilogues in romance series that catch you up on the previous couples. The setup is that all the Carpathians are gathered in the Carpathian mountains for a Christmas celebration. Each chapter shows a different couple, and tying it all together is a suspense plot.

Anyone who's been reading the series knows that the Carpathian race is dying out--there are few women, even fewer pregnancies, and fewer yet successful ones. Even when a baby is born, it seldom lives long. They're starting to make headway on understanding and solving the problem, but it's a slow process.

So women and children are the race's weakness, and with them all gathered together like this, someone is targeting those women and children.

Besides the reintroduction of all the characters (I swear I must have missed a story or two somewhere because a couple of the characters were unfamiliar), there are lots of sex scenes, lots of funny scenes, a couple of fights, a couple of revelations, and a couple of lifemates are discovered.

It's very typical of the Dark series, both the good--the sensuality, humor, and suspense, and the bad--the uncomfortable dialogue. I wasn't too convinced by the Carpathian women's determination to cook a Christmas dinner by hand: Carpathians don't eat food, and could conjure it. I was going to complain about the sexism of the idea, but, well, this happens in real life, too. And it led to a lot of the funny parts.

My favorite parts of the book, though, were those dealing with the as-yet-unattached characters. Teenager Skyler is struggling with the prospect of having a lifemate in her future, Carpathian Manolito is tempted to give in to the dark side, and newly-turned Gabrielle may have to choose between desire and duty. There are hints of at least three future stories.

At the end is a collection of dessert recipes sent in by readers. Most of them made my teeth hurt just reading them, but a few looked interesting. And there are sections on the language and healing chants that I think I saw on the website.

Bottom line: if you're a fan of the series, it's a must-read. If you're not, you'll probably want to skip it.

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