Knight Awakened by Coreene Callahan
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
ARC: 443 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: December 4, 2012
Series: Circle of Seven #1
Source: Publisher (via Jenn)
Reviewed by: Stéphanie
In AD 1331, warlord Vladimir Barbu seizes control of Transylvania. But in spite of his bloody triumph, his claim to the throne remains out of reach. The king of Hungary opposes his rule, the Transylvanian people despise his brutal ways, and the high priestess needed to crown him has vanished without a trace. But Barbu hasn’t come this far only to be thwarted by a woman. He unleashes his best hunters to track her down and bring her to him — dead or alive.
For Xavian Ramir, killing is the only life he has ever known. Torn from his family when he was a child, he was trained from an early age to be an elite assassin. But now he longs for something more, vowing to start anew after one last job. The bounty on his target’s head is enough to set him up for good — if he can resist the long-dead conscience that stirs to life when he meets his beautiful mark.
Afina Lazar never wanted to become high priestess, but the brutal murders of her beloved mother and sister leave her no choice. Now she is running for her life, desperate to protect the magical amulet entrusted to her care. But when Barbu’s assassin comes for her, she realizes her only chance of stopping the warlord’s rise to power is to convince this enigmatic — and handsome — hunter that she is more valuable alive than dead. Dramatic and fast-paced, Knight Awakened is a stirring love story between two people searching for a second chance in a magical world of assassins, warlords, unearthly beasts, and nonstop.
If you’ve been following my reviews here on Tynga’s Reviews this past year, you might have noticed how much I’ve enjoyed Coreene Callahan’s Dragonfury series so far. It reminds me so much of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series because of the brotherly bond between the warriors and the intense bond they share with their mates. While this newest series of hers has those qualities, it’s a forage into a different genre altogether. Although KNIGHT AWAKENED does have a few dragons, the story concentrates more on the high priestess Afina Lazar and her bodyguard of sorts, Xavian Ramir who has declined the task of bringing Afina to the evil warlord Vladimir Barbu for a bounty.
This book promises non-stop action in a wonderful historical setting of greedy lords, yummy warriors and humble heroines. I really enjoyed the first book in this new series mainly because of the admirable characters and dragons shapeshifting dragons. The main characters, like in all Coreene Callahan books, are unforgettable. Afina has the right amount of strength and tenacity to survive and protect her niece while being hunted by an evil warlord. It’s her dedication to goodness that makes her an admirable and loveable character. The fact that we see her grow as a character in a short amount of time, makes her a more believable character. As for Xavian, he might seem like your typical warrior but his history and dark past add depth to his character. He is undoubtedly haunted by the things he’s done as an assassin and feels unworthy of Afina’s love.
While the story itself can seem like your typical woman-in-distress-meets-strong-warrior, I have no problem with the storyline because for me, that type of hook will never get old. It’s what happens during the rest of the novel that keeps you entertained anyways. Afina is wanted by many parties because of her magical powers and her high priestess title. As she runs away with Xavian from anybody that wants to harm her, an obvious bond starts to form between the two. I’m glad the author didn’t rush the relationship between the two. I’m not going to reveal too much about Afina’s magical powers and her quest because finding out everything is one of the charms of this book.
There’s a huge cast of secondary characters in this book, which made it hard to keep track of them sometimes. That’s probably the only negative thing I have to say about the novel. I understand the author wanted to introduce us to all the members of her prophesized Circle of Seven (the name of the series), but I think it’s the additional characters like the dragons, the bad guys and the various townspeople/household members that made it hard to keep track of everyone. Despite this minor inconvenience, the story is still very clear and enjoyable.
I have a guilty pleasure for historical paranormal romances and KNIGHT AWAKENED was able to satisfy my craving for the genre. There’s something special about this genre that makes me want to read more of it. With some of the secondary characters being shapeshifting dragons, I believe this Circle of Seven series might be a prequel of sorts to the Dragonfury series. If that’s true, I can’t wait to read more of either series so I can learn more about the magical world of Coreene Callahan’s dragon shapeshifters.