Series: Darkness Chosen
Author: Christina Dodd
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: July 1, 2008
Blessed—or cursed—with the ability to change into a sleek panther, and driven by a dark soul he's accepted as his fate, Adrik Wilder abandons his family and his honor to pursue a life of wickedness. He excels at every vice, including kidnapping Karen Sonnet to use for his selfish purposes.
But Karen's spirit and passion make him question the force of his family's curse. And when a new evil emerges, Adrik must choose whether to enact revenge on his enemies and redeem his soul, or save Karen from a fate worse than death?
At day Karen Sonnet is building another hotel for her father's hotel chain deep in the Himalayas, at the foot of the "Evil Mountain", at night she's visited in her tent by a mysterious lover. When the enraged mountain one day enacts her revenge on the construction site, nearly taking Karen's life in a rock slide, it is her lover that rescues her...Then promptly kidnaps her, whisking her off as his little wife-slave.
He is Warlord, leader of a band of mercenaries, a thorn in the side of the Chinese army. The Chinese army that's hired a ruthless Varinski to get rid of the Warlord problem. When the camp is attacked, Warlord sends Karen to safety with an ominous promise he would one day find her again.
Two years later Karen has finally put the traumatic experience behind her, when handsome and enigmatic Rick Wilder, baring an uncanny resemblance to Warlord, waltzes into her life. Presumed dead by his family, Adrik has emerged from the pit of Hell a new man, his soul saved by the woman who's captured his heart, the woman he promised he would find once again.
But can Karen forgive him? And if she can, will they stay alive long enough for him to savor it?
This was the darkest story in the series to far, and the most compelling one.
With Adrik Christina Dodd has created a wonderful character. He's dangerous, rotten to the core, violent, deadly, literally walking on the edge of the precipice, yet still beautiful and redeemable. He encompasses the two extreme poles of the human psyche, the black and white. At the beginning of the story he's so brutal, so uncaring to anything but his own desires, yet there's something skirting just below the facade that makes him impossible to despise fully.
And when, coming face to face with the fact he isn't invincible, the realization of having let everybody down and faced with the love for an incredible woman, he finally transforms, redeems himself in his eyes and the eyes of those around him, the feeling is still bitter-sweet, for he knows he has to face the most ruthless enemy of all - how to gain the forgiveness of the woman he loves.
Karen, compared to her rather immature predecessors, was a breath of fresh air in this series. What she's suffered (though not of the same magnitude as what Ann and Tasya's ordeal) has shaped her, lent her strength, resilience, and determination.
She's stubborn when it comes to forgiving Adrik, but rightfully so, considering what he put her through. But eventually she realizes what he's been through, how he suffered and how he's won, and knows he's truly changed. This is also thanks to the fact it was mostly because of her and what woman wouldn't find that balm for the ego.
The suspense was yet again wonderful, the action escalating into the final battle, with the just victory incredibly short-lived. I was crying like a baby at the injustice of it all, but thanks to Ms. Dodd's writing genius and a little help from the icon, I quickly found myself smiling through the tears.
This was an amazing book, a wonderful story of redemption in the face of love, and highly recommended by this reader.