Dark Blood (Dark Series #26)
Berkley / September 2, 2014 / $26.95 print, $12.99 digital
At long last you are truly back with us...
Zev Hunter was an elite warrior, a dark-blood dealer of death to rogue Lycans who preyed on mankind. He was a loner, never given to personal attachments, and damned fierce at his job. But Zev begins to question his past and his purpose when he awakens in the darkness of the sacred cave of warriors—and is soothed back to consciousness by the sensuously familiar voice of one woman, the woman who has haunted his fantasies for centuries. She was Branislava, member of the Dragonseeker clan…
Mother Earth called the ancients to witness your rebirth…
For this half-mage, half-Carpathian temptress, the ritual of awakening Zev to the council of warriors was the only way to save him. Locked away for his own protection, the time has now come for his rebirth, for his blood to stir with that of the ancient warriors before him. He has been assured by Branislava that their fates are entwined, that their spirits are woven together for eternity and that his new purpose in life is beyond imagining.
Now, with a blood-sworn vow of honor, mercy and endurance, and under the influence of a siren as bewitching as Branislava, Zev begins to wonder what his purpose is, what it means for the future of the Carpathians and what it is about his rebirth that he has to fear…
Dark Blood is (amazingly!) the 26th book of Christine Feehan's Dark Series. It is the last of a trilogy in the series and this time around, the Dragonseeker Branislava has rescued the Lycan Zev Hunter from death, literally. He slowly awakes from death through his connection to Bronnie (or Branka, as he nicknames her) to find out that not only is he not dead, he is of mixed blood and his warrior expertise is needed.
The relationship between Branka and Zev seems to have a history before this book; Zev has apparently fantasized about her for years and Branka regrets not acting on her desires for him when they finally shared a dance just before he gets killed. With his rebirth, Zev and Branka have a chance at love, but it comes with strings. Once Branka tied herself to Zev to help bring him back to life, they discover that she is his lifemate. Here Feehan explores dating during an arranged marriage, so to speak. (Predestined mating is probably most appropriate.)
There are a lot of rules and races in Feehan's Dark universe. Carpathians, the ancient origin race of the fallen vampires; Lycans, the ancient origin race of the werewolves; Dragonseekers, dragon shapeshifters who can wield elemental powers; mages, the spellcasters, and the common human. (There are also jaguars too, but they are almost extinct). As a newbie to the Dark series, there was a bit of research to do, and luckily there is an appendix (actually two!) and a Carpathian dictionary at the end of the book to assist.
Zev has just discovered that his mother was part Carpathian, which makes him a Dark Blood; he is also a Guardian of All, meaning he is a protector of all the species.This is handy, because there is an enemy hell bent on taking out the other species, and they are building an army of half vampire/half werewolf soldiers to do it. Branka and Zev must make a decision rather quickly. She is his lifemate, but in order for him to be at full strength, they must complete the mating process. Zev is reluctant to place Branka in that position; after all, he cares for her and would rather they had the time to let Branka make this decision without pressure. However, Branka is pragmatic and knows that she and Zev will both be better and stronger warriors when they complete the mating. It’s very awkward being forced into mating with the person you have a crush on.
The book takes place over a short period of time, with a lot of action sequences as Zev wakes up to a clear and present danger and hits the ground running. There is an undeniable fondness that Branka and Zev have for each other and chemistry is there, but between the epic cast of characters in the book and the epic battle scenes, their stolen moments indicate an inevitability of their relationship as opposed to a road working towards it.
Long time fans of the series will most likely enjoy seeing the important role that some of the earlier couples play in this particular book, but Branka and Zev may have been lost just a bit. Between the fighting and life threatening situations, the two do manage to squeeze some time in to get to know each other better. Another necessary but awkward benefit of their relationship is that they sleep together every night in the earth—between pillow talk and sexytimes, the two get intimately acquainted.
Branka and Zev are both fierce warriors, but it is obvious how much Zev admires Branka’s skill. It is worth noting that while the women are pretty badass, the men are still alpha driven to protect them at all costs. It makes for an interesting dynamic, but everyone seems to have a great eye-rolling sense of humor about the whole thing. This sense of humor is probably the best way to describe this book; lots of old (ancient!) friends getting together to defeat a foe with their lifemates. Just a typical Saturday night for a Carpathian/Lycan/Dark Blood, right?
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Dark Blood by Christine Feehan, out September 2, 2014:
Nicole Leapheart's alter ego is Miss Boxy Frown, and she posts book reviews and TV recaps at missboxyfrown.blogspot.com. She reads and watches everything from romance to sci-fi, but enjoys it even more if some smut is involved. And tattoos.