Shadow Rising is the third book in the Dark Dynasties Series by Kendra Leigh Castle and is due to be released July 31st, 2012. I know... it's a little ways off, but just wanted to share early since I loved it.
As one of the Grigori, a noble vampire dynasty shrouded in mystery, Ariane has spent her life hidden away in the desert. Like all of her kind, she is a watcher, fated to observe, forbidden to act. Yet when her best friend Sammael vanishes, she defies all rules and flees her safe haven to bring him home.
A shape-shifting assassin for the House of Shadows, Damien Tremaine is hired to locate Sammael. His hunt for the wayward Grigori leads him to Ariane, the rogue vamp who stands between him and his bounty. Damien never lets emotion interfere with his work, but a single touch from the sexy, beguiling vampire shatters his self-control. Drawn together by their common goal, they begin an alliance of necessity that soon becomes one of desire. But when the secret at the dark heart of the Grigori comes to light, Damien and Ariane must make a choice that could bind them eternally . . . or tear them-and everything they care about-apart.
Who knew a purr could be so sexy!
The world building in this series is excellent. The author has created a whole new take on vampires, shifters and otherworldly creatures in the Dark Dynasties. In this book we get our first look into the world of the Grigori dynasty. They are the most mysterious group of "vampires" and hardly anyone knows even the tiniest details about them. The Grigori outcast, Ariane, leaves the confines of the Grigori compound in search of her missing friend Sammael. While most of her kind have been conditioned over hundreds of years to have very little emotion, Ariane is different. She cares deeply about her missing friend and will do almost anything to find him. During her initial attempts to blend into the outside world and begin her hunt for Sammael, she runs into competition. Damien, a cat shifter, turns out to be hired to find the same man. When it becomes obvious that Ariane has no plans to back off on her hunt they must decide whether to compete or work together.
I love that Ariane is almost as much of a bad-ass as Damien is. She's not your typical damsel-in-distress type of heroine. She has plenty of her own "weapons" at her disposal and is not afraid to use them. She holds her own with Damien both physically and mentally. Damien, for all his faults, definitely has a softer side... even it's buried very deeply behind his tough guy exterior. Oh, and that purr. Who would ever think a purr could be so sexy?! In my head it's a very deep gravely purr :) Damien definitely can put on the charm when he wants to.
While these books could certainly be read on their own, it does bring more to the table when read in order to get the whole on going story arc between the dynasties. The dynasty structure could be a little complex feeling if you just jump in mid-series but you could definitely still enjoy the story on it's own merit. I'm loving this series and can't wait for the next one!