12 March 2009

Review: Christina Dodd - Scent Of Darkness

Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Signet (July 3, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451221737
ISBN-13: 978-0451221735


A thousand years ago, Konstantine Varinski roamed the Russian steppes. Driven by his craving for power, he struck a terrible bargain. In return for the ability to change from a magnificent warrior to a predator that could hunt down his enemies and kill them, he promised his soul — and the souls of his descedents — to the devil.

Plain Ann Smith loves her handsome, dynamic boss, Jasha Wilde, but her daring plan to seduce him goes awry when she finds a black wolf warming itself before the fire. Before her horrified eyes, the wolf changes into the man she adores. She flees, he pursues, but they can't escape their destinies.

For Jasha is the descendant of Konstantine Varinski and Ann is the woman fated to break the curse that binds his soul. To find heaven in each other's arms, they have the devil to pay.


Quote premise story:
They hailed the birth of a new demon and raised the child to be a ruthless warrior worthy of the name Varinski.
For no Varinski ever fell in love…
Until one did.
No Varinski married…
Until one did.
No Varinski ever fled the compound and that way of life…
Until one did.
For the first time, cracks appeared in the solid foundation of the deal with the devil.
Heaven took note.
So did hell.

While I read this quote Christina Dodd enticed me to no end, the ominous sound of the quote, the warning it contained and the change that was coming, it whetted my appetite and I was merely on page three of the story. I wanted to sink my teeth in the first novel of the Darkness Chosen and find out what this all entailed.

From the prologue – The Beginning – I turned the page and there I met the Wilder family. Konstantine is a boisterous man from mother Russia who fled his country with his wife to the promised land of America. They settled in the Cascade Mountains where they wanted to raise their young family and hoped to stay hidden from his relatives. At a family gathering with the complete village present Konstantine scolds his sons for not marrying and giving him grand children he so desires. The picture it presented is that of a warm, tight-knitted family, lead by a dramatic man who adores his wife and loves his children. Zorana might by small in size but reigns over the household as her rightful domain with warmth and structure. Though I’m not a frequent user of comparing authors – books or characters I couldn’t elude the feeling that for some reason Konstantine made me remember the larger than life Daniel MacGregor from Nora Roberts’ MacGregor Clan series, with one vast difference, Konstantine was a direct descendent of the man who made a pact with the devil. It was probably the way they both want to take charge of their children’s lives, who just lovingly rolled their eyes at the effort, and how they both embrace life in the winter of their lives.

With the premise and the introduction of Konstantine, Zorana, Jasha, Rurik and Firebird Wilder I was more than a bit enthusiastic where this was all going. So when Ann Smith drove up to the secluded house of her boss, Jasha Wilder, I got comfortable and let myself be swept away with the romance and action that was for sure going to happen. The first thought that ran through my head as I read more about Ann was that she was kind-hearted woman but also a bit of a goody two-shoe raised in a Catholic orphanage with an attached convent. She was the executive assistant of her boss and so in love with him she decided in the last couple of months to give herself a makeover, and with her riding up to his house she also has a seduction planned.

For me, the cheesy storyline of a secretary falling for her boss screams Harlequin novels which I read in my teens and early twenties on the beach. This isn’t bad, the storyline just made me instantly think of these novels and I wondered what Christina Dodd would make of it. Ann Smith sees herself as a giant with no breast to speak of who has a crush on the hunk of a boss with the “fallen angel” looks, the killer smile and a body that screams: touch me, decorated with tats and all. Even I was practically drooling how Jasha was described and could relate to Ann wanting to take charge. Only, when she steps over the threshold of Jasha’s house things do not turned out as she planned.

Jasha is raised by a parents who loved him as his father explained the family tree he is a part of, the danger it presented but also taught him to always be in control over his animalistic side, only, this goes to hell quickly when Ann sees his true self. From that moment it is a whirlwind of sexual tension, a bit of rough mating heat going side by side with them both connecting at a deeper level and escaping the threat of torture and murder. I was in the midst of reading this all, turning pages, wondering what would happen, to find out the story gradually fell flat. There is definitely an adventurous streak to Scent Of Darkness but the imminent threat and danger felt like it was a distant one. The foes didn’t have a face, thoughts or feelings, it wasn’t really personified, just the perception of Ann and Jasha and the background story which was told at the beginning. Only at the very ending does it get better, and with that I am kind of hoping the overall plot in the four books this series count will give more information with each book read, giving it a fully fleshed out experience. The premise promised more than it actually delivered which created a light-hearted read with interesting characters who will keep me involved in this series.

Jasha and Ann’s interaction together is sultry with a warm natured essence to it which told me they knew each other’s habits from the work floor but are finally getting to know each other for real with baring the past, baring the secrets and finding out if their feelings are still enough to make a true relationship work. Jasha has got a dangerous side to him but he is also a gentleman and a caretaker for a woman, while Ann is stripping herself from her goody two-shoe image and acquires some much needed backbone throughout the story. Ann goes from starry-eyes and a bit of a pink clouded judgment to smart mouthed and taking charge. I raised my eyebrows a few times at certain behavior which she just shouldn’t have gotten away with in my opinion, but in the end it smoothed out and delivered a beautiful ending between her and Jasha.

The ending also delivered a shocker in information regarding Rurik and for this only I will read his story in Touch Of Darkness. It is the family, the individual people in it, and a path to redemption I enjoyed so much. While I do have some concerns regarding Scent Of Darkness and it definitely lacked in an area or 2 when it comes to the depth and details, the romance is gratifying, the men hunk-a-liscious and the women are made of sterner stuff than initially thought. Overall the fresh take on the paranormal aspect and romance gave me a charming read. I hope that from this novel the Darkness Chosen series will find a way up in my reader’s enjoyment that will have me raving about the conclusion of it all!

Quote Konstantine to his son Rurik:
He proceeded to his next victim. “Rurik is an adventurer.”
“An archaeologist papa,” Rurik said.
“Archaeologist, adventurer – I saw the Indiana Jones movies. They are the same.”

Quote Jasha:
He’d had her before, and the circumstances were the same and yet so different.
This time she wasn’t afraid; she was angry.
This time, he wasn’t gentle; he was demanding.

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