I really, really enjoyed this book. Paranormal romance is my genre of choice, but sometimes it's hard to find something fresh and engaging. Dark Awakening delivers in both regards. I'll admit I was a little worried when I started the book and there was a glossary off the bat. Sometimes that's a sign the world building will convoluted. Thankfully, that was not the case here. While the world building is rich and layered, its complexities are seamlessly incorporated into the story and contribute to making it a satisfying read.
Tynan is from a low class of vampire. He's a cat-shifter and a mercenary. And he is on a mission for the queen of one of the higher castes, trying to find a Seer to save her dying race. In the course of his search, he finds Lily. At first, he thinks she is a Seer, because her mind is closed to him. But he quickly realizes she is probably much more than that. She bears a mark that he doesn't recognize and he realizes that he must figure out what it means before he brings her back to his queen.
Lily has always known that she is different. But she has fought the darkness within her for her entire life. When she meets Ty, she recognizes his otherness, but she is drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Assassins hired to thwart Ty's mission, target her, forcing her to go on the run with the vampire. And slowly, his world opens up before her eyes. As readers, we learn about the vampires and their ways right along with her. It's fascinating. But the real draw here, is the unfolding relationship between our two main characters.
Ty is everything I love in a hero. He is loyal, strong, and stalwart. He is also scarred by a difficult life and thinks himself the trash he's been labeled his whole life. He fights his feelings for Lily, believing himself unworthy, thinking he'll never have more than the meager life he's scratched out for himself as a servant of the queen. --But Lily knows better. The more time she spends with him, the more she sees the man he truly is. And watching them surrender to their feelings is swoon-worthy. The love scenes are hot, but part of what makes them so great is the tight tension between Ty and Lily from the first moment they meet.
The story isn't just about the romance. Really, the vampire story arc was just as good. I'm often guilty of impatiently waiting for books to hurry up and get back to the lovin'... but here I was just as invested in the action. The secondary characters were fleshed-out and interesting. And frankly, I want more.
I'm so glad this is the beginning of a series. I can easily see myself sinking into a book featuring one of the secondary characters (especially Jaden... yay!) And I'm happy to say that this book manages to open doors to new stories while still giving us an ending to this one. There's no contrived-cliffhanger or anything. The author makes me want to read the next book, simply by making this one awesome. 5 stars.