The Nightkeepers are the modern-day descendants of the Maya, and although there should be hundreds of them ready, trained, and waiting to stop the foretold doomsday in 2012 (the group in this series believes a magical barrier will thin, and their task is to stop demons from pouring through), due to a past king mistakenly leading his group in an attack he believed would shut down the barrier forever and thus, the 2012 end date would not matter, there are only a little over a dozen.
Nate Blackhawk is the most suspicious of the Nightkeepers. Each of the Nightkeeper children who escaped was meant to have a winikin, or guardian who would act as a surrogate parent; Nate's winikin died leaving him alone, and shunted into the foster care system. Nate grew up tough and alone, and though he is willing to accept some of the Nightkeeper's beliefs and missions, he is utterly closed off to love, much less to the idea that the fates could be telling him he is meant for fellow Nightkeeper Alexis Gray. For the first half of the book, this emotionally stunted man does everything he can to push away Alexis, playing the part of a jerk so to speak, which only serves to hurt her again and again.
Alexis wants the power that her mother had, as an adviser to the king. She wants to believe that she can be more, a warrior, a lover, a magic user. She keenly feels the pressure she places upon herself to step up, and that more than anything, holds her back. Alexis keeps giving Nate chance after chance, and can't understand why she can't let him go.
The journeys these two make, both alone and together, is especially poignant. Both of them have a lot of growing up to do, when the novel starts out, and by the end, it's truly rewarding to see the people they have become. Both have their respective stumbling blocks, and it's real and meaningful to see them make progress in fits and starts, because this way the end results mean so much more than they might have.
While I loved their romance, I also love that it is not the entire theme of the novel. Finding one's partner is important in these books; however, the main mission is saving the world. We see the various Nightkeepers working together in this book, struggling to maintain a sense of teamwork as they do so. This group may be bound by magic, but they have not automatically become best friends. If anything, their internal conflicts make the story all the more interesting. We follow Rabbit, the Nightkeeper with wild magic, and we learn the source of his different powers, as we see him struggle to find his place. We learn a little more about the elusive Michael (whose story is told in the third book, that I plan to read soon.) We see the main characters from the first book, Strike (the reluctant King) and Leah, his mate. We see Brandt and Patience, the only Nightkeepers who are traditionally married, and their attempts to juggle their marriage with the needs of the Nightkeepers. Everyone is involved in the quest.
Jessica Andersen has created a broad, believable world. These people strive to win the day, they fight for the good, and with each book, I find myself cheering for them a little more.