Feehan has created an alternate world of Carpathians and vampires. Carpathians are effectively Bram Stoker-like vampires without being evil. Their species has been under attack for centuries, an insidious attack which kills their women and female babies. Without women, the Carpathian males become dark and depressed and then turn into vicious vampires. Nice setup, very interesting.
The problem arises with the Carpathians themselves. Traditional alpha males, every single one so far has been high-handed and dominating with the human women they encounter. They use magic and mental powers to compel them. They restrict the women from seeking out human company, isolating them.
I enjoy a take-charge guy as much as anyone else and I will admit to being a sucker for powerful male with a dark side. But this goes way past what any woman should find acceptable, even with fantastic sex in the offering.
The Carpathians do realize they can’t squelch human women’s free will as the novels progress but I find it really jarring to have the women accepting it in the beginning. The characters are strong, independent women and it just doesn’t feel true to their characters to have them submit so readily. I keep hoping for a Buffy-equivalent to come in and deliver a much needed ass-kicking to these men-of-the-castles.
The excuse the Carpathians use for their behaviour is that they are protecting their mates and their species. Fertile women are far too rare a resource for their safety to be jeopardized. This sounds nice and noble and I’ll admit to a certain sympathy but their actions still jar and grate against my enjoyment of the story.
I read a book recently about primate behaviour where the author cited a study that households with an accepted dominant partner were happier. I don’t believe it. I don’t believe people can be happy in a relationship where they are consistently submissive. A completely dominant partner who is unwilling to allow his or her mate to make their own decisions is an abuser. And that’s not a romantic fantasy I can get behind.