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4.2 out of 5 stars
Dark Awakening (Dark Dynasties, Book 1)
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"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.

Dark Awakening (Dark Dynasties, Book 1)
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dark Awakening comes across as a very cookie-cutter PNR. The heroine is unaware (to some extent) of her abilities and meets a dangerous hero, who just happens to be a shapeshifter and introduces her to the world of vampires. Then we meet the hero's friend, who is definitely not to be trusted - but guess what - at the end he really is a good guy (who happens to be book two's hero). Not much in the way of surprises or fun twists. With that being said, the world did interest me enough where I wanted to finish the book. There is a vampire queen, and spies and lots of people who you aren't sure you should trust. The first 100 pages are much better than the remaining part of the book. I also have to say the romance falls very flat for me. I liked both the hero and the heroine, I just never believed that they fell in love. The sex scenes felt like they were there just because this is a paranormal romance book, not because it felt like that is what should happen next between the couple. This one didn't quite grab me.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
*2.5 stars*
I am a long-time paranormal romance fan. I love the darker nature of vampires, werewolves, and the hidden underworld mixed with romance. I was looking forward to reading Dark Awakening, but sadly, this book just did not work too well for me. Lily is the heroine who has no idea who or what she really is when she is suddenly thrust into the underworld and vampires are out for her blood. Ty is a "low-blood" vampire, a Cait Sith who can turn into a very large, very deadly black cat. Ty is sent to collect Lily, but once he finds her, he is concern for her well being. Ty and Lily's attraction grows as they try to find out what Lily really is. The closer they come to finding the truth, the more danger they face.

This review is tough for me to write, I really debated where to place it on my rating scale. I am giving Dark Awakening 2.5 stars because I feel pretty neutral about it. I don't just "not-like" the book, but I don't really like it either. I like the characters well enough, but I felt that Ty was pretty whiny and self-depreciating. I understood that he was a slave, but after awhile I wanted him to start being proud of who and what he was. He never fully accomplishes that. The romance between Ty and Lily was pretty run-of-the-mill. It was expected, and not really challenged too much. I didn't feel too much chemistry between them. Theirs was instant attraction that grew, and it was pretty straight forward.

In Dark Awakening, there is a definite caste system in the vampire world, which gave the world in this book and intriguing twist. However, the main focus on the caste system in Dark Awakening was to identify Ty and the other Cait Sith's as "gutter cats," and to emphasize that the other vampire castes were so much better. I think that this caste system had potential that it didn't quite reach.

With all that said, I think that Dark Awakening set an decent foundation for future books. Lily's character brings change to the vampire world, and it future books could be interesting and pretty good reads. While Dark Awakening was not my favorite book, I am still curious about the series, and I won't write it off.

*I received this book for review from NetGalley*
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
From the first time he sees Lily in the moonlight, catshifting vamp Ty is captivated, but when moves in for a little taste of the beguiling Lily, he finds tha Lily is more than she seems - and she is just what he has been hunting for, a Seer. And as much as Ty wants Lily, as a servant to the queen of a powerful vampire house he has no choice but to complete his hunt and deliver the Seer into the dangerous vampire world knowing full well that queen will never allow Lily to be his.

I am really not a super vamp fan, so on my first attempt at reading Dark Destiny I read the prolog and it didn't grab me. But, I am trying to start attacking my TBR pile and doing a "choose it or lose it" on some of the numerous complete (or nearly complete) series languishing there and the two books of Castle's series was the least daunting choice. Well even though my reasons for picking this back up were dubious, I have to say that in giving it another chance, the first real chapter was really good and the rest just kept on getting better.

It is hard not to go into too much detail but I thought that the world that Castle created was interesting with a smattering of mythology, and a caste system running through the different vampire clans. The mindset that goes along with having been a victim of those prejudices plays a key part in the story because it defines the characters - especially the leading man, Ty, and several of his 'blood' brothers as well - and it sets up the 'obstacle' that the staring pair have to overcome to be together. And all of that just worked really well for me, I loved Ty, who is an awesome hunter but very vulnerable in his belief that as Cait Sith - a catshifting vamp with fae origins - he is just a 'gutterblood' and that serving the queen of one of the 'highblood' clans is the best he can do, I also loved his struggle against wanting to keep his leading lady Lily for himself, when duty demands he turn her over for the good of that race. And I loved Lily, she is at a disadvantage as a mortal in the cross hairs of the immortals, but she controls what she can, and takes the chance on grabbing some happiness with Ty however fleeting that may be.

