NOTE: This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!
Shadow Rising by Kendra Leigh Castle is the third book in the Dark Dynasties series. It follows the story of cat shapeshifting assassin Damien Tremaine, and the secluded Grigori named Ariane. Like books one and two, this story is part of a complex world steeped in immortal politics. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend this as a standalone; read the other two first!
This has been my favorite book of the series so far. It is a bit more of a complete package with a good balance of world building, series plot progression, and believable character growth. I did not get lost and confused as Damien and Ariane’s relationship progressed (while this seems like it should be a given, it was one of my biggest issues with the first two books).
“I don’t expect you to change for me, Damien, and I realize that you have obligations because of what you are. But if this is going to work at all, you need to understand that I have obligations too. To what I am, who I am.”
Ariane is an intriguing mix of naive and realistically wise. She spent the first 900 years of her immortal life sequestered in the desert with the rest of the Grigori, having no memories of her life as a human. After venturing out on her own, every encounter is original and she soaks them in like a sponge.
At the same time, Ariane has 900 years of reading and personal reflection under her belt. When Damien tells her he cannot offer anything beyond the moment, she accepts it. Later, as Damien struggles with his growing dependence on her, she doesn’t resent him for it. Better to enjoy what they have while it lasts. Her 900 years has taught her what she really needs out of life, and regrets or settling for less do not make the cut.
There is also plenty of Damien snark to go around, which makes for a quick, entertaining read. He has spent most of his vampiric life slowly becoming numb to everything, including both positive and negative emotions, and his reactions to feeling them again are always amusing.
Damien had never had so little interest in work. Of course, he’d never spent so many consecutive hours wondering where he’d fucked up so badly, either. So it was a new and fabulous experience all around.
Also, hooray for the purring 😉
The intensity of her focus on him was as pleasurable to Damien as a caress. To his shock, he had to swallow back an inadvertent purr. He didn’t purr for anyone. Anyone. And certainly not for something as cheap as a little attention.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one and it left me looking forward to reading Bay’s story in Immortal Craving. (Not to mention the next step in the series plot! These books love the not-quite-cliffhanger endings!)