Dark Illusion By Christine Feehan
A mage and a warrior must see beyond their facades and embrace the bond that links their souls in this powerful Carpathian novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.
At any other time, Julija Brennan would find solace in the quiet of the Sierra Mountains, but now the mage is in the race of her life. Having broken free from her controlling family, Julija's attempts to warn the Carpathians of the coming threat has failed and put a target on her back—and those who hunt her are close behind...
After centuries locked away in a monastery in the Carpathian Mountains, Isai Florea can't believe he's finally found his lifemate—the missing half of his soul. The second he sees Julija his world blazes with color. But despite their explosive connection Julija rebels against what she sees as Isai's intent to control her and rejects the bond that would prevent him from becoming a monster.
As their unfulfilled bond continues to call to them both, Julija and Isai aim to complete the task that brought them together. They are used to facing danger alone, but now the mage and the ancient warrior must learn how to rely on each other in order to stop a plot that threatens all Carpathians...
I knew the time had come to bring back issues from previous books and get some questions answered. Xavier's spell book and what would come of it has been a mystery for some time. I've wanted to address the shadow cats as well like where did they come from and what was their purpose. Xavier had two other brothers so it stood to reason that they would have children somewhere as well and I wanted to bring that into play. It was time to answer some questions and this book was the perfect place to do that.
Julija is the mage who helped Elisabeta when they were prisoners. She was strong and compassionate and I really loved her. She was raised in an environment where her purpose was to serve the needs of her family. She was a pawn. A tool. She was told she wasn't good enough. Not worthy. I love to write characters who are strong regardless of what life does to them. That comes into even more strength as their story unfolds. Julija was that kind of character.
Imagine being raised like she was and then finding a mate who comes along and empowers her. Who sees her as this wondrous, amazing and beautiful woman. Not that they had an easy start, to be sure. I couldn't see it happening easy between one so ancient as Isai and a modern woman with powers of her own and a need to be independent. But, of course, that's always a fun way to start out.
— Christine Feehan
#Ever heard the one about a mage, a Carpathian warrior, a book of evil, and the love of a lifetime? Dark Illusion is such a delicious story and I can't wait for you to meet Isai and Julija!
Isai's an honorable man who has spent centuries looking for his lifemate while defeating the forces of evil. He's handsome, honest, considerate, fierce, loyal, intelligent, strong, fearless and genuine. I cannot adequately describe the many ways I loved this hero. He was unreal! His patience with Julija knew no limits, which thankfully came in handy because she tested mine.
He would divide his attention, risk his life, even his soul for her. He might think he was wholly dark, but he had honor. Integrity. He was a man who walked in light even when he didn't see it around him. - Julija
Julija was a little hard to connect to at first, but in the end I adored her too! She came from a family of evil and yet she retained her light. While trying to save an entire race by destroying an evil book of spells, her family is hunting her down. Are they trying to kill her or do they want to recapture their pet? Her abusive ex, an extremely powerful mage, is also out there hunting for her, wanting her back in his control. However, Julija has much more power than even she expected and with the faith, love and guidance of Isai, she just might come into her own. After living a life ruled by fear and doubt, Isai has encouragd her to take charge, find her confidence, and to truly believe in herself. I'm in love with this man!!
Have I tempted you yet? If you love your paranormal romance full of action, incredible world building, impossible to resist characters, and yummy steaminess, then you definitely won't want to miss out on this book!
#Dark Illusion, a unique pairing of a mage and an ancient Carpathian. I was mildly apprehensive about lifelong enemies evolving into a loving partnership without a lot of conflict along the way. I read literary fiction for pleasure, to be entertained, and Christine Feehan consistently fulfills my need for enjoyment and escapism by letting me explore new worlds with interesting and exciting stories.
I was very pleasantly surprised at the different turn of events, especially since for the first a Carpathian male is the one to reject his lifemate. I thought it was ingenuous to have Isa, one of the monastery ancients, really express his true thoughts and emotions of disappointment in a lifemate he’d waited centuries to find. Usually, Carpathian males fall all over themselves with instant love and devotion once he finds the one woman to restore his soul, colors, and emotions. Not Isai. His emotions come across as authentic and it was good to see an ancient male display an honest response upon meeting his one and only.
“She felt his utter and complete disappointment. His rejection of her as his lifemate. It was one thing for her to reject him, but it stung when it was the other way around.”
This is a very powerful turn of events in this world wherein it’s usually the male who has to carry the load of the relationship. Isai is my favorite type of hero - possessive and domineering, but he can gentle and very supportive. The tension was fast-paced and the plot consistent with the mission the couple pursued together.
Julija, half-mage/half-Carpathian, has stubbornly refused to accept being a lifemate to a Carpathian male. Despite being created in violence, abused, and used as source of blood to provide longevity to her mage family, Julija has an ingrained fear of Carpathians, and her evil mage family has convinced her that she wants nothing to do with being a lifemate, despite knowing that she is condemning her lifemate to becoming vampire of choosing suicide. In Isai’s mind, this is unacceptable. Therefore, he frees her of any obligation to him and plans to return to the monastery after finding his brother, Iulian Florea, and dangerous mage spell book.
Apparently, Julija is also on the trail of Isai’s distraught brother, Iulian Florea, who had found his own lifemate on her deathbed and she was unable to restore his soul. Julija discovers that Iulian has destroyed a shadow cat that had stolen the spell book from prince Mikhail and she vows the spell book will never get into the hands of her father and brothers. Her brothers are on her trail with the intent to kill her as a traitor and retrieve the book. Julija plans to warn the Carpathian prince of her family’s evil intention to retrieve the spell book to destroy other species then she plans to go into hiding from her family.
Isai path to find his brother crosses with Julija’s and their passion is steamy and all-encompassing. Until Julija states that she does not want to be a lifemate despite her knowledge of her holding his soul. Once Julija decided to trust and came communicated about the abuse she suffered in the past, her and Isai’s relationship development was wonderful escapism. As they pool their powers and resources to retrieve the spell book, Julija and Isai’s relationship develops towards more communication and understanding.
My preferred heroine is one who is kind, intelligent and likable heroine, meaning she is a nice woman who is strong but doesn't fight everything. Julija, for the most part met my standards of a good heroine once she came to terms with her unfounded mage fears of Carpathians and accepted Isai for himself…an ancient and honorable man.
The sex was well-done and didn't overpower the story. I understand that sex in a romance novel is necessary; however, a romantic plot is far more essential to relationship development. Sex and violence are easy plot tricks to keep the conflict/emotion high. When used for shock value, or as a supplement for character development, sex becomes boring. However, not all of life is about sex. There are many other facets to existence such than just sex. When used properly, sex can move a plot forward.
Another aspect of the story was the deep friendship between Elizabeta and Julija the women formed a deep bond during their captivity in Sergei’s clutches. The two women formed a bond of friendship that will help them both navigate new lives as strong women and as lifemates to ancients. It was very poignant when Elizabeta pointed out to Julija that as the keeper of Isai’s soul, her rejection was condemning him to darkness and death or becoming a vile creature as Sergei. I cannot wait for Elizabeta and Ferro’s book!
Overall, Isai and Julija's love journey was an example of the fierce passion of new love that's overwhelming and the story focused primarily on the couple without tons of baggage that gets in the way of the passion and romance in the story. My heart melted when Isai showed his compassionate side by reaching towards out to the tortured shadow-cats to win them over as allies rather kill them outright. I loved this book and look forward to the next Carpathian adventure!
Dark Illusion, Christine Feehan