Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review: Midnight Reckoning, by Kendra Leigh Castle (11th review for The 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge)

Here's my eleventh review for this
wonderful challenge!!

For the rules and a list of hosting blogs,
just click on the challenge button in my sidebar.

There are great prizes involved,
so be sure to check out the rules
and consider joining in!

Title: Midnight Reckoning (Dark Dynasties #2)
Author: Kendra Leigh Castle
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 334 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Published: January 1, 2012
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Goodreads Synopsis

Wild and passionate by nature, Lyra Black is not just any werewolf. She's the future leader of the powerful pack of the Thorn - if she can stay alive long enough to inherit the title.

One of the Cait Sith bloodline of vampire cat-shifters, Jaden Harrison has no interest in the wars plaguing the world of night. But when he rescues Lyra from a violent attack, they're both captured by an insatiable desire that threatens to overwhelm them and bind them together for eternity... just as ancient enemies prepare to strike. And when they do, the Thorn and the Cait Sith - and Lyra and Jaden's love - may never recover from the deadly blow...

This second novel in the new Dark Dynasties series is just as exciting and compelling as the first, although in a different way.  Once again, Castle delivers a fascinating plot, along with characters the reader can immediately relate to, in spite of the fact that they're paranormal creatures.  That's because they are just as human as 'normal' humans are, with strengths and weaknesses that make them totally believable.

This series introduces the concept of vampire dynasties, each descended from a different ancient god or goddess.  The background this author has built up for the dynasties is very detailed, realistic, and - I have to use this word again - believable.  In fact, it's so believable that I had no trouble at all entering and becoming part of this paranormal world as I read. 

Jaden Harrison, the vampire featured in this book, is as appealing as Tynan MacGillivray was in the first novel, although he's certainly not a carbon copy of that hero.  Jaden, too, has a haunted past, but he's much more of a rebel than Tynan.  He's always been his own man.  Paradoxically, however, he's also a very sweet, good-natured person, as well as a patient one.  These qualities stand him in good stead when he first encounters Lyra Black, female werewolf, who will be a contender in a fierce battle for leadership of the Thorn pack, which her father, Dorien Black, currently leads.  Lyra definitely does not have a docile personality, and is very much her own woman.  In fact, she's bucking the system in the matter of this coming battle, which is known as 'The Proving'.  Werewolf society is very traditional, and therefore, patriarchal in nature.  Female Alphas are just not the norm.  Lyra, as her father's only child, feels it is her right to fight in 'The Proving' in order to convince the wolves that she can indeed lead the pack, thus claiming her birthright.   The wolves, females as well as males, have been pressuring her to gracefully bow out of the contest, marry a suitable wolf, and allow him to enter the battle instead, becoming the leader if he wins.  Lyra will have none of it!

Enter Jaden, who ventures into werewolf territory in order to return the pendant Lyra had lost when he first met her.  Incredibly, Dorien hires him to teach his daughter vampire fighting skills.  Since he can't convince her to drop out of the contest, he figures he might as well get her the best training possible, which will allow Lyra to compensate for her lesser strength and height, as compared with the male werewolves.  

This is a rather unexpected turn of events, and a very interesting concept for a paranormal novel involving vampires and werewolves.  I was totally fascinated!  

So the training begins.  Of course, Lyra and Jaden end up doing much more than simply training for this important battle.  They had been attracted to each other from the very beginning, so they fall in love...a dangerous love, too, since werewolves and vampires really can't stand each other; theirs is a forbidden love.  Although theres a potential rival for Lyra's affections -- the werewolf Simon, who is her childhood friend -- there's no love triangle, for the simple reason that Lyra has never had any romantic interest in Simon.

I greatly enjoyed the emotional interplay between Jaden and Lyra.  Jaden, although a strong, very masculine character, is also very tender, romantic, and patient with Lyra, who frequently tests that patience.  For her part, Lyra is also a very strong character, although, at the same time, a very feminine one.  She is initially very defensive and hostile toward Jaden, but he wins her over with his gentleness, bringing out her own inner tenderness.  At no time does he try to control or dominate her, as other males of her kind have done in the past.  He respects her, and loves her fiery spirit.  She is slowly won over by his love, which never seeks to tie her down, although he makes no secret of the fact that he wants her to be entirely his.  She never tries to dominate him, either.  They are two highly independent characters who are perfectly suited for each other, and willingly surrender to each other as their love deepens.  Yet, they never lose their core selves in their relationship.  I would say that Castle has perfectly described what an ideal romantic relationship between a man and a woman should be like.

Along with the main love story, there's also the larger political issue of the much-feared and hated Ptolemy dynasty, which is still intent on conquest and oppression.  Arsinoe, their evil queen, also wants Jaden back.  There's a threat of war in the air, something which will inevitably affect the budding romance between Lyra and Jaden. 

Throughout the book, I had an insatiable need to get to know the two main characters, to see them overcome all obstacles to their love.  They are totally wonderful characters, and I was very sorry to have to let them go at the end of the novel...

The sensual scenes between Jaden and Lyra were so well depicted!  They were sweet, romantic; the lovers were not driven merely by lust, but by their nearly overwhelming love for each other.  At no time did I feel repelled by Castle's descriptions of these scenes. 

Castle is a highly talented writer!  Not only has she created a fascinating new paranormal world, but her characters emerge as real people.  She uses every narrative element to advance the story, to immerse the reader in her well-crafted world, while she skillfully manages to pull the reader along, in an apparently effortless manner.

Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting the release of the third novel in the series, Shadow Rising, which is set for publication on July 31st..

Here's a quote from the novel's back cover, one I entirely agree with:

"Castle is a rising star!  This is an author to watch!"  -- Alyssa Day, USA Today bestselling author


Where To Buy:  Amazon


  1. This sounds like a great book and I love your review!

    can't wait to see more posts(:

    new follower

  2. Oh, Katie, thank you so much for such a wonderful comment, as well as the follow!! This is a book I'm sure you'll enjoy reading, so I do hope you get it and dive in! You'll also love "Dark Awakening", the first book in this terrific new series!!

    Thanks for dropping by! : )

  3. This is a great review. I don't read this genre very often, mostly because I am not as familiar with it and have a difficult time choosing a book. I am going to take your recommendation on this one and give the first in series a try.
    I do enjoy a book that interjects some political elements and your mentioning the need to really get to know the characters and see how things go is quite an endorsement. Thanks for the review.

  4. Hey, Steph!

    Thank you so very, very much!! So glad you enjoyed my review!

    I LOVE paranormal romance, as you can tell from my comments in the review. It's just wonderful to see the intricate dynamics of human behavior play out among creatures of fantasy, and in a fantasy world!

    I'm happy you're going to give this series a try. I think that Castle is a terrific author! Of course, this is not literary fiction, but it's great reading nevertheless! I have so far fallen in love with all of her characters - the ones in this novel as well as the ones in the first book, "Dark Awakening".

    You're welcome for the review! And thank YOU for the visit and the supportive comments!! :)


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