Okay, I'm really surprised by some of the negative reviews of this book. As I was reading it, I kept saying to myself, "Wow, this is one of the best Carpathian books in a long time!! Yeah for Feehan!" I enjoyed it immensely. It's not perfect, but it has so many great aspects to it that I really enjoyed reading it and can't wait for the next one.
First off, Nicolas De La Cruz was a very refreshing South American hero. I really really liked him, and thought, darn! Lara is one lucky lady. :) In the previous books that featured De La Cruz brothers, I thought they were obnoxious with their overly-chauvinistic attitudes (even for Carpathian males, they were way too chauvinistic - except for Riordan). Nicolas isn't really like that. He kind of starts off that way for about two minutes, but he catches on pretty quickly that his attitude just won't work with a partner in his life. He quickly evolves into a really nice, supportive (and hot!) lifemate for Lara, and you can see the evolution occuring in his mind. He's very aware of himself, his attitude, what Lara needs, and how he needs to adapt himself to meet her needs, etc... I thought that was very refreshing.
Secondly, what I really really loved about this book is that so many characters are in it. Mikhail and Raven (and her pregnancy), Gregori and Savannah (and her pregnancy), Francesca, Virkirnoff and Natalya, Lucien and Jaxon, Jacques and Shea and their baby son, Destiny and Nicolae, Skyler, Syndil, Dominic, and Dmitri are all in the book to varying degrees. And a couple of new Carpathian men and unmated women were introduced, and they are sure to show up in future books! But Mikhail and Raven, Gregori and Savannah are in it quite a lot, as their endangered pregnancies are the key crisis in this book. I don't want to give too much away, but Lara is the key to the Carpathians understanding why their women miscarry so often, as well as why their babies often perish in their first year of life. I found this plot line absolutely wonderful, and I loved how these secondary characters played such an important role in this book. I also found the very heated debate that is going on in the Carpathian world about the role of women in their society to be very intriguing, and can't wait to see how it gets resolved in future books (good luck with that one, Mikhail. :) My favorite scene in the book is between Lucien and his little brother Gregori; after reading Dark Curse, I had to immediately reread Lucien and Jaxon's book (I think I'm in love with Lucien again!!)
Lara herself starts off pretty strong, but we quickly see that she's carrying a huge amount of emotional baggage with her because of her very twisted and tortured childhood. She turns out to be a pretty "flawed" individual, but I think that adds to her charm. It doesn't take much to set her off, and Nicolas does a good job of trying to take care of her. Ironically, she turns out to be the key to the survival of the Carpathians, so that just adds a lot more interest to the plot, as well as complications to her relationship with Nicolas.
The downsides of this book are that it ended way too quickly. I turned the last page, fully expecting a new chapter, and found that there were no more chapters. It had ended on the previous page and I hadn't even realized it. I was like, huh? It should have been a longer book. Several key scenes are summarized in a couple of paragraphs, when you know it should have taken several pages to get through those scenes. As I was reading it, I felt like the editors told Feehan to cut out X number of words, and so those scenes got dropped. Either that, or she was just tired of writing. Some less important scenes went on for pages, and could have been edited down significantly, and some key scenes were simply glossed over. That was really odd and confusing. Also, there was too much "Carpathian" language in this book. It's a weird language, and doesn't add anything to the book. And definitely lose the glossary and dictionary at the end of the book; that just took away from pages that could have contained story in them. Another problem was trying to keep track of the relationships of the Dragonseeker people. Trying to keep track of who is whose brother/sister/aunt/great-aunt/mother/father made my head hurt. Even though these are flaws in the book, they're minor problems in comparison to all the many things I loved about the book.
I think if you're a Carpathian fan, you'll enjoy this book a lot. I felt that it was a turn in a better direction for Feehan, and I'm looking forward to the next book. This book reminded me a lot of the Christmas book, and I really like that one. I like seeing a lot of characters interacting with each other, and finding out what previous couples are up to. In this book, you find out that several couples have moved back to the mountains to be closer to their people, and I really liked that.