This review gets off to a funny start. Two days ago I saw a new title by Christine Feehan as I was wandering through the stacks at my library and picked it up. Yesterday a patron came in and asked for assistance with the card catalog. On the way towards the computers ‘reserved’ for that purpose, I asked what she was looking for:

“Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan.”

Ahhh…”That book isn’t here, it’s home on my bed.” It probably wasn’t the answer she was expecting but that’s where the book was. I assured her it would probably only take me a day or two to read the book and that I’d put it on hold for her so that when I brought it in she would be the next to read it. With a deadline like that, I had a perfect excuse to curl up and read it last night.

For those familiar with Feehan’s “Dark” series, this is a culminatory story, bringing together the pairs from her previous books for a Christmas celebration. For those unfamiliar, Feehan is the author of a series of paranormal romances that feature (primarily) psychic women and men who are a slightly different breed of human-like creatures known as Carpathians. They’ve super powers of sorts (shape shifting, flying, controlling nature) and when they go bad–they become vampires. Women must balance the men (light to darkness is a huge theme in her books) and there’s power struggles and a lot of good vs evil.

The Carpathians have returned from across the globe for the first time in centuries. Whereas before one might meet only one or two Carpathians or at most see a group of five when the Dark Troubadors are traveling together, now we are expected to see everyone in the same room at the same time. The prospect of that many male egos all at once, slightly daunting. They’re gathering for a Christmas celebration, at the request of the Prince’s wife. For some reason Raven is never referred to as their Princess, but we won’t go into that.

Over the course of the book, Prince Mikhail is visiting each couple at the home they are staying preparing for the Christmas dinner. Everyone has offered to cook and because the majority of the women were psychic humans who were converted, they’re all “trying” to cook. I’m a little disappointed that NONE of them are capable of it. I can’t imagine having completely lost the ability to make mashed potatoes but all of them are making a disaster of it and in attempts to help, the men are making it worse. Feehan finds the idea of these “big tough men trying to cook” ridiculous and attempts to convey that to her reader. It falls flat though. In about half of the scenes, also, she throws in the couple getting distracted by sex–the majority of which is really really unnecessary.

Within a span of a few hours, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much happens. Mikhail visits all of the couples that have been a part of the series, two men find lifemates, one woman gets attacked and put through the healing process (which usually Feehan does in much more described chapter), and, oh yes, there’s the possibility of a mage popping in and oh yes, Gary, who has been human for a long time, now is suddenly reveal ed as a “pure blooded” jaguar. There are too many coincidences even as Feehan tries to introduce a couple of new plots and answer some questions from previous books. She leaves story lines unfinished for Skyler, Mary Anne, and Gary and has the most unsatisfactory party ever. I couldn’t even get a good chuckle out of her having Gregory dress up as Santa Claus, but then I’ve never understood the intimidation he holds over everyone else either.

As the story wraps up too quickly, Feehan filled the rest of the book with “Dark Desserts”–recipes submitted by readers. Considering the one that I opened to involved “Cranberries, walnuts, and Chocolate chips” for a reading snack, I don’t think it’s a cookbook I’ll be using regularly. It was very out of place for a paranormal series where they make a point of noting that Carpathians do not eat food.

I enjoy Feehan’s more outlandish explanations of vampires and enjoy her idea of alternate beings. This book was not her best though and certainly one only to read if one has already read ALL of the others she’s written.