Thursday, August 28, 2008

“Into the Flame” by Christina Dodd

Roaming the Russian steppes a thousand years ago, a brutal warrior struck a terrifying deal. In exchange for being able to transform into a heartless predator, he promised his soul-and the souls of his descendents-to the devil.

Ruggedly handsome cop Doug Black is determined to find the birth family who left him with nothing but a terrifying inheritance: the ability to change into a savage golden cougar. His search leads him to a woman as dauntless and exotic as her name. Firebird Wilder is bitterly familiar with supernatural gifts, and flees on discovering his secret, leaving Doug alone once more. But no one can escape a wild cougar on the hunt. When he finds her, they both must decide which is more powerful-the love that binds them together...or the secrets that threaten to tear them apart.
This is the fourth and I believe final book in the Darkness Chosen series. The series is about the Wilder siblings—three brothers and a sister. Their family is a branch of the Varinski line of shapeshifters.

In Dodd’s world, the original Varinski patriarch made a deal with devil a thousand years ago and was awarded with the power of shapeshifting as a deadly predator, and for all his descendants as well. The curse ensures only male children are born to Varinski unions. The Varinskis are an evil clan - raping, pillaging and assassinating – giving the devil his due.

The Wilder’s father was the original leader of the modern Varinskis, but was redeemed through the love of a gypsy woman, changed his name and fled with her to the U.S. to escape the Varinksis clutches. A prophecy predicts that the curse can be broken when the four pieces of an ancient Varinski holy icon of the Madonna are restored.

Each of the preceding three novels in the series has told the story of one of the brothers finding the love of their life and locating one of the icons. Into the Flame tells Firebirds tale, the daughter, the miracle exception to the “male descendant’s only” rule.

There are many things I have liked about this series and this instalment remains true to form. The simple approach to using shapeshifting as a demonic curse rather then some extended complex supernatural culture. The romance angle of every sibling story is carefully constructed scene by scene, motivations and attractions feel true and believable which again is refreshing from the fated mated approach used in too many paranormal romances.

This being Firebirds story, it unravels the mystery of why she is the only female Varinski and nope, I’m not going to include any spoilers. The action barrels along heading for the anticipated final confrontation between the Wilders and the Varinskis and the attainment of the final icon.

My only reservation about Into the Flame is that I found the final battle somewhat anticlimactic and the action a bit sketchy. The scenes were not as fully described and realized as I have come to expect of Ms. Dodd.

It seems the règle du jour for paranormal romance is to have a HEA and you will not be disappointed here, however the elimination of a character or two might have added a bit more poignancy to this final chapter in the series.

Of course one has to ask, is this the final Darkness Chosen story? It seems some of the Wilder wives may have some secrets to explore in potential future excursions. This a solid and entertaining parnormal romance and satisfying conclusion to the series.

Read an excerpt here.


  1. I have a ridiculous amount of catching up to do, but I read the first one of these. I haven't posted the review yet. Mostly because it was so . . . meh.

    I'll be going through your blog to expand my TBR list with your recs I've missed. I've done a lot of reading over the last couple months, but you keep beating me to reviews! =P

  2. LOL I understand about catching up. I can barely keep up with whats coming up much less make any inroads into my backlist of TBRs. Yeah posting reviews for books that you don't feel particularly positive about definitely takes more energy.


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