BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review of Dark Awakening by Kendra Leigh Castle

Publisher: Forever Romance

Release Date: June 28, 2011

Series: #1 in Dark Dynasties

More Info:  Amazon     The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

For centuries, shapeshifting vampire Tynan MacGillivray has prowled the night as an outcast, valued only for his ferocious hunting skills. When a feud among the immortals escalates into all-out war, he is ordered by his ruthless queen to locate a Seer-a human woman with a special gift-who can secure victory for their clan. Ty's search leads him to a quiet New England town, but once he has the Seer in his grasp, her touch awakens within him a hunger like he's never known . . .
Lily Quinn has always been different. Since childhood, she's had vivid nightmares and an eerie sixth sense. When a sexy, silver-eyed stranger demands her help, Lily plunges into a new world of danger and sensuality. With Ty, she discovers sizzling passions she cannot deny and powers she cannot control. Soon, it is clear that Lily is much more than a Seer-she holds the key to ancient secrets and unthinkable destruction. But will a vampire's vow of eternal protection stop these evil forces . . . or unleash her dark destiny?

My Thoughts:

"Dark Awakening" is a mix of new ideas, old ideas, and cliches, but at heart, it's a love story of two emotionally scarred people who learn to trust, to hope, and to love. 

Lily has trouble connecting to people and getting close, as does Ty, though for different reasons. She was adopted but her parents treated like her like an accessory. Or they did until her psychic powers manifested and then they tried to commit her to a sanitarium. She learned to stuff her abilities deep down inside but she's not close to her adoptive family and has no memory of her biological family. She does have a recurring nightmare where she dreams of a fire and death. The dream changes over time but it always scares her, so much so that she's afraid to sleep.

Ty is a vampire, a hunter, and a shape shifter. The vampires in Castle's world are ordered by Dynasty and by caste. Ty's caste, the Cait Sidhe, are a blend of vampiric and Fae blood and able to shift into cats; they are considered the lowest form of vampire. The Cait Sidhe are called lowbloods, or more rudely, gutterbloods; the other dynasties are highbloods. The Cait Sidhe are indentured servants at best, and in the worst, situations, slaves. Ty has a measure of respect and freedom as a hunter for the Queen of the Ptolemy Dynasty who absorbed his people into their own. Still, Ty has not been a free man in hundreds of years and has been abused, mostly emotionally, and neglected, and serving at the whim of his queen, whom he desperately believes has some good in her. He needs to believe that, in order to survive. 

Ty and Lily meet when he hunts her for his Queen. The Ptolemy Dynasty is under attack and the Queen believes that a human Seer can help find the one responsible. Ty believes that Lily is that Seer, but right from the start, nothing happens as it should. Lily shows some signs of being a Seer but also bears a Vampire Dynastic mark, which should be impossible since she's human. Or is she? 

Ty should bring Lily back to Queen Arsinoe right away but he is attracted to Lily and she is attracted to him. Moreover, she's clearly more than a simple Seer. Ty sets out to learn what Lily is, thus delaying the time he delivers her to his Queen. He knows that once he does, Lily will never be free again and he finds that that thought is not a comfortable one.

What ensues is a blend of romance, suspense, betrayal, and destiny. Lily is that favorite of UF cliches, the heroine who has more power than she knows and is more than she seems. She has no close family and few friends. She's a mix of naivete, wariness, smarts and stupidity. Lily comes to realize that she loves Ty but isn't sure he can handle that knowledge and she also realizes that they have no future together. Ty is a loner; he trusts no one, loves no one, bears a great weight on his shoulders, and has a painful past. He slowly learns to take chances, to hope, and to fight for what he believes. He realizes that he loves Lily and that he can't just turn her over to his Queen, where she'll be used and then killed as soon as her usefulness is over.

The language is pretentious at times, and the story could have benefited from trimming. The pacing was odd; long stretches of talk, talk, and a kiss (or more on occasion :P ) followed by brief action scenes. Still, the dynasties and their origins were interesting and I hope that Castle continues to develop those in future books. I really liked her take on Vlad Dracul, whom Ty describes thus: 

For such a formidable vampire, the man was just a little bit of a geek sometimes..Ty stared after him for a long moment, trying to decide whether he thought the man was amusing, a prick, or both. He was leaning toward the last.

It's a good start, if a bit slow and wordy at times, to a new series.

I received a print ARC from the publisher for review.

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