So, the bottom line is that I really enjoyed this first episode in Castle's Dark Dynasty series and it's actually worked to my advantage in being so late to the party because I have the second book on my pile already and the third book is out soon, so I don't have too long to wait for more of the Ty's Cait Sith brethren, Jaden is up next in Midnight Reckoning and Damien is on the horizon in Shadow Rising.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A war between the immortals would devastate all sides yet combat seems imminent between the known bloodlines clans in the United States. Ptolemy Queen Arsinoe needs a human female seer who can lift the enemies curse and insure victory for her side. She assigns outcast Vampire cat-shifting Tynan MacGillivray to not return without the seer.

Eight futile months later, In Tipton, Massachusetts Ty meets finds Lily Quinn a psychic of sorts who assumed vampires were in books and movies only. Ty figures he will easily charm the mortal to accompany him, but changes plans when someone tries to assassinate her. He knows he brought the adversary to her. However, he has no time for guilt or for her refusal to go with him. As they flee, he realizes he is attracted to her and would give up his Immortal life to keep his Lily safe even as he notices she possesses the mark of a vampire unlike any of the clans.

The first romantic urban fantasy Dark Dynasties thriller is a superb fast-paced tale that grips the audience from the moment the lead couple meets in New England and never slows down until the final confrontation. Kendra Leigh Castle cleverly transports the Highlander historical clan disputes into a modern age vampire clan disputes. Lily is stunned with a sudden awakening while Ty is even more bewildered as he learns that love and desire are eternally more powerful than blood.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
Vampire. Shapeshifter. They call him a gutterblood. It's not a cozy endearment. Tynan MacGillivray is of the Cait Sith bloodline of vampires. He is considered low class, his kind used as servants and weapons by the vampire aristocracy. Or slaves. Ty's loyalty lies with the queen of the Ptolemy bloodline, the most prestigious of them all. He is Queen Arsinöe's weapon. And he's very good at it.

For eight months he's been hunting through the country, on a quest for the queen. The mighty Ptolemy bloodline is desperate for a Seer, for a human with the ability to divine from whence the threat to their line was coming, because someone was using an ancient curse to slaughter them, and the queen is deadly in her determination to save her people. Tynan is just as determined, having chosen this manner of servitude over two hundred years ago, when the choice had been simple. Perish in the muck of poverty and disease or serve in style. He serves.

And after eight months, he finally found what he was looking for. A Seer. A human woman who has the ability to save the line he served. He finds Lily Quinn...and gets slammed in the gut by an attraction that is as intense as it is unwanted. This task was supposed to be simple, but from the moment he catches Lily's scent nothing about it stays that way. It isn't until Tynan notices a shimmering mark on her sensitive skin, then sees exactly what Lily is capable of doing, that he realizes just how distant the idea of "simple" has become.

He has found in Lily more than a Seer. He's found an enigma, a puzzle, and clues to a truth that will cause a paradigm shift the likes of which will reverberate through not only his people, but through all members of all the bloodlines. All vampires.

Not everyone wants that enigma to be unraveled. Someone, in fact, is quite willing to kill them both to silence them. Keeping Lily alive may be the most dangerous job he's ever had, but the longer Ty spends in her company, the sharper the blade of truth twists in his chest, because even keeping her alive doesn't mean he can let her go. There is still his duty to fulfill. And his honor on the line. Regardless of the importance of the life in the balance.

QUOTE: "It was the story of her time with Ty: moments of bliss, hours of irritation, and the occasional life-threatening event."

Books like this series debut by Kendra Leigh Castle offer me some of my favorite reading entertainment. It's not just that it's a paranormal romance, which is the sub-genre I read most frequently and enjoy the most, though of course that plays a part. More, though, is that Dark Awakening provides readers a very nice blend of the favored familiarity of the sub-genre, some tantalizing and darkly decadent originality in the world building, and an appealingly fresh voice in the storytelling. That rare mix of positives is what separates books and series I like from those I go out of my way to make sure I follow and read.

It doesn't even have to be a perfect book. In truth, Dark Awakening wasn't a perfect book for me. As the hero of the book, Ty was a tad broody for my tastes, and there was a grim acceptance of his station in life that I didn't find appealing and I believe it persisted for far too long. I also felt the evolution of the plot threads of Lily's origins and her place in the world was, at times, a little slow to progress in lieu of the attention given to the romance plotline.

QUOTE: "It figured that she'd finally met the perfect man for her, and he turned out to be a cat-shifting vampire with issues."

The book's positives, though, have a much longer list. The world was very well-conceived and fleshed out for a series debut. The mythos had a lot of unique aspects that excited me. Both main characters were strong, even if I preferred Lily and her feisty personality a little more than the often too-serious Ty. Secondary and ancillary characters added to the world, the plot, and the main characters' lives. Some, like Damian, were even wonderfully twisted. He was a mostly bad, definitely self-interested Cait Sith with a teeny thread of honor still left in him. I adore complicated characters like that.

The narrative and the story were also big positives for Dark Awakening. I enjoy Castle's writing style. It's slick and polished, has moments of humor and tragedy, and it snagged my emotions effortlessly, keeping me invested in the lives of the characters and the world that their destinies may very well remake. The underlying plot threads that highlight the class inequities in the vampire bloodlines and the archaic political and social structure were fascinating and definitely sparked my interest.

With this book, Castle has ensured that I'll follow her Dark Dynasties series. I'm not sure just yet how I feel about the slated hero for the next book, Jaden. He struck me as a damaged and broken character in this book. A male who had once been playful and suave, but who now bears scars on his skin and soul. Given how Tynan was in this book, I have a sneaking suspicion that Castle will keep to the dark, brooding hero type given Jaden. I'll definitely be waiting to see how that goes, and I'm very interested in seeing where the author plans to take the dark dynasties from here.

Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.

~*~*~*~
Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 13, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When you know you are different from everyone else but not sure of how do you ever find a place to fit in. Lily Quinn has spent her life trying to fit in and stay away from being noticed and while she might lead a quiet life as a teacher, Lily is definitely not calm and laid back. Her nights are filled nightmares of fire and demons with a baby that seems to be a pawn in someone's war.

Tynan MacGillivray is a hunter who has been forced to work for an invisible terror trying to stay alive for another century or two. Ty is not real clear who the bad guys are, but he is sure he is not working for the good guys. While he may be part of a unique line of shape-shifting vampire that can be damaged by the sunlight but don't have to die every night to exist Ty has no clan or home to call his own. A lone hunter has many uses but on this particular hunt, what Ty seeks no believes exists - a Seer.

After many years of searching Ty may have found one and from what he can gather has no idea what true powers she holds. Naïve Lily is untested or without training but she knows something inside her is definitely a powerful force to be recognized. Ty wants to bring her under his protection but he still so unsure just who will do right by her.

Ty is drawn to Lily as more than a protector or a hunter after his prey. He desires her and is intoxicated by the scent of her alone. When forces start to undercut his powers and steal that which he values most away from him Ty makes a decision that will alter everyone's future including his and Lily's but nothing will stop him from having her in his life forever. He ponders the weight of it but knows that there is no life or death worth having without her and if joining forces with the enemy then that shall be done.

This world that the author has built is complicated and detailed. At no time however does the reader not understand any part of it or leave you guessing about who is doing what to whom. The book moves in a methodical pace to feed the story information while building up the tension and suspense. It is going to played out with the next book that I look forward to with much anticipation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 11, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lily Quinn has always felt different. But when she meets mysterious Tynan MacGillivray one foggy night, her vivid nightmares and eerie sixth sense goes into hyper drive. Tynan's on a quest to find a seer to save his vampire clan, but Lily is anything but a common mortal with a gift, she just might be the key to change and the one to bring peace after centuries of war. But what exactly is she, and how do they untap her true potential before the assassins catch up with them?

This is a book with conflict like no other. And not easily resolved. Bravo, Castle. This is my first book by her, but it won't be my last. This is Book One in the Dark Dynasties series. I really loved the set up for the next installments. The secondary characters had me gunning for the sequel, and wanting their story. The world-building was dynamic, and the main characters dimensional. Very interesting premise for a paranormal too. Unique. Love!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I gave it 3 stars because I liked the mystery behind Lily, but I wished they would have discussed her adopted family more.

As for the romance I would give it a 1 star. I didn't like Ty's story line it was depressing I don't want to read about some guy who thinks he is a loser because of his bloodline that he had no control over. The whole book talked about him being a "gutterblood". I would have liked this story better if it just dropped the romance and just focused on Lily with Ty as a non-romantic guide.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
what do you get when you throw in a little of feehan rice harris and ashley... dark awakening.

there are five vampire houses (or more) with each house having their own histories and special abilities.

this PR has alternating POV between male and female lead characters in an urban setting book with the "one" theme with the heroine. she starts her own house by the end.

much of the book is the male lead Ty trying to convince himself that he is not worthy of her themes. often i was praying for more action.

seems like every vampire is hot and may get their own book in the future.

sigh. it was readable but nothing was terribly original. where was my husband to talk me down from buying yet another VPR. i need a twist or reinvention of the vampire lore that i havent read before. not a patchwork quilt of others ideas. movies are doing better in this aspect.

(PS- my husband was out of the house is where)
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