Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: The Twilight Before Christmas by Christine Feehan

Title: The Twilight Before Christmas
Series: Drake Sisters
Author: Christine Feehan
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: November 1, 2003
Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 074347628X
ISBN-13: 9780743476287

Bestselling novelist Kate Drake is one of seven sisters gifted with amazing powers of witchcraft. Returning home in time for her northern California town's annual Christmas pageant, Kate catches the spirit of the season and decides to open a bookstore in a charming but run-down historic mill. Decorated former U.S. Army Ranger Matt Granite, now a local contractor, doesn't mind working in the undeniably eerie house—not if it means getting closer to Kate. There's something about the quiet, sensual woman that powerfully attracts him.

When an earthquake cracks the mill's foundation and reveals a burial crypt, Kate senses that a centuries-old evil has been unleashed and that it's coming after her. Though Matt vows to guard her from dusk till dawn, Kate knows she will have to summon all of her and her sisters' powers to battle the darkness threatening to destroy both Christmas and the gift of soul-searing passion her hometown hero wants her to keep forever....

My rating:

Matt Granite has always loved Kate Drake, the second oldest of the seven Drake sisters, but he never had the guts to tell her, always feeling inadequate and clumsy in her presence. She's perfect, poised, aristocratic, kind, polished, and he's an utter clod with a bunch of brothers constantly giving him grief about his “crush” and laughing their little black hearts off.

But now, maybe his chance has come. Kate has bought an old mill and needs a contractor to restore it. Matt's a contractor, you do the math. But when they inspect the old house, merely a day after an earthquake, there's something strange in the cellar. Something that looks like a seal with symbols on it. Symbols foretelling a great danger. The seal is cracked, and something has obviously escaped. Something malevolent, something that's gunning for all the seven sisters. Something only the seven sisters can put to rest.

Kate Drake is the “normal” one of the Drakes. Or at least the most normal that seven magical sisters can get. She's not adventurous, although she travels a lot, she doesn't look for excitement, preferring the company of a good book... And she got the least “normal” story (so far). While the rest of the series is romantic suspense with some paranormal elements (namely the seven magical sisters) thrown in, this shorty was a straight-up paranormal. And while I obviously liked it the first time around, I wasn't so lucky on this second reading (eight years later).

Maybe I've become jaded where Christine Feehan is concerned, maybe I should not have started reading this series again, maybe I should've left my brain to roam freely instead of looking for something that isn't there... Because something was definitely missing in this book.

Maybe it was the lack of “normal” characters (I hate it how “perfect” the Drake sisters are, because no one is that perfect), the only regular Joes being the three ex Rangers, Matt, Jonas (still my favorite character in the series beside Ilya that is, and I feel sorry for him to be saddled with the bratty Hannah), and Jackson (my third favorite character in the series and future father of the next generation of Drakes). And this lack of relatable, flawed, layered, realistic characters is starting to bug me.

The second problem was the romance, which was yet again lukewarm at best. Yes, there was this whole back story of how they knew each other forever, fancied each other from afar etc., but when it came down to business (so to speak) the spark was missing and they were simply going through the motions without much feeling or purpose beside creating yet another “perfect” romance for the “perfect” Drake sister.

And the third problem was the paranormal subplot with the malevolent being escaped from the seal in Kate's new house, gunning for Christmas. It would've worked better if the entity was actually evil, and not something easily put down by giving it peace. There was no actual feeling of suspense or danger, because we're talking about the “perfect” Drakes and they can walk on water.
I wanted more of a fight, a more ominous feel to everything, instead I got a goodie-feely Christmas story where love, friendship and a “perfect” family saves the day.


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