Series: DARK DYNASTIES
Plot Type: Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings: Violence--4; Sensuality--4; Humor--2
Publisher and Titles: Grand Central
Dark Awakening (2011) (Ty & Lily)
Midnight Reckoning (2012) (Jaden & Lyra)
Shadow Rising (8/2012) (Damien & Ariane)
Immortal Craving (2/2013) (Tasmin & Bay)
BOOK 4: Immortal Craving
After six months of wandering, Tasmin makes his way to Tipton, Massachusetts, where he stumbles into the dog-grooming shop owned by Bailey (Bay) Harper, best friend of Lily MacGillivray, queen of the new Lilim dynasty. The attraction between Bay and Tasmin begins immediately and grows steadily from that point on.
Lily agrees to shelter Tasmin and to put him in touch with Anura, an Empusae whose mate was a Rakshasa, so he can learn exactly what happened to his people. In the meantime, Arsinöe finds out that Tasmin is with the Lilim and sends her thugs to kidnap him. The action portion of the plot follows that story line as Arsinöe keeps trying to get hold of Tasmin, and Tasmin's demon yearns to kill Arsinöe—as soon as she releases him from Tasmin's body (which will cause Tasmin's immediate death).
Obviously, Tasmin's love life is even more problematic than those we read about in most paranormal romances. He's having blackouts when the demon emerges, and he's afraid that the demon will harm—or even kill—Bay. When Tasmin's demon turns on Bay one night, she realizes that he is being possessed and is able to subdue the demon with just her touch. The couple falls deeply in love, but the demon is getting stronger, and he wants out—not caring if Tasmin lives or dies as a consequence. Then, when Bay is nearly killed by a Ptolemy warrior, Tasmin bargains with the demon for her life and gets himself even deeper in trouble.
Bailey has her own emotional problems. She and Lily have been BFFs forever, but Bailey has been feeling left out of Lily's new life. She isn't sure that she wants to give up sunlight for a vampire life, so she sees their friendship eventually coming to a slow and painful end, particularly if Lily moves her dynasty to Boston. Bay's relationship with Tasmin is a new bright spot for her, but she's afraid that he'll leave her because of his fears about the violence of his demon.
This book moves the series story arc along as changes occur among the Ptolemy and the Empusae, and the Lilim gain in strength. Chaos, the demon who escaped from the Grigori in the previous book, is still at large and is collecting an army of lesser demons (one of which is Hunger) so that he can attack and defeat the vampires.
This is another strong addition to the series, with lots of angst-filled interior monologues and plenty of action sequences. By the end, both Tasmin and Bay have put their lives on the line for one another and (as you knew from the very beginning) go on to their HEA.
Just a side note: Some reviewers have questioned Bay's choice of who she asks for assistance in the climactic showdown with Arsinöe. I'd like to point out to those reviewers that Bay's choice of sidekicks is based on the time of day that particular battle takes place. Think about it for a moment and you'll get it.
BOOK 1: Dark Awakening
In the series opener, Tynan (Ty) MacGillivray is saddled with the lowblood mark of the Cait Sith, who are spit upon and called gutterbloods by the highbloods of the other dynasties. Most of the Cait Sith are in bondage to Arsinöe, leader of the Ptolemy. Ty is the Ptolemy's best hunter/tracker, so Arsinöe has sent him out to search for a Seer to help the Ptolemy learn who has been murderously attacking them. Ty stumbles upon a beautiful woman who is a Seer, but she turns out to be much more than that. Lily Quinn lives a quiet, small-town life, trying to cope with her constant nightmares. The author follows the rules for paranormal heroines by having Lily lose her parents in infancy and then be adopted by a less-than-loving family who dumped her as soon as her powers manifested. Just as Ty finds Lily, one of the bad guys finds her, too, so Ty and Lily go on the run to try to discover the meaning of her rare birthmark. Eventually, more bad guys join the hunt, and the pursued couple joins up with Ty's blood brother, Jaden, who is hiding from the Ptolemy. They soon learn that Arsinöe's new boyfriend, Nero, has taken control of the Ptolemy and is trying to get Arsinöe to declare war on the Draculs.
When Jaden returns a lost necklace to Lyra at her home and is attacked by one of the pack werewolves, Jaden's father likes the way Jaden handles himself in battle and hires him to help Lyra get in shape for the Proving. As they train together, they (naturally enough) fall completely in love with one another—a forbidden love that they must keep secret from everyone. As the story progresses, the evil Ptolemy get involved and a traitor emerges among the werewolves. For me, this book is much better than the first one. The plot moves along at a fast pace, and both of the lead characters are well developed and complex, each with a past life that fosters a need to belong and to be loved. The only quibble I have is that, at the end, Lyra's changeover from being ferociously independent to being happily dependent on Jaden came a little bit too quickly. Other than that, this is a solid paranormal romance, and I'm looking forward to the next book. That one will tell the story of the mysterious Damien Tremaine, a lethal and arrogant Cait Sith assassin for the House of Shadows.
BOOK 3: Shadow Rising
Ariane is a beautiful Grigori run-away who proves to be Damien's romantic downfall. As the story opens, Ariane's only friend, Sammael (aka Sam), has disappeared, and Ariane's arch rival, Oren, has been chosen to search for him. Once again, Ariane is told to stay home and leave the action to those who are more suited to the task. Although she is a skilled fighter (with swords and daggers), Ariane has been forced to lead a sheltered life in the Grigori's desert stronghold, where she yearns to be a part of the outside world. The ancient ones who lead the Grigori believe that Ariane cannot be trusted because of the mysterious and violent circumstances of her turning hundreds of years ago. Ariane has no memory of that momentous event, and she also cannot remember any details about her mortal life. Determined to find Sam and fearful of the sexual attentions of Sariel, the Grigori leader, Ariane runs away and heads for Charlotte, North Carolina, the last place Sam was seen. There, she runs into Damien, whose boss has assigned him to find Sam. The Grigori are willing to pay a huge fee to the House of Shadows if they can return Sam to them.
This is the first time that the Grigori have appeared in the series. They are called the watchers, always hovering on the edge of human and vampire life but never interfering in any way. They live in isolation and do not mingle with either humans or supernaturals. Their primary physical characteristics are their platinum blond hair and their extreme beauty. The Grigori men are also famous for their size: over seven feet tall and very muscular and broad-shouldered. The Grigori are so rare that several of the vampire characters in this story have never seen a female Grigori until they meet Ariane. (By the way, we learn in this story that the rumor about the Grigori's ability to fly is absolutely true.)
The plot follows the usual two threads: the love story and the action plot, which in this case involves finding Sam and dealing with demonic forces that are on the verge of Rising. Both Damien and Ariane have tragic back stories—as usual—but they are both strong characters so we have less whining and fewer angst-filled interior monologues than usual. Their romance is just as rocky as you would expect, with Damien trying his best to shield his heart from all emotions and Ariane desperately reaching out for every heartfelt sensation she can latch onto. As in the previous books, the supporting characters have strong roles—particularly Vlad Dracul (the leader of the Dracul) and Ariane's Cait Sith friend, Elena.
This series has much stronger character development and more interesting story lines than many of the paranormal romance series on the market, and this book is a solid third entry. The fourth book will tell the love story of Lily's best human friend, Bailey (Bay) Harper and the world's sole surviving Rakshasa, Tasmin Singh.