Message From The Author
Hope Springs Eternal
with talented Christine Feehans ultimate undead romance series
By Angela Martenez
A tall, dark and handsome stranger sweeps into your life promising to cherish you forever. Every womans ultimate fantasy? Not for Francesca Del Ponce, the gorgeous and resolutely independent heroine of DARK LEGEND, Christine Feehans latest in the Carpathian-centric Dark series from Leisure Books.
The story is propelled by Feehans vivid language, riveting plot twists and powerful characters, including the tormented but noble Gabriel, another smoldering, captivating Carpathian hero. An ancient who finds himself in modern-day Paris, Gabriel is inexplicably drawn to Francescas nurturing warmth, hoping she can help him find his twin brother, Lucian, a once-powerful vampire hunter turned vampire. Francesca, on the other hand, has lived happily alone for years and will not easily give that up to the first legendary, extraordinarily handsome, Carpathian who comes her way. (Fans will enjoy gathering scattered clues throughout the novel that hint at the future of the endangered Carpathian raceand Feehans series.)
Feehan was initially surprisedand just the slightest bit overwhelmedby the initial response to the Dark books, which shoot onto bestseller lists with each new release. I would be up till 3 am trying to answer mail! exclaims the California-based author. But she is humbled by the impact her books have had on readers. Clearly they enjoy the thrill of the Carpathian world, with its centuries-old legends, ongoing struggle for survival and intensely passionate men. However, the devotion of her readerswhich once motivated a short-lived online conspiracy to raid Leisures offices for yet-to-be-published manuscriptsowes some of its strength to Feehans willingness to address disturbing, yet all-too-real issues such as the abuse of women and children.
For example, DARK LEGEND introduces Skyler, a teenage girl withdrawn into a near-comatose state after years of abuse by an alcoholic father. She finds the courage to emerge upon experiencing the healing power of love from adults who value her potential. I began the Dark series when I was in a dark place in my own life and needed hope, Feehan explains. Maybe it touches that need in others.
Her long career as a martial arts instructor leading classes for battered women taught Feehan about the harsh reality of many womens lives, as well as the courage she believes is innate in all women to rise above difficult circumstances. [Before training in martial arts], I had felt like a victim. It gave me confidence in myself that I was able to pass on to others. I became part of a chain of people who bring hope. Feehan got living proof that she could extend this chain from one fans correspondence. I received a letter from a reader who said, You made me feel there was something out there I could hold on to. Im trying to say, Yes, theres hope. Hang in there. We all have what it takes to transform our lives.
While the setting and circumstances of Feehans series might be the stuff of legend, the relationships are emotionally recognizable. The issues are as familiar as any that readers might find in their own livestheyre just expressed by people who can transform into mist, dont do well in sunlight (SPF or not) and live for centuries.
Francescas taskand Feehan insists this is Francescas story, despite fans devotion to her Carpathian heroesis to turn something unexpected into something beautiful. It is Francescas maturity that enables her to handle this tremendously powerful man, and choose her own fate. Indeed, all of Feehans characters are grounded by the power of choice, even while they are bound by ancient traditions. And it is this choice, combined with the courage that love can bring, which enables them to transform the bleak into the blessed. Women have the talent to turn [difficult situations] into miracles, urges the author. [Theyre] willing to accept what life hands them. Thats hope. All of us have that. It is this attitude that leads her characters to choose life and escape the darkness. Francescas power reflects Feehans belief that women derive strength from their compassion and adaptability. I mean, how many women would say Go ahead, bite my neck?!? It shows courage. Women are willing to step across the bridge to meet the man and give it a try, to take what they have and make it into something wonderful.
Just as when she penned the first Dark book, Feehan was recently reminded of the healing power of words. Like many fellow authors, she was unable to write for a few weeks following the horrific events of September 11. Then she spoke to a writer friend who described a letter she received from a female firefighter who had gone to New York to find the remains of a friend, a fellow firefighter who perished that sad day. The reader wrote with heartfelt gratitude about the few hours shed spent with the authors romance novel, a much-needed escape from the harrowing reality around her. That one letter that says you touched someones life, that makes it worth everything, says Feehan. If a book can touch them, they walk out their door and see light.
DARK LEGEND guarantees suspense, exciting plot twists and powerful nights of passion. But even more, it can remind us of the many ways we can light a candle, rather than curseor succumb tothe darkness.
To contact Christine Feehan, write to P.O. Box 792, Cobb, CA 95426 or visit www.christinefeehan.com.
Excerpt from DARK LEGEND
She glanced at her silent companion. He was hunched very small on his side of the car. She still had not gotten a good look at him. Not even his face. He was hiding in the shadows, keeping his face averted from her. She wasnt even certain he understood that she was trying to help him. She had the impression of a great man, one used to wealth and authority, probably terribly humiliated by his present circumstances. It hadnt helped that Brice had been so rude. It will be just a few minutes and Ill get you somewhere warm and safe. There will be plenty of food.
Her voice was so wonderful. It touched him somewhere deep inside, calming him, holding the beast leashed when he could never have done so alone. Perhaps if she was near him when he fed he would be able to control the demon when it rose. Gabriel buried his face in his hands. God help him, he didnt want to kill her. His body shook with the effort to control its need for hot blood pouring into shriveled, starving cells. This was so dangerous. So incredibly dangerous.
The car took him a short distance from the busy city streets along a narrow lane where trees and thick shrubbery grew. The house was large and rambled here and there with no particular style. It was old-fashioned with a wide verandah and long straight columns. Gabriel hesitated when he opened the door of the contraption. Should he go with her or should he stay? He was weak. He couldnt wait much longer. He had to feed. He had no choice.
Francesca took his arm and helped him as he staggered up the long stairway to the house. Im sorry, I know there are quite a few stairs. You can lean on me if you need to. She didnt know why it was so imperative she help this stranger, but everything in her demanded she do so.
With a sinking heart, Gabriel allowed the woman to help him up the numerous stairs to her dwelling. He feared it was inevitable that he would kill her. He would join the ranks of the undead and there would be no one
to destroy Lucian. No one to destroy either of them. No one capable of destroying them. The world would have two monsters unequaled in evil. There were too many hours until dawn. The need for blood would overcome his good intentions. And this poor innocent woman with far too much compassion in her would be the one to pay the ultimate price for her kindness and mercy to one such as he.
No! The denial was a harsh growl. Gabriel tore his arm from her grasp and jerked away from the door. He staggered, lost his balance and fell.
At once Francesca was beside him. What are you afraid of? I wont hurt you. He was trembling beneath her fingers, radiating stark fear. His head was averted, hidden deep within the folds of the hood, one shoulder hunched as if to block her out.
Gabriel got slowly to his feet. He didnt have the strength to get away from this young woman, from the warmth and compassion in her voice, from the life bursting in her veins. He bowed his head as he stepped through the doorway into her home. He prayed for strength. He prayed for forgiveness. He prayed for a miracle.
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