Getting past the first few chapters of The Awakening was difficult for me. Pure erotica makes me extremely uncomfortable (okay, it just plain embarrasses the heck out of me), and I was pretty sure that's where this book was heading. Not a promising start.
A few more chapters in, and I found myself hooked on a very engaging storyline. Our heroine, Christine, is a water witch with her magical powers linked to all things of beauty; art, music, sensual love. When she gives, she gives so completely, she loses herself in the magic. In many ways it makes her a bit naïve and vulnerable, she knows it, and has been hurt by it before. Regardless of her own traumatic experiences, she has agreed to help the Coven of Light find one of the Immortal warriors, Kalen, and bring him into the fight of good vs evil, light vs dark. Find him she does, in a lonely castle in Scotland, in the arms of a beautiful, cold and manipulative, half-sidhe.
Sparks fly from the beginning when Christine meets Kalen, the lust is instant, and when they first make love, Christine, true to her magical nature, holds nothing back, giving Kalen everything she is, and pretty much shatters everything he has ever believed in. She becomes his emotional muse, giving him the ability to put his own heart and soul into his art. Kalen can't, and won't, let Christine go, and is determined to keep her with him always.
Quite simply, as a love story, it is terrific.
Naturally, true love is never without problems. There is "The Calling", which Kalen has (for his own reasons) no intention of answering, Christine's promise to the Coven of Light to bring Kalen to them, and finally, Kalen's former lover, the vindictive and nasty Leanna, using death magic against both Christine and Kalen to further her own agenda. Add Demons, the insane Immortal Tain (in a continuing role), some vicious Unseelie hordes, and some selfish and apathetic Gods to the mix, just to complicate things further.
Good writing, great action, no loose threads to drive you nuts.
To sum it all up "The Awakening" has it all. A terrific love story, an emotional awakening, a glorious adventure, heroic fight scenes, sacrifice, redemption, a strong ending. I am very, very glad I plowed past those first few embarrassing chapters (my issues might not be yours, so take that with a grain of salt).
NC-17 for strong sexual content. No torture scenes this time (thank you